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January 29, 2005

POLLS JUST OPENED IN IRAQ: And Roger Simon will be liveblogging the elections.

UPDATE: There's more at the Iraq Election Wire.

And, of course, don't forget Friends of Democracy. And scroll down for lots more links.

Call me a cynic, but the best sign that these elections are likely to succeed can be found in the U.N.'s positioning. (Via the blogad to the right).

JOHN COLE HAS A "DAMNING BUT" ROUNDUP that, despite its extensiveness, is probably just a foretaste of what's to come.

THE BELGRAVIA DISPATCH has a big Iraqi elections post that's worth reading.

UPDATE: More here, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And here's another roundup page from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. (Via Eugene Volokh).

And here are some pictures of Iraqis voting in California.

MORE: Two predictions from Donald Sensing.

Read this, too.

STILL MORE: Thoughts on metrics for success, here.

IN RESPONSE TO MY EARLIER POST, lefty reader Joe McReynolds emails:

You rightly point out that we liberals must do our best to shout down, disassociate ourselves, do everything we can to make ourselves no longer the party of Michael Moore, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, et al.

And as you noted, the Right does do a better job of quieting its 'idiotarians'. The only problem is, they essentially do it with the "bribes and promises" approach. Jerry Falwell, even when muzzled, knows that to some degree he and the people he represents will get a hearing from the White House and congress, the American seats of power.

On the left, we are a minority in all branches of government. How can we cast off the extremists if we have nothing to offer to placate them, nothing to drive them away with? It makes it harder to easily dismiss them, and as we get drawn into a serious debate with them (which we'd handily win), the Republicans will simply say, "Look, the Democrats can't even stop their circular firing squad, how can they run the country?" and we'll lose more seats in Congress.

I'm with the College Dems at my school, and the reactionary extremism is so thick you could cut it with a knife. What's the solution for people like me? What *can* we do? Casting out the extremists seems an awful lot like putting salt on a bird's tail.

You've got a big pulpit. Help show us Dems how to make a party that's sane, but doesn't believe that America is a Christian nation or homosexuality is a sin or that all the poor are poor because they deserve it.

Well, I don't believe any of those three things -- I don't even think this is a "pulpit!" -- but I confess that I don't know how to save the Dems. I think that the "silent majority" -- those genuine moderate Democrats/Liberals that I keep hearing about, but don't hear a lot from on the national stage -- needs to realize the damage that the kooks do -- as the Republicans figured out -- and quit regarding extremism as evidence of "commitment" or "passion." I tried to sketch something like that alternate approach here, but though it's not hard to imagine, I think it would be hard for the Democrats to do.

I do think, though, that many people (me included) would cheer the Democrats for trying to make those changes, and while there might be a little bit of sniping from Republicans, that sniping would actually help the Democrats by calling attention to what was going on.

The alternative is for the Democratic party to get smaller as it gets angrier, and angrier as it gets smaller, until it just doesn't matter anymore. At some point the Republican Party will then likely split into a social-conservative wing and a libertarian wing, and I can join the latter, I guess. I'm not ready to call the Democrats the new Whigs, but it's not impossible for me to imagine.

The question is, will the Democrats be willing to do to Ted Kennedy, for his remarks on the war, what Republicans did to Trent Lott, for his remarks on Strom Thurmond and the 1948 election?

UPDATE: Reader Maria Gordon emails:

I read your posting from Joe McReynolds with a sinking heart. I voted for George W. because I felt he was the better candidate (not ideal, just better). Having said that, I would most willingly vote Democratic if they could field someone that would reflect those that are middle of the road. The Democrats continue to dish up candidates so left of center they fall off a cliff. (caveat, we just moved from SF (to Virginia) where the politics go beyond the pale; if you don't agree with them you must be wealthy, wicked and evil. So much for healthy debate to challenge ones views; which by the way, we are not wealthy, both have MBA's and have never considered ourselves non-charitable) The Democratic Party today reminds me of the Tories after John Major. Their biggest problem is the Tory Party. Today, the Democratic Party's biggest problem is the Democrats themselves. Heaven help us if they can't figure this out as I for one, do not wish to have a one party system. It makes me uncomfortable to have all three branches of government in one party's hand but what can we do when not given a true choice?

