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July 11, 2003
I'M OFF to the Insta-Grandmother's, to celebrate her 89th birthday. I'm taking the laptop, but I don't think she even has touchtone service. Blogging will be intermittent at best until Sunday night. Be sure to note the story below, and to read the many fine blogs linked to the left.
Also, I managed to see Burning Annie, and I've posted a brief sort-of review over at GlennReynolds.com. Have a nice weekend until I get back!
THE SADDAM/OSAMA CONNECTION, DOCUMENTED. INTERESTING ARTICLE BY THE JUDGE I CLERKED FOR, Judge Gilbert S. Merritt of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, who has been in Iraq on a judicial-assistance mission with the ABA:
Through an unusual set of circumstances, I have been given documentary evidence of the names and positions of the 600 closest people in Iraq to Saddam Hussein, as well as his ongoing relationship with Osama bin Laden.
I am looking at the document as I write this story from my hotel room overlooking the Tigris River in Baghdad.
One of the lawyers with whom I have been working for the past five weeks had come to me and asked me whether a list of the 600 people closest to Saddam Hussein would be of any value now to the Americans.
I said, yes, of course. He said that the list contained not only the names of the 55 ''deck of cards'' players who have already been revealed, but also 550 others.
When I began questioning him about the list, how he obtained it and what else it showed, he asked would it be of interest to the Americans to know that Saddam had an ongoing relationship with Osama bin Laden.
I said yes, the Americans have, so far as I am aware, have never been able to prove that relationship, but the president and others have said that they believe it exists. He said, ''Well, judge, there is no doubt it exists, and I will bring you the proof tomorrow.''
So today he brought me the proof, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is right.
The document shows that an Iraqi intelligence officer, Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, assigned to the Iraq embassy in Pakistan, is ''responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group.''
The document shows that it was written over the signature of Uday Saddam Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein. . . .
That is the story of the ''Honor Roll of 600,'' and why I believe that President Bush was right when he alleged that Saddam was in cahoots with Osama and was coordinating activities with him.
It does not prove that they engaged together in any particular act of terror against the United States.
But it seems to me to be strong proof that the two were in contact and conspiring to perform terrorist acts.
Up until this time, I have been skeptical about these claims. Now I have changed my mind. There is, however, one big problem remaining: They are both still at large and the combined forces of the free world have been unable to find them.
Until we find and capture them, they will remain a threat — Saddam with the remnants of his army and supporters in combination with the worldwide terrorist organization of Osama bin Laden.
Read the whole thing. Those who know Judge Merritt -- a lifelong Democrat and a man of unimpeachable integrity -- will know just how significant this is.
UPDATE: I was in a rush when I posted this -- literally getting ready to walk out the door -- and neglected to thank Clayton Cramer for emailing me the link to this story, which I had entirely missed. I should also note that, although Judge Merritt is both smart and honest, he could of course be wrong, or deceived, here. I wonder, though, why this story hasn't gotten more attention, given that it doesn't seem to have been discredited anywhere.
BRITISH ASTRONOMER SIR MARTIN REES, whom I have taken to task in the past for his antipathy to space development, seems to have partially rethought his position in this article in Foreign Policy.
But only partially. Rees concludes with this paragraph:
Still, while I am optimistic about the ability of private enterprise to colonize the moon and lead us to Mars, I am less sanguine about what space pioneers will do once they establish a presence there. Will they be as scrupulous in preserving the natural environment as, say, the governments involved in the Antarctic project have been? Or will they simply exploit the planets they conquer, much as was done to the American West? Ultimately, how we get there is less important than what we do when we arrive.
Antarctica is, as I have suggested elsewhere, a lousy model for space -- unless, that is, you're a space scientist who wants space kept as your private (taxpayer-funded) playground. At any rate, as the experience of the Soviet Union -- and of government-controlled land in the American West -- illustrates, one generally finds that state managers are less scrupulous with regards to environmental matters than are private property holders.
ALEX KNAPP ON THE "BUSH LIED" MEME:
So what you're left with is the Administration making a decision to rely on the word of British intelligence. In other words, they relied on a long-term ally and friend, whose military has conducted many joint operations with us and with whom intelligence is shared on a regular basis. The British still claim that their intelligence is correct. So the headline of this article is just completely inaccurate. But not only that, there is no indication that Mr. Bush himself had any knowledge of this discussion. In other words, the evidence that Bush lied? ZERO.
Heaven knows I'm no Bush supporter, but if this is the best the Democrats can do, then they're going to keep losing for a long, long time. This was one sentence in one speech, people! The Bush Administration's case for going into Iraq was a lot more than this statement. Hell, I wouldn't even have remembered Bush had said it if it hadn't sparked so much brouhaha. This was not a vital part of Bush's case. It was hardly part of it at all.
Look, Bush is vulnerable on a lot of issues related to national security: overextension of troops, Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, ties to the Saudis, a pathetic Homeland Security effort, the apparent willingness to go ahead and let N. Korea have nukes, and more. And what are the Democrats doing? Focusing their attention on this non-issue, and a little bit on the continuing conflict in Iraq (ie criticizing without offering any credible alternative--and "send in more troops" is not a credible alternative). But what the Democrats certainly are not offering is a credible foreign policy, particularly as regards terrorism. Instead, they offer petty, sniping bullshit.
Surely, the opposition party can do better than this. But instead, they're so blinded by their hatred of Bush that they're not accomplishing shit, nor are they offering any constructive alternative to his policies.
Damningly accurate criticism, especially from a guy who says he's already decided not to vote for Bush on other grounds.
UPDATE: Howard Kurtz notes:
Bush is driving the Democrats and the liberals crazy. They don't understand why everyone doesn't see what they see. It's not so much that they want to refight the war over the war -- some supporting toppling Saddam -- but this is obviously an opening they can use to tarnish the president's image on a national security issue. The problem is, most folks don't seem to care.
I think that people are tuning them out because their motivation is so transparent, and because they've piled on a bunch of issues like this, only to have them collapse one after another. It's the whole "crying wolf" thing.
I don't know why Day by Day isn't in newspapers nationwide. On the upside, though, if it were I probably couldn't post it here.
EUGENE VOLOKH CATCHES CBS IN NOT JUST ONE, BUT TWO LIES: Well, they're more clearly lies than anything Bush said about WMD, anyway. As Volokh says, "Seems like there are potential credibility gaps all around here."
UPDATE: CBS has changed the headline but it's still false.
THE "ENUMERATED POWERS ACT" is currently before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution. It deserves more attention. Robert Prather is giving it some.
HERE'S MORE ON RACISM AND CRUSHING OF DISSENT at Cal Poly. (Here's an earlier post on the subject, from InstaPundit.)
PETER BERKOWITZ WRITES ON prospects for democracy in Kuwait. He seems to think they're not too bad.
IT'S ALL ABOUT OOIILLLL! It has to be, right? I mean, it just has to be!
WELL, THIS ISN'T A COMPLETE SHOCK:
President Jacques Chirac negotiated a secret deal to protect Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb general accused of Europe's worst atrocities since the Second World War, according to evidence submitted to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
M Chirac allegedly agreed to sabotage the extradition of Gen Mladic to face genocide charges for his role in the planned extermination of Bosnian Muslims, including the massacre of 7,000 men and boys in the UN safe haven of Srebrenica in July 1995.
Typical. And yet it's the United States that gets savaged for a lack of commitment to international law. . . .
French President Jacques Chirac, a vocal supporter of the International Criminal Court, the European Union, and the United Nations said today that France is a sovereign nation and international courts or tribunals are "suddenly a bad idea."
A spokesman for Mr. Chirac said his new pronouncement has "no connection whatever" with yesterday's revelation that the U.N. war crimes tribunal has received evidence that Mr. Chirac may have cut a deal to protect accused Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic.
