Saturday, March 31, 2007

Gus Chavez: Ken Burns Documentary "Shameful"

From the San Diego Tribune:
SAN DIEGO – Gus Chavez of San Diego had five uncles who served in World War II, including two who were injured and one who was captured by the Germans. The uncle he's named after died during training for the war.

So Chavez took it personally when he learned that acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns' seven-part documentary about the war, scheduled to air nationally on PBS in September, doesn't feature any Latinos.

“It's a misrepresentation,” said Chavez, a retired San Diego State administrator and longtime local activist. “You have a documentary that runs 14 hours and it doesn't mention the Latino experience? It's unacceptable. It's shameful.”

Chavez, 63, is helping spearhead a campaign called “Defend the Honor” to pressure Burns and PBS not to air the series until changes are made.

The campaign drew support this week from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the American GI Forum, a Hispanic veterans group. Cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz – tipped off to the controversy by Chavez – has been lampooning Burns in his comic strip “La Cucaracha,” which runs in newspapers including The San Diego Union-Tribune.

In a written statement, Burns and co-producer Lynn Novick asked viewers to “refrain from passing judgment on our work until they have seen it.” The statement said:

“We are dismayed and saddened by any assumption that we intentionally excluded anyone from our series on the Second World War. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“For 30 years we have made films that have tried to tell many of the stories that haven't been told in American history. In this latest project, we have attempted to show the universal human experience of war by focusing on the testimonies of just a handful of people. As a result, millions of stories are not explored in our film.”

Carlos Guerra on Maggie Rivas-Rodríguez v. Ken Burns

From the San Antonio Express News:
It was at a meeting in New Orleans' World War II Museum last fall that Rivas learned about "The War," Ken Burns' seven-part epic that will air on PBS in the fall and will be followed by releases of a major book, a soundtrack CD, educational packages and a DVD box set.

"Carmen Contreras Bozak, who was a WAC during World War II, asked if women were (included in the 60-plus interviews) and the producer said that no, (only) women in the home front," Rivas says. Neither has Burns included Native Americans or Latinos in his series.

" 'We're not really looking at individuals' ethnic-group experiences, except for Japanese Americans and African Americans because of their experiences,' " one producer told them, suggesting, Rivas says, that "Latinos' experience wasn't rich and unique, and it was."

Rivas also adds that she won't be satisfied if Burns "finds and interviews someone named Garza and inserts it into this thing because it is being billed as a definitive look at World War II in our country.

"We need the Latino perspective included across the board, in that overall picture," she says. "But there is a much bigger, longstanding issue: Why do Latinos continue to be excluded from PBS specials and general history books across the board?"

If you think Burns' and PBS' blind spot is limited to Latino veterans' contributions, however, consider this: "The War" will premiere nationally on Diez y Seis de Septiembre [Mexican Independence Day].

2nd British Marine Confesses on Iranian TV

Nathan Summers submits:

So, This is the Little Lady Who Started The War (Against Ken Burns): Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez

From her official University of Texas biography:
Rivas-Rodriguez received her Ph.D. as a Freedom Forum doctoral fellow from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1998. Her dissertation, "Brown Eyes on the Web: A U.S. Latino Newspaper Site on the Internet," included a content analysis of a Latino Web newspaper as well as one of the mainstream newspapers in the same market. Rivas-Rodriguez received her master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 1977. She received a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1976.

She has more than 17 years of daily news experience, mostly as a reporter for the Boston Globe, WFAA-TV in Dallas and the Dallas Morning News. Her first job was as a copy editor for UPI in Dallas. Her most recent professional work was for the Morning News state desk as bureau chief of the border bureau, based in El Paso, covering border states.

Her research interests include the intersection of oral history and journalism, U.S. Latinos and the news media, both as producers of news and as consumers. Since 1999, Rivas-Rodriguez has spearheaded the U.S. Latino and Latina World War II Oral History Project, which has collected interviews with over 450 men and women throughout the country. Stories based on those interviews have appeared in a newspaper dedicated to the project. The project has several other components: a conference, an edited volume of academic manuscripts, a play (through Arizona State University Public Events and the University of Texas' Performing Arts Center), documentary film with educational materials, a general interest book, and a video, audio tape and photographic archive. The project is self-supporting and has enjoyed support from the Austin American-Statesman and the San Antonio Express-News, and has received financial contributions from several foundations, corporations and hundreds of individual donors.

Rivas-Rodriguez was on the committee that organized and founded the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in 1982. She began two of the NAHJ's most successful student projects: a convention newspaper produced by college students and professionals and a nationwide high school writing contest. The convention newspaper has become the model for most other industry organizations (ASNE, NABJ, AJA) as a way to develop mentoring relationships and to train students.

She is the Associate Director of the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Recent Courses: J320D Intermediate Reporting, J335 Narrative Journalism, J349T.7 Oral History as Journalism, J395 Covering the U.S.-Mexico Border and J395.1 Professional Writing for Journalists.

Publications: "Brown Eyes on the Web: An Alternative U.S. Latino Newspaper on the Internet" (New York: Routledge), 2003. She was also the editor of "Mexican Americans and World War II", an edited volume (Austin: University of Texas Press, forthcoming).

Friday, March 30, 2007

Guillermo Martinez: Ken Burns' "Intolerable" Documentary

From Florida's Sun-Sentinel:
Like a forest fire in its earliest stages, the flames have not yet erupted. They soon will, however, for the complete disregard of the Latino experience in World War II in a documentary by Ken Burns, scheduled to air for 14 hours starting Sept. 23, is insulting and discriminatory.

This fire has been simmering for weeks, the result of work by a group of Latino civic leaders -- Dr. Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, a journalism professor at the University of Texas in Austin; Angelo Falcon of the National Latino Policy in New York City; Marta Garcia, second vice chair of the executive board of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and Gus Ch–vez, retired administrator from San Diego State University.

The movement these four activists began a few short weeks ago is catching on and drawing the ire of Hispanics across the nation. For what Burns and PBS have done is simply intolerable.

Current: Ken Burns' Anti-Latino Bias "Civil Rights Issue"

In the trade paper of the public broadcasting industry, Karen Everhart Bedford's article is headlined: Burns’ omission seen as Latino civil rights issue.
As long as television and other media continue to marginalize Latinos’ military service and wartime sacrifice, “we continue to be invisible,” said Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin who is leading the charge against The War. “This is one that we’re not going to allow.”

The War documents a “major national experience and we’re not part of it and we don’t want it to be shown until it’s corrected,” said Gus Chavez, a retired university administrator from San Diego who participated in a March 6 meeting with PBS execs. “We are not going to sit still and let historical events of this nature be presented without our input and representation.”

Chavez, a Navy veteran, joined Rivas-Rodriquez in organizing the campaign for recognition that they call “Defend the Honor.”

“We are totally geared to making the general public aware of our concern that this documentary is misrepresenting the war as it’s presented to exclude the Latino experience,” Chavez said.

Defend the Honor

Here's a link to Defend the Honor, a website countering Ken Burns's exclusion of Latino war heroes, which has posted some anti-Ken Burns cartoons. Their mission statement:
A "documentary" about Americans and World War II, to be broadcast by PBS next fall, deliberately excludes any mention of Latino heroes who found to defend the United States from its enemies. This exclusion makes this documentary historically flawed! PBS and the corporate and foundation sponsors of this “documentary” need to know it now, before the film is aired. You need to tell them. Look for contact information at The US Latino & Latina WWII Oral History Project

This website is dedicated to supporting efforts of individuals and organizations to ensure that WWII-era Latinos and Latinas are included in today's general historical narratives. Currently, the focus of this effort is the scheduled September 2007 airing of a 14-hour PBS WWII documentary which fails to include any mention of the Latino experience. Their stories are significant and should be included. The story of our country's wartime experiences are incomplete without including the telling of what happened to Latinos.

AP: Hispanic GIs Protest Ken Burns Documentary

The anti-Ken Burns movement is growing, Suzanne Gamboa reports in the Houston Chronicle:
The latest group to take their grievance to PBS is the American GI Forum, an Hispanic veterans group that has waged numerous civil rights battles for Hispanics and Hispanic veterans.

The American GI Forum is appealing to Hispanic veterans and other Latino groups to write members of Congress and their local PBS affiliate about the documentary that has been six years in the making.

This week, GI Forum President Antonio Morales and other Latino leaders met in Washington with PBS President Paula Kerger to lodge their complaints about the 14-hour Ken Burns documentary set to air this September, Hispanic Heritage month.

"We are not going to tolerate this omission," Morales said after the PBS meeting.

PBS Ombudsman Defends Ken Burns

Apparently the documentary will broadcast four-letter words at a time when children are watching TV, so PBS is asking that the FCC not enforce its obscenity ban against Burns.


Read Michael Getler's pre-emptive apologia for the as-yet unbroadcast film here.

Ken Burns' Anti-Latino Agenda

From The Unapologetic Mexican:
Now, Ken Burns, famous "documentary" filmmaker is doing his part as a good American soldier of media, to insure that the future thinks even less of us.

KEN BURNS is a documentary filmmaker who has a lot of cred, and chances are good that you've seen his work. If you use Macintosh's iMovie (or if you've seen any documentary these days that uses still shots as part of its presentation), you are familiar with what is named the "Ken Burns Effect," an editing technique made ubiquitous by his documentaries.

