Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The enemies within

Another post where the mania of the American right speaks for itself. This time the lead editorial in today's Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd) on Iraq. The enemies: the CIA and the National Security Council:

The larger truth here is that Americans have no choice but to let Iraqis sort these basic questions out for themselves. This includes elements within the Bush Administration that still aren't comfortable with the idea that a free Iraq won't be led by someone on the CIA payroll. These officials, including some at the National Security Council, are still too close to the Sunni-led dictatorships in the region that fear the example of a Shiite-led Muslim democracy.

In this respect, President Bush's personal intervention last week with Shiite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim was a mistake, encouraging further Sunni demands and fostering distrust among Shiites that the U.S. really doesn't want to leave Iraq to Iraqis. The undeniable fact is that most Shiite leaders have been remarkably restrained and responsible for three years now, especially given their historic domination by the Sunni minority. We wish Mr. Bush devoted his attention to the meddling in Iraq by the CIA's friends in Syrian intelligence, or by Iran.

But they don't name any names.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

It's the way he types them

Just so everyone is clear on what passes for comedy amongst American conservatives these days, a couple of New Orleans entries from the "incredibly talented" Jonah Goldberg:

I think it's time to face facts. That place is going to be a Mad Max/thunderdome Waterworld/Lord of the Flies horror show within the next few hours. My advice is to prepare yourself now. Hoard weapons, grow gills and learn to communicate with serpents. While you're working on that, find the biggest guy you can and when he's not expecting it beat him senseless. Gather young fighters around you and tell the womenfolk you will feed and protect any female who agrees to participate without question in your plans to repopulate the earth with a race of gilled-supermen. It's never too soon to be prepared.

and, responding to criticism of the above:

Perhaps Professor Bainbridge -- of whom I am a fan -- thinks something really awful will befall the denizens of the Superdome and therefore making a joke at their expense is wrong. My guess is that it will simply be a really unpleasent (sic) time for the remainder of the day, but hardly so unpleasent (sic) as to sanctify them with refugee or some other victim status. I assumed the reference to gill-growing and whatnot made it clear where I was coming from

There is a partial retraction today, but a couple of posts later he's talking about Incredible Hulk trivia. Meanwhile, inside the Superdome:

The situation was especially difficult for those in wheelchairs, who were lined up in rows five deep along a wall. One patient's IV bag was attached to a stadium seating sign.

Monday, August 29, 2005

I stand up next to a mountain,

and knock it down with the edge of my hand. A revealing sentence construction by Andrew Sullivan in praise of Christopher Hitchens' latest spinning for Dubya:

PRIDE: Hitch is still proud of deposing Saddam and trying to move Iraq toward a sane and democraric country. Me too. Despite all the errors.

Who deposed Saddam now?

While we're on the topic of Sully, we should take this opportunity for a nod to Sullywatch, who we think was the channel for the Atrios referral last week that sent our hitcount through the roof. Like Hitch and Sully and their role in deposing Saddam, we're proud.
The other Gerry

It's been a summer of obituaries for 1970s Northern Ireland. After Ted Heath, the weekend brought news of the death of Gerry Fitt, the first leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party. We were surprised at how little attention his death got in the Irish blogs, although Slugger O'Toole as usual took note and the substantial comment thread on that post captures the divided views about his contribution to nationalist politics.

Gerry's influence is evident even in the SDLP's name, which contains no hint of its Irish nationalist orientation. Gerry was an egalitarian and an Irish nationalist, but he clearly saw equality for Northern Catholics as the highest priority, and felt that it could be pursued within the structures of the United Kingdom. It's perhaps the ultimate indictment of Northern Ireland's sectarian government, 1922-1972, that they managed to alienate Fitt, who would have been happy to pursue socialist politics within an even half-decent political framework.

Anyway, here's his obit from The Times of London, and in a notable departure from the usual War on X postings at National Review's The Corner, John Derbyshire got the essence of Fitt right:

Gerry Fitt has died. This reduces by one the world's stock of stubborn, iron-principled eccentrics.

Having long since moved, not by choice, to England, Gerry was surely disgusted by the summer's toll of intra- and inter-community violence in Northern Ireland. The Workers of the World didn't unite.

UPDATE 30 AUG: Further remarks from Slugger.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

This is Crawford

Does the White House handlers' packaging of Dubya as Winston Churchill include having him speak to the nation in times of crisis (Katrina/Iraq), as he did just now, on a crackly audio track? Can the reintroduction of the valve radio for all loyal Republicans be far behind?

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Celtic comparative advantage in summits

Notwithstanding the dubious legacy of Bertie Ahern's endless summitry when the Republic had the European Union presidency last year, the UK seems to have decided that their time in charge of the G8 and the EU Council of Ministers should likewise be used to assemble the suits in the Celtic nations. After June's G8 summit in Gleneagles (which John Bolton now seems to be in the process of trashing, but that's for another day), Jack Straw is hosting his counterpart EU Foreign Ministers the weekend after next in Wales.

And as with the Irish events, the choice of venue is symbolic both of the branding of Celtic heritage and the high-life trappings which the ministers award themselves:

[Times of London] Three people were being questioned under anti-terrorism legislation today after being arrested near to the venue for next week's summit of European foreign ministers.

Police were interviewing the three men, who live locally, after they were stopped in Chepstow Road outside the Celtic Manor, a five-star hotel in Newport, south Wales, which will host the conference ...

The Celtic Manor plays host to a pro-celebrity golf tournament at the weekend, in which Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas will play on opposing sides in the team contest between Europe and the US.

It's not implausible to assert that the pro-am golf tournament will be the more constructive of the two events.
The colour of death

Another sign of Dubya's sugarcoated war; the dude who arrives at a house to tell the family that their Marine son or daughter is dead wears green, and not Marine blue (via the Wall Street Journal, subs. req'd):

Military parents object to Marines' decision to deliver death notifications in green uniforms; commanders didn't want traditional dress blues linked to bad news. Candy Wasser, whose son Chris Wasser was killed in early 2004, says the blue uniform conveys appropriate solemnity "without words."

