Friday, February 20, 2004

THE COOK, THE DICTATOR, HIS LOVER AND . . . I read this piece in The Atlantic a while back and have been meaning to link to it (I read the dead tree version). Who knows how much of these lurid tales are true (if any). Anyway a man claiming to be Kim Jong Il's former chef has tales to tell. Such as:
To procure various foods and ingredients I made many trips abroad. Each time Kim Jong Il ordered me to go buy this or that, flight arrangements would be made and I would go off.

Fish was the most sought-after item from Japan. High-quality tuna and squid, one of Madame Ko's favorite foods, were often requested. Once I bought 1,200 kilos in total; the air-transport fees alone were exorbitant.

The reason the shipment weighed so much was that I had bought a very large Indian tuna whole. I also bought an electric saw to use to fillet the fish. I had once spent six months filleting tuna at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market, and I wanted to show Kim Jong Il and his family my technique.

In any event, here are the countries I visited and the foods I frequently bought there:

Urumqi (in northwestern China) for fruit, mainly hamigua melons and grapes
Thailand for fruit, mostly durians, papayas, and mangoes
Malaysia for fruit, mostly durians, papayas, and mangoes
Czechoslovakia for draft beer
Denmark for pork
Iran for caviar
Uzbekistan for caviar
Japan for seafood


One day during a meal Kim Jong Il suddenly said, "Fujimoto, I've heard that in Japan there is a rice cake filled with mugwort. I want you to go and buy it tomorrow!"

In addition he told me to buy every brand of Japanese cigarette and to spend no more than three days on the trip.

I departed promptly, and when I reached the Beijing airport, I placed a call to the Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo's Ginza district to reserve 100 regular red-bean-filled rice cakes and 100 mugwort-filled rice cakes. The next morning I retrieved the cakes and immediately marched back to Beijing. Each cake cost only about 100 yen, but I calculated that with air and hotel expenses each one cost a whopping 1,500 yen [about $14].

Thus I made my whirlwind round trip between Pyongyang and Tokyo to make a rush hand delivery of rice cakes and cigarettes to Kim Jong Il.

There's more if you're interested. Once anecdote jumped out at me as something that sounds straight out of the typical North Korean hagiography:
Kim Jong Il has an exceptionally discriminating palate. There is an episode I remember well that demonstrates this. I was preparing sushi in the Number 8 Banquet Hall. All of a sudden Kim Jong Il said, "Fujimoto, today's sushi tastes a little different."

He had had a lot to drink that evening before the meal, and I suggested that maybe that was the reason.

He replied, "Maybe..." He seemed doubtful, but didn't pursue it any further.

However, when I returned to the kitchen, I checked the seasoning used that day and found that the sugar was ten grams less than usual! Kim Jong Il was the only one who had noticed. Even I was astonished at this.
Perhaps he really is super-human.

JOURNALISM AT ITS FINEST. Where on earth was the editor in this story? Didn't anyone bother to point out that people from Pakistan aren't Arabs?


Thursday, February 19, 2004

OF GEOMANCY, COLONIALISM AND NATIONAL MEMORY. Many (here and here for example) have linked to and commented on a recent Chosôn Ilbo piece the text of which reads like this:
The Japanese imperial practice of driving a metal spike into the summit of every high mountain in Korea "to sever the spirit of the Korean race" has been revealed through recently discovered photographs. In this photo, taken in 1943 at the hight [sic] of the Pacific War, Japanese soldiers, led by a shaman, drive a metal spike into the Lake of Heaven (Cheon-ji), atop Mt. Paekdu, and conduct a religious ceremony in honor of Amaterasu Omikami, believed by the Japanese to be the ancestral deity of the nation's emporer [sic]. The picture was included in a book, published by Korea's Government-General in 1943, entitled "Reaching the Summit of Mt. Paekdu."
This, of course, speaks to the widely held belief among Koreans that Japanese drove iron spikes in Korea to diminish the geomantic power of the land (see here for evidence and historical examples of the Korean belief in geomancy). To many Koreans, it provides yet another piece of evidence of Japanese depravity during the dark 35-year period of colonial rule. I have seldom if ever seen much in the way of hard evidence to support this claim. But now we have photographic proof. Or do we? For me this particular piece raises more questions than it answers. Some are relatively trivial but some are, at least to me, more significant.