Gen. Mladic, still at large, stands accused of war crimes resulting in the deaths of thousands.
"Globalism is overrated," said a written statement from Mr. Chirac. "International tribunals and courts open the doors to political opportunists with anti-French agendas. This, I find, is suddenly a bad idea."
ED CONE WRITES ON LIBERTARIAN REVOLUTION in America.
MICHAEL UBALDI POINTS OUT THAT CBS IS STILL REPEATING the retracted Capitol Hill Blue story.
UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh is unimpressed with the effort to turn this into a scandal.
July 10, 2003
EUGENE VOLOKH POINTS TO WHAT HE CALLS "one of the most appalling judicial decisions I've ever seen." Nevada's Supreme Court has, in essence, ordered the Legislature to ignore the Nevada Constitution.
Sigh. And they're law school graduates, too.
WHILE I'M SAVAGING BIG MEDIA for ignoring the protests in Iran, it's worth noting that FoxNews isn't exactly flooding the zone on the Hong Kong protests. In fact, I just ran this search on the Fox site and the top story mentioning Hong Kong -- and the only one in the last couple of days -- is actually about Muslims in Hong Kong complaining about prejudice. Oh, yeah, that's the big story out of Hong Kong this week. What this means, of course, is that one guy who sleeps around a lot has outcovered the whole Murdoch media machine.
Is there some rule in the Big Media Secret Book that says you have to suck up to some dictator in order to be a member of the club?
AARON BROWN NEEDS TO READ THE BLOGS:
CNN’s NewsNight with Aaron Brown led Wednesday night with attacks on the administration’s credibility, but Brown stretched his own credibility by picking up on a rumor, “a story that's been circulating on the Web today that there was at some point a conversation between the President and a CIA consultant where the consultant directly told the President that this African uranium deal was bogus.” Brown’s raising of such an uncorroborated story befuddled CNN reporter David Ensor, who speaking slowly as he fumbled for words, told Brown: “I have no way to confirm that story and it is somewhat suspect I would say...”
I noted that “in a cursory check of a bunch of Web sites and news sources online, I could not find a reference to any such allegation. But then I’m not on the left-wing mailing lists which CNN must peruse.”
Scott Hogenson, Executive Editor of the MRC’s CNSNews.com site, is bit more adept than me at finding left-wing conspiracies on the Web and identified the source Brown was quoting as CapitolHillBlue.com. But they, it turns out, retracted their one-source story at about 6pm EDT, four hours before Brown went on the air. CapitolHillBlue.com Publisher Doug Thompson discovered that his source, one Terrance Wilkinson, who identified himself as a former CIA operative, was a fraud.
The story was here last night, before Brown's broadcast, too. On the other hand, if you review the video, it seems pretty clear that there's no support for the charge beyond something on an unspecified "website." But just airing the charge caused it to reach millions (well, thousands) who wouldn't have heard it otherwise. Will Brown say anything about it tonight?
ESQUIRE DOESN'T LIKE JOHN KERRY, according to Virginia Postrel.
PATRICK BELTON AT OXBLOG has a roundup of Iran coverage. Bottom line: "News reports are spotty, and the print media has been shamefully asleep at the wheel, but here's a summary of what's appeared."
RANDY BARNETT WRITES that Justice Kennedy is the author of a libertarian revolution.
UPDATE: Here's a somewhat similar post by Tony Adragna from last week, which I missed because I was on vacation.
It was a good vacation, too. I'm already ready for another one. . . .
JOHN HAWKINS WRITES that people are rewriting history to attack Bush on Iraq.
UPDATE: C.D. Harris points out more problems with the "Bush lied" claims.
I probably should take these more seriously, just because the mainstream media are pretending to. But it's hard to take it seriously when it looks like the same bogus crap from the same desperate people, who -- as Randy Barnett notes here -- want to blur the line between "mistakes" and "lies" in a way that they certainly never did during the Clinton Administration.
It's partisan backstabbing, pure and simple, and it doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.
ANOTHER UPDATE: But Pejman Yousefzadeh, who is more patient than I, has something worth reading on the absurdity of these claims. Bush lied, and then was surprised his lies weren't true? Eh?
Wishful thinking? Maybe. But that's not the same thing as lying, and the people pushing the "Bush lied" meme know that, and don't care.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: This is worth reading, too:
Take the Axis of Evil, for example. When Bush linked Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, the response from the left was "What? Those are totally unrelated evils. You obviously are an idiot." Even from many of us on the right, the response was, "Obviously this is the scoring of a rhetorical point rather than a literal axis, since Iran and Iraq hate each other, and North Korea is on the other side of the world."
But ever since then it's proven out that Bush was just telling us, as straight as he could, what the intelligence showed. North Korean missiles have been sold to Iran, aiding the development of Iran's own weapons program, including the missile that can hit Israel. The DPRK and Iran have openly coordinated their nuclear programs. The Iran/Iraq frontier appears to have been far more porous that most of us believed, with groups like Ansar al-Islam operating on both sides and giving aid to al Qaeda. The smuggling of Iraqi oil out through Iran appears to have opened secret, but real, ties between those governments. We've recently uncovered a huge cache of documents belonging to the Mukhabarat, Iraqi intelligence, and I expect them to demonstrate far more serious and numerous ties than have heretofore emerged.
So, this claim that Bush lied about Iraq has to be put into a fence. Based on what is now open source, we can say that Bush's claims about Iraq have all borne out except the WMD claims. Those claims were beliefs shared by the United Nations, which had 18 Security Council resolutions on the subject and which wasted years and fortunes begging Hussein to let them inspect. The nations on the Security Council have some of the best intelligence services in the world, so we have to assume that the evidence on WMD was pretty emphatic. All intelligence is speculative, but the degree of unity of opinion here is remarkable.
So if it wasn't WMD as a whole that Bush lied about, then we have to limit ourselves to nuclear weapons. But here again, Bush's claims were only that he believed Hussein was preparing to reconstitute his nuclear program, not that there was a reconstituted nuclear program. That is the kind of thing intelligence can simply be wrong about. So we must draw the fence tighter and tighter to find an area in which we can clearly say that Bush lied.
And at last, I can't find one. The area that the left has focused upon is the Niger uranium. But Bush's claim in the State of the Union address was that the British had warned him of the purchase. While the CIA's document has been demonstrated to be a forgery, the British sources--we still don't know exactly what they were--are still supported by their government. Tony Blair, while playing down WMD generally, spoke to the Niger issue yesterday.
Read the whole thing. And remember that even if Bush turns out to have been wrong -- something not yet proven -- it's only a lie if he knew he was wrong when he said it, something not in evidence at all. It's not surprising that some people want to keep that particular point off the table, but it's dishonest of them to do so.
LAST UPDATE, REALLY: This says it all:
But if it's all about oil, why are so many Democrats supporting it?
Because Bush lied to them of course. They may hate him and do their best to undermine anything he does, but they actually believe everything he says!
Now if things go wrong in Liberia, they can claim they were fooled by Bush again.
That Bush -- a complete moron, and yet, somehow, an utterly compelling mastermind!
ACIDMAN ROB SMITH is out of the hospital and blogging about his surgery. Drop by and wish him a speedy recovery and, er, a successful deployment when the time comes.
HESIOD EMAILS that I should be embarrassed that the BBC is covering protests in Hong Kong. Huh? I'm criticizing them below (here and here) for downplaying protests in Iran (note to Hesiod: that's a different country, and is not part of China).
And if the BBC did start giving Iranian freedom marchers the attention they deserve, I wouldn't be embarrassed. I'd be pleased.