If this is the filtering of bad news that goes on at the cosmetic level, imagine what's going with the really bad news.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

He could have said 'rustic'

In a funny catalog of past scrapes involving the BBC's tempermental Nicholas Witchell, one incident (not involving "militant lesbians") recounted by the Times of London is this:

In May 1993 he apologised on Breakfast News for describing the £4.4 million Irish venue for the Eurovision Song Contest as "a cow shed".

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Who let a philosopher into the White House?

Dubya today in Idado:

And while they [the bad guys] may sow death and destruction for a time, the history of the last half-century is clear -- the will to power cannot withstand the will to live in freedom. (Applause.)

More subtle than his usual attempts to package the GWOT/GSAVE with the struggle against fascism, though the bracketing of Nietzsche's force as weaker than freedom within the last half century (1955-2005?) begs the question as to his view of what was going on before then. Nor does it sit well with previous accounts of the philosophy of this White House. And for Instapundit, having a Will to Power is a compliment. Heh Indeed.
They have it in Slough and Swindon, too

The evolving definition of courage on Powerline:

Yesterday: Sometimes it becomes necessary to state the obvious: being a soldier is a dangerous thing. This is why we honor our service members' courage. For a soldier, sailor or Marine, "courage" isn't an easily-abused abstraction--"it took a lot of courage to vote against the farm bill"--it's a requirement of the job.

Indeed. Courage is often easily abused. Like on Powerline 3 weeks ago:

The Scouts love America, they inculcate boys in the manly virtues, they have successfully defended their right to exclude proclaimed homosexuals as Scoutmasters ..., and they take that oath! Given the left's success in stigmatizing the Scouts, standing up for the Scouts has become an act of courage. President Bush not only appeared before them in solemn assembly at their Jamboree yesterday, he struck all the right notes in his address

Can we give soldiers the choice of going to Iraq or helping out at the Boy Scout club?

Petrol-eating surrender monkeys

Andrew Sullivan is back from his Provincetown holliers, though for the benefit of recent readers we should note that he didn't take a break from his Sunday Times (London) column [link now particularly relevant since he's back on a Bell Curve rampage], meaning that he worked harder over his 4 week vacation than Dubya will over his five.

Anyway, with his usual impeccable sense of timing, he's declared a War on Sport-Utility Vehicles, something that those awful liberals have been on about since at least 12 September 2001, if not before -- such dissent at the time making these critics grist for the mill in Sullivan's notorious "fifth column" tirade against all those not aboard his and Dubya's vision of the GWOT.

But better late than never:

My anti-SUV ire always goes up in the summer, when I see these vast, bloated symbols of excess bulldozing down the narrow streets of Provincetown, pushing every bicyclist, pedestrian or small child out of their way. My only solace is thinking of how many of these SUV owners are pouring money away to keep their mobile homes on the road. Pity that same money goes to finance Islamist terror.

and he is looking for submissions on a good anti-SUV bumper sticker. But wait, we're not quite done with the inconsistent nature of all this, since not so long ago he handed a "Malkin Award" (the sentence must be entirely devised to insult; it should be completely devoid of originality; it must have at least two hoary, dead-as-a-Norwegian-parrot cliches; and it must assume that readers already agree with the writer. Arbitrary mean-spiritedness wins extra points.) for this:

MALKIN AWARD NOMINEE: "If you can't stomach the truths of what our soldiers are doing and how brutally and bloodily they're dying and in just what manner they have to kill those innocent Iraqi civilians in the name of BushCo's desperate lurch toward greed and power and Iraqi oil fields and empire, maybe you don't have the right to stick that little flag on your oil-sucking SUV." - Mark Morford, San Francisco Chronicle.

So has he now given a Malkin award to himself? Nevertheless, since we agree with the New Sully on SUVs, let's offer our own submission: How many kilometres per litre does your SUV get? Because all those Home Front Hummer drivers need to hear the news from today's Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd) -- the SUV is now big in France:

In the first six months of this year, sales of SUVs in France surged 17%, outpacing an 11% increase in sales of SUVs across Europe and the 5.6% rise in overall car sales in France, according to CCFA, the country's trade group for auto makers. SUVs now account for 5.2% of the cars sold in France, and the market for them there more than tripled from 1995 to 2004 ... Renault's SUV will be made by 70%-owned Korean partner Renault Samsung Motors Corp. and sold in Europe sporting Renault's diamond badge starting in late 2006. Nissan also will be involved with its development. Renault will unveil its sleek four-wheel-drive concept car, dubbed Egeus, at next month's Frankfurt Motor Show ... Peugeot-Citroën has teamed with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. to produce a replacement for Mitsubishi's Outlander.

How long before the converse effect kicks in and one of those Swatch cars starts to be seen by Americans as manly?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Belfast: Basra or Mosul?

Who amongst us doesn't like to ponder a comparison of the IRA with other terrorist groups? Dean Godson, biographer of David Trimble and previous advocate of the right comparator being Hezbollah or al Qaeda has a new one in the Times of London today: the domestic Islamist fringe in England. He refers in particular to the government's efforts to get Sinn Fein to buy into the Police Service of Northern Ireland:

Terrorist convictions will cease to be a bar to serving on local policing committees as non-elected representatives ... Sinn Fein/IRA are pressing for the scrubbing of paramilitary criminal records so that republicans can serve in the regular force and part-time reserve: the Government says it has "no plans" to do this, scarcely a reassuring form of words. This is contrary to the spirit and letter of Patten [1990s police reform report]. Then there is the negotiation to expand funding of some of the "restorative justice" programmes — community schemes for bringing criminals face to face with their victims — that are effectively run by paramilitaries ... Only in the bizarre, Kafkaesque world of the Ulster (sic) peace process could such a settlement be deemed a "prize" ...

At his press conference of July 25 Mr Blair sought to contrast the Provisionals’ campaign favourably with that of Islamist radicals. He complains that one of the problems with al-Qaeda is that it has few concrete demands: its objectives are so airy-fairy. By contrast, republicans have clear goals that the Government can propitiate. If radical Muslims shave down their aspirations and simply ask, say, for a substantial degree of autonomy in their "own" neighbourhoods based on Sharia — well, who knows what doors may open?

