Instapundit.com Instapundit.com
Warning: include(/home/www/instapundit-archive/navbar.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/joyent-copy/home/www/instapundit-archive/archives/week_2004_04_11.php on line 108 Warning: include(): Failed opening '/home/www/instapundit-archive/navbar.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/share/pear:/usr/share/php') in /home/joyent-copy/home/www/instapundit-archive/archives/week_2004_04_11.php on line 108
Warning: include(/home/www/instapundit-archive/ad.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/joyent-copy/home/www/instapundit-archive/archives/week_2004_04_11.php on line 126 Warning: include(): Failed opening '/home/www/instapundit-archive/ad.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/share/pear:/usr/share/php') in /home/joyent-copy/home/www/instapundit-archive/archives/week_2004_04_11.php on line 126

April 17, 2004

MIKE SILVERMAN: "As long as we are handing states out... Why do the Palestinians get to jump ahead of the Kurds?"

THE POWER of the link. May it continue to grow.

ANOTHER COOL PHOTOBLOG: From Juneau.

A READER EMAILS: "How can you expect people to respect you when you don't have a picture of yourself bearing arms?"

Sadly, I don't think I possess any such picture. However, in a spirit of accommodation, here's a picture of some students from my Advanced Constitutional Law class, on a field trip to a local shooting range.

That'll have to do, I'm afraid.

HERE'S A ROUNDUP OF STORIES on the retention / reenlistment issue discussed earlier. The news looks quite positive, though I stress that we should be looking at this in a long-term way even if the short-term numbers are good.

HERE'S MORE ON "UNSCAM," THE OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL in U.S. News:

Here's how the scam allegedly worked: Saddam sold oil to his friends and allies around the world at deep discounts. The buyers resold the oil at huge profits. Saddam then got kickbacks of 10 percent from both the oil traders and the suppliers of humanitarian goods. Iraqi bean counters, fortunately, kept meticulous records.

Coincidence. If you wondered why the French were so hostile to America's approach to Iraq and even opposed to ending the sanctions after the 1991 Gulf War, here's one possible explanation: French oil traders got 165 million barrels of Iraqi crude at cut-rate prices. The CEO of one French company, SOCO International, got vouchers for 36 million barrels of Iraqi oil. Was it just a coincidence that the man is a close political and financial supporter of President Jacques Chirac? Or that a former minister of the interior, Charles Pasqua, allegedly received 12 million barrels from Baghdad? Or that a former French ambassador to the U.N., Jean-Bernard Merimee, received an allocation of 11 million barrels? Perhaps it was just happenstance, too, that a French bank with close ties to then French President François Mitterrand and one of the bank's big shareholders who is close to Saddam became the main conduit for the bulk of the $67 billion in proceeds from the oil-for-food program. All told, 42 French companies and individuals got a piece of this lucrative trade. No matter how cynical you may be, it's sometimes just plain hard to keep up with the French.

But they're not alone. Russians received more than 2.5 billion barrels of the cut-rate crude. Some 1.4 billion barrels went to the Russian state. Not to be left out of the feeding frenzy, even the U.N. got in on the action. It received administrative fees of about $2 billion for the program, which may be fair, but the senior U.N. official in charge of the program, Benon Sevan, is reported to have received 11.5 million barrels himself. Cotecna, a Swiss-based firm hired by the U.N. to monitor the import of the food and medicine to Iraq, hired Kojo Annan, the son of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, as a consultant during the period when the company was assembling and submitting bids for the oil-for-food program.

Read the whole thing. It seems as if this story is starting to get some real attention.

THEY'RE BUILDING A NEW HYATT REGENCY in Kabul. I haven't heard a lot of good things about the accommodations there, so it's bound to be an improvement.

WONKETTE GETS FEATURED in the New York Times.

UPDATE: Justin Katz has some thoughts. So does N.Z. Bear.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Lindgren emails:

I thought that the most interesting part of the New York Times story on Wonkette was a not-too-veiled attack on bloggers for inaccuracy, compared to their supposedly more accurate print counterparts--particularly on the Kerry-intern story. A former gossip columnist for WAPO is quoted as saying "We're really writing fairly rigorously sourced items."

I find this unintentionally humorous: for weeks almost every major news organization ran unsubstantiated rumors that Bush had been AWOL from the National Guard. Many bloggers were much more careful on the Bush story than the Washington Post and other big media, saying to wait for evidence. If Bush had actually showed up for service, bloggers pointed out, his pay records should prove it.

When Bush's pay records were released and the AWOL rumor turned out to be just as phony as the Kerry-intern story, there were few (if any) mea culpas from big media for running weeks of phony anti-Bush rumors. I'd say that on balance most bloggers did somewhat worse than the mainstream press on the Kerry intern story, and much better than the mainstream press on the Bush AWOL story. More to the blogosphere's credit, their coverage was far more balanced than big media's; many bloggers (such as Instapundit) were cautious about both stories. If the mainstream press is determined to print unsubstantiated rumors, it would be better to do it for both parties and collectively to show the same distribution of views from credulity to skepticism that the blogosphere showed about both stories.

Once again, slight advantage blogosphere.

I also wonder whether the rumor is true that the same Democratic operative was the source for both the phony Kerry intern story and the phony Bush AWOL story. I don't expect the mainstream press ever to tell us who duped them and why they bought one lie but not the other.

Interesting observations.

EQUAL (TAX) TIME: Jack Bogdanski, who did the Bush / Cheney tax-return analysis linked below, now takes a look at John Kerry's tax return.

KENNETH TIMMERMAN: "What we knew -- and didn't do."

GEORGE WASHINGTON IS AN ICON, and like most icons, he has attracted attention mostly from iconoclasts. But I just got a copy of David Hackett Fischer's new book, Washington's Crossing, which like Richard Brookhiser's earlier biography, Founding Father, makes clear that Washington was, in fact, a rather amazing guy. There's also a bit of an echo of the red-blue divide on the subject, as Fischer notes in a discussion of Emanuel Leutze's famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware:

In 1897, private collector John S. Kennedy bought the painting for the extravagant sum of $16,000, and gave it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There it remained until 1950, when romantic history paintings passed out of fashion among sophisticated New Yorkers. It was sent away to the Dallas Art Museum in Texas, and then to Washington Crossing State Park in Pennsylvania, where it stayed until 1970.

Fischer then looks at the many "debunkers" of the painting, and observes that while they were sometimes (though not always) right about the details they debunked, "they rarely asked about the accuracy of its major themes." Indeed.

UPDATE: Here's a review of the book. And Ralph Luker has thoughts on the difference between nitpicking and debunking.

MORE UNREST IN IRAN:

A security patrol car was blocked and an agent was shot by an armed group of three young freedom fighters in the Iranian Capital. This news has been confirmed, in an unprecedented manner, in the today's "Ghods Daily" which is an official newspaper affiliated to the paramilitary and repressive Bassij force.

Stay tuned. I think the situation there is growing less stable.

BLACKFIVE EXPECTS NEGOTIATIONS WITH SADR TO FAIL, and doesn't seem to mind too much.

MORE PHOTOBLOGGING: Here are some very nice photos from Oregon.

UPDATE: And here are some lovely pictures from Tasmania.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Michael Totten has Oregon pictures, too.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Still more Tasmania pictures here and here.

ANOTHER TERROR PLOT FOILED:

Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists planned a chemical attack on Jordan's spy headquarters that could have killed 20,000 people, officials have said.
Earlier this week King Abdullah said a massive attack had been thwarted by a series of arrests, but named no target.

Now unnamed officials say the suspects have confessed to plotting to detonate a chemical bomb on the Amman HQ of the Intelligence Services.

The plot was reportedly hatched by al-Qaeda suspect Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi.

But that's not the real news. If it's true, this is the real news:

Jordan's King Abdullah revealed on Saturday that vehicles reportedly containing chemical weapons and poison gas that were part of a deadly al Qaeda bomb plot came from Syria, the country named by U.S. weapons inspector David Kay last year as a likely repository for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Interesting.

CNN ASKS "Will nanotech save the world, or is it mostly hype?" Perhaps both. Here's more on the hype.

GOOD RIDDANCE.

UPDATE: "It's nice when cosmic justice and individual preferences can both be satisfied."

HERE'S A LETTER TO THE EDITOR from a recently returned Iraq vet. Like many other such letters, it says that thngs are much better there than media reports suggest.

I tend to believe that -- things are better almost everywhere (except Cuba) than media reports suggest., But as I've said before, the biggest problem with the Iraq reporting isn't that it's too negative, though it is, it's that it doesn't tell us what we need to know. The CERP issue, for example, was probably the most important single thing going on last summer/fall but it got very little attention from the media. Likewise, the big media were slow to follow up on Zeyad's war-crime scoop. And I ran an email regarding problems at the CPA that haven't been addressed by big media much, but that are quite important if they're as bad as my reader suggests.

Despite last week's hysteria, which made factional fighting -- ugly but limited -- out to be a massive popular uprising, it's clear that the real issues in Iraq are political, not military. Is our government doing a good job? It's hard to tell. And the tendency, knowing that the media are overplaying some negatives, is to apply Kentucky windage and assume that things in general are better than they say. This may be true, but it may also be true (as the above examples suggest, and as I've noted before on multiple occasions) that there's not just good news, but bad news, going unreported.

That's especially unfortunate, because good reporting doesn't just inform ordinary folks like us. It's also a check on reports that flow up within the chain of command, making sure that real problems get noticed and not papered over. I'm afraid that the White House, understandably tired of the unrelenting negativity that has given us the Brutal Afghan Winter of 2002, the Invasion-Killing Sandstorm of 2003, and the Mass Popular Uprising of 2004, may have started tuning out negative reports.

That would be a mistake, and here's one that shouldn't be tuned out: Jordan's King Abdullah is worried about increasing chances for civil war in Iraq: "Six months ago, I didn't think it was a possibility. I still don't think it is, but for the first time we're nervous."

He's unimpressed with the de-Baathification program, which he says has turned many people in to malcontents unnecessarily. Is he right? I don't know (though this echoes, in some ways, concerns raised by Chief Wiggles many months ago). But it's the kind of thing people ought to be thinking about, and the kind of thing I'd like to see reporting on. The blogosphere has been carrying more than its share of the load on this stuff, and it's not really something that blogs are ideally suited for. Big media can do it better -- if they want to, and if they bother to.

IN CASE YOU DIDN'T NOTICE THE UPDATE in John Cole's post that I linked earlier, the doctored photo appears to be the result of idiocy by a Marine rather than propaganda by anti-war folks.

HERE, VIA THE TAXPROF BLOG, is an analysis of Bush and Cheney's tax returns.

I don't know of a similar Kerry analysis yet. (Though Tom Maguire has items here and here, which TaxProf notes.) But if you look at page 25 of Kerry's tax returns, you'll see an $85 deduction for non-money donations to Goodwill. A tax-professor reader notes that this:

raises an interesting parallel to Clinton's tax returns he released when he first ran for President. Remember how he got excoriated for deducting various clothing items donated to Goodwill, including, most famously, used underwear? . . . Kerry deducted $85 for a Goodwill donation! Enquiring minds want to know: what was it Sen. Kerry? Underwear? Military Medals?