1) The Japanese in the picture don’t appear to be at the summit of Mt. Paekdu but rather near the lake which is below the summit. If driving an iron spike into the summit were key to disrupting the geomantic power of the surrounding area one would think that the Japanese, having gone to the trouble of getting up to the lake, would have gone on to the summit itself. Determining which point on the ring of rocks that surrounds the lake is actually the highest point isn’t easy but it is possible, I have stood on what clearly was the summit and it isn’t down by the lake. Similarly, the Japanese don’t seem to be driving the spike “into the Lake of Heaven” but rather into the ground by the lake.

2) The person standing in front of the metal spike doesn’t appear to be a shaman (certainly not of the Korean variety) but a Shinto priest. Does it matter? I don’t know. But I wonder why one would need a Shinto priest (or a shaman for that matter) to perform a an act of geomantic vandalism. Is there a Shinto ceremony for “severing the spirit of the Korean race”? Perhaps there is, but I’ve never heard of one. On the other hand, Andy (the Yangban) comments on the Marmot's post that
It looks Jichinsai.
The Japanese still do that when they build houses.
It's kinda ceremony to get permission to build something from "local god"
and provides links to pictures

3) The picture was said to have been taken in 1943. That means that Korea had been a formal Japanese colony for 23 years and an informal protectorate for five years longer than that. If the Japanese were so bent on destroying the spirit of the Korean people why did it take them so long to get around to actually getting to Paekdu-san, given the mountain’s importance in the Korean imagination?

These all are, admittedly, trivial questions about trivial matters. None of them on their own is sufficient to cast significant doubt on Korean claims about Japanese depredations. But I have more significant concerns as well.

4) Is there any evidence that the Japanese subscribed to the same theories concerning geomancy as Koreans did? I don’t know enough about Japanese culture of the first half of the 20th century to know for sure. If I were to guess, I would guess that Japan and Korea had similar views on geomancy but I have never seen any Koreans make this case.

5) Assuming that the Japanese did believe in geomancy in the same way that Koreans did, is there any evidence to support the idea that the Japanese conception of geomancy—the power or energy that pulses through the land and the ways in which that power can be either harnessed or disrupted—included the notion that the power in the earth was capable of discriminating between the original Korean inhabitants of the land and the more recently arrived Japanese overlords? Remember, this is 1943 we’re talking about in this particular case. Korea had been a formal Japanese colony for 23 years. On maps, in official documents, and in the Japanese popular imagination the Korean peninsula was part of Japan! (and not for the first time; the Japanese claimed that the ancient kingdom of Kaya/Mimana was actually Japanese). To be sure, Japanese colonial officials did not live up to their naisen ittai (“Korea and Japan are one”) rhetoric: Koreans were nearly always treated as second-class citizens rather than equal participants in the empire. But nevertheless, Korea (or, from the Japanese viewpoint, Chosen) was a part of the empire, and an integral one at that. By 1942 the Japanese had constructed an extensive rail and road network, communications infrastructure, and a burgeoning number of industries in Korea. Japanese officials lived in Korea in great numbers. Japanese policemen patrolled the streets (or sat in police boxes). Japanese farmers worked the soil (albeit not in nearly as great of numbers as the Oriental Development Company dreamed of). Japanese industrialists established and managed factories of a wide variety (like the Onoda Cement factory) and considerable numbers. So one would have to demonstrate that the Japanese believed that disrupting the power that flowed through the earth by pounding iron spikes in the ground would have an adverse impact only on Koreans and not on the numerous Japanese people and institutions on the peninsula.

6) Assuming that the Japanese did believe that the force in the earth applied only to Koreans and not to the Japanese in Korea, is there any evidence that the Japanese in 1943 really wanted to diminish the power/energy/spirit of Koreans? After all, by 1943 Koreans worked in Japanese factories (and in management in growing numbers), grew rice for Japanese workers to eat, served in the Imperial Japanese army (Park Chung Hee, for example), worked in Japanese coal mines and other undesirable operations, and were forced to serve as comfort women for the sexual pleasure of Japanese soldiers and officers. The Japanese Empire clearly did not treat its Korean imperial subjects as equals. But they relied upon their hard work nonetheless. Why would they try to enervate the energies of the very people they relied so much upon?

