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July 17, 2004

DAVID WARREN has thoughts on jihad. The Belmont Club has observations in response.

UPDATE: Somewhat related thoughts from Mark Steyn.

RAND SIMBERG is liveblogging John Young's speech from the Return to the Moon conference. And he's got other conference posts, too -- just go here and scroll.

WHAT IS CONSERVATISM for the younger generation? Interesting article from the New York Times, which might profitably be read together with this piece by Jim Glassman.

I certainly agree with this statement by Ramesh Ponnuru: "There is a serious possibility that the libertarian wing of the conservative movement goes off in its own direction, either breaking off or allying with the Democrats." The Democratic party, in its current configuration, is in decline. But the split between libertarians and social conservatives is likely to determine the shape of politics over the next decades.

UPDATE: More interesting thoughts here. Excerpt: "If we were not at war right now, the pressures in the Republican Party would be much, much closer to the surface than they are right now; we would have have seen real primary challengers and possibly even serious ones."

TOM MAGUIRE has suggestions regarding The New York Times:

The Times recently ran a very positive review of Joseph Wilson's book, "The Politics of Truth".

Since then, they have devoted just a few paragraphs to the follow-up on Wilson's credibility, buried in a larger story; shouldn't we expect more? Surely the question of how both sides approached the debate on our use of intelligence is newsworthy.

For example, missing from the Times rowback in the James Risen piece is any mention of the book review or the two Nick Kristof columns or the NY Times op-ed that launched Mr. Wilson's balloon. (Subsequent sourcing info in the WaPo.)

For a sense of how the media storm built, let's re-print the lead from the second Kristof column.

Read it all.

MICKEY KAUS is pining for Adam Nagourney. It's just not the same without him.

UPDATE: Robert Tagorda says it's not the same, but it's not better, either.

MARK STEYN:

Well, the week went pretty much as I predicted seven days ago:

BUSH LIED!! Not.

BLAIR LIED!!! Not.

But it turns out JOE WILSON LIED! PEOPLE DIED. Of embarrassment mostly. At least I'm assuming that's why the New York Times, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, PBS drone Bill Moyers and all the other media bigwigs Joseph C. Wilson IV suckered have fallen silent on the subject of the white knight of integrity they've previously given the hold-the-front-page treatment, too. . . .

But before he gets lowered in his yellowcake overcoat into the Niger River, let's pause to consider: What do Joe Wilson's lies mean? And what does it say about the Democrats and the media that so many high-ranking figures took him at his word?

He also quotes Roger Simon approvingly. The Los Angeles Times' Tim Rutten on the other hand -- still spinning for Wilson -- uses the same quote, but isn't as happy about it. No word from Rutten on the L.A. Times' own accuracy problems. It's a "sea of malice, mendacity and misrepresentation," all right. And Wilson is one of the fish.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire -- who's on a roll -- has more on Rutten's piece, "which continues the pattern established by Josh Marshall and picked up by Wesley Clark's former press spokesperson at Salon -- begin with name-calling and derogation of the other side." It pretty much ends there, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More from The Ombudgsgod, here. Excerpt:

So thorough was Wilson’s discrediting that the media’s “Bush lied” narrative came briefly to a halt. Wilson’s name nearly disappeared from print, except in the columns of a handful of conservative pundits who pointed out what had happened. Even Jim Romenesko, who normally covers media controversy like a rash, was totally silent, despite having provided plenty of coverage to Wilson’s earlier claims.

Now, like Imhotep in the Mummy Returns, Wilson is attempting to bring himself back to life.

I think he's coming unwound.

IT'S NOT JUST DICK CHENEY! Rumors that Kerry may drop Edwards from the ticket are picking up! Someone tell the New York Times!

(Yeah, I know, I shouldn't talk.)

UPDATE: More breaking news! Kerry has a replacement in mind, according to this report.

And there's more support here: "But naming Mr. Edwards did not immediately win over any substantial number of voters for the Democratic ticket, and the campaign between Mr. Kerry and President Bush remains statistically deadlocked."

BLOGGERS IN THE NEWS: Begging to Differ gets some ink in the Charlotte Observer.

KIMBERLY SWYGERT writes on logical fallacies among critics of testing.

TIME IS REPORTING that the 9/11 Commission will spell out a connection between Iran and Al Qaeda:

Next week's much anticipated final report by a bipartisan commission on the origins of the 9/11 attacks will contain new evidence of contacts between al-Qaeda and Iran—just weeks after the Administration has come under fire for overstating its claims of contacts between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

A senior U.S. official told TIME that the Commission has uncovered evidence suggesting that between eight and ten of the 14 "muscle" hijackers—that is, those involved in gaining control of the four 9/11 aircraft and subduing the crew and passengers—passed through Iran in the period from October 2000 to February 2001.

Will those who said that it was wrong to invade Iraq because there wasn't enough evidence of such a connection now weigh in in favor of invading Iran?

JOE WILSON has sent a letter defending himself. Tom Maguire is unimpressed.

UPDATE: Tom's commenters are even less impressed with Wilson's version of events. Samples:

And on the substance Wilson has never had a case, even on the surface, even before any investigations. His WaPo letter just brazenly asserts a non-fact -- nothing about any uranium reports from anywhere have been "discredited." The SOTU reference was to a Brit assessment on Africa, Africa has more than one uranium source, the Brits stood/stand by their assessment, which was not based in any war on the forged documents, and nothing Wilson says/said touches the matter, except -- as the SSCI noted -- to strengthen it somewhat by reporting the suspected approach by an Iraqi official in 1999. We knew enough on July 6, 2003 -- and so did the WH, or could have with two phone calls -- to have dismissed Wilson without any fuss. Some of us did.

----------

Amidst all his assertions, much is ignored, left unsaid.

It reminds me of the guy who truthfully said that his grandfather died in a concentration camp. The full truth was that the guy fell out of a guard tower.

Ouch.

UPDATE: More on Wilson here:

Wilson now makes no attempt here to claim that his wife didn't tout him for the job. That is quite telling. . . .

Indeed, Wilson freelanced that Bush was a liar about the Yellowcake story when he clearly didn't have all of the facts. That much is still obviously true. Whether or not Wilson's report bolstered the case that Iraq sought Uranium from Niger or not is an important question insofar as it would help demonstrate the degree of Wilson's dishonesty, but not the fact that he has been deeply dishonest.

You'd think this would be bigger news.

YET MORE: A lengthy analysis of Wilson's letter from Kronology, a blog I haven't read before.

July 16, 2004

LOS ALAMOS SHUT DOWN: That's what DefenseTech reports. And here's a Wired News story by DefenseTech's Noah Shachtman.

UPDATE: More from The New York Times, here.

ANNIE JACOBSEN, author of the "Terror in the Skies" story linked below, will be on the radio tonight according to reader Sandy Pedersen: "Jacobsen is going to do an interview with John Carlson on KVI in Seattle at 16:00 PDT today (16 July). They have an internet feed at 570kvi.com."

UPDATE: Liveblogged here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: So what does all this mean? Beats me. Jacobsen's story appears to be true, but the authorities say that the mystery Syrians check out. Assuming they're right about that -- which they may not be, but they're in a better position to know than I am -- the upshot is that we've got an object lesson in potential problems with security, in time to do something about it. It's also a useful reminder to the rest of us that we need to keep our eyes open, and not slip back into a September 10 mindset. Is there more to this? I don't know. Maybe we'll find out with further inquiry. Odds are that this incident doesn't amount to anything -- but note the other stories in the post linked below. It's time to pay more attention to this stuff.

