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Michael Ubaldi, May 16, 2005.

Cleveland's AM news radio ABC affiliate has dissembled about Newsweek's fakery all afternoon, at one point announcing that "the White House has demanded Newsweek retract a story it says damaged US efforts in the war on terror." No confirmation of Newsweek's public, if unacceptable, admission of manifest error; though ABC has ensured listeners will know what the false claim was.

Meanwhile, the magazine's representatives and defenders have invited the public to revisit the mainstream media's sorry performance over the last forty-two months for curious reasons. Because journalists have taken groundless claims from captured terrorists seriously before, we're told, Newsweek has really done nothing new nor wrong. But this story was different. Take a close look at how the riots in Southwest Asia were most prominently reported as a direct response to the Newsweek report, when, as Joe Gandelman reminds us, observers like General Richard Myers have disputed this, noting that local factors were the primary causes. That's not to say the magazine is absolved for printing rumor or that foreign understanding of America won't have temporarily suffered. The Newsweek canard is not like others because it was published by veteran reporters from a major American magazine and immediately became a political focal point as establishment media ascribed motives to Third World civil strife that helpfully broke out soon after.

Though lethal rioting took place on the other side of the world, newspapers and other agencies may soon sheepishly step up behind Newsweek and clarify earlier statements on just why protesters turned violent. This was no conspiracy, it was the work of a blindly collective enterprise. But no less dangerous or reprehensible.

Michael Ubaldi, May 16, 2005.

By now the ignominious collapse of a claim made by leftist magazine Newsweek should be well known; Glenn Reynolds' Instapundit is the best place for commentary and observation this morning, while new media sources will carry it this afternoon for mainstream agencies to risk tonight.

Yet for all the justified condemnation, very few participants, left or right, are answering the question of Newsweek's motives for impeding American efforts to expand democracy and liberalism: the motive is political and ideological, and it is to defeat the Western war on terror; perhaps more frighteningly, whether or not it were being led by President Bush as Commander-in-Chief. The failed presidential bid of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry should have convinced all parties in American and Western discourse that the advantage leftist entities and their politics received from the Vietnam era was annulled shortly after elite media dominance came to end. Yet after November 2004, just as in the days following September 2001, the greater left, particularly journalists, continued to agitate. And that disregard has finally caught up with them. We can speculate on the root of a pathology that sets free men against liberalism — whatever it may be, it is hardly intellect. But the practice is obvious: I've referred to it twice in the last week, and promised to write in greater detail. All before, ironically, Newsweek reminded us how dangerous arrogance and contempt can be; leading one to make common cause with the enemy, betraying his keep to spite one of his own. This false story was about detained terrorists moved from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay but the most egregiously fictional media narrative comes from Iraq, so the focus will be there. Such an essay requires scouring through two years of archives and will be a rediscovery of sorts, the left's assault on democratic assertion and liberation as persistent as the terrorist onslaught itself. I believe I've been off my stride lately but promise to make the work worth your wait.

PAGING: Where's maverick journalist Craig Brett when you need him?

Michael Ubaldi, May 16, 2005.

Two weeks ago, reactionary members of Kuwait's national parliament abstained to sufficiently deny the body of a quorum as it considered, finally, behind a fair number of its far less liberal neighbors, women's entrance into politics. The snub was criticized by parties rightfully invested in Kuwait's next step towards full democracy, including Freedom House, which urged the executive branch to bring its legislators back to the question. Women's suffrage is supported by the populace, and it appears that Kuwait's representatives will consider the wishes of their constituents:

Kuwait's parliament agreed on Monday to discuss a bill that would grant women the right to vote and stand in elections, after pressure from the pro-Western Gulf Arab state's government. Analysts said the government, which hopes for success on the controversial issue before a likely trip by the prime minister to Washington next month, tempted lawmakers with a concession on a bill on salary hikes for most public and private employees. ...It was not clear when they might pass the bill, but parliamentary sources said it could be soon.

Pay grades are terms subject to contract, often tools of negotiation themselves; they are inconstant and evanescent and not remotely on the same scale as transformative, permanent voting rights for two-fifths of the country's population. If it's a civil service compromise that can draw the holdouts in, Kuwaiti women have already won.

