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February 14, 2004

ADRIANA CRONIN OF SAMIZDATA stars in a charming Valentine to the blogosphere. The 21st Century needs more women like her: lovely, libertarian, and well-armed.

UPDATE: Reader Kerry DuPont emails: "Hmmmm, I guess that I should've posted that I got my husband a HK P7 for V-day. 'Course he's not as 'pretty' as Adriana...."

I should hope not. But he's obviously a very lucky man.

THE NATION DOESN'T WANT RALPH NADER TO RUN. Nick Gillespie provides a translation.

The comment from Shannon Love is worth reading, too.

ROMANCE AND THE INTERNET: This is what it has come to.

THE CATO INSTITUTE is calling for an end to federal nanotechnology subsidies.

THE DELIGHTFUL MICHELE CATALANO is profiled at NormBlog.

ROGER SIMON has thoughts on Michael Moore's labor relations philosophy, inspired by a not-very-flattering piece on Moore from The New Yorker.

SHELL OFFERS VALENTINE'S DAY ADVICE for both men and women.

AN ATKINS-DIETER'S NIGHTMARE: Looks yummy to me, though.

February 13, 2004

STEPHEN GREEN has some thoughts on Kerry, political scandal, and taking the high road.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, along the not-so-high road, the Kerry story is getting front-page treatment in the New York Daily News and Post. Nothing really new here: Kerry denies everything. Intern's father does too, but calls him a sleazeball -- though it's not clear on what grounds.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mickey Kaus disagrees with John Ellis about whether Big Media coverage is justified.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Tim Blair notes the New York Times' scrupulous respect for balance and privacy where President Bush is concerned.

MORE: A guy from CNN emailed to say that they were working hard on the Kerry story. So I guess we can expect to hear more. That's certainly what this story promises.

DUKE DIVERSITY UPDATE:

Robert Munger, chairman of the political science department, said he was impressed by Duke's intellectual diversity, which he called "relatively healthy" compared to other universities.

Still, Munger recalled a recent meeting in which he heard a fellow department chairman say it was Duke's job to confront conservative students with their hypocrisies and that they didn't need to say much to liberal students because they already understood the world.

"There was no big protest [at the meeting], and that was wrong," Munger said.

Munger said the history department's political makeup surprised him, however.

"Thirty-five Democrats and no Republicans? If you flip a coin 35 times, and it ends up heads every time, that's not a fair coin," he said.

The people who say, 'I don't think ideology is appropriate in hiring would have to look at the process that provides such a skewed outcome," he said. . . .

Intended to depoliticize universities, the bill, in part, calls for taking steps to promote intellectual diversity whether through faculty hiring or the selection of campus speakers.

What's next: Goals and timetables?

UPDATE: John Rosenberg has a lengthy posts with many links, and quotes from Stanley Fish. Meanwhile Duke philosophy chair Robert Brandon responds to his critics. I'm not sure this response helps him all that much, but you can read it and make up your own mind.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Carey Gage has read Brandon's response, and discusses its flaws at length. ("In other words, being exposed to Professor Brandon's politics is an opportunity to discard your stupid political beliefs in favor of the more intelligent ones advocated by ... Professor Brandon! How could conservatives have been so blind? ").

A VERY PRETTY PICTURE from Melissa Schwartz.

BROADCAST POLITICS: Jay Rosen has an essay on Joe Trippi and the Dean campaign.

DEREK LOWE is all over Gregg Easterbrook.

MOST BLOGGERS didn't bother to comment on Alex Beam's piece conflating the Dean campaign with the blogosphere.

But Tim Blair did. "Apparently in BeamWorld, Dean’s use of the internet as a campaigning device means that all bloggers were part of the Dean campaign, because -- the logic is inescapable -- those bloggers are on the internet too!"

OVER AT REASON'S BLOG, Tim Cavanaugh has the Kerry news 'n' links roundup.

UJAAMA UPDATE:

SEATTLE — James Ujaama, a Seattle-raised Muslim convert who pleaded guilty last year to aiding the Taliban, was sentenced Friday to two years in prison. With credit for time served, he'll be free this summer.

The story says he's provided unusually extensive cooperation.

DONALD SENSING HAS advice to bloggers on how to get other bloggers to link. My advice, echoing what Eugene Volokh has said, is to sell the post, not the blog. I frequently get emails from people saying "I started a new blog," but when I follow the link the new blog has only one or two posts, one of which is "well, here's my new blog." I'm much more likely to link to a post that has something relevant to what I'm already writing about, or that has something new that I should be writing about.

HUGH HEWITT HAS SOME COMMENTS FOR PETER BEINART on scandals and media double standards:

The New Republic's Peter Beinart and I mixed it up today, when after dancing around the fact that he and the staff at TNR had been discussing the Kerry allegations he chastised me for bringing up the DrudgeReport's allegations on air without any evidence for their veracity. Trap sprung. I asked Peter for the evidence supporting the allegations that Bush was a "deserter" or "AWOL", allegations that he and the TNR staff have been rolling about in for days. The only "evidence" he could cite was General Turnipseed's alleged charge.

Understand that Turnipseed has never alleged that Bush was AWOL or a deserter. Never. Four years ago he said he doesn't recall seeing him. On Tuesday he stated that Bush could well have been on the base, but that he just didn't see him.

In other words, there is no evidence whatsoever to support Terry McAuliffe's slanderous charge that was repeated in Congress yesterday by a Democratic congressman and by countless pundits including the increasingly repugnant Begala, and widely read websites of the left like Joshua Marshall's.

But while Beinart and his colleagues of the left have no problem covering the Bush story and shifting coverage from the lack of evidence for the charges leveled at Bush to their dissatisfaction with the completeness of the Bush denials, they are feigning shock that a report from Matt Drudge on alleged Kerry infidelity should be mentioned outside their newsrooms.

The timing of the new allegations is wonderful especially because it throws such a defining light on the bias of the Washington media --ever ready to carry the water of the Democrats and dismayed that they might be obliged to cover some nasty business about the front-runner from the left.

I am, as I've said before, underwhelmed by the Kerry scandal. But I'm even more underwhelmed by the National Guard flap. It's quite obvious that there's a double standard here, and Hugh is right to chastise them for it.

Scroll down or click here for more.

UPDATE: Then there's this comment from reader Don Williams:

Given their constant rush to put out breaking news, I was surprised that the TV networks haven't let out a peep re Drudge's report of a Kerry affair with an intern.

Then it occurred to me that if Kerry's "electability" is questioned --if the Kerry bubble pops --then Howard Dean is the last man standing. Given how the TV networks torpedoed the Dean campaign with roughly 473 misleading broadcasts of his "Iowa Scream" (with the cheering crowd edited out) can anyone doubt what a Dean FCC would do to the networks?

Isn't Edwards still standing?

ANOTHER UPDATE: TNR has responded to Hewitt on its campaign blog. "This isn't an example of ideological bias. It's actually the opposite. It's the press trying to be scrupulously unbiased."

Yet another reason why all media operations should have blogs.

Then there's this cartoon, taking a somewhat different perspective.

MORE: Bo Cowgill comments on the TNR response.

STILL MORE: Here's another response to the TNR post. ("So how can you argue that the AWOL story should be covered because it was being discussed by a major Democratic candidate, but NOT cover the Kerry adultery story even though it was being shopped around by the exact same person?")

RYAN ANDERSON, the National Guardsman charged with Al Qaeda ties, is a Muslim convert. What's interesting is that before he converted, Anderson also used to be interested in militia groups, and used to post on the misc.activism.militia Usenet group. I've noted the danger of links between extremist right-wing groups and radical Muslim extremists before, and though this sort of crossover might seem odd, I think that many of these guys are driven more by generalized anger toward society than by a coherent ideology. And, of course, there's the unifying thread of antisemitism to make the transition easier.

JEEZ, I just looked at the traffic for yesterday and it was a hair over 220,000 pageviews. The only time it's done better was at the beginning of the Iraq war. Though traffic has been up in general lately, the extra 75 - 100,000 pageviews were obviously because of Kerry. The difference is that the war was getting a lot of Big Media attention, and Kerry isn't. That probably means something, though I'm not sure quite what.

JAMES LILEKS RESPONDS to my earlier comments on Kerry.

A SOLDIER IN IRAQ is grateful for support from the home front.

WONKETTE listened to Kerry on Imus.

UPDATE: John Ellis says that Big Media are doing the right thing by holding back on the Kerry story.

But not everyone agrees.

