Lousy journalism

One of my (very much) leftist e-mail correspondents, thoroughly infected with Bush Derangement Syndrome, tried to make a point that Iraqis were living in peace and harmony before the war (I guess your life was peaceful enough if you didn’t put a toe out of line; otherwise you might get shot), and as proof of that she cited the “high rate of intermarriage” between Sunnis and Shi’ites.

Well, being as my trust for this person’s information is such that I would check her math if she claimed that 2 + 2 = 4, I googled up “Sunni””Shiite” and “intermarriage.” I got 9,200 hits for that search, and plenty of them said things like this:

    Intermarriage was common. Friction existed, but it stemmed mainly from resentment over government preferences given to the minority Sunnis. Shiites directed most of their anger toward Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, not the neighbor down the street.

And this:

    The cities of Iraq have diverse populations, with much intermarriage between peoples of different religious and national backgrounds.

I found plenty, plenty, of sites telling me that Sunni-Shi’ite intermarriage was “common,” or that intermarriage rates were “high.” Perhaps that’s where my friend got her information.

But words like “common” and “high” are very imprecise. In the several pages that I searched, I came across one, and only one, with actual numbers. That was Juan Cole (referenced by Tigershark), the University of Michigan history professor who writes frequently on the Middle East, and who isn’t exactly a neo-conservative, who reported:

    Sabrina Tavernise of the (New York Times) shows that Sunni-Shiite intermarriage in Baghdad has fallen from 3-5% in 2002 (the year before the invasion — Ed.) to virtually 0% today, as sectarian rancor has increased and broken up past such marriages.*

One doesn’t normally think of The New York Times as a hotbed of war supporters, either.

Baghdad is, of course, the most cosmopolitan of Iraqi cities, both before the war and now. One would normally expect higher rates of intermarriage there, where Sunnis and Shi’ites simply had more opportunities to meet. And the numbers, from a source normally considered both reliable and not supportive of the Bush Administration, put the intermarriage rate at between 3 and 5%. I don’t know about you, but to me, a 3 to 5% intermarriage rate doesn’t exactly strike me as either “common” or “high.”

What happened? Well, I don’t know, with certainty, in every individual case, but my somewhat educated guess is that someone (whomever “someone” might be) said that the rate was “high,” and the Western lemmings reporters, rather than actually try to find out themselves, simply passed it on as gospel. No one actually checked, because that would have been too much like work, especially since the records were certainly in Arabic. Finally, one reporter did do the work, and put quantitative numbers rather than qualitative adjectives down on paper — and the qualitative adjectives were shown to be rubbish.

* – The original article from the Times is now hidden behind the paid archives wall.

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A good question

Whilst driving my daughters someplace (just about half an hour ago), we got caught up in tourist traffic in Jim Thorpe. My younger daughter asked, “If it’s tourist season, why can’t we shoot ’em?”

An excellent question. But, being a highly educated and informed father, I had the answer at hand: “That’s easy: you don’t have a tourist license.”

I hate green paint!

My younger daughter decided that she wanted her room painted — and she selected a Martha Stewart puke green paint. Not only am I hugely offended that we spent our money (or, more accurately, that my wife spent our money) on anything which enriches Miss Stewart, I despise the puke green color. Not only is it on the walls, it is on the freaking ceiling!

But, it’s a teenager’s room, so, despite the fact that I hate the color (and said so), I’m not going to object. I did, unfortunately, have to do some of the painting (meaning: the ceiling) myself: I’m 6′ 2″ tall, where Mrs Pico is 5′ tall.

Mrs Pico is working today, and I had to put the second coat (of a paint guaranteed to cover in one coat) on the ceiling. That’s done now, and my torment is over.


My younger daughter told me that Mrs Pico likes the color, and wants to use it on the living room! I stressed to my daughter to tell Mrs Pico that her husband would be upset, very upset, if he came home one day and found that she had started painting the living room walls this puke green.

Have I mentioned yet that I hate green paint?

From Cheryl

A Jewish grandmother and her grandson are at the beach. He is playing in the water and she is standing on the shore not wanting to get her feet wet, when all of a sudden, a huge wave appears from nowhere and crashes directly onto the spot where the boy is wading.

The water recedes and the boy is no longer there. Swept away.

She raises her hands to the sky as she screams and cries, “Lord, how could you? Haven’t I been a wonderful grandmother? Haven’t I been a wonderful mother? Haven’t I kept a kosher home? Haven’t I given to B’nai B’rith? Haven’t I given to Hadassah? Haven’t I lit candles every Friday
night? Haven’t I tried my very best to live a life that you would be proud of?”

A voice booms from the sky, “Okay, okay!”

A few minutes later, another huge wave appears out of nowhere and crashes on the beach. As the water recedes, the boy is standing there, smiling and splashing around as if nothing had ever happened.

The voice booms again. “I have returned your grandson. Are you satisfied?”

She responds, “He had a hat.”

A little book with a warning

James Clavell was a writer of note who made a big splash with Shogun.

He was and Englishman and the son of a Captain in the Royal Navy. He chose the Army and found himself a POW in Asia and endured the well-recorded (but seemingly forgotten) Japanese brutality. He wrote a book on the subject, King Rat.

Given his background, it may come as a surprise that he wrote story set in a future America. It was published in 1980, when the Cold War was real,

It is called The Children’s Story, in which a new day has dawned. A new teacher shows up in class and things change. There will be no more pledge of allegience. Repeating such words seems meaningless. The flag will be cut up to make ornaments. It will be to each according to his needs……..

While the Cold War as we knew it ended with a Soviet whimper rather than a thermonuclear bang, many of those who found ideological direction from Marx and Lenin have found a new (albeit amorphous) center of spiritual gravity. The new Party Line is simply to hate America, its institutions and traditions. These traditions go back far beyond 1776 but are part of a philosophical continuum that includes the Magna Carta and wisdom expressed by some ancient Greeks and assorted Hebrews. These institutions are under attack in academe in the name of multculturalism and the new censorship of political correctness. Revisionist perversions of our Constitution are used to eviscerate its spirit. Trendy glibness often trumps rational debate in an era of instant gratification and sound bites.

We are in a war in which defeat means entry into the darkest of dark ages. A multi-front war on terror is but one theater. There is an active fifth column at home and they are not skulking in shadows but blatantly operating in the public arena, using facades of ‘peace’ and ‘justice’ and ‘liberty’ to gull an electorate intoxicated by the latest version of bread and circus.

Where are the honest men and women?

How many George Galloways are there?

    Galloway says murder of Blair would be ‘justified’
    By Oliver Duff
    Published: 26 May 2006

    The Respect MP George Galloway has said it would be morally justified for a suicide bomber to murder Tony Blair.

    In an interview with GQ magazine, the reporter asked him: “Would the assassination of, say, Tony Blair by a suicide bomber – if there were no other casualties – be justified as revenge for the war on Iraq?”

    Mr Galloway replied: “Yes, it would be morally justified. I am not calling for it – but if it happened it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of 7/7. It would be entirely logical and explicable. And morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq – as Blair did.” Continue reading ‘How many George Galloways are there?’ »