Bush’s South America Security Detail

Posted by Jeremy Brown

There is a report today that would seem to vindicate the unapologetic emphasis on keeping presidential security in the hands of the Secret Service during Bush’s trip to South America (despite some friction and accusations of arrogance). In Colombia for instance:

Security was extraordinarily heavy in Cartagena as Mr. Bush arrived, prompting one prominent Colombian columnist to remark on what he called American paranoia. Military helicopters bristling with armaments flew over the old walled city, which is nearly 500 years old. The bay was used only by naval and other military boats, including rubber crafts used by American commandos. Mr. Bush used an armored S.U.V., instead of a limousine.

…which seems pretty over the top, considered outside of the contextual framework of this:

BOGOTÁ, Colombia, Nov. 27 – Marxist rebels had planned to assassinate President Bush last Monday during his four-hour stopover in Colombia to meet President Álvaro Uribe, Defense Minister Jorge Alberto Uribe said Saturday, without offering details or proof.

“According to informants and various sources, we had information indicating that various members of FARC had been instructed by their leaders to make an attempt against President Bush,” the minister told reporters, referring to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebel group by its Spanish acronym.

The White House and the Secret Service declined to comment. Jonathan Cherry, a Secret Service spokesman, said, “We do not discuss any alleged threats to our protectees.”

The Four Wars for Iraq

Posted by Jeremy Brown

I’m blogging via Web TV or I’d iclude a proper permalnk, but I would urge you to read a post today by Norm Geras titled “The Four Wars for Iraq.” If I have linked to Norm more than once in my brief tenure at this blog and you want to know why, read that post.

I wish I were more able to read and conribute to comments here, but I’m looking forward to being able to do so again starting Saturday night.

The Meaning of Thanksgiving

Posted by Jeremy Brown

The best Thanksgiving sentiment I’ve seen so far today can be found on this blog of this Englishman. Suddenly I find myself in the holiday spirit.

Happy Thanksgiving then to all Americans: Atheist, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan…all those who don’t consider themselves under the thrall of a fatwa to the contrary.

But I must load the car and drive now.

Our Turkey Day

Posted by Jeremy Brown

We are staying in a lovely undisclosed hotel in Manhattan very near the Empire State Building which is lit up in red and green. It used to be lovely browns and oranges this time of year, but Christmas comes increasingly early these days.

Anyway, we can see that majestic but lonely skyscraper right from our hotel window and, though I have now been living in rural Massachusetts as long as Ilived in the Big Apple, it makes me teary with pride in this Gotham of my youth (must end this sentence because I have run out of nicknames for NYC).

We had a wonderful feast with the family and my parents courageously ate the sugar-free cheesecake I made for them thought it tasted like drywall joint compound (granted a smooth, high grade brand. For the sugar eaters, Cara’s gorgeous apple pie was a smashing success. She couldn’t have done it without moral support from me, of course.

I am blogging this from the hotel using the TV internet and I haven’t figured out how to copy and paste text, so I’ll give you my take on a couple of stories of the day off the top of my head (hey, it’s a holiday post; they can’t all be gems).

I see that one of the brand new floats in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade was SpongeBob Squarepants. I like that very much. I thought America would lke to know that.

Looks like a hold has been put on the Ukranian election results. While knockng on wood, I think we can stop rocking anxiously in our cushy, faux Queen Anne rocker/recliners now. Maybe.

And Colin Powell’s source for the Iranian nuke report has been called into question in some capacity I can’t qute recall. A lot of folks enjoy pointing out that he has been in this sort of situation before. But from where I sit, it seems to me that the world pretty much recognized that, while Iraq probably had some sort of chemical or bio weapons way back when (though no one really expected as little as was found) it was pretty widely understood that the Bush Admin was milking that angle to an extreme. It gave people like Kerry something to hide behind so he could vote thumbs up on the war authorization.