A VICTORY: What was in sight is now at hand — parliament approved a bill allowing women to participate in the country's 2007 elections. A limp and indistinct religious restriction has been placed on women's voting and campaigning under the guise of "Islamic law," but progressives believe it can easily be culled from law for violating Kuwait's constitution. We're best to believe them, one relic having already been discarded today.

Michael Ubaldi, May 14, 2005.

Today's American Minute:

Midnight, May 14, 1948, the State of Israel came into being and was immediately recognized by the United States and the Soviet Union. A homeland for the thousands of Jews who were persecuted and displaced during World War II, it was attacked the next day by the Transjordanian Army, the Arab Legion, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Against all odds, Israel survived. In November of 1948, President Harry S. Truman wrote to Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel: "I want to tell you how happy and impressed I have been at the remarkable progress made by the new State of Israel."

In 1968, President Johnson stated:

America and Israel have a common love of human freedom and a democratic way of life...Through the centuries, through dispersion and through very grievous trials, your forefathers clung to their Jewish identity and their ties with the land of Israel. The prophet Isaiah foretold — "And He shall set up an ensign for the nations and He shall assemble the outcasts of Israel and gather together the dispersed of Judah from all the four corners of the earth." History knows no more moving example of persistence against the cruelest odds.

To Abraham's descendents He gave that land.

Michael Ubaldi, May 13, 2005.

In Baghdad, Ali tricked a curmudgeonly taxi driver into admitting that, for all the challenges, fears and doubts, life in newfound freedom is very good, indeed.

Michael Ubaldi, May 12, 2005.

With everyone's least favorite parochialist plumbing the depths of alt-history, I sent a brief request to National Review's Jonah Goldberg: "Now would be a great time for NRO to revive Ramesh's 1999 Pat Buchanan drop-kick. I haven't taken the old fascistic fool seriously since."

He granted, with requisite Goldbergian humor.

AS FOR THE INTERNET GOSSIP: There's suspicion at National Review that Matt Drudge is heavily advertising Buchanan for a good rooster fight. Were that Drudge to call attention to something more outrageous and pertinent, like a major news outlet lying through its teeth about a respected prosecutor's opinion.

...SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO: Between Stephen Green and Instapunk, Pat Buchanan as a tennis ball — only less useful to Western civilization.

Michael Ubaldi, May 12, 2005.

American Marines continue their high-profile campaign to dislodge the Syrian keystone; Wretchard, Chester, Bill Roggio and Strategy Page are excellent sources for knowledgeable commentary. Since Operation Matador began several mainstream press reports, one specifically identified by Roggio, have couched the Allied assault in terms favorable to terrorists when in fact the enemy is patently outmatched but perhaps notably less so than the average gaggle of thugs. True to form, unfortunately — far too many journalists have cast their lot in blind opposition to America and the democratic world since 2001 for the industry to be considered sound or reliable without select verification. Thankfully, the politicized media backdrop is sagging under the weight of contrary fact, tilting forward; and journalists honest enough to pull it down and away have begun to do so. Encouraging the objective and disproving the fraudulent must continue. More on that later.

Michael Ubaldi, May 11, 2005.

With deals and ransoms over Senate confirmation of President Bush's judicial appointments now commanding attention on the subject, expert literal work of journalists has obscured the broader view — why the Democratic Party refuses to trust a Constitutionally assured floor vote for nominees and why the Republican Party would not insist that a filibuster be a filibuster in the first place.

Senate Democrats seized and held the initiative at the start of President Bush's first term when their opponents made clear that Tom Brokaw or, say, Dan Rather would not be forced to reserve three to five minutes of every nightly newscast explaining to viewers why Senators Patrick Leahy and Dick Durbin were reading encyclopedias and cookbooks to a chamber empty save for sleepy camera crews; all to keep a Honduran immigrant, a brilliant black woman and other prizes of American heritage off the federal bench. As long as the filibuster's political value remained within Washington's calculus, the only strategies on which Senate Republicans could embark — or about which they could publicly and tactlessly ruminate, as has actually happened since the Democratic obstructions first went up — would consist of dignified retreats. It was "unprecedented" for the Senate to supplant a Constitutional obligation with a rule of order four years ago; let go through two elections and two Republican majorities, the Grand Old Party's reasonably organized Senatorial cry for justice and restitution, while right-headed, comes off as laughable.