Somebody should ask him.

UPDATE: The InstaWife looked at both links above and wonders why anyone is talking about Bush and Cheney as rich, when Kerry is so much wealthier. (Of course, much of Kerry's wealth is spousal.) And she notes that Kerry seems to be paying a smaller percentage of his income than Bush in taxes. But she misses the point: Rich Republicans are richer than rich Democrats, even when they don't have as much money!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Steve Verdon says that many commentators misunderstand the flat tax.

And no, tax-blogging won't be a regular thing here. I'd rather do cat-blogging. . . .

MORE: Reader Eric Lindholm (VikingPundit) emails:

I've tried to raise everybody's consciousness on this, but I'm not getting any traction. So I'll bother you.

Here in Massachusetts, the state tax return has an OPTIONAL higher tax rate of 5.85% instead of the normal 5.3% - just in case you want to pay more to the state.

Now, I cannot find Kerry's STATE tax return. As one of the wealthy few, did he pay the higher rate or did he pay the normal rate? In other words, is he a hypocrite or a panderer?

I don't know anything about this. Does anyone out there know more?

MORE: Here are the Massachusetts state income tax instructions. The voluntary rate is discussed at the lower left on page 12. As reader Kory Schimke emails: " Unclear why any sane person would do this, but if one thinks that rich people should pay more tax than they currently are required to, maybe they should do it voluntarily." There's more on this story here.

STILL MORE: If Kerry did pay the extra, it'll be a change from previous years, judging from this report.

MORE STILL: And on the federal front, Kerry initially underpaid: "Sen. John F. Kerry had to amend his tax return this week after accountants discovered he owed nearly $12,000 more than he thought. . . Spokesman Michael Meehan said Kerry's accountants calculated his capital gains tax wrongly at a 20 percent rate instead of the correct 28 percent."

But what about those voluntary Massachusetts taxes?

EVEN MORE STILL: A few lefty readers are emailing snarky comments because I'm "blogging about Kerry's underwear." Well, not really.

But, in fact, the Clinton underwear episode -- which, as a Clinton supporter at the time, I dismissed with similar snarkiness -- turned out to be massively revealing. He was donating used underwear, and taking big deductions for it. That combination of narcissism and opportunism turned out to mark Clinton's presidency.

Likewise, if -- as it appears -- Kerry is talking about taxes but not taking the optional higher rate, well, that's revealing too.

FINALLY: Tax professor Paul Caron emails:

In my federal income tax class, we joke that perhaps, in light of subsequent events (the Monica Lewinsky dress), President Clinton may have *undervalued* the used underwear he donated to Goodwill!

Good point!

AN INTERESTING SURVEY of things learned by the Mars rover Opportunity, whose mission has been startlingly successful.

PHOTOBLOG UPDATE: Here's a lovely gallery of photos from Northeast Massachusetts. I'm astounded at the quantity of excellent photography I'm finding on the Web.

THE "UNSCAM" OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL makes the New York Times today, with a story that provides a pretty good overview even if, as reader Chris Fountain notes, most of it is old news to blog-readers.

Russia is dragging its feet, which I think it's fair to take as an admission of guilt up front. And as the Times notes, 46 of those named in Iraqi documents as receiving illicit oil allocations are Russian.

A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO someone asked me if there were any Egyptian blogs in English. Not as far as I knew, I said -- but there's a new one now and it looks pretty interesting.

ASK AN IMAM . . . to leave:

France has expelled an Algerian fundamentalist imam who invited his congregation to "rejoice in the Madrid bombings".

France is enforcing "hate speech" laws against mullahs.

April 16, 2004


NO, I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE FRIDAY CATBLOGGING A REGULAR ITEM, but here's a picture of my cat Nicholas (better known as "Nickers") stalking a bird.

I realize that this will once again send ripples of shock through the cat-hating segments of the blogosphere, but there's nothing to be done about that. I hope that, in time, they'll learn to rise above their ailurophobia and accept our furry feline friends.

SOME INTERESTING QUESTIONS about new Democratic co-chair Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones. But I think I have the answer, from an article (unfortunately not on the Web) in the Cleveland Plain Dealer dated August 25, 2002:

Despite the entry on her financial disclosure forms that list her stake in "Jihad Filmworks" - an investment worth between $1,001 and $15,000 - her investment was actually in a company called Jihaad Film Works Inc., which was incorporated in 1994 in Cleveland, according to the Ohio Secretary of State's office.

Tubbs Jones' office misspelled the name when filing its disclosures.

The company was started by Rakim Jihaad, 31, an aspiring film maker now living in Chicago. A convert to Islam, Jihaad is the son of Eric Mumford, a Cleveland accountant who incorporated the film company. Mumford's wife is former Cleveland Heights Municipal Judge Lynn Toler.

A number of family friends invested in Jihaad Film Works, which first made "Murder Roulette," a mystery, as a low-budget production and whose partners now are trying to interest a major motion picture studio in remaking it with big-name actors.

"It's a friend, and it's no more than that," Tubbs Jones spokeswoman Sheila Harvey said of the congresswoman's Jihad/Jihaad connection.

"He is American," said Rakim Jihaad's father, whose politics lean toward the GOP. "In fact, I'm pretty sure soon he will become a Republican."

Of course, this could be a damaging connection for Ms. Jones, too, in her new position. . . .

HIV IS REPORTEDLY SPREADING IN THE PORN INDUSTRY, as the result of changes in favored practices. This is a tragedy that needs addressing, and, I suspect, also a source of useful epidemiological information. Filmmaker (no, not that kind of film) Brian Flemming has some thoughts.

SMOKYBLOG is on a roll -- just keep scrolling past one amazing photograph after another.

GOOD NEWS: Successful elections in Algeria.

A FINAL SOLUTION TO THE REPUBLICAN PROBLEM? Quick, somebody photoshop John Kerry as Voldemort!

UPDATE: Boy, that didn't take long.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hey, maybe Kerry's got crossover appeal in this incarnation!

A KOREAN BLOGGER says that American commentators are misunderstanding the Korean elections. Believe it or not, it's not always about us!

RYAN BOOTS has a roundup of Iraqi blog posts that's well worth your time.

MARY ROBINSON IS BEING DENOUNCED FOR ANTI-SEMITISM AT EMORY:

Nearly 500 people have signed an online petition protesting the selection of Mary Robinson as keynote speaker for this year’s Commencement.

Robinson, former President of Ireland and former high commissioner for human rights for the United Nations, has been described as anti-Semitic for her involvement in the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa.

Critics have also alleged that she has advocated suicide bombers as a legitimate method of pursuing Palestinian statehood. As of press time Wednesday, 460 students, as well as friends and family of students, lent their names to the petition, which calls “for Mary Robinson to be replaced as one of our Commencement speakers.”

Nice to see college kids standing up to the racist Establishment. William Sjostrom has more, including a link to a radio interview that casts doubt on her fitness as an inspirational speaker.

DANIEL HENNINGER has a column on Spirit of America, the charitable group to which I donate ad space. (And money).


ONE OF MY FORMER STUDENTS EMAILS:

I am one of your former students (class of 91) and just returned from duty in Iraq on an anti-terror team. I have seen, and agree with, the types of things described in "The Letter from a Contractor in Iraq." The thing that can't really be described about Iraq is the look of new found freedom that you see in the eyes of the men (and the women that dare look at you). It's impossible to describe (a bit like the Supreme Court's definition of porn - I know it when I see it), but forms my most lasting impression of my duty there.

I have attached some of the pictures you don't see on the news: a picture of some Iraqi kids yukking it up with the GI's and me and a Dominican SEAL - who was really proud to serve in Iraq with the Americans.

Here's the letter he's talking about.

HEY, MAYBE THE INTERNET IS making a difference. (Via Roger Simon).

NEAL BOORTZ is Fisking Howard Dean, and tweaking Air America. A fish, a barrel, a smoking gun. (Hey, that's a good motto. . . .)

MY DELL is a couple of years old, and although it's reasonably capable in terms of video editing and image processing the new stuff's a lot better. I'm thinking of demoting it to a backup computer or a server and replacing it with something newer and faster. If you've got experience with the upscale Sony Vaio or the Dell XPS I'd appreciate it if you'd drop me a line.

MORE THINGS TO ASK JAMIE GORELICK:

One of the appendices to Rowan Scarborough's book, Rumsfeld's War, is a previously classified study of why Clinton never used special ops troops to attack bin Laden. That study says that when the Clintons considered employing special operations forces against bin Laden, questions arose whether the Defense Department had the legal authority to engage in such covert operations. Part of it says, "Pentagon lawyers in the 1990s argued that DoD did not have the legal authority.…Only the CIA…had the license to conduct covert action..."

But, as the study found, the Pentagon lawyers' objection is wrong, and specific authority exists for the president to assign covert missions to the armed services. And who was the chief lawyer in the Pentagon in 1993 and 1994? None other than our gal Jamie. She left DoD for the Justice Department before bin Laden became a household word. But DoD top lawyers would have consulted with Gorelick on an issue that would be -- as that one was -- briefed to the Secretary of Defense, and probably to the president as well. Did Gorelick participate in the decision to nix spec ops? What advice did the DoD ask for and receive from her and the Justice Department on that subject? The Commission needs to find out. Under oath.

I don't think that Gorelick has done anything wrong. But it does appear that she should be a witness, not a Commissioner, on a number of important issues.

THIS SEEMS LIKE GOOD NEWS:

Despite a rising tide of combat deaths and the prospect of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan for years to come, Americans continue to volunteer for duty and are re-enlisting at record rates.

The services believe a combination of patriotism and the economy is driving people to the military and keeping them there.

"The war is not only not having a negative effect, but it is helping to reinforce the number of people who want to join," said Cmdr. John Kirby, a spokesman for the Navy's Bureau of Personnel.

Even the Army National Guard, which has had 150,000 citizen soldiers mobilized for up to a year, has seen retention rates "going through the roof," said Guard spokesman Maj. Robert Howell.

Nonetheless, I suspect that it's a good time to be looking at enlarging the military and adjusting the force structure.

UPDATE: A reader -- an Ordnance Corps Major in Afghanistan -- emails:

I can offer a small bit of evidence that the story you cited/linked to is correct. The 25th Infantry Division, which recently took commander here in Afghanistan, brought 50% more retention personnel than the outgoing 10th Mountain Division.

Nice that people feel that way -- but I do think that we should be working to ease the strain of extended deployments, etc., as much as possible. We should appreciate people's patriotism and dedication, but we shouldn't take it for granted.

UPDATE: Hmm. This article says that retention is down. Who's right? Beats me. The article quoted above seems to give more specifics, for whatever that's worth.

In a way, it doesn't matter -- at least, as I say above, we should be doing more to make service tolerable for those serving, and attractive to potential recruits.