MORE: Hugh Hewitt:

I hope someone has pushed this story in front of Tom Ridge, John Ashcroft, and yes the president and vice president, along with a cover memo saying: "Boss, if a similar situation develops and a 'Syrian band' takes an airplane down --or worse, commandeers it in a replay of 9/11-- the fact that this was a widely reported and discussed incident will be a damning indictment of the government's incompetence or worse, indifference. We need a detailed policy on such situations that is agreed upon and communicated throughout the aviation network, and we need it yesterday. We still haven't got such a policy on the suitcase drill, but this one is even more urgent as we control this issue and we can't dictate to every city what to do if empty suitcases start turning up. Not to respond rapidly, effectively, and formally will be on all of our heads, appropriately so, if this sort of thing really does turn out to have been a 'dry run.'"

He's right. I hope the right people notice.

STILL MORE: This piece by Bruce Schneier on handling terrorist subjects is, sort of, related. And worth reading. And note that the earlier post has been updated quite a bit.

MORE STILL: Patterico says that the government is making the problem worse, not better.

EARLIER, I MENTIONED that Peggy Noonan had responded to Austin Bay's email on taking a "time out" from the war. Now Austin (still in Iraq) sends this commentary on Noonan's response:

Glenn,
Peggy Noonan and I completely agree on the raison d'etre for fostering democracy--- doing so creates more peace and less war. Empirical evidence supports the connection, folks. It ain't theory.

Frankly, I could use "less war" at this very moment. What I could really use is a shot of single-malt followed by another hour of sleep.

Iraq has such potential --water, people, source of capital (oil). Twenty years from now the pessimists will be as discredited as...well, as Ambassador Joe Wilson is, to pluck a current blogosphere for-instance. But that's twenty tough years of hard, slow, grinding work. That's a difficult story, so complex and intricate-- gosh, you have to know something about Babylon as well as the International Monetary Fund. Fostering democracy requires patience and a long, broad time horizon. Our 24/7 news mavens focus on the quick hit of glitz, gotcha, and gore. This project isn't quick.

Noonan's right. It takes leadership to focus the nation on the genuine rewards of that deeper horizon.

...but I sure could use another hour of sleep...

If only I could email those.

LEE SMITH writes on the myth of Islamist democracy and argues that we should be pushing harder for Western-style freedom in the Arab world. He also makes this important, if obvious, point about French interference in these efforts:

And as even Chirac surely knows, proof that they are incapable of self-reform is provided by the steady stream of Arabs who have fled those failed states for Europe and the United States.

Chirac is not defending Arabs, only his position as a dear friend and frontman of those Arab rulers who have no wish to reform their governments. Maybe democracy can't be imposed, but democratic and liberal reforms certainly can.

Indeed.

OUT OF THE CLOSET: Human Rights activists are standing up for their legal rights, despite the stares of the curious and the censure of the censorious. (Via Jeff Soyer -- more background here.).

IT'S A MEDIA ENRON -- but somehow it's not getting nearly as much ink:

The news at Newsday went from bad to worse yesterday, as the parent Tribune Co. revealed that the paper's circulation totals were inflated over a longer period and at higher levels than it admitted last month. . . .

James Marsh, a media analyst with SG Cowen Securities, said the circulation trouble is frustrating "because it seems to be an issue that won't go away."

He added: "It's like a zombie. You hit it with a shovel and think it's dead. But the next thing you know, it's on the porch and looking in the window."

Last month, Newsday disclosed it overstated daily circ in September by 40,000 copies and Sunday circ by 60,000. The circ of Hoy, its Spanish-language sister, was inflated by 15,000 daily and 4,000 Sunday. . . .

But yesterday Tribune said it found "additional misstatements" for last year and March, plus new errors affecting totals reported in 2001 and 2002. . . . The added embarrassment for Newsday and Hoy came as the U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn probes the circ irregularities.

In addition, several advertisers have accused the papers in a lawsuit of fraudulently inflating circulation, including the dumping of copies.

(Via Stephen Green, who observes: "Meanwhile, thousands (hundreds of thousands? millions?) of blogs continue to allow their SiteMeter hit counters to be seen by anyone.")

UPDATE: A reader says this isn't of Enron caliber. Well, not by dollar amount -- but it's worth noting that this reporting problem goes way beyond Newsday and may turn out to afflict the media industry generally. And it goes straight to what the industry claims to deliver -- and calls its truthfulness, which is its overall stock in trade, into question.

Then there's the hypocrisy angle, given the way they cover corporate shenanigans in, you know, other industries.

CATHY SEIPP:

A few months ago I found myself at lunch with a couple of women my age who kept insisting that (a) rape is purely a crime of violence, not sex, and (b) since I write for Penthouse sometimes, I'm part of the problem, because pornography contributes to a rape culture by sexually objectifying women. (Uh, I feel I should point out here that I've never written porn for Penthouse, just pristine articles about Hollywood topics that could run in any PG-rated publication.) The logical retort — that if rape is only a crime of violence, not sex, then what does sexually objectifying women have to do with rape? — only occurred to me once I was driving home.

This is part of an interesting discussion over at The Volokh Conspiracy, where Cathy is guest-blogging.

MICHAEL PHILIPS WRITES:

And you thought John Edwards's smile was bright. Milton Glaser, designer of the highly successful "I (Heart) NY" campaign, is hoping to make a political statement when the GOP hits the Big Apple in late August. At lightupthesky.org he is urging the Anyone-but-Bush crowd on August 30 to "gather informally all over the city with candles, flashlights and plastic wands to silently express our sorrow over the innocent deaths the war has caused."

Ah, a sunny little demonstration indeed. But to what end exactly? As near as anyone can tell, Mr. Kerry's position on Iraq is the about same as Mr. Bush's with the implicit promise that he can somehow persuade the French to participate. For that to happen, the plastic wands will have to have magical qualities.

The Nation devoted a page in a recent issue to Mr. Glaser's light-up-the-sky plan. The irony of course is that it was The Nation's bright idea to try to chase out of the presidential race the only high-profile antiwar candidate. Its editors wrote an open letter to independent candidate Ralph Nader back in February urging him not to run. They must be pleased that the consumer-rights advocate may get on the ballot in only a handful of states due to maneuvering by Democrats in key states. Seen in this light, the left's behavior makes the August 30 gathering sound a bit too precious. Here's hoping the cloud of hypocrisy doesn't darken their spirits.

Indeed.

1968 REDUX? Billy Beck has some questions.

IRAQ, WMD, AND WAR: It's interesting to see Steven den Beste on the same page, in many ways, as Bill Clinton. At least, reading the two items together provides a more nuanced picture than we're getting elsewhere.

VODKA PUNDIT AND THE WEBLOG OF TOMORROW: Check out this cool site redesign by Stacy Tabb. Yes, she rocks.

TERROR IN THE SKIES UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has checked out the story I linked earlier, and it's apparently true, at least in major outline.

UPDATE: Hey, maybe the whole story is really good news.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has still more information, and reports that the Washington Post has been working on the story, but hasn't published yet. On the other hand, Donald Sensing remains skeptical.

Daniel Drezner would like to see this get more media attention and investigation. So would I.

MORE: Additional thoughts from Spoons and Steven Den Beste on what people should do. More here, and here, too.

STILL MORE: Eric Scheie shares an experience from September of 2001. And reader Bruno Behrend emails:

I've been scanning the stories on the airline incident. As of yet, no one
is raising the possibility that these people on the plane are decoys to
distract attention from something more important.

Good point.

MORE STILL: Pilot reader James White emails:

1. I share Rev Sensing's skepticsm on most aspects of the report. There are a lot of details in the article such as those involving crew actions that are either flat out wrong or that she couldn't possibly have known enough about to assess things as she did. Based on subsequent news (like Malkin's confirmation of some aspects of the incident), I'll accept that the gist of her story is valid but embellished with uninformed speculation and conventional wisdom.