When it comes to Iran, no one who has been paying attention has any doubt that the Mullahs have an active nuclear weapons program. So, while the precise details may or may not be as Powell reports, no serious person can say that this is a tale wagging a dog. It’s fairly clear, when it comes to resolving an accurate picture of what has really been going on with Iran’s nuclear program, the world is playing catch-up.

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you all have a good one, even if you don’t celebrate this American holiday.

Cara and I are heading down to Manhattan tomorrow to see my family.

UPDATE: If you were a little confused by the next sentence, it’s because I meant to post that over at my own blog. I’ve got to watch out our it will all come crumbling down. What I meant to say is that I will be blogging here every, but at my own blog, maybe.

I’ll keep blogging here, as best I can, and will certainly be blogging at Michael Totten’s.

Two Filmmakers With Eyes Open

Posted by Jeremy Brown

Readers of this blog are probably aware that blogger, novelist, and filmmaker Roger Simon has not failed to understand the message stabbed to the freshly slaughtered body of Theo Van Gogh. Aside from Hollywood’s collective lack of shock and outrage over the violent act itself, why has there been so little (read none) evidence of American filmmakers recognizing that war has been declared on the free expression of ideas through film (that being just for starters)?

And we’re not talking about a need to grudgingly tolerate the freedom of people to make films bearing reprehensible ideological messages, we’re talking about a man being brutally murdered because he made a film exposing the oppression of women. You’d think this would merit even the most token expression of solidarity against the silencing of artistic and political speech from ‘progressives’ in the Hollywood film industry.

Well Roger, as far as I’m concerned, is Hollywood now. By moral default. And so is a screenwriter named Bridget Johnson. Here’s Johnson from a WSJ article that Roger links to today:

Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh’s short film “Submission,” about the treatment of women in Islam, written by female Dutch parliamentarian and former Muslim Aayan Hirsi Ali, had aired in August on Dutch TV. Van Gogh was riding his bike near his home when a Muslim terrorist shot him, slashed his throat, and pinned to his body a note threatening Ms. Ali. This appears to be an organized effort, not the act of a lone nut; Dutch authorities are holding 13 suspects in the case.

After the slaying, I watched “Submission” (available online at ifilm.com) and my mind is still boggled that 11 minutes decrying violence against women incites such violence. There’ve been many films over the years that have taken potshots at Catholics, but I don’t remember any of us slaughtering filmmakers over the offense. You didn’t see the National Rifle Association order a hit on Michael Moore over “Bowling for Columbine.”

One would think that in the name of artistic freedom, the creative community would take a stand against filmmakers being sent into hiding à la Salman Rushdie, or left bleeding in the street. Yet we’ve heard nary a peep from Hollywood about the van Gogh slaying.

Johnson identifies as a conservative and speaks of a growing conservative culture within Hollywood. I applaud Johnson for speaking out on this issue. But I don’t want liberal filmmakers to evade this. This is an issue that should not fall prey to the division between Left and Right.

I consider myself a liberal (though I’m still scratching my head over what the hell has happened to my liberal friends, where they have gone) and I’m still outraged that Roger Simon is the only liberal in Hollywood whose voice has been audible on the Van Gogh murder and what it portends. In light of this sort of failing on the part of liberals, I am much more comfortable in the company of conservatives like Johnson who are willing to pick up some of the core principles my comrades have left to rot. But I’m not fully content with that. It’s time for my fellow liberals to wake the hell up.

Ukraine Links

Posted by Jeremy Brown

I admit I don’t know much about what’s going on in Ukraine. As I read up on it I’ll post some links that seem useful. Here are a few to start with:

A fistful of Euros has numerous links for more information.

Pora, a student pro-democracy organization in Ukraine has a website with frequently updated information (via Harry’s Place who also have a number of posts to scroll through)

Instapundit is a good place to scroll through in search of links to people blogging this story.

If you have any links to suggest please add them in the comments.

Zeroing in on Zarqawi?