And maybe we need a big push in programs like JROTC, etc. Perhaps high schools should be required to offer JROTC as a condition of receiving federal funding.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's another story saying that re-enlistment rates, and initial recruitment rates, are doing quite well. But obviously longer deployments may impact that next time around. Bonuses seem to make a difference.

As with other war-related topics, we shouldn't let good news make us complacent, and I hope that this issue is getting the attention it deserves.

THE YIPPIES ARE COMING OUT OF RETIREMENT -- more or less literally in some cases -- thus supporting my theory that much of the anti-war / anti-Bush protest is a sort of generational last hurrah for the Boomers. Over at Inclination to Criticize, Robert McNamara (no, not that Robert McNamara, but it just makes the whole time-warp thing even worse) is unimpressed:

Don't you think Karl Rove, in his moments of sublime fantasy, pictures bearded forty-year-olds camped out in Central Park, burning things and chanting "Out of Iraq Now?" If the Democratic Party has any sense, they'll lure away all the protestors with "magic" brownies and keep them in a lockbox until November.

Yes. But I don't think they'll be able to.

UPDATE: Geitner Simmons emails:

In New York City, many of the old '60s and '70s antiwar types didn't fade into irrelevance. On the contrary, they eventually moved into the nonprofit activist community that exerts enormous force on how that city operates. City Journal examined their influence in an article last fall.

Here's the link to the article, which may provide useful background reading for anyone gearing up to cover the conventions this summer.

April 15, 2004

AIR AMERICA IS RESPONDING TO ITS CRITICS -- in a not-terribly-surprising manner.

UPDATE: Er, the site above is a parody, and isn't really from Air America. But I can see how some people would have trouble telling the difference -- I delayed linking to Air America's "Sludge Report" post (which they now seem to have taken down) because it seemed so bizarre that I had trouble believing that it wasn't a cleverly-concealed parody.

I UPLOADED SOME PICTURES to the Suburban Wilderness gallery over at the Exposure Manager site. Check 'em out if you're so inclined.

It was a beautiful day, but I didn't have time to get out of town. I managed to take these (the new ones, that is) on the way home from work today.

ED CONE: "Could the anti-war left sink Kerry?" I think it's his biggest vulnerability.

UPDATE: Some people -- here and here -- think I'm being too generous to Kerry.

OSAMA -- or his audio impersonator -- is having a bad war. Today his offer of truce blew up in his face:

"It is completely unthinkable that we could start negotiations with bin Laden. Everyone understands that," Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told reporters.

European Commission President Romano Prodi said there could be no negotiating under a "terrorist threat." (Analysis)

Leaders in France and Germany also rejected any such offer.

"One has to treat such claims by al Qaeda with contempt, which they deserve," Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said. "This is a murderous organization which seeks impossible objectives by the most violent means."

In Spain, where al Qaeda terrorists killed 190 people in train bombings last month, the prime-minister elect did not mention the tape in an address to parliament, but vowed to fight terrorism.

"There is no sense to terrorism. There is no policy in terrorism. There is just terror, death, blackmail," said incoming Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

In Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell called the European reaction "very direct and clear."

Indeed it is.

CAPT. ED REPRINTS A LONG LETTER FROM A CONTRACTOR IN IRAQ -- it's worth your time.

LOTS OF GOOD STUFF over at Donald Sensing's. Just keep scrolling.

OLIVER STONE, CALL YOUR OFFICE: Oxblog has a roundup on Cuban officials' beating of an NGO representative at the UN in Geneva. This doesn't make the UN look too good, either.

KERRY AND THE PATRIOTS: Over at GlennReynolds.com.

MORE ON OLIVER STONE'S FOOLISHNESS, over at Virginia Postrel's place. Best line: "At times, it's hard to tell who is less lucid, Stone or Castro."

WHERE'S THE WMD? In Europe!

KERRY SLAMMED FOR LACK OF DIVERSITY:

Seizing on the nation's diversity -- the country is almost one-third non-white -- Bush has appointed African-Americans, Asians, Latinos and women to senior and non-stereotypical roles: Secretary of State, national security adviser, Transportation Secretary, White House Counsel.

Unlike Al Gore whose campaign manager, political director and finance director were African-American, the Kerry campaign, as of yet, has no one of color in the innermost circle, including Kerry's campaign manager, campaign chairperson, media adviser, policy director, foreign policy adviser, general election manager, convention planner, national finance chairman, and head of VP search team.

First Air America, then Chris Dodd, now this. What do the Democrats have against people of color? (Via Capt. Ed).

UPDATE: More on the Democrats' growing race problem here.

A BAD REVIEW FOR BEN VENISTE: "When reliable pundits of the center-left are throwing bricks at ben Veniste, then it's clear he's not fooling anyone. But it's too late to stop him from sabotaging the commission."

IT'S TAX DAY, so here's a link to TaxProf, a new blog about, well, taxes.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: The Government of Canada is reportedly trying to shut down a blogger who -- in what might be just a coincidence -- has been deeply critical of the government's serious corruption scandals.

I'd like to see this -- and the underlying scandals -- get more attention here in the States. The Canadian government's increasing disrespect for free speech is deeply disturbing. More here.

UPDATE: A Canadian reader thinks this is overblown:

I'm Canadian. There is no crushing of dissent here.

If you look at any government of Canada website and compare it with "blogscanada" it is immediately apparent that he is infringing on copyright and trademark. I noticed it the one time I went to his site and wondered how long it would last before he was told to change it. There is plenty of vitriolic comment on the government and its handling of everything all over the web and no one there is being asked to cease and desist. I think blogscanada's "theory" about the letter being linking to the sponsorship scandal is merely a red herring.

In fact, if you want scathing commentary on the government that is far better than blogscanada, you just have to go to columnist Andrew Coyne's Blog at AndrewCoyne.com to see that there is no crushing of dissent.

Except where "hate speech" is concerned, I guess. (And it doesn't look like a violation to me, but I'm certainly not an expert on Canadian copyright law. ) But thanks for the perspective.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Canadian reader Alexei Nordell emails:

Yes, it would be nice if your mainstream media would give greater coverage to our current round of scandals. But then, if we are honest, were Canada to discover cold fusion or suddenly spawn a race of mutant chickens, chances are your media would still barely cover my country. Something that ironically pisses off many Canadians(see Rick Mercer's "Talking to Americans").

However, you have a chance to spread the word(as it is). Canadian blogs and bloggers are growing at a faire pace. I am sure links from your website would not hurt. A few suggestions. All three have covered, from various point of views, the latest scandal's and the somewhat amusing disintegration of Paul Martin's party.

Yes, why is that? I'm interested in what happens in Canada. One of the blogs he sends was Andrew Coyne's, just linked above, but he also includes links to blogs by Warren Kinsella and Paul Wells. And, of course, blogosphereans are familiar with the likes of Colby Cosh and Damian Penny. And don't forget Ghost of a Flea!

WINDS OF CHANGE has its War News Roundup posted.

MORE SUCCESSFUL PROSECUTIONS in the United States:

Two American Muslims were sentenced yesterday to 20 and 15 years in prison, respectively, for their roles in support of a Virginia-based conspiracy to engage in holy war against nations deemed hostile to Islam, including the United States.

Randall Todd Royer, 31, and Ibrahim al-Hamdi, 26, were among nine men who either pleaded guilty or were convicted of charges related to their participation in what prosecutors called a "Virginia jihad network." Two others were acquitted on all counts. . . .

Royer, as part of a plea agreement, admitted helping other members of the conspiracy join a militant Pakistani group called Lashkar-e-Taiba in the days after the September 11 attacks. Three of the men who received Royer's assistance said they intended to train with Lashkar-e-Taiba so they could fight for the Taliban, but several trained with Lashkar-e-Taiba, which the U.S. government designated a terrorist organization in December 2001.

I've been critical of Ashcroft here in the past, and I still think that he shouldn't be Attorney General. But I have to admit that these prosecutions and convictions just keep coming.

UPDATE: They may be lucky to have been caught. Here's the latest on Lakshar-e-Taiba: "3 top Pak militants killed without firing a single shot." They hid in a tunnel, and Indian police flooded it with water, removing the bodies for identification after they drowned.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Daniel Pipes notes a CAIR connection. I'm beginning to have doubts about those guys.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, the prosecution of Guantanamo military chaplain James J. Yee has imploded in embarrassing fashion:

The appellate decision by Gen. James Hill, the Army Southern Command chief who oversees military operations at Guantánamo, wiped the slate clean for Capt. James J. Yee, who ministered for 10 months to foreign terrorism detainees at the United States naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

"This means there will be no official mention of it in his military record," General Hill said.

The decision ended what one of Captain Yee's lawyers, Eugene Fidell, called a "hoax" case. Mr. Fidell said that Captain Yee was "obviously very pleased" at the decision but that the military owed him an apology.

I'm not that familiar with the ins and outs of the case, but it appears that they do.

SUSANNA CORNETT HAS THOUGHTS ON JAMIE GORELICK AND THE 9/11 COMMISSION:

But while I think her conflicts are a major concern, and the attention is warranted, I'm today most annoyed at Commission Chair Thomas Kean, former Republican governor of New Jersey (which is to say, not much of a Republican at all). When questioned on Fox News about Gorelick and other possible conflicts in the commission, Kean said that everyone should "Stay out of our business."

Stay out of our business??

Excuse me?!

What this commission decides is my business, as an American and a taxpayer. If conflicts bias the commission to find that certain things are not problems - when really they are - then yes, it's definitely my business because my safety and the future of my country are at risk. His attitude is damaging, and certainly makes me think his point is more about arrogance than transparency.

Read the whole thing.

MORE THOUGHTS on the latest Administration moves regarding the Palestinians:

Bush looked in vain for a reciprocal gesture from the Palestinians. He got nothing. Worse then nothing, the Palestinians have been busily discussing how to bring Hamas into their government. Result: political rewards for Sharon, a cold shoulder for the Palestinians. It was almost two years ago that Bush made it clear that he would judge the Palestinian leadership by one criteria: its willingness to fight terrorism. Why, two years and no willingness to fight terrorism later, it expects "evenhandedness" from Bush shows that they simply don't understand the man.

Indeed. The Palestinians have been acting as -- and often proclaiming themselves as -- our enemy. Expecting evenhandedness is a bit much.

"STUPID REPUBLICANS." Bill Hobbs offers some valuable advice for non-Internet-savvy campaigns.

VIETNAM? IT'S NOT EVEN MOGADISHU. Wagner James Au sends this email, noting the Marines' success at killing attackers without suffering casualties in two recent engagements:

2 firefights x 0 US casualties + 120 dead militants = Vietnam?

Glenn, check out these Times and Post accounts of firefights in and around Falluja on Tuesday. (The Post story recounts a daring rescue of an APC crew who lost their way into hostile territory.) In both of them, US Marines were surprised by surprisingly fierce, well-organized attacks-and then proceeded to kill a tremendous number of insurgents, while suffering zero deaths.