2. I find the idea that this was a suicide hijacking/bombing team (even on a dry run...) extremely unlikely - I don't know what the "chicken out" rate on suicide attacks is but I know there is one, and that alone dictates the smallest team possible for any suicide operation. It stands to reason that the greater the number of suicide attackers, the greater the possibility that one or more of them WILL chicken out and compromise the operation. I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised to discover that that was how we found out about the 1995 plot to blow up multiple airliners over the Pacific. And it's probably why you can build a reasonably strong circumstantial case that the "suicide mission" nature of the 9/11 hijackings was news to most of the hijackers.

3. I'll bet it's within the power of any number of entities (the Syrian government comes to mind given the passports in this case) to assemble a group of people with "clean" records who can be briefed on how to go right to the edge of behavior that will get you arrested in an effort to sow fear and uncertainty among our population. Is it possible this was a psychological operation of some sort? The one way tickets, the abnormally large group, the bizarre behavior on the airplane (assuming these details are accurate) all point to people who wanted to be noticed.

Hmm. Perhaps we should return the favor by leaving a horse head in Assad's bed.

DARFUR UPDATE: Interesting news analysis from the Botswanan paper Mmegi.

UNSCAM UPDATE:

A Congressional committee investigating corruption in a United Nations relief program in Iraq has issued a subpoena for financial records from the French bank BNP Paribas.

The bank, which managed billions of dollars in oil revenue that were intended for relief aid through the so-called oil for food program, said it intended to release documents to investigators.

Stay tuned.

GREG DJEREJIAN looks at the likely outlines of a Kerry anti-terror policy.

SALON is carrying water for Joe Wilson. Ed Morrissey isn't impressed. The notion that editorials on Wilson, in response to the release of major reports blowing Wilson's credibility out of the water, are somehow "choreographed" seems to me to undermine the Salon case. Indeed, this sentence from the Salon piece seems to undermine the whole "vast right-wing conspiracy" argument all by itself: "The opinion pieces came on the heels of a July 10 report in the Washington Post that said Wilson lied when he claimed in public statements that his wife, a covert Central Intelligence Agency officer, had not recommended him for a fact-finding mission to Niger in 2002."

That's not choreography. That's consequences.

UPDATE: One of Morrissey's commenters observes a conflict of interest: "I guess Salon.com is worried about selling tickets for their cruise."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: Jonah Goldberg notes that the Salon piece is authored by Wes Clark's former press secretary, and observes: "I mean, come on, there is some actual merit to the case that Wilson deliberately lied for partisan reasons about some of the most serious issues imagineable. That's pretty much been proven. The case that Bush lied, meanwhile, continues to fall apart."

MORE: Ed Morrissey observes this failure to disclose: "I went back and double-checked the Salon article -- and they never mention Jacoby's connection to the Democratic party. Double-plus-good interesting ...."

OH, THAT LIBERAL MEDIA: An extensive survey of reporters' political donations produces some interesting data, and this overall observation: "President George Bush didn't receive a single donation from any outlet or reporter in my search." (Via Mickey Kaus, who adds: "Yoo hoo, Poynter people. Over here.") I guess this is more support for Evan Thomas's admission.

ANOTHER CHENEY THEORY:

The rumblings about VP Cheney are still out there and I'm willing to concede that they may all just be talk and rumor to liven up a slow patch in the election cycle. I don't think so, though. Right now, the scoop is that Cheney is "playing a key role" in making the list of candidates to be the new CIA chief. The last time I remember the Vice President playing that sort of key role was in 2000 where he headed the vice presidential selection committee and, well, look where he is now.

Heh.

UPDATE: On the other hand, Howard Kurtz is twitting Big Media's obsession with Cheney rumors: "It would be one thing if there was an active GOP campaign to replace Cheney, as there was a dump-Quayle movement in '92 (which got about as far with Bush's dad). But all this for a rumor? Aren't rumors the sort of thing that major newspapers tut-tut when tabloids or Web sites tout them and thus force the rest of us to pay attention?"

Since I think I'm the one who started the whole thing, back in 2002 (scroll down), I think I'll just keep quiet.

LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN: A Kerry/Edwards campaign poster you probably won't see anywhere else.

July 15, 2004

JAY CARUSO: "The Federal Marriage Amendment has failed and that is a good thing. I say this as a Christian, and a person that does not condone homosexual marriage."

BRYAN PRESTON ASKS: What was Joe Wilson thinking?

It is time to ask these questions, I think. Wilson constructed out of thin air the scandal of the 16 words, a non-scandal that has done a great deal of damage to the war effort in Iraq and to potential conflicts yet to be fought. We know know beyond doubt that he built that scandal on an edifice of lies, and it's apparent that he did so on purpose. Why would he do this? Self-promotion and the glory of a book deal, for a book that will be heading to the cut-out bins in short order now that he has been discredited, isn't a satisfying answer, at least not to me.

There very likely is much more to his story, and to his wife's story too.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Roger Simon has some thoughts and observations. "I think the Wilson/Plame escapade has little or nothing to do with whether Saddam tried to buy uranium of any sort in Niger or anywhere and everything to do with the power struggle between the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department. Wilson's trip to Niger was a charade. The CIA, or the part of the CIA that sent him, knew full well in advance that he would find nothing or say that he found nothing, nothing of significance anyway. In fact, if you were actually serious about finding out information about yellowcake sales, it seems the least likely way to go about it. . . . The Washington blood sport that may be behind all this is not reassuring to contemplate."

More speculation (frankly labeled as such) here. I'd like to see more reporting on this.

INTERESTING CLINTON INTERVIEW -- blaming the French and the Germans for the invasion of Iraq?

But at the time nearly everybody thought there was probably a stock of chemical and biological weapons there and it was vulnerable to falling into the wrong hands, either by design or by corruption within Saddam’s regime. And essentially the French and the Germans said we still don’t care. . . .

When both sides in effect fell away from him, the US on one side and France and Germany on the other, he [Tony Blair] was left with the prospect of walking away from what he believed was weapons of mass destruction site, or walking forward without the UN and Europe, it was a terrible dilemma for him. Let me remind you, I don’t know what the Butler report is going to say obviously, but at least according to the reports at the time and ever since, British intelligence was even more far leaning than American intelligence. The CIA for example never believed that Saddam had any ties to Al-Qaeda and the CIA we all know from President Bush’s hotly disputed State of the Union speech. It was the British intelligence, not American intelligence that believed Saddam attempted to get, or did get nuclear materials from Niger in Africa. So your intelligence was apparently more aggressive than ours and Blair had to act on it I think.

Interesting catch. (Full transcript here.)

THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY IS IN DISARRAY: No, more than usual.

THE CARNIVAL OF THE LIBERATED, a roundup of Iraqi blog posts, is up. As always, it's must-reading.

SEVERAL READERS WROTE that when you try to use the "contact us" email link at the Joe Wilson "RestoreHonesty.com" website mentioned below you get this response:

Date: 7/15/2004 21:23:22 -0400
From: postmaster@johnkerry.com

Subject: Delivery Status Notification (Failure)

This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification.

Delivery to the following recipients failed.

restorehonesty@johnkerry.com

I guess it's not valid anymore. . . .

ANTISEMITISM IN EUROPE: Some thoughts from Simon Montefiore:

Yet something has changed about the European attitude to Jewishness. One feels it everywhere: we have moved, as it were, from the world of Howard Jacobson back to Franz Kafka. This is connected to Israel, America, 9/11 and Iraq. For more than a decade now, Israel has been the fashionable bete noire of the chattering classes. The response to Israel in the European media, particularly the BBC and the Guardian, has long been prejudiced, disproportionate, vicious often fictitious.

A typical case of the media's mendacity on Israel was the invented coverage of the Jenin "massacre" (not) by British news organisations, which were so anti-Israel that they popularised an event that they could not have witnessed, because it had not happened. They never apologised - because any Israeli "atrocity" is seen to illustrate a greater truth. Another example was the Israeli assassination of the man whom the BBC called Hamas's "spiritual leader": Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was actually a terrorist boss, about as "spiritual" as Osama Bin Laden.

