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Michael Ubaldi, May 26, 2005.

Glenn Reynolds puts forward his expectations of a reformed mainstream media:

What kind of politics should it have? Non-monolithic, and transparent. If, as First Amendment theory suggests, the marketplace of ideas is a check on the political power of an unelected press, then we need diversity of perspective and a willingness of press organs to criticize each others' reporting.

The physically easiest solution would be for media outlets — newspapers, networks — to promote themselves on the basis of the subjective viewpoint they've been denying for decades, rather than as heralds of immaculate truth. As National Review's Jim Geraghty suggested a few days ago, opinion magazines are quickly becoming a staple of casual political observers and bloggers not only because they've embraced the technologically conceived principles of instant comment and immediate correction but because their value to an audience is intellectual honesty alone, not a pretense of impartiality and infallibility. Americans will be for the richer if they can point to reports in the "leftist" New York Times or Reuters and compare them to what's in the "rightist" Washington Times or Cybercast News Service.

Unfortunately, elites may not want to defend an opinion, too, when once upon a time they only needed to defend a story. As American media becomes more democratic, there may be a good deal of dragging, kicking and screaming.

Michael Ubaldi, May 26, 2005.

Expect a flurry of mainstream press reports underscoring today's Commerce Department Gross Domestic Product revision as having been three percent below what polled economists predicted, 3.5% versus 3.6% — and ignore them, since 3.5% is perfectly normal economic growth for America and the sort of expansion for which the rest of the world would gladly trade. Once again, an initial reading of underperformance, 3.1% from three weeks ago, has been corrected by fifteen percent to reflect a healthy market.

Play games with articles, if you like. When journalists advance the notion of slowdown, consider that experts anticipated a six-percent rate drop, from 3.8% to 3.6%, in the first place; and if normal growth is criticized, remember what Wall Street, market mavens and the press think about inflation from growth and ratcheted interest rates. If there's cause, it's for satisfaction.

NOT BAD: A quick survey at the end of the day shows most headlines to be much more accommodating than I assumed this morning. Whether Wall Street's jubilance motivated this or not, the accuracy is most appreciated.

Michael Ubaldi, May 25, 2005.

Mainstream news coverage of the war on terror has become, for better or worse, a frequent element of my commentary; particularly on reporting from Iraq, where the left has enormous political and ideological investment towards the failure of American-inspired democracy. I have begun work on a comprehensive of sorts, following the series of contrived, manipulated pictures of Iraq from elite newsrooms over two years. Elsewhere, the clarion work of collaborative weblog Winds of Change has begot Media Slander, intended by its creators "to hold journalists and bloggers to high ethical standards regarding coverage of the War on Terror and other military-related issues." For all the work awaiting, there could hardly be a greater purpose.

Michael Ubaldi, May 25, 2005.

Oil prices skating at fifty dollars a barrel are convincing Wall Street's buyers to make themselves scarce for the moment but as finer minds have counseled, the American businessman, worker and consumer can shake off a dull couple of months:

U.S. new home sales unexpectedly increased in April to a record pace, a sign historically low mortgage rates and job gains keep powering housing. Prices rose, reflecting an increase in purchases of more expensive homes. ..."We really have the best of both worlds right now for the housing sector in the sense that rates have stayed low and the job market is gaining momentum," said David Lereah, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, before the report.

April durable goods orders outperformed expectations by thirty percent, answering the "questions raised" about economic health from media know-it-alls. At least until next week.

Michael Ubaldi, May 24, 2005.

Two days after Iraqis and Poles began Operation Peninsula to apprehend fifteen dozen suspected terrorists and take control of a few truckloads of ordnance south of Baghdad, Iraqi and multinational military leaders convened in the Iraqi capital on Saturday, May 21st — in part to assess the enemy's shape and direction but also to prepare the public for a drive to fleece the city of its recent terrorist infestation. Most interesting was an Iraqi commander's reduction of the enemy. Terrorists have often been described as highly adaptive; tactics and habitation have indeed modulated over the past two years but this seems to be less ingenuity than continual attrition that has robbed loose and naturally adversarial bands of Ba'athists, criminals and foreigners of uniformity. Despite a fluid alternation of targets and hideouts, the enemy's strategy has remained the same, simple and remarkably unfruitful: to sabotage civil structures and murder Allied soldiers or Iraqi democrats for a cause only occasionally rising to a pretense above rank bloodlust. Even al Qaeda tough Abu Musab al-Zarqawi forfeited Islamist terrorism's political and pseudo-religious creed, that which had spared it regional and global revulsion for decades, declaring last week that the infidel was whomever his bombers chose on a given day; Muslim or not. Terrorists are not fighting on behalf of the Iraqi people; what leverage a fire-and-murder headline held in Western elections has dissipated, the near-exclusive killing of innocents no fodder for a Western leftist's trademark self-loathing. The enemy is single-minded and he is loathsome, and according to the Iraqi military man the enemy is a slave to compulsion:

One Iraqi general provided some observations he has made about vehicle bombs. He said citizens need to be on the look out for vehicles with tinted windows; vehicles riding low or tilted to one side due to carrying a heavy load of explosives; religious writing on the side of a vehicle, so a terrorist photographer will be able to recognize the vehicle; vehicles with usually only one occupant; and vehicles driving very fast.

The Iraqi general said actions by security forces alone are not enough to defeat the terrorist threat. "It is important for the citizens to report suspicious persons or vehicles to the police and army. This is not something the Iraqi security force can do on its own," he said.