Link:

American forces killed more than 100 insurgents on Tuesday in close combat in a small village in central Iraq, Marine commanders said Wednesday... Marines fought house to house, roof to roof, doorway to doorway. They repelled attacks of machine-gun fire, volleys of rockets and repeated charges by masked fighters, Colonel McCoy said. Two marines were shot but their injuries were not life-threatening.

Link:

Marine officials said the three-hour battle that erupted at dusk Tuesday on the streets of Fallujah, and was recounted Wednesday by several of the key officers involved, exemplified the bravery and resourcefulness that Marines are known for, even when surprised and surrounded by a host of enemy fighters on alien urban turf. By the end of the tumultuous encounter, the charred personnel carrier had been towed to safety by a tank and most of its 17 crew members -- several of them wounded -- had been rescued from a house where they had taken shelter... The rescue squad rushed four tanks and six Humvees to the area, where they fought their way through several blocks to reach the burning carrier. Surrounded by 25 Marine riflemen on foot, the armored vehicles advanced, firing machine guns from their turrets. Overhead, Air Force attack planes repeatedly strafed the area. Marine officials here said at least 20 insurgents were shot dead during the fighting...

"This is a story about heroes. It shows the tenacity of the Marines and their fierce loyalty to each other," said Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, commander of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. "They were absolutely unwilling to leave their brother Marines behind."

To me, the most interesting quote was this one: "It showed not only the intensity of the resistance but an acute willingness among insurgents to die." You can always find something to agree on, if you look hard enough.

What this really underscores, of course, is that the real problem is political, not military, as this item from DefenseTech pointed out last week. And unfortunately, it's harder to tell how things are going on that front since much of the negotiation is behind closed doors, and dissembling is part of the game. Will Iraqis rise to the occasion? This is a big test, not only for us, but for the proponents, and skeptics, of Arab democracy.

UPDATE: Rand Simberg:

As Glenn points out, Fallujah isn't Tet, and it's not Mogadishu either. It does appear that the next attempt at dressing it up in old clothes (though not so old this time) will be to resurrect the myth of the Jenin "massacre," and to try to make it appear of similar kind.

Yep. It's the old game: Play fearsome warrior until you get your ass kicked, then play victim.

IT'S BUY A GUN DAY in the blogsphere!

THIS SEEMS LIKE GOOD ECONOMIC NEWS:

Trade Gap Shrinks as Imports, Exports Hit Record

U.S. exports leapt four percent -- the highest monthly increase since October 1996 -- to a record $92.4 billion, while imports rose 1.6 percent to a record $134.5 billion.

The politically sensitive trade gap with China fell nearly 28 percent in February as imports from that country slipped to $11.3 billion, the lowest level in nearly a year, and exports to China rose 17 percent to $3.0 billion.

Good.

HMM: "A senior Iranian diplomat has been shot dead in the Iraqi capital Baghdad."

CHRIS DODD HAS (SORT OF) APOLOGIZED FOR HIS REMARKS -- but interestingly the AP report doesn't report his actual words, just a rather sanitized version.

Just for the record, Dodd said that Sen. Byrd "would have been a great senator at any moment. He would have been right at the founding of this country. He would have been in the leadership crafting this Constitution. He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this Nation."

Some people were offended by the notion that a former Grand Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan would have been good during the Civil War. Go figure. In a way, though, Dodd's apology does him more credit than it might have, since it took place after the storm of criticism had died down.

MORE ON THE OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL (my favorite proposed name: "UNSCAM") -- along with other U.N. problems.

NOAH SCHACHTMAN writes that it's back to the future in Iraq.

OLIVER STONE suffers an in-person Fisking at the hands of Ann Louise Bardach. Read the whole thing.

ROBERT TAGORDA looks at some 1995 Congressional testimony by Jamie Gorelick and concludes that her problems are worse than is being reported:

Given the circumstances back then, Gorelick probably made the right decision. But that's beside the point. The issue is whether the media should be examining more closely her past statements and current commission acts. It's whether her hypocrisy -- being "especially aggressive in questioning Bush administration witnesses," as the Times points out, while having a history of staunchly defending the wall -- is undermining the credibility of the proceedings. It's whether she's unfairly using the benefits of hindsight to attack Republicans while saving herself from similar scrutiny. It's whether she, in fact, should also testify before the panel.

Indeed. Meanwhile Tom Kean seems conflicted, vowing transparency while telling people to stay out of the Commission's business.

READER STEVE SMALLSHAW EMAILS:

You probably have seen this already (my issue just arrived this week for some reason) but the recent special Masters issue of Sports Illustrated includes an article on the NY Times' obsession over the Martha/Hootie story, and mentions how the blogosphere brought it to the fore. Unfortunately, they somehow butchered your site name into "histaPundit"...seems like a lifetime of free swimsuit issues would be an appropriate compensation.

Yeah, that's an excerpt from Alan Shipnuck's book, The Battle for Augusta National.

Unforgivable error. Well, almost unforgivable: I think they should invite me along to blog about a swimsuit-issue photo-shoot! Then I'd forgive 'em. . . .

But "histaPundit" sounds like an allergy-blog. Though considering the state of my sinuses at the moment, that's probably appropriate.

ONE WORD: Yeearrgh!

JAMES LILEKS wonders why the current war hasn't produced any war movies:

There’s been enough time - “Wake Island” came out in 1942. “Bataan” came out in 1943. “Casablanca” came out in 1942, for heaven’s sake.

Read the whole thing to find out his thoughts on why.

April 14, 2004

RAND SIMBERG SUGGESTS that the good reviews for Bush's press conference / speech stemmed from "the soft bigotry of low expectations." There's probably something to that.

But he was also helped by the obtuseness of the press, which was too busy grandstanding and trying to score political points to ask actual tough questions. Against that background, Bush can't help but look good.

A few tough questions that the press could have asked:

What are you going to do about Iran's role as a source of destabilization in the area? And its rather obvious efforts to acquire nuclear weapons? And its sponsorship of anti-American terrorism?

A year after the invasion, the Marines are seeking donations from blog readers to set up TV stations in Iraq so as to counter anti-American propaganda from Al Jazeera and other hostile media. Why wasn't this a priority from day one? Why isn't it one now?

Why didn't you fire George Tenet after 9/11?

When Iraqi blogs were reporting problems with Sadr months ago, why didn't the U.S. government take action sooner?

Of course, it's doubtful that many of the correspondents were familiar with these issues. Which is why it was easy for Bush to look good. I would have liked to hear the answers, though.

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis has the right idea -- invite bloggers to press conferences. They know this stuff! Plus, there's an additional advantage, noted by Mickey Kaus in his review of David Sanger's unfortunate post-speech analysis:

That's the thing about news analysis from mainstream print journalists. They have to rush to publish in time to meet their deadline. All that emphasis on speed! Unlike the leisurely world of blogging, where we have time to weigh and reconsider and savor the nuances.

What he said.

HERE'S WHAT IRAN GOT for its $80 Million:

The fiery radical at the heart of Iraq's Shia revolt sued for peace yesterday, buckling under the twin pressures of a massive build-up of American forces near his base and demands for moderation from the country's ayatollahs.

Not quite Vietnam, Senator Kennedy. The second of those pressures is probably the most significant positive sign.

UPDATE: The Japanese government stood firm, and the Japanese hostages have been released.

A SEA CHANGE IN THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S ISRAEL POLICY?

I wonder if it has anything to do with this report? Full story here:

RAMALLAH, Fla., April 13 (UPI) -- Yasser Arafat reportedly approved, in concept, an attack on a U.S. convoy in the Gaza Strip last year that took the lives of three Americans. . . .

The sources told MENL Arafat had approved a plan to hit U.S. interests in Palestinian areas. They said Arafat did not draft or approve any details for an attack, but agreed to a proposal to "pass a message" to the United States.

Looks like the message was received.

UPDATE: Thoughts on Arafat's future, here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: David Adesnik notes that the Times and Post are screwing up on several levels in covering developments in Israel.

EVERYONE COMES TO KNOXVILLE EVENTUALLY -- Had a very nice dinner with Evan Coyne Maloney, who's passing through town. It's always cool to meet bloggers. Er, and vloggers.

ERIC MULLER looks at the 9/11 Commission's conflict-of-interest rules and concludes:

Under these guidelines, it certainly seems to me that Ms. Gorelick should not be participating in the portion of the Commission's investigation that focuses on law enforcement's role in counterterrorism. I think it would have been wise for her not to be present at the hearing yesterday.

He's got some nice things to say about her, though.

THE BOSTON GLOBE REPORTS: "Kerry faces questions over Purple Heart."

HERE'S A REPORT of riots in Tehran.

THE SOUTH DAKOTA POLITICS BLOG reports that some reporters are awfully chummy with Tom Daschle.

AIR AMERICA ISN'T EXACTLY BURNING UP THE AIRWAVES:

After just two weeks of broadcasting, Air America Radio, the fledgling liberal talk-radio network featuring Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo, was pulled off the air this morning in Chicago and Los Angeles, the network's second- and third-largest markets, in a dispute over payments for airtime.

Arthur Liu, owner of Multicultural Radio Broadcasting, which owns Air America affiliates WNTD-950 AM in Chicago and KBLA-1580 AM in Los Angeles, said Air America bounced a check and owes him more than $1 million.

But it's a victory for broadcasting diversity!

A Chicago source familiar with the situation said a Multicultural representative showed up at WNTD's offices this morning, kicked out Air America's lone staffer overseeing the network's feed to the station from New York, switched over to a Spanish-language feed, and changed the locks on the doors.

Liu said the same thing happened at KBLA in Los Angeles.

Here's Air America's statement. Adios, muchachos! Viva Multiculturalism!

UPDATE: Ryan Boots has thoughts.

AUSTIN BAY writes that putting Saddam on trial sooner, rather than later, would help matters in Iraq.

AID AND COMFORT: John Cole exposes a nasty anti-American hoax.

We'll be seeing more of this sort of thing, I imagine.

UPDATE: Hmm. Interesting debate going on in the comments to this post. There's clearly a hoax here, but the nature is, well, debatable.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, now I'm really suspicious.

INTERESTING, IF DEPRESSING, observations on Korea.

MORE GORELICK DEVELOPMENTS:

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner called on Jamie Gorelick to resign from the Sept. 11 commission Wednesday, citing a memo she wrote as a deputy attorney general on separating counterintelligence from criminal investigations.

"Scrutiny of this policy lies at the heart of the commission's work," said Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. "Ms. Gorelick has an inherent conflict of interest as the author of this memo and as a government official at the center of the events in questions."

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Reader Alec McAusland emails: "What I want to know: Will the press call upon Jamie Gorelick to apologize? Will she take responsibility? Will the 9/11 families call for her resignation?"

ANOTHER UPDATE: The story seems to be getting traction.

MORE ON THE OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL: I stress that the Reynolds guy in this story is no relation.