Yet, in the British media, every Israeli sin is amplified, while those of the Arab world are ignored. The million dead of the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam Hussein's 300,000 victims, thousands more massacred in Chechnya, the Arab militias killing black Sudanese, the torturing Middle Eastern tyrannies are ignored - but in Britain, every Palestinian death is reported like a sacred rite. Our media conceal the venom directed at Israel by Arab clerics, television and the internet, presenting Israeli complaints as propaganda. The Middle East commentator Tom Gross revealed in the National Review that when the "moderate" Saudi cleric Sheikh Abdur-Rahman al-Sudais visited Britain this month, the BBC hailed him as a brave worker for "community cohesion". Yet his Friday sermons call for Jews - "scum of the human race, rats of the world" - to be "annihilated". . . .

It is as if, in the mythical scale of 9/11, al-Qaeda had unlocked a forgotten cultural capsule of anti-Semitic myths, sealed and forgotten since the Nazis, the Black Hundreds and the medieval blood libels. Just words? But words matter in a violent world.

Read the whole thing. (Via Eugene Volokh).

UPDATE: This column by Mark Steyn on European double standards in hate speech law enforcement is worth reading, too, in this connection.

I'LL BE ON HUGH HEWITT'S SHOW in just a couple of minutes, along with Roger Simon. We'll be talking about Joe Wilson, and media coverage thereof. Go here to listen online.

IT'S A RUSH-THEMED CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES THIS WEEK: That's "Rush" as in Geddy Lee, not Limbaugh.

A BUNCH OF PEOPLE have sent me this link to a report on suspicious goings-on in the air, reminiscent of what actor James Woods noticed in August of 2001. I don't know if it's reliable, but with reports like this one it's hard to ignore.

And if it is true, it certainly reflects badly on Homeland Security.

UPDATE: It makes this discussion more relevant, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Related report here. Something's going on, but I don't know what it is. Meanwhile some people think the first report is a hoax.

MORE: James Lileks observes:

I tell you, something like this happens on a big scale – lots of planes dropping out of the sky, half the country is going to ask for detention camps. All because we didn't dare delay or inconvenience self-professed bands of Syrian "musicians" because it might suggest we were (gasp) dispositionally suspicious of a dozen Syrians clutching violin cases. Is profiling a good idea? Read the piece, put yourself on that plane before you answer the question.

It makes me wonder why any sane man would run for president in 2004, given what he might face. “Mr. President, New York has suffered an atomic attack.”

“Call the Security Council, and tell them – oh. Right. Is there still a UN?”

“It’s sideways in the river.”

“Hmm. Well. Is the League of Nations still answering the phone? I seem to remember they kept on a skeleton staff. Mostly janitorial. But we’ll have to make do.”

Or something like that.

MORE: Interestingly, a couple of readers have emailed with somewhat similar stories. I'm not sure what this means -- could this be some sort of training for law enforcement, rather than terrorists? Seems rather, um, obvious if it's terrorists. Then again, they were spotted before 9/11 -- it's just that no one realized what they were spotting.

More skepticism here, but those of you following links into to this post should note that Michelle Malkin has confirmed the essential details.

More thoughts, and a related report, here.

THE GLOATING CONTINUES: Check out Joe Wilson's other website, "The Politics of Truth." Note the two quotes at the top. Heh. Strangely, there's no reference to the Butler Report, or to the Senate Intelligence report, or to the other documents that make clear that Wilson's relationship with the truth is a rather distant one, as compared to his relationship with politics. . . .

UPDATE: Photoshopped gloating here. Or is it "gloatoshop?"

Yes, I'm gloating some more. And I'm not the only one.

We might as well, because the networks are ignoring the story. I guess they're just slow, or maybe they're embarrassed to admit how thoroughly they let themselves be suckered on this story.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire isn't exactly gloating in this post, but, well. . . .

PEGGY NOONAN has responded to the Austin Bay email I posted a while back.

ROGER SIMON says I'm right to gloat over the collapse of Joe Wilson's credibility. Well, then. . . .

Heh. Another bad investment. Maybe he's a Rove mole.

UPDATE: Maybe I should be louder about the gloating. Patterico notes that the L.A. Times is burying the Wilson story. And reader Jeffrey Lindemann offers more reason to gloat:

My advice: Gloat away. Wilson has centered his entire public persona around his alleged truth telling. For goodness sakes, his book was called The Politics of Truth, and his web site is entitled Restore Honesty. If someone like Wilson doesn't warrant a little gloating, I don't know who does.

Good point. I'm setting the Gloatron at "11."

DARFUR UPDATE:

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) will be arrested today in front of the Sudanese Embassy as part of an ongoing protest against what members of the Congressional Black Ccaucus say is genocide in the country’s Darfur region, Rush’s spokesperson confirmed yesterday. . . .

Rush will be the second congressman to be arrested in front of the embassy, joining Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who was arrested Tuesday.

Good for them. There's also this news:

Calling the present humanitarian crisis in Sudan's western region of Darfur an irrefutable example of genocide, Senator Sam Brownback (Republican of Kansas) said July 13 that the Senate would immediately introduce a resolution condemning the Sudanese government and calling for international intervention.

Nice to see bipartisan efforts here.

LIKE MILLI VANILLI'S GRAMMY AWARD, this "Restore Honesty" website by the now-discredited Joe Wilson is mostly of comedic value now. But wait, there's more -- scroll to the bottom and you'll see that it's "Paid for by John Kerry for President, Inc." Quite an embarrassment.

My advice to the Kerry campaign -- say that Wilson is lying about that, too. It'll be believable!

UPDATE: Daniel Moore emails:

The only problem with Kerry saying that Wilson is lying about the paid for by John Kerry is that every link on the page goes directly to a JohnKerry.com page.

The Kerry campaign needs to get a little moral clarity on the whole honesty thing and not have a well-documented liar out talking about how to restore it.

And reader Jay Borgmann emails:

It is going to be hard for the Kerry Campaign to distance themselves from this website seeing as they have the exact same page hosted on their website:

http://www.johnkerry.com/honesty/


Just blame the Evil Neocon Conspiracy. It's worked before!

And reader Michael Pittard emails: "Click on the 'What I Didn't Find in Africa - By Joe Wilson (The New York Times)' link at the bottom of RestoreHonesty.com. Ha Ha!" Indeed. Meanwhile several readers -- perhaps missing the tongue-in-cheek nature of my advice to Kerry -- note that a whois search shows that the RestoreHonesty.com domain is registered to:

Registrant:
John Kerry for President, Inc.
519 C St. NE
Washington, District of Columbia 20002
United States

Registered through: GoDaddy.com
Domain Name: RESTOREHONESTY.COM
Created on: 22-Oct-03
Expires on: 22-Oct-04
Last Updated on: 22-Oct-03

The domain may be good for a while, but I suspect that the page may "expire" before October 22.

And it certainly suggests that even the very first sentence on RestoreHonesty.com is a lie: "I'm not a politician and I'm not a political partisan."

Whatever you say, Joe.

THE GERMANS BOMBED PEARL HARBOR: Iraq intelligence issues explained.

I TOLD YOU SO: The Federal Marriage Amendment failed miserably yesterday, and there's reason to believe that it's backfiring on its sponsors.

It was a dumb idea, and it was never going to go anywhere. Meanwhile, Josh Claybourn explains why, as a Christian libertarian, he's happy about this outcome.

ARTBLOGGING: Go here to see the painting, and click "continue reading" for an interesting post by the artist on painting it, and comments from viewers. (My favorite bit: "I don’t think there is much to say about the feet… other than this: feet are weird. Don’t believe me? Try painting some. If you get them just right no one notices… but if they are the slightest bit off all you hear is 'so what’s the deal with those freak feet?'”)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JEFF JARVIS: One of his commenters says it best: "Dude, you're 50 and you still rock. How cool is that?"