There is other evidence besides this latest photo (see here for a photo and discussion of iron spikes that have been unearthed). When the Kim Young Sam administration ordered the destruction of the old Governor-General building in the early 1990s, workers were said to have found thousands of iron spikes in the foundation (early 20th century Japanese rebar perhaps?). But in the end I have yet to find evidence that clearly determines exactly what the Japanese intended to do and why they did it. There are plenty of other reasons to conclude that the Japanese rule of Korea was brutal, oppressive, and nasty. No need to grasp at straws that do not appear to be supported by evidence.

Such evidence may very well exist and once I get to see it, I may very well have to revise my conclusions. But if that is the case, I still have one more question to ask about the alleged Japanese effort to “sever the sprit of the Korean race”:

Did it work?

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

MONKS, FACTIONS, AND GEOMANCY; Budaechigae waxes eloquent and useful on the Koryo-era Myoch'ong Rebellion. Read it closely, they'll be a quiz next Tuesday (not really but if there were, this is as good a summary as you'll find). His conclusion?
It seems that the issues, political factions, and people come and go, but the cycle remains unbroken.

WES CLARK'S SWAN SONG (thanks to Vodka Pundit guest blogger Will Collier for the link). The real question is whether Clark could sing all the words to Chilliwack's "My Girl (Gone, Gone Gone)" Now that would be truly frightening.


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

U.S. and North Korean negotiators agreed Wednesday to improve markedly several areas of cooperation in operations to recover the remains of American soldiers missing in action from the Korean War.

During talks in Bangkok, Thailand, both sides agreed to resume repatriating remains recovered during joint recovery operations in North Korea across the demilitarized zone at Panmunjom. This practice has not occurred since 1999. U.S. team members will accompany the remains into South Korea. Additionally, supplies and equipment for the 2004 operations will be moved by ground transportation across the DMZ.

“I am encouraged by the level of cooperation the North Koreans demonstrated during these talks,” said Jerry D. Jennings, deputy assistant secretary of defense for POW/missing personnel affairs. “We accomplished much at no additional cost to the U.S. government, and these new procedures will streamline the process of getting our teams in and out of North Korea, and bringing our fallen heroes back home to their families.”
What is going on? Didn't both sides get the memo? The Bush Administration is supposed to be reflexively hard-line and uncompromising in its attempt to frighten North Korea into collapse. On the other hand, the DPRK isn't supposed to cooperate with the imperialist power that is supposedly bent on its complete destruction. Can it be that both sides actually demonstrate some flexibility and ability to compromise?

TOO RICH TO PASS UP. In a WaPo article about John Kerry and John Edwards' pricey Georgetown digs, one of Kerry's Georgetown neighbors offers this disclaimer:
"We see John on Nantucket, and he's one of the guys, one of us," Raiser said of Kerry. "We've never felt him to be patrician."
Does he have any idea that to most Americans, being "one of the guys" who has a house in Georgetown and spends time in Nantucket is the very essence of being "patrician"?

JAMES KELLY ON DPRK NUKES. A must read if only for its succinct summation of the Bush Administration's position on the issue. Snippets:
In the summer of 2002, however, the United States discovered that North Korea had not kept its part of the bargain. We learned conclusively that it was pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program based not on plutonium but on uranium enrichment. This was a clear violation of North Korea’s obligations to South Korea under the Joint Denuclearization Declaration of 1992 and to the international community under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the D.P.R.K.’s Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

It was also a fundamental breach of the U.S.-D.P.R.K. Agreed Framework, which aimed to “achieve peace and security on a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.” By the way, our negotiator of the Agreed Framework, Ambassador Robert Gallucci, left the North Koreans in no doubt that any uranium enrichment program would break the Agreed Framework. As he testified to Congress in December, 1994, the Agreed Framework requires the D.P.R.K. to implement the North-South Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which precludes any reprocessing or enrichment capability. “If there were ever any move to enrich,” Ambassador Gallucci told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “we would argue they were not in compliance with the Agreed Framework.”
This is clearly a salvo aimed at those who argue that 1) The Bush team either fabricated the charges about a HEU program or misunderstood what North Korea said about such a program and 2) That even if the DPRK does have an HEU program, it is not, technically in violation of the Agreed Framework.

