May 27th, 2004

Ahmed Chalabi, meet Jayson Blair

This story in the SF Gate mentions a story in the NY Times about a number of stories that were published by the SF Chronicle about the Iraq war that may turn out to be less than accurate. (Thanks for that Heavy Meta category!)

Here’s an excerpt from the NY Times article:

The most prominent of the anti-Saddam campaigners, Ahmad Chalabi, has been named as an occasional source in Times articles since at least 1991, and has introduced reporters to other exiles. He became a favorite of hard-liners within the Bush administration and a paid broker of information from Iraqi exiles, until his payments were cut off last week.

The NY Times goes on to discuss their own poor fact checking, willingness of the editiorial staff to go for the scoop, downplaying of subsequent information that questioned the veracity of previous published reports…

There’s this, too:

It is still possible that chemical or biological weapons will be unearthed in Iraq, but in this case it looks as if we, along with the administration, were taken in. And until now we have not reported that to our readers.

It’s unclear what inspired the NY Times to look in the mirror, though the defrocking of Chalabi is likely to have something to do with it. I’m pleased to see that the Times is taking some responsiblity, but it’s not enough, it’s just not enough. Questions remain.

What the hell is going on at the NY Times when Ahmed Chalabi, the (previously) US annointed heir to the throne in Iraq is a more credible source of information about Iraq’s WMD program than Hans Blix? Where’s the independent reporting? What does the press think it’s job is during this war? Has the media really turned into an arm of the White House propoganda machine?

I get that I’m late to the table on this issue and that reporting has been of questionable quality ever since the Bush administration muzzled the White House press corp. But I find this news about the NY Times as depressing as anything I’ve read lately. It’s like finding out someone I love has been lying to me. How could I have been so naiive?

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May 26th, 2004

How Many Invasions Does It Take

Considering the “news” today, I’m thinking about the cost of the Iraq war versus the cost of having an air marshal or two on every flight, thorough inspections in ports, and other policing activities that would do far more to diffuse active terrorist plots than invading and occupying another country—thus creating more people with degrading hope for their lives and an entity upon which to fix their resentment. Hmm.

Stepping back from that, what kinds of things could we have done to change the world with aid rather than bombs for the same price? What if we had focused our energies on making Afghanistan a welcoming place to democratic reforms and legal business? How would the legacy of that kind of activity differ from what we’re going to have from the invasion?

Thinking about the actual threat to Americans versus the perceived threat, I’d like to echo something that appeared in a recent issue of Mother Jones: a list of statistics in the style of the Harper’s Index. From "Stats of the Union":

In 2001, 476 more Americans died of malnutrition than from terrorism.

Yes, that year.

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May 23rd, 2004

Book ‘em, Dano!

New Library_07.jpg

I’ve always been fond of the library, but now, my love has no bounds. It’s brilliant. There are a few more pictures here, but really, you should just go downtown and see for yourself. Words fail me, all I can think of is this: it’s freakin’ incredible.

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May 23rd, 2004

Wien –> Firenze

Well, I got my wienerschnitzel, which was nice. But with apologies to Pam, I didn’t get to eat mehlspese at Demel. It was mobbed. On Friday, everything in the Innere Stadt was a mess of tour groups, rude German tourists, and cringe-worthy Americans. Kohlmarkt and Kartnerstrasse were so packed that I was literally claustrophobic outdoors. I did manage to successfully use all forms of Viennese public transport (U-Bahn, tram, and bus) and got to all the parts of the city I really wanted to see. Somehow, though, I kept ending up at the Hofreitschule Spanische everywhere I went–but alas, no Lippenzauner were on display. Only the local daily giving away a car.
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May 21st, 2004

Listening to Franz Ferdinand in Vienna

“Gruss Gott” as they say here, though I’m not sure anyone has spoken to me the entire time I have been here. Vienna is lovely but as David has been in meetings since we arrived it has been a very quiet day and a half for me. For those of you who may find it impossible, imagine if you will: Jay, quiet as a kirchemaus.
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May 20th, 2004

Two things

One, gets another mention in the Stranger this week. This time in reference to a planned rally down at city hall to urge a boycott of Virginia businesses.

Lawmakers in Virginia passed a remarkably stupid state law last month, banning contracts between same-sex couples. Nationwide, gays are now boycotting the state and companies headquartered there–like J. Crew, Capital One, AOL (check out On Friday, May 21, local gays–headed up by Michael McAfoose, who led the Mayday for Marriage counterprotest–will go to city hall and urge the city to approve a resolution boycotting dealings with Virginia His gang will also be chopping up their Capital One credit cards and AOL promo CDs on the sidewalk. AMY JENNIGES

Wish they’d mentioned the time though. I’d go.

Two, Jay or David, can you give me enough permissions to zap the comments from that asshole who’s been spamming us all day. I’d hate for him to just load up the entire site with his little irritations until you all get back!

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May 20th, 2004

Vocation: Baggage Screener

Do you have what it takes to protect this country on the front lines? The vanguard role of baggage screener might be for you! Thanks to the miracle of modern computer simulation, you can test your screening skills—and your resistance to the whinings of passengers. Don’t wait for reality television or embedded reporting to bring this exciting world to you!