Very cool.

ARNOLD KLING says that there are two Americas: the gullible, and the non-gullible. He's got lots of statistics.

ROBERT NOVAK BREAKS HIS SILENCE on Plame/Wilson:

For a year, Democrats have been belaboring President Bush about 16 words in his 2003 State of the Union address in which he reported Saddam Hussein's attempt to buy uranium from Africa, based on official British information. Wilson has been lionized in liberal circles for allegedly contradicting this information on a CIA mission and then being punished as a truth-teller. Now, for Intelligence Committee Democrats, it is as though the Niger question and Joe Wilson have vanished from the earth.

Because a U.S. Justice Department special prosecutor is investigating whether any crime was committed when my column first identified Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA employee, on advice of counsel I have not written on the subject since last October. However, I feel constrained to describe how the Intelligence Committee report treats the Niger-Wilson affair because it has received scant coverage except in The Washington Post, Knight-Ridder newspapers, briefly and belatedly in The New York Times and few other media outlets.

The unanimously approved report said, "interviews and documents provided to the Committee indicate that his wife, a CPD (CIA counterproliferation division) employee, suggested his name for the trip." That's what I reported, and what Wilson flatly denied and still does.

Plame sent out an internal CIA memo saying that "my husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity." A State Department analyst told the committee about an inter-agency meeting in 2002 that was "apparently convened by [Wilson's] wife who had the idea to dispatch [him] to use his contacts to sort out the Iraq-Niger uranium issue."

The unanimous Intelligence Committee found that the CIA report, based on Wilson's mission, differed considerably from the former ambassador's description to the committee of his findings. That report "did not refute the possibility that Iraq had approached Niger to purchase uranium." As far as his statement to The Washington Post about "forged documents" involved in the alleged Iraqi attempt to buy uranium, Wilson told the committee he may have "misspoken." In fact, the intelligence community agreed that "Iraq was attempting to procure uranium from Africa."

Why isn't this getting more attention? Wait, let me guess. . .

UPDATE: I should note that Ed Cone called me out rather rudely during a panel discussion at BloggerCon last year on the Plame story. It seemed obvious to him that the story was a clearcut tale of a noble and truthful civil servant being silenced by the Evil Bush Conspiracy, and that I was an idiot or a shill for suggesting otherwise. Ed, your apology will be cheerfully accepted.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed emails that he doesn't remember it that way. My recollection seems quite clear to me, but it is nearly a year old. Anyway, he did apologize and I did cheerfully accept it. Quite a few people beat up on me for suggesting that the Plame story was a bit more complicated than the simplistic narrative being peddled at the time, but I don't really expect apologies from them all. I do, however, plan to rub it in a bit more.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed emails back that he thinks it was Josh Marshall who guffawed at me, not him. He adds, very manfully:

My apology for being a clumsy moderator is sincere. I let that thread get away from me and saw it become a pissing match -- and not even on the subject I was interested in. Your ability to remain civilized under battle conditions is something I respect and aspire to myself.

Well, sometimes I manage. He's posted more here. If you'd like to see my earlier posts on the Plame matter, just enter "Plame" in the search window, or click here. This post is the one that seemed to get people upset, and that led to charges that I was ignoring the subject, strangely enough.

MORE: Reader Madhu Dahiya emails:

I was at the BloggerCon I session that you mention. I don't remember what Ed Cone said to you but I do remember there was considerable scepticism on the panel towards your "let's wait and see what pans out" attitude regarding the Wilson/Plame affair. And when you suggested that Novak be subpoened, the room practically erupted (it was not a popular suggestion). I think the majority of the criticism aimed at you was of the "why are you ignoring something that makes your guy look bad?" variety. Time and time again, the first version of a story is presented on blogs with righteous indignation by one side and a spirited defense on the other. And time after time, as the story develops, the original accusations and defenses look foolish. Just because blogs are a medium of extreme, uh, immediacy doesn't mean that you have to run with every story. Take your time and keep your own counsel seems to be good advice when the blog world bubbles over. You were right to proceed with caution.

Well, I get fooled sometimes, too. But as The Daily Howler (no Bush shill, he) noted, the master narrative people were peddling on Wilson/Plame never made sense.

RAND SIMBERG notes a human rights double standard.

GREG DJEREJIAN POINTS OUT MORE MAJOR ERRORS AT THE NEW YORK TIMES on the Niger uranium story. What's wrong with the Times reporters?

It certainly gives teeth to what Tom Maguire said:

Is this the New NY Times - lock the top reporter in a closet with a 500 page Senate report and a five day deadline? And how is that different from my own humble little blogging, anyway - hey, I am covering this story with as many sources as the NY Times! And more links!

And when you see how badly they're doing when all they have to do is sit in a closet with a 500 page report, it makes you wonder how well they report the things that require, you know, actual reporting.

UPDATE: This newer post by Tom Maguire is even more harsh regarding the Times' reporting -- or, perhaps I should say, non-reporting -- on this topic.:

Perhaps the Times can provide an anniversary piece - "How Invisible Can 16 Words Be?"

I have three words for their "16 Words" coverage - "Where is it?"

It's an absolute disgrace, and I hope that a major magazine will run a retrospective of this debacle -- in which media members were (willingly?) fooled by Joe Wilson, ginned up a bogus scandal, and then failed to admit it, or even report the key facts -- in a cover story naming names.

UPDATE: Greg Djerejian emails to note that the NYT has moved this story to a more prominent place on their website. "I guess the real test is what's in the paper version-something I can't check in London." I can't check it in my study, either. But regardless, they're not treating it anywhere near as prominently as they did the original Wilson charges.

July 14, 2004

HOME, after a long and weather-delayed flight from Boston. See you tomorrow!

UPDATE: At least my fellow travelers weren't fat and smelly!

THE SPECULIST'S WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF GOOD NEWS is posted. Enjoy!

CHIEF WIGGLES is asking for your help.

UPDATE: Reid Stott says the problem is solved now.

KNIGHT-RIDDER GETS IT WRONG: Looks like the press is manufacturing Bush quotes again -- you'd think it was an election year or something.

NEGLECTING PUBLIC HEALTH: My TechCentralStation column is up.

RED STATE is a new collaborative blog on politics that's worth checking out. Lots of well-known bloggers are involved.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS has more on the collapse of the Joe Wilson "Bush lied" story over at Slate:

Two recent reports allow us to revisit one of the great non-stories, and one of the great missed stories, of the Iraq war argument. The non-story is the alleged martyrdom of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Wilson, supposed by many to have suffered cruel exposure for their commitment to the truth. The missed story is the increasing evidence that Niger, in West Africa, was indeed the locus of an illegal trade in uranium ore for rogue states including Iraq.

And Roger Simon observes that the media outlets who were pimping Wilson's story last year are virtually ignoring its collapse:

What's interesting about both these stories is how under-reported they are by the mainstream media. They don't fit their narrative. (And don't call that "liberal." It's not to me. It has nothing to do with the liberalism I grew up with. Find another word or... better yet... don't find a word at all. Deal with the facts--or the absence therof, as the case may be.) A couple of days ago the Washington Post had a story on page nine about Mr. Wilson's serial prevarications. I asked at the time how many stories supporting him had appeared on the front page of that another papers when his initial (now bogus) allegations occurred--and what their response will be now. Patterico has some of the answers, at least as far as the LAT is concerned. It would be interesting to compare them to the WaPo and the NYT.

I notice some on here have claimed that some media are not biased. I wonder how, in the light of this nonsense, they can believe that.