When it comes to American documentary filmmaking, Ken Burns is an institution, frequently hailed as “the most accomplished documentary filmmaker of his generation,” or some other such thing. And I am not denying his chops. (Nor his very disarming and Opie-like aura of amiability!) The man can wield a mean editing decision, script, and shotlist. Ultimately, his presentations are engaging and very well-received, mainstreamed, and most important to this essay—considered fact.

The PBS site tells us that "for over 25 years, Ken Burns has been producing films that are unafraid of controversy and tragedy." And I would have to agree. Because his latest seven-part, fourteen hour film The War, an epic undertaking that took six years to make and that covers the second world war by interviewing forty veterans from four towns—one of them Sacramento, California—and does not include even one Mexican (or Puerto Rican, or Native American, or Latino at all) is a tragedy, when it comes to respecting an accurate history, or the contributions of the descendants of the Indigenous of these Americas.

Mark Steyn on Britain's Iranian Hostage Crisis

He spoke on Hugh Hewitt's radio show:
MS: Well, they were weak when this happened three years ago, and I believe I wrote in the Telegraph at the time that this was a great act of weakness by the British against an act of piracy by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Now if you allow people to get away with it, they try it again. They get a little more bolder. This parading of this woman, this female sailor, Royal Navy personnel rating, as they call it in the Royal Navy, in Islamic clothing, is a clear breach of the Geneva Conventions.

HH: Yes.

MS: But all the people who complain and whine about Gitmo all day long don’t care about countries like Iran violating the Geneva Conventions. Iran can violate them with impunity, and so will continue to do so. And I’m very concerned. Iran, you talk about the chronology, Iran respects far fewer of the basic courtesies between states than the Soviet Union, or the Chinese Communists, or any other traditional enemy of the United States has ever done. And the fact of the matter is that we respond weakly every time this happens. The absolute low point of the Cold War was nothing to do with America’s relations with the Soviet Union, but was Jimmy Carter’s completely disastrous behavior, vis-à-vis Iran in 1979. And the British are in effect reenacting a Carter strategy, 28 years later.

HH: Do you…I noted that you quoted at, Speaker Gingrich’s suggestion on this program yesterday, Rush even played it today, that first, blow the gasoline refinery, and then stop the tankers. Do you think there’s a chance in the world the Brits will adopt such a strategy?

MS: No, and I think the thing about it is that if you were to propose that either in the House of Commons, or in the United States Congress, people would regard you as an extremist. You would be accused of escalating the situation. Now I think you could make the case that in fact, you don’t even need to do as Newt was talking about with you, which is to threaten them privately with it for a week. I mean, you could make the case that they should just do it. I mean, Iran surprises us all the time. It seizes sailors, it takes out hit contracts on British subjects like Salman Rushdie, it blows up community centers in Argentina, it seizes the U.S. Embassy. Iran doesn’t threaten to do that, it just gets on with it and does it. And maybe there’s a case to be said for well, maybe we should just do something against Iran. Maybe we should just take out that refinery, and they can wake up to it, and see it smoking when it happens, and then they’ll realize we’re serious. But the fact of the matter is that at the moment, when you hear Speaker Gingrich talk about that on your show, you then think well, can I imagine the British Foreign Secretary threatening that? Can I imagine Condoleezza Rice threatening that? And it’s actually there, and you realize how far all the options have bled away, so that now, Tony Blair is threatening, threatening to very quietly raise the possibility of sometime down the road, getting a U.N. resolution on possible trade, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And we all know that anything meaningful can’t be done by the U.N., because it would be vetoed by some combination of the Chinese, the Russians and the French. So in other words, it’s a non-threat, and the Iranians understand it as such.

HH: And back in Tehran, they say I guess we can push even further, don’t they?

MS: Exactly.

HH: And as a result, great power status, as you wrote at National Review, erodes, and is not quickly reassembled. I don’t know if Great Britain gets it back. As Arthur Herman said, they used to wonder if they’d left a navy big enough to defend Great Britain. Now the question is do they have a navy big enough to defend the navy.


I found this interesting blog about Afghanistan via a link Nathan Hamm posted on Registan.

Bloggers Blast Ken Burns

It always frustrates me whenever I hear stories like this - the ethnic minority experience in America being reduced to the sidelines, especially when it comes to paramount events such as WWII. But the sad fact is that Burns is just the latest in the long list of notable historians who have concocted these white-centric narratives.
And here:
> Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2007 19:02:10 -0600
> To: Ron Takaki
> From: Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez
> Hello, Professor Takaki,
> I am very well aware of your work and indeed was very moved by Double Victory.
> Thank you so much for contacting me.
> A couple of things, in case you haven't sent out the letter. Apparently the
> Burns documentary does include the African American and Japanese American
> experience, but leaves out Native Americans and Latinos, as well, it seems,
> women in the military.
> I'm totally in agreement with you: they mustn't air this in September. I'll be
> meeting with Ms. Kerger and one other PBS executive next Tuesday, March 6. Gus
> Chavez of San Diego will also be with me.
> I'll add you to our listserve and let's see if we can stop this train wreck
> before it happens.
> All my best,
> Maggie
And here:
The two major financial backers to the film are two brands very familiar to the Latino community: General Motors and Anheuser-Busch.

As all in the Latino community know, both companies believe strongly in providing support to la raza.

Wonder how GM and Anheuser-Busch would feel if they knew some of their most loyal consumers were overlooked and flat-out dismissed when it came to acknowledging their important roles in a war story that, thanks to their money, will be broadcast across the nation without even a nod to the fact that Latino soldiers were even there.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jorge Marsical Slams Ken Burns for "Erasure" of Hispanic Veterans

In a syndicated Scripss-Howard News Service column, Vietnam Veteran Jorge Marsical blasts Ken Burns with both barrels:
First, by erasing the contributions of this nation's Spanish-speaking communities, Burns distorts the collective history of all the people in these United States.

Second, his erasure means that he has no clue about where we are and where we are going as a nation. That as many as half a million Latinos and Latinas served in that war as well as in Vietnam, Iraq and every other U.S. conflict cannot be disconnected from the fact that today Latinos are the largest minority ethnic/racial group in the country...

...Recently, when confronted by a small group of Latinos in San Francisco, Burns offered a flippant, "The film doesn't include gays either."

Mr. Burns, the Latino community will pursue our future by pursuing our past. Despite your obstinate refusal to recognize willful ignorance, we are insisting that we do indeed have a past whether or not you can see it from your isolated outpost in New England.

Our collective future will not be understood without an acknowledgement of the service and the sacrifices that decades of Latinos have bestowed upon the nation.

Is Ken Burns Anti-Hispanic?

According to Josphine Hearn's article in The Politico, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus seems to think think that he is--because his latest PBS documentary about World War II fails to include a single Hispanic veteran:
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has joined a campaign to include Hispanics in an upcoming PBS documentary on World War II, vowing to "put the squeeze" on top public television executives.

"We're very much concerned about the lack of Hispanics in the documentary," Chairman Joe Baca (D-Calif.) said. "That's appalling. That's a no-no to us."

The Hispanic Caucus and other Latino interest groups have been troubled that the 14-hour series -- "The War," by renowned filmmaker Ken Burns and scheduled for broadcast in September -- features no Hispanics, even as it highlights African-Americans and Japanese-Americans. They note that 500,000 Latinos served in World War II.

Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Tex.) echoed Baca's concerns.

"There is a lot of outrage and anger and disappointment," he said. "We've come so far, and then we haven't. It's our responsibility to put the squeeze on people and educate them."

Baca, Rodriguez and a half-dozen other caucus members met with PBS President Paula Kerger on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to discuss the issue. They did not rule out trying to restrict federal funding of public television if PBS officials do not address some of their concerns.

"The bottom line is we also have the right to do what we can economically with PBS to show our displeasure," Rodriguez said. "I hope it won't come to that."
To help Ken Burns and PBS figure out why Hispanic members of Congress believe he is a racist, here's a link to a website listing Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients from World War II. And, as an old PBS-watcher, might I suggest to the Hispanic Caucus that to speed up a response they might contact Ken Burns' other agency, corporate and foundation sponsors, as well? Here's a list from the PBS website:
Corporate funding is provided by General Motors and Anheuser-Busch. Major funding is provided by Lilly Endowment, Inc.; Public Broadcasting Service; National Endowment for the Humanities; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations; The Pew Charitable Trusts; The Longaberger Foundation; and Park Foundation, Inc.
BTW, I didn't see any Hispanic surnames in these credits listed on the documentary's website:
A Production of Florentine Films and WETA-TV

Directed and Produced by KEN BURNS and LYNN NOVICK; Written By GEOFFREY C. WARD; Produced by SARAH BOTSTEIN: Co-Producers PETER MILLER and DAVID McMAHON; Supervising Film Editor PAUL BARNES; Editors PAUL BARNES, ERIK EWERS and TRICIA REIDY; Cinematography BUDDY SQUIRES; Associate Producers MEGHAN HORVATH and TAYLOR KRAUSS; Narrated by KEITH DAVID with TOM HANKS, JOSH LUCAS, BOBBY CANNAVALE, SAMUEL L. JACKSON, ELI WALLACH, among others; Original Music Composed and Arranged by WYNTON MARSALIS; “AMERICAN ANTHEM” music and lyrics by GENE SCHEER.