Of course in the post-Iraq era, one has to be quite skeptical about claims based on American intelligence. Kelly elaborates:
Let me digress here briefly to address the issue of the North Koreans’ acknowledgement to me of their uranium enrichment program, because they later began to deny that they had done so, causing some confusion in the media.

The acknowledgement came over the entire course of a 40-minute-long meeting that my team and I had with North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju, the number two man in the North Korean foreign ministry and said to be close to Kim Jong Il.

Kang’s remarks were interpreted into English by his own interpreter, and his original Korean presentation was monitored by our side’s experienced professional interpreter.

It was very clear to all members of my team that Kang was acknowledging the existence of a highly enriched uranium program and that North Korea was willing to negotiate about addressing our concerns about it if the United States first provided additional benefits to North Korea.

Thereafter, for nearly two months, even after we publicly stated that the North Koreans had acknowledged the uranium enrichment program to us, the D.P.R.K. did not deny the program or the acknowledgement. Instead, to the rest of the world, the D.P.R.K. essentially took an NCND position -- that is, to ”neither confirm nor deny” the program. Only later, when it became clear that this was a major tactical error that was resulting in massive international criticism, did D.P.R.K. officials first begin to suggest that the United States had misunderstood its statements, and later still that the United States had lied about them. Only much later did the North Koreans actually begin to claim that they have no HEU program.

In any event, the key point in regard to this issue is that the steps taken by the United States subsequent to my mission to Pyongyang in October 2002 were in response not to the North Korean acknowledgement but to our knowledge, based on our own intelligence, of the North Korean uranium enrichment program. We are confident that our intelligence in this matter is well-founded. In fact, the recent confession of Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan suggests that, if anything, the North Korean HEU program is of longer duration and more advanced than we had assessed.
I find this to be somewhat compelling with the caveat that any claim based on U.S. intelligence should be the subject of the strictest scrutiny. It is far from clear what kind of sources the U.S. based its assessment of the DPRK's HEU program on. But Kelly's chronology of the DPRK's own statements about the issue are consistent with my memory (and I'm too tired and lazy to go look it all up).

So what will the U.S. demand in the upcoming six-party talks?
We insist on the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all of North Korea's nuclear programs because we must not again allow a situation in which the North's dismantlement of its nuclear arms program is put off into the distant future, as it was under the Agreed Framework. That would permit North Korea, at any time, to resume its use of nuclear threats to blackmail the international community.

We will not be satisfied with a resolution that is not complete. North Korea must dismantle not only its plutonium program but also its uranium enrichment program and its existing nuclear weapons.

We will not be satisfied with a resolution that is not verifiable. In this regard, the burden is not on the international community but on North Korea to come clean. As the Libya cases illustrates, there are ways that North Korea can do this as a sovereign country. It is certainly in North Korea’s interests, as it is in Libya’s.

We will not be satisfied with a “reversible solution”. This must be once and for all. North Korea’s nuclear programs and facilities must be dismantled, and never reconstituted. Mechanisms can be found to do this that are reasonable. This will not be difficult to accomplish once North Korea has made a fundamental decision to abandon its nuclear programs.
I have little doubt that Libya has been a godsend to the Bush team's approach to non-proliferation.

Moreover, the talks need to remain firmly six-party rather than bilateral:
The two rounds of multilateral talks in Beijing represented important first steps in achieving a fundamental solution of the North Korean nuclear problem. The North Koreans heard from all of the other parties present that a North Korean nuclear weapons capability is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. And the other parties heard first-hand North Korea's threats to expand its nuclear weapons program. This was very important, because, in the past, the North Koreans utilized the tactic of making such threats to the United States while denying them to others -- of taking a hardline position with us while telling others that it was the United States that was hardline.

But it isn’t just the United States that the D.P.R.K. plays off against. During the decades of Sino-Soviet rivalry, North Korea became adept at playing one off against the other. With the end of the Cold War, North Korea has continued to focus on dealing bilaterally with all of its neighbors, playing them off against each other.

The six-party format helps to deny North Korea the opportunity to play its neighbors off, one against the other. The result is increased understanding and solidarity among the six-party participants about the nature and seriousness of the North Korean nuclear problem.
A surprisingly candid expression of the tactical preference for multilateral talks.