Meanwhile, this from Cox & Forkum seems to sum up the way Big Media have been covering Iran lately. And Andrew Sullivan has more about what happened to Iranian students.
If U.S.-hired thugs were doing this to anti-American protesters in Iraq, it would be all over the BBC, 24/7.
UPDATE: Hesiod emails back that the Beeb has covered this on TV, even if not on the web, and suggests that I'm too "web-centric."
That's probably a fair criticism (though this is a weblog) but I don't get the Beeb. Other accounts, however, reflect poorly on the BBC's broadcast coverage.
No doubt we'll be hearing that Liberia is all about oil, soon.
UPDATE: InstaPundit gets results! Now Liberia is all about oil! Just ask Time's Tony Karon!
Prediction: If we don't wind up sending troops to Liberia, this story will do a 180-degree reversal, and be used as proof that Iraq was all about oil.
BEWARE: Somebody has signed my name to a Petition Online petition that I do not endorse. No, I'm not linking to it -- they don't deserve the publicity.
DELAYED-ACTION FISKING: Cathy Seipp has a column on Bill O'Reilly and the Internet:
How disappointing to see O'Reilly, who so constantly touts his maverick independence, assuming the same teacher's pet, finger-wagging tone towards blogging as the American Prospect and the Nation: Miss Jones! Miss Jones! Johnny's reading ahead again - without permission!
NOT MUCH BIG-MEDIA ATTENTION FOR THE IRANIAN PROTESTS: Nothing on the front pages of the New York Times and Washington Post (the web editions, anyway), though they do have stories inside here (Times) and here (Post). Nothing on the BBC homepage, either, though there is a front-page story on the funeral arrangements for the conjoined twins. (Inside, there's a story on how the Iranian press has "reluctantly complied" with the Mullarchy's demands to downplay the story. What's everybody else's excuse?)
The Los Angeles Times does link, though not headline, this story on its web edition's front page.
Question: If there were protests against the United States of this size in Iraq, would they get bigger play? If the United States repressed them with equivalent violence and "disappeared" the leaders, would it get more attention?
Some questions answer themselves.
July 09, 2003
I THINK I MENTIONED THIS BEFORE, but in case I didn't, Iain Murray's blog is here, now.
HMM. THIS "BUSH LIED" STORY HAS NOW BEEN RETRACTED AS FRAUDULENT. Interesting story about the bogus source, one that leaves quite a few more questions open.
UPDATE: Checking the Technorati Link Cosmos for the retraction, I see that many bloggers who ran with the original story have noted it, including quite a few lefty bloggers who clearly wanted to believe it. They deserve credit -- as does Capitol Hill Blue -- for the retraction.
The blogosphere's news judgment is evident on Blogdex and it's not the news judgment you'll see on major news sites. On Blogdex right now, the top two stories are about Iran. Elsewhere (on the BBC or on Google News, for example), you won't find Iran on the front page.
Blogdex reflects the news judgment of the audience. It reflects the news the audience cares about. The two should not disagree. But they do.
Somebody's overpaying those guys.
UPDATE: But Asparagirl has a report from the NYC Iranian Freedom protests, complete with pictures and some thoughts on who didn't show up. Read it.
MORE PROTESTS, this time in Hong Kong:
Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered this evening before the legislature building here to call for free elections and the resignation of Hong Kong's leader.
I think Hong Kong should petition for decolonization and independence.
UPDATE: Here's a news analysis piece from The New York Times, which is doing a better job of covering this subject than it is of covering Iran, not that that's hard.
HERE'S A REPORT from the Washington, DC pro-Iranian-freedom protest:
Amid reports that hundreds of Iranian pro-democracy protesters clashed with Islamic vigilantes and police in Tehran, hundreds gathered in Washington D.C. in a show of support for democratic change in Iran. The demonstrations in both capitals were called to mark the fourth anniversary of violent student protests in Tehran. A sea of red, white and green Iranian flags waved over the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol, as the message of pro-democracy demonstrators was heard loud and clear.
Read the rest. (Via Pejman Yousefzadeh, who has lots more on this subject).
UPDATE: Reader Richard Gardner emails this firsthand report:
I haven't seen any blog report of the DC protest, and I don't have a blog, so I'm sending this out FYI.
I swung by the rally On the Capitol's West-side today, on the grass just below the steps. I'd guess 300-500 participants, almost all Iranian (99%), all ages. Lots of families. There were lots of banners and Iranian flags. The participants were well dressed and focused on their issue, unlike the "anti-war" protests this past winter. But there were few non-Iranian participants (under 10) in the audience. This event was totally different from other protests I've seen in this town. (No stilts or funny costumes either!)
The VOA was there, conducting TV interviews in Farsi. I did see some TV broadcast equipment being taken away, but I couldn't tell if it was there for the protest. I only noticed one probable print journalist. I saw a couple of people that looked like they could be bloggers, taking notes. So don't expect much press coverage.
Between speakers, there was chanting of slogans in English and Farsi, "Go, go, go, the Islamic regime of Iran must go;" "We want democracy for Iran, freedom for Iran;" "Down with the mullahs, down with Hezbollah;" "Down with the Islamic regime;" "Freedom, freedom for Iran." (I now know that "down with" in Farsi sounds something like "mag bye."). Periodic music too.
Several members of Congress came out and gave short speeches of support, including Senators Coleman (R-MN) and Brownback (R-KS), Congressman Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA). Lots of speeches in English and Farsi (50-50). The Iranian speakers stressed freeing the political prisoners, getting rid of corrupt mullahs and Hezbollah, supporting the student protests, and bringing freedom and democracy to Iran. There was no mention of the monarchy.
The only anti-West theme I saw was on signs against British Petroleum's activities in Iran, supporting the regime. And only two women had their heads covered with non-Western headgear (lots of regular hats on a very hot day). The only theme I heard that I disagreed with was a chant for the UN to help Iran. My thought was, be careful what you wish for.
In addition to the ever present large Iranian flags being waved about on long PVC staffs, there were quite a few posters with photos of men and women being hung from cranes, the results of whippings and torture, and what seems to be the symbol of the resistance to the mullahs, a young man holding up a bloody T-shirt. (A drawing of it can be seen here http://www.cafeshops.com/activistchat)
On the sidewalk outside the protest, two Americans were holding a big banner stating "US Hands off Iran." Some Iranians then stationed themselves in front of these counter-protesters with their own banners, obscuring it. The counter-protesters then relocated across the street. But where were the non-Iranian protesters showing support for democracy in Iran? Nowhere to be found.
The Free Iran, anti-mullah groups have a website, http://www.activistchat.com.
"Hands off Iran." How typically amoral, yet schoolmarmish.
AN IMPORTANT POINT FROM CHARLES PAUL FREUND:
One question about Iran's student movement keeps coming up: How much real activist support does it enjoy in the general population? You don't have to ask that question about the ruling mullahs: Their activist support has been reduced to the goons they control, and their relationship with the populace has been reduced to the threat of violence.
And a lot of the goons are imported Arabs.
HEY, KEN MACLEOD HAS A BLOG! I'm reading The Cassini Division right now.
IT'S NOT JUST IRAN: Here are more people protesting against superstitious tyranny.
HERE'S MORE ON THE IRAN PROTESTS:
Shrugging off death threats by government paramilitary forces, tens thousands of Iranian students took to the streets Wednesday night, burning at least three government banks, calling for the country's democratization and the death to its extremist leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini.
The demonstrations, banned by the Mullarchy, came on the 4th anniversary of 1999 pro-reform protests which triggered a violent regime crackdown, the death of one student and the arrest of thousands.
Opposition group leaders hailed Wednesday's demonstrations the culmination of month-long anti-government activities as a deadly blow to the repressive regime, saying it edges Iran ever closer to a democratic revolution.