Accompanying the series will be a companion book, written by Geoffrey C. Ward and introduced by Ken Burns, that will be published by Alfred A. Knopf in August 2007. The soundtrack will be released in September 2007 by Sony BMG Legacy Recordings.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Victor Davis Hanson on 300

A Classics professor analyzes Hollywood's latest big-screen blockbuster:
Finally, some have suggested that "300" is juvenile in its black-and-white depiction — and glorification — of free Greeks versus imperious Persians. The film has actually been banned in Iran as hurtful American propaganda, as the theocracy suddenly is reclaiming its "infidel" ancient past.

But that good/bad contrast comes not from the director or Frank Miller, but is based on accounts from the Greeks themselves, who saw their own society as antithetical to the monarchy of imperial Persia.

True, 2,500 years ago, almost every society in the ancient Mediterranean world had slaves. And all relegated women to a relatively inferior position. Sparta turned the entire region of Messenia into a dependent serf state.

But in the Greek polis alone, there were elected governments, ranging from the constitutional oligarchy at Sparta to much broader-based voting in states like Athens and Thespiae.

Most importantly, only in Greece was there a constant tradition of unfettered expression and self-criticism. Aristophanes, Sophocles and Plato questioned the subordinate position of women. Alcidamas lamented the notion of slavery.

Such openness was found nowhere else in the ancient Mediterranean world. That freedom of expression explains why we rightly consider the ancient Greeks as the founders of our present Western civilization — and, as millions of moviegoers seem to sense, far more like us than the enemy who ultimately failed to conquer them.

US Government Still Funds Palestinian Terror University

Joel Mowbray's article makes sobering reading:
When asked by this journalist about its funding decisions in the West Bank and Gaza, USAID pointed to $2.3 million in assistance provided to Al Quds University. Undermining USAID’s argument that funding the school is wise policy, however, was the weeklong celebration this January of Yahya Ayyash, the Hamas leader known as “the shahid [martyr] engineer.” He is credited with creating the first suicide belts in the mid-1990s and training the next generation of suicide bomb makers.

The school’s celebration of a leading terrorist actually seems to be in line with the beliefs of its leader. The president of Al-Quds University President, Sari Nusseibeh, is widely considered a leading Palestinian moderate—USAID praised him as “one such prominent and respected figure”—yet he, too, celebrates the glories of terrorists.

In an appearance on Al-Jazeera in 2002 with Hamas political bureau chief Khalid Mashaal and the mother of a suicide bomber, Nusseibeh had this to say of the woman who proudly raised a terrorist: “When I hear the words of Umm Nidal, I recall the [Koranic] verse stating that ‘Paradise lies under the feet of mothers.’ All respect is due to this mother; it is due to every Palestinian mother and every female Palestinian who is a Jihad fighter on this land.” (Transcript provided by PMW.)

As Palestinian colleges go, Al-Quds University might well be quite moderate—but that’s the problem. If terrorists are hailed as heroes at the moderate schools, imagine what happens at the more radical ones.

British Hostages on Iranian TV

Submission...(ht Drudge):

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bermard Lewis on the Clash of Civilizations

Bernard Lewis spoke at the AEI's March 7th Irving Kristol award dinner, and had this to say, among other things (ht Melanie Phillips):
That game is now over. The era that was inaugurated by Napoleon and Nelson was terminated by Reagan and Gorbachev. The Middle East is no longer ruled or dominated by outside powers. These nations are having some difficulty adjusting to this new situation, to taking responsibility for their own actions and their consequences, and so on. But they are beginning to do so, and this change has been expressed with his usual clarity and eloquence by Osama bin Laden.

We see with the ending of the era of outside domination, the reemergence of certain older trends and deeper currents in Middle Eastern history, which had been submerged or at least obscured during the centuries of Western domination. Now they are coming back again. One of them I would call the internal struggles--ethnic, sectarian, regional--between different forces within the Middle East. These have of course continued, but were of less importance in the imperialist era. They are coming out again now and gaining force, as we see for example from the current clash between Sunni and Shia Islam--something without precedent for centuries.

The other thing more directly relevant to my theme this evening is the signs of a return among Muslims to what they perceive as the cosmic struggle for world domination between the two main faiths--Christianity and Islam. There are many religions in the world, but as far as I know there are only two that have claimed that their truths are not only universal--all religions claim that--but also exclusive; that they--the Christians in the one case, the Muslims in the other--are the fortunate recipients of God's final message to humanity, which it is their duty not to keep selfishly to themselves--like the Jews or the Hindus--but to bring to the rest of humanity, removing whatever obstacles there may be on the way. This self-perception, shared between Christendom and Islam, led to the long struggle that has been going on for more than fourteen centuries and which is now entering a new phase. In the Christian world, now at the beginning of the 21st century of its era, this triumphalist attitude no longer prevails, and is confined to a few minority groups. In the world of Islam, now in its early 15th century, triumphalism is still a significant force, and has found expression in new militant movements.

Ali Pahlavan: "I Am Very Worried..."

The executive editor of Tehran's Iran News spoke with the BBC about the dangers to world peace in Britain's current hostage crisis:
My understanding of the situation is that this could be a reaction to the UN sanctions which were passed two days ago... the revolutionary guards had promised that some sort of reaction would be forthcoming from Iran.

The revolutionary guards are a very hard line, ultra-conservative wing of the regime who believe that the US and Britain need to be challenged in the Persian Gulf and in the Middle East... their interests need to be challenged in Palestine, in Lebanon, in Iraq and elsewhere.

So this could be part of the strategy to challenge the British and American supremacy in this part of the world which is troubling. It could lead to confrontation and be a trigger and which could lead to escalation...

... I am worried because it's very different than the 2004 incident. The revolutionary guard is the government now.

So it is troubling and it is worrying. Many of us analysts had predicted an incident in the Persian Gulf, which is very crucial to the global economy and to Western interests and could trigger something disastrous.

Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas and the Global Jihad:

From a summary of a January, 2007 report from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, written by Dore Gold:
From the analysis that follows, new principles of Western policy become necessary that reflect the new realities of the Middle East:

*Iran is more determined than ever to achieve regional hegemony in the Middle East and is fueling regional instability across the entire area. It is a cardinal error for the West to believe that Iran can be turned into a status-quo power by addressing a series of political grievances that its leadership may voice (or by apologizing for Western colonial policies toward Iran in the past). Iran's role in the UN-sponsored "Six-Plus-Two" talks over Afghanistan in the late 1990s (with the U.S., Russia, and Afghanistan's neighbors) cannot be compared to its intended role in Iraq. In the Afghan case, Iran had an interest in the containment of a radical Sunni state under the Taliban, where Shiites were only a minority. In the Iraqi, case in contrast, Iran is threatening to dominate a Shiite-majority country. In any case, after 2001, Iran's limited contacts with the West did not prevent its leadership from sheltering elements of al-Qaeda.

*The primary threat to the Sunni Arab states now clearly comes from Iran. The residual Arab-Israeli conflict is not their utmost concern. Indeed, Israel and the Sunni Arabs may have many common threat perceptions. The resulting coincidence of their security interests may not be sufficient to produce any diplomatic breakthroughs in the peace process, where wide gaps remain between Israel and the Palestinians on all the core issues, but it might warrant low level discussions between Israel and its neighbors about how to address the threats that they face.

*There is no short-term diplomatic option for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As long as the present wave of radical Islam continues and successfully dominates Palestinian politics, it is extremely unlikely that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will produce any long-lasting agreements. Further Israeli unilateral pullbacks, in the absence of a Palestinian negotiating partner, are likely to strengthen the grip of radical Islam on Palestinian society and vindicate the success of radical Islam across the region as well. This is precisely what happened with the Gaza Disengagement in August 2005.

*The stabilization of the Middle East requires the neutralization of any of the components of the current radical Islamic wave. In this sense, it doesn't matter if Sunni or Shiite organizations are defeated, for the failure of any one of the elements in the present wave will weaken the other elements as well. The defeat of Hamas among the Palestinians or Hizballah in Lebanon would constitute an enormous setback for Iran. Today, Ahmadinejad's Iran is the main source of regional instability across the Middle East, both directly and indirectly, through proxy organizations that it supports.

*Israel has a continuing need for defensible borders. With the rise of both Sunni and Shiite terrorist capabilities around Israel, the Middle East has become a more dangerous region. Deterrence of these organizations may be very difficult to achieve. Under such conditions, were Israel pressured to concede the Jordan Valley, for example, it would likely expose itself to a steep increase in infiltration to the strategic West Bank, including weapons and volunteers, and thus face the same experience it had with the Philadelphi corridor after the Gaza pullout. At the same time, the vacuum such a move created would increasingly attract global jihadi groups to Jordan, thereby undermining the stability of the Hashemite kingdom, and ultimately the region as a whole.

Smithsonian Chief Forced Out By Scandal

Jacqueline Trescott and James V. Grimaldi report on the end of Lawrence Small's tenure, in today's Washington Post:
Congressional criticism mounted after articles in The Washington Post detailed $2 million in housing and office expenditures by Small, as well as $90,000 in unauthorized expenses...

...Small's spending was the subject of intense public scrutiny after The Post published details last month of a confidential inspector general's report examining his $2 million in housing and office expenses over the past six years.