THE BOSTON GLOBE REPORTS that the Bush AWOL story is collapsing, as a key witness turns out to have lied. Capt. Ed observes:

The Globe, which has been at the forefront of the media pushing this story, now reveals that the entire series of accusations had no basis in reality and in fact should never have been legitimized by the press in the first place. . . .

Listening to Hugh Hewitt's show yesterday, Peter Beinart of The New Republic vehemently accused Hugh of irresponsible journalism by mentioning the Drudge Report story about Kerry's alleged infidelity without having done any responsible verification of the sources, in effect making Kerry publicly prove his innocence without having any evidence of his guilt. However, TNR and every other media outlet has done the exact same thing to George Bush despite the normal presumption of innocence and the extraordinary presumption of satisfactory and complete service that an Honorary Discharge presents.

Yeah. And if this infidelity story were about Bush, with the woman in question out of the country, they'd be running with it in a big way already.

UPDATE: Here's another officer who remembers Bush from the National Guard days:

A retired Alabama Air National Guard officer said Friday that he remembers George W. Bush showing up for duty in Alabama in 1972, reading safety magazines and flight manuals in an office as he performed his weekend obligations.

"I saw him each drill period," retired Lt. Col. John "Bill" Calhoun said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Daytona Beach, Fla., where he is preparing to watch this weekend's big NASCAR race.

Nice that they're finally starting to do interviews like this, now that the story's been out and circulating for weeks. Reader Harvard Fong weighs in with this comment on the media's double standard:

Where was all this confirmation process for Bush? And I don't mean W.

Recall the alleged infidelity flap back in '92 of GHW Bush, with an aide who was so conveniently dead. I recall it well because that's when I changed my voter reg from D to L.

So where was the careful vetting of the allegations of infidelity then?

Yeah.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The unravelling continues as other witnesses come forward.

THEY DON'T CALL HIM THE "LITTLE IDIOT" FOR NOTHING: Political dirty-tricks advice, from Moby.

UPDATE: No, really, they do call him that. In fact, he calls himself that. Get hip, people. . . .

February 12, 2004

U.S. SOLDIERS: Winning Iranian hearts and minds. No, really, that's what it says.

MY SO-FAR RATHER UNDERWHELMED TAKE on the Kerry scandal is now up over at GlennReynolds.com. Excerpt: "I have to say that, to me, how Kerry would do on the war is a lot more important than what (er, or who) he's doing in the sack."

AMERICANS AND PAKISTANI NUKE CODES: This is interesting, and more important than Senatorial sex scandals. I wonder if it's true?

LANNY DAVIS IS DEFENDING KERRY: Reaction: "Davis tipped the scale for me - if Davis is telling your story, you have something to hide. "

Heh.

UPDATE: [Item removed, at the suggestion of a thoughtful reader who was right. You can find this stuff on Google easily enough, but I don't think I want to link to it.]

ANOTHER UPDATE: John Hawkins has excerpts from the Enquirer story, which isn't about the Drudge scandal. And Robert Tagorda has spotted an interesting letter in Newsweek.

MORE: Interestingly, the Washington Post cancelled its Terry Neal live chat on politics this afternoon, just as the Drudge story on Kerry broke. Why would they do that? (Via Tim Graham).

WELL, THIS didn't take long. . . .

KERRY'S ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER out tomorrow.

UPDATE: Megan McArdle comments.

CATHY SEIPP: "Blogging is essentially an unregulated, free-agent activity, and that can drive people who prefer rules and regulations and decision-by-committee crazy."

I did, in fact, get in trouble for "reading ahead."

LOOKS LIKE THE BLOGOSPHERE BEAT DRUDGE to the Kerry infidelity story. This post is dated February 6th.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg points out that this is a Cam Barrett blog -- he's Clark's blogmeister. That does jibe with the "Clark knew" story.

IT JUST GETS MORE COMPLICATED: So instead of encouraging Novak to print Valerie Plame's name, or at least telling him that it was no big deal, government officials told him that he shouldn't do so because it might endanger national security? Go figure: That's what this article from The American Prospect suggests. You could parse this several ways, but I'm pretty sure that all of them make Novak look bad.

More reason to subpoena him -- though on these facts it's entirely possible that he'd take the Fifth.

UPDATE: Reader Chad Bloch observes:

The Prospect story is interesting. But the author repeats one of the errors many in the media had made during the previous height of the story. He inserted the following:

"(President Bush had cited the Niger evidence in his 2003 State of the Union address.)"

I am sure you are already aware that President made no mention of Niger in the SOTU and the African uranium claim was a product of British Intelligence which still stands by it (although they have not released any further details or sources for the information).

Good point.

THE CENTER FOR RESPONSIBLE NANOTECHNOLOGY has a post on nano-weaponry.

IT'S LIKE DRUDGE FOR TENNESSEE! Well, sort of.

HERE'S A LINK TO THE FULL (TRANSLATED) TEXT of the Zarqawi memo.

DRUDGE is reporting a Kerry intern-infidelity bombshell will sink his campaign. Is there anything to it? Beats me. Stay tuned. My one fearless prediction: "JFK" jokes will abound.

UPDATE: Josh Claybourn suspects Chris Lehane's hand in this. If so, isn't Kerry sure to get the nomination?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Steve MacLaughlin is following reactions to this story, and reports that:

The Dean Blog has been on fire with comments and the John Kerry Blog has comments full of back-and-forth between Kerry and Dean supporters. The John Edwards Blog has comments that read like kids on Christmas morning.

Big Media, so far, seem to be holding back on this one. Of course, it's only been a couple of hours.

MORE: Yep, looks like a Lehane operation.

STILL MORE: Kaus has posted now.

And now Wes Clark is endorsing Kerry? That seems rather, um, odd, though Capt. Ed thinks he knows why.

MORE STILL: When this post went up, there was nothing but Drudge's cover page. But this later Drudge post makes it sound as if the woman worked at AP.

IN THE MAIL: Got a copy of Rick Atkinson's soon-to-be-released book In the Company of Soldiers : A Chronicle of Combat. Looks pretty good overall. The striking thing, to me, is just how surprised the U.S. military was by the swiftness of Saddam's collapse. Even well into the three week war, the brass and the commanders on the scene expected a lot more resistance than they got.

They got so little, apparently, because Saddam never expected an actual invasion, and was thus caught flat-footed. It's funny, because at the time it seemed to me that we had completely lost any advantage of surprise -- but by not living up (down?) to Arab beliefs that Americans were too casualty-averse to actually go to war, we apparently fooled Saddam completely. Of course, he fooled us, too, by looking more formidable than he was. This just shows how hard it is to be certain of anything where war and diplomacy are concerned. And so does this:

When a wave of calls went out to the private telephone numbers of selected officials inside Iraq, asking them to turn against Mr. Hussein and avoid war, the Arabic speakers making the calls were so fluent that the recipients did not believe the calls were from Americans.

Instead, the Iraqis believed the calls were part of a "loyalty test" mounted by Mr. Hussein's secret services, the officials said during questioning. Afraid of arrest, incarceration, torture and even death, they refused to cooperate.

But as a result, the officers limited their calls or stopped using those telephones altogether, hampering their ability to communicate in the critical days before war.

A brilliant psychological-warfare success -- for entirely unforeseen reasons!

WINDS OF CHANGE has a lengthy and link-filled war news roundup, with all sorts of developments you won't easily find on your own.

THOSE JOHN KERRY / JANE FONDA PHOTOS aren't likely to be such a big issue now that this Bush / Fonda image is circulating on the Internet.

Meanwhile, John Scalzi says he's found the real Fonda photo scandal.

UPDATE: Some people think that this Kerry/Fonda image is damaging, but I kind of like it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: But how's Bush going to explain this away?

ANGRY MOBS doing violence to property -- it's just more crushing of dissent at Colorado University. Is it appropriate for a "Director of Diversity" to be involved in such activities?

SMART PEOPLE, STUPID PEOPLE, AND POLITICAL LEANINGS: If you missed it, you might want to read this post below, in which Jim Lindgren points to some empirical data about education and political leanings. This post, with information from Ilya Somin, is also worth reading.

HERE'S MORE on China's effort to silence North Korean dissidents, mentioned below:

China has hunted down and arrested a North Korean defector who revealed the first documentary evidence of Pyongyang's chemical and biological experiments on political prisoners, said his supporters yesterday.

Kang Byong-sop, 59, was seized on the Chinese-Laotian border with his wife and youngest son, aged 25, last month after escaping from North Korea with proof that the Stalinist regime is killing political prisoners by experimenting on them with biological and chemical weapons. . . .