UPDATE: In a related development, Tim Blair observes: "Way to help, Kofi. Hey, how’s that deal going in Rwanda? Issued any more statements lately?"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon: "This scandal is getting so pervasive I'm beginning to feel left out. How come I wasn't bribed?" He's also taking nominations for a better scandal name than "oil-for-food."

AMONG THE FAILURES OF 9/11, it's interesting that the Commission missed this success:

After all the hearings that the commission has had on the failures of our government to prevent 9/11, or even to respond effectively while it was happening, shouldn't there be at least one hearing to discuss what went right on that day? Where is the session devoted to studying the actions of the passengers of Flight 93, and their success at foiling the terrorists they confronted? Is there nothing at all to be learned from their actions, and their sacrifice -- or is the comission just more interested in finding fault than in actually recognizing success?

Or is it a more basic blindness --- is the 9/11 commission, and our government in general, incapable of recognizing a defense against terrorism that merely consists of individual Americans willing to fight when it becomes necessary? That a defense that doesn't require a huge appropriation bill and a massive administrative army simply doesn't fit with the Washington mindset?

All of the above. More on these issues here and here.


HEY, I WONDER IF THESE FOLKS WILL BE ON HARDBALL?

April 14, 2004 -- A group of 9/11 families has released an open letter thanking National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice for her testimony to the commission probing the attacks and saying it should end "the incredible notion" that President Bush knew 9/11 was coming and did nothing.

The letter signed by 40 relatives also blasts some members of the 9/11 commission for trying to "grandstand for political gain" in hopes of embarrassing Bush and thus politicizing the inquiry.

"I see the commission going partisan and that's not the way it's supposed to be. If it does that, it will be nothing but a political disgrace," said former United Firefighters Association chief Jimmy Boyle, who lost his firefighter son Michael on 9/11. "It's a whole new world as of Sept. 12 and I believe President Bush is the right man."

Maybe Katie Couric will interview them, too.

THE SINGER AND THE SONG: Eric Olsen has some thoughts on Bush's press conference.

GERARD VAN DER LEUN is ashamed to be a Democrat. Personally, I haven't entirely given up hope for the Democratic Party, though things do look rather grim now.

UPDATE: A reader sends this link to Nicholas Kristof's NYT non-blog, where he's worried about the tone of his lefty email:

Frankly, it chills me that well-meaning people are hoping that young Americans will be maimed and killed so as to punish the hawks and lessen their chances of holding on to power.

Note to Kristof: They're not "well-meaning," and it's odd that you'd think so in light of these sentiments. And they're not anti-war. They're on the other side, and they're admitting it. Somehow, I think that if Republicans were expressing these kinds of sentiments under a Democratic Administration, it would merit more than a blog entry.

THE NATIONAL POST has started a blog.

THE MARINES WOULD LIKE YOUR HELP in combatting Al Jazeera and other hostile media.

I THOUGHT THE CUSTOMER WAS ALWAYS RIGHT -- but not in the news business:

At a time when public distrust of the news media appears to be at a dangerously high level, there is evidence of a deep and fundamental disagreement between those who produce news and those who consume it.

Although most journalists believe quality and values are vital elements of their work and see themselves as providing an important civic function, the reading and viewing public seems to think of journalism as a bottom-line-driven enterprise populated by the ethically challenged. Last month, the Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism released a wide-ranging study -- "The State of the News Media 2004" -- that concluded that a key factor in journalism's sagging image is "a disconnection between the public and the news media over motive."

"Journalists believe they are working in the public interest, and are trying to be fair and independent in that cause," the survey found. "The public thinks these journalists are either lying or deluding themselves. The public believes that news organizations are operating largely to make money, and that the journalists who work for these organizations are primarily motivated by professional ambition and self-interest."

Last night's press conference won't have changed any minds.

UPDATE: A snapshot of the problem, here. And more symptoms are identified here.

TOM MAGUIRE LOOKS AT KERRY'S TAXES and notices something the New York Times missed.

FRINGE BENEFIT?

NEW DELHI (AFP) Apr 13, 2004
The US-led war in Iraq prodded nuclear rivals India and Pakistan to launch a process to resolve their disputes over Kashmir, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said in an interview published Tuesday. . . .

"The war in Iraq was a warning to all developing countries (that) we needed to resolve our disputes peacefully and speedily amongst ourselves," the 79-year-old Vajpayee told the English-language daily.

I don't think the Bush Administration deserves credit for this, exactly, since I rather doubt it was a factor in deciding to go to war against Iraq. (Though the impending war may have concentrated their minds on keeping other areas quiet.) But in assessing the results, it has to figure in.

READER BEN DOLFIN sends this bit of perspective regarding Bush's press conference:

If last year before the war started someone told me Bush was going to be
complaining about the poor quality of Iraqi troops by April 13, 2004 I'd
have been overjoyed!

Indeed.

MITCH BERG:

John Ashcroft shredded the 9/11 commission yesterday, all but dragging Jamie Gorelick from behind the rostrum by her hair and yelling "This woman wrote part of the policy that erected the wall between intelligence and prosecution", even declassifying one of Gorelick's memos (read: "smoking gun") which called for, as Ashcroft put it, "Draconian barriers" between the two parts of government most responsible for fighting the war before it became a military war.

So what did the media report? If anything, variations on "Ashcroft on the defensive", and "The FBI blew it".

Never - not in one account I've read so far, and I've read a bunch - did they read "One of the inquisitors on the 9/11 commission was a key architect of the system that made the FBI and CIA's job completely impossible." Not one example of "This commission's work is fatally compromised" - as they would if Gorelick had been a Republican, and the President a Democrat.

For more on Gorelick's multiple conflicts of interest, including unfortunate Saudi ties, go here and follow the links. I agree that the press is giving her a pass -- as I wrote last summer, she shouldn't have been on the Commission at all. She should resign now, but she won't.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey is surprised that media, beyond the New York Times, are ignoring this story:

It appears that the primary culprit of the intelligence failure will be the structural hurdles placed recklessly in our counterterrorism efforts by a string of people, which neither starts nor ends with Gorelick, but certainly deeply involves her. Under those circumstances, the American public can have no confidence in any report in which she plays a significant part in shaping. No other member of the commission had this much impact on such a critical flaw. The public should demand the withdrawal of Gorelick from the 9/11 Commission, and they probably would if the media actually reported the story of the day anywhere near as well as the New York Times.

He's got a survey of how other outlets are spinning the story, and it's not pretty.

ANOTHER UPDATE: For an example of totally dropping the ball, read this piece by Fred Kaplan, which actually lionizes Gorelick (and, coincidentally, numerous other Clinton appointees) while completely ignoring this issue. Of course, he's not alone, but it's interesting that the Times coverage -- which usually sets the tone for other outlets -- is being ignored here. Why?

MORE: By the way, I think I should stress that the "wall" wasn't necessarily a bad idea at the time -- at least, the purpose of separating law enforcement and intelligence reflected a longstanding tradition. In hindsight, we wish it had been different, but it's not fair to employ hindsight that way. But if this is true for Gorelick, it's true for Bush, too, and Gorelick -- and the other anti-Bush partisans on the Commission -- want to have it both ways on the hindsight front.

What bothers me is that Gorelick is accusing Bush of living in a pre-9/11 mindset before 9/11 when she was occupying that mindset too. And her complicity in this sort of thing -- coupled with her obvious motive to deflect blame, and her less-than-forthcoming treatment of these issues -- makes her, in my opinion, unfit to serve on the Commission. (And that's leaving the Saudi issue aside). That's not because she authored the "wall" policy to begin with, but because of her behavior since.

SOME THOUGHTS ON PRIVATE SPACEFLIGHT, in my TechCentralStation column today.

April 13, 2004

I PRAISE JOHN KERRY: Over at GlennReynolds.com.

UPDATE: Others disagree.

"THE VIOLENCE IN IRAQ IS A POWER GRAB by ruthless extremists. It is not a civil war, or a popular uprising." Part of Bush's opening.

Bush will never be Clinton when it comes to speechifying, but it seems to me that he did a pretty good job by Bush standards. He was focused and specific, stressed -- wisely, I think -- that the June 30 transfer-of-sovereignty date is firm, but made clear that the transfer doesn't mean the end of our commitment. There was a lot of stuff (prompted by Kerry's oped today?) on international cooperation. (Mentioning Kosovo may have been bad salesmanship, though).

"The enemies of the civilized world are testing the will of the civilized world." He connected the mentality behind the Iraqi insurgencies with bombings in Madrid, and Bali, and the murder of Daniel Pearl, along with the Beirut Marine barracks bombing. "None of these acts is the work of a religion. All are the work of a fanatical political ideology. The servants of this ideology seek tyranny in the Middle East and beyond. . . . They seek to intimidate America into panic and retreat, and to set free nations against one another. . . We've seen that any concession or retreat on our part will only embolden our enemy and lead to more bloodshed."

"The terrorists have lost the shelter of the Taliban and the training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They lost an ally in Baghdad, and Libya has turned its back on terror."

Bush said that there's no safe alternative to resolute action, and stressed that the terrorists fear democracy and freedom in the Arab world.

Overall, a pretty good opening speech -- though he probably should have given it weeks ago. The first question was a "quagmire" question. "How do you answer the Vietnam question?"

I think Bush handled that pretty well, and he looked confident and quick on his feet (for Bush). More importantly, he seemed sincere, and determined ("tough" was an oft-repeated word), while admitting problems. And he stayed on message. [I've moved my liveblogging to the "extended entry" area. I don't know why I bothered liveblogging something that was on TV -- I just made a few notes and it turned into a blog entry. (All quotes are approximate -- I'm not a transcriptionist).]

How will it play? I don't know how many people watched it, but I think it will reassure a lot of people who haven't paid a lot of attention day to day, and who wanted evidence that Bush is serious, has a plan, and is on top of things. Lots of talk about cooperation, to deflect claims of unilateralism. He was pretty good, and I wonder why he doesn't do this more often. Ultimately, though, the issue isn't the communication, but the way things work out. It's not the talk, but the results.

UPDATE: Bush's tie comes in for criticism. (Related tie post here, in case you care where Bush and Kerry get their ties.)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen Bainbridge liked the speech less:

I just don't think this speech did it. One did not come away with the dominant impression being one of fire and brimstone, that we're going to kick butt and take names, that messing with America is a fatal mistake.

I don't think that was the speech Bush was trying to give, and I don't think that's the speech we needed right now. I think that would have come across as overly bellicose, and maybe even insecure. But I could be wrong.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The press is getting a bad review, with this as the best line: "It's less than unimportant. It's press corps important. And it's why I find myself listening to the press less and less these days."

I thought that the press was better than usual, too, actually -- by, again, its own not very exacting standard. But maybe I'm just in a mellow mood tonight.

MORE: Roger Simon (he's a Hollywood guy, so he should know) liked the speech:

I think Bush did very well and helped himself with this press conference. Most of all, he comes off as sincere and passionately committed--and I think on the War on Terror he is. . . .