The Post reported in February that Small accumulated unauthorized expenses from 2000 to 2005, including charges for chartered jet travel, his wife's trip to Cambodia, hotel rooms, luxury car service, catered staff meals and expensive gifts, according to confidential findings by the Smithsonian inspector general.

Last week the Post reported that Small spent nearly $160,000 on the redecoration of his offices in the institution's main building on the Mall shortly after he took the helm. The expenses include $4,000 for two chairs from the English furniture maker George Smith, $13,000 for a custom-built conference table and $31,000 for Berkeley striped upholstery.

Small has also received $1.15 million in housing allowances over a six-year period in return for agreeing to use his 6,500-square-foot home in Woodley Park for Smithsonian functions. To justify those expenses, Small submitted receipts for $152,000 in utility bills, $273,000 in housekeeping services and $203,000 in maintenance charges, including $2,535 to clean a chandelier. The home-repair invoices show $12,000 for upkeep and service on his backyard swimming pool, including $4,000 to replace the lap pool's heater and water pump.

Controversy was a frequent feature of his tenure. In 2004, Small was convicted in federal court of purchasing the feathers of endangered birds. A Post investigation into animal care and deaths at the National Zoo brought reprimands from a leading science group and dismissal of the zoo director, who was handpicked by Small. Early in his tenure Small angered scientists over proposed changes in research across the institution. He eventually backed down.

Last year he upset historians and filmmakers seeking access to institution archives when he signed a semi-exclusive deal with Showtime to mine the Smithsonian's resources for a documentary film channel.

A native New Yorker and graduate of Brown University, Small had a 35-year career in banking and corporate management, including 27 years at Citicorp and eight years as president of Fannie Mae. A tall, imposing man who speaks fluent Spanish, Small is a passionate flamenco guitarist and avid collector of Latin American art.

Last year, a federal investigation into Fannie Mae's business practices found that Small was prominent among executives there who encouraged employees to hit profit targets so that managers, including himself, would receive larger annual bonuses. Regulators say Small advocated tactics that violated generally accepted accounting rules and misled investors.

Despite his troubles, Small never received any public admonishment from the Smithsonian board. Regents boosted his salary from $333,000 in 2000 to $884,733 in 2006. The Smithsonian is both a nonprofit organization under tax laws and a creation of Congress that receives federal appropriations -- last year it got $621 million.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Interview With Jeffrey Gedmin

At the Hudson Institute panel on Russia, "U.S-Russian Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?", there was a presentation by someone named Don Jensen from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, who appeared instead of Zeyno Baran, the speaker I came to hear. I can't really comment on Jensen, because I couldn't understand what he was saying, if anything. But his presentation made me curious about who is running the store at RFE/RL...

The answer turns out to be one Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin, a former AEI colleage of BBG honcho James Glassman. According to his bio, Gedmin is a trained musician and German area studies expert, last seen heading the Aspen Institute in Berlin. Although he apparently has no broadcasting, media studies, or news gathering experience, Google did turn up this provocative interview with Gedmin containing some memorable quotes worth sharing:
"Why has it become so acceptable that - at elegant dinner parties - very distinguished people openly say, 'I'm not anti-American, but Bush disgusts me and makes me physically sick? He is a war criminal and a real threat to world peace.' I can only interpret such statements as being partly about Bush and partly about using him as an acceptable cover to bash America.

"One can similarly interpret texts such as, 'I despise Sharon, he is a war criminal.' It reflects partly what some people think about Sharon and at the same time it gives them a justifiable cover to express what they truly think, 'Damn the Israelis and Jews, they disgust me.'"

Gedmin suggests that one can almost draw a model of the typical dinner conversation on these subjects in Berlin. "The number of diners is about twelve. Around eight are very angry at me and say, 'You are just wrong.' Some will say condescendingly and patronizingly, 'I'm sorry you feel like that because you have not been nicely treated here and you are a good person.' They add, 'But most Americans, Jews, and Israelis here are completely happy, you must really have been at the bad end of things.'

"Usually at such a dinner a minority of two or three people remain silent. After the dinner they approach me or call me up the next day and say something like, 'Thank God you expressed your opinion, you are absolutely right. We have been thinking what you said the whole time.' I usually reply, 'Where were you at the dinner last night? I would have liked your voice in the conversation.' They rationalize their answer, saying, 'Well, I know, but you made the points so well.'

"Sometimes people even say to me, 'Many more believe in what you said than you think.' I reply, 'Where are they? Let them come out of the closet and join the party.' They remain silent because they are cowards, and they want to be liked and to see what the group thinks. To be in the minority is unpopular. What I do, speaking up for America, or Israel, however, does not require courage such as being a member of the American military in Iraq does, or of the Israeli defense forces fighting terrorism."
After reading the interview in its entirety, I thought: Maybe RFE/RL might direct its broadcasts towards Germany, instead of the former Soviet Bloc...

Will Iran Hang British Marines?

At a panel about Russian-American relations, I ran into Dr. Kenneth R. Weinstein, Chief Executive Officer of the Hudson Institute. I asked him what he thought would happen to the 15 British marines held by Iran, who face death by hanging.

"I think Iran will back down," he responded, saying they would eventually be released. I hope he is right, but I told him that I thought Iran might hang them, just to make a point. Perhaps they are only being held as hostages, to trade for Iranian prisoners in Iraq, or as insurance against UN action.

However, Iran has hanged alleged spies in the past.

In addition, there may be a special significance to hanging Britishers, given England's prior history of imperial domination--Britain occupied half of Iranian territory, then called Persia, for many years. So, I wouldn't be too sure about Iran letting these poor souls go home, unfortunately. Especially given the context of war in Iraq and Afganistan, as well as related threats made against Iran by the British government.

Not just Persians and Arabs have trouble dealing with Britain. As I mentioned to Weinstein, even Israel felt the need to hang British military personnel, during the Yishuv's 1947 struggle for independence. Here's an account of the episode, from the Jewish Agency's website, Studies in the History of Zionism:
* Etzel's most daring operation was the organization of an escape from Acre prison, where dozens of prisoners were incarcerated -- members of Etzel and Lehi -- many sentenced to terms of imprisonment, others - to death. In a brilliantly planned operation, a group of Etzel members broke into the prison at the beginning of May 1947 and freed 41 Etzel and Lehi members held there. The British newspapers dubbed it the greatest prison break in history. In the battle that ensued, 5 Etzel members, including the operation's commander, were killed. 5 more Etzel fighters were taken prisoner by the British, of whom 3 were sentenced to death.

The Etzel kidnapped 2 British sergeants and threatened to hang them if this sentence were carried out. The British did not believe the Etzel would actually hang two innocent British soldiers, and on the 29th of July, 1947, the 3 Etzel members were hanged in Acre prison. They were the last martyrs of the Jewish underground. The next day, Etzel executed both captured British sergeants.
After that, the British stopped hanging Jews.

Royal Navy Permitted British Marine Capture

Seems like my retired US Navy friend was right, the Royal Navy allowed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to seize British marines, according to its rules of engagement, reports Terri Judd in The Independent (UK):
Vastly outnumbered and out-gunned, the Royal Navy team from HMS Cornwall were seized on Friday after completing a UN-authorised inspection of a merchant dhow in what they insist were clearly Iraqi waters. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy appeared in half a dozen attack speedboats mounted with machine guns..

Yesterday, the former First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Alan West, said British rules of engagement were "very much de-escalatory, because we don't want wars starting ... Rather than roaring into action and sinking everything in sight we try to step back and that, of course, is why our chaps were, in effect, able to be captured and taken away."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Forbidden Salad

Google video is addictive, it seems there are people all over the world uploading their videos. From the Hometown Baghdad website, this interesting Iraqi YouTube download is called "Forbidden Salad":

Weird Al Yankovic Videos

From Google Video's Top 100 downloads:White & Nerdy
Which led me to:
Don't Download This Song

Hassan Butt Speaks...

To Bob Simon, on 60 Minutes Sunday night, about his career as a terrorist based in Londonistan. I'm surprised (and somewhat interested in knowing the backstory) to see that 60 Minutes has aired a couple of very interesting--and anti-terrorist--news items lately...

Rudy Giuliani's New Website


Max Frankel: How Washington Really Works

Today's New York Times Sunday Magazine runs an interesting article by Max Frankel on how "secrets" are routinely revealed in the nation's capital--and why this is a vital part of the American democratic system. He quotes from a memo he wrote to justify publication of the Pentagon Papers:
The governmental, political and personal interests of the participants are inseparable in this process. Presidents make “secret” decisions only to reveal them for the purposes of frightening an adversary nation, wooing a friendly electorate, protecting their reputations. ... High officials of the government reveal secrets in the search for support of their policies, or to help sabotage the plans and policies of rival departments. ... Though not the only vehicle for this traffic in secrets — the Congress is always eager to provide a forum — the press is probably the most important.

Captured British Sailors Face Iranian Death Penalty

The confrontation between Iran and the UK appears to be heating up, according to the Times of London
FIFTEEN British sailors and marines arrested by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards off the coast of Iraq may be charged with spying.

A website run by associates of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, reported last night that the Britons would be put before a court and indicted.

Referring to them as “insurgents”, the site concluded: “If it is proven that they deliberately entered Iranian territory, they will be charged with espionage. If that is proven, they can expect a very serious penalty since according to Iranian law, espionage is one of the most serious offences.”