Floating around news and commentary is the whisper that Republicans have always valued — and might always value — their own future minority use of a filibuster more than the judicial appointments of a sitting president. Double-term or not, figures the senator who has sat in Russell, Dirksen or Hart for more than a decade or two, that's only eight years and fortunes will change over the course of my career. Well, now, there is prudence and then there is contrivance. Provincialism is representation's second edge but a party, a cause and a president are especially poorly served by the legislator who settles in Washington. For both the cunning and the cautious, it's more practical to follow the Senate calendar. Why risk for one man's four years when eighteen or twenty-four of your own can be had by acceding to convention?

You'd be one of a selfless few to risk. So good legalists are kept from arbitration while an anchored political class piles semantics on semantics, Senate Republicans admitting to Democrats they wouldn't mind trying the same thing when, plus c'est la meme, their turn comes. The political effect, absent any sensibly aggressive push by the White House, will remain local; nationally, Senate dithering and now these deals make Republicans look as though they'll pay interest to get their loan back. Though the Bush administration can be criticized for not giving its Senate majority reason enough to discard an ace when most Republicans want to stay for a long, long game, so can the Constitution. Ensuring that Congressional tenure be measured in accomplishment and not longevity is an onerous matter, not only because simple procedural rules are apparently more than can be expected of Senate Republicans but that, too, the bipartisan noblesse would have to sweep itself out.

Michael Ubaldi, May 10, 2005.

Iraq's national conversation is open and sincere like never before, says Mohammed Fadhil, after answering an invitation to a gathering of intellectuals, doctors and artists hosted by a Baghdad cardiologist. He notes that Iraqis are wary of the farce their political and mortal enemies are playing across their backs. A New York Times columnist is, too, which will soon be the subject of comment.

Michael Ubaldi, May 9, 2005.

Iraq's rugged western landscape is known to have long served as a gateway for the country's enemies and, as such, is an indelible reminder that the Allies face a regional challenge from neighboring dictatorships whose power ebbs in the face of Baghdad's liberal rise. Attacks on civilians, policemen and soldiers do not comprise a homegrown "rebellion" or a "civil war," as some on both the left and right have suggested. Sunni areas of Iraq are troubled but recalcitrance isn't war; and fear does not make loyalty. While the enemy is certainly factious and disparate, al Qaeda tough Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is by all accounts the most visible enemy leader in the country; and the classification of Iraqi hitmen and gangsters, especially if they be former Ba'athists, deserves scrutiny given their consortion with supposed adversaries. For purposes of division the assassins and saboteurs must be thought as politically incompatible but in operation they are often a single target:

Marines, Sailors and Soldiers from Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Division are conducting combat operations in northwestern Al Anbar province. The offensive is aimed at eliminating terrorists and foreign fighters from the area. The operation is currently on the area north of the Euphrates River, in the Al Jazirah Desert. The region is a known smuggling route and sanctuary for foreign fighters.

"Insurgent," "militant," "rebel" and "guerilla" are popular press euphemisms for the enemy. Terrorists are also routinely identified as natives — the more rightfully disgruntled, the better. Last Wednesday, the bomb-laden wretch who murdered dozens was arbitrarily granted Iraqi citizenship by the Associated Press. My skepticism came easily but the journalist attendant to the blast and responsible for the claim is flatly contradicted by two years of reports compiled by those for whom accurate descriptions are essential:

U.S. and Iraqi authorities say suicide drivers are invariably foreign fighters. Officers here said they knew of no documented case in which a suicide attacker turned out to have been an Iraqi.

According to the military, the presence of foreign terrorists has increased, returning us to the motivation for continued attacks against Iraqis, their benefactors and their protectors: nothing so unmistakable and uncomplicated as strongmen's contempt for the living, the hopeful and the free.

THE WAR AGAINST TERROR, INDEED: Rich Lowry provides us, in one excerpt, with a description of the primary role of Islamist authoritarianism in the war against democratic Iraq and the conventionally inconceivable aid and direction from "secular" Ba'athists ruling Syria. Congratulations to the mainstream media for finally publishing what has been obvious all along.