As Evan Thomas admitted, the press has an agenda here: they're doing whatever they can to help Kerry and hurt Bush. The country? Worry about that later, if at all.

ANOTHER MYTH PUNCTURED: FIRST THE JOE WILSON "BUSH LIED" STORY COLLAPSES -- and now this, from the New York Times:

An article last Sunday about surprises in politics referred incorrectly to the turkey carried by President Bush during his unannounced visit to American troops in Baghdad over Thanksgiving. It was real, not fake.

What's next?

HOWARD KURTZ:

Here's something that could have been a front-page story, but which the NYT put at the bottom of Page 15 and other papers ignored. John Edwards, the self-proclaimed champion of the little guy, used a tax shelter to avoid paying $600,000 in Medicare taxes--this from a man who made $27 million in the four years before entering the Senate and had criticized tax shelters for undermining Medicare. What would the media reaction had been if Dick Cheney was found doing the same thing?

I think we know.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: The New York Times is finally reporting on the Joe Wilson fiasco, though in a fashion that tends to understate its importance. You have to read pretty far down, past some rather dry details to get to this:

Instead of assigning a trained intelligence officer to the Niger case, though, the C.I.A. sent a former American ambassador, Joseph Wilson, to talk to former Niger officials. His wife, Valerie Plame, was an officer in the counterproliferation division, and she had suggested that he be sent to Niger, according to the Senate report.

That finding contradicts previous statements by Mr. Wilson, who publicly criticized the Bush administration last year for using the Niger evidence to help justify the war in Iraq. After his wife's identity as a C.I.A. officer was leaked to the news media, Mr. Wilson said she had not played a role in his assignment, and argued that her C.I.A. employment had been disclosed to punish him.

Meanwhile the Butler Report has been released in Britain, and it's not helping Joe Wilson's credibility either. Jan Haugland has some excerpts.

UPDATE: Greg Djerejian, who's all over this story, says that James Risen makes serious errors in the New York Times story linked above.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tom Maguire on Risen's article:

Is this the New NY Times - lock the top reporter in a closet with a 500 page Senate report and a five day deadline? And how is that different from my own humble little blogging, anyway - hey, I am covering this story with as many sources as the NY Times! And more links!

That's how it's different.

July 13, 2004

SCOTT KOENIG turns the tables again.

GREG DJEREJIAN remains savagely on Joe Wilson's case -- and Josh Marshall's. ("Call it defining gotcha-journalism down.") Read this related post by Kevin Drum, too.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Tom Maguire wonders when Nick Kristof will come in from the cold. And read this, too.

JOHN LEO is twisting the knife on the L.A. Times' and Washington Post's humiliating Paul Bremer speech mistake. Leo observes: "What's new about the press is that so many people who follow it with a critical eye now have an outlet to howl about inaccuracy and partisanship. The big media used to be able to shrug off critics like this. Now they can't."

DARFUR UPDATE: This article from the Christian Science Monitor says racism is the problem:

The visits by US Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to Sudan last week gave hope that the genocide in Darfur can be arrested before an entire people is obliterated.

But anyone - including Mr. Powell and Mr. Annan - interested in averting more tragedy there must understand that Darfur is not an accidental apocalypse of mass slaughters, enslavement, pillage, and ethnic cleansing. The Darfur pogrom is part of a historic continuum in which successive Arab governments have sought to entirely destroy black Africans in this biracial nation.

Darfur is not a mere humanitarian disaster that access by international relief agencies can reverse. The raison d'être of the atrocities committed by government-supported Arab militias is the racist, fundamentalist, and undemocratic Sudanese state. What is required for peace in Sudan is either regime change, in which a democratic, inclusive state is born, or a partition, in which the black African south and west become an independent sovereign state free of Khartoum and the Arab north.

Read the whole thing. Regime change would seem better than partition, but I suppose I could be wrong.

OH, THAT LIBERAL MEDIA:

The media “wants Kerry to win” and so “they’re going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic” and “there’s going to be this glow about” them, Evan Thomas, the Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, admitted on Inside Washington over the weekend.

Give him points for honesty -- but it's pretty funny to hear people dismiss complaints of media bias in the face of admissions like this. And like so many stories this spring, it makes a mockery of campaign finance reform, doesn't it?

And Kerry is naming journalists as references. But they're not chummy!

UPDATE: Read this, too: I voted for the war, but I'm against it!

Full Evan Thomas transcript is here. Money graf:

MR. THOMAS: There's one other base here, the media. Let's talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win and I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards I'm talking about the establishment media, not Fox. They're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and there's going to be this glow about them, collective glow, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points.

Honest. But will Newsweek admit it in print?

PATRICK BELTON ON JOHN EDWARDS:

His economic populism aside, the senator's foreign policy proclivities are much closer to this blog's - and, if polling data be trusted, the nation as a whole - than his running mate's.

Read the whole thing.

ERNEST MILLER suggests that presidential campaign ads shouldn't be copyrightable:

Unbelievable sums of money have been and will be spent on television campaign commercials. They are the heart and sole of the modern campaign. They are the main reason campaign contributions play such an important role in our democracy. Until now, the ability to create campaign commercials has been the preserve of highly paid election consultants and strictly controlled by the candidates and parties themselves. However, the internet and computing revolutions are changing this. As the MoveOn contest proved, amateurs are perfectly capable of creating compelling campaign advertising. Why shouldn't they have the chance? Why shouldn't these materials be free to quote from? Isn't this what democracy and free speech is about? Of course, it may be that the parties and candidates don't really believe in free speech. . . .

For the works in the public domain there is clearly no problem. In fact, I'm not sure why any of these commercials are copyrighted anyway. After all, I seem to recall that tax dollars paid for at least a portion of many of those ads. And even if there is copyright, the holders of those copyrights should be asked why they won't permit licensing under one of the Creative Commons licenses.

I agree on all counts. Perhaps we need legislation providing that any candidate who accepts public funds must agree to permit such licensing.

UPDATE: It said "Ernest Svenson" above before. My fault. Sorry -- a brain-burp.

CATHY SEIPP WRITES that Maureen Dowd is being seriously upstaged by Barbara Ehrenreich:

I don't agree with Barbara Ehrenreich, who's a guest columnist on the New York Times op-ed pages through July, any more than I agree with Dowd. But Ehrenreich is an elegant writer who respects her readers' intelligence enough to realize that cute alliteration, tossed-in pop culture references and a few phone calls to friends do not an op-ed make.

Ouch.

THIS SEEMS LIKE GOOD NEWS:

Al Qaeda operations in Iraq have encountered unexpected problems. Iraqis have become increasingly hostile to al Qaeda's suicide bombing campaign. Religious leaders, which al Qaeda expects to get support from, have been openly denouncing these bombings. Iraqis, aware that they are more likely, than American soldiers, to be victims of these attacks, are providing more information on where the al Qaeda members are hiding out. Most of the al Qaeda in Iraq are foreigners, and easy for Iraqis to detect. As a result of this, many of the al Qaeda men have moved back to Fallujah, which has become a terrorist sanctuary. The interim government is trying to convince the tribal and religious leaders of Fallujah to back a military operation in the city to clear out the various al Qaeda, criminal and Baath Party gangs. But the gangs of Fallujah are quick to threaten any local leader that shows signs of supporting the government. While the Fallujah leadership is intimidated, many residents of Fallujah are not, and are providing information to the coalition, which has led to attacks, with smart bombs or coalition and Iraqi troops, on buildings used by al Qaeda, or other gangs, as headquarters.

Al Qaeda has found the atmosphere even more hostile elsewhere in Iraq, and many of the terrorists have returned home. This is especially true of those who came from Saudi Arabia (and other Gulf nations, particularly Yemen) and Syria. Few, if any, al Qaeda came from Iran, which is Shia Moslem. Al Qaeda is dominated by Sunni Moslems who are often violently anti-Shia. While the hundreds of returning al Qaeda veterans are still determined to achieve al Qaeda's goals of world domination, they are also more realistic. Fanaticism was not sufficient to chase the foreigners from Iraq, and the Arab media's sensational, and largely false, reporting of the impact of al Qaeda's attacks contributed to the disillusionment.