I agree. Hugh Hewitt can have a slogan calling for the end of the Democrats' power on his site if he wants, but I'd much prefer seeing a functioning two-party system. It does seem to me that Karl Rove wants to do to the Democrats what Tony Blair's Labour has done to the Tories. And it also seems to me that the Democrats are helping Rove a lot, just as the Tories helped Blair. I don't think it's a good thing in either case, but what can I do besides point it out?

Read this, too. And here's an older piece saying that the "Sandbox Left" is killing the Democrats.

Meanwhile, Jeff Jarvis asks: "are we on the left really reduced to the Mr. Blackwell party?"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Eric Hall has a different British example in mind:

For the Dems to win, they need to muster the balls to split from the hard-left. This is both the means to the end, and the end itself.

A moderate centrist party that pulls in the majority of independents and also saps the harder edges of the spectrum simply would not be beat. What we need is a party that: avowedly embraces the many benefits of capitalism and industry while also protecting investors and labor; that understands how foreign policy depends on negotiating from a position of strength instead of a position of weakness; that personal libertarianism has to be balanced with the need for communities to be able to define their own laws and norms according to their social systems and beliefs, and most of all, that America is already a force for good in the world and not a font of evil.

That could be the Democrats, but for them to get there they have to become the centrist party. This means, primarily, that they need to encourage the establishment of a more powerful "true left" party (eg, the greens or the socialists), and force the hard-left elements into that party. They would also have to recruit centrist republicans and independents so that they could grow the center into an actual majority (or a sizable plurality anyway). Since this strategy necessarily dictates that the Democrats would become smaller before they became larger, it is not likely to happen on purpose, of course. However, since they are already on track to becoming smaller anyway, this may happen on its own, just as Blair rescued Labour after it had been destroyed by itself.

I hope that this happens. Single-party dominance doesn't make for great government, at least from my perspective.

MIKE HENDRIX SUMS UP three and a half years of blogging in one post.

ED MORRISSEY WONDERS why Afghanistan fell off the media map, and offers some suggestions.

This sum-up piece from The Smithsonian is worth reading.

MONKEYS WILL PAY TO SEE MONKEY PORN: And they're into "celebrity gossip," too:

The rhesus macaque monkeys also splurged on photos of top-dog counterparts, the high-ranking primates. . . . The scientists actually had to pay these guys, in the form of extra juice, to get them to look at images of lower-ranking monkeys.

I guess that's why Oliver and Max blog about InstaPundit so much more than the reverse . . . . (Via Slashdot).

THIS doesn't sound like very sophisticated diplomacy.

UPDATE: Reader Billy Hollis sees beneath the surface:

Maybe it was just all a series of mistakes. Then again, the Iranians probably came away with the idea of “those crazy, blundering Americans – there’s no telling what they’ll do”. And that may be exactly what we want them to think.

Heh. I sure hope we're that smart . . . .

IRAQI ELECTION COVERAGE ON C-SPAN TOMORROW will include a section with Spirit of America.

And here's a huge roundup of Iraq election coverage, courtesy of Jeff Jarvis.

UPDATE: The Mudville Gazette has more, including these comments to Dan Rather:

Johnson says the Marine presence has changed life in Hasweh. His convoys are being attacked much less frequently. The market is busy. Schools, which were closed last year, are open now. And there is water and electricity most of the time.

But Johnson doesn’t think that story is getting out. Neither does Sgt. Lewis. "I am tired of hearing the crap," says Lewis. "The whole, well, 'We are barely hanging on, we're losing, the insurgency is growing.' All that. We are doing fine. It's just a small, a small amount of people out there causing the problems. I mean, it is a small number, and we’re killing them."

And from Dan Rather. As Greyhawk writes: "I admit to being surprised" at the tenor of Rather's reporting. And check out his whole site.

AARON MCGRUDER moves into Ted Rall territory. (Via Roger Simon).

UPDATE: Heh. This parody is quite funny.