Kelly concludes:
North Korea has an opportunity to change its path. As some Americans might put it there is a chance for redemption. The examples of Libya, Ukraine, South Africa and others demonstrate that there is real reason for hope that North Korea will eventually respond. States, even those with existing nuclear arms, can decide that abandoning nuclear weapons is in their interests. Presumably, the intention of the D.P.R.K. leadership in embracing nuclear weapons was to enhance the regime’s security and status. Clearly, the effect has been the opposite. With continued international solidarity, there is good reason to believe that North Korea will eventually rethink its assumptions and reverse course. The Six-Party Talks offer North Korea a path toward international responsibility and increased well being for its people. The United States sincerely hopes that the D.P.R.K. will take the opportunity.

My prediction? Nothing substantive will come of the next round of six-party talks. As I have noted before the DPRK appears to be closely watching the U.S. presidential race. There is little incentive to offer concessions to the hard-line Bush team when a (presumably) more amenable to compromise Kerry administration may be just around the corner. On the other hand, it is unlikely that the DPRK will do anything seriously provocative in the meantime.

"It's not that I have positive feelings about Japan but I was very curious. This is the first big event since the ban on Japanese culture was lifted. I think we should know more about each other - only then will relations improve."


Sumo is the quintessential Japanese sport - heavy on ritual and shinto symbolism - the native religion once forced on the emperor's Korean subjects.

But at the stadium there was a cordial atmosphere. Boys from local junior schools lined up to do battle with the titanic wrestlers.
The big question is: "Will Sirum (씨름) be demonstrated in Tokyo any time soon?"

WEAPONS OF MATH INSTRUCTION: A Colleague forwarded this to me. Enjoy!
Airport Warning!

At New York's Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, Attorney general John Ashcroft said he believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

"Al-gebra is a fearsome cult,", Ashcroft said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like "x" and "y"and refer to themselves as "unknowns", but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

"As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, there are 3 sides to every triangle," Ashcroft declared.

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes.

"I am gratified that our government has given us a sine that it is protracting us from these math-dogs who are willing to disintegrate us with calculus disregard. Murky statisticians love to inflict plane on every sphere of influence," the President said, adding: "Under the circumferences, we must differentiate their root, make our point, and draw the line."

President Bush warned, "These weapons of math instruction have the potential to decimal everything in their math on a scalene never before seen unless we become exponents of a Higher Power and begin to factor-in random facts of vertex."

Attorney General Ashcroft said, "As our Great Leader would say, read my ellipse. Here is one principle he is uncertainty of: though they -*-continue to multiply, their days are numbered as the hypotenuse tightens around their necks."

"Though the Roh administration has been a failure in general, it helped reduce authoritarianism and the tyranny of powerful national agencies," said Yoo Jong-pil, spokesman of the former ruling MDP.

Said Bae Yong-soo, vice spokesman of the main opposition Grand National Party, "President Roh has failed to satisfy people's desire for reform and change and even some of his supporters are very disappointed and turning their backs."

Such comment is expected from his political rivals. But what about those who are most affected by his policies and the administration of the world's 12th-largest economy in the world in terms of trade volume?

"I see no problem in President Roh's economic polices so far, but he has to resolve people's anxiety about dramatic social reform," said Jeffrey D. Jones, honorary chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea.

To regain the public's confidence and push forward his reform agenda, Roh must open his mind more to criticism and try harder to build consensus on major and controversial policies, political analysts said.

"It is a big mistake if the president thinks he can do whatever he wants to do without public consensus," Prof. Lee said. "He must keep asking people about what they want and then should do it."

Park Young-sun, spokeswoman for the pro-government Uri Party founded in September by Roh loyalists, believes the president should push ahead with his reform policies - but in a manner that is conciliatory to all citizens.

"Although we experienced some ideological disputes last year, we are in the process of becoming one beyond ideologies, rank and titles," Park said.

Though it would seem like it to the average South Korean, Roh has not spent his entire first year in office fending off attacks from political opponents or spinning into damage-control mode with every new scandal.
The Korea Herald article adds this tidbit of conventional wisdom:
Roh's single five-year term runs through February 2008 and he is barred by the Constitution from seeking re-election. He has a lot of work to do if he hopes to make his next four years in office any more significant than his first.
Doesn't look good for Roh.