The warning followed claims by Iranian officials that the British navy personnel had been taken to Tehran, the capital, to explain their “aggressive action” in entering Iranian waters. British officials insist the servicemen were in Iraqi waters when they were held.

The penalty for espionage in Iran is death.
A friend who once served in the US Navy tells me that the only way the British marines could have been captured is if the British frigate supporting their operation backed down to the Iranian navy in the first place, when the marines were captured. He says the British could have fired on their Iranian captors, which might have stopped them. If that is indeed the case, then Britain may, in a sense, have lost its first naval engagement with the Iranian it looks like "mush" rather than "steel" from NATO and the Iraq/Afghan "coalition of the willing."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

French Court OKs Mohammed Cartoon Publication

Reuters reports that French public opinion favors the anti-Islamist verdict:
PARIS (Reuters) - A French court on Thursday ruled in favour of a satirical weekly that had printed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, rejecting accusations by Islamic groups who said the publication incited hatred against Muslims.

Following a recommendation by the public prosecutor, the court said the cartoons published by the weekly Charlie Hebdo fell under the category of freedom of expression and did not constitute an attack on Islam in general.

"The acceptable limits of freedom of expression have not been overstepped, with the contentious pictures participating in a public debate of general interest," the court said.

The cartoons, originally published in 2005 by a Danish daily, provoked violent protests in Asia, Africa and the Middle East that left 50 people dead. Several European publications reprinted them as an affirmation of free speech.

With France's presidential election just a month away, the court case has been overshadowed by election politics and added to a debate about freedom of speech and whether religions can be criticised.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, the conservative presidential frontrunner, his centrist rival Francois Bayrou, and Socialist party leader Francois Hollande have all spoken out in defence of the weekly.

Melanie Phillips on Leeds University's Kuntzel Affair

Melanie Phillips accuses Leeds University of defending Nazism, when the administration cancelled Matthias Kuntzel's planned lecture on the Nazi roots of Islamist extremist ideology:
Now, fresh information has reached me which reinforces the view that the cancellation was indeed designed to suppress Küntzel’s views. After meeting the university authorities the head of the German department, Professor Stuart Taberner, told his staff that, although he didn’t think censorship was the issue, if Küntzel were to be re-invited the university would have to ‘look closely’ at the subject of his talk.

‘Having now found the text of what I take to be his talk on the web,’ he said, ‘I’m convinced that the university would want to be reassured that it was striking the correct balance between free speech — the expression of ideas — and its obligation to be mindful of the language in which these ideas are framed’.

The real reason for the cancellation was thus laid bare. It was because of what Küntzel was saying. The implication was that his language was somehow inflammatory. But his lecture — which he previously delivered in January at Yale — is merely a scholarly and factual account of the links between Nazism and Islamic antisemitism.

He argues that the alliance between the Nazis and the Arabs of Palestine infected the wider Muslim world, not least through the influence of the Nazi wireless station Radio Zeesen which broadcast in Arabic, Persian and Turkish and inflamed the Muslim masses with Nazi blood libels laced with Arabic music and quotes from the Koran.

Subsequently, this Nazified Muslim antisemitism was given renewed life by both the Egyptian President Nasser and the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the intellectual inspiration for both Hamas and much of the current jihad against the west.

So what exactly is the ‘correct balance’ that this account fails to strike? Indeed, Küntzel makes the eminently balanced claim that this history shows there is nothing inevitable about Muslim antisemitism, which is merely Nazism in new garb.

The link he makes is no more than the demonstrable truth. But clearly, it is not possible to speak this truth at Leeds university. And the reason for this is surely that it draws a straight line between today’s Islamic world and Hitler’s Germany.

Indeed, Küntzel sees a seamless connection between Nazism and the jihad against the west. Hitler, he says, fantasised about the toppling of the skyscrapers of New York, the symbol of Jewish power. And the Hamburg trial of terrorists associated with 9/11 heard evidence that New York had been selected for the atrocity because it was a ‘Jewish city’.

For Islamists, however, such a connection threatens the image they have so assiduously cultivated for themselves as the victims of prejudice.

For their appeasers, it destroys the illusion that Islamist extremism arises from rational grievances such as the war in Iraq or ‘Islamophobia’. Worse still, those on the left who march shoulder to shoulder with radical Islamists are thus exposed as the allies of Nazism.

The result is that Leeds has now joined the growing list of universities which have spinelessly given up the defence of free speech, and thus, in the great battle for civilisation against barbarism, run up the campus white flag.

British Captives Taken To Teheran

The BBC News reports that British captives have been moved to Teheran:
The 15 Royal Navy personnel seized at gunpoint in the Gulf by Iranian forces have been transferred to Tehran, Iranian news agency Fars has reported.
The personnel reportedly arrived in the Iranian capital at 1200 local time.

The UK says the eight sailors and seven marines had been carrying out routine duties in Iraqi waters. It has called for their immediate release.

Tehran says the 15 were "illegally" in Iranian waters. They would be asked to explain their actions, Fars said.

In other developments, Iranian armed forces spokesman Gen Ali Reza Afshar told Iranian radio the Britons were in "sterling health" and had admitted to being in Iranian waters.

And the BBC has also learned that Foreign Office junior minister Lord Triesman will meet Iran's ambassador to London on Saturday to demand their release.
This story looks interesting, almost like an Iranian provocation to test Western resolve. Richard Nixon liked to quote Lenin to describe dealing with the Soviets:

"Communist leaders believe in Lenin’s precept: Probe with bayonets. If you encounter mush, proceed; if you encounter steel, withdraw."

It looks like Iran might be reading from the same playbook.

The Russia Journal

Just found this website featuring news about Russia, through its reprint of Nathan Hamm's interview about Registan.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Lyndon Allin on Registan and Central Asia

Andy at Siberian Light has continued his interesting interview series with one of Nathan Hamm, the man behind the legend that is Registan is still one of this blog's top referrers of all time, with most of the hits probably dating back to May of 2005, when I was obsessively blogging about the Andijan massacre. But Nathan is an inspiration for different reasons - he has created an authoritative website about this part of the world, a blog which I'm sure is a must-read for English-speaking followers of the region; and his blog definitely played some role in my decision to just say WTF and take a trip to Uzbekistan in the summer of '05 - though I didn't get around to posting some of the better photos from that trip until last month! People I "met" in Registan's comments section gave me a couple of the more useful travel tips I received.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Channel Four Documentary: The Great Global Warming Swindle

Browsing Google's top videos, I came across this download of Britain's Channel Four Documentary critical of Al Gore's position on global warming--a topic of much discussion on Radio Four podcasts after Britons revolted against Gordon Brown's plan to tax their airline tickets to holiday destinations in warmer climates...

Number 17, With a Bullet?

It's not exactly Billboard's Top 100 chart, but I just saw that ScienceDirect Top 25 Hottest Articles has listed Cultural Challenges to Democratization in Russia • Article Orbis, Volume 50, Issue 1, 1 December 2006, Pages 167-186 Jarvik, L. at number 17 on their chart...A few more downloads and perhaps they'll add a bullet, like Billboard Magazine's...

More on Lung Cancer in Non-Smokers

Thanks to a link on Michelle Malkin's blog to a post by Cathy Seipp's daughter Maia, I found this Lung Cancer Alliance webpage describing an epidemic of lung-cancer among non-smokers, as reported by Heather Wakelee, M.D of the Stanford University Clinical Cancer Center:
"Our paper provides firm data about the number of people who develop lung cancer who are never-smokers. Though we had estimates of these numbers before, we didn't have a comprehensive study that could really put those numbers in perspective. We can now say that lung cancer in never-smokers is as big of an epidemic as cervical cancer in women. Our study lays a foundation upon which further research can build looking at whether rates of lung cancer in never-smokers are increasing, and exploring the case of this disease. Underscoring the magnitude of this problem will hopefully increase awareness of the need for better treatments for all lung cancer patients."
And this item, from the Lung Cancer Alliance press release:
Laurie Fenton, LCA president, praised Dr. Wakelee for her research.

“For years the public health establishment has refused to address lung cancer as a disease, fueling the negative attitude toward lung cancer patients – whether they smoked or not – and using the stigma of smoking to justify the underfunding of research,” said Fenton. “Now we face an epidemic of lung cancer, particularly in nonsmoking women.”

Given the new figures, an estimated 14,200 women who have never smoked will die of lung cancer this year, nearly four times the total number of women – 3,700 – who will die of cervical cancer.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rafael Medoff on "The Accomplices"

He links Bernard Weinraub's play to a controversy over the 1983 Goldberg Commission report. From The Jewish Press:
Weinraub recently retired from the Times after a long and distinguished career as a staff correspondent. He is best remembered in the Jewish community for his explosive front-page exposes in 1983 about the ill-fated American Jewish Commission on the Holocaust.

Chaired by former associate justice of the Supreme Court Arthur Goldberg, the commission brought together scholars and representatives of Jewish organizations, ostensibly to prepare an impartial review the American Jewish community’s response to news of the Holocaust. Instead, as Weinraub revealed, it fell apart, largely because some Jewish groups were not ready to acknowledge their predecessors’ failings.

Weinraub’s articles in 1983 stimulated some much-needed introspection among American Jews, and “The Accomplices” will help complete the process. There is no doubt that the American Jewish community’s view of its past has matured a great deal in recent decades. Most Jewish leaders today recognize the need to learn from, rather than attempt to deny, the mistakes that were made in the 1940’s. Those mistakes are addressed frankly, but soberly, in “The Accomplices.”