WELL SAID:

I'd like to ask a favor: Regardless of one's political inclination, irrespective of your confidence in the electoral process employed, or the decision to invade and occupy Iraq, no matter what the outcome, let us all stand united in our admiration for those courageous Iraqi's who will brave gunfire, RPGs, bombs, and reprisal, to determine their own fate? For they choose to do so in bold defiance of promised violence and certain intimidation.

Indeed.

DON'T MISS MORE IRAQ ELECTION COVERAGE from Friends of Democracy.

DAVID ADESNIK ON SPIDERMAN IN INDIA: Very interesting. And a great opening: "ONLY SUPERHEROES have superpowers. But are superpowers the only ones who have superheroes?"

UPDATE: Reader Tom Hazlewood disagrees with part of Adesnik's analysis, though:

Adesnik says, "Yet perhaps it was no accident that the first super-powered alien landed on U.S. soil. From the earliest days of the Republic, American culture has been conducive to fantasies of omnipotence. "

Comic superheroes are not omnipotent. They always have weaknesses. It's the omnipresence of great evil that gives realization of the superheroes' purpose.

Superheroes and supervillians are always able to knock ordinary foes about, the good and the bad, like tenpins. The usual forces of law and order are always incapable of stopping them. Only superheroes can confront a archvillian. The point of the comics is that only superior good can counter great evil.

But too many red-kryptonite plots get kind of old. And speaking of super-limitations, this classic Larry Niven essay, Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex, suggests that Superman may find life a bit frustrating.

CALLING FOR CONSTRUCTIVE ACTION, instead of just complaining about "not enough troops," a "bipartisan group" of hawks is calling for an increase in the size of the military. ("Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution places the power and the duty to raise and support the military forces of the United States in the hands of the Congress. That is why we, the undersigned, a bipartisan group with diverse policy views, have come together to call upon you to act.") I'm in favor of this, too, I think. I'm not at all persuaded that we need more troops in Iraq, but I think that the argument for more troops on a global basis is pretty strong.

TIM BLAIR: "Democracy’s enemies are disrupting Iraq’s election—in Australia."

Plus, early sightings of James Lileks' "Damning But" in coverage at the ABC and The New York Times.


UPDATE: More observations here. And Lorie Byrd is predicting the media future.

January 28, 2005

A STAGED PHOTO IN IRAQ? Check out the analysis.

UPDATE: Alan K. Henderson comments.

ADVICE TO LAW STUDENTS: Orin Kerr writes on the exaggerated importance of first-year grades.

I DON'T KNOW WHY KAUS AND SULLIVAN ARE FIGHTING, or how I got dragged into it, but contrary to what Andrew suggests, I'm not sticking my fingers in my ears. I just think that the bad news is more-than-adequately aired in the rather hysterical Big Media -- which often act as if they want us to lose -- and feel that my time and effort is better spent on the things that I think are important. I also think that Sullivan's gratuitous slap at The Belmont Club and Power Line is rather unjustified. The Belmont Club's track record on Iraq, after all, has been rather good, as has Power Line's. I used to rely on Andrew for this sort of analysis, but now I often have to go elsewhere. I don't think that reflects badly on Power Line.

UPDATE: Related thoughts here. And here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Sullivan responds to me, but he fails on two levels. His notion that I should be providing comprehensive and balanced coverage, instead of blogging about what interests me, seems rather, um, old media -- as if the only model is that of a newspaper. (Actually, I assume that my readers are getting the daily boom-and-bang news from CNN, the NYT, etc.) It also seems rather odd: Andrew certainly doesn't seem to feel any obligation to provide "fair-and-balanced" coverage of what seems to be his key issue, gay rights and gay marriage. That's okay with me, as I expect Andrew's blog to reflect what he thinks is important, and deserves more attention. I'm mystified as to why he expects something different from me.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kaus continues after Andrew: "The point isn't that his standards are going rapidly down, or up, or down and up at the same time. The point is he's faking it."

Ouch. I confess that I've been trying for a while to figure out what was going on with Andrew on the war, but I'm not sure that "faking it" is the right characterization. Because I can't figure out what he would be faking. John Cole is confused, too. But I don't think that Andrew is posting drunk, something that I've been accused of -- though in this case, approvingly -- myself. I'm not sure what's going on.

