Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Powder Scare

Paula Froelich at the New York Post wrote this piece on MSNBC's talk host and commentator Keith Olbermann:

September 27, 2006 -- MSNBC loudmouth Keith Olbermann flipped out when he opened his home mail yesterday. The acerbic host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" was terrified when he opened a suspicious-looking letter with a California postmark and a batch of white powder poured out. A note inside warned Olbermann, who's a frequent critic of President Bush's policies, that it was payback for some of his on-air shtick. The caustic commentator panicked and frantically called 911 at about 12:30 a.m., sources told The Post's Philip Messing. An NYPD HazMat unit rushed to Olbermann's pad on Central Park South, but preliminary tests indicated the substance was harmless soap powder. However, that wasn't enough to satisfy Olbermann, who insisted on a checkup. He asked to be taken to St. Luke's Hospital, where doctors looked him over and sent him home. Whether they gave him a lollipop on the way out isn't known. Olbermann had no comment.

Now I defer to no one in the matter of finding Mr. Olbermann hard to take. He is snide, pompous, arrogant, mean-spirited, and petty, but none of that, as bad as it is, justifies the prank that Froelich reports. In fact, I think Froelich is being unfair to Olberman in portraying him as something of a sissy in the way he reacted to the powder in the envelope. If I were a celebrity in the public eye, given the anthrax scares of a couple of years ago, I'd probably react the same way, and I suspect Froelich would too.

Worse, though, is the fact that someone ostensibly from the conservative side of Olbermann's meager viewing audience would engage in such a tactic, which is really a form of terrorism. It disgraces anyone to do something like this, and whoever did it should be ashamed.

No doubt Olbermann suspects the sender was Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly certainly has motive, given Olbermann's relentless public assaults on him, but I prefer to think that O'Reilly, who is every bit as pompous and obnoxious as Olbermann, is nevertheless above this sort of hooliganism.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Coming on the heels of a reporter's stunningly maladroit question concerning Republican Senator George Allen's (VA) Jewish ancestry are allegations now by which accuse him of past racist remarks. Salon's piece tries hard to make Allen look like a racist and a bigot, but, as usual, there's more to the story.

Ed Morrissey has a good summary of events here and here for those interested in seeing how political dirty tricks are played by those with no moral principle guiding them except "win at all costs".

Egg On Their Faces, Again

The New York Times made much of the secret NIE report which proved, the Times assured us, that Iraq and Bush were making the terrorism problem worse. As you probably guessed even without having seen the report (which Bush has now declassified), the Times' take on the NIE report was somewhat skewed. The relevant section can be read here (It's not very long).

The Times and others in the media quoted this sentence and concluded that we need to get out of there and stop the bleeding:

The Iraq conflict has become the "cause celebre" for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.

What they didn't tell us was the very next sentence:

Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight."

In other words, success in Iraq is predicted to have a moderating influence on terrorist activity. The Times and its allies chose not to tell us that what the NIE report says is that what would really inspire the terrorists to redouble their barbarous efforts would be to do precisely what the Times and many Democrats have advised: Cut and Run.

Now that the relevant portions of the document have been released and reveal the Democrats' dissimulations they're calling for the entire document to be made available. They're implying that if only we saw everything in the NIE report we'd see that "Bush's War" is actually making us less safe.

This really is amusing. When the original exposè ran in the Times they only printed the single sentence above. Yet no Democrat complained that we weren't seeing the whole report. No Democrat complained that we couldn't judge the context. No Democrat demanded that the relevant portions be released so that the whole thing could be assessed. Now that they have been, and the Democrats have egg on their faces, they're insisting that we haven't seen the whole thing and that if we did we'd be convinced that they're right. Sure.