Al Jazeera -- CIA tool! (Via Scott Koenig, who notes that this is no accident, but part of the plan all along.)

UPDATE: This article from the Christian Science Monitor would seem to support the above account from StrategyPage:

But the city west of Baghdad is no longer a sympathetic rallying place for a unified Iraqi resistance. It is now seen as run by intolerant and exclusivist Sunni imams who are seeking to turn it into a haven for Al Qaeda ideologues. Fallujah is emerging as a symbol of the disparate nature of the overall insurgency inside Iraq. Many Shiites, like the Muthars, have stopped supporting it.

Since two of Muthar's brothers and four of his cousins - all members in a family trucking cooperative - were tortured and murdered in the resistance stronghold three weeks ago, he's changed his mind about how the US handled Fallujah.

"They should have done whatever it took to take that place over,'' Muthar says. "It's been left in the hands of people who call themselves Muslims but they're not. They're simply inhuman."

As reader Phil Costopoulos suggests, this seems to be precisely what Zarqawi feared would happen based on the captured memo (which seems to have been authentic, based on subsequent events) that he allegedly authored.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Tucker Goodrich emails:

At first I was furious when I heard the news that the decision not to let the Marines have free reign in Fallujah was made by politicians in DC.

But now, after seeing what's happening there, it may have been brilliant to leave it for the Iraqis. Public opinion over there seems to be swinging our way big time, as they realize what's actually happening to their country.

I think this may be right. And as suggested earlier in relation to Amir Taheri's article, the effect has been to immobilize and concentrate them, which is what insurgents usually want to do to the government forces.

And could this be practice?

MORE: Read this, too.

SOME DEPRESSING NEWS on an AIDS vaccine. I have to say that I expected a lot more progress than we've seen over the past couple of decades. I suspect that the whole approach needs rethinking.

AGING UPDATE: As my serious-reading book for this trip, I've brought The Fountain of Youth: Cultural, Scientific, and Ethical Perspectives on a Biomedical Goal, published by Oxford and edited by Stephen Post and Robert Binstock. It's a collection of very interesting essays on the topic of longevity, from a wide variety of perspectives (both Aubrey de Grey and Leon Kass are represented, which says it all).

UPDATE: By the way, interesting interview with Ray Kurzweil on longer life.

JAMES PINKERTON: "Some spoilsports might assert that spending money on luxe living is the wrong way to fight AIDS."

I TOLD YOU SO: As I've been saying, calling John Edwards a "trial lawyer" may fire up the base, but it's not a recipe for swinging undecided voters:

Having been a trial lawyer does not appear to be a significant problem for Edwards. 35% say this makes them more favorable to Edwards compared to 28% who say less favorable. Even more striking, 55% say that his trial lawyer experience shows that Edwards fights for the average person against big companies, while only 26% say that his trial lawyering contributed to the frivolous lawsuit problem. Seventy-nine percent of Democrats, 54% of Independents, and 32% of Republicans say that Edwards litigator background shows that he is someone who fights for the average person.

It's going to take more than repeated invocations of "John Edwards is a sleazy trial lawyer" if the Republicans want to turn people against him.

I'M DUBIOUS about the constitutionality of the federal sentencing guidelines, but this development is quite interesting: the Second Circuit has certified the question of their constitutionality to the Supreme Court. Like Eugene Volokh, I didn't realize that was possible.

MICKEY KAUS:

Didn't The Washington Monthly used to be a magazine that praised partisan machines and denounced activists who became lobbyists to serve the "parochial interests of their employer"? Oh, for the glory days of K Street! When influence-peddling was a cozy bipartisan enterprise! When civility reigned as Republican and Democratic sellouts cooperated to betray their parties' ideals.

Kaus notes that lobbying would be more bipartisan if Democrats won more elections. Let's see what the Washington Monthly has to say if Kerry wins in November. . . .

For some thoughts on why electoral turnover, and the lobbyist turnover it engenders, can be a good thing, you might want to read this piece I had in the Vanderbilt Law Review a few years back, entitled Is Democracy Like Sex?

Kaus also clarifies some points in response to Austin Bay's email, and promises a longer post on that topic later.

July 12, 2004

BEYOND JOE WILSON: Much more on the Senate Intelligence Committee report, from Dan Darling.

DARFUR UPDATE: Gary Farber has a roundup.

THIS IS THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM ON THE GAY MARRIAGE AMENDMENT:

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to hold a bellwether vote on a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage this week, an exercise fueled more by cultural symbolism than political reality, since members on both sides generally expect the measure won't get the two-thirds majority needed for passage. . . .

While many lawmakers in both parties oppose gay nuptials, there is no clear consensus whether a constitutional amendment is needed or whether a crisis exists requiring such drastic action.

In other words, a pointless exercise driven by social conservatives to fire up their base. But I wonder if people are thinking this through. If the amendment fails, as expected, isn't that going to be read as a defeat for the anti-gay-marriage folks, and as implicit permission for states to go ahead? It seems to me that it will be (which is fine with me, since I'm okay on gay marriage), but that makes me wonder why anti-gay-marriage folks are doing this. Am I missing something, or are they being played for suckers?

UPDATE: More thoughts here. And Eric Scheie has this observation: "I think that the proponents are more cynical than they might appear. I think they know they are going to lose, and therefore they'd rather lose in a big public way -- before the election."

KERRY AND EDWARDS ON THE WAR: Tom Maguire notices some things.

JEFF JARVIS LOOKS AT comparative styles in newspaper corrections.

CASS SUNSTEIN, University of Chicago Law Professor and author of Republic.com, is guest-blogging over at GlennReynolds.com.

ECONOBLOGARAMA: This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up, featuring business and economic blogging from all over.

JAMES TARANTO has a Plame/Wilson roundup in which he notes that yet another manufactured scandal appears to have evaporated. He also says that there was probably no law violation here, making this already weak scandal even weaker.

The real scandal, it appears, lies in the dishonesty of those who tried to create a scandal where none existed. And as The Daily Howler notes, it was always manufactured:

But we can find no place in Wilson’s book where he resolves this obvious point. If Bush talked about Africa; and Wilson only addressed Niger; then how could his observations, however valid, shoot down Bush’s larger claim? By page 328, Wilson says that, “From the sixteen words on down, in short, the whole administration line was bogus.” But we simply can’t find the place where he resolves that problem from page 313. As far as we know, Wilson never addressed that obvious point in his 487-page book, although he did find plenty of time to describe the various standing ovations he received in subsequent months, as grateful citizens, from coast to coast, applauded him for his illogic. Modestly, Wilson records their applause. But when did he learn that the “sixteen words” referred to Niger and to Niger alone? We can’t find that part of his book. Maybe some others can help us.

Did Saddam seek uranium from Niger? From Somalia? The Congo? From elsewhere in Africa? We don’t have the slightest idea. But we do know pure BS when we see it, and Wilson’s construction has never made sense. Don’t be shocked when the Senate committee tells you the things that we told you last year—things that had many readers upset, although they were right smack on target.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Clifford May writes: "Exposed and discredited, Joe Wilson might consider going back. . . . I don't think Joe Wilson is an evil man. I do think he is an angry partisan and an opportunist." That's very charitable of him. And Jonah Goldberg wonders what the Kerry campaign will say:

Now that it's becoming increasingly clear that Joe Wilson lied and distorted the facts in order to preen in front of the cameras and attack the Bush campaign, shouldn't John Kerry disavow the guy? After all, Wilson was more than a mere Kerry supporter, Wilson was a designated campaign surrogate and foreign policy advisor. If you troll through Nexis you'll find numerous articles about Wilson's role as a de facto campaign spokesman.