MORE: More thoughts here and John Hinderaker of Power Line responds: "Maybe it's a result of what I do for a living, but I'm hard to offend, and I don't begrudge Andrew his opinion. I think it's generally true that we have supported President Bush on Iraq, through thick and thin. But I don't think this is because we are uncritical or blindly partisan. I think it is because steadiness is a key virtue in a leader, and Bush has been steady and resolute in his conduct of the war against Islamic terrorists." Which is a virtue.

ANN ALTHOUSE IS CARBLOGGING: I still think she should have gotten the Corvette.

COURAGE at Dartmouth.

TOM MAGUIRE continues to blog on Social Security Reform.

JAY FOX WRITES on why longevity research should be a priority.

Eric Scheie thinks that Leon Kass may object, but doesn't care.

HATE-FILLED STUPIDITY FROM LEFT-LEANING ACADEMICS ISN'T NEWS anymore, which is why I haven't been paying much attention to the story of Colorado professor Ward Churchill's comparison of 9/11 victims to Eichmann. But go here and look at the picture.

Isn't he exactly what you imagined? Shoulder-length hair, grimly self-righteous expression, black turtleneck, Abbie Hoffman sunglasses. A man whose look, like his rhetoric, is frozen in the amber of 1969.

The same kind of guys, looking the same way, were saying the same kinds of things when I was younger than my daughter is now. When will the Left catch up with the times?

UPDATE: Heh. Check out this picture. Let's do the time warp, again!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Various lefty readers email to say that Ward Churchill is not the authentic face of the Left.

I wish I agreed with that. But, sadly, he is its very image today.

When Ted Kennedy can make an absurd and borderline-traitorous speech on the war, when Michael Moore shares a VIP box with the last Democratic President but one, when Barbara Boxer endorses a Democratic consultant/blogger whose view of American casualties in Iraq is "screw 'em," well, this is the authentic face of the Left. Or what remains of it.

There was a time when the Left opposed fascism and supported democracy, when it wasn't a seething-yet-shrinking mass of self-hatred and idiocy. That day is long past, and the moral and intellectual decay of the Left is far gone.

Don't believe me? Listen to Naomi Klein:

The great error made during the electoral campaign was that the anti-war movement allowed itself to turn into an anti-Bush movement. So as the logic of anyone-but-Bush set in — and there wasn't a candidate speaking on these issues — the war itself disappeared. What I mean by that is that the reality of war itself disappeared. The truth is that we were talking about Iraq in the past tense — not about what was happening on the ground during the campaign. And indeed, I believe that continues to be true to a scandalous degree, especially what we've just seen in recent months in Iraq. I'm worried that we haven't learned from that mistake yet.

We also need to more clearly focus on policy demands. I have been arguing for a long time that the anti-war movement should turn itself into a pro-democracy movement, i.e., support the demands for democracy in Iraq. . . .

Quite frankly, there's a lot of skepticism in Iraq — from what I saw — about the international anti-war movement. In part, it's because anti-war forces were not critical enough of Saddam. But it's also because we haven't proposed this kind of practical solidarity that has to do with improving people's lives, and not just absolving our conscience. Or saying “Not in our name,” and then going home. . . .

It's very, very frustrating. What I keep coming across in the U.S. anti-war movement is the acceptance of this idea that Americans are incapable of caring about anyone but themselves. The progressives in the U.S. are fairly self-loathing

And in this, at least, they're right. Greg Djerejian has more on Churchill:

The relativistic mish-mash and garbage contained above, the laughably simplistic narrative underpinning talk of some nefarious "global financial empire,"--all are shibboleths of 60's group-think, prevalent among a significant number of baby boomer generation academics, taken to parodic extremes (American capitalism bad, the nefarious "military-industrial" complex a product thereto, anyone working in lower Manhattan near evil Wall Street therefore complicit (part of a nefarious "technocratic corps" with blood on their hands), and thus getting their just deserts (does Ward Churchill even know that the WTC was a 'back-office', of sorts, servicing the Gordon Gekko "Master of the Universe" players more likely to work on the 30th floor of 85 Broad or in office buildings lining Park in the high 40s and low 50s?)