Following and eerily quiet day in Iran, three-sided street battles erupted between pro-reform youth, regime-backed para-military forces, and police outside Tehran University.
As many as 100,000 also gathered around one of Tehran's main city squares Wednesday night chanting pro-democracy slogans and calling for the death of Khameini, an opposition source said.
The protests also coincide with mounting international pressure on Iran to reveal its secret nuclear reactors, suspected to be developing a nuclear bomb.
On a visit to Iran Wednesday International Atomic Energy Agency's chief Muhammed ElBaradei, failed to secure Iran's agreement to immediately conduct more rigorous inspections of its suspected nuclear program. . . .
The Mullahs told reformist parliament deputies to reign in demonstrators or they "would be mercilessly crushed," according to a Iranian opposition source.
The para-military groups were not armed with batons but with firearms, said the source.
In an open letter sent to U.N. General-Secretary Kofi Anan Iranian student leaders claimed that "a political apartheid has taken all hopes from the Iranian people, because it is denying us self rule and the right of choice, the right to be master of our own destiny, because it has lowered our expectations to the lowest limits possible and also because we are worried to see the experience of our neighbors be repeated here."
In what experts called a remarkable show of mushrooming anti-government sentiment the signatories represented student associations of thirty universities.
Can you say "regime change?" I want to hear it in Farsi.
FUNNY, THE ARAB NEWS doesn't seem to have any stories on the protests in Iran. You'd think that massive resistance to a feudal theocratic regime would be of interest to its readers, wouldn't you? Go figure.
NOW THAT THE DICTATOR IS GONE, the truth about his reign of terror is coming out.
HERE'S A BLOG REPORT from the NYC Iranian freedom demonstration.
ALPHECCA'S WEEKLY MEDIA GUN-BIAS CHART IS UP.
Meanwhile Rand Simberg has a suggestion regarding the Brady Campaign.
THE ANGLOSPHERE AND ECONOMIC FREEDOM: Phil Bradley has looked at the data and has an interesting observation that explains why corrupt elites around the world dislike les anglo-saxons so much.
MITCH BERG IS DOING INVESTIGATIVE BLOGGING. I suspect we'll see more stuff along those lines.
THERE'S A GREAT IRAN NEWS ROUNDUP over at Winds of Change.
OVER AT THE CORNER, they're talking about band names.
My favorite: "Courageous Dong." It was even a good band.
NOT SO PEACEFUL IN IRAN AFTER ALL, it seems:
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Hundreds of Iranian hardline Islamic vigilantes, police and pro-democracy youths fought three-sided running street battles near Tehran University on Wednesday on the anniversary of 1999 student unrest.
A witness said police had fired tear gas at groups of youths near the campus and also fought fist fights with plainclothes Islamic militiamen to prevent them from engaging in further running battles with youths.
Earlier witnesses said armed Iranian Islamic vigilantes seized three student leaders as they left a news conference where they announced they had canceled protests to mark the anniversary of 1999 university unrest.
These people are "vigilantes," of a sort, I suppose, but they're really just government thugs and it's unfortunate that the news stories don't make this clearer. Here's what the students say:
Three student activists have been seized in Tehran. The three were seized shortly after they held a news conference to announce the cancellation of protests marking the anniversary of student clashes with security forces.
Members of a pro-reform student umbrella group say the three activists were taken away by men dressed in plainclothes as they left the news conference. One of the witnesses is quoted as saying, "We cannot call it arrest, it was a kidnapping."
THE EUROPEAN UNION -- CESSPIT OF CORRUPTION, OR DEN OF THIEVES? First there's this:
Jules Muis, the outspoken European Commission chief auditor, has delivered a scathing critique of the willingness of the organisation to embrace reform and to tackle fraud.
Explaining his decision to resign next April, earlier than expected, Mr Muis spoke of his struggles to get the Commission to move "from the 19th century into the 21st century".
Romano Prodi, European Commission president, came to office in 1999 promising to create a world-class administration and to crack down on fraud. But Mr Muis, giving evidence to members of the European parliament (MEPs), gave a picture of an organisation which sometimes failed to face its problems, and which frustrated his attempts to root out wrongdoing.
The former World Bank official said he wanted to conduct a thorough inquiry into allegations of serious fraud at Eurostat, the Commission's statistics arm, but was ordered to restrict the scope of his investigation. . . .
He said the Commission tied his hands so tightly on the Eurostat investigation that his final work would not constitute an audit. "You have a degree of very limited assurance at the end of the trip," he told the parliament's budgetary control committee. The Commission argues Mr Muis's proposed work would have taken too long and would not have met the demands from MEPs for a speedy report.
Then there's this:
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The European Commission has come clean and admitted the huge extent of fraud in its statistical office, Eurostat.
At a hastily arranged meeting on Wednesday (9 July), administrative reform Commissioner Neil Kinnock and his monetary affairs colleague Pedro Solbes told the European Parliament that Eurostat offices had been raided the night before and all its files secured.
The Commission acted after receiving two reports on Monday providing evidence that "serious wrong-doing on a much more widespread scale than previously thought may have taken place".
The Commission has decided to open proceedings against three Commission officials and, as a precautionary measure, a number of Eurostat managers will be moved to advisory functions.
And there's more.
Then there's this report:
PARIS, July 7 (AFP) - One of France's biggest ever corruption trials ended late Monday after four months of hearings, with top executives of the formerly state-owned oil company Elf Aquitaine facing prison terms of up to eight years.
Former chief executive Loik Le Floch-Prigent, 59, his deputy Alfred Sirven, 76, and Elf's so-called Mr Africa Andre Tarallo, 76, are alleged to have made themselves personal fortunes worth hundreds of millions of euros from illicit slush funds run by the company in the early 1990s. . . .
In the concluding stages lawyers for Le Floch-Prigent and Sirven - both of whom are already serving jail terms on related offences - admitted their guilt, but argued that it was Elf's long-established culture of graft and easy money that led them astray.
"Elf (was a company in which) secrecy was made into a system, where corruption was no longer an offense and where the smallest unit was 10 million francs. Some resisted but many others came crashing down," said Sirven's attorney Pierre Haik.
"It is an enormous company that erodes your sense of reality. Everything at Elf was taken to excess," Le Floch-Prigent told the court earlier.
Indeed. Remember all that talk about the superiority of "European-style capitalism" during the Enron scandals?
NANOTECHNOLOGY MAY CREATE NEW ORGANS, according to this article in The New Scientist. Interesting research, anyway.
NOAH SHACHTMAN WRITES on the Pentagon's new information-gathering program.
AUSTIN BAY ON LIBERIA:
The instant upside to intervention is saving thousands of innocent lives. That's another reason to intervene.
Liberia, however, is a "fake state" in utter disorder. Fixing it requires sustained presence. There's the crux of the "exit" issue -- who stays to build?
ECOWAS is 16 poor African nations -- aid recipients, not donors. The best non-governmental relief and development organizations are already overtaxed.
The African, European and American consensus seems to be to use American forces to stop Liberia's killers. The Bush administration needs to use this crisis as an opportunity to pursue a grander political consensus: America will stop the killers, but other nations must supply the builders.
France crabs about American "hyperpower," though hyperpower puts Marines in Monrovia. What Liberia needs is "hammer power" -- long-term developmental support. That's difficult, and it's expensive. Still, it's the only way to make any entrance worth the effort.
Read the whole thing, as they say.