Mr Kim believes it was no coincidence that the senior border official was present. He is convinced that the Chinese authorities, alerted to the potential value of their prey, had been offered "a considerable financial inducement" to find Mr Kang.

"Mr Kang is easy to identify," Mr Kim said. "He has to walk bent almost double after interrogation in North Korea. On one occasion his back was broken and on another he was dropped on his head, snapping his neck."

The Chinese seem awfully eager to keep this quiet. Is it because the North Koreans are bribing them, as this story suggests? Or is there more to it than that?

"A LAWLESS GLOBAL COURT:" The International Criminal Court gets a negative review.

OKAY, MAYBE I'M WRONG: Maybe outsourcing won't be such a big election issue after all:

By the way, the Kerry family business, H.J. Heinz Co. of Pittsburgh, operates 22 factories in the United States and 57 in foreign countries. I don't think that Kerry should shut down The Heinz 57, but he might drop the rhetoric and talk about trade responsibly.

I can hear it now: "57 varieties of outsourcing!" I don't think it would be smart for Kerry to raise this issue in the general election.

UPDATE: A bunch of people think that the quote above is unfair to Kerry. Here's an excerpt from one email, from reader Eric Hoffstein:

First, I agree with the main contention of Glassman's article--that free trade is generally positive. However, I think that the above comment is misleading and inaccurate (I have done some research on this issue). The Heinz company is hardly the "Kerry family business." Kerry's current (and 2nd) wife is the heir of Penn. senator John Heinz. That is, she only inherited part of Heinz interest in the Heinz family trust, which, while it does have some holdings in Heinz, is not related or a subsidiary or partner of Heinz Co. Kerry's wife is not on the board of Heinz nor does she currently hold any position with the company. Therefore, while Kerry's wife has what could be perhaps considered an indirect relationship with Heinz, she has no control or influence over their business decisions--presumably Kerry, as the second husband, has even less.

Further, to Heinz's credit, they are widely considered to be an"employee friendly" employer and have instituted a sort of code of good conduct to apply to all their employees, including foreign ones. They do have foreign plants but they are not "outsourced" plants--companies in the food biz have to localize their production to some extent, especially where some fruits and vegetables are concerned.

True enough (though compare the treatment of Cheney's equally indirect Halliburton ties), and I didn't read the quote above -- and didn't intend my response to it -- as an on-the-merits slam of Kerry, but rather as an indicator of how the issue might be spun in an election.

I also should note that I consider Heinz Ketchup to be one of the very best American products in existence, head and shoulders over its American competition. Hunt's ain't bad, and Libby and Del Monte can hold their head up, but none of 'em can hold a candle to Heinz. I think it's swell that they're making it, and selling it, in lots of countries. It's a great product -- and a terrific source of healthy lycopene!

JOHN LEO REPORTS that universities are starting to experiment with free speech on campus. I think this is an excellent trend, and should be encouraged.

February 11, 2004

BILL HOBBS is saying "I told you so" on the deflated Bush AWOL story. Meanwhile Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics notes that the press is looking bad again:

After watching the absolutely disgraceful performance by reporters at yesterday's White House press briefing, it looks as if we've now fully entered a vortex of insanity.

I didn't see it, but that doesn't surprise me. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

CSPAN has the video archive of the event. You really have to see it to believe it. I've never seen the White House Press Corps so puerile.

John Stewart made a comment on the Daily Show that evening that to really makes the point. "That's great that you have questions for the President and all, but you all are like 8 wars behind the rest of us."

Indeed. Phil Carter, on the other hand, who is more level-headed than many of the Bush critics, is still unsatisfied. I respect Phil, but I wonder (1) why this issue didn't get any traction during the closely contested previous election, when Bush's opponent had access, licit or otherwise, to all the military personnel records; and (2) what the press would have said if the Bush campaign had made similar charges about Al Gore in that election. It also seems to me that Bush's honorable discharge ought to settle this, absent pretty strong evidence of some reason to think that discharge was bogus. (It's like complaining that although someone got an "A" in the course, he didn't study hard enough.) Yet the burden of proof seems, somehow, to have shifted from the accusers to the White House. Again, I think that's not how it would play out if this were Democratic Administration.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Neville Crenshaw emails:

I listened to the press briefing you referenced and was just apalled by the feeding-frenzy arguments thrown out by the press to the Presidents' press secretary. It seemed that all of them were demanding that the White House produce corroborating documents and actual witnesses to the substituted reserve meetings in Alabama.

I have much the same problem. After I was discharged from the Marine Corps n 1970 I joined the U.S. Army Reserve and became a drill instructor in the 80th ivision cadre stationed at the Lieber Reserve Center in Alexandria, Virginia. A small group of us drill instructors formed a traveling instructional unit which visited other reserve units in Virginia and Maryland giving refresher courses on weapons and small unit tactics. Additionally, whenever another unit was scheduled for its annual weapons qualification, we would accompany them to Ft. Holabird, Maryland, or Ft. A.P. Hill in Virginia and "run" their ranges to ensure proper safety and qualification certification. In my three years in the Army Reserve I attended weekend drills at my own unit on the first and last weekends of my tour and maybe one other somewhere in between. I spent two weeks each summer working with complete strangers in my own unit and doubt that any individual in any of the other reserve units remembers me at all. The only proof I have of my service in the Reserves is the Discharge certificate and a DD-214 that I obtained from the National Records Center. I only remember one name of a fellow drill instructor and have not the slightest clue where he is today. Based upon my own history I think the questions regarding Bush's attendance could be raised against a much larger group of Reserve veterans than the President. Perhaps all the "hooraah" arises from the fact that none of the idiots asking the question ever served in the military, whether active and/or reserves, and have not the slightest clue of what actually goes on in military units.

Well, you certainly can't say that about Phil Carter, but I've noticed that the military bloggers generally seem quite unimpressed with this as an issue.

MORE: More on this here and here, noting that a lot of, um, reconfiguration of evidence and goal-post-moving is going on among Bush's critics.

RAND SIMBERG RESPONDS to Josh Marshall, Alex Roland and other critics of Bush's space policy. Simberg is, of course, himself a critic of Bush's space policy. He's just a more knowledgeable one. ("Space policy is largely being discussed in a knowledge vacuum, and not on the basis of its intrinsic features, but rather, on who supports it.")

STUPID PEOPLE: Prof. Robert Brandon, chair of the Philosophy Department at Duke, defended his department's lack of intellectual diversity by quoting John Stuart Mill to the effect that conservatives are disproportionately stupid, and hence naturally underrepresented in academia.

Eugene Volokh points out that Brandon was misrepresenting Mill. Volokh: "If some liberal professors (who are probably pretty far from 1860s Liberals) want to express their contempt for conservatives (who are probably pretty far from 1860s Conservatives), then it seems to me that they shouldn't call on John Stuart Mill to support their prejudices." Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Prof. Jim Lindgren, law professor at Northwestern University and director of the Demography of Diversity Project, is doing empirical research on conservatives and liberals in academia, and has some thoughts. They're kind of long, so click "more" to read them. It'll be worth your time.

Read More ?


OLIVER KAMM says he hoped for a Gore victory in 2000 -- on foreign policy grounds. Now he feels differently: "How wrong could I have been? . . . Al Gore confirmed his unfitness for public office with a speech whose standards of tawdriness and mendacity will remain unsurpassed till the stars burn out and the heavens implode."

UPDATE: Charles Austin is also unimpressed: "This level of detachment from reality is not easily achieved."

FURTHER COMMENTS on the Bush National Guard matter from Air Force reservist Baldilocks. Excerpt: "Why am I not surprised to find out that the 'mainstream media' cannot manage to dig up one of their number who is/was a Guardsman/Reservist?" Don't get her mad at you, guys. . . .

WESLEY CLARK AND CHIEF WIGGLES: Well, it is something of a contrast.

COLIN POWELL DELIVERS A WELL-EARNED VERBAL FISKING:

But Reps. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., Robert Melendez, D-N.J., Rep. Robert I Wexler, D-Fla., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, challenged Powell about the administration's case, suggesting it may have been misleading from the outset.

"Truth is the first casualty of war," Ackerman said. "I would contend truth was murdered before a shot was fired."

"We went into this war under false premises," Melendez said.

Wexler told Powell he considered him to be "the credible voice in the administration."

"When you reached the conclusion that Iraq represented a clear and present danger to the United States, that meant a lot to me," Wexler said. "But the facts suggest there was a part of the story that was not true."

Powell fielded the assertions calmly, defending the president's judgment and his own.

But when Brown contrasted Powell's military experience to Bush's record with the National Guard, saying the president "may have been AWOL" from duty, Powell exploded.