Posted by Jeremy Brown

If this is true and leads to a capture it would certainly help to set an optimistic tone for the January 30th elections:

Kirkuk – Security forces were on Tuesday focussing their hunt for Iraq’s most wanted man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, on an area in north-central Iraq after receiving a tip-off, an Iraqi national guard officer said.

“We received concrete information from very reliable sources that Zarqawi was transferred today (Tuesday) to Tuz Khormatu and is heading to Baquba,” staff brigadier general Anwar Hamad Ameed, the national guard chief in the northern city of Kirkuk, told AFP.

He gave no further details.

I don’t know whether he’s a myth or a composite, but if so he is a myth and a composite responsible for some of the most horrific acts of murder it is possible to conceive of. (Hat Tip: Roger)

Autorantic Virtual Moonbat

Posted by Jeremy Brown

At Harry’s Place I found an oracle of wisdom you simply must visit: a moonbat robot. You can ask it any question about any subject. Read the FAQ’s below, but then go ask some questions:


Is the AVM a “he” or a “she”?

It thinks gender is a social construct, and will be extremely offended if you assign it a sex. So, go ahead and do it.

Does it matter what I type?

Not much. Other than occasionally sneering at some word or phrase it doesn’t like, the AVM largely ignores all inputs, and rants about topics at random, just like a real moonbat.

I’d have posted it here, but I don’t want to turn Michael’s blog into a whimsical funhouse, or rather, I don’t think that was my mandate.

UPDATE: Actually, what am I saying? Michael’s the one who posted a picture of Rudy Giuliani in drag just before flying off to Libya for Turkey Day. But one feels a pull to be over-formal when guesting on someone else’s blog; I think I have a small sense of how Michael felt guest blogging on Instapundit.

Michael’s Latest on Tech Central

Posted by Jeremy Brown

Check out Michael’s latest column on Tech Central Station. It’s an important subject that is not all over the blogs at the moment. This one’s about Belgium’s banning of the popular right wing political party, Vlaams Blok. Michael ties this in to the larger picture of a Europe at an uncertain crossroads, the unpopularity of discussing the growth of Islamist fundamentalism in Europe, and the dangers of a liberal society unwilling to think its way out of the false dichotomy “between left-wing fantasy and right-wing lunacy.”

Or read it and tell me how my teaser is missing the real crux of the piece. But read it.

Intercontinental Fact Check

Posted by Jeremy Brown

You’re too nice to say it so I’ll say it to myself: ‘lighten up, Brown.” Well I will. I will try to contain my peculiar brand of gloomy optimism. But by way of transition, let me share the following tidbit. Ali, who blogs at Iraq the Model, has done a little fact check on a post by Juan Cole:

I was surfing the net as usual to find out what’s happening in the world, as I rely mainly on the net instead of TV now When I came across this article by Dr Juan Cole that made me feel ashamed of myself. This man who doesn’t live in Iraq seems to know more about the history of Iraq than I do.


He also provide a link to another article by a professor of Arab studies in the university of Colombia and use it as a reference to back up his theory. What Dr. Cole was trying to tell us, as you can see in his article, is that Fallujah is celebrated in Iraq’s history as a symbol for the large rebellion/revolution against the British back in 1920. His source, Dr. Rasheedi goes as far as considering Fallujah the start point of that event and says in his article:

“To restore Iraq to their control, the British used massive air power, bombing indiscriminately. That city is now called Fallujah.”

Finally Ali remembers that yes, indeed this was the version of events he’d learned…in a film funded by Saddam Hussein:

So anyway everything looked ok and my mind regained its peace, as everything the two well-informed professors said seemed to match perfectly with what Saddam’s hired director sowed us in his movie!

So what is the version of events that is commonly understood among Iraqis of Ali’s community, and in a historical text (by a sociologist/historian named Dr. Ali Al Wardi)?

No revolution inside Fallujah, no bombing at all and not even the leading role they described for the tribes near Fallujah in the revolution that magically turned to be inside Fallujah in their posts.

Anyway, I don’t know which is worse; that the two experts in Arb world didn’t know about Dr. Al Wardi and his writings or that they knew but chose Sadam’s version of Iraq’s history!?