But let's put all this aside. The reason I blogged this tonight, is because, truth be told, these views (if somewhat less extreme manifestations) are much more widespread than we might think. In New York, just a month after 9/11, a leftist female acquaintance of mine (an American!) admitted (with some shame, it should be said) that she felt a tinge of joy in her stomach when she digested the news. America had humiliated so many societies, her thinking went, here's a comeuppance, of sorts.

Read the whole thing. And read this, from The Belmont Club, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Martin Shoemaker emails:

I keep hearing people saying "X is not the authentic face of the left." Yet I don't hear them repudiate all of the X's out there. I don't hear them stand up and announce that X is wrong. I don't hear them explaining how they're going to take the Democrat Party back from the X's. And I DO hear them defending or excusing all of the X behavior.

If the left/Democrats mean what they say, they have it in their power to stop the decay of the Democrat power. Stand up, speak out, and take the Party back from all the X's. If they do that, they might win back folks like me. I only reluctantly started calling myself a Republican in the 2004 election, and only then because I didn't see any Democrats standing up against terror and the divisive folks who abet terror.

Yeah. There's an endless supply of guys like Churchill. And I'd love to believe that they're marginal figures. But then I see the embrace of Moore, and the behavior of major Democrats like Boxer and Kennedy, and it's just hard to believe. There certainly are some well-meaning people on the Left who don't like that, but I"m afraid that they are the marginal figures nowadays.

Ed Driscoll has further thoughts:

This is a crucial period for the left: they've lost two consecutive presidential elections, Congress for a decade, and the Senate for almost as long. They've also acted increasingly shabbily in reaction to 9/11, of which Churchill's (what a paradoxical name for the guy) 3000 "little Eichmanns" quote is merely the latest manifestation. Is there room for a comeback? Only if Hillary runs a brilliant campaign (and even then, she'll probably have to deal with a Republican Congress and Senate, unless she has very, very long coattails).

Or leftwing elites could try tacking closer to the center.

In the 1950s, Bill Buckley was able to create a new conservatism by casting out the John Birchers and their anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories. Now it's the left's turn to try to do much the same.

I wish I saw more evidence of that. On the other hand, this is pretty funny.

On the other hand, Dave Schuler thinks I'm wrong about the Left. I don't think so, but you can read his post and make up your own mind.

But I suspect that it didn't even occur to any of the lefties writing to complain about my post to write Prof. Churchill and complain about his remarks. But lefty reader Josh Kinniard writes:

Your largely right on the state of many Americans that supported the Left Wing in the last elections. A large majority of Americans are, simply put, shallow and uninformed. Many people see the faults in George W. Bush, such as his sometimes inability to--as he himself will admit--think on his feet in front of a crowd. They mix these personal attributes they have observed and mix them with unrationally drawn conclusions that are presented to them from other sources without using proper methods of reason--largely because they do not have the resources easily at hand to do anything else.

I voted for John Kerry after proper rationalization. Those of us who did got caught in an election storm where we saw these shallow uninformed joining the
Kerry bandwagon, and we knew their rationalization was wrong, but we were limited to what we could do to stop the tide and educate them. That tide may have cost Kerry the election.

My point: please dont forget those of us that are still active citizens who truly want to participate in the betterment of society.

I haven't forgotten. But I'm waiting for you to take a more active role in confronting the Ward Churchills -- and Michael Moores, and Barbara Boxers -- who are doing harm to the country, and even more harm to the Left.

MORE: Dr. Evil is quoted here.

And this review of Steve Earle's concert in Knoxville -- in which he performed before a hammer and sickle -- observes:

The Soviet imagery might have seemed corny five years ago, but in the current right-leaning climate, a left-wing backlash is inevitable. Expect to see more of it.

If Kerry had won, would it be understandable for Republican artists to perform in front of swastikas? And how seriously should we take people who wish we had lost the Cold War, and who want us to lose this one?

