American Elephants

Iraq, says the French ambassador, is the true laboratory of democracy in the Arab world. by The Elephant's Child

The Wall Street Journal today quotes Boris Boillon, the French ambassador to Iraq, from an interview with Le Figaro on August 31, in their “Notable & Quotable” column.

The tactic of al Qaeda, which aims to put the country in fire and blood, to rekindle the civil war, has failed. The specter of partition in Iraq is behind us. . . . The record has improved since we passed a hundred deaths per day four years ago, to ten deaths per day today. In fact, the trend reversed itself when U.S. troops began leaving the cities, in June 2009. With the final withdrawal, this trend should continue and stabilize. . . .

Of course, the Iraqis say that the allied intervention of 2003 cost them dearly in lives and destruction of infrastructure, but they are aware also that it has liberated the country. The picture is therefore both positive and negative. Iraqis enjoy the fruits of democratization: the blossoming of the press, the emergence of a civil society, the free political parties, the exemplary nature of elections. These are all facts.

It is absolutely necessary, when one speaks of Iraq, to reason nonideologically. Iraq is the true laboratory of democracy in the Arab world. It is there that the future of democracy in the region will play itself out. Iraq could potentially become a political model for its neighbors. And, whether one likes it or not, all this has come about thanks to the American intervention of 2003. . . .

That no consensus has emerged around a [new] head of government proves that the political game occurs in Iraq and no neighboring country is able to impose its choice on Iraqi politics.

Even if the door is broken open, it must be restated that the last election constituted a victory for democracy. There are not many other countries in the region where results are not known before the vote.


The Media Chooses Radicalism over Readers and Profits. by The Elephant's Child

Daniel Greenfield takes on the media in an article in  Canada Free Press.  “By choosing radicalism over readers,” Greenfield says,”the media continues narrowing its own readership and viewership, pursuing ideological purity, not only over integrity, but even over its own profits and future viability.”

The problem with the American media is that it doesn’t speak to Americans. That’s why FOX News is successful, and CNN is in the basement. Network news exists underwritten by medication and mutual fund commercials, and even so it’s losing money. ABC News is making severe cutbacks even while cutting Amanpour a 2 million dollar paycheck for a show hardly anyone watches.  And despite investing in a splashy media rollout for the Amanpour branded This Week, she finished a distant third, well behind Meet the Press. While viewers normally tune in to see a new host, the addition of Amanpour couldn’t even compete with CBS or NBC’s own similarly decaying programs on the day of her own debut.

And that is why the media is doomed.  By putting politics over profitability, the media left alienated viewers and readers exactly during the critical transition period when it needed them most.  And the worse its fortunes grow, the more radical its politics have become. …

When the left turned magazines, newspapers and TV news into its own bully pulpit, they helped drive away consumers, while locking up those same publications and broadcasts into a liberal ghetto, that was still not liberal enough for them.  As print publications increasingly turn their websites into masses of blogs, it becomes hard to tell the difference between Time Magazine, Foreign Policy and the New York Times — and the Huffington Post and Daily Kos.  All of them have angry left-wing bloggers denouncing Republicans, America and Israel.  The difference is that the official media outlets have more prominent names like Joe Klein or Robert Mackey blogging for them.

If you would enjoy a full-throated rant about the radicalism of the American media and where their foolishness is leading, you can read the whole thing here.  Food for thought.

You Weren’t Paying Attention! The Judge Said NO. by The Elephant's Child

— The excellent federal Judge Martin Feldman who rejected the U.S. government’s request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging its six month deepwater drilling moratorium, just did it again.

He dealt the government another blow on Wednesday when he denied the government’s request to throw out a suit challenging the drilling halt that had been filed by offshore-oil-service companies.  Justice Department lawyers argued the lawsuit was moot because the Interior Department had imposed a new, temporary drilling ban on July 12, replacing the May 28 order that Judge Feldman had struck down in June.

Judge Feldman ruled that Interior Secretary Salazar’s second moratorium order is “substantially the same as the first one” and “applies to the exact same rigs, to the exact same deepwater drilling, for the exact same time period.”  He also ruled that in crafting the second moratorium, Mr. Salazar appeared to have relied heavily on the same documents and data that he had at the time of the first moratorium order.

— There is also a bipartisan call to lift the de facto shallow water drilling ban now. Before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, new shallow water drilling permits were being issued at a rate of 10-15 a week, Rep Gene Green (D-TX) stated.  “Since the shallow water moratorium was lifted on May 28, a total of 4 new permits have been issued.

In a letter to Salazar, Rep. Green and Rep Charles Boustany (R-LA) with 54 of their colleagues warned of the potential impact of losing shallow water and natural gas production.  Since then 14 rigs have been idled in the Gulf which represents 30% of the shallow water fleet.  If the pace of new permits does not accelerate by the end of September, over 70% of the shallow water rigs will be inactive.  “There are thousands of jobs directly connected to shallow water drilling,” Rep Green said.

Not a smooth move in an economy still mired in recession.  Recovery Summer isn’t in it.

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