Thesis Question for PHD Candidates in English Lit.

Posted by Jeremy Brown

This one is chiefly for those specializing in 19th century English writers, but anyone can play:

If you can call someone a little Dickens and expect blushing and giggles, then why do things turn so ugly when you call someone a little Trollope?

Ok, that was just to prove that Michael is on vacation this week. I will now return to serious blogging. I invite your comments though.

An Assassination Would Have Been Embarrassing Too

The pride of the Chilean police and its power elite might have been chafed a tad had Bush been assassinated while visiting, so I’m pleased on their behalf that such a faux pas did not occur:

U.S. officials said Chilean police had been chafing for a week about a demand by Secret Service agents that they control the president’s space, even when he was on sovereign turf. Now, it was payback time.

In the fracas that ensued, amid a flurry of half nelsons, one Secret Service agent wound up jammed against a wall. “You’re not stopping me! You’re not stopping me! I’m with the president!” an unidentified agent can be heard yelling on videotape of the mayhem.

The president, who is rarely alone, even in his own house, turned and walked back to the front door unaccompanied, facing the backs of a sea of dark suits. Bush, with his right hand, reached over the suits and pointed insistently at [Secret Service shadow, Nick] Trotta. At first the officials, with their backs to him and their heads in the rumble, did not realize it was the president intervening. Bush then braced himself against someone and lunged to retrieve the agent, who was still arguing with the Chileans. The shocked Chilean officials then released Trotta.


Marcelo Romero, a reporter with Santiago’s newspaper La Cuarta, said: “All of us journalists agree that President Bush looked like a cowboy. It was total breach of protocol. I’ve seen a lot of John Wayne movies, and President Bush was definitely acting like a cowboy.”


By Saturday night – though it had not been announced – Chile had already begun calling the guests to the dinner planned for Sunday at La Moneda, the presidential palace that was the site of the coup that overthrew Salvador Allende on Sept. 11, 1973. The dispute over the dinner on Sunday centered on the question of whether the Chilean guests would be required to go through metal detectors before dining with Mr. Bush, a standard practice for the Secret Service. The Chileans told Mr. Bush’s delegation that the practice was humiliating. “Can you imagine someone like the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court having to submit to an inspection by gringo security agents in order to get into our own seat of government?” asked one of the disinvited Chileans, who spoke on condition that he not be identified. “That’s an affront no Chilean was going to tolerate, and Lagos had no choice but to act the way he did.”

So, no U.S. sponsored coups, no Chilean facilitated U.S. presidential assassinations, but a few bruised egos. All in all I don’t know what anyone is complaining about.

Plus, they had fried fish which I also had for dinner last night. And if the Crackerbarrel had seen fit to screen me through security, I’d have taken it in stride I think.

Learning Their Names

Posted by Jeremy Brown

Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum has launched a website offering online access to their recently completed database of over 3 million names of Jewish victims of the Nazi holocaust (via The New York Times).

It would not have been possible, of course, to gather the names of all six million Jewish victims:

The half-century effort could not identify all the six million, Mr. Shalev said. In large parts of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, no documentation was kept by the squads who shot to death entire Jewish populations of some towns or by Nazi troops who dispatched ghetto inhabitants to death camps, where they were gassed upon arrival. In Hungary, most of the lists of the 437,000 Jews rounded up by the Hungarian police and sent to Auschwitz in a period of 56 days in 1944 were never located, Mr. Shalev said.

But the opportunity to truly understand the sea of humanity that was removed from the earth but, more importantly, to be reminded that these were people, not just victims, is an incredible thing:

Mr. Roth spoke about his grandfather, Shimon Rosenwasser, who was killed at Auschwitz. Mr. Roth remembered him “as an observant Jew but also an outdoorsy type who owned a lumber business and could pick up a hatchet and cut a tree down.” He hopes his own grandchildren will learn about his grandfather from the Web site.