Leaving aside the validity of this analogy, he's picked the wrong time to be selling it. For the big story in Northern Ireland policing this summer has been the carte orange granted to Loyalist extremists in the pursuit of their "internal" feuds. Today's Irish Times (subs. req'd) nicely collects together the body count so far, and the complete lack of government response:

The Northern Ireland Office has rejected a claim by SDLP leader Mark Durkan that Northern Secretary Peter Hain is adopting an indifferent attitude to recent [Ulster Volunteer Force] UVF killings ... Since July 1st four Protestant men were murdered in Belfast in the reignited UVF-LVF [Loyalist Volunteer Force] feud. The UVF was blamed for all of these killings. The funeral of the fourth person to be killed in the feud, 42-year-old Michael Green, took place yesterday. His family insisted he had no involvement with the LVF. The UVF has stated that it will continue attacks on people allegedly associated with the LVF and will not end the killing until the LVF is "wiped out" or disbanded.

Farcically, despite this explicit threat, the UVF is still considered to be on ceasefire. Now that's Kafkaesque! And the apparent compromises here seem messier than anything the Shinners want -- the latter at least seem to understand the need for some kind of sequencing in which one's criminal record is cleansed before working for the police. But as reported by Slugger O'Toole, it appears that the police aren't moving against the UVF and LVF goons because so many of them are police informers.

Hence our title. If anything, the UK government seems to have an Iraq-style division of Northern Ireland's militias into good ones and bad ones. The "good militias," the Kurds, run an orderly operation and stay out of the news. The "bad militias," the Shiites are a tad hot-headed and are best left to sort themselves out before any awkward official intervention. Not that we're predicting that any Sinn Fein tourists will be found observing the peace process in Kurdistan anytime soon.

Monday, August 22, 2005

It's not like he's the US President or something

The latest in the embarrassing revelations about the killing of the Brazilian non-would-be-suicide-bomber, Jean Charles de Menezes:

Senior detectives have told The Times that members of [Scotland] Yard’s anti-terrorist branch were sure that Mr de Menezes was not a terrorist in the early hours of Saturday morning. But Sir Ian was not informed until 10.30am that day, by which time he had given a television interview praising the police team hunting the July 21 bombers for "playing out of its socks".

"What no one knows is why nobody got him out of bed," the detectives said. "The Commissioner should have been told right away."

Just because not telling the boss is standard operating procedure in Dubya's White House doesn't mean it's good policy.
The stars are not aligned

On a day when Iraqi negotiators struggle to reach a constitutional agreement under the twin pressures of politically-driven deadlines from the US and civil war at home, the historical omens from today's Times of London anniversaries are not auspicious:

EVENTS: In 1485 Henry Tudor defeated King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth; in 1642, when King Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham, the English Civil War is generally considered to have begun; ... in 1846 the United States annexed New Mexico;

DEATHS: King Richard III, reigned 1483-85, killed at the Battle of Bosworth, 1485 ... Michael Collins, Irish nationalist and IRA leader, killed in an ambush in Beal-na-Blath, Cork, 1922;

Also: The Soviet Union’s [1968] occupation of Prague led to violent clashes between Czechoslovak protesters and the Russian troops

On the other hand, it wasn't a bad day for laughs:

in 1960 Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller opened their satirical revue Beyond the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; Dorothy Parker, wit, satirical poet and short-story writer, born in West End, New Jersey, 1893.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Another 5-11?

Almost two years ago we noted Andrew Sullivan make an analogy between 9-11 and the Guy Fawkes plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605; as Sullivan noted, the Gunpowder plot failed and yet its legacy was considerable. We never did figure out where Sully was headed with that analogy, but since Michael Moore gets blamed for giving Osama propaganda ideas, what then to make of a bizarre story in the Sunday Times claiming that police monitored an al Qaeda plot for a poison gas attack on Parliament -- which would have taken advantage of an exhibition marking the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot to gain access to Parliament.

Who knows, given Osama's love of anniversaries (and there is that weird business about the Battle of Vienna and 9/11), maybe the plot was even timed for 5th of November. We'll now go and read up on our Stuart history to see if King James I made a post-plot speech about fighting the terrorists in Ireland so that England wouldn't have to fight them at home.

Friday, August 19, 2005

One Nation Tory

Our readers of the same vintage as us will have two images of Norman Tebbit: Maggie Thatcher's reliable rhetorical bad cop, and him being extricated on a stretcher from the Grand Hotel in Brighton following the IRA bombing in 1984. The now Lord Tebbit unsurprisingly feels vindicated by the outbreak of Islamist terrorism in England and supplies a few juicy quotes:

The Muslim religion is so unreformed since it was created that nowhere in the Muslim world has there been any real advance in science, or art or literature, or technology in the last 500 years.

Now while this will generate a bit of a row in the UK, it's well within the pale of accepted discourse in the US, although, as we noted recently, some of the more cowardly peddlers of it, like Powerloins, hide such views behind 100 year old Winston Churchill quotes.

Things get stranger when Tebbit looks to the Other Island for examples of how multiculturalism had sent the UK off the rails long before radical Islam became a problem:

Lord Tebbit said multicultural society was "an impossibility" because if there were two cultures there would also be two societies. "A society is defined by its culture. It is not defined by its race, it is not a matter of skin colour or ethnicity, it is a matter of culture. "If you have two societies in the same place then you are going to have problems, like the kind we saw on 7 July, sooner or later," he said.

He warned London was "sinking into the same abyss that Londonderry and Belfast sank".