The Good Citizen is as much a hero in free Iraq as the policeman and soldier. Iraq's nascent civil society has made possible hundreds of raids, the gangster surviving only by sliding into places and — sometimes with the help of the local toughs — smothering neighborhoods into silence. Trust makes a town vulnerable but if a constable and his ward keep to their roles of enforcer and informant, fear is worthless:

Coalition Forces, in conjunction with the Iraqi Army and Ministry of Interior Forces, have detained 285 suspected terrorists in the western Baghdad district of Abu Ghraib in less than 24 hours. The massive joint-combat operation involves two battalions from the 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, two battalions from the 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Intervention Force, three battalions from the 2nd Brigade Special Police Commandos, and Soldiers from Task Force 2-14, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

Task Force Baghdad officials said the purpose of the operation is to hunt down, kill or capture terrorists who have been staging attacks in the Iraqi capital.

Operation Squeeze Play is the first of the counterterrorist series promised on Saturday; even before vetting, the number of detainees is staggering. What must have been intended as a pointed terrorist response only exposed the enemy's diminishing and debased prospects: bombs outside of cafes, mosques; double-bombs at the door of residences to kill helpful passerby. One year ago, the American military took pains to stamp out a pair of insurrections. Yesterday, terrorists could only answer the loss of nearly three hundred accessories to murder and sabotage with a running slaughter that, given Iraqis' resistance to intimidation, will have no direct impact on the operational strength of native and Allied forces.

2004's Bloody April marked the failure of the authoritarian Near East to stifle Iraqi democracy with violence and doubt. In twelve months since terrorists have descended into a terrible but rattled aimlessness. Hate and killing is all that they understand. In time the enemy will not surprise on any scale and, if some commentators are correct, that last stumble will push terrorism and its attendant culture into total collapse. To whatever end, that moment is approaching quickly.

EYE ON BAGHDAD: Jeff Medcalf provides links and comment.

Michael Ubaldi, May 23, 2005.

Ten-to-one Rupert Murdoch has eternally befriended the Iraqi people. (Hat tip, IP.)

Michael Ubaldi, May 23, 2005.

Jim Hake's democratist charity Spirit of America has sent a message to donors that combines past and current works and humanitarian projects into a single statement of achievement. Following a series of accusations from Iraqi blogger Ali Fadhil, the organization has also published a recapitulation of its purpose, objectives and conduct.

Michael Ubaldi, May 23, 2005.

Crude oil and gasoline prices perceived as high are the respective banes of Wall Street and the unconfident consumer. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, on the other hand, is worried about neither:

The economy, which had hit a temporary soft patch from surging energy prices, probably will weather the situation well, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan suggested Friday. "The effect of the current surge in oil prices, though noticeable, is likely to prove less consequential to economic growth and inflation than in the 1970s," the Fed chief said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York. ...Greenspan, in a largely upbeat assessment, noted that oil and gas prices have calmed down a bit recently. Private inventories of crude oil in the United States have climbed to their highest level in three years, helping to damp the recent "price frenzy," he said.

Greenspan publicly dismissed oil fears one month ago and, using almost precisely the same phrase quoted here, last year — before the American economy sustained above-average fourth quarter growth. It's a "testament," as Greenspan commended last October, "to the power of markets and the technologies they foster."

Michael Ubaldi, May 20, 2005.

If leftist media agencies wish to survive the modern information age, let alone prosper, all without altering the product of their reporters and editors, they must present themselves as they are: subjective. Jim Geraghty (Hat tip, IP):

Does it still really count as a "news" magazine? I mean, for an opinion mag, doesn't National Review or the Weekly Standard do a better job of offering a full picture of Iraq and other issues? Heck, if you don't want a conservative example, how about the New Republic or the Atlantic?

Newsweek isn't just skewed or biased. It pages are mostly brief and fluffy skewed and biased news nuggets. I mean, if you're going to skew, at least give me detailed and well-written skewed news like the other magazines mentioned above.

The mainstream media agencies — broadcast networks, traditional newspapers and magazines — have three choices. The first two have been adopted by the Fox News network and the hosts of its prime time television programs, one each, respectively: report all major news, including all prevailing, reasoned points of view, adjusting or correcting stories as information is received; and embrace one's personal beliefs, appealing to an audience through intellectual sincerity rather than a pretense of objectivity.

And the third choice? Accept a market share that will decline to, never rise above, and gradually dwindle from, no more than twenty-five or thirty percent; a share matching what is and what will come of the far left.

Michael Ubaldi, May 19, 2005.

Omar and Mohammed Fadhil have answered questions about their brother's accusations against the Spirit of America, their observations confirming my supposition that Jim Hake's charity has accomplished what is possible in an often difficult environment. Additional criticism of the Spirit of America echoed Ali's complaints that the organization did not acknowledge offers or requests for other works projects from individual Iraqis; but such "shortcomings" in the field of charity are best explained by limited time and money, and the wisdom of confining a scope of operations to what is practical rather than expanding out of sentiment. As Omar says, "you can imagine how hard and dangerous it is for an NGO to get good things done while the enemies of democracy are ready to kill anyone trying to serve his people."

Omar and Mohammed are more compelling and reasoned; I will defer to the two of them. Ali and others are entitled to their conclusions, though this disagreement would be a tragic and senseless flashpoint; especially when some of Ali's commenters disparaged the Spirit of America before Jim Hake and Ali's brothers could explain themselves. But Ali's intentions, whatever his opinion, have proven to be good. That Spirit of America's have been defended as no different should be reason enough for reconciliation.

MORE: Glenn links and comments. If there's more to this, Instapundit's the place to find it.

FOR YOUR PERUSAL: Ali restated his case on Friday, and Jim Hake responded in kind Saturday.

EVEN MORE: Spirit of America speaks.