Visual DNA

Thanks to a tip on Cousin Lucy's Spoon, I just took an online personality quiz from, called Visual DNA. It's fun, although I'm sure the results are completely scientific...

Cathy Seipp Remembered

By Luke Ford, in a long interview and blog post. I learned she was ill with lung cancer from Michelle Malkin's blog, and remembered meeting her when she worked at the UCLA Bruin and a friend of a then-friend who worked on the paper. Later, she worked at Buzz magazine with another old friend of mine. Our paths had not crossed in person for about 30 years, but I usually read what she wrote with interest. Here's an excerpt from the interview:
Cathy: "It makes me grateful for this Okie area I grew up in, even though I hated it then and wanted to get away. It teaches you that not everyone thinks the way you think. It's a good thing to learn as a journalist that most people are not like the cultural elite in the newsroom. It's so easy to shock journalists. If you have a different opinion, they're shocked."

"I worked for the AP after college for less than a year. I left because I was frustrated that I wasn't hired as a reporter from a copy clerk. My first job after that was at this hideous thing called The California Apparel News (CAN), the poor man's Women's Wear Daily, a trade paper for fashion. CAN brought in a new boss, Michael Belluomo. We called him Balumbo because he was such a dope. I was so young and stupid at the time that I didn't realize that you couldn't constantly make fun of the new boss. They will fire you. That was a shock. I cried. That was the last time I cried at an office. I was 20.

"I then went to the Los Angeles Daily News for four years, leaving in 1985. They doubled my salary to $400 a week. I was a fashion writer and for a year I wrote a daily column. It was a proto-blog. They had a stupid new features editor come in who I hated - Jane Amari. She's now at the Arizona Daily Star. I see her on Romenesko occasionally. She gets in trouble for doing some moronic thing."

From Jim Romenesko's page 10/28/02: "Several dozen Arizona Star readers let the paper know they weren't happy to see child killer Frank Jarvis Atwood's guest column opposing the death penalty. "I would cancel my subscription if my husband would allow me," says one reader. Star editor and publisher Jane Amari says she regrets publishing the murderer's essay. "Choosing to run the piece was a serious lapse in judgment," she says. "If we felt making that point was so important, I feel sure we could have located an author who is not on death row for a heinous crime." PLUS: The Star also regrets running an editorial cartoon equating the D.C. sniper with the gun lobby."

Cathy: "At that point, I didn't want to work in an office any more and have people tell me what to do. Since then, I've been a freelancer."

Luke: "When did your relationship with the LA Times begin?"

Cathy: "My first published article at age 19 was in the LA Times. I was friendly with a journalism professor named Digby Diehl and he was the Books editor at the LA Times and he gave me an assignment (biography of the real person behind the Three Faces of Eve book) and it was on the front page of the LA Times Book Review. At that time, you had to drive the story downtown because there weren't faxes and email. I didn't know how to drive from Westwood to downtown but I did it. Digby had a mean secretary named Eve who was horrible to me and screamed at me for having the margins wrong.

"When I was four and we moved to this country, I read the Times. Smart people got the Times. Stupid people got the Long Beach Press Telegram or the Orange County Register. When I wrote that thing about Bella Stumbo [LA Times feature writer] when she died, I've been reading her since high school.

"I freelanced for the Times until I started writing about them for Buzz. They would still call me up occasionally and try to assign me freelance articles. After I got into that niche of writing about media, and doing what I wanted to do - opinionated essays - I didn't want to do just some stupid assignment. As Ben Stein once told me, you want to have monopoly money instead of general money. You want to have a niche where you write about stuff that only you can do - so they will pay you more for it. You dilute the franchise if you start doing celebrity interviews."

Luke: "How did the Times react to your Buzz column?"

Cathy: "At first, they didn't know who did it. It took them two years to figure it out. It took the Daily News ten minutes when they wanted to. I'd mentioned the Daily News in some context and they got on the phone and figured it out. I first wrote under the pseudonym Margo Magee because they had a comic strip Apartment 3G and there's a girl in it called Margo Magee. It was my little inside-the-Times joke. They didn't read their own comics so they couldn't figure it out. I kept the pseudonym as a persona like Spy's Celia Brady [Hollywood gossip column written by various people and edited together by Kurt Anderson]. The Times thought for a long time that it was a bunch of people reporting my column and one person would write it. I was insulted. It was all mine. They couldn't get it out of their head that it was a man writing it."

Luke: "Did they ever threaten lawsuits?"

Cathy: "No, because nothing was inaccurate. And for what? Hurting their feelings? The argument was never that I was inaccurate. It was that I was mean-spirited and angry. As you can see, I'm not angry and I don't think that I'm mean-spirited. With American journalism, if you write something blunt, people get shocked. The English have much stricter libel laws but you're allowed to be ruder. In America, everything's got to be psycho-therapized and you have to considerate of people's feelings and you can't ever write about what people are really talking about.

"Robert Scheer was angry [with me]."

Luke: "David Horowitz wrote he was always opening up people's refrigerators looking for stuff to eat."

Cathy: "Well, that sounded like Scheer. He's a masher - an old fashioned term for an older guy who picks up on young women. I'd always refer to him as Robert "Romeo" Scheer and he'd get really mad.

"As a kid, I loved Rolf Harris records [Australian folk singer, "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" et al]. It shows you how eccentric we were growing up in Los Alamitos. There was this one song: "I've got hair oil in my ears and me glasses slipping down/ But baby I can see through you." That always reminded me of Robert Scheer and he got mad when I wrote that about him. And the good thing about Buzz is that they never made me explain the reference like a lot of bad editors. If you don't know who Rolf Harris is, you can figure it out."

Luke: "Why did Buzz close in 1998?"

Cathy: "Because Disney decided not to sell Los Angeles Magazine. There wasn't room for two monthly LA magazines. LA Magazine had made money every year except when Buzz started. Buzz was never profitable. If Disney had closed LA Magazine, Buzz would've stayed open. When Buzz became bad the last year or two, when the editor Allan Mayer left and they turned Buzz into this Tiger Beat meets In Style sensibility... I was fired from Buzz because they couldn't afford to pay me any more.

"The only time I got mad when I was fired from some place was Salon because they never bothered to tell me. I only found out when a reader emailed me and said, 'They reorganized the whole look of the site. Are they keeping your column?' I called the sub-editor that I worked with and he said, 'Oh yeah, I was going to call you. We're dropping the column but you can still pitch us with stories.' The editor-in-chief who hired me, David Talbot, never bothered to call me, which is terrible. When I called him and left a message, and emailed him, he never called me back. He'd also promised 10,000 shares of stock, which he never gave. That's a moot point now because it's worth nothing.

"The most lucrative column I ever had was the one for Media Week's online site [trade magazine]. I did it for two years. It started off as a twice-a-week column. I've liked getting into more writing about media instead of what I used to have to do - some schleppy celebrity interview."

Luke: "Which members of the media have taken greatest exception to your writing on them?"

Cathy: "Robert Scheer is still resentful and he refers to me as evil. There was a funny time when I called up Noel Greenwood, an old City editor at the LA Times. I had to ask him if he did have an affair with Carol Stogsdill, the really mean sub-editor that everybody hated and was the then-ranking woman at the Times."

Luke: "That's a horrible question to have to ask."

Cathy agrees. "I was very dutiful. I call him up. 'I'm sorry I have to ask you this but...' He replies, 'Hahaha, that's none of your business.' I say, 'That's fair enough. I just had to ask you.' And I'm about to say goodbye, when he says, 'And I don't respect your work.' Click.

"That's one advantage that calling people has over email. You'd much rather email people that question but if you don't call them, you don't hear their voice. I confirmed that he's pompous and insufferable, which couldn't have been done through email. Noel was angry.

"[LAT's media reporter] David Shaw was nice to me when I called him up to get quote on something but that was before I insulted him.

"Poor Robin Abcarian was real angry with me. She used to have a column [in the LA Times and a radio show]. We worked together at the Daily News and we were friends. I felt bad about having to insult her but the column was insultable, what are you going to do?

"I'd avoided writing about her because we were friendly. But if you're writing about the Times and somebody does something spectacularly stupid, you have to report it. I remember she had seriously libeled somebody's parents. Some woman had been abused by her parents but Robin identified the parents. Until you've been convicted in a trial, you cannot refer to them as rapists and child abusers. An editor should've caught that. So they had to trash something like a 20,000 copy run of the paper. I had to write about that. She got mad. I don't blame her. Then the cat was out of the bag and I made fun of her columns and she was resentful.

"An old friend of mine, Richard Rouillard, stopped talking to me. He was editor of the Advocate [gay magazine]. He stopped talking to me for no fair reason. I didn't insult him it was just some stupid..."

Luke: "Was there ever time when people's anger at you overwhelmed you and inhibited your writing?"

Cathy: "Never. If you are going to care about people getting mad, you should be a social worker, not a journalist. I used to like to go to the Times' cafeteria and I started to feel like I shouldn't go there anymore. If people write something stupid, I'm going to write about it. People forget that I did make friends [through my Buzz column]. Stupid people got upset but smart people liked the column and made friends with me. That's how I know Matt [Welch] and Ken [Layne] because they remembered reading the column."
I was sorry to read about Cathy Seipp's struggle with lung cancer, a disease that suffers from a lack of medical research dollars compared to illnesses like HIV or breast cancer, apparently because smokers are an unfashionable demographic. Even more unfortunate is that many non-smokers get the disease, and suffer and die without much public concern because of the stigma. For more information on this terrible disease, here's a link to the website of the American Lung Association.

