"I don't believe in journalists having 'responsibility.'"
-Seth Lipsky, October 16, 2003

Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll demanded on August 20, 2003, that Washington "finish the war" against "the Arabs."

Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll assembled their staff for a Champagne toast to mass death on the commencement of hostilities against Iraq. Stoll called it "my war." CNN maintains a running update here of Americans killed in Ira's war.

On February 6, 2003, Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll wrote, in all seriousness, of a pending anti-war demonstration that the "the New York City police could do worse, in the end, than to allow the protest and send two witnesses along for each participant, with an eye toward preserving at least the possibility of an eventual treason prosecution."

The June 9, 1995 Wall Street Journal quoted an SEC complaint against New York Sun backer Bruce Kovner as saying Kovner had "altered and destroyed" subpoenaed evidence. We wish you'd do the same to the daily print run of your God-awful newspaper, Bruce.

Also, Professor G. Harlan Reynolds alleged on August 27, 2002 - when the Sun was several months in publication - that Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll had not yet paid him for a piece authored for their inaugural issue.

 
 
   
 
Friday, August 22, 2003
 
Anybody who's read more than one issue of the Sun - if any such souls can be found - know that its editors go absolutely ape shit for anti-Saddam Iraqis based in England. Meeting that metric is Dr. Mohammed Al-Obaidi, though we suspect the Good Doctor would fail SethAndIra's sniff test.

If the Doctor's figures are at all accurate, a simple geometric expansion of surviving dependents and friends of the victims of Ira's War would show that there are hundreds of thousands of aggrieved Iraqis who - contrary to the Sun's condescending fantasy of hapless and witless Arabs applauding the reordering of their country to benefit Smilin' Dick's buddies at Halliburton - have very real reason to be hostile to the army of occupation.

But SethAndIra ignore this reality, attributing the sadly real violence directed at the poor unfortunates comprising said army of occupation to the supremely eeevil global Islamofascist terrorist conspiracy which menaces America and causes Ira to wet the bed. Hence The Believer's outlandish Syrian truck scenario demolished below by young LFLS intern Quentin Robinson.

Absent credibility and even the most meagre measure of goodwill, the Bushite wrecking crew can only rule by sheer military force. The Iraqis of course realized Chickenhawk Bush's root cellar contained no carrots, and that The Resident gleefully resorted to the stick predictably and with facility: it's the very reason why they're so mightily pissed off at present. In response, SethAndIra can only urge to "Finish the War," an eventuality that haunts civilization like a spectre. As this circle grows increasingly vicious, so do the Sunnis. Don't expect reality to intrude on the cherished delusions common in SethAndIranistan. After all, Seth still grips tightly his disgraced and disgraceful views on the war against Viet Nam.
 
I hate Syria and Iran. Let me be absolutely clear about that. How much easier would it be for us, now, if we had not gone ahead with Ira's War, stoking the fire of anti-Americanism in places far and wide, spitting on the United Nations, alienating our allies? And how much easier would it be to build a case against Syria and Iran if the right-wing propagandists would stop with the yellow journalism and, you know, build a case. On Facts and Stuff.

So we have two dispatches on the front page of the Sun, one from Benny the Jet Avni, the other from TB Adam Daifallah. It's the standard Sunni trash, full of innuendo and unnamed sources, amounting to nothing really.

The Jet "reports" that, "Syria Eyed as Truck’s Source In Bomb of Baghdad U.N. Post." At least that's what the headline says. Reading the text of his dispatch, however, the all-too-predictable holes in this particular plot become obvious.

Who is "eyeing" the Syrians? "Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Gillerman, charged that the truck used to blow up the U.N headquarters in Iraq on Tuesday 'most probably' came from Syria," says TJ. Yes, and the truck that blew up the Oklahoma City federal building "most probably" came from Ryder? So what?

Oh, but there's more -- "Mr. Gillerman cited 'intelligence and media' sources for his assertion that the truck was Syrian, and stressed that this did not necessarily mean that Damascus was involved in the bombing. The truck, first identified as a concrete-mixing vehicle but now believed to be a Russian-made arms carrier, could have been imported from Syria to Iraq a long time ago." (In a galaxy far, far away?)