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May 20th, 2004

It gets scarier day by day

Oh my God! And true to form I don’t recall any of the mainstream media picking this up. This is the kind of shit that scares me tremendously. The kind of shit that makes me worry that even moving to another country might not be sufficient to escape this.

Why is it Slate, Salon, BBC, the Voice, can uncover really, truly scary stuff like this, or damning evidence like the stuff about Bush lying about his service in the Guard, and the mainstream media never covers it for the rest of the country to see. Yet they do think Clinton’s personal indiscretions are scandal-worthy? Evidence that the president is a nutcase (and taking policy advice from even bigger whack-jobs! What’s next, a memo on Fred Phelps meeting with W to give advice on same-sex marriage policies?) and a liar are apparently less disconcerting than stains on a dress.

Look, I realize that lots of people in politics feel a need to believe in some religion (though why people need the threat of hell to make them act as good people is beyond me), but I like to think that for most of them it’s a tradition and something that has a personal place in their lives, not the basis for policy making. It scares me when reason in law is replaced by superstition and FREAKING DOOMSDAY CULTISTS!

I want to hear just one more pundit bring up the “liberal” media. Liberal, yeah, if by liberal you mean that they’re in the pocket of the right-wing administration.

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May 18th, 2004

Pix galore!

Well, David and I are almost packed for Europe, so I took a few moments to upload, edit, and crop a few photos. Enjoy shots of the bachelor party, wedding, and of course Paulette’s fabulous birthday party last night at Marrakesh.

Thanks to everyone who made all these festivities so fabulous, and look for some Bon Voyage/Voyeur posts soon!

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May 17th, 2004

Pictures to follow

Jay Porter and David Smith were married Saturday, May 15, 2004, in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Marriage Commissioner Maureen Hunter solemnized the ceremony, which began at five o’clock in the afternoon and was attended by 50 close friends and family members.

The wedding and reception were held at the Hamersley House Bed and Breakfast. Official witnesses for the brief ceremony were Paulette J. McKay of Seattle, and Michael Robinson of London, England. Seated in the first row were David’s mother Margaret Smith and stepfather David Smith of Adelaide, South Australia; Jay’s parents Judy and Larry Porter and of Oklahoma City; his grandmother Barbara Tompkins and aunt and cousin, Lynda and Janet Plemons. Jay’s sisters, Julie and Lyndi Porter, read a brief passage from Corinthians before the exchange of vows. Floral arrangements of calla lilies and white roses adorned the arbor of majestic fir and dogwood trees, laurels, and rhododendrons on the grounds of Hamersley House, a lavishly restored British Columbia Heritage Site dating from 1903.

David and Jay wore vintage tuxes, matching neckties in a light blue Art Deco pattern, and black satin vests. The “Jazz Age” theme continued throughout the evening, with prelude music featuring Ella Fitzgerald recordings of classics by Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, and others. As the grooms completed signing the marriage license, Chet Baker’s “Let’s Get Lost” heralded the arrival on the lawn of servers carrying champagne and hors d’oeuvres.

The wedding reception moved indoors as Jay’s sister Julie served as Master of Ceremonies as toasts were offered by both grooms’ attendants, with a special reading of “suggested vows” edited from suggestions of friends and family by Julie Welch of Seattle. After these toasts dinner was served. The buffet dinner by Louis Gervais Fine Catering was accompanied by the Twist of Jazz trio. A selection of British Columbia wines and classic cocktails were served on the verandah, accompanied by a selection of Pacific Northwest cuisine small plates including local baby lamp chops, pork loin in Calvados glaze, firecracker prawns with kumquat marmalade, smoked salmon with black and white sesame seeds, and radicchio-wrapped bocconcini covered in a spicy sour cherry sauce.

Following dinner and drinks, the grooms cut their cake, a chocolate-espresso cake, covered in Tiffany blue and white vanilla fondant icing and silver dragees, which featured Art Deco architectural motifs, topped with a single calla lily.

Both grooms addressed their guests, thanking especially the numerous family and friends who had arrived from England, Australia, Oklahoma, Florida, California, and Oregon and mentioning fondly their many friends attending from Washington State, including fellow members of the Seattle Quake Rugby Football Club. Both grooms were emotional in their thanks for the unwavering love and tremendous support they have received from their families, both in the past and as a couple, and for the closeness of the dear friends who comprise their “urban family.” Both Jay’s father and David’s stepfather added their blessings for the union, and commented on the assemblage of so many friends from around the world and throughout the grooms’ lives. The toasts were ended with a special word of love and thanks from the mothers of both grooms.

Following the toasts, the grooms tossed their calla lily boutonnieres to a crowd of their single guests; the prizes were caught by Tom Bentler and Julie Porter, though the two are not presumed to be marrying each other.

In addition to the wedding cake, guests enjoyed a caramel apple tarte, lemon mousse served in demitasse cups, and a selection of cheeses and fresh fruit. Following more drinks and dancing, the guests dispersed at eleven o’clock. The grooms’ immediate family and close friends stayed at Hamersley House for the weekend, enjoying the amazing hospitality of proprietors Shelly and Derek Porter.

Having returned to Seattle with the families Sunday afternoon following a picnic in Stanley Park, the grooms depart Tuesday for a honeymoon to Vienna, Florence and the Tuscan coast, and London.

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