JAMES LILEKS READS THE 1992 PAPERS and finds many continuities.
You want to know why we invaded Iraq in 2003? Go back and read the papers in 1992. And you'll find this quote:

"If they're such whizzes at foreign policy, why is Saddam Hussein thumbing his nose at the rest of the world?"

Albert. Gore. Junior.

In the same paper: "Fundamentalist rebels attacked Kabul with rockets in an assault that killed at least 100 people and wounded hundreds more. As the shelling intensified, a United Nations agency said it was removing its staff from Kabul."

Nice to know some things never change

ANDREW SULLIVAN links to a WaPo story about the front lines of democratizing Iraq (free registration required)
With about a month of planning -- at a cost of about $600 each -- Bradley organized back-to-back elections this past week in Chebayish and Fuhud, towns of dirt roads, stagnant puddles and cinder-block huts that border the resurrected marshes Hussein sought to drain in the 1990s. Banners in Fuhud that called voting "a moral, religious and national duty" competed with Hussein-era slogans still painted on walls of the one-story girls' school. "Down with the Jews," one intoned.

Hundreds lined up outside the school, carrying the sometimes smudged, creased or torn ration cards issued to their families, plus one other form of identification. In this election, each family was allowed two votes -- one for a man, one for a woman. Ration cards were marked with two stamps, and voters then sat at battered school desks, choosing between five and 10 names from a list of 44 candidates.

"One at a time, one at a time, organization is beautiful," shouted one of the judges running the voting, Kamil Rashad Fleih.

JOHN ROSENBERG follows the College Republicans at Roger Williams University as they push the envelope on affirmative action.
College Republicans at Roger Williams University are offering a $50 scholarship "for a student of non-color." (Link requires free registration)
"In 100 words or less," the application states, "write why you are proud of your white heritage and explain what being white means to you." In addition, it adds, "Must attach recent picture to confirm whiteness. Evidence of bleaching will disqualify applicants."
Does this trouble you (it does me)? If so, does it trouble you more than a similar scholarship for minorities? Why or why not? Does this stunt have anything meaningful to say about affirmative action in college admissions? Why or why not? Talk amongst yourselves.

PATRICK NIELSEN HAYDEN notes that much of the rhetoric of neoconservatives sounds vaguely familiar. Actually, he notes a note of a note that notes . . . . aw forget it. This is the blogosphere, you know the drill.
As both Lind and Martens observe, many of these calls for America to spread "global democratic revolution" at gunpoint read like manifestos of the Fourth International with a few of the proper nouns changed.

THE MYSTERIOUS ATRIOS (who claims he isn?t Sidney Blumenthal but seems to like to talk about the guy whenever possible) sides with Larry Flynt.
I'd also like the media to consider one thing - compare Flynt's batting average with Drudge's. While the media will jump to condemn Flynt, they should recognize that Flynt has higher journalistic standards than any of them for this kind of thing. He doesn't run with things until he has multiple sources. This story may or may not be true, but frankly I have a lot more faith in the accuracy of Flynt's reporting than I do in a lot of the mainstream press. The recent week has only re-confirmed that.

CONRAD notes what Singapore's efforts to combat falling birthrates: Introducing Dr. Love Superbaby Making Show.

GLENN INSTAPUNDIT REYNOLDS cries foul on AP coverage of President Bush
I agree that the lead paragraph in this story

After trying to quell stories about his Vietnam-era military record, President Bush (news - web sites) is seeking to move beyond it by meeting with National Guard members in Louisiana.
does not appear to have any substantiation in the article itself. There is no discussion as to why the reporter, a Scott Lindlaw, concluded that the visit to Fort Polk was an attempt to "move beyond" questions about Bush?s National Guard service rather than a Commander-in-Chief's routine and expected visit to troops during wartime. There may be reason to conclude the way Lindlaw does, but he doesn't bother to tell the reader why.

MICKEY KAUS channels a message from the media to Howard Dean: "We want Dean gone tomorrow."

WONKETTE discusses the farce that is the White House Press Conference (and links to some good Daily Show clips on the subject). I actually listened to the press conference in question on C-SPAN (the joys of a 1+ hour commute). My conclusion was that if the Bush team really has nothing to hide then Scott McClellan is the most incompetent press secretary on the planet. The entire press conference was nothing but an maddeningly endless parade of evasive prevarications.


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