I also think he should give more press conferences because, although he certainly does not have the verbal skill of a Clinton, he does not seem as if he is trying to gull anyone either. Against the media, which is populated with people desperate to stand out from the crowd to make themselves known, he automatically looks good.

I think that was the White House strategy. Click "read more" and scroll to the bottom for the Don Gonyea question to see what I mean.

Donald Sensing says that Bush and Kerry are sounding more alike on Iraq. And Jeff Jarvis observes that the President seems to have listened to Jay Rosen, and adds:

Just amazing that the reporters keep harping on wanting Bush to say that he made a "mistake" or "failed" or should "apologize."

Jeesh, do they think this is Oprah and they're all Dr. Phil?

They hope.

STILL MORE: Jack O'Toole gives a mixed review: the speech was "quite good," the press conference "disappointing." Meanwhile reader Eric Hall emails:

One thing I noticed besides Bush's excellent closing ("change the world, our responsibility, make America safe") is that the press is trying to define Bush for the election. They touched on "inability to communicate", "needs to apologize" and "failed to act". Get ready for seven months of that.

Nonsense. That would be partisanship, and they're professionals.

Lily Malcolm: "I agree with Glenn that the President did a good job, certainly relative to some of his other extemporaneous public speaking performances. There wasn't too much of that cringe-inducing nervous cockiness we've seen from him in the past." High praise!

BlackFive: "Overall, he didn't do so well. . . . He did better the longer it went on."

Rene: "Bush doesn't have the polish and command of facts that Clinton had nor does he have the stage presence and comforting voice of Reagan. However, as I see it, he exudes resolve."

Here's an online transcript of the press conference, which makes my liveblogging pointless except for a few interspersed comments.

Andrew Sullivan: "I found the president clear, forceful, impassioned, determined, real. This was not an average performance."

Virginia Postrel: "George W. Bush is not the most articulate of men, but he is really good at one kind of speech: laying out in simple language the way he's thought through a policy decision."

Neal Boortz: "We started this orgy of apologies during the Clintonista era. They are little more than moral exhibitionism."

Another roundup of blog-reactions here. And Porphyrogenitus finds evidence that the Bush playbook looks a lot like the Den Beste playbook.

Spoons didn't like it much: "Well, it wasn't universally horrible, but it wasn't good."

Tom Maguire: "The speech was strong (we are no longer surprised by this); the press conference was not weak (yes, this is a bit surprising)."

Glittering Eye: "Adequate but lackluster. . . . What did impress me was the palpable disdain the press had for the President and the clear sense that they were gunning for a useable sound-bite."

Finally (it's my bedtime) here's Charles Austin's observation on the dog that didn't bark:

There weren't any questions from Big Media about the state of the economy. Hard to imagine a clearer signal that the economy is strong and probably getting stronger.

Several readers sent this kind of thought, but I think the White House let it be known that the topic was the war. Then again, if the press thought they could nail Bush on the economy, somebody probably would have asked anyway.

FINAL UPDATE: On Don Gonyea's question, reader Jonathan Miller emails:

Good God, what was that? The only hope he has of not losing all credibility is if the networks didn't identify him as an NPR reporter. [Oops!]

A side note: Gonyea has been the WH correspondent for the past five years or so. I ferociously dislike his wafer-thin reporting (and his Shatner-esque delivery). That question confirmed what I thought of him. Ugh.

"Shatner-esque?" That's not my take on Gonyea's reporting, but I'll certainly listen to him in a new light, next time.


Read More ?


JAMES LILEKS:

I think April will be my month off from marinating in the news 24-7, if only to get my blood-pressure down from hummingbird levels.

I think it may be May for me. I gave a talk on blogs last night to a community group, and once again when someone asked the hardest part of blogging I responded "having to pay attention to the news." I said over a year ago that if I ever quit blogging it would be because I got tired of that. I'm not ready to quit, yet, but whenever I take a few days off and live in blissful ignorance of the minutiae of developments around the world, I feel, well, a whole lot better. I think that blogging is worse than other work for that, because it's an immersive experience, and you don't have an organization, or a formal role, to interpose. (It is, as I've said before, like being a stand-up comic rather than a member of a band.)

I've seen a lot of studies showing that people who follow the news closely are more stressed,depressed, and unhappy than people who don't -- and I suspect that nobody in those studies followed the news as closely as serious bloggers do. It's the main downside of an otherwise delightful avocation.

JAY ROSEN THINKS that Bush should be delivering a speech to the nation instead of holding a press conference:

Let me see if I've got it. In tough times, the moment calls for a rough grilling by a special interest group eager to see your standing with voters sink. This will permit you to re-gain control of the national agenda and the election campaign-- far more effectively than a leader speaking directly to hearts and minds of the American people.

Make a lot of sense to you? . . .

Read the whole thing, which offers a somewhat more sophisticated take than the above suggests.

UPDATE: He might as well have given a speech. The Washington Post has already posted a past-tense report of the press conference before it's happened:

President Bush sought support for his embattled Iraq policy Tuesday in the face of rising casualties and growing doubts, holding his first prime-time news conference since before the war.

The president also faced questions about whether he ignored warning signs about the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and botched opportunities to eliminate the al-Qaeda network. A memo given to Bush a month before the attacks said Osama bin Laden's supporters were in the United States planning attacks with explosives.

Heh. It's like they've already decided on the storyline or something. . . .

FROM SADDAM TO SCOTT RITTER, via the United Nations:

A Detroit-based businessman of Iraqi origin who financed a film by Scott Ritter, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector, has admitted for the first time being awarded oil allocations during the UN oil-for-food programme.

Shakir Khafaji, who had close contacts with Saddam Hussein's regime, made $400,000 available for Mr Ritter to make In Shifting Sands, a film in which the ex-inspector claimed Iraq had been "defanged" after a decade of UN weapons inspections.

The disclosure is likely to raise further questions about the operation of the oil-for-food programme, which is already the subject of Congressional investigations and a separate high-level UN inquiry.

The Sheik claims he financed Ritter's film with, er, other money. Yeah, it's not fungible or anything.

I rather doubt that the UN inquiry will produce much, but I think that this raises the question of just how many apologists for Saddam will turn out to have been getting Saddam's money, and whose hands it passed through along the way.

UPDATE: A reader points out that Ritter appears to have been right about the "defanged" part, based on evidence to date. True enough, but Ritter went beyond that one item to serve as a sort of junior Baghdad-Bob by the time it was all over.

JOHN ASHCROFT SLAMMED JAMIE GORELICK TODAY:

Attorney General John Ashcroft strongly defended the Bush administration and himself today before the 9/11 commission, laying the blame for intelligence failures prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks squarely on the presidency of Bill Clinton.

Mr. Ashcroft said Al Qaeda was able to plan and carry out the attacks that killed some 3,000 people in large part because of policies of the Clinton administration and its deliberate neglect of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's computer technology. . . .

The attorney general sounded almost contemptuous as he spoke of a "legal wall" put into effect in 1995 to separate criminal investigators from intelligence agents in an effort to safeguard individual rights.

Far from protecting individual rights, Mr. Ashcroft asserted, the wall has been an obstacle to protecting the American people.

Referring to the 1995 document that constructed the figurative wall, Mr. Ashcroft went on to say, "Full disclosure compels me to inform you that the author of this memorandum is a member of the commission."

Mr. Ashcroft was a referring to Jamie Gorelick, a Democratic member of the independent, bipartisan, 10-member commission, who was deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: The Northern Alliance folks on Hugh Hewitt (I'm listening online) say that the response from Democrats and the press is "spin, spin, spin."

Meanwhile here's the text of the Gorelick Memo. (If you can get it to open -- I'm still waiting).

So how can Gorelick be sitting on this commission when her own decisions are at issue? I'm pretty flexible about conflicts of interest, but this seems pretty dramatic. More on that here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More Gorelick conflicts of interest here and here. (Earlier InstaPundit posts on this subject here, here, and here, with links to lots of other stuff.) She seems to have been a poor choice for the Commission all along.

MORE: Here's a link to the transcript from the 9/11 Commission hearings.

STILL MORE: Ethan Wallison of Roll Call says that Jamie Gorelick is on the wrong side of the table in this inquiry.

THE NORTHERN ALLIANCE BLOGGERS will be guest-hosting the Hugh Hewitt show tonight, starting right now. Follow the link and click "listen online" to, er, listen online.

BRUCE SCHNEIER WRITES that a national ID card won't make us safer. "In fact, everything I've learned about security over the last 20 years tells me that once it is put in place, a national ID card program will actually make us less secure."

THE KERRY CAMPAIGN'S "middle class misery index" is making Gregg Easterbrook unhappy. Or maybe not: "Kerry's index can make you giggle."

DOCUMENTING THE MOONBAT SWARM: It's all in the name of science! Or something.

MS. GORELICK, TEAR DOWN THAT WALL! Or at least, explain why you didn't:

Commissioner Gorelick, as deputy attorney general — the number two official in the Department of Justice — for three years beginning in 1994, was an architect of the government's self-imposed procedural wall, intentionally erected to prevent intelligence agents from pooling information with their law-enforcement counterparts. That is not partisan carping. That is a matter of objective fact. That wall was not only a deliberate and unnecessary impediment to information sharing; it bred a culture of intelligence dysfunction. It told national-security agents in the field that there were other values, higher interests, that transcended connecting the dots and getting it right. It set them up to fail. To hear Gorelick lecture witnesses about intelligence lapses is breathtaking.

No CYA here.

UPDATE: Background here.

GERHARD SCHROEDER CONTINUES TO PLUMMET: "Gerhard would kill for Dubya's poll numbers, but according to the German media it's Bush who is under pressure...go figure."

BOY, THAT JEFF GOLDSTEIN sure knows how to work variations on a theme. Each bit's different, but it keeps coming back to the chorus with a sense of perfect inevitability.

MICKEY KAUS has a number of interesting thoughts on the political situation in Iraq, which as I noted below is probably more uncertain than the military situation. Mickey thinks that delaying elections is a bad idea and that accelerating them may be a good idea.

There's some support for this view in the Zarqawi memo, which subsequent events appear to suggest is genuine. Zarqawi expressed concern that a transition to Iraqi self-rule and democracy would doom the insurgency. And there's also some evidence that the adoption of the Afghan constitution had a dampening effect on opposition there.

UPDATE: Interestingly, a reader emails that the BBC is reporting that Zarqawi is in Fallujah now. [LATER: Here's a web report.]

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a respectful Fisking of Kerry's Washington Post oped, from someone whose website design is, um, a bit derivative.

Meanwhile Tacitus has some interesting observations on the difference between the political and the military where insurgencies are concerned. Conclusion: "This war will continue. Changing presidents won't change that. It will be on your headlines and your television for years to come. The question before you as an American, then, is whether, how, and by whom you want it won. In that order." Read the whole thing.

And Patrick Belton at OxBlog has more thoughts on the Kerry oped.

MORE: Roger Simon takes a charitable look at the Kerry op-ed.