Which would take up too much of what remains of Friday to deal with fully. But note the unintended irony of complaining about the multicultural abyss of "Londonderry" -- a name that symbolises the tensions one gets when one culture tries to lord it over another. And the new wave of Islamist terrorism in Britain has yet to attempt anything as audacious as the aforementioned Brighton bomb, which remains the most frightening "what if" moment of recent British and Irish history.
Give us this day our daily mortgage

Pope Benedict XVI not only has a political alliance with Dubya, he's locked into his housing bubble too. Via the Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd):

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac [mortgage guarantee corporations] face political controversy in Washington, but their securities remain popular with foreign investors -- including Pope Benedict XVI. New government statistics show Vatican City holding $84 million of debt issued primarily by the companies, compared with $61 million issued by other U.S. corporations.
The leopard of Chicago

It's surely worthy of note in Ireland that a man with the classic Norman-Irish name of Patrick Fitzgerald has become the nemesis of the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy. It's fairly well known that Fitzgerald, the US Department of Justice Attorney for Northern Illinois, has been investigating the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to the media by senior White House officials, an investigation that has proven way more persistent and debilitating than the White House expected.

But he still has his day job, prosecuting breaches of federal law in Chicago, which puts him at the lead in the case against the former leader of the Commonwealth Branch of the VRC, Conrad Black. We used to post extensively about Black's travails, such as here. While his Telegraph papers seem to have made a smooth transition within the VRC from Black to the Barclay brothers, the legal fallout drags on, and Thursday brought some indictments connected with Black's primary US assets in Chicago:

[WSJ, subs. req'd] Two former executives of Hollinger International Inc. were charged with diverting more than $32 million from the Chicago newspaper publisher through a series of complex transactions.

F. David Radler, Hollinger International's former president and chief operating officer, and Mark S. Kipnis, the company's former vice president, corporate counsel, each face seven counts on federal fraud charges. A U.S. federal grand jury in Chicago issued the indictment, which also names Ravelston Corp., a closely held Canadian holding company controlled by former Hollinger International Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Conrad Black and Mr. Radler.

And while Black is not named in the indictment, that may actually be bad news for him, because it sounds like Radler intends to plea bargain and perhaps sell out Black:

Mr. Fitzgerald, however, announced that Mr. Radler is "cooperating with the investigation and expects to enter a plea of guilty at a later date." He declined to say whether the government is likely to bring charges against Lord Black.

The WSJ story helpfully points out that Fitz is the hardest working man in law enforcement:

Mr. Fitzgerald also is special prosecutor in the investigation of the leak of a Central Intelligence Agency agent's identity to the media.

One other thing. We noted a while back that Lady Black, aka Barbara Amiel, seemed to have relocated to London, possibly with a view to avoiding the long arm of the US law, an issue that now looks very pertinent with Mr Fitzgerald on the hunt.

Which raises an interesting hypothetical: suppose that the US does indict the Blacks and they move to London. Would the US seek to extradite them under post 9/11 anti-terrorism legislation? And if you think that's far-fetched, that's exactly the threat hanging over the "NatWest Three" (not to be confused with the Colombia Three), facing extradition from Britain under anti-terrorism laws in connection with the Enron collapse. Would it take a similar fate befalling VRC veterans like the Blacks for the lunacy of this to become an issue in the US?

[Partial disclosure: we are related to one of the NatWest Three.]

Thursday, August 18, 2005

There's no vacation from lying

Dick Cheney surfaced today in an appearance probably timed as a distraction from Week 3 of Dubya's 5 week vacation. There was nothing especially remarkable about his speech to decorated war veterans, once one has accepted his usual standard for dishonesty and his own "other priorities" approach to military service when he had the chance. Set in the context of last year's presidential campaign though, one thing does stand out:

Vice President's Remarks at the 73rd National Convention of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Springfield, Missouri

... Members of this order come from all regions of the country, and from every walk of life, but you share a distinction that all citizens recognize and respect: The medal you wear is the oldest decoration in the American armed forces, created by General George Washington and originally named the Badge of Military Merit. The Purple Heart is the only award that comes not through any recommendation or approval, but as a matter of right to those wounded in combat. ... You put your life on the line for the United States of America. You bled in freedom's cause, and you have the nation's gratitude.

All citizens respect? Not the ones at the Republican National Convention in New York City last year.
We challenge you not to follow this link

... M Ducruet was bodyguard to Princess Stephanie of Monaco, 40, and is the father of her two children, Louis, 13, and Pauline, 11. He was also briefly the husband of the Princess until he was caught in 1996 cavorting naked with a former Miss Topless Belgium and was banished from the palace by the late Prince Rainier, then his father-in-law ...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

So Basra is in New England, then?

An impossible-to-parody editorial in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal:

The name "United States of Iraq" was actually proposed inside the Iraqi [constitutional] meetings

[Previous entry in this series].
He's seen a billion faces, and he's rocked them all

An interesting article in Wednesday's New York Times reports on a 1996 US State Department memo that predicted Osama bin Laden would be more dangerous following his relocation from Sudan to Afghanistan. While the story will thus lend itself as supporting material to accusations of Clinton Administration inaction on the al Qaeda threat [a claim that has other problems], more revealing is the memo's before-the-fact analysis of Dubya's post 9/11 policy towards Osama:

While a strategy of keeping Mr. bin Laden on the run could "inconvenience" him, the assessment said, "even a bin Laden on the move can retain the capability to support individuals and groups who have the motive and wherewithal to attack U.S. interests almost world-wide."

Dubya has often stated that he views keeping Osama "on the run" as a victory in the GWOT/GSAVE, a rationale that began soon after the failure to capture him at Tora Bora, when Tommy Franks was saving troops for the Iraq invasion:

Q Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? Also, can you tell the American people if you have any more information, if you know if he is dead or alive? Final part -- deep in your heart, don't you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won't really eliminate the threat of --

THE PRESIDENT: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission.

Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network, his host government has been destroyed ... So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you ...

Q But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.

Perhaps it's best that Dubya not be distracted with Osama thoughts at his ranch, because he'll need that time to concentrate on national security memos.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Orange Disorder

Notwithstanding its association with intransigent Ulster Unionism, the wearing of orange is experiencing a boom as a form of protest. Last year it was the colour of choice for the protestors in the Ukrainian election imbroglio, to the extent that we wondered whether a deep-rooted Irish reflex explained the loony Pat Buchanan's surprising pro-Russian position.

But whereas orange in the Six Counties and in the Ukraine at least had some claim to represent a sizable portion of public opinion, the same cannot be said for its newest adherents -- the Israeli settlers who are refusing to leave the Gaza strip. Here's an illustrative picture, showing how Internet-savvy the settlers are: knowing that the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy has a weakness for protest babes, having two young women in tears at what looks like a cage is extremely effective.