"First of all, Mr. Brown, I won't dignify your comments about the president because you don't know what you are talking about," Powell snapped.

"I'm sorry I don't know what you mean, Mr. Secretary," Brown replied.

"You made reference to the president," Powell shot back.

Brown then repeated his understanding that Bush may have been AWOL from guard duty.

"Mr. Brown, let's not go there," Powell retorted. "Let's not go there in this hearing. If you want to have a political fight on this matter, that is very controversial, and I think it is being dealt with by the White House, fine, but let's not go there."

Powell then went on to defend the Bush administration's assertions on Iraq's pre-war weaponry. "We didn't make it up," Powell said. "It was information that reflected the views of analysts in all the various agencies."

(Via Timothy Perry). I agree with Perry that this "have you no decency?" moment should have gotten more attention.

UPDATE: Donald Sensing reports: "I just saw the video of this episode on cable news, and it was very evident that Powell was one step away from rolling his sleeves up and inviting Brown to step outside."

THE COMFY CHAIR COUNTERREVOLUTION: Virginia Postrel has a horrifying story about Borders.

If this bothers you, let them know.

TOM SMITH COMMENTS on stereotyping in academia. The degree of prejudice he's responding to is so high that I think we need quotas goals and timetables to overcome it. We obviously can't rely on the good faith of those involved.

NANOMEDICINES WITHIN FIVE YEARS: Let's hope. (Via Nanobot).

THE RICH BOYS' PLAN: Austin Bay has some thoughts on what's going on in Iraq.

UPDATE: More here. And here.

DR. BOB ARNOT HAS LEFT NBC:

In his letter to Mr. Shapiro, he wondered why the network wasn’t reporting stories of progress in Iraq, a frequently heard complaint of the Bush administration. "As you know, I have regularly pitched most of these stories contained in the note to Nightly, Today and directly to you," he wrote. "Every single story has been rejected." . . .

A number of high-ranking military officials contacted by NYTV complimented Dr. Arnot’s superior reporting skills, especially in light of what they perceived as the chronically negative war reporting on TV in the United States. Larry DiRita, the Pentagon spokesman for Donald Rumsfeld, said that Dr. Arnot captured Iraq as he experienced it when he visited there himself. "It was complex and nuanced and uneven then, and you had to get around to see it that way—and he does," Mr. DiRita said. "I think his coverage provided an aspect of daily Iraqi life that is being missed by a heck of a lot of coverage."

Maj. Clark Taylor e-mailed NYTV from Baghdad to state that Dr. Arnot "highlighted what is really happening over here …. He generally reported positive things because, generally, that is what is happening. Of course there are occasional bad things … and he reported those as well. The fact was, he reported what he saw—which generally was positive."

The network's excuse is that it was cutting back on coverage. This just serves to underscore blogosphere complaints about the lousy job Big Media outfits are doing.

"WE WERE LIEUTENANTS TOGETHER:" A letter to the editor from one of Bush's squadron mates, in his defense. It's long and detailed -- read the whole thing.

THE MURDER OF BILL GATES: Nothing So Strange is a "mock documentary" looking at the 1999 assassination of Bill Gates and the conspiracy theories, etc., that grew up in its wake. I haven't seen the film, but the website has video clips and lots of information. It looks pretty good.

ROGER SIMON: "These days I learn more from Allahpundit, where I found this link, than I ever do from Meet the Press."

WELL, I SAID "LET THE REMIXING BEGIN," and sure enough Neal Boortz has posted a remix of "Shout!" featuring the Dean and Gore yells. Another effect of technology: Politicians didn't used to have to worry about that sort of thing.

ANOTHER ECONOMIC REPORT from the Joint Economic Committee. Looks like good news.

I'M ALL FOR ASSIMILATION, but I think the French ban on headscarves is a dumb idea. (The bigger news, I suspect, is the lopsided margin by which it passed.) Bjorn Staerk reports that the same thing is under consideration in Norway. I think that this is a cosmetic measure that is likely to do little good, and a nontrivial amount of harm.

"MYSTERY SURROUNDS WOULD-BE DEFECTOR:"

Norbert Vollertsen, a leading activist in the underground railway that brings out hundreds of North Koreans each year through China, said the would-be defector, Ri Chae-woo, had worked in the Chiha-ri Chemical Corporation in Anbyon, south of the port city of Wonsan.

He had a large volume of evidence of human experiments that have helped develop North Korea's chemical/biological weapons program from a secret clinic dug into the mountains, Dr Vollertsen said, adding the aim was to bring this material before the United States Congress.

The North Korean expert, who had crossed into China in June with his wife and two teenage children, was arrested by Chinese police while trying to enter the Australian consulate-general in Guangzhou about 5pm on Friday.

He hasn't been heard from since. Where's Amnesty International on this?

UPDATE: But wait, there's another one:

A North Korean man who fled with evidence that prisoners are used to test chemical weapons has been detained by China, a human rights worker said.

Kang Byong-sop, 58, was stopped last month in Yunnan province while trying to cross into Laos, Kim Sang-hun said.

Mr Kim called on the UK to stop China handing Mr Kang to North Korea, where he faced possible torture or death.

The Chinese seem awfully anxious to cover this up. I wonder why that would be? Could they have been outsourcing their own chem-bio weapons work to North Korea?

THERE'S A DEMOCRATS FOR BUSH blog, with an amusing slogan: "because no one ever asked for a piece of elephant."

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE and Kerry's economic plan: an interesting observation.

SOME MINNESOTA WOMEN have a support the troops project that may interest the blogosphere.

KATHY KINSLEY is hosting this week's Carnival of the Vanities. Don't miss it!

HERE'S MORE on Germany's brain drain. When your system is set up to reward mediocrity over achievement, that's what you get.

PERRY DE HAVILLAND offers an international human rights proposal that might actually work. At least, it has a better shot at doing so than the current approach.

CONGRATULATIONS to the Black Law Students Association at the University of Tennessee College of Law. Once again, it's the Southern Region Chapter of the Year. I was their adviser some years ago, and I'm still proud of them.

SHANNON OKEY is unsurprised at reports of vacation sluttiness in Ibiza. Well, yeah.

JACOB LEVY has an important observation regarding the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment:

The amendment proponents make a great deal out of judicial overreach and democratic authority. But this amendment would forbid the democratic supermajority of a state from amending its state constitution to say: "Civil marriage shall be open to same-sex couples." Or, rather, it would forbid that section of the state constitution from being given force. State courts would be required to read that section of their state constitutions as being legally null.

Those pushing the FMA are, in fact, afraid of democracy -- trying to lock in their eroding position on gay marriage against future democratic change. I think they're right, in a tactical sense, to do that. My students, not especially left-leaning as law students go, are largely untroubled by the idea of gay marriage. I think that's a generational shift, and I think it's what the FMA advocates are really worried about.

HMM. Maybe these stories of European support for Palestinian terrorism as a diplomatic move against America ("Schroeder claims that the EU funds Palestinian organisations, well aware that much of the funding ends up in the hands of terrorists. While Schroeder says that the EU does not exactly intend to wage war on Israel, it hopes that a deepening conflict in the region will highlight America's inability to mediate a satisfactory peace deal - and that Europe will then be able to ride to the rescue.") have finally started to generate some blowback.

At least, we're suddenly seeing stories like this:

French prosecutors have launched a money-laundering probe into suspected million dollar transfers to accounts held by the wife of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

I wonder how much of this is because of increased leverage -- and intelligence -- now that Saddam is in custody and, reportedly, talking. There's more in this story:

In a parallel development, investigators from the European Union anti-fraud office (OLAF), who are looking into allegations that the PA diverted money from European donors into terror activity, have concluded that documents the IDF seized during Operation Protective Shield are authentic.

As the first story notes, this is the fruit of Ilka Schroeder's very public effort to get the EU to account for this money -- though I suspect that fears that the United States will reveal details of Saddam's financial dealings are playing a role, too.

RALPH LUKER is critical of Duke University's lack of diversity, and wonders why the Administration isn't doing something.

MICKEY KAUS'S GEARBOX COLUMN is back. But don't worry -- he's still slagging Chris Lehane over at Kausfiles.

WHY I'M WORRIED ABOUT THE NANOTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY: My TechCentralStation column is up.

February 10, 2004

WESLEY CLARK is dropping out of the race.

APPARENTLY THE KERRY CAMPAIGN OUTSOURCING STORY mentioned below was true:

The presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry on Tuesday dumped a firm it hired to make automated phone calls to Wisconsin voters - after it learned the calls were routed through Canada.