MISS USA PLANS TO USE HER POSITION to defend U.S. involvement in Iraq. ("A Republican, she told Reuters she would use her position to help explain America's involvement in Iraq. 'What needed to be done had to be done,' she said.") Joshua Claybourn has some doubts as to whether this will get much big-media attention. I don't.

SOME GOOD NEWS ON THE SCIENTIFIC AND MEDICAL FRONT: Here's one bit:

The company, Cyberkinetics Inc., plans to implant a tiny chip in the brains of five paralyzed people in an effort to enable them to operate a computer by thought alone.

The Food and Drug Administration has given approval for a clinical trial of the implants, according to the company.

The implants, part of what Cyberkinetics calls its BrainGate system, could eventually help people with spinal cord injuries, strokes, Lou Gehrig's disease or other ailments to communicate better or even to operate lights and other devices through a kind of neural remote control.

And here's another:

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- A dwarf mouse named Yoda has celebrated his fourth birthday, making him the oldest of his kind and far beyond 100 in human years, the University of Michigan Medical School says.

Yoda owes his longevity to genetic modifications that affected his pituitary and thyroid glands and reduced insulin production -- and which left him a third smaller than an average mouse and very sensitive to cold.

On the other hand, at the human equivalent of about 136 years, Yoda is still mobile, sexually active and ``looking good,'' said Dr. Richard A. Miller, associate director of research at the school's geriatrics center.

Keep working, guys.

SOME HAVE MADE MUCH of the reluctance of some Iraqi security forces to fight. But as Capt. Ed notes, there's a lot of that going around in Iraq:

Sheikh Hazem al-Aaraji, a representative of Mr Sadr in the Iraqi capital, was seized as he attended a meeting of tribal leaders at the Sheraton Hotel, one day after the US military vowed to "kill or capture" Mr Sadr himself.

Mr Aaraji's bodyguards stepped aside when confronted by US soldiers, who arrested Mr Aaraji and drove him away in a Bradley fighting vehicle according to the Associated Press.

This strikes me as a good thing.

UPDATE: Bill Herbert emails this story, noting that some Iraqi special forces have done quite well indeed. True enough, but they're the exception. That's probably not a surprise -- you don't build a firstrate army or police force from scratch in less than a year -- but it's still the case. The article also underscores the importance of a June 30 transfer of sovereignty, as these soldiers say they will quit if that doesn't happen.

AFTER SPAIN, WILL TERRORISTS TRY TO TOPPLE TONY BLAIR, so as to install more pliable and pacifistic socialist types?

If so, they'd better watch out for London Mayor "Red Ken" Livingstone, who was recently heard remarking:

I just long for the day I wake up and find that the Saudi royal family are swinging from lampposts.

Response: "And you thought these neo-cons were bad."

That should give them pause. Now if we could just get John Kerry to call for nuclear strikes on Tehran. . . .

UPDATE: Er, one reader, who I won't embarrass by naming, thinks that I'm advocating nuclear strikes on Tehran above. No, I'm pointing out the benefits in terms of deterring terror of having an opposition that's not more appealing to terrorists than the incumbent. I doubt that many people missed that, but just in case. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Gerald Hanner emails:

Rational readers didn't think that; your point was obvious. There are, however, those who go into lunar orbit at the mere mention of the word "nuclear."

Yes. I just got another from someone who blamed all Americans for being quick on the nuclear trigger. Er, but if that were true, the world would be a very different place. But perhaps people who take Ken Livingstone seriously (there are some, right?) perceive reality differently. . . .

April 12, 2004

A SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE? Maureen Dowd finally corrects an error.

THE MOSCOW TIMES OF ALL PLACES, feels the need to tell us that Iraq isn't Vietnam -- or Chechnya:

The Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah outnumbered the Marines and were armed with Kalashnikov automatic rifles, RPG-7 antitank grenade launchers and mortars. Chechen fighters used the same weapons in Grozny in 1995, 1996 and 2000, killing thousands of Russian soldiers and destroying hundreds of armored vehicles.

Just like the Russians in Grozny, the Marines last week were supported by tanks and attack helicopters, but the end result was entirely different. U.S. forces did not bomb the city indiscriminately. The Iraqis fought well but were massacred. According to the latest body count, some 600 Iraqis died and another 1,000 were wounded. The Marines lost some 20 men.

Read the whole thing. The reader sending the link observes that it's interesting that a Russian military analyst notices differences that the American media keep glossing over.

PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE AGAINST JOURNALISTS? Belmont Club notes suspicious similarities in treatment of journalists taken hostage, and in the resulting stories: "It is definitely a special forces operation. The question is: whose special forces?"

UPDATE: More thoughts here.

ED CONE: "Kos and Atrios are fighting the last war. The issue for the Democrats should be that Bush has mismanaged Iraq, not that we shouldn't have invaded in the first place."

That's certainly what the Democrats should be arguing -- except that then they'd have to come up with a plan. Despite Ed's urgings, Kerry has shown no sign of one beyond obviously empty platitudes about "more international cooperation" and the like.

Did the Administration have a good plan going in? I don't know -- but whatever plan they might have had was overtaken by events. As I noted a while back, it seems clear that the rapid collapse of Saddam's forces surprised the Administration and the military, who expected months of fighting, far more casualties than we had (or have had to date) and a more or less orderly advance that gradually incorporated conquered territory under our administration. Maybe they had a great plan for that eventuality, but things didn't break that way. Instead, we were in Baghdad in three weeks, with the entire country falling into our hands and without inflicting especially heavy casualties (which may have made a psychological difference).

The real question is what we do now, not what was done before. (As this DefenseTech post notes, the issues are really political, not military).

To the Democrats, well, "we'd all love to see the plan." Where is it?

UPDATE: Michele Catalano: "It's not the war being waged in Fallujah and Sadr City that scares me the most, though. It's the war being played out against America - by Americans." N.Z. Bear has related thoughts.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More on Kerry:

Past events, such as the conflicts in the U.N. and NATO over the policies towards Bosnia, Rwanda and Kosovo, demonstrate the inability of the international community to put aside their own interests for the good of a nation in peril. President Clinton, perhaps the most loved of American presidents in the international community, could not build a consensus amongst the U.N. to resolve these problems. Perhaps Senator Kerry believes he will have more success in convincing foreign governments unwilling to cooperate in the stabilization of Iraq. He should outline his plan to create this international harmony. And he also should outline his plan in case his effort to internationalize Iraq fails.

As it almost certainly would.

GUINNESS REALLY IS GOOD FOR YOU!

Brennan, like many cardiologists, recommends a drink a day for his cardiac patients. Red wine, in particular, has been shown to help prevent heart attacks. Now maybe it's beer's turn. A University of Wisconsin study last fall found that moderate consumption of Guinness worked like aspirin to prevent clots that increase the risk of heart attacks. In the study, Guinness proved twice as effective as Heineken at preventing blood clots. Guinness is loaded with flavonoids, antioxidants that give dark color to certain fruits and vegetables. These antioxidants are better than vitamins C and E, the study found, at keeping bad LDL (bad) cholesterol from clogging arteries. Blocked arteries also contribute to erectile dysfunction, as does overindulgence in alcohol.

Guinness has a higher concentration than lighter beers of vitamin B, which lowers levels of homocysteine, linked to clogged arteries. And researchers have found that antioxidants from the moderate use of stout might reduce the incidence of cataracts by as much as 50 percent.

It's milk's line, but beer gives you strong bones, too.

That's actually a Belhaven Scottish Ale I'm drinking in the picture, but I suspect it's medicinal too, and you can't drink the same
medicine all the time. And, as you can see from the other picture, my brother is taking no chances with his health, either.

Well, if Lileks can write about his Easter travels, I don't see why I can't post photos of mine. That's Nicholson's in Cincinnati, where my brother and I enjoyed a couple of cool ones. Nice place. Though I'm not a serious Scotch drinker, they gave us a sample of Aberlour A'bunadh, which was very nice if rather strong. Is it good for your heart, too? Why take chances. . . .?

JEFF JACOBY and Louis Freeh both have comments on how the world -- especially the intelligence and foreign-policy world -- has changed since 9/11, and how difficult it is to look at pre-9/11 actions without engaging in excessive hindsight.

Freeh, of course, has some incentive to make that point.

RICHARD CLARKE will be working for ABC News. This has left some people unimpressed. I'd say that Clarke moved just in time, as his credibility is facing new challenges:

Disputing Clarke's claim, Rice testified customs agents "weren't actually on alert."

At least one of the agents who helped apprehend Ressam sides with Rice's version of events.

Moreover, others involved in the Ressam case say Clarke's book contains factual errors and wrongly implies national-security officials knew of Ressam's plan to set a bomb at Los Angeles International Airport long before they actually did.

More in this report. And consistent with the poll I linked yesterday, showing that the 9/11 hearings seem to have helped Bush, a reader sends this story:

A growing number of Americans say they believe the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush did everything that could be expected to stop the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to two new polls.

A Time/CNN survey taken yesterday showed that 48 percent of Americans said they believe the Bush administration did all it could to prevent the attacks, up from 42 percent in a poll taken March 26-28. A CBS News poll, also conducted yesterday, showed 32 percent of Americans said the administration did everything possible to stop the attacks, up from 22 percent the previous week.

The two polls follow the testimony of U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and former Bush and Clinton administration counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke before an independent commission investigating the terrorist attacks.

Ouch.

UPDATE: More on Ressam here. It seems that he was actually a casualty of the war on drugs, as Customs agents, rather than looking for a terrorist, thought he was a smuggler:

They peered in and saw no spare tire. In its place were several green bags that appeared to filled with white powder, as well as four black boxes, two pill bottles and two jars of brown liquid. A drug dealer, perhaps? . . .

Johnson took a sample of the white powder from the trunk to test. Was it heroin, speed, cocaine? Negative on each. As he shook the jars of brown liquid, Noris, who could see Johnson from the patrol car, ducked down to the floor.

Within a couple of days, the inspectors would learn that the brown liquid Johnson had shaken was a powerful, highly unstable relative of nitroglycerin that could have blown them all to bits.

(Emphasis added.) Doesn't sound like this was because of a terrorist alert to me, and it suggests that Clarke is rewriting history again. I doubt he'll do a lot for ABC's reputation.

OVERUSE OF THE NANOTECHNOLOGY LABEL is being called securities fraud by some.

AM I BEHIND THE CURVE? I'm quoted in the latest Wired as saying that the Bush folks are way behind where blogs are concerned. And certainly Larry Purpuro's dismissive comments supported that. But on the other hand, the BlogsforBush blogroll now lists over 400 blogs who have signed on as officially affiliated Bush blogs.

UPDATE: My mistake -- they're not officially affiliated, and one of the bloggers associated with it says that Blogs For Bush is more a sign that the Bush Campaign doesn't get blogs, and that the slack is being picked up by outsiders, than that the Bushies are on the ball. Er, I mean, this proves I was right all along! Yeah, that's it.