“These were human beings,” he said, “who lived, laughed, cursed, fought, who did the things human beings do.”

I have no specific knowledge of having lost family members to the holocaust, and I knew that my tenuous searches for people named ‘Bron’ or ‘Brunn’ or ‘Braun’ wouldn’t enlighten me, nor would searching for Levines for any trace of my mother’s side of the family. Probably no distant relatives are there waiting for me. But the exercise has been very affecting. Even if you’re not Jewish, try entering the names of Jewish people you’ve known or admired. It’s a way of reaching into this awful history and rescuing its victims from anonymity.

And it occurs to me that one way to honor the lives of the people in that database might be to learn about the lives of people still living in Darfur and see what we might be able to do. This is a good place to start.

Zeyad’s Frightening Report

Posted by Jeremy Brown

Zeyad, the Iraqi dentist who blogs from Baghdad at Healing Iraq, reports that fighting has moved into Baghdad. Zeyad finds himself at the heart of a very frightening situation and he blogs a first hand report that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up:

Fierce fighting has been going on in several areas of Baghdad for the last 4 hours. I was supposed to leave for Basrah this morning, as soon as I walked out of the front door I was face to face with ten or so hooded men dressed in black carrying Ak-47′s and RPG’s. They had set up a checkpoint right in front of our door.


We watched them from behind the door with my mother frantically trying to get us inside. There was an exchange of fire and someone was bellowing “Where are the National traitors? (referring to the National Guards) Let them come and taste this.” More shooting followed.

First, I think I can speak for all readers of this blog in saying I hope Zeyad and his family stay safe during this turmoil.

My next reaction, now that the wave of sympathetic fear has made its journey through my gut, is to zero in on the single phrase, among so many jarring phrases, that I am convinced characterizes what is going on now: ‘hooded men’.

Here in the U.S. even White northerners like myself don’t need to be reminded to be put off by the image of hooded militia running through residential neighborhoods looking for people to slaughter and terrorize.

Here is a look back at the ‘race riot’ in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921:

This happened in the racially and politically tense atmosphere of northeastern Oklahoma. The area was a hotbed of Ku Klux Klan activity at that time.

By June 1, white mobs had invaded the segregated black part of town and destroyed the Greenwood district, known nationally as the “Black Wall Street” for its economic success. Hundreds of people were killed; dozens of businesses, 1,256 homes, many churches and a hospital were destroyed, in an area covering 35 blocks. Estimates of the dead range up to 300. After the governor declared martial law, black people were rounded up by the National Guard and put into the baseball stadium. Several black families, such as Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher’s, fled for more peaceful cities.

Contrast the target of U.S. military operations then with the targets now. Again, Zeyad:

A jet fighter was now screeching over our heads and it let off some flares apparently in an attempt to scare away the ‘Mujahideen’. They left their positions for a while and slowly people started to come out. Parents nervously dragging schoolchildren behind them and youngsters who were undecided whether to move on or return home.

And Strategy Page offers some important context on what is now going on in Iraq (via Instapundit):

American troops now control all of Fallujah and have found extensive evidence of terrorist and criminal gangs using the city as a headquarters. Evidence was found of torture chambers, and video sets used for filming the execution of kidnap victims. Moreover, the body of a woman, thought to be foreign aid executive (Care International) Margaret Hassan, was also found in Fallujah. A video of her murder was recently released by her killers, and it appears that the killing was done in Fallujah. Without Fallujah as a “safe area” for keeping hostages, killing them, and getting away with it, the terrorists have to do their dirty work in cities where there is a strong police presence, and nearby American troops. That’s what’s happening in Baghdad, Mosul and other cities right now. The gangs are trying to control neighborhoods in these cities, and are not succeeding.

There’s no denying that the current flareup in the fighting is disturbing to read about and is a horror for the people involved in it. But I don’t see how anyone can deny that this is a struggle for the advancement of Iraq’s future as a free, potentially democratic state. This is a struggle that we have every reason to hope will succeed and, I think, much justification for being cautiously optimistic about.


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