Damn those Syrians and their long history of importing trucks! Anyway, it is interesting to see that Benny's source refuses to come to the conclusion The Jet is trying to squeeze out of nothing. He even goes so far as to rather boldly misrepresent Rummy: "Stopping just short of accusing Syria of complicity, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said that terrorists 'clearly are not being stopped by the countries from which they are coming from.'" I'd say he stopped well short, considering (a) he was stating the obvious and (b) he does not mention Syria at all.

Daifallah falls into a similar incongruity between headline and reporting. "Iranian Officials Raped Reporter, Then Killed Her," says the headline, as if this were established fact. Look a little deeper -- and just a little; it's in the first paragraph -- and you see that "Iranian officials raped Canadian-Iranian journalist Zahra Kazemi before she died and put chemicals in her body to speed up its decomposition, according to a lawyer who recently visited Iran and an opposition group." Which means that it is something interested sources are claiming, and not established fact.

Did the Iranians do this? I certainly believe it is possible, perhaps even likely. But it is not known. This is the realm where newspapers should operate, but the Sunnis are allergic to fact and frightened of real reporting. So they wait for tips from propagandists -- most of which, I have no doubt, come in the form of mass emails -- and peddle them as fact. This weakens, rather than strengthens, both the credibility of the Sun (if such a thing is possible) and the credibility of the causes SethAndIra believe they are championing. Like the Bushies they take their orders from, they traffic bullshit.

About the only thing that makes sense *at* page one of today's Sun is this paragraph from Benj. Smith's lead story on the charter revision commission:
The confidential draft, a copy of shot in the arm. It would give it some lewhich was obtained by The New York Sun, is one of four non-binding suggestions for increasing voter participation that the commission,whose main aim is abolishing party primaries, will consider voting on this month or next.

Need I ask? WETS? I mean, this is the lead fucking story.

But there is hope. In the idiotorial column SethAndIra bloviate on the recall farce in California, whoring for Arnold. "There was a moment during Wednesday’s press conference when it seemed absolutely clear that Arnold Schwarzenegger gets it. It was that moment when he said, 'I’m very, very much a believer that our people haven’t been undertaxed. The problem is the politicians have overspent.' This is a point as true in California as it is in New York."

What do these idiots possibly know about California's finances? Apparently, about as little as they know about New York's. But the hope comes in the fact that now SethAndIra, the Berkshires Brothers, are trying to pass themselves off as Californians, much as they have been trying to pass themselves off as New Yorkers.

"But the Golden State voters are a skeptical lot, and if they are seeking a candidate who will raise taxes, well, they have plenty of Democrats to choose from." Yes, so skeptical that a bad actor with little demonstrated knowledge of any kind of policy is a front-runner. Apparently SethAndIra missed Arnold's best quote, "The public doesn't care about figures." If they want more of that, they have plenty of bad actors to choose from...

Thursday, August 21, 2003
 
In an unexpected twist, the Sunnis come out in favor of school vouchers today. "So — two separate, recent, relatively large nationwide polls showing, when you come down to it, 62% support for school vouchers," SethAndIra screech.

Funny, that's not how the Associated Press read it...

Apparently the Sun tracks American public opinion about as well as it tracks public opinion in certain Arab countries.
 
SethAndIra's flip-flop

The disappearance of SmarterTimes from the wafer-thin New York Sun happened slowly and without much fanfare. ("Ira whining" is how one prominent Sun investor referred to the erstwhile column.) It would have seemed, to us Kraplinologists, that the removal of this childish feature might represent a movement towards a more serious newspaper (hold the laughter!), one that might try to forge its own, crooked path without constantly looking over their shoulders at their cross-town non-rivals.

Then comes today's idiotorial, "Friedman’s Flip-Flop." The Sun, for some reason, has been after Thos the Boss for some time now, even concocting a phony scandal involving Middle East scholar Stephen Cohen in order to smear Friedman, who has quoted Cohen from time to time. (Word from the home office is that SethAndIra kept a special file with clippings of all the columns in which Cohen was quoted by Friedman -- a little obsessive, no?) I wonder if the dyspeptic duo realize that Friedman is as much of a joke (if not more of a joke) among good liberals as he is among loony neocons.