LA Times obituary here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Happy Navruz!

It's that vernal equinox time of year again, celebrated by the ancient Persian holiday discussed here.

Eliyho Matz on the Future of Iranian-Israeli Relations

“I don’t think educated Indonesians speak any language
which can be used to express and develop their thinking.”

V.S. Naipaul, Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples (Random House, 1988).

“Am lo levadad yishkon” – A nation shall not dwell alone.

In his article titled “There is a Need for a Strategic Change,” which appeared in the Ha’aretz newspaper of September 1, 2006, well known military correspondent Zeev Schiff is completely wrong in his approach to the issue of needed change in Israel”s military, and confuses the untrained and even the sophisticated reader. At first look, the article appears to be an eye-opener, a deep and reasonable analysis of the current political military situation. But, in reality, it is faulty in the presentation of facts, and obviously one might then guess that Schiff’s conclusions are wrong and misleading. So the Israeli public is again deceived and confused as Ha’aretz’s experienced correspondent brings us what has become a familiar story.

The nation of Iran and its President converse in private and speak in public from morning till nightfall of their desire to see the Israeli nation destroyed. The immediate conclusion is that we definitely have an enemy, who is ready to destroy the Israelis. If it is only possible, I would like to state that Iran does not threaten the Israeli nation, with or without nuclear weapons.

The issue is very simple: any nation would have to be politically and otherwise totally crazy to use nuclear weapons. Even if one possesses nuclear weapons, they cannot be used, because of obvious consequences, including nuclear radiation and world opinion. Nuclear weapons cannot be used, even as a deterrent. This is the unspoken agreement among nations, and it held well in the years of the Cold War. Iran, despite all its grandiose dreams and out-of-control statements, will not use nuclear weapons for the simple reason that the world-at-large will respond, and how the world will respond I do not know at this moment.

In the 2006 war between Israel and the Hezbolla in Lebanon, this terrorist organization used weapons supplied to it by the Iranians, via the Syrians. The conclusion, therefore, is, if Iran provides rockets to Hezbolla, then Iran is actually fighting Israel via proxy. This issue needs clarification. The use of Iran’s rockets by the Hezbolla does not make Iran an enemy of Israel, just as US weapons to Pakistan does not make the US an enemy of India.

Of course, there are threats against the Israeli nation by a number of nations and people, and Israelis have to respond to them. Unfortunately, the Israeli nation, ever since its inception as a nation-state of the Israelis, has lacked the know-how to play politics. In business I would guess that Israelis have proved themselves capable. But politics is a different story altogether. For the past two-thousand years, Jews, living among many nations, were not generally involved in their region’s politics, never mind world politics. It has become increasingly clear that the politics of the Israeli nation from 1948 to 2006 have failed inside the country (cf., no constitution) and outside Israel (cf. failure to establish relations with other nations), so failures are abundant, and many more will inevitably occur in the future.

The 2006 war in Lebanon is another example of the total failure of internal and external Israeli politics. The instability and divisions among the various Israeli political parties, and the choice and election of inappropriate people to positions of power, have led to this total failure surrounding the decision to go to war. The Israeli army, in its great excitement, based its strategy on a fantasy of ideas, focusing on an air war rather than on a combined effort of military branches, while soldiers were not equipped properly to fight, and civilians had no idea that they would have to flee from the north to the south from their homes in the north. In short, the army has been fighting a “don-quixotic” war with strategy drawn by inexperienced military and political leadership.

Here is a suggestion I proposed during the war. Since Israelis have been threatened by the Iranians, and Israel just completed a war in Lebanon, why should not the Israelis ask their leader, the Israeli prime minister, to appear at a press conference, in front of the foreign press, or even at the UN in New York, to say a few words regarding these threats? This is what I might suggest:

Since northern Israel has been attacked and therefore more than a
million people cannot work and function – because of the Katusha rockets
raining on us by the Hezbolla, who received them from the Iranians and
Syrians, we the Israelis are hereby declaring, to all the UN nations, that if the
Katusha rockets do not stop falling in Israel, we will give twelve-hours notice
to stop them, before Israel begins a nuclear attack against Tehran and Damascus
using whatever weapons we have available.

Every person whom I have suggested this tactic to has said to me, “Eliyho, you are completely crazy!” People have responded by saying that it is impossible to use nuclear bombs, not as a deterrent and not as a practical weapon, neither by Israel and nor by Iran. Then, my question is, why has Israel spent billions of dollars on creating bombs which can not or will not be used? It is clear that the Iranian threat to Israel is a fantasy, and therefore there is no need, as indicated by Shiff, to change strategy. Israelis do not have to change their thinking against the Iranians, because the Iranian threat is a fiasco (dud).

There is a tiny little issue, an issue which is not really clear. The prime minister of Israel did not speak to the US president for more than a month during the war in Lebanon. I wonder why. What happened here? Is it possible that Israel hesitated to enter into battle because it had plans for a nuclear attack on Iran? Is it possible that Israel had other plans for the Iranians? Is it possible that the US did not want to be told of any alternative Israeli strategy and thus created this schism. One would be hard-pressed to explain how such a break in communication between the US and Israel could occur at such a critical time.

On the other hand, the conflict with the Palestinians does call for a new strategy. The new strategy needs to be bound by politics, by today’s political reality, and not by Zionist religious messianic ideological or other dreamlike visions. There is a great difficulty for the Israelis to understand that they won the battle in 1967, but lost the war. As a result of the 1967 war, the Israeli body politic has become unrealistic, dreamlike, religious visionary and disconnected with any reality.

The 1967 war has given rise to all sorts of religious theories that have no basis in the politics of nations, by this I mean free and independent nations. The visions of “settling” the “West Bank” and of Jews returning to ancient Jewish territories are only visions, and will not produce a basis for peace and, in light of past history, will not bring, by the way, the “Mashiach.”
The fact that various Israeli governments since 1967 and still today have not understood real politics, proves once more that this historical axiom in Jewish and Israeli past to future continues as an unwaering straight line. The lack of political experience built-up over 2000 years of history does not serve in 2006, and did not help in 1948, or in 1967.

The new Israeli strategy should be a fresh political approach: to enter into a direct dialogue with the Palestinian leadership. It is time for the government of Israel to endorse the need for the Palestinians to have a territory, a viable territory, and to help them to declare sovereignty and become a state. I hope it is clear to all sides that are involved here and especially to the radical Palestinians that we would not be talking here about the destruction of the Israeli nation. The Israelis under no circumstances have ever expressed any intention or attempted to destroy the Palestinian nation. I hope that the incendiary statements made possibly by some Palestinian factions calling for the destruction of the Israeli political entity are not serious, and have been expressed only in the heat of the moment. If the Palestinians wish to conduct themselves in an irrational political fashion, the Israelis will be able to contribute their own fanaticism to this fiasco.

There is a need to develop proper diplomacy rather than Israeli political stuttering, that was once dipped in ambiguous ideology, which has no use in serious conversations with the Palestinian leadership.

There is a need, first of all, to create an atmosphere of reconciliation, a sulcha, between the Israeli and Palestinian nations. There is a need to develop cooperation between the nations, cooperation that will bring a closer political strategic understanding between potential geopolitical friends in a new Middle East. A strategic cooperation will be the best insurance for a living together.

The Israelis must no longer act as though they are Am Levadad Yishkon, a nation dwelling alone, but rather as Am Lo Levadad Yishkon, a nation living as part of a world community. This drastic change in Israeli ideology could bring with it an important change to the region. Until today Israelis have not understood that the lack of a strategy of cooperation has actually hurt them. Israelis must seek a new approach, a less ideological religious approach which only leads us into more and more conflicts. The rebirth of the new Israeli nation after 2000 years without any experience in world and local politics has caused all sorts of irregularities, and this we must correct.

The failure of many Israelis to understand that an Israeli constitution for the Israeli nation is a necessity, coupled with the fact that Israel does not have a constitution, lead to internal and external weaknesses: this fact cannot be overlooked. The endless wars are largely caused by Israel political imbalance. Smart politics, resulting from a written constitution, is the solution. A constitution cannot be written by an Israeli Knesset, as proposed by some, or by any dubious academic scholars who may mean well but are limited by their academic approach. A constitution should be written by at least 36 people or more, coming from from diverse backgrounds, assigned to the task. The group would be sequestered for a period of one year, after which the nation would vote upon whether or not to accept their proposed constitution. A constitution is the only way to initiate stability in the chaotic Israeli political system.