The action came quickly, following criticism earlier in the day that the Kerry calling effort was exporting American jobs.

You gotta give 'em credit -- they've got a fast OODA loop. I wonder if they read blogs?

ANDREA HARRIS: "I have a question on this WMD thing. So, apparently we are now concluding that Hussein did not, in fact, have a huge stash of nuclear weapons aimed at New York and Washington DC. That’s a good thing, isn’t it? It means that the thing the administration wanted to prevent was, in fact, prevented."

You'd think. Meanwhile Tim Blair writes:

The anti-war crowd obsesses over WMD because it is the one issue they've got even partly right, having been proved massively wrong on likely casualties, humanitarian disasters, a united Islamic response, Saddam's capture – and, indeed, on WMD, subsequently discovered in Libya as a direct result of the war in Iraq. They don't mention that very often, do they? Anyway, the WMD argument is boring. Here's a fun challenge for the anti-warriors: instead of complaining about Saddam's removal, let's hear your arguments in favour of leaving him in power. Go on; defend the monster.

Before the peaceniks reply, they might consider the opinion of Iraqi hospital worker Ali, posted at the web site http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com and directed at opponents of the war: "F*** YOU ALL. GWB MADE THE RIGHT DECISION AND AMERICA DID THE RIGHT THING AND WE ARE FREEEEEEEEEE!" Sounds kind of happy about it, doesn't he?

Obviously suffering from "false consciousness."

TECHDIRT says that the Reuters story (linked below) saying that Joe Trippi blamed the Internet for Dean's meltdown is an example of atrocious spin -- and notes the discrepancy between contemporaneous blog accounts and the Reuters story.

UPDATE: This post by Matt Welch says the same thing: "I was at the talk from which these stories emanated, and the subject was actually Dean's dot-com success, as opposed to his perceived dot-com failure. Dude was defensive somewhat, and blurted out little dollops of blame all over the place, but when you read the transcript you'll see that "Trippi blames Internet" just ain't so."

Reuters spinning something inaccurately? Say it ain't so!

HERE'S A POSITIVE REPORT FROM AFGHANISTAN: Given the limited media coverage, it's hard to tell how things are going, but this certainly sounds like good news, and it seems like the adoption of the new Afghan constitution actually made a difference. (Via Capt. Ed).

Meanwhile, Donald Sensing looks at Al Qaeda's strategy in Iraq.

DISAPPOINTED IN BUSH, this woman is taking gun-rights politics into her own hands. The gun-rights folks are not terribly happy with Bush.

I'M NOT SURE THAT THIS ELECTION is firing up America's youth. Here's a report that only 76 people voted at the University of Tennessee's precinct in today's Democratic primary. (A whopping 5 people voted in the GOP primary.)

THERE'S A HUGE CORRUPTION SCANDAL IN CANADA that doesn't seem to be getting a lot of attention in the United States:

The quarter-billion-dollar federal sponsorship fiasco was so widespread that even Canada's fabled national police force was used to funnel cash to friends of the federal government, Auditor General Sheila Fraser said today.

Fraser delivered a brutally methodical account of how the Public Works Department used Crown corporations and the RCMP to systematically shovel funds from a national-unity program to a select group of businesses.

This bit isn't especially reassuring:

"We're not interested in a witch hunt and we're not interested in anything that could negatively affect the party brand," said the official.

"But at the end of the day the public interest demands that the answers to these questions be provided.

"We're the government. We're not just a political party."

"Negatively affect the party brand?"

UPDATE: Damian Penny is upset.

Colby Cosh, meanwhile, is unsurprised.

ALEX BEAM (best remembered in the blogosphere for not figuring out that Bjorn Staerk's Stalinist April Fool page was an April Fool page) now says that the defeat of Howard Dean, the blogosphere's "own presidential candidate," means that the blogosphere is a bunch of hooey. Whatever, Alex.

He's right, of course, that the Internet probably won't decide this election. As I said back at Bloggercon, blogs are great for primaries because they can mobilize the committed and generate buzz. I don't think they have the reach -- especially to the barely-interested swing voters -- to be decisive in a general election.

IS THE KERRY CAMPAIGN OUTSOURCING ITS PHONE BANKS TO CANADA? That's what this guy reports based on his caller ID. Judging by the trackbacks, the story is getting purchase around the blogosphere. (Via Kalblog).

TENNESSEE AND VIRGINIA have been called for Kerry.

READER MICHAEL HALPERT EMAILS: "Resolved: There is no significant downside, and nearly limitless upside, in Pres Bush's replacement of Mr. Cheney with the lovely Ms. Rice. Please discuss."

I was suggesting that a year ago. Nothing has changed my mind.

UPDATE: Reader Christopher Jefferson emails:

Oh good gosh, there's a ton of upside to replacing Cheney with Rice.

Takes all the wind out of Kerry's sails for one thing (not much wind there, btw. He lost seven points in the last week as the AWOL story solidified a previously wavering Republican base vote). Second, it forces Kerry to do something he doesn' t want to do: put Hillary on the ticket.

Besides, Rice could be President in her sleep, if she had to.

She's been a university Provost. That means she can handle any amount of bureaucratic infighting. . . .

TRIPPI ON THE DEAN CAMPAIGN: You can listen to Ed Cone's Q&A here.

POLITICALWIRE has the Tennessee and Virginia exit polls: Kerry, then Edwards, then Clark. Some people are already sad that they won't have Wesley Clark to kick around much longer.

I FORGOT TO MENTION IT YESTERDAY, but the Carnival of the Capitalists is up, with loads of interesting posts on business and economic affairs.

SOME THOUGHTS on Kerry's post-Vietnam behavior, over at GlennReynolds.com.

UPDATE: Reader Jeffrey Edelman emails:

Glenn, I've been thinking alot about the Bush National Guard thing today from a different perspective: Of course I don't think it matters at all if one has never been active duty to be Prez - but Kerry now does, obviously and I think this paints him into a corner regarding his VP selection. You can hardly hammer and hammer Bush on this issue in the press and then name such an obvious non-warrior, non-military guy as John Edwards as your running mate. One heartbeat from the presidency stands the ultimate in ultragroomed civilian metrosexuality!!!

This will certainly be an issue for Kerry now, especially for a running mate of the Vietnam generation, as most of the likely names will be. Howard Dean, who skiied instead of going to Vietnam because he was physically unfit to serve, is an example of somebody who's got problems under this test. I suspect that the pool of potential VP candidates has a lot of people like that.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Paul Maczyk emails:

I just read the entry below, and I think your reader is right. Kerry needs a southerner who is unimpeachable on the Kerry-created Vietnam issue. Which is why I think he'll pick Max Cleland of Georgia.

I also think Kerry should and will lose, but that's another story.

A couple of other people suggested Cleland, too. Can he deliver Georgia?

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Georgia reader William Barber doesn't think he can:

How exactly is Cleland supposed to bring Georgia? We're the ones that voted him out of office the last election. He's a triple amputee from Vietnam. Very commendable, he served with honor. Yet he didn't support Bush's Homeland Security initiatives because they didn't include unions. This pushed quite a few of the independent swing voters to his competition. Just like with Kerry, the issue isn't Vietnam. The issue is how he's voted in Congress. You can fight in as many wars as you like, but if you vote in a way that doesn't defend the country against terrorism, and have a record of trying to gut the CIA and most modern weapon systems, winning the Congressional Medal of Honor won't save your political hide.

I don't see him carrying Georgia, either, but I'm no expert.

MORE: Edward Boyd has interesting thoughts here and here.

I'VE BEEN HARPING on the Algerian Al Qaeda connection for a long time. Now here's a BBC report with more on the Algerian role. (Just search "Algeria" in the search window on the left for a lot more.)

MORE ON THOSE NORTH KOREAN CONCENTRATION CAMPS that seem to upset the "human rights" community less than Guantanamo Bay:

"I witnessed a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber. The parents, a son, and a daughter." The speaker is Kwon Hyuk, a former North Korean intelligence agent and a one-time administrator at Camp 22, the country's largest concentration camp. His testimony was heard on a television documentary that aired last week on the BBC. "The parents were vomiting and dying, but till the very last moment they tried to save the kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing."

Meanwhile, at Guantanamo, the big issue is weight gain. The horror:

"For two or three days I was confused, but later the Americans were so nice with me, they were giving me good food with fruit and water for ablutions before prayer."

Besides teaching him to read and write English, the military provided books in his native Pashto language and a Quran, Islam's sacred book.

See, there's no difference at all.