UPDATE: Vik Rubenfeld, meanwhile, thinks the Liberia issue is rebounding on Bush's critics. Weirdly, James Ridgeway, writing in The Village Voice, sort of agrees:
Bush's foray into Africa carries meaning for his re-election campaign. The religious right is taking credit for getting the president into Africa. Moreover, for 20 years the GOP right wing has drooled over the idea of breaking the Democratic Party's grip on the black vote. Despite all his talk, Clinton did little for Africa, and indeed had to apologize for not acting in the Rwanda disaster. Should Bush actually get seriously involved in combating AIDS and poverty, and if he succeeds in stabilizing West Africa, he may at long last begin the process of pulling black votes from the Democrats.
Just how smart is Karl Rove, anyway?
NOW THIS IS INTERESTING:
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. forces have arrested the Iraqi diplomat alleged by some Czech officials to have met with the lead Sept. 11 hijacker five months before the attacks.
U.S. government officials said Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani was arrested on July 2. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said al-Ani had been interrogated but had provided little information.
The arrest was first reported Thursday by CBS News. U.S. investigators have dismissed Czech accounts of an April 2001 meeting in Prague between suicide hijacker Mohammed Atta and al-Ani, who is widely believed to be an intelligence agent.
Some Czech officials stand by their claims, the only known link between Saddam Hussein's government and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
``Atta and al-Ani met,'' Czech U.N. Ambassador Hynek Kmonicek said a year ago in an interview with The Associated Press.
Two points: (1) We keep rolling these guys up, one by one; and (2) If the Bush Administration had been deliberately hyping intelligence on Iraq, why did it go out of its way to step on the reports of the Atta meeting, which seem reasonably credible to me? I'm not convinced yet that they aren't true -- and certainly there was plenty of evidence to go with had the Bush Administration been engaged in the campaign of deception that its critics keep charging it with.
WHAT ROBERT BORK DOESN'T KNOW: It's something rather important.
You can read a much more extended treatment of the subject here. And, in a sort-of-related item, you may want to read this post by Larry Solum on "legitimate state interests." I mentioned it over at GlennReynolds.com, but neglected to do so here.
PORPHYROGENITUS HAS BEEN LISTENING TO THE BBC'S COVERAGE OF IRAN:
From the BBC report, one would have absolutely no understanding of the reasons behind the protests, except that they're ungrateful that progress isn't going faster than it is (but how things have improved! - great emphasis was placed on a split between the young people who just don't get it and the older people who were around in the early days of the revolution and understand just how good things are in Iran now).
Completely unmentioned were the Mullahs (or Ayatollahs); on the BBC website's Middle East page the only stories on Iran are ones pertaining to the "positive" talks between the IAEA and Iran on its nuclear program, mourning the death of the twins, and one on a movement leader who's been released.
Absolutely nothing mentioning threatened massacre by the government that shut down protests planned for today.
And one wonders why Europeans might have a different viewpoint on the Middle East than we do. Well, opinions are shaped by the information one has - or doesn't have.
I guess state broadcasting services would tend to have a natural affinity for tyranny, wouldn't they?
EVAN COYNE MALONEY WRITES on The Great Media Meltdown.
Day by Day belongs in your daily newspaper. Write 'em and tell 'em so.
A LUNAR KLONDIKE? BRING IT ON! My TechCentralStation column is up.
AFGHANS SAY that things are getting better in Afghanistan. Good. Funny we're not reading more stories like this one.
IRANIAN STUDENTS HAVE CANCELLED PLANS for a massive protest today after being promised a Tiananmen-like massacre. I don't know what to say about that -- on the one hand, you don't overthrow a government by backing down in the face of such threats, on the other hand, Tiananmen didn't lead to more democracy, did it? Patience may be more important than drama, sometimes.
Anyway, the mullahs' writ doesn't run far from Tehran, and OxBlog has a lot more on pro-Iranian freedom protests around the world. And Andrew Sullivan has information on protests scheduled for today in New York and DC.
UPDATE: Go here, too, and just keep scrolling. And Jeff Jarvis has a roundup of blog coverage.
Why is this stuff getting so little big-media attention? Is it the Eason Jordan effect?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Oh, and go read Lileks too. Like I have to tell you.
July 08, 2003
GETCHER KEN LAYNE CDS NOW! Cheap!
I'M JUST A SOUL WHOSE INTENTIONS ARE GOOD -- but, Lord, sometimes I still get misunderstood.
But not by Matt Welch, who has it exactly right.
THE CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES is up over at Winds of Change.
Winds of Change will also sponsor a special July 9 Carnival featuring posts about liberty in Iran. Follow the link for instructions on how to participate.
IRANIAN CURRENCY FEATURING GEORGE W. BUSH: Heh. I hope the mullahs see this . . .
WAS MICHAEL SAVAGE AN AGENT PROVOCATEUR? I lack the requisite cynicism to believe this, though he certainly played the part.
THIS USA TODAY STORY ON BLOGS by Janet Kornblum gets extra points because it mentions various kinds of blogs that are generally ignored in such stories, like personal diaries and photo blogs.
WHY IS IT OKAY FOR THE U.S. TO GET INVOLVED IN LIBERIA? Kate has the answer. But of course!
JEFF JARVIS has much more on tomorrow's scheduled protests in Iran. Just keep scrolling.
JUSTENE ADAMEC, who predicted the Gray Davis recall in February, now has some further predictions on the subject.
IRAQ, IRAN, HONG KONG, and the need for patience. Plus more sodomy! All over at GlennReynolds.com.
CAN A DISSERTATION BE A THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY? Bill Hobbs looks at an interesting story.
BIG-GOVERNMENT REPUBLICANS: Cato is on the case:
WASHINGTON -- In President Bush's second year in office, the Federal Register, a chronicle of all regulations proposed and enacted by federal agencies, held an extraordinary 75,606 pages of new rules. That's about 300 pages issued each business day during 2002. Not only is that a new record for the Bush administration, but it's an all-time record for any presidential administration, according to Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. of the Cato Institute.
Every year for the past seven years Crews has analyzed countless pages of federal regulation data and documented it in Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State. He examines the process behind creating these rules, why it's nearly impossible for the government to accurately assess what they cost, and he provides a way by which Congress can rein in the agencies behind the nonstop rule making.
In 2001, President Bush's first year in office, the Federal Register contained 69,591 pages, 7 percent less than President Clinton's record-setting 2000 edition, which contained 74,528 pages. However, in its second year in Washington, the Bush administration topped Clinton's record by over 1,000 pages.
I suppose it's possible that homeland security and anti-terror measures account for the change, but I rather doubt it.
UPDATE: A reader makes a point that I should have made myself (but then, that's why I have readers!):
The Federal Register for 2002 may have 75,606 pages, but it is not "75,606 pages of new rules." The Federal Register includes notices of administrative investigations, notices of administrative decisions, requests for public comment. An agency that wants to reduce regulation and be upheld on appeal has to provide a notice of proposed rulemaking (with commentary), and then when it actually strikes the rule, it has to provide several pages of justifications for the change in the rule and demonstrate that it considered the public comments supporting the status quo. All of this takes up numerous pages in the Federal Register without telling one anything about whether the scope of federal bureaucracy has expanded or shrunk.
True. The effort to abolish the Tea Board took up many pages.
Heh. I suspect a lot of people feel this way.
MISSING 727 UPDATE: StrategyPage has more:
July 7, 2003: Following-up on the June 13 report about the missing Boeing 727-200, a British newspaper carried Canadian pilot Bob Strother's report that the plane was spotted on June 28 in Guinea's capital Conakry. It had been repainted and given the Guinean registration 3XGOM, but at least the last two letters of its former tail-number, N844AA, were still showing. The plane was reportedly now owned by a member of West Africa's Lebanese business community, used to shuttle goods between Beirut and Conakry. Since being sighted, the plane has again taken off into the unknown.