Now the Sunnis accuse Friedman of a "flip-flop," and presumably, folks, they're not talking about sandals here. See, once, in February, Friedman called for an Iraqi occupation along the lines of "the postwar occupations of Germany and Japan." Now he admits, "This is not Germany 1945."

SethAndIra are giddy:
Well, it’s great to see the New York Times’s foreign affairs columnist swing, however belatedly, into the camp of those of us who have been arguing for years that America’s best decision would be to allow Iraqis themselves to take the lead in liberating and governing their own country.

One may wonder why the Sun would choose to devote precious, precious space in such a diminutive rag to pointing out what anyone who has given up on Friedman already knows -- his rock-solid beliefs tend to change with the conventional wisdom. Why is this worthy of editorial comment? Seems the Sun still has some maturing to do. And, anyway, if you actually read Friedman's column you will find he says nothing about "liberating" Iraq. That is to say, no mention of comfortable furniture or televisions. In fact, as usual, he doesn't say much at all.

But, while we're at it, let's go over some of SethAndIra's flip-flops. In their Thos-accost, they say, "The Iraqis themselves, with their local knowledge and language skills, will be more effective than Americans can be in rooting out the loyalists to Saddam and the terrorist operatives sent by neighboring states."

There's that local knowledge and language skills again! At least they're consistent on the patronizing. Those Iraqis, they are capable of amazing things.

However, on August 4, the Bloviating Brothers idiotorialized thus:
But given the maneuvering before the war, it would not be surprising to see an argument emerge that those who have suffered for three decades under the Baathist tyranny should have a superior say in the process, as if Iraqis who have lived inside Iraq for the past 35 years are better versed in the tenets of liberal democracy than those who’ve spent time in liberal democracies like America and Britain.

So which is it? Outsiders like the Pirate Chalabi who "are better versed in the tenets of liberal democracy"? Or "Iraqis themselves," what with their language skills and "local knowledge"? How can someone who has not "lived inside Iraq for the past 35 years" have any "local knowledge"? I suppose the only way is if we view "local knowledge" the way SethAndIra, the Western Mass. transplants, view their own "local knowledge" of New York.

The truth -- and it must kill SethAndIra -- is that they have far more in common with Friedman than they would like to admit. The fatuous declarations. The unwarranted claims to public opinion in parts of the world they know nothing about. The overall trail of bullshit.
 
An intrepid traveller writes of his wander through the fever swamps of SethAndIranistan:
I think my favorite bit was when at 11:30 p.m., Seth realized that Bush had given a state of the union address that had ended an hour ago. "Why didn't anyone tell me about this?" he cried. Fortunately, the Sun doesn't have staff written stories anyway so they just stole something from the wire. However, watching him panic when his very own Conservative candidate was adressing the nation was amusing.


Wednesday, August 20, 2003
 
As noted below by Quentin Robinson, Der Stoller reaches a frenzied crescendo with his call for total war against the combined 207,343,488 people of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and North Korea. The last of the series was presumably included to demonstrate that he's not the kill 'em all and let Allah sort 'em out anti-Islam racist he's so easily mistaken for.

As also noted below by young Mr. Robinson, Der Stoller risks an offhand invocation of Viet Nam, with predictably disastrous results. Ira Stool, historian, likely composed today's hue and cry for bigger bombs and broader targets wholly unaware of how appropriate his Viet Nam mention is.

Similarly appropriate would have been a mention of Nicaragua, what with several of the prominent criminals of that era having been restored and redeployed in the zany Bushite terror war. Substitute any of Judith Miller's confections for the fictitious shipment of MiGs, and enlist Ahmad Chalabi to play the Enrique Bermudez role. Then sit back and watch as thousands are needlessly maimed and murdered. When the squalor of the enterprise becomes too patent to deny, wonder aloud just why the freedom-hating Iraqis didn't take a shine to the nice leaders we selected for them. As the casualties are taken by "the Arabs" - as SethAndIra refer to the friendless people of the Middle East who can be killed with relative impunity - civilization progresses.
 
