Monday, December 17, 2007

WAIT, RUN THAT PART BY ME AGAIN... Our old friend Michael Totten is doing the Iraq citizen-journalism thing for Commentary. His latest dispatch starts with rich promise of the sort of MSM smackdown wingers love, targeting in this instance one Ali al-Fadhily of the Inter Press Services. But I wonder how their smiles of anticipation fared through this section:
Some of what al-Fadhily writes is correct. The economy and infrastructure really are shattered. Unemployment is greater than 50 percent, as he says. It’s true that most Iraqis – in Fallujah as well as everywhere else – don’t have access to safe drinking water.
After this breathtaking admission that, even after four years of US peacekeeping, most citizens of Iraq -- including Fallujah, one of our great "successes" -- can't get fucking clean water, who cares what Totten's charges are against the IPS journo?

But for shits and giggles: al-Fadhily says Fallujah is under "siege," Totten says nonsense, there's actually just a "hard perimeter around the city manned by Iraqi Police who prevent non-residents from bringing their cars in." I agree that's not a siege: in fact, it's a pretty normal situation -- for walled cities of the Middle Ages.

The rest of it's pretty much like that. al-Fadhily says "seventy percent of the city was destroyed during Operation Phantom Fury." Totten counters: "I saw much more destruction in nearby Ramadi than I saw in Fallujah." If you're beginning to wonder if Totten is a liberal plant, he eventually does stick in the sort of good-news nuggets his audience goes for: the old standard Marines-distributing-food-and-schoolbooks, of course, as well as more fashionable, cutting-edge leading indicators, e.g. "Solar-powered street lights" and "Low-interest microloans."

We've reached the point with this war where what ordinary people would regard with horror and revulsion is perceived by its fans as great news. Of course, as ever, they're not nuts, we're nuts. "If peace arrives even in Baghdad," sighs Totten, "...somebody, somewhere, will complain that Iraq has been taken over by the imperial powers of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Starbucks." I say, send Starbucks now: their product tastes like foul water, too, but at least it's been boiled.

UPDATE. As is apparently dictated by our latest style guide, comments are brutal. I don't understand it, since I'm such a goddamned ray of sunshine myself.

For added humorous effect, Totten sends his readers to alicublog, urging them to "please be nice to those who live there even though they do not deserve it." A nod's as good as a wink: "What you're missing math_mage," writes one, "is that we should've just left Iraq in the hands of an atheistic murderer who kills simply because they pray to Allah. That's the kind of leader these leftists can get behind." Boy, Godwin didn't know the half of it.

UPDATE II. math_mage says he's thinking of starting his own blog, practices by posting more epic comments here. I keep threatening to ban people, but I haven't yet brought myself to do it. Well, Bill Buckley let Joan Didion write for him, after all. I wonder if she was this surly about it, though.

I welcome Michael Totten back to the fray. Apparently he has changed his mind about unmoderated comments, so long as they're mine. In the immortal words of Black Bart, I'm getting to be a big underground hit in this town.

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