Yep, even their ombudsman cannot manage to defend the BBC’s “sexed-up” reporting about the Blair Iraq dossier. No sense that he gets that it was ideological liberal bias that was behind the black eye, of course. Bias? Nous? But at least we get this concession:

While many journalists around the world are quickly rallying around the BBC as an example of a grand old institution that remains the gold standard for all, this incident has unnerved many in the public broadcasting community — certainly in North America. Some colleagues have said that it shows that investigative journalism will always fail against a government or an industry with superior resources. Others say that the BBC was right to go after the Blair government. But by not being cautious enough, the BBC bungled it and brought the institution into disrepute. But the BBC, like The New York Times in the Jayson Blair scandal, may have succumbed to hubris and to the self-inflicted delusion that since it is the BBC (or The New York Times), it may allow itself to cut corners. This is an arrogant delusion and one that may have ill-served the BBC’s listeners while emboldening the BBC’s political enemies on Fleet Street and in Parliament.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: privatize the BBC.

WHAT BUSH SAID: “You falsely claim that Bush “gave the impression the war was over” by his landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln. I guess, like the carrier’s namesake said, the world has little noted what he said there. Here’s a segment:

We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We’re bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We’re pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime who will be held to account for their crimes. We’ve begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated.
We are helping to rebuild Iraq where the dictator built palaces for himself instead of hospitals and schools.
And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by and for the Iraqi people.
The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done and then we will leave and we will leave behind a free Iraq.

By any historical standards, the 70 or so combat deaths in the four months since that speech is small (insert mandatory disclaimer that each death is a tragedy, etc.). It is tantamount to hysteria to claim at this point that this effort is failing, or that these deaths are excessive and out of line with expectations. I expected more than have died thus far in the ENTIRE WAR to have died in the first week. Didn’t everybody?” – more insight on the Letters Page, newly updated by Reihan Salam.


What happens when a fundamentalist Christian wants to keep an idolatrous rock in the courthouse? Wall-to-wall coverage. What happens when a fundamentalist Christian uses the Gospels to advocate redistributing income from rich to poor? No-one bothers to write about it. Gregg Easterbrook has a point. And a new blog too. Welcome, Gregg.

KEYNESIAN BUSH: A decent defense of the president’s economic policies – so far. I agree that circumstances merited some increase in debt; that the tax cuts so far are no big deal; and that some spending increases might be justified on Keynesian grounds. I think Bush has engineered about as rosy an employment situation as possible for his re-election. The real issue is the long-term outlook. On that, the prognosis is horrifying; and the president doesn’t seem to mind.

HYSTERICAL KURTZ: Culture warrior Stanley Kurtz is all exercized by the fact that a hearing that reviewed the Defense of Marriage Act didn’t get much publicity. He fails to mention that only one Republican senator bothered to attend the entire proceeding; another one dropped by for a few minutes. The key question is: if even Republicans cannot be bothered to show up, why should the media cover it? This was a sop to the base. They got the message. So did the press.


The strategy came out of the closet last night. My take opposite.

MAGDALENE, AGAIN: I should add, I suppose, that the Church in which I grew up – mercifully post Vatican II – never demonstrated cruelty, barbarity or abuse, at least in my experience. Part of my anger – and I’d say that of many fellow Catholics – is due to our own dismay at our naivete and ignorance, helped in part by the deference that was second nature to us. And it’s important to note that the evils that we are now discovering are the sins of men and women, not of the faith itself. Here’s a more critical review of the movie. I disagree with it in some respects – I do think that Geraldine McEwen, for example, showed precisely how a nun came to choose brutality, rather than simply demonstrate it. On another angle, this letter to the Irish Times last Friday shows how this slave labor was also a way to enrich the Church financially:

It is also interesting to consider the unfair trading situation which pertained for most of that time. Ordinary commercial laundries throughout Ireland paid their largely female workforce the going rate of pay, and published annual accounts which were filed in the Companies Office. But they had to compete with Magdalen laundries run on slave labour which, as registered charities, had accounts closed to public inspection. And for those charities that may also have been limited companies, a special section of Irish company law allowed religious orders to file their annual audits at the Companies Office without any disclosure of turnover, profits or capital assets. This special exemption is still in place and used by a number of RC organisations.
Much has been made of the selfless devotion of the individual nuns who worked in these institutions, but even they would surely admit that they did so voluntarily as part of their religious vocation and could have left at any time, unlike the unfortunate women who ended up in their care. It was a sickening final insult that the High Park nuns, having sold the land for a considerable fortune, did not even grant these women individual graves: they were institutionalised even in death.
We can only speculate on what happened to the accumulated profits generated by these businesses, but one can be reasonably certain that the canny and able administrator nuns invested in buildings and land.

Perhaps some of it will now be used to compensate the hundreds and thousands of children abused and destroyed by the church hierarchy for so long.


It may be a con. But when Stephen Moore and the Cato Institute can be wowed by Howard Dean’s claims to fiscal conservatism, you know that Bush is vulnerable. Rove doesn’t care about deficits and doesn’t care about debt. Voters should, do and will. Money quote:

The word Vermonters use most often to describe Dean is “frugal.” Coming into office amidst the early 1990s recession, he cut formerly sacrosanct welfare spending to keep the state out of debt. The Cato analysis shows that during Dean’s first four years in office, Vermont’s budget grew much more slowly than other states’. He cut income tax rates across the board (much as President Bush did). Although he raised overall business taxes, he approved millions of dollars’ worth of incentives to lure smoke stacks back into the Green Mountain State. It was during these early years that the head of the state’s powerful Progressive party called him “a very right-wing Democrat.” And during a time when President Bush has been piling up mountains of debt in Washington and 47 governors face record budget deficits of their own, Dean admirably left Vermont with a $10.4 million surplus when he left office this past January–which would certainly be one of his trump cards against Bush. If Dean were ever elected president, I’m convinced he would be monomaniacal about balancing the budget–though certainly not in ways that would please conservatives.

Moore is right. But how does Bush begin to rein in his profilgacy now?


The Scotsman has the goods on how the BBC hack deliberately misled Parliament.

BAATHIST BROADCASTING CORPORATION II: “Saddam must be gloating in his hiding place over the irony that the United States, which toppled him in the name of fighting terror, has now had to concede that Iraq has become a ‘battlefield’ in the war on terror – a magnet for Muslim militants who want to wage war on America.” – Caroline Hawley, BBC’s Baghdad correspondent, spinning for the Baathists.


It was a good speech, well delivered. The only unnerving feeling I got was when the president said he didn’t want or need more U.S. troops. I remain unconvinced – but, hey, I’m open to persuasion. Max Boot says we need more civilians instead. Fine. Let’s have more civilians. But we need to be told exactly what the problem is and how we’re going to fix it. The president didn’t exactly do that. What he did do was lay out the broad objectives of the war on terror, explain better how Iraq is a central part of it, and with a request for $87 billion, showed that he means business. That was overdue and refreshing. Again, the speech would have seemed far less defensive if Bush hadn’t given the impression months ago that the war was over. If there’s been some public wobbling, I think it’s partly because of post-war hubris by the administration itself. But I think the White House understands that now. Critics will say that the Iraq-terror connection, brutally outlined in the Washington Post yesterday, is a result of the war and didn’t exist beforehand. They’re wrong. The links between Baathist remnants and al Qaeda are obviously stronger now than the links between al Qaeda and the Saddam regime a year ago – but they all always had a common goal: the prevention of the liberalization of the Arab world and the defeat of Western interests through terror, both state-sponsored and otherwise. We’ve flushed them out but we haven’t yet destroyed them. Now we have a chance to go in for the kill. If Bush can successfully persuade people that violence in Iraq is a) unavoidable and b) an opportunity, then he will be far more persuasive in the coming months. And we all need him to be.