However, there is growing doubt amongst Africa's pilots that this Conakry Boeing is the same aircraft as the missing 727-200.
UPDATE: Reader Jeffrey Lindermann notes:
It seems to me that, with our president in Africa, the missing 727 takes on added importance. Since 9/11, we all know how planes can be used as weapons. I presume security is tight, but I hope Bush's security patrol is watching the skies.
Tom Clancy, call your agent. Of course, Clancy has been right before. . . .
"MEET IRAN'S FUTURE LEADERS:" A column introducing figures in the anti-Mullah opposition that's worth reading in light of tomorrow's planned pro-freedom protests in Iran.
Question: will major media cover those, or will they bury the story in an Eason-Jordan-like move to stay friendly with the mullahs?
Meanwhile, on the pro-freedom front, here's more on the Hong Kong marches.
HERE'S MUCH MORE on something that I mentioned briefly earlier: the way in which Arnold Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding experience might relate to his campaign strategy.
THE UNITED NATIONS IS ON THE JOB IN CAMBODIA -- and Mark Steyn is doing a job on the U.N.
I GUESS IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME UNTIL THIS HAPPENED:
A new three-minute tape surfaced today on the al-Jazeera network featuring the voice of a man purporting to be Osama bin Laden, who is heard disputing the authenticity of a recent tape purporting to be Saddam Hussein.
"Do not believe the deceiver," the voice attributed to bin Laden says of the voice attributed to Saddam. "The deceiver is not to be believed, but rather, disbelieved."
CROOKED TIMBER is a new group blog featuring a number of bloggers you probably know well. Check it out.
JOHN KERRY DANCES, BUT PRO-HOWARD DEAN BLOGGERS ARE CALLING THE TUNE! Cross a blogger at your peril:
• Just how testy are relations between the supporters of dueling Democratic presidential candidates Howard Dean and John Kerry? Darned testy, it seems.
Yesterday Dean-loving Web-logger Scott Moore, proprietor of the Points West site (www.pointswest.blogspot.com), savaged the Massachusetts senator for running campaign advertising on the site of Democratic nemesis Matt Drudge, the political equivalent of Satan..
"This frightening couple: John Kerry and Matt Drudge. Ewwwww, ick ," Moore wrote. "[A] candidate for the Dem nod giving this right-wing nutbag DOLLARS raised in the Dem Primary to post banner ads on Drudge Report? Heck, Kerry might as well buy Drudge a bow and arrow decorated with Donkey Feathers."
Yesterday Kerry spokesman Chris Lehane told us that ad was mistakenly placed on Drudgereport.com by Google, which has a contract with the Kerry campaign to direct ads to various Web sites based on their editorial content and audience. Drudge has published a great many items about Kerry, but none has been particularly flattering. After our inquiry, the ad was pulled. "Now Google will not post ads on Web sites without our approval," Lehane said.
July 07, 2003
HERE'S AN INTERESTING ARTICLE ON LAW PROFESSOR JOSEPH OLSON, the architect of Minnesota's new Personal Protection Act, which makes it far easier for law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns:
Olson found himself looking for a summer job before he started classes. He got one with the Office of Economic Opportunity in North Carolina, a "Great Society" welfare program intended to improve the lives of rural blacks.
"I discovered that there were people in bedsheets that wanted to kill me," Olson said. "There you are driving your car with Missouri license plates down lonely country roads in rural North Carolina. This would have been 1967. And remember, (Michael) Schwerner and (Andrew) Goodman and (James) Chaney were killed in Mississippi just three years before. All of us knew their names and what had happened to them."
Back at his office, he related his alarm at being followed by strangers, and his co-workers expressed surprise that he didn't have a gun.
"And that's how I got my first firearm," Olson said. A co-worker gave him a pistol, and Olson put it in his pocket and later replaced it with one of his own. He wound up using it.
"Twice," Olson recalled. "They'd pull up behind you, turn on their bright lights, get right up, 20, even 2 feet off your back bumper. I'd take it out, hold it up in front of the rearview mirror, and wave it back and forth. The lights would turn off, and the car would back off."
I've heard similar stories from people who worked in the Civil Rights era. When former Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver (who was a year or two behind me in law school) came to speak at Tennessee, an elderly black minister in the audience used the question-and-answer period to sing the praises of the Second Amendment, which he said was essential to the survival of the civil rights movement. Many of my colleagues found this surprising, but I didn't.
UPDATE: Read this, too.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Matt Rustler has more on guns and the civil rights movement.
WITH BUSH IN AFRICA, suddenly everyone cares about Africa. Well, better late than never, I guess.
So drop by the website of Ugandan band Afrigo, and listen to the song Today for Tomorrow, which is an ode to the virtues of privatization. And, heck, buy a couple of their CDs. They'll appreciate it.
And they'll make better use of your money more than Justin Timberlake will, I expect.
MICHAEL BARONE OBSERVES:
The Democrats' problem is that at least 70 percent of voters do not share their contempt for Bush and find it off-putting. Outside a Bush fundraiser last week one protester's sign read, "France was right." That is not a winning slogan in an American election.
Not hardly. Karl Rove must be hoping for more of those signs.
IS HARRY POTTER THE Atlas Shrugged of the 21st Century? Or just libertarian propaganda?
THE VAGINA MONOLITHS:
Some researchers have claimed the stone circles were used as a giant computer; others that Stonehenge was an observatory for studying stars and predicting the seasons; and a few have even argued that its rings acted as a docking pad for alien spaceships.
Now a University of British Columbia researcher who has investigated the great prehistoric monument for several years has announced he has uncovered its true meaning: it is a giant fertility symbol, constructed in the shape of the female sexual organ.
I wonder what he'd make of this?
ON SODOMY AND LIBERTY: Over at GlennReynolds.com.
And speaking of MSNBC and sodomy, Michael Savage has been fired. I never caught either his TV or his radio shows, though I rather doubt I missed anything.
UPDATE: Robin Roberts notes:
I found him devoid of thought myself. But wasn't the cancellation of Phil Donahue's show called a huge act of censorship by many Democrats? I expect the double standard will go unnoticed.
Indeed. It's not censorship in either case, of course, as Eugene Volokh points out.
In a related vein, Tim Blair notes a different contradiction on the part of those shouting "censorship:"
(Incidentally, the free speech advocates at the Sydney Morning Herald who are so furious at the Ken Park ban might ask their management why this site is blocked at their workplace. Do I have to show up at Balmain Town Hall and read to the poor journalists?)
Of course, the SMH bans access to Tim Blair because its staff would otherwise become too demoralized and humiliated to write. And we couldn't have that.
JAMES MORROW WRITES that Bush's Africa policy is confounding the left.
Sure looks like it to me.
UPDATE: The Kikuchiyo News thinks so, too. The photos are good.
EUGENE VOLOKH ISN'T VERY IMPRESSED with one proposed justification for sodomy laws. Me either.
BIAS AT THE BBC? Check out these headlines.
CHIEF WIGGLES, blogging from Iraq, says that media coverage is far more negative than the reality.
Meanwhile LT Smash weighs in on President Bush's "bring 'em on" statement.
A VERY INTERESTING POST ON COLLEGE PROFESSOR SALARIES now, and a hundred years ago, from Brad DeLong.
THE NAVY IS LOOKING INTO DISPOSABLE RAY GUNS -- hey, where do I get one of those?
MARKETING ADVICE FOR STARBUCKS, from American Digest.
MICHAEL DEMMONS thinks he's the first gay blogger to be legally married. Best wishes, Michael.
BUSH'S AFRICA POLICY IS GETTING PRAISE FROM UNLIKELY SOURCES: Richard Gere and Bob Geldof:
Even liberals have credited Mr. Bush with doing more than his predecessor to help Africa. In May, Live Aid founder Bob Geldof said Mr. Bush is far more committed than Mr. Clinton to fighting AIDS and famine on the continent.