In the land of the blind, Ira Stoll is an idiot. So much for the Long Twilight Struggle, Infant Ira wants his war to end. Now.

"Finish the War," screams the idiotorial page in today's Sun. But Ira, what would you do then? We worry about you.

"It’s getting to the point where it’s hard to be shocked by the attacks the Arabs premeditate against civilian targets," this particular monstrosity begins, and that should be quite enough for most readers. This is just outlandish, even by the Lipsky-Stool standard.

(To be clear: This is called "racism.")

I could go on about the numerous journalistic crimes Ira commits in the course of the rest of this random, rancid pile of words, but I will stick to a few. Ira claims that, "The New York Sun reported last week, however, that Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia are conspiring with loyalists of Saddam Hussein to try to make sure that America follows in Iraq the example of America in Somalia, Beirut, and Vietnam — bleed and flee."

As we pointed out in our LFLS dispatch that day, The New York Sun reported no such thing. Ira's piece was a mix of opinion, innuendo, and slander, with nary a fact present. And, just as a bonus, Ira can't even keep the facts straight about his own "reporting." The Iran conspiracy piece of August 11 did not mention Vietnam at all.

Did we "bleed and flee" the Delta and the DMZ? Two decades and almost 60,000 American dead would suggest otherwise. More to the point, is Ira now lumping our little police action in Iraq to that little police action in Indochina? This is troubling indeed.

Later Ira offers up a bit of comedy in a time of so much murder and turmoil:
Had America followed the path counseled by the free Iraqi opposition during the 1990s and given the Iraqis themselves the lead in liberating their country, we’d have fewer American troops in harm’s way there today. An Iraqi force would also have to face less resistance to “occupation,” and its language skills and local knowledge would allow it to do better than Americans in pacifying the country.

That plucky INC, what with its local knowledge and language skills! Can Ira ever manage to praise anyone -- even a worthless criminal like Chalabi -- without coming off like a condescending prick? Anyway, if only we had listened to the INC then, maybe they could have liberated Iraq like they "liberated" Iraq's real estate in New York and Washington. Baghdad would be overflowing with plush ottomans and cable television.
President Bush’s father stopped short of full victory in the 1991 Gulf War. It helped cost him the election and put the Iraqi people and the world at risk for another decade — a decade that included September 11, 2001. If Mr. Bush delays the drive for full victory now, we can all expect more days like yesterday, watching the body bags and the ambulances full of innocent Western civilians crowd the sites of terrorist attacks.

What a convenient reading of history for young Stoll. Was it Old Bush's failure to occupy Baghdad that cost him the election? I was led to believe it was the economy, Ira. At any rate, Ira's "drive for full victory" no doubt means that the Ultimate Chickenhawk wants Bush to bomb more Ay-rabs. After all, "it’s hard to be shocked by the attacks the Arabs premeditate against civilian targets."

Sure, Ira, let's go all the way. But with what army? Your war is a disaster; we'll be lucky to live through it. Asshole.

Speaking of assholes, Michael Ledeen publishes his latest poison right next to Ira's.

"Perhaps the bombing of the U.N. offices will clarify things, drive our policy-makers to wage war instead of aimlessly reciting failed peace prayers, and catalyze the feckless critics of the war against terrorism into joining with us," muses Ledeen, proving he has lost any grip on reality. I have heard Bush accused of a great, great many things, most of them true. But "aimlessly reciting failed peace prayers" is a new one.

"If we want the war to end, we have to defeat them. All of them," pants Ledeen, in language leading one to believe he may be running for governor of California.

And so the Sunnis' War on Arabs reaches a new rhetorical peak.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003
 
Here I was prepared to return to regular LFLS activity when I found that my estimable charge, young Quentin Robinson, had beaten me to the punch. Thankfully he allowed yours truly a concession by declining to treat the following sentence from Adam Daifallah's sad attempt to rehabilitate the disgraced and disgraceful Laurie Mylroie:
With the high-profile defection of Hussein Kamel, to Jordan in 1995, America and the world learned of the advanced stage of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programs, particularly biological weapons [sic].
Ah to operate clad in one of SethAndIra's journalistic anti-gravity suits, in which reporters such as Believer Daifallah need not be grounded by fact. Hussein Kamel actually said that "All weapons - biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed."