Still more on Churchill here. And perhaps the best take comes from reader Harvey Schneider:

The irony of the Churchill episode is that Colorado University gets federal money. You would think with his radical Anti-American outlook, The money he makes as an instructor would burn in his hands like Holy Water in a demons hands. He seems to be guilty of the same crime as many in the WTC that day. Being a part of the system.

Heh. And for those who email saying "what about Falwell on the right," well, it's worth remembering that the term "idiotarian" was coined with Falwell in mind. It's just that the right has done a better job of muzzling and marginalizing its idiots, while the Left has embraced them. And if the "backlash" theory set out above is true, it will only get worse, which is bad for the Left, and bad for America.

Oliver Willis emails that my pointing this out is "vitriol." But in fact, following my advice would be likely to help the Left, and the Democrats, do better in elections. Baby-boomer posturing didn't even help the Democrats 30 years ago (remember who won by a landslide in 1972). It's not likely to help much now.

I keep hearing that there's a silent majority on the Left that doesn't agree with these things. I keep waiting for it to stop being silent. Perhaps they should listen to this Iraqi reaction to Ted Kennedy's speech:

I think that AlZarqawy could not have rallied his troops with a better speech. What is he doing giving speeches like this so close to the elections in Iraq? Iraqis will brave threats to their lives to vote in hope that we will stay with them till they are ready. Now a U.S. senator tells them we must pull out quickly and leave the Iraqis with no help.

Shameful.

JAMES TARANTO:

Ted Kennedy's latest rant got us to thinking about the contrast between the two greatest American political dynasties of the past half century, the Bushes and the Kennedys. Look at the two most prominent members of each dynasty, and in both cases you will see a study in contrasts.

Somewhat related post, here.

EAT YOUR HEART OUT, GLENN FLEISHMAN: Reader Geoff Osler emails:

Thought you'd appreciate this: I'm on an SAS flight from Copenhagen to Seattle right now, just crossing over Reykjavik. I'm sending this to you via in-flight wi-fi (Connexion by Boeing).

The flight crew are all proud they've beat Lufthansa to the punch: they tell me this is the first-ever commercial flight with in-flight wi-fi!

Also, as I was the first to log in on this flight, that makes this the first-ever email sent from a regularly-scheduled commercial flight.

Cool. Though I actually thought that Lufthansa was already doing this on some flights.

THE MISSING 727 that inspired so much interest in the blogosphere a while back seems to have served as the inspiration for this novel by W.E.B. Griffin.

ELECTION UPDATE:

SOUTHGATE, Mich. -- Joyful tears and frequent applause marked the start of U.S. voting Friday in Iraq's first independent elections in more than 50 years.

Security was tight at the abandoned store-turned-polling place in this Detroit suburb, with guards checking IDs at the parking lot entrance and using metal detectors at the doors. Inside, an oversized, homemade Iraqi flag hung from the ceiling. One poll worker could be seen weeping.

"We feel happy now. This is like America, this voting," said Zoha Yess, 64. "We want fair, good government."

Sounds good to me. And read this piece by William Shawcross, too.

HEH:

(January 27, 2005) -- If you don't believe that bloggers are giving newspapers a headache, talk to Nick Coleman. A veteran newspaper columnist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Coleman is in the middle of an old-fashioned feud with one of the leading conservative Web logs in the country.

So far, his battle with Powerlineblog.com — Time magazine's "blog of the year" — has sparked an anger-spewing column by Coleman, an ombudsman's clarification, and a threat by a leading bank to pull advertising from the newspaper.

Moreover, it has confirmed the growing ability of blogs to get under the skin of the mainstream media. "This is just the beginning," an exasperated Coleman warns. "People need to pay attention to [bloggers]. To watch out."

Indeed.

JAMES LILEKS FOR FCC CHAIRMAN: There's even a petition.

THERE WILL BE LOTS MORE on the Iraqi elections all weekend at the Friends of Democracy website.

UPDATE: Heck, even Ed Cone is pointing out good news from Iraq. Maybe he's a CIA plant! Someone tell Alterman!

DONALD SENSING: "As it turns out, the