UPDATE: I've been remiss in not pointing people to the NKZone blog. It has more here, too.

APPALLING RACIAL STEREOTYPING:

"Would these students [College Republicans and EOA] be happy if there were no black students here at all?" said Lee. He added with sarcasm, "You'd never win a basketball or football game then."

Is he saying that black students are (1) unable to compete academically; and (2) all about basketball and football? Sure sounds like it.

COLBY COSH has a review in the American Spectator of the just-released unpublished Robert Heinlein novel, For Us, The Living.

NOW JOE TRIPPI'S BLAMING AL GORE for the Dean campaign's flameout: "He pinned the campaign's downturn largely on former Vice President Al Gore's endorsement, which, he said, sparked a torrent of media scrutiny and attacks from rival candidates."

Hmm. I thought he said it was the Internet's fault. We should change the old saying: Apparently, now it's defeat that has a thousand fathers.

SOME INTERESTING THOUGHTS on Richard Feynman and nanotechnology.

MORE ON THOSE DRAKE UNIVERSITY SUBPOENAS:

Federal officials Monday said a grand jury inquiry involving four peace activists and Drake University is not part of an anti-terrorism investigation.

U.S. Attorney Stephen Patrick O'Meara said late Monday that the investigation focuses on unlawful entry onto military property at Camp Dodge on Nov. 16, and whether plans were laid for that at a conference the day before at Drake.

Suggestions that the investigation is related to the Patriot Act "are not accurate," O'Meara said.

Read the whole thing. And note that "peace" protesters enjoy no legal immunities for unlawful entry onto military bases, though some of them seem to think otherwise.

THE GRAPES OF WRATH: Meryl Yourish writes The Battle Hymn of Al Gore.

In a related vein, Joanne Jacobs has some, er, vintage remarks.

ABC'S "THE NOTE" EXPLAINS THE WAY THE WORLD WORKS:

Like every other institution, the Washington and political press corps operate with a good number of biases and predilections.

They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are "conservative positions."

They include a belief that government is a mechanism to solve the nation's problems; that more taxes on corporations and the wealthy are good ways to cut the deficit and raise money for social spending and don't have a negative affect on economic growth; and that emotional examples of suffering (provided by unions or consumer groups) are good ways to illustrate economic statistic stories.

More systematically, the press believes that fluid narratives in coverage are better than static storylines; that new things are more interesting than old things; that close races are preferable to loose ones; and that incumbents are destined for dethroning, somehow.

The press, by and large, does not accept President Bush's justifications for the Iraq war -- in any of its WMD, imminent threat, or evil-doer formulations. It does not understand how educated, sensible people could possibly be wary of multilateral institutions or friendly, sophisticated European allies.

It does not accept the proposition that the Bush tax cuts helped the economy by stimulating summer spending.

There's more, leading reader Todd Kiehn (who calls this "the most remarkable admission of liberal media bias I have ever read") to observe:

No wonder the White House is trying to circumvent the filter, as it were.

Nope. No wonder at all. But let's give The Note credit for the kind of unflinching honesty that's rare in its profession.

HAWASH UPDATE:

A former software engineer who stunned friends and co-workers by admitting he tried to fight U.S. troops in Afghanistan drew a seven-year jail sentence in federal court on Monday after apologizing for his role.

"I regret my actions," Maher "Mike" Hawash, a 39-year-old former Intel Corp. employee, told the courtroom. "I wish to ask forgiveness from my family for the pain I have caused them, and to my friends, my friends in the community and in the United States." . . .

He attributed his crime to religious and emotional confusion in the highly charged times after the hijack attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, but added, "I do not blame anybody but myself."

A sad story, though the ending is much less sad than it could have been.

JOE TRIPPI IS BLAMING THE INTERNET for Dean's collapse. As Jeralyn Merritt observes: "Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. . . ."

I don't think the Internet support failed Dean. I think that Dean failed his Internet supporters.

MORE KERRY WAFFLING on gay rights.

WHAT IS IT about women and handbags? Though the "click for holster size chart" line on this one indicates that the Bitchgirls aren't quite in the Sara Jessica Parker mold. . . .

SOME THOUGHTS ON HONESTY IN PHOTOJOURNALISM, a topic that has been explored here in the past.

WHAT WOULD WALT DO? Disney is having trouble with Segways and the disabled.

WESLEY CLARK: "The whitest candidate in a very, very white field."

I'VE DROPPED THE BALL on space policy issues lately. But go here for a critical response to Josh Marshall on the subject, and here for a bunch of other interesting links and items.

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY -- er, well, sort of. The University of Tennessee library has digitized photos of the Smoky Mountains by famed amateur photographer Albert "Dutch" Roth. They date back to before the beginning of the National Park, and they're pretty cool. (Via SmokyBlog.)

THE NEXT STEP:

The Bush administration has launched an ambitious bid to promote democracy in the "greater Middle East" that will adapt a model used to press for freedoms in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Senior White House and State Department officials have begun talks with key European allies about a master plan to be put forward this summer at summits of the Group of Eight nations, NATO allies and the European Union, U.S. officials say. With international backing, the United States then hopes to win commitments of action from Middle Eastern and South Asian countries.

Will the "human rights" community back this, or succumb to not-invented-here syndrome?

UPDATE: Belgravia Dispatch has more on this, in a somewhat less positive vein.

Robert Tagorda, on the other hand, is very pleased.

HOW COLLEGE ADMISSIONS REALLY WORK: Kimberly Swygert offers the ugly truth.

I think it's somewhat better at law schools (I don't have firsthand experience, as I've never sat on the Admissions committee) but even there it's heavily numbers-driven. If your numbers are high enough, or low enough, the decision is pretty much made -- the rest of the application doesn't matter that much unless you're in an intermediate zone that can be fairly narrow.

JAMES LILEKS:

Okay, well, outtakes: went back to the microfilm today to February 1998, when the Clinton adminstration was making the case for attacking Iraq. How things change. Clinton was arguing that Saddam not only had WMD, but that one day he might want to make more WMD, and this wasn’t acceptable. Interesting to read between the lines - the Clinton administration seemed to be arguing that the potential for future production was itself a valid reason to strike. Military force is never "the first answer,' Clinton said, “but sometimes it’s the only answer.” “If Saddam isn’t stopped now,” the AP story said, quoting Clinton,“’He will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And someday, someway, I guarantee you, he’ll use that arsenal.’” Thus spake Clinton in 1998. He went on to note that the strikes planned could not possibly destroy Saddam’s arsenal, because A) they didn’t know where everything was, and B) they didn’t want to kill Iraqis by unleashing clouds of toxins. And it gets better: a sidebar noted that this war plan – Desert Thunder – had been prepared weeks before, in case Saddam stiffed in the inspectors.

Bill Clinton had a plan to go to war before the crisis flared! What does that tell you? Obviously, he was looking for any excuse! Halliburton! We all know about the ties between Clinton and Halliburton – he gave them a sweet no-bid contract after his Balkans war, you know.

Anyway: it's deja vu all over again. You want to talk imminence? WMD? Democratic concern and conviction? Go back to the papers of 1998; it’s all there, right down to the terrorist links: Hezbollah, for example, swears it will strike Israel if the US attacks Iraq. (A poll of Palestinians showed that 94% supported Iraq, and 77% wanted Iraq to kill Jews if the US attacked Iraq.) Bob Dole was quoted as supporing the strikes but urging Clinton to seek Congressional Authorization.

Read the whole thing.

February 09, 2004

JOHN KERRY (well, John Kerry's office, anyway) is in the Tehran Times promising reconciliation.

GAY MARRIAGE: My Advanced Constitutional Law seminar is looking at the Baker case from Vermont and the Goodridge case from Massachusetts tomorrow, both of which find a right to gay marriage in their respective state constitutions. I just read over them both again. I have to say, the Vermont court wins on both style and substance. Its opinion reads like, well, an actual judicial opinion. Part of that, of course, is that it's got a firmer legal ground thanks to the "common benefits" clause of the Vermont Constitution, which provides:

That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or set of persons, who are a part only of that community.

But the other reason is that they just bothered to write a legal opinion. Though I'm in favor of gay marriage, the Massachusetts opinion is just unpersuasive. There's astonishingly little in the way of actual legal analysis there, and that hurts them.

BELLICOSE WOMEN:

"That's OK, I don't think he'll be back," said Lisle, who emptied one .357 revolver at the intruder before she retrieved a second one and he crashed through another window to flee.

"I was trying to miss my furniture. Priorities, right?" Lisle said. . . .