It is an embarrassment for them.

TERRORIST ATTACKS AND ELECTION DELAYS: Eugene Volokh rounds up some discussion. It seems to me that a terrorist attack would have to be awfully massive to block an election (a smallpox release might do it, but I can't think of much else). I agree with Rick Hasen, though, that it's worth thinking about the logistics in advance.

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF has posted his European Union news roundup. As always, it's worth reading.

ALPHECCA'S weekly report on guns and the media is up.

SOME USEFUL PERSPECTIVE:

THE Senate Intelligence Committee report on the intelligence failures gov erning run-up to the Iraq war is a devastating document — for those who might have thought the sole reason to go to war in 2003 was Saddam Hussein's presumed stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.
The thing is, I don't know a single such person.

Those who supported the war, in overwhelming numbers, believed there were multiple justifications for it.

Those who opposed and oppose it, in equally overwhelming numbers, weren't swayed by the WMD arguments. Indeed, many of them had no difficulty opposing the war while believing that Saddam possessed vast quantities of such weapons.

Take Sen. Edward Kennedy. "We have known for many years," he said in September 2002, "that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction." And yet only a few weeks later he was one of 23 senators who voted against authorizing the Iraq war.

Take French President Jacques Chirac, who believed Saddam had WMDs and still did everything in his power to block the war.

So whether policymakers supported or opposed the war effort was not determined by their conviction about the presence of weapons of mass destruction.

This doesn't get George Tenet and the CIA off the hook for a bad call, but it does answer claims that "bad intelligence took us to war," when in fact the dispute has always been over goals and priorities more than intelligence.

AUSTIN BAY SENDS THIS EMAIL FROM IRAQ:

I must respond to those who "want a breather" or wish "to take time out" from the war.

There is no time out in war. Occasionally soldiers get R&R, but that means someone else is pulling guard duty or running patrols. I see Mickey Kaus says "we need a break" and Peggy Noonan is worried that the American people want a breather because current history is too "dramatic." I read Peggy's essay and I get the distinct impression her brilliantly conceived column springs from her own personal weariness-- maybe I'm wrong, but she explicitly tells us she's on vacation. Over at andrewsullivan.com, Andrew Sullivan wrote (linking to Noonan) that he had expressed similar thoughts ("Americans are drained"). I appreciate their openness and honesty; I hope they'll appreciate mine. I enjoy thoroughly Sullivan's commentary, and I'm certain he would be the first to say he can climb in his Cape Cod hammock and blog because soldiers put on their helmets and slog-- and don't quit. Perceptive, honest Americans like Noonan, Sullivan, and Kaus understand that quite well. I make the point as a reminder, a useful reminder. Believe me, the hammock is far preferable to the helmet. I would love to be in my hammock in the Texas Hill Country right now (95 degrees in Austin is far cooler than 119 degrees in Baghdad). But this is helmet time. We --the lot of us, all Americans-- are a long haul war, a constant test of will requiring consistent, insistent effort.

I see that effort given every day here in Iraq. Check the photo you ran of those two young soldiers from the 81st Brigade (Washington State National Guard). I snapped it, at sunset, right after they had returned from a patrol. I see the same vignette every morning, every evening. The smiles break out despite the fatigue-- and then the troops buckle up and do it again. Blood, sweat, toil and tears: that's not simply Churchillian poetry, that's the price of victory, and it's the product of spine. This peculiar war will take years to win, long, focused years of trial and error, mistake and success, but a breather, a time out?

"Time out" is a mirage of the chattering class. Credit Peggy's and Andrew's antennae for culling out the driving emotional angst behind the chatter. Hate to say it, but the call for "time out" Noonan fears may be another case of Baby Boomers who can't separate Hollywood war from the real thing. Hollywood wars end in a couple of hours. Real earthly hells have no intermission. In current GI lingo, "the enemy has a vote" (the enemy can exercise his will, and act). Take a break and the enemy votes. On 9/11 our enemy went to the polls. We were either going to work, eating breakfast, or lollygagging in bed.

Before I head off to a meeting, let me play history prof for a second. I see several analogs between 1944 and 2004. Fact is, I started a column on that subject before I left for Iraq, but long nights on the ranges at Ft Hood spinning up for deployment left it a sketch. Imagine calling for "Time Out" right after D-Day, which broke Fortress Europe, or during Saipan, which broke the Japanese "inner ring" island defense (many in the Japanese military thought we'd never pay the price to break it). Hey, FDR, we've made the deep offensive penetration, can we take a break? The analogy has weaknesses, as do all historical comparisons. That being said, I think we're in the strategic exploitation phase of this war, a hard, difficult, prolonged exploitation phase, one that requires more hammers and bricks than it does rifles and bombs.

However, we're winning. We can't quit.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Reader Rick Richman emails:

Can I add a postscript to Austin Bay's perceptive email?

The rest of the world is in a bit of a "breather" and "time out" as they await the American decision on November 2. It will make a big difference whether George W. Bush is going to be around for four more months or four more years.

If they know that Bush will be there for four more years, with a mandate from the American people (earned after a campaign of unprecedented personal and political vilification by those who opposed the liberation of Iraq), decisions in Syria, Iran, North Korea and other places (including France and Germany) are going to be different.

Conversely, if the American electorate can be convinced to remove the commander-in-chief of the war on terror, to be replaced by the Education President, the Environmental President, etc. and his Two Americas vice-president, all of these other state actors will make decisions in a very different direction. They will perhaps not be able to see the subtety of a "breather" and "time out" and may mistake it for what it may in fact turn out to be: a surrender (except, of course, for the continuation of our 9/10 law enforcement and intelligence activities).

The current breather and time out is excruciating.

Indeed. I'm not sure Mickey meant quite this by his "time out" post, but perhaps he'll clarify if he didn't.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

July 11, 2004

I'VE BEEN OFF THE INTERNET -- and enjoying it considerably -- since yesterday. I'll be back later. In the meantime, read this Mark Steyn column about the collapse of the "Bush LIED!" argument:

Last summer, the comparatively minor matter of uranium from Niger was all over the front pages and the news shows. Do you think Butler's report will be? Do you think Terry McAuliffe and John Kerry and Howard Dean will be eating humble yellowcake? . . .

Bush didn't LIE!!!! He was right, and the CIA were wrong. That doesn't mean they LIED!!!! either. Intelligence is never 100 percent. You make a judgment, and in this instance the judgments of the British and Europeans were right, and the judgment of the principal intelligence agency of the world's hyperpower was wrong. That should be a cause of great concern -- for all Americans. . . .

And in the most exquisite reductio of this now universal rule, if it's a choice between Bush and the CIA, the left sides with the CIA. . . .

This isn't an anti-war movement. This is a movement in denial.

Read the whole thing. Andrew Sullivan has more:

On the face of it, Wilson is a complete, partisan fraud.

Meanwhile, longtime Wilson skeptic Tom Maguire is dancing a link-rich victory jig over Wilson's demise. ("This is a dark, unflattering side of me, but I am loving this. . . . Let me quote Atrios here - 'A source lies to you, and you find it out, you burn him. Period.'") As best I can tell with a quick check, Pejman Yousefzadeh has the best roundup on the utter collapse of Joe Wilson's credibility. I'll be back later -- but just in case it's a while, note that Cass Sunstein, law professor at the University of Chicago and author of Republic.com, will be guest-posting for me over at GlennReynolds.com.

In the meantime, if you can't get enough of the Joe Wilson implosion, check out Greg Djerejian's lengthy response to Josh Marshall's efforts to defend Wilson. And Roger Simon says that the Wilson story has been a "symphony of mendacity." Now growing ever more frantic and discordant. . . .

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