And it's working. Over at National Review Online, some of the loons are aligning themselves with the hold-out settlers -- and therefore against the policies of the State of Israel, not to mention the minimal requirements for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem:

SURE WISH I HAD [Jim Robbins]
an orange tie today [link to another Orange settler photo]

... ON THE GAZA PULLOUT [John Podhoretz]
... It's horrible enough that settlers are being forced to abandon their homes. [to be fair, J-Pod seems to favour the evacuation, though with a weird emphasis on the disrupted lives of settlers as opposed to the awful living conditions of most Gaza residents]

Sunday, August 14, 2005

IQ goes up to 11

While Andrew Sullivan, like Dubya, is taking a very French August vacation, there's still time on the Provincetown hammock to fire off one of those longer pieces for the Sunday Times of London. And it looks like he was trying to slip one past the Times readers in the summer torpor. The article opens with the classic hack trick, the bait-and-switch -- the reader thinks I'm talking about X, but I'm actually talking about the surprisingly relevant Y.

So he tries to hook his London readers with his bleak description of the present day city, and then reveals that he's actually talking about late 1970s New York City, justifying his teaser 'graf at the start:

It's a wonderful life
American society has rescued itself from what seemed to be terminal decline caused by family breakdown. Andrew Sullivan sees a lesson here for Britain

Now the overall analogy is already strained, not least because of the very different roles of gun violence in the two cities. But the real sleight of hand comes when he argues, recycling a David Brooks New York Times column from a few days ago, that the US is witnessing a significant improvement in socio-economic indicators:

From nadirs in the late 1970s most social indicators in the US have been solidly heading upward for a long, long while ... Educational standards? Judging by IQ scores, intelligence has been going up for much of the past century.

The sudden switch in time periods should alert the reader that something is up. It is indeed true that measured IQ has risen over the last century. But this is the basic fact that discredits the use of the IQ test as a measure of innate ability: how can it be that successive generations have higher innate ability on average than their biological forebears?

There's a bunch of web material on this puzzle under the rubric "the Flynn effect," and it collapses the intellectual underpinnings of anyone who would seek to draw conclusions about the link between IQ and, say, race -- just as The Bell Curve tried to do, an effort that Andrew Sullivan was sufficiently enamoured with to devote a special issue of The New Republic to it. This Atrios post usefully collects critiques of the book, emphasising that it has zero intellectual respectability amongst mainstream social scientists [Atrios concludes by asking: "Andrew Sullivan, bigot or fool or both?"]. And, building on Sullywatch, Sullivan has a history of using David Brooks columns as a Trojan horse for some fairly edgy genetics-based theories.

The one thing we have to give Sullivan a bit of credit for is intellectual consistency. Whereas most researchers view the fact of rising IQ scores as evidence of flaws in the whole IQ concept, Sully's sentence above clearly hitches his wagon to the view that intelligence is rising over time. Perhaps he'll use one of these longer ST pieces to flesh out the full implications of this line of thought for British readers?

UPDATE 16 August: The Bell Curve seems to undergoing a resurgence. Brad DeLong notes another example of an egregious cite, and provides copious critiques of the book. And (26 Aug), Sully is now explicit that the Bell Curve is ready for another go-round, linking to an article by its coauthor, Charles Murray:

One of my proudest moments in journalism was publishing an expanded extract of a chapter from "The Bell Curve" in the New Republic before anyone else dared touch it. I published it along with multiple critiques (hey, I believed magazines were supposed to open rather than close debates) - but the book held up, and still holds up as one of the most insightful and careful of the last decade ... And the fact that so many liberals are determined instead to prevent and stigmatize free research and debate on this subject is evidence ... well, that they have ceased to be liberals in the classic sense. I'm still proud to claim that label - classical liberal. And I'm proud of those with the courage to speak truth to power, as Murray and Herrnstein so painstakingly did. Pity [Larry] Summers hasn't been able to match their courage. But recalling the tidal wave of intolerance, scorn and ignorance that hit me at the time, I understand why.

Which has triggered a broad response. Matthew Yglesias and Atrios.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Yeats hit by drunken, vainglorious lout

The Irish Times:

Statue of Yeats in Sligo is felled by car
Paddy Clancy

A car which failed to stop after gardaí flagged it down drove off at speed in Sligo town yesterday morning and crashed into a statue of WB Yeats, smashing it in three places. No one was injured in the incident which happened about 4am outside the Ulster Bank in the town's Stephen Street. The £20,000 work, commissioned by the Ulster Bank and the people of Sligo to mark the 50th anniversary of Yeats's death, was erected in May 1990. The dandy-like pose of the poet, with lines from his work engraved on the bronze, created controversy in the early years.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Dubya's Biblical Rendition Program

Dubya did an interview for Israeli TV yesterday. The interviewer was reasonably persistent, although not in the league of RTE's Carol Coleman. But in view of Dubya's Christian fundamentalism, there was this revealing exchange:

Q As a believer, Mr. President, what do you say to Jewish believers who think that God sent them to settle in the biblical Israel and they will not obey any decision of elected government?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, there are admonitions in the Bible that does (sic) talk about the role of government relative to man ...

which aside from making for an interesting contrast with his domestic views, marks an odd citing of New Testament (since he presumably means the famous "render unto Ceasar" remark) as relevant for Israel.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Powerline Toffee

If the pseudo-authoritative rantings ("the earth's climate ... determined, as always, by variations in the energy emitted by the sun") of Time magazine's Blog of the Year, Powerline, make a fine main course, the three tools who run it decided that the web could use a little Powerline desert in the form of a newswire page and a whole bunch of links, because there's really so little of that on the web already. Mike Power (no relation) accurately summarises:

It's slow, it's feeble, it's SHITE!