The bleeding intruder ran across the street and tried to hot-wire a motorcycle, but its owners, already armed to come to Lisle's aid, chased off the would-be thief, she said.

She said one of the men yelled after the retreating burglar: "And that's just our womenfolk."

Heh.

I AGREE THAT THIS IS "UNUSUAL AND TROUBLING:"

A federal judge has ordered Drake University to hand over information related to an antiwar meeting held in November on the campus, a move that representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Lawyers Guild have described as extremely unusual and troubling.

In addition, four people who attended the meeting, held in the student-union building of the private institution, in Des Moines, have been ordered to appear before a federal grand jury on Tuesday.

Based on this report, it's hard to imagine what the inquiry would be about. Do they think these guys were getting money from Saddam or Osama? Seems doubtful.

On the other hand, where were these guys when the 1994 and 1996 crime and terrorism bills were passed:

"Any organization that's operating within the law and is a political organization, the government has no business taking records relating to their internal meetings or their officers or members," he said. "It's very scary to me that the federal officials in Iowa think they're entitled to do something like this."

I'm always astounded when people say things like this, because it indicates that they have no idea how much power the federal government has, and has had for a long time.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh notes that there is more to this story, including allegations of criminal activity, and observes:

Political meetings are not safe harbors in which people can freely organize conspiracies to commit crimes, free from any risk of investigation (including coercive investigation using subpoenas). That's true if it's a KKK meeting used to organize racial terrorism, an Operation Rescue meeting used to organize trespass or vandalism at an abortion clinic, or an anti-war group's meeting used to organize criminal trespass or possible misdemeanor assault. The government doesn't have carte blanche to just demand the entire membership list of a group (see NAACP v. Alabama); but it has considerable latitude to ask people about any possibly criminal conduct that they've witnessed, and even about information that may simply be relevant to determining whether such conduct took place.

Read his whole post on this subject.

NOW THAT'S LIBERALISM: Australia is sacrificing the interests of the idle rich to help real people with real jobs.

SCOTT OTT HAS LAUNCHED BOYCOTTMTV.COM, a non-satirical site aimed at, well, boycotting MTV.

I pretty much do that already, but not for the same reasons. I'm not shocked by MTV, or repulsed. Just bored and annoyed. Frankly, I'd like MTV better if it showed actual people enjoying actual sex, rather than the winking, leering pseudo-sex that is its stock in trade.

Heck, I'd settle for them actually showing music videos again. . . .

ARTHUR SILBER wonders what John Kerry has against gay people.

EUGENE VOLOKH WRITES on animals, perversion, Jerry Falwell, and Rosie O'Donnell.

UPDATE: Sorry - confused Roseanne Barr and Rosie O'Donnell earlier.

CHRIS SUELLENTROP writes on the Al Gore meltdown mentioned below:

Gore is still popular with the Democratic base, but after this speech, the question for the party's nominee has to be, do you want this man to speak at the convention in Boston? Even if you like the sentiment behind this speech, if Gore delivers an address like this one in July, the historical analogy won't be to the Democrats of 1976 or to the Republicans of 1994. Instead, the comparison will be to the disastrous Republican convention of 1992. The angry white male is back. Do the Democrats really want him?

But how do they stop him, without him unloading his ample free-floating wrath on them?

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll has a question for Al Gore.

JEFF JARVIS is liveblogging the Emerging Technologies conference, and linking to others who are doing the same. Biggest news: Joe Trippi on where the Dean money went.

HERE'S HOW CNN IS SPINNING the Zarqawi memo mentioned below. Of course, the memo is actually written by a non-Iraqi, about plans to stir up a sectarian war because Iraqis don't want Al Qaeda to drive the U.S. out. Here's an excerpt from the memo:

With some exasperation, the author writes: "We can pack up and leave and look for another land, just like what has happened in so many lands of jihad. Our enemy is growing stronger day after day, and its intelligence information increases.

"By God, this is suffocation!" the writer says.

This is an absolutely unforgivable example of either (1) spinning the war into a bogus "quagmire" or (2) sheer inability to report the news accurately even when the "reporting" merely consists of accurately summarizing a story in a headline. (Thanks to the commenter at QandO who provided the link. I've saved screenshots in case it goes away.)

UPDATE: Glad I saved it -- the headline now reads "Operative Sought al-Qaida's Help in Iraq."

Meanwhile Daniel Drezner has more thoughts on the memo. Short version: "Al Qaeda is losing in Iraq."

And, while you're at it, you might want to read today's Winds of Change Iraq news roundup.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Grant Williams notes that the same story is being spun the opposite way here: "A letter seized from an al-Qaida courier shows Osama bin Laden has made little headway in recruiting Iraqis for a holy war against America, raising questions about the Bush administration's contention that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror." Um, it only raises those questions for people who are either (1) idiots; or (2) pathological Bush detractors; or (3) both. Or maybe this is the all-new spin: The flypaper strategy isn't attracting enough flies.

MORE: David Adesnik writes: "I think that this is a case of sheer incompetence, not bias, a possibility that Glenn acknowledges. If you read the article attached to the headline, its gets the story right." Um, yes. But CNN didn't write the article, AP did. CNN just wrote the headline. The most charitable interpretation is that CNN didn't read the article either, and assumed that Iraqis must want to get rid of Americans because, well, who wouldn't? . . .

Ryan Pitts argues that the error isn't the point -- the swift correction is the point. Everybody makes mistakes, and I'm happy with the correction. But I think that at the very least the error is revealing of a certain predisposition. And even Ryan isn't trying to defend the other spin!

There's a sense, of course, in which headlines are like the covers of science fiction books -- nearly always more lurid than, and often completely unrepresentative of, what's inside. But I don't like that about science fiction books, and in the case of news articles it seems considerably less forgivable.

TECHNOLOGY REVIEW has a survey of nanotechnology safety issues. As I noted earlier, there's reason to think that the nanoparticle issue may be overblown -- and that, if people look, they'll find that we already know more on this subject than we realize.

LT SMASH has the Milblogger rotation covered.

CORRUPTION IN THE U.N.'S OIL-FOR-FOOD PROGRAM is finally getting some attention.

AL GORE HAS LOST IT -- and if he keeps this up, he'll lose it for the Democrats.

Again.

UPDATE: You can hear part of the speech here. Gore sounds like Dean, only more conspiracy-minded and angrier: Yeaaarrrrrrghhhh! Let the remixing begin!

AN INTERESTING AL QAEDA STRATEGY MEMO that was captured in Iraq, allegedly authored by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:

The memo says extremists are failing to enlist support inside the country, and have been unable to scare the Americans into leaving. It even laments Iraq's lack of mountains in which to take refuge.

Yet mounting an attack on Iraq's Shiite majority could rescue the movement, according to the document. The aim, the document contends, is to prompt a counterattack against the Arab Sunni minority.

Such a "sectarian war" will rally the Sunni Arabs to the religious extremists, the document argues. It says a war against the Shiites must start soon — at "zero hour" — before the Americans hand over sovereignty to the Iraqis. That is scheduled for the end of June.

The big losers in this would be the Iraqi Sunnis, who are deeply unpopular already. But that's consistent with the Ladenite approach, which leaves its coreligionists dead in large numbers wherever it appears.

UPDATE: More observations here.

STEVEN DEN BESTE defends Michael Moore against charges of treason.

MORE ON THE MEDIA IN IRAQ. Is it Vietnam in reverse?

DIGITAL CAMERA UPDATE: The first inexpensive camera using Foveon technology is coming out.

THIS IS INTERESTING:

Almost 400 members of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's ruling Fatah Party resigned Saturday to protest what they call corruption and bad leadership within the movement.

The former members sent a letter to Arafat and other movement leaders laying out their anger over corruption, mismanagement and a lack of direction in how the party is handling the conflict with Israel.

I wonder whether this constitutes enthusiasm for democracy, or merely a desire for more efficient terror and murder? It's not quite clear from the article.

DOCUMENTS USED BY PAUL O'NEILL IN HIS TELL-ALL BOOK turn out to have been classified. It's not clear that this is O'Neill's fault, but it's certainly somebody's.

JOANNE JACOBS OFFERS advice on multicultural education.

JOHN TABIN thinks Bush did better yesterday than many pundits are saying, and also has some observations on the blogosphere: "the White House uses the resources of the Internet a lot better than Howard Dean." He's contrarian all around!

UPDATE: More here.

THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE offers a disturbing story of the radicalization of an American mosque, thanks to "Middle Eastern money" and a "wave of fundamentalism."

THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS RESPONDS to SpinSanity's charge that it was peddling an essentially bogus quote on "imminence," and SpinSanity responds back:

The first argument is not only based on incorrect assertions about Bush administration requests for NATO involvement at the time, but was entirely absent from the newsletter we were criticizing, which presented McClellan's statement in a blatantly misleading context. And the latter relies on a literal reading of McClellan's statement that has nothing to do with the issue as CAP presented it.

Read the whole thing.

CORI DAUBER reprints an email on media coverage from a lieutenant in Iraq, and it's full of interesting criticism. It should be printed out and posted on the bulletin boards of newspapers everywhere.

February 08, 2004

TIM BLAIR IS STANDING UP against racism.

DEMONSTRATIONS and "sporadic clashes" at Tehran University.

TACITUS will be filing blog-reports from the mideast, and is requesting reader support.

THE SAMIZDATA FOLKS always seem to be celebrating something. And they seem to be pretty good at it, too.

FOLLOW THE MONEY:

BERN, Switzerland — The United States believes it has found at least $300 million Saddam Hussein hid in banks, yet doesn't have enough evidence to get countries such as Syria and Switzerland to hand over the money, U.S. and European officials told The Associated Press.

The funds at stake could go to the Iraq insurgency or the country's reconstruction -- depending on who gets to them first. What troubles investigators more is that much of Saddam's cash may already be gone.

Hmm. Where, I wonder?

EUGENE VOLOKH has an interesting commentary on what is -- and isn't -- involved in "judicial independence."

RICH GALEN has another report posted, this one from Fallujah. His reporting gets steadily better, as does his photography. I hope there'll be a book one day.

MICHAEL TOTTEN says that supporters of the Administration's war strategy should cheer up. He makes a good point.

MY EARLIER DIGITAL CAMERA POSTS (here and here) have led a lot of readers to suggest that I look at the Kodak Professional 14-megapixel SLR (very cool, but a bit pricey) or the Sony DSC-F828. Looks pretty cool (another 8 megapixel machine -- review here), but I think I want my next digital camera to have interchangeable lenses. On the other hand, here's a pretty cool gallery of pictures taken with the Nikon Coolpix 5700, predecessor to the Coolpix 8700 I mentioned earlier. [Link removed when he complained about bandwidth problems. Sorry!]

Then again, if I buy the Canon EOS Digital Rebel the lenses are interchangeable with the Canon video camera the InstaWife uses, with a special adapter. Anybody know how well that works?

And, yes, I'm waffling. But the longer I wait, the better and cheaper stuff gets. Ain't technology grand?

WHILE THE NANOTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY is busy alienating its allies, the BBC is busy making sure that it will need some.

I DIDN'T SEE BUSH'S MEET THE PRESS APPEARANCE -- the Insta-Daughter and I were watching SpongeBob (the episode where he invents colored Crabby Patties) and making invisible ink from a recipe in a book of kitchen science experiments. (I'm pretty sure that white vinegar works better than the balsamic kind).

But Michael Graham was unhappy with Bush's performance: "For the first time, I've felt a twinge of fear myself about the November election."

I've been saying that Bush is vulnerable for quite a while. On the other hand, Jonathan at Wired Opinion liveblogged it and doesn't seem to think it was so bad, though he's not awarding any Emmies, either. Neither do some of the other commenters at The Corner. (Scroll up from the Graham link). I'm a poor judge of this sort of thing, so my opinion probably wouldn't add much anyway.

UPDATE: More from Captain Ed, who gives Bush a C-. And Outside The Beltway has more comments.

Meanwhile, whether or not Bush turned in a good performance during the actual broadcast, you can expect him to do badly in the post-broadcast media spin of his remarks. And that's already underway. Consider this Associated Press report:

Bush, who pledged after the Sept. 11 attacks to get suspected mastermind Osama bin Laden "dead or alive," said Sunday: "I have no idea whether we will capture or bring him to justice."

Now here's what Bush actually said:

Russert: Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican

President Bush: Yes.

Russert: said he is absolutely convinced we will capture Osama bin Laden before the election.

President Bush: Well, I appreciate his optimism. I have no idea whether we will capture or bring him to justice, may be the best way to put it. I know we are on the hunt, and Osama bin Laden is a cold blooded killer, and he represents the nature of the enemy that we face.

These are these are people that will kill on a moment's notice, and they will kill innocent women and children. And he's hiding, and we're trying to find him.

There's a I know there is a lot of focus on Iraq, and there should be, but we’ve got thousands of troops, agents, allies on the hunt, and we are doing a pretty good job of dismantling al Qaeda better than a pretty good job, a very good job. I keep saying in my speeches, two thirds of known al Qaeda leaders have been captured or killed, and that's the truth.

Bush is rather clearly reining in Grassley's optimism, not making a hapless admission of defeat as the AP treatment makes it sound. The same AP report goes on to spin David Kay's report this way:

Bush said former chief weapons inspector David Kay, who has said that U.S. intelligence was "almost all wrong" about Saddam's arms, said Saddam found the "capacity to produce weapons."

As Justin Katz comments, that's not what Kay said at all:

Kay is clearly saying that everybody was wrong about the extent of Iraq's existing WMD stockpiles, not that anybody in particular was wrong about everything. One could perhaps suggest that the AP just let a little bit of a grammatical error slip in — which would be unforgivable enough for an international news wire to do — except that reporter Deb Riechmann used "U.S. intelligence" to represent a group that included such varied parties as David Kay himself, the French, and the Germans (and perhaps even Saddam Hussein).

Call me cynical, but I think we'll see more of this sort of spinning as the election nears. As Katz observes:

This is precisely the reason that I find myself instinctively searching for original transcripts. Now, that would be a worthwhile service: a wire that provided the actual words that people use, in context.

Indeed it would.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Joseph Hrutka emails: "I slept through it, but my girlfriend, a Lieberman democrat, thought he did really well. She said he answered the hard questions really well." Interestingly, The Corner's readers seem to like Bush's performance better than The Corner's pundits do, too.

MORE: Andrew Sullivan, who's been fairly critical of Bush lately, thought he did well:

It's his best self-defense yet. And I liked his modest way of putting it. In the campaign he can make the case more forcefully, but I'm relieved that on this central question, the White House has belatedly realized it has to make the case again, and explain, and defend itself. It has nothing to be ashamed of, and a huge amount to be proud of, in the battle against terror.

And we have yet to hear an actual plan from its critics, from whom we instead get lame cultural criticism.

MORE: David Adesnik wasn't impressed with Bush's performance in general, but makes this observation:

The change in the President's body language was astonishing. It's the kind of thing that doesn't show up in transcripts, the kind of thing that made me glad I actually got up so damn early on a Sunday morning in order to watch the interview.

When Bush started talking about democracy promotion and the universal desire for freedom, his words began to flow in a way they hadn't before. And you couldn't help thinking that the words were coming straight from his heart. With Reagan, you could dismiss it as acting. But with Bush, it's hard not to believe he's sincere.

Now, that doesn't mean that Bush truly understands what kind of effort serious democracy promotion entails. It doesn't mean that he will notice when the US begins to compromise its principles in countries that don't make the headlines. But it gives me a certain confidence that he understands why the reconstruction of Iraq is vital to our long-run victory over the forces of terror. That is why Bush put himself on the line for the $87 billion reconstruction bill. That is why we still have 120,000 troops on the ground. While I can't shake my suspicions that Bush (or Cheney or Rumsfeld) is getting ready to cut and run, the fact is that the President has shown a surprising willingness to stay and fight for what innumerable critics have long dismissed as a lost cause.

Interesting. Perhaps this is what the people who liked his appearance are commenting on.

MICKEY KAUS says that if Kerry keeps winning at his current rate, the nomination won't be sewed up for over a month. (I'm not sure that linear extrapolation is appropriate here -- isn't there likely to be a tipping point? -- but read it and decide for yourself.) He also points to this WP analysis of Kerry's contradictory positions on war and defense, and observes: "there is a simpler principle that completely--without contradiction or complication--explains both Kerry votes, namely he did what he thought was the politically safest thing to do."

What was it the original JFK said about physical versus political courage?

Meanwhile, Dave Winer says that Howard Dean is being snuffed by Big Media: "To Blitzer, Sawyer and Russert, to Viacom, GE, Time-Warner and Disney, Kerry seems safe, but Dean is dangerous, he routes around them, he goes direct. To accept his candidacy would be to accept the end of television-dominated politics."

UPDATE: Meanwhile the "Kerry Inevitability Index" has hit a new high! And it looks like part of the problem with the Dean campaign was the role of big TV commissions.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon makes an interesting comparison.

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