So Iraq's WMD program was about as advanced as contemporary Germany's zeppelin program. Or about as advanced as Seth Lipsky and Ira Stool's shared regard for sound and accurate reporting.
 
"AL QAEDA CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR POWER OUTAGE," blares the Sun's front page today, offering up the Sunnis' third theory in as many days as to what happened last Thursday. First, it was Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. Then, it was incomplete deregulation. Now, those bastards Al Qaeda.

In running the Al Qaeda "news," the Sun joins such prominent media outlets as the World Tribune and MEMRI. Incidentally, another link to the Al Qaeda claim can be found -- holy Jeebus! -- on the web site of the U.S. Committee for a Free Lebanon.

The makings of some new Kennedy-NERC-Al Qaeda Axis of ... uh ... Candles? How long will it take SethAndIra to connect the dots?

And it's an Adam Daifallah two-fer-Tuesday at the Sun today. TB offers up yet another profile of wing-nut Laurie Mylroie. Under the headline, "A Lone Wolf on U.S. Intelligence, Iraq Marches On" (which may lead unsuspecting readers to believe that Iraq is a lone wolf on U.S. intelligence), Master Daifallah takes an unflinching look at "a lone voice in the wilderness pushing an issue that the intelligence community establishment refuses to confront." For those who have never read the Sun, Laurie Mylroie is an Iraq expert-cum-lunatic who believes that Saddam Hussein was behind every major terrorist act from 1991 to September 11, 2001.

Funny, a "lone voice" trying to link Iraq to Al Qaeda. Too bad the Bush White House isn't listening.

Daifallah pulls no punches: "Those who know her describe her as a dedicated and meticulous researcher; a stubborn but caring person and a brave soul who is motivated by factors other than fame or glory."

In the course of his puff piece, Daifallah cannot help but reveal other qualities about Mylroie. She is described by a "former Pentagon official" walking away from a dinner in a huff when confronted with the statement, "The bureaucrats in the government have information we don’t have, and you have to allow for that possibility." I mean, that would piss anybody off. Daifallah offers this as a testament to her "quirkiness," as opposed to -- to pick another random adjective -- her bitchiness.

We also catch a glimpse of her intellectual integrity: " 'Much of human history is correcting mistakes,' she says. 'Slavery only ended in this country 140 years ago and even then, I’m not sure how long it was in Washington that you had separate washrooms and drinking fountains for blacks. Just because everyone believes something doesn’t make it right.' " Get it? Slavery was wrong! So Mylroie is right!

"Ms. Mylroie and [former CIA Director James] Woolsey were key witnesses in the federal court case, tried in New York’s southern district, which found Iraq was involved with Al Qaeda in the September 11 attacks and paved the way for payouts to victims’ families," Daifallah reports. (Once again, due to the Sun's inadequate editing, one may be led to believe from this sentence that a federal court found that Iraq "paved the way for payouts to victims' families.")

Yes, the Southern District court case is interesting. A real journalist, working for a real newspaper, might have looked into it a little more. That imaginary journalist would have found, among Judge Harold Baer's ruling, some tasty nuggets like these:
I conclude that plaintiffs have shown, albeit barely, "by evidence satisfactory to the court" that Iraq provided material support to bin Laden and al Qaeda. As noted above, a very substantial portion of plaintiffs evidence is classically hearsay (and often multiple hearsay), and without meeting any exceptions is inadmissible for substantive purposes.

(Edit)

Although these experts provided few actual facts of any material support that Iraq actually provided, their opinions, coupled with their qualifications as experts on this issue, provide a sufficient basis for a reasonable jury to draw inferences which could lead to the conclusion that Iraq provided material support to al Qaeda and that it did so with knowledge and intent to further al Qaeda’s criminal acts. In particular, Dr. Mylroie testified about Iraq’s covert involvement in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and about the proximity of the dates of bin Laden’s attack on the U.S. embassies and Hussein’s ouster of U.N. weapons inspectors. Juries are invited to draw inferences from facts presented and this constitutes circumstantial evidence and this is what the Court has done here.