"Clinton talked the talk and did diddly squat, whereas Bush doesn't talk but does deliver," said Mr. Geldof, an Irish musician and activist who in 1985 staged the world's largest rock concert to combat starvation in Africa.
"You'll think I'm off my trolley when I say this, but the Bush administration is the most radical, in a positive sense, in the approach to Africa since Kennedy," he said.
In February actor Richard Gere lashed out against Mr. Clinton's record during an AIDS benefit attended by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat.
"Senator Clinton, I'm sorry, your husband did nothing for AIDS for eight years," Mr. Gere said from the podium, although Mrs. Clinton had left the room. Mr. Clinton later belittled Mr. Gere for the remark. . . .
Mr. Foote, of the Constituency for Africa, said the president's trip will build on the accomplishments of Mr. Clinton.
"Clinton opened the door and broke some new ground when he went to Africa," he said. "But in terms of the content, there wasn't much delivered.
"While Clinton said, 'Yes, in fact, Africa matters, and we ought to give it some thought, ' he really was playing to the African-American community," he said. "When you say Africa matters, you've got to beef up the team, and he didn't do that."
"The Bush team looked at the continent, understood what they needed to do and did it," he said. "I mean, that's Bush's hallmark; he sizes the situation up and then he's ready to move.
"He's handled it a lot more substantively," Mr. Foote said. "Clinton gave us a bone, and Bush put some meat on the bone."
It's funny that Bush's behavior here hasn't gotten more attention from mainstream media. I guess it's because it doesn't fit the heartless-Republican stereotype.
WEBLOGS AS A WAY OF REDUCING EMAIL? Boy, it sure hasn't worked that way for me. . . .
COMING SOON TO A CD NEAR YOU: Ed Driscoll writes on the Ronco Voice-o-matic and the future of pitch-correction in recording.
BIOTERROR DEFENSE PRIORITIES: Ross of The Bloviator has an editorial in Science on the subject. There's an excerpt on his blog.
PHONY PAYPAL EMAILS: I was suspicious of these. Looks like I was right to be.
FREE IRAN: Oxblog and Hossein Derakshan have more on support for Iranian freedom protests this week.
Meanwhile, a huge demonstration that brought half a million protesters to the streets of Hong Kong to oppose "anti-subversion" legislation seems to be getting results. Let's pay close attention to both developments.
UPDATE: Winds of Change has loads more on Iran in a link-filled update.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Gweilo Diaries has more from Hong Kong, noting: "Of course, the fact that it's a question for Beijing and not Hong Kong is precisely the problem to begin with."
July 06, 2003
MISSING 727 UPDATE: They found it. But it's lost again.
UPDATE: Here's more information.
THE BBC IS IN TROUBLE, according to this in The Times:
For this affair has left the BBC dangerously exposed. It has served as a catalyst, allowing diverse complaints about its news coverage to resurface simultaneously. The Beeb has been accused of, among other matters, fanatical suspicion of the motives of those in power and unrelenting hostility towards the Conservative Party. It has been attacked for a wholesale scepticism about capitalism, combined with a weakness for quack environmentalism and health-scare speculation over hard science.
Reporting the Middle East, it sometimes seems so remorselessly anti-Israeli that Mr Dyke might as well be open about it and allow his reporters to appear speaking Arabic, riding a camel, stopping occasionally to suck from a long pipe in a crowded souk.
Put bluntly, the BBC, a public sector bureaucracy funded by a poll tax, with a privileged status that looks starkly anomalous in an age of hundreds of television channels and thousands of radio stations, needs more friends. It is already detested by other broadcasters, derided by the print press for squandering its vast resources and damned by publishing houses for its increasingly aggressive marketing activities in their domain.
If the BBC wants to retain its privileged position when its charter is due for renewal in 2006, then it must construct a coalition of supporters broader than the Liberal Democrats, Friends of the Earth, Friends of Yassir Arafat, the sort of people who believe that taking an aspirin will inevitably result in limbs falling off and its own staff. It requires mainstream allies as well. . . .
The old consensus that Auntie should be preserved and protected is fraying; the contention that “something must be done” about the corporation is acquiring serious credibility.
Simon Jenkins wrote about the BBC on this page recently, teasingly comparing its excesses to Cardinal Wolsey’s but vigorously defending its “right to be wrong”. This was once the stance of virtually all reasonable and respectable people (plus Simon); it is no longer. The “right to be wrong” is not the same as the liberty to be a law unto oneself.
Indeed. And where will it find those mainstream allies? Nowhere, if its narrow bias continues. This piece in The Telegraph agrees:
Whatever the outcome of the present battle between the BBC and the Government, it does serve to throw attention on the state of the BBC. The BBC has been a bad joke in its news and public affairs broadcasting for several decades, but, in the way of the world, no one notices until his own ox is gored. . . .
The BBC mandate is to be independent of the government of the day and to be objective in its reporting. For a long time, the BBC has been captured by one end of the political spectrum and, with negligible exceptions, all the people who work for it.
They have handled the corporation, especially in news and current affairs, as if it were the party organ of Labour's Left wing or, at best, the Fabians. This would be acceptable in French public television under a Socialist government, but it is a breach of trust in Britain.
Instead of fuming about it, as Blair and Campbell are doing, or sending dossiers to Greg Dyke, as the Conservatives have, it would be more useful to work out what can be done with an organisation that has lost all even-handedness. Objectivity can't be maintained by inviting a few Right-wingers to be guests on the many BBC programmes putting America on trial.
How about ending the public subsidy and letting the private sector take over? The likelihood that a major, state-subsidized entity with considerable political clout can actually be objective and fair over the long term is so small that it would seem better to drop the pretense, and to quit subsidizing the political views of the New Class under a threadbare cloak of public service that no longer fools anyone but the gullible.
UPDATE: Susanna Cornett comments:
It's a classic case of how bias develops in the media, and how those who are at the center of it can't see it - they perceive themselves as edgy and unaffected by ideology. The reality couldn't be more different.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Shanti Mangala writes: "Pretty damning for such a prestigious news agency, I should say!"
Click below for more, from a British reader who has followed this closely:
Read More ?
MORE ON WEBLOGS from The Times of London.
I'M GOING TO BE TALKING TO DAVID LIVINGSTON ON THE SPACE SHOW on KKNW 1150AM in Seattle in a few minutes. You can listen live here. You can read a bit about our topic here.
MAX BOOT WRITES on Iraq, insurgents, and small wars.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, David Warren says that Iraq is flypaper for terrorists:
While engaged in the very difficult business of building a democracy in Iraq -- the first democracy, should it succeed, in the entire history of the Arabs -- President Bush has also, quite consciously to my information, created a new playground for the enemy, away from Israel, and even farther away from the United States itself. By the very act of proving this lower ground, he drains terrorist resources from other swamps.
This is the meaning of Mr. Bush's "bring 'em on" taunt from the Roosevelt Room on Wednesday, when he was quizzed about the "growing threat to U.S. forces" on the ground in Iraq. It should have been obvious that no U.S. President actually relishes having his soldiers take casualties. What the media, and U.S. Democrats affect not to grasp, is that the soldiers are now replacing targets that otherwise would be provided by defenceless civilians, both in Iraq and at large. The sore thumb of the U.S. occupation -- and it is a sore thumb equally to Baathists and Islamists, compelling their response -- is not a mistake. It is carefully hung flypaper. . . .
Hizbullah itself (the "Army of Allah" -- Shia, and ultimately financed and armed by Iran's ayatollahs) are directing their attention less and less towards the "Little Satan" of Israel, and more and more towards the "Great Satan" of the U.S., as events unfold.