MARK STEYN:

So how bad are things in Iraq?

Answer: not very. Fallujah is not the new Mogadishu, Muqtaba al-Sadr is not the new Ayatollah Khomeini and, despite what Ted Kennedy says, Iraq is not ''George Bush's Vietnam.'' Or even George Bush's Chappaquiddick.

Here's a good rule of thumb: The Pentagon's demonstrated in two wars now that it's got beyond Vietnam. If a politician or pundit can't, pay him no further heed. If Sen. Kennedy wants to give rhetorical aid and comfort to the enemy, he could at least be less lazy about it.

Now here's the more important question: Are the Iraqi people on the American side?

Answer: No. . . . That's the point to remember: The Iraqi people don't want to be on the American side, only on the winning side.

Read the whole thing, which offers some interesting insights from Steyn's own visit to Fallujah, and some thoughts on what the coalition has been doing wrong.

CAN'T BLAME JOHN ASHCROFT FOR THIS ONE: John Leo notes a serious threat to free speech in Canada. What's left of it there, anyway, which is pretty limited by American standards.

UPDATE: Reader Kevin O'Meara emails: "It will be interesting to see if the Canadians apply this law to sermons in mosques." Yes, it will be.

ROGER SIMON WRITES: "It's the mullahs, stupid!"

Nowhere can we see that better [than] in the see no evil, hear no evil international response to that fulcrum of Islamic fascism itself Iran. One of the most populous countries in the region with one of the most educated populaces, if not the most educated populace, its people are suffering under one of the most heinous regimes in the world, a mullahcracy that is the greatest single exporter of violent terror and frightening reactionary ideology extant. All of this is enabled, even de facto supported, by our European allies (yes, including the British, alas) who have treated the mad mullahs in much the same way they treated the Nazis in 1937, looking the other way to preserve their business interests. Meanwhile students are tortured, dissidents murdered, nuclear weapons constructed and millions of dollars sent overseas to support their Islamofascist brethren in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond.

Read the whole thing. Roger also notes that there's considerable resistance to the mullarchy in Iran, and that we should be supporting it.

JOURNALISTIC ETHICS UPDATE:

NEW YORK -- Blindsided by a controversy over its corporate ties to the publisher of Richard Clarke's book, "60 Minutes" has promised that it will not happen again.

Indeed. The piece notes the dangers posed by media consolidation, though I think pays too little attention to the political temptations, and motivations, involved in the treatment given Clarke's book.

UPDATE: Reader Paul Shelton emails:

In a far cry from CBS, kudos to NBC last night for their movie "Homeland Security." Although I rarely watch network television, I happened to tune in and was very impressed. The lack of political correctness or political motivation was surprising.

Did you see it? I thought it was a realistic, gripping account of the troubles with the FBI/CIA firewall that caused many of the blindspots before 9-11. The scenes in Afghanistan were also gripping. It depicted the inability to "connect the dots" in a variety of ways at the agency level. The movie tactfully did NOT focus on the president or his cabinet. A very refreshing take on a subject, even to the point of depicting men of Arab descent who were involved in terrorism as "bad guys!"

Shocking. Good for NBC.

I didn't see it, but that sounds good.

BLOGGERS MAKE IT BIG -- Mitch Berg emails:

The Northern Alliance will be filling in for Hugh Hewitt tomorrow and Wednesday, 6-9 Eastern/3-6 Pacific.

Over the two days, the show will feature Captain Ed, PowerLine, Fraters Libertas, King Banaian from SCSU Scholars, James Lileks, and me.

Cool!

HOWARD KURTZ has a McCain Veeptalk roundup. Just remember, you heard it here first!

PEOPLE GENERALLY SEEM to like the new site design. One person complained that I took down the blogroll -- er, no, it's over there on the right, which makes the page load faster than when it's on the left. Just scroll. Also note that you can change font sizes to suit your display, just click on the stylesheet switcher on the right.

A couple of readers wondered, meanwhile, if there was political significance to my blogroll moving from left to right, though there was some disagreement as to whether I was "moving right" or "subtly positioning myself to the left of the blogosphere." Er, neither.

The site redesign is by Stacy Tabb of Sekimori Designs, who rules.

WINDS OF CHANGE has its war news roundup posted. Among other things, we learn that Iran has pumped $80 million into Sadr's revolt. That seems to call for a response.

JEFF JARVIS has a roundup of Iraqi blog posts, which offer interestingly varied perspectives on what's going on. Zeyad is particularly depressed, but Alaa offers this point, which seems clearly true:

I hope you all realize that a major objective of the enemy is to produce defeatism in the U.S. and allied nations home front, counting on the democratic process to force the hand of policy makers. The War in fact never stopped from the first day of the fall of the Icon....

One thing is fundamental though: Once you start exercising firmness it will be disastrous if you falter and show weakness again. Diplomacy and politics are essential of course, but the arguments of the strong are always much more convincing.

Indeed. Meanwhile David Schuler wonders why Sadr's Iranian support is getting so little media attention.

SOME THOUGHTS on biosecurity and the bioterror gap. I had a somewhat similar column here a while back. Different perspectives, same problem.

ALPHECCA'S WEEKLY SURVEY OF MEDIA BIAS CONCERNING GUNS is up. He notes a particularly juvenile piece by Mike Seate in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Grow up and get a clue, Mike.

HOWARD DEAN'S LATEST OPED gets a bad review:

Dean's editorial perfectly encapsulates the Democratic approach this year; their focus isn't on what they can offer the American public but simply to vent hatred as a selling point. Here's a measure of what Dean is selling: Ralph Nader is mentioned in the text of this article eight times, not counting the headline. George Bush is mentioned seven times by name.

John Kerry is mentioned once.

Ouch.

POWER LINE: "I wonder: does Glenn Reynolds cover beauty pageants? He may want to start." Hmm. They make a persuasive case.

April 11, 2004

QUITE A FEW PEOPLE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE predicted exactly this, and it appears they were right:

In the wake of Condoleezza Rice's testimony before a national television audience, 50% of American voters have a favorable view of the nation's National Security Advisor. Just 24% have an unfavorable view, while 26% are not sure or do not know who she is.

Following the Rice testimony, President Bush recorded his best two nights of polling in over a week. . . .

Rice's numbers are far better than those for Richard Clarke, the former Clinton and Bush official whose testimony two weeks ago kicked off a media frenzy. Following yesterday's testimony, Clarke is viewed favorably by just 27% of voters and unfavorably by 42%.

Interesting.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Donald Sensing and Jeff Goldstein note that the release of the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing is making Richard Ben-Veniste look very bad. Sensing:

It is baffling that Ben-Veniste made such a big issue out of the memo two days ago. He had already seen the memo and knew it had nothing about the 9/11 attacks. I can only surmise that he was sure the White House would never release it.

Goldstein:

Richard Ben Veniste knew this, too -- even as he tried using it to embarrass the Administration on national television. Because that's the kind of grandstanding nerd he is.

More thoughts from Patrick Belton and Daniel Urman.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt weighs in.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Neal Boortz:

Lost in all this is how the Clinton administration, which did virtually nothing to fight terrorism for 8 years, is getting a complete pass. Clinton turned down a direct offer to hand over Osama Bin Laden and yet Bush is the one that is being raked over the coals for somehow not doing enough. The reason is we are in an election year, and the Bush-hating Democrats want to politicize the tragedies of September 11th. Where's the outrage about that? The Republicans wouldn't be able to get away with that for a second.

Indeed.

MORE: One of Donald Sensing's commenters observes:

It might be that Ben-Veniste is counting on the sensational charges to stay in the public's memory, and that the less-than-sensational truth will be somewhere on A29 rather than above the fold, so to speak. I mean, if all I knew was what the headlines told me, I'd think the PDB laid out the entire 9/11 plan complete with ten-panel cartoon.

Makes sense, though it doesn't seem to be working. But the press is sure trying hard to make it work.

STILL MORE: Ann Althouse looks at the ratings and observes:

Bush supporters, it's fair to say, were far more likely to watch than Bush opponents. Democrats Bob Kerrey and Richard Ben-Veniste grandstanded, using Rice's presence as a way to get attention for their own opinions. But I'm sure this made a terrible impression on most of the people who were actually paying attention. The Democratic partisans who would have enjoyed Kerrey and Ben-Veniste's behavior were apparently not interested in hearing what Rice had to say.

Interesting.

YET MORE: A couple of readers wonder if the Rasmussen poll above is accurate. I don't know, but it seems generally consistent with this report:

A growing number of Americans say they believe the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush did everything that could be expected to stop the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to two new polls.

A Time/CNN survey taken yesterday showed that 48 percent of Americans said they believe the Bush administration did all it could to prevent the attacks, up from 42 percent in a poll taken March 26-28. A CBS News poll, also conducted yesterday, showed 32 percent of Americans said the administration did everything possible to stop the attacks, up from 22 percent the previous week.

Sounds like the Rice testimony helped the Bush Administration.

IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE 9/11 COMMISSION HEARINGS, this alternative history by Gregg Easterbrook is interesting. What if Bush had taken decisive action against Osama and the Taliban before 9/11? Easterbrook has him being impeached for warmongering.

Kathleen Parker made a similar point on homeland security -- with Bush facing impeachment and being called "racist" for trying to round up a bunch of Muslims in August of 2001 -- a couple of years ago, but it very much bears repeating.

UPDATE: Another alternative history here.

And go read this post by Megan McArdle on the 9/11 Commission and intelligence:

Clinton didn't know. Bush didn't know. We didn't know. And the uncomfortable possibility remains that there are more events that we not only don't know about--but can't know about. Deluding ourselves otherwise isn't helping. And if it causes us to take costly, fruitless measures to reassure ourselves, it could actively hurt us.

Indeed.

I KNEW THE CATBLOGGING WAS A MISTAKE: Now Laurence Simon is demanding that I link the Carnival of the Cats. Hmm. Maybe this blogosphere niche is already getting all the attention it needs. . . .

MADE IT HOME ALIVE: More posts soon. Hope you like the new look -- it's by blog-design goddess Stacy Tabb of Sekimori Designs. She rocks, and you should hire her.

UPDATE: Sheesh. I checked my email and a couple of people are actually bitching at me for taking (part of) a weekend off. Jeez, guys, there are lots of other blogs out there, even when I'm not blogging. InstaPundit's just a tiny corner of the blogosphere, and when I'm not passing out the free ice cream, somebody else is sure to be.

[Kaus has been busy! What is he, a potted plant? -- Ed. Hell, no! And neither is Andrew Sullivan! Or OxBlog! And don't forget Power Line!]

Warning: include(/home/www/instapundit-archive/traffic.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/joyent-copy/home/www/instapundit-archive/archives/week_2004_04_11.php on line 2940 Warning: include(): Failed opening '/home/www/instapundit-archive/traffic.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/share/pear:/usr/share/php') in /home/joyent-copy/home/www/instapundit-archive/archives/week_2004_04_11.php on line 2940