"Inferences," "circumstantial evidence," "few actual facts," "hearsay." "Barely" enough by the low standards of a civil court. Sounds about right. I edited out the part where the judge specifically dismisses pet theories of the wacko right, like the Prague meeting and Salman Pak, as "hearsay" and not "substantive evidence."

But the lone wolf will always find an outlet, as long as the Sun is around to issue press releases on her behalf. Which is to say, a few more months.

Monday, August 18, 2003
 
Fox News should sue Adam Daifallah. The Believer's many dispatches in the woeful New York Sun are universally laughable enough that an uninformed outsider might consider Mr. Daifallah a master parodist of the right-wing media.

Today TB "reports" that, "Saddam Hussein paid Syria millions of dollars to hide Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in Syrian-controlled Lebanon, a Lebanese opposition group is claiming." Tantalizing stuff. And what is this "Lebanese opposition group"? Why, it's the U.S. Committee for a Free Lebanon, the Sun's latest pet lobbyists now that the INC is a joke to everyone but SethAndIra.

The love flows both ways. The USCFL likes the Sun so much it put a quote from them right on their homepage. It lists the Sun as one of a dozen or so "Pro-Free Lebanon Media." I guess the rest of the media gets off on the Syrian occupation. And about half of the links on the "USCFL in the Press" page are stories from -- guess where -- The New York Sun! (Along with Front Page Magazine and the Christian Coalition, good company to be in.)

So now they have Daifallah writing their press releases. Citing "an e-mail to supporters," Daifallah reports that, "The committee claimed that Israeli intelligence has satellite photographs of tractor-trailers shipping weapons of mass destruction into Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, an area considered a haven for the terrorist group Hezbollah." Note the levels of hearsay here. Further, "The committee also said that according to Israeli intelligence, Saddam gave $35 million to the dictator at Damascus, Bashar Al-Assad, to hide the weapons."

Tractor-trailers filled with WMD, oh my! Of course, even by Daifallah's own reporting, no such thing is really claimed. It turns out that what was seen in the photographs (according to Daifallah's cousin's sister's ex-boyfriend's pet turtle's current owner) were trucks. With the tops on. Which means you can't see what's inside.

But Daifallah admits as much: "Although it is difficult to corroborate what might be inside tractor-trailers from satellite photos, the claim of transportation of the weapons through Syria has been made before, and experts contend it is possible." Possible, huh? But Daifallah is getting all wet. "The report couldn’t be independently confirmed, but if it eventually is verified, it could help answer questions about the whereabouts of Saddam’s chemical and biological weapons stockpiles."

See! The weapons are really there! They're in trucks! They're going to Lebanon! Some group told me that Israeli intelligence told them so!

"The news of the weapons payment comes as American officials appear to be treating the Syria issue more serious," Daifallah says. There are (at least) two problems with this sentence. The first is the word "news." What news? If by "news" you mean, "the committee also said that according to Israeli intelligence..." which I guess in the Sun qualifies as news. The second problem is an old, familar one. "American officials appear to be treating the Syria issue more serious." Nice to see that Daifallah has adopted our Dear Leader's syntax. WETS? I mean, serious, WETS?

A glance through the USCFL's "Golden Circle" of supporters reveals that the Committee itself is more like a Golden Circle Jerk. Notice any familiar names? Pipes, Abrams, Benador, Feith, Gaffney, Ledeen, Perle -- same assholes.

In the same story Daifallah makes reference to an incident in which an Israeli jet buzzed by Syrian President Assad in a show of... well, something. Unable to resist, SethAndIra idiotorialize: "In dealing with Mr. Assad, Mr. Bush, a fighter pilot himself, could do a lot worse than to keep the Israeli example in mind." Can you spot the problem in that sentence? And yes, Bush could do worse. A lot worse. He probably will.


SIDEBAR: It was fun to read Franklin Foer's piece in The New Republic, the Sun's cousin publication, that basically dismissed out of hand the notion that Ahmad Chalabi is considered a serious figure in Iraqi politics. The piece even references Lipsky, although sadly for the Sun's publicists, it says only "In The Wall Street Journal, Seth Lipsky pronounced..." Who should be more embarrassed? Lipsky, or the Journal?

 

 
   
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