This is exactly what President Bush wants. To engage them, away from Israel, in mortal combat. To have an excuse for wiping them out -- a good, solid, American excuse, from which Israel has been extracted. The good news is, Hizbullah's taking the bait.
It's interesting. You may have noticed that although people are upset about acts of terrorism this weekend in Russia and Iraq and Pakistan, there were no attacks in the United States.
Amir Taheri, meanwhile, writes that the swamp-draining approach seems to be working:
Yet one thing was certain then and remains so today: The Arab world is in crisis, and change in Iraq could trigger change across the whole arc from North Africa to the Indian Ocean. While it is too soon to tell the shape of things to come in Iraq, it is clear that we are witnessing the end of a certain nationalist and socialist model developed in several Arab countries in the 20th century. . . .
The failed model is the power state, known in Islamic literature as "saltana," whose legitimacy rests on the possession and use of the means of collective violence. In saltana, there are no citizens, only subjects, while the ruler is unaccountable except to God.
The only alternative to this failed model is what might be called the political state, whose legitimacy rests on the free expression of the citizens' will. Such a model could be based on what the 14th-century historian Ibn Khaldoun called "al-assabiyah," a secular bond among citizens. The key feature of this model is pluralism, known in modern Islamic political literature as "ta'adudiyah" and "kisrat-garai."
Both the Islamists and the secular authoritarians of the Arab world have persistently opposed the idea of bonding through citizenship. Nevertheless, Islamic political and philosophical literature offers a wealth of analyses that could be deployed in any battle of ideas against both the Islamist and secular enemies of pluralism. Both Farabi (d.950) and Avicenna (d. 1037), partly inspired by the work of the Mutazilite school, showed that there need be no contradiction between revelation and reason in developing a political system that responds to the earthly needs of citizens. On the contrary, because Islam places strict limits on the powers of the ruler, it theoretically cannot be used as the basis for tyranny.
One hopes that this hopeful view of Islamic democracy bears fruit. It's certainly the case that it stood no chance of doing so before Saddam was toppled.
UPDATE: John Weidner believes in the "flypaper" approach, and thinks that the "quagmire" crowd is once again serving as Donald Rumsfeld's useful idiots:
I would be very angry about this, except that I have a hunch bordering on a certainty that they are unwittingly serving our cause. David Warren says that our forces in Iraq are deliberately acting like flypaper for terrorists, draining them from the whole region and bringing them right where we happen to have lots of firepower and the excuse to use it.
Which means that the hand-wringing quagmirists are performing an essential task. I'm sure they are getting lots of headlines in doubtful parts of the world. Their predictions of disaster are being heard by all. So legions of terrorists are now scratching their heads and stroking their beards and saying, "Br'er Rabbit doesn't want to be thrown in the Briar Patch. He said so. Therefore, Brothers, it is the Will of Allah that we cast him into that Briar Patch!"
Heh. Maybe it's more like the "tarbaby" approach.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Harley Peyton takes exception to my noting, above, that there weren't any terror attacks in the United States. I don't see why. If Al Qaeda could have launched a major attack, it would have. And if it had done so, a lot of people -- including, I suspect, Harley, based on some of his many other critical emails -- would be holding it up as evidence that the Bush Administration was bungling here. That being the case, I think it's a small, but significant point suggesting that our strategy is working. We've now gone nearly two years without a major attack in the United States, despite all-out war with Al Qaeda (unless you count Mohammed Hadayet's LAX shooting, which was terror, but not "major" in my book). That's long enough to mean something, I suspect.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Phil Carter thinks it's genuine guerrilla war in Iraq. He also has some suggestions. That's not necessarily inconsistent with the above, of course. Guerrillas basically always lose without (1) a secure base; and (2) substantial outside support.
Most likely secure bases: Syria, perhaps Iran. Most likely source of outside support: Saudi Arabia.
Question: Will those countries allow this sort of thing to go on, if doing so gives Bush an excuse to topple their governments too, something that (at least in the first two cases) he'd clearly like to do? (And that, in the case of Saudi Arabia, he ought to do?)
Given what's going on in Russia and Pakistan, though, I think it's a mistake to focus too much on Iraq. There's a global struggle going on -- not against "terrorism" but against radical Islam. And that's, basically, a Saudi export. Cut of the head, and the snake will die.
Meanwhile, Tommy Franks says we don't need more troops in Iraq.
A PACK, NOT A HERD: GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AWARENESS IS A NEW SITE put together by MIT folks who are putting David Brin's "Transparent Society" into action:
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Its creators hope it will become a Google of government, a massive Internet clearinghouse of information to help citizens track their leaders as effectively as their leaders track them.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab plans to debut a Web site today called Government Information Awareness .
GIA hopes to create an enormous but self-sustaining community where users do the work of keeping it running and credible.
Sounds good to me. Here's a direct link to the site.
DR. FRANK looks at the Cal Poly incident and the University's response and observes:
And of course, what tale of absurd campus censorship would be complete without an inane quote from a university administrator? This one does not disappoint. The prize goes to the Vice President for Student Affairs Cornel Morton, who told Hinkle at his hearing:
You are a young white male member of CPCR [Cal Poly Campus Republicans]. To students of color, this may be a collision of experience.... The chemistry has racial implications, and you are naive not to acknowledge those.
I can't quite make sense of this, though it has a vaguely unpleasant, neo-segregationist flavor. But if he's saying it was naive for a white male university student to imagine he could get away with exercising his right to free speech in a multi-racial environment without being persecuted for it, it's difficult to disagree with him.
Sadly, the only solution to guys like Cornel Morton is to savagely make fun of their combination of thuggishness and stupidity, as an example to the others. Here's some contact information:
Warren J. Baker, President, Cal Poly: (805) 756-6000; firstname.lastname@example.org
Cornel Morton, V.P., Student Affairs: (805) 756-1521; email@example.com.
If you choose to contact them, please be polite.
UPDATE: Here's more on the subject, from Erin O'Connor. Best bit: "In a perfect world, it would not be Hinkle who was sentenced to apologize, but the students and admins who have been hounding him who would be sentenced to attend Weaver's talk."
ERICA JONG IS OFFERING marriage advice.
LILY MALCOLM IS TEMPTING FATE. Being stunningly attractive, and a Yale Law graduate, can bring on hubris. (Actually, the latter alone seems to do it for a lot of folks. . . .) Stay grounded, Lily!
WHEN THE BLOGGER'S AWAY, the Photoshoppers will play. Heh.
SAUL BELLOW'S SON is defending nepotism in The Atlantic.
QUAGMIRE ALERT: There's still fighting on Guadalcanal. See, beating the Japanese Imperial forces was one thing, but bringing order to that troubled part of the world was clearly beyond us. Obviously, we never should have gotten involved.
A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT ANTI-AMERICAN BIAS AT THE BBC: But, apparently, it's not universal:
BBC newsgirl Jane O'Brien has dumped her fiance and run off to marry an FBI agent she met while reporting the Gulf War.
Jane, in her thirties, became embedded with the spy while sending back reports for the flagship 6 and 10 O'clock News programmes.
Just HOURS before her scheduled return to Britain at the end of the war, she stunned colleagues by saying she wasn't coming back.
Jane then resigned her £50,000-a-year job, flew to the States with her FBI lover—and married him in a secret ceremony in New York. . . .
A BBC source said last night: "Jane was sent over to cover the war but she ended up getting a lot closer to the action than she was briefed to do.
" To say she has caused shock in the Beeb corridors is an understatement. One minute she was filing reports, the next we were told she had met some guy and was jacking everything in to run off to America."
Love conquers all.