But there is one missing link, if you will, from their sidebar: to Everton Football Club, which is the House Team of Powertools. Yet another reason to be a Liverpool fan, and while the teams are not in direct competition yet, if we remember right the arrangement that got Liverpool into the Champions League this year after winning it last year, Liverpool benefit financially if Everton get knocked out by Villareal next week, because there'll be one less team in the England TV money pot. The non-link indicates a lack of faith on Powertools' part, but with George W. Bush to support, there's only so much love to go around.
God wears bleu

The big news last week -- sufficient for the evening French TV news to place it ahead of the Air France crash in Toronto -- was the unretirement of Zinedine Zidane from international football. "Zizou" decided last year to keep playing for Real Madrid but fatique had set in regarding his commitments to the French national team. In some ways it was a strange decision because the old Zizou was still very much around in his brilliant display of physical and mental toughness in the European Championship match against England in Portugal last year.

But his retirement was clearly good news for the Republic of Ireland team, needing a weakened France in their qualifying group for next year's World Cup in Germany. Hence the blow of Zizou's reversal last week, with the resulting burst of enthusiasm bringing Lilian Thuram and Claude Makelele back to the team as well.

One minor bit of intrigue, perhaps worthy of consideration by the Irish fans looking for some good heckles, concerns the precise reason for Zizou's return. To cut a long story short (or rather to cut a story down to terms that our pathetic French can comprehend) it seems that Zizou left everyone with the distinct impression that God, or related divine entity, told him to come back. He then either realised how weird this sounded, or claimed he had been misinterpreted, and meant only to say that his brother had told him to come back. Which does leave open the possibility that his brother is God.

Anyway, here's some sourcing for all this:

France 2: Zidane entend "une voix"

"Une nuit à trois heures du matin, je me suis soudain réveillé et là j'ai parlé avec quelqu'un. Mais ça, personne ne le sait. Ni ma femme, ni personne", raconte le nouveau capitaine des Bleus.

"C'est une énigme, oui, mais ne cherchez pas, vous ne trouverez pas. C'est quelqu'un que vous ne rencontrerez probablement jamais. Moi-même, je ne m'explique pas cette rencontre. Cette personne existe, mais ça vient de tellement loin", poursuit-il.

"Et là, durant les heures qui ont suivi, j'étais tout seul avec elle et, chez moi, j'ai pris la vraie décision de revenir (..) Je n'ai jamais connu ça, j'étais comme interdit devant cette force qui dictait ma conduite, et j'ai eu comme une révélation: j'ai eu soudain envie de revenir aux sources (...). C'est une force irrépressible qui s'est emparée à moi à ce moment-là. Je devais obéir à cette voix qui me conseillait", précise "Zizou".

So you don't need much Franglais to see his claim that he awoke in the presence of a mysterious force, and a few hours later he decided to unretire. But he was backtracking the next day:

"Dans l'article, poursuit le meneur de jeu du Real Madrid, je parle d'une personne. Jusqu'ici c'était quelque chose de personnel, je n'ai pas voulu dire qui était cette personne, mais comme cela a mal été interprété, comme les gens interprètent mal les choses, je dis que cette personne est mon frère. Cela coupe court à tout ce qui se raconte. Il n'y a rien de religieux, rien de mystique".

Nothing religious, nothing mystical -- it was my brother. But we prefer Zizou's first story, not least because it beats hearing God invoked as a justification for war.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

US Supreme Court: Irish Adoption Angle

We wondered when the Irish family background of Dubya's Supreme Court nominee John Roberts and his wife Jane Sullivan Roberts would become an issue. First came the harmless news that they have a house in Limerick, via Mrs Roberts' family (link to Alive in Limerick blog). And as we argued on the night he was nominated, it's a background that plays well with America's Pundit, Tim Russert. But now, via Is that Legal? comes news of the strange paper trail underlying the adoption of their two kids. The children are both Irish born, but the adoption was structured through an unspecified Latin American country (Colombia? -- could it be that the touring Shinners were adoption facilitators?).

Anyway, as a commenter on the Is That Legal? post points out, the explanation is probably a simple one that domicile was established in some country where the procedures are easier than for an Irish adoption or the bringing of the kids direct to the US prior to adoption -- much as Cuban defector baseball players always seem to wind up in a country not covered by the baseball draft rules, and so can enter the league as free agents. At least one weird irony then: that Irish regulations bring occasionally dodgy financial transactions to Dublin, but send adoptions of Irish kids elsewhere. And indeed, sends adoption-seeking Irish parents overseas.

It's clear that Mr and Mrs Roberts decided they wanted to adopt Irish children. Revelations about how exactly such a desire was implemented have the potential to generate the first really ugly episode of his nomination, both in the Republic and the USA.

UPDATE: Atrios comments. And here are the rules governing adoption of Irish-born children in Ireland. [26 June 2006] An oblique reference to the kids being adopted, but not the background, in USA Today.
The Playboy of the Western Coast

It's Week 3 of the Andrew Sullivan Hammock Watch and the stand-in is Dan Savage; check out Mike Power's handy summary of his salient characteristics. Sullywatch may be more qualified than us to discuss the continuity or lack thereof between Sully and Savage, but Savage is clearly keeping up one Sully tradition: the invocation of Irish heritage to explain the thinking behind certain posts. Savage was being a bit cavalier about the space shuttle return (and frankly, given the incessant coverage of the flight, we sympathise) but decided he had gone too far:

I hope no one felt my comments about NASA and the Space Shuttle yesterday were in any way disrespectful ... Making dark comments about the likelihood of an unhappy outcome is the way we Irish Catholics deal with anxiety, dread, and uncertainty. It’s our special pact with God: If we expect the worst, obsess about it, worry about it, drink about it, indulge in black humor, and honestly convince ourselves that something awful is going to happen, then God will step in and prevent said awful thing from happening just to mess with our heads. But you have to sincerely expect the worst, not just go through the motions. It's when you expect good things to happen or keep happening—when you presume upon God—bad things happen. Remember what happened when the Irish presumed upon all those potatoes?

A bad omen for the current "You'll never beat the Irish" Ireland, then. But if you think he's replaced being cavalier about the space shuttle with being cavalier about the Famine, remember that at least, unlike Republican spinner Ed Gillespie, he's not using the Famine to sell Dubya's tax-cuts.