The creation of a Middle East common market as a primary factor leading to cooperation between Palestine and Israel is not an illusive dream, but can be a reality, [unless there are (we are led by) those who believe/maintain that wars are forever or have an unhistoric approach to events]. If we Israelis wish to continue as a nation, we will have to adapt to today’s political reality. The Israelis will have to become Am Lo Levadad Ishkon.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Matthias Küntzel: European Roots of Antisemitism in Current Islamic Thinking

Melanie Phillips reported that Matthias Kuntzel's talk at Leeds University on links between Nazism and Islamist extremism was cancelled after protests from Muslim students, for "security reasons." It made me curious about what he had to say, so thanks to Google, I found out he's an expert on the topic of the Nazi roots undergirding Islamist ideology. A 2004 article from his website gives a sample of what he might have had to say in England, had the university permitted him to makes his presentation. An excerpt:
Islamic antisemitism is a key challenge of our time. It is not only expressed through Al Qaida’s suicide terror attacks against synagogues or through attacks against Jewish institutions perpetrated by European Muslims, but is propagated day by day throughout the Arabic-Islamic world. Allow me to present to you three examples of this particular kind of antisemitism:

Firstly Sheikh Madiras, an Imam from Palestine. In September this year, he addressed the following to the faithful: “The Resurrection will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims kill them. The Muslims will kill the Jews, rejoice [in it], rejoice in Allah’s Victory.… The Prophet said: the Jews will hide behind the rock and the tree, and the rock and the tree will say: oh servant of Allah, oh Muslim this is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!… Everything wants vengeance on the Jews, on these pigs on the face of the earth.”[2] No-one protested when the Palestinian Authority’s official TV station broadcast this call for genocide. The story of the rock and the tree is a popular one and a standard item on the Hamas propaganda menu.

Secondly Sheikh Tantawi, the Head of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University and thus the most renowned spiritual authority in Sunni Islam. The fourth edition of his standard work “The people of Israel in the Koran and in the Sunna” appeared in 1997. In it, Tantawi writes that the Jews instigated the French Revolution and October Revolution; that they provoked the First and Second World Wars; that they control the world’s media and economy; that they endeavour to destroy morality and religion and run brothels worldwide. Tantawi, the highest Sunni Muslim theologian, quotes Adolf Hitler’s words in Mein Kampf that “in resisting the Jew, I am doing the work of the Lord”. He praises the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, noting without the slightest trace of regret that “after the publication of the Protocols in Russia, some 10,000 Jews were killed.”[3]

The Protocols are in fact an instrument of war. They project all the supposed evils of modernity onto one single enemy, the Jews, dividing the world on Manichean lines: on the one side the endangered Good, on the other, the Jewish Evil, leaving as the only choice either the destruction of this Evil or one’s own downfall. In Russia, this pamphlet triggered pogroms, while in Germany it was the textbook for the Holocaust; no other forgery had greater influence on Hitler’s policy towards the Jews.[4]

Isn’t this a sufficient reason for this key text to be internationally outlawed, and people like Sheikh Tantawi who promote it ousted? But the opposite is taking place. Apart from the Koran, no other book enjoys greater influence in the contemporary Arab world than the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And that brings me to my third example: This forgery which guided Hitler has actually been popularised in recent years in soap-opera form in several TV series. Egyptian state television and many other TV stations have broadcast this incitement repeatedly during Ramadan.[5] Anyone acquainted with Nazi films like “Jud Süss” [The Jew Süss] knows what incredible suggestive power the antisemitic film exerts. For example, at one point in the Arab film version of the Protocols, Jews haul a frightened youngster into a room. Then the camera zooms in on the child for a close-up shot of the Jews slitting his throat and collecting his blood in a basin.[6] Here we have the blood libel, according to which Jews consume the blood of infidels during the Passover, being drummed into the minds of millions of Muslims at peak viewing time. It will take generations to get rid of this poison.

The seriousness of this development is rarely grasped in the Western world. Many either react as if hating Jews was a feature of the Oriental world, like hookahs or mosques. Or antisemitism among Muslims is glossed over as a kind of “anti-imperialism of fools” and rationalised as an alleged response to the Middle East conflict. The quintessence of both modes of thinking is the belief that Muslim antisemitism is totally different from European antisemitism.

This view, however, won’t stand up to close examination. In Islamic tradition, the Jews were viewed as being inferior. As a result, the fear of “eternal” Jewish hostility or even a “Jewish conspiracy” was unknown in the Muslim world for centuries. An antisemitism based on the notion of a conspiracy of World Jewry is not rooted in Islamic tradition, but is based rather on European ideological models. The decisive transfer of this ideology took place between 1937 and 1945 under the impact of Nazi propaganda. How did Nazi Germany promote Islamic antisemitism?

THIS Was An Interesting Radio Show...

Just heard this program on NPR, on my car's episode of Warren Olney's KCRW show, TO THE POINT, with all sorts of guests discussing the state of Islam in America.

Most interesting of all was the interview with David Frum--who admitted that President Bush came up with the phrase "Axis of Evil" in order not to say "Islamist Terrorism" after 9/11. On top of that, Frum claims that President Bush came up with that odd word "evildoer" -- because it translates well into Arabic. Note to President Bush and David Frum: It translated lousy into English.

No wonder we're in trouble in Iraq...

Washington Post Publishes Giuliani Expose

Andrew Kirtzman's Revealing the Total Giuliani. Photo featured Giuliani in drag. But after reading the article, I think it made Giuliani look even better. An excerpt:
Saintly? Liberal? The words have almost no relevance to the mayor who once ruled over Gotham. Giuliani is an enormously gifted man, with extraordinary accomplishments to his credit. He's also a highly idiosyncratic figure prone to unusual, sometimes self-destructive acts. As the presidential race moves into a more serious phase, it may be best to put aside the cliches about America's Mayor for a while. If voters are going to elect Rudy Giuliani president, there are a few things they'd better know.

It would be an understatement to say that drama tends to follow Giuliani; it's more like he thrives on it. He has a knack for inserting himself into the center of controversy, as he did when he had Yasser Arafat thrown out of Lincoln Center, sparking an international incident. Or when he waged a culture war by attempting to pull city funding from the Brooklyn Museum of Art over an exhibit he found offensive. It was evident when he endorsed Gov. Mario Cuomo for reelection in 1994 over his fellow Republican George Pataki on live television. To those who had grown accustomed to his love of shocking the public, it wasn't a total surprise when he sang "Happy Birthday, Mister President" in full drag in 1997. But his taste for drama is just one of the many unusual traits that make Giuliani such an unorthodox public figure.

Every crusader needs a good crusade, and Giuliani found his calling when he marched up the steps of New York City Hall in January 1994. A Republican in a town of Democrats, he was determined to smash a status quo that had long accepted billion-dollar deficits, deteriorating services and exploding welfare rolls as the norm. The city by then had grown so filthy, crime-ridden and politically dysfunctional that even liberal Democrats were willing to look the other way for someone who could bang some heads. They found their man in the new mayor.

The public soon learned that Giuliani was driven by an overriding need for control. He immediately stripped decision-making powers from dozens of city agencies and centralized them in his office. The men around him, many of them lawyers once derided in his U.S. attorney days as "Yes-Rudys," became the most powerful figures in city government. In the new regime, every morsel of information had to be vetted by the mayor's media operation at City Hall, down to the water reservoir levels released each day to the New York Times weather page. When Giuliani's famously successful police commissioner, William Bratton, resisted City Hall's tight rein and spoke freely to reporters (often about himself), Giuliani booted him from office. The mayor's press secretary charged, characteristically, that Bratton and his lieutenants, who were decimating crime by historic proportions, were "out of control."

The City Hall steps have historically served as New York's town square, hosting an unending stream of colorful protests and news conferences. But that proved too anarchic for the mayor, who tightened security -- before 9/11 -- to the point that reporters, politicians and interest groups were banned from the steps, rendering the place desolate. Only pressure from the City Council forced him to relent. The boss viewed the world in terms of friends and enemies. New York's top-tier elected black leaders -- all of them Democrats -- were written off as sympathizers of Giuliani's predecessor David N. Dinkins; Giuliani refused to meet with any of them for years. He counseled his aides to stay on the offensive -- and he illustrated the point every day. The mayor's battles with the media were pure theater: He'd storm out of news conferences, demean his questioners, pick fights. Nothing restrained him from turning to a Newsday reporter one day and dressing him down in front of his colleagues. "What the hell is wrong with you?" he demanded.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

"Unauthorized" Pro-Obama, Anti-Hillary Spot

(ht Drudge)

US-Funded Channel Airs Terrorist Propaganda

Why am I not surprised by Joel Mowbray's story in Opinion Journal, reporting that US-funded Al Hurra is broadcasting terrorist propaganda?
"Everybody feels emboldened. [Former CNN producer Larry] Register changed the atmosphere around here," notes one staffer. "Register is trying to pander to Arab sympathies," says another.

The cultural shift inside the newsroom is evident in the on-air product. In the past several months, Al-Hurra has aired live speeches from Mr. Nasrallah and Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, and it broadcast an interview with an alleged al Qaeda operative who expressed joy that 9/11 rubbed "America's nose in the dust."

While a handful of unfortunate decisions could be isolated, these actions appear to be part of Mr. Register's news vision. Former news director Mouafac Harb, a Lebanese-born American citizen, was not shy about his disdain for terrorists and had a firm policy against giving them a platform. But Mr. Register didn't wait long to allow Hamas officials on the air to discuss Palestinian politics.

At a staff meeting announcing the reversal of the ban on terrorists as guests, Mr. Register "bragged" about his personal relationship with Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar, a top Hamas official, according to someone who was present. Contacted on his cell phone for comment, Mr. Register declined, indicating that he couldn't spare even two minutes anytime in the coming days.
Unfortunately, Mowbray doesn't tell us which Bush political appointee made the decision to hire Mr. Register at Al Hurra...