UPDATE: He's at it again today: MY SECRET SHAME: A confession: I had three beers last night. For most Irish Catholics this would not be a big deal. My brother Billy pours three beers over his cornflakes in the morning.

We know he's going for laughs here, but seriously, I think our fellow occupants of Britain and Ireland are fairly fond of their booze too. And how will Andrew feel about the revolutionary chic of Dan's shebeen?
In-flight mojitos

We've already let too much time pass without some commentary on the case of the Colombia Three -- the three Irish fugitives from convictions for assisting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and travelling on false passports. One thing is clear -- Bertie Ahern's constructive ambiguity about the Republic's role in the GWOT/GSAVE is now strained to breaking point.

In terms of the future of the three men, it seems fairly clear that being sent back to Colombia is out of the question -- even the law-and-order oriented Freedom Institute acknowledges the problem with that course of action. We await the Dublin Institute of Culture and Knowledge position paper on the dilemma. Colombia is about a dodgy a place as one could imagine to have the taint of involvement with the FARC, given the lax attitude to right-wing death squads, epitomised in the free ride its government has given to the United Self Defense Forces. And just last week, Dubya indicated that the justice system in Colombia is an issue, simply by falling short of his usual boosterish standards in discussing it:

And we [Dubya and President Uribe] talked about specific cases. And I listened intently and believe that he is interested in following through on these cases, so that the world will hear loud and clear that Colombia is a nation of law and human rights and human dignity.

This from a man whose idea of checks and balances is indicated by the next question that he forced from the overheated hacks in Crawford:

Q What's on the menu? What's on the menu?


But back to the three men. First, they've committed the unpardonable sin of interrupting Bertie's holliers so soon after his previous holliers were interrupted for the IRA cessation announcement:

Mr Ahern broke off his holiday to return to Dublin yesterday morning, where he met senior officials within his department to review the situation.

He then instructed officials to brief both US ambassador James Kenny and British charge d'affaires Ted Hallett yesterday on the Government's position.

Second, there are the basic logistics of the period between their disappearance in Colombia and their return to Ireland, during a period when they were presumably on more than one watch list. The generally accepted destination following the initial disappearance was Cuba, and on that basis one thinks of James Bond's world travels as a disgraced MI5 agent in Die Another Day: from Hong Kong to Cuba on a false passport kindly provided by the Chinese secret service, and from there back to London. And once you're there, it's not that difficult to leave, as both the would-be Attack 2 bomber and the loony Sheikh used to their advantage:

THE extremist cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed has fled Britain amid fears that he could be arrested for his support of the London suicide bombers ... Last night, a close aide of Sheikh Bakri Mohammed told The Times that the cleric, who had managed to fly out without being noticed, would never return to Britain.

Also of interest is the echoes of Irish scandals past, specifically the event of a fugitive or fugitives popping up in very awkward places. Such as, in 1982, in the Attorney-General's house -- the famous GUBU affair, for which one particular Irish blog is named. These three fugitives are wise to stay at undisclosed locations, though. After all, the Colombian government does use bounty hunters.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Suspicious Minds

A seemingly inoccuous news item that merited a 2nd look (related link):

LONDON -- Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal sold 40.1% of his holding in London's Canary Wharf office complex.

A statement to the London Stock Exchange on Friday said trusts for the prince and his family had sold 28 million shares in Songbird Estates PLC, the holding company for the property in East London.

Just as well it's a myth that Saudi speculative sales preceded 9/11.
Belfast here we come

We're just about a fortnight into the IRA cessation, and already enough other shoes have dropped to keep Imelda Marcos happy. One is the "surprise" return of three Irish fugitives from Colombian "justice," a dilemma that has been lingering since last December. But there's really no end of potential mischief.

For instance, Sinn Fein occasionally get in trouble with the accessories being sold on their website or that appear to be circulate with their approval. The "Sniper at Work" t-shirt (with a logo in the style of a road works sign) was deemed over the edge but the current t-shirt collection still pushes a few buttons while adapting to the times; do they pay royalties to Live 8 for that Make Partition History shirt?

Consider now a trend from Philadelphia (as reported by Philadelphia Weekly) -- the trade in "Stop Snitching" t-shirts and similar paraphenalia carrying gang-style warnings about the perils to informers (touts or grasses in Northern Ireland terminology). Given the globalisation of fashion trends, how long can it be before one of these shirts pops up on an Irish street -- perhaps, in the usual snafu tradition, being worn by a person connected with the Shinners even as they claim to be cooperating with policing?

Friday, August 05, 2005


There is no relationship between the recent retirement of the other P O'Neill and the sudden silence of this one. We'll be back over the weekend.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

There was no sex in Ireland before Synge

As promised yesterday, we want to note some of the surprisingly more nuanced columns on the IRA cessation. They were in what was clearly designated as the Irish issue of the Daily Telegraph, on Saturday, with the opinion page occupied by Kevin Myers and Mary Kenny. Which is already a story. We had gone to the Sunday Telegraph in expectation of seeing Myers' column there and it wasn't. So then we dropped by Mike Power's excellent paper round where he was quoting what sounded like a Sunday Myers column, except that when we followed the link it was (a) Saturday's Telegraph and (b) Myers was described as a "columnist for the Irish Times."

So what had happened to his regular pay cheque from Canary Wharf? On then to Free Stater who had the vital news that Myers got canned by Sunday Telegraph. This was not the outcome we expected when we noted Sarah Sands stated direction for the paper when she took over as editor a few months ago:

we are pro-history, pro-blockbuster art exhibitions, pro-Jane Austen, pro-Beethoven, pro-wild life, pro-sport and pro-Doctor Who. I haven’t yet firmly established our position on Cold Play

Surely Myers fits into at least two of those categories, although we don't know if he ended up coming down on the wrong side on Cold Play. (Freestater reports that he might have been associated with the wrong MI number, but now we're thoroughly meandering away from our original topic). Anyway, a perhaps chastened Myers managed to capture what much of the post-cessation punditry did not, namely the extent to which the IRA's self-identity is linked to the twin pillars of the 1916 Rising and the failure to protect Catholic areas of Northern Ireland in 1969:

Today's Provisional IRA leaders remain as armed successors to the republicans of 1916. Thus they cannot totally decommission their weaponry, nor can they leave nationalist areas in Northern Ireland "undefended", and if they tried to, the IRA would simply split, as it did in 1970.

Now, one reason for the relative optimism that this cessation might stick is that lessons have been learned from 1969 and the security forces are unlikely to be collusive partners in extremist sectarian attacks. In fact, as noted by the New York Times, the successors of the loyalist groups who caused such havoc in the 1960s are now preoccupied with attacking each other. Given a de facto police policy of preventing sectarian attacks but a hands-off approach to "internal" vigilante operations, we have bizarre situations such as noted on Slugger O'Toole last week, whereby one branch of the Loyalist Volunteer Force has Catholic members [the likely explanation being that local Catholic residents are concerned about drug crime but the local IRA members are unable or unwilling to take action, whereas the LVF have some baseball bats handy].

But Myers is merely the appetiser for a fascinating Mary Kenny column. It's not easy to explain the Mary phenomenon to readers not familiar with her [it's not a bad start to think, in terms of popular impact, of a 1960s version of Sinead O'Connor]. We spent a bit of time searching, unsuccessfully, for Google confirmation that Mary was on the famous "Condom Train" trip return trip from Dublin to Belfast -- the ingenious late 1960s PR stunt to dramatise the Republic's ludicrous contraception laws by announcing their intention to return from heathen Belfast with the Devil's work. Unfortunately that was a time when we were too young to pay attention to the news, but we're fairly sure that Mary was present as the contraband was seized.

She then embarked on the now somewhat familiar ark of young radical to older conservative leading to her present perch in the Telegraph. And it's the latter aspect of her character that wants to find something admirable in the Provos:

... there are other aspects of the Irish Republican culture which are decent, and which have been occluded by the gun's shadow. Cultures are resilient: what is embedded in them remains and can be revived, and there is much in the original Sinn Fein programme that is worthy of respect ... The movement attracted many women because, besides its aspiration for an "Irish Ireland", it also emphasised education, literature, equality, bicycling, health campaigns (notably against TB), and most significantly, sobriety. One of Sinn Féin's first slogans was "Ireland Sober is Ireland Free!" and one of its first forays into public life was to voice objections, in 1907, to Synge's drama, The Playboy of the Western World on the grounds that it was lowering to the national self-esteem to portray Irish peasants as drunks and patricides, when, with Sinn Féin's help, they were upwardly striving and temperate.

Now Mary is sufficiently sharp to see one problem with this analysis (besides the implication that she might agree on the Shinners on the merits of Synge): its obvious resemblance to the successful sales pitch of radical Islamists to disillusioned Western youth via a life of purity:

Patriotic ideals could develop into fanaticism and demented self-sacrifice (something mirrored in the Islamic world today) as when young men threw themselves into the doomed and deplorable - anti-Partition campaigns of the 1950s, bleeding to death in some lonely Fermanagh cottage after an abortive explosives attempt.

Our regular readers will know that we are dubious about attempts to slot the IRA into the GSAVE on geopolitical grounds, but on the psychology, she has a point. The IRA had an ability to confer a nobility on ignoble deaths, and hypotheses about the uniqueness of Islamist terrorism might want to take that on board before running too far with it.

Mary closes with what could be interpreted as a what hath she wrought indictment of the present-day Republic-in-name-only:

The Republican movement's long association with literature and education is an admirable value in a world where cultural tripe holds dominion, and literacy has been falling. And in a prosperous Ireland where dinner-table talk is so often about the fabulous prices paid for wine, art or designer frocks or whether to invest in real estate in France, Spain or Bulgaria, a cultural movement with something of the ascetic might even be refreshing. True, men of the gun don't easily put away guns, and we mustn't be naïve: but the IRA also draws on roots that can be positive, and can be turned, by men and women wise enough to rediscover them, towards the rebuilding of a nation.

Which sounds like the stump speech of a Sinn Fein candidate for Dublin South East in 2007. Stranger things have happened.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Baghdad = Lagos, Part II

Over two years ago, we argued that Iraq was showing signs of being another Nigeria. Well, they're certainly picking up some lousy business ethics from somewhere, because today's e-mail brings exciting news:


I am Mr. Abu Al-Karmel, I am working in Economic Development and
Foreign contract payment Operations Department, in the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI).

My aim of writing you is to seek for your kindness assistance to allow me quickly transfer the sum of US$15.million dollars, into your account.

We're not ruling out that some Keyboard Kommandos will argue that this a positive sign of entrepreneurship emerging despite the insurgency.
The IRA cessation, continued

Key sentences from a couple of today's comment pieces that you might not otherwise see, behind subscription in today's Wall Street Journal (Slugger O'Toole remains the most complete collection of links):

An editorial:

What is clear is that the IRA's road to oblivion only began when the community which it claimed to represent finally had enough, when the IRA's fellow-travelers in the mainstream political establishment finally turned their back, and when the wider world -- the "experts," the media -- finally stopped indulging IRA behavior with explanations and excuses. It's a lesson worth remembering as the world confronts terrorists elsewhere.

Again this tricky business of slotting the Provos into the G-SAVE. On the opinion page, Lionel Shriver, who seems to have acquired the niche of being the WSJ's woman in Belfast:

Last week's statement still insisted, "[T]he armed struggle was entirely legitimate." Thus the IRA is bloody-minded to the end. Yet both sides of this obscenely petty conflict got caught up in a raw power contest whose ferocity was grotesquely disproportionate to the trifling border dispute at issue. Looking back on the last 37 years, the Northern Irish of both religions should feel -- even more than sorrowful -- ashamed.

This is one of the stranger passages we've read recently -- leaving aside its broader negation of the roles of history, culture, identity and religion in the conflict, it doesn't sit at all well with the bi-polar, IRA-a-subset-of-GSAVE perspective of the editorial. Ms Shriver wasn't the only pundit giving the inverse curate's egg ("bad in parts") to the Provos, but to avoid having to attend a meeting of Bloggers Anonymous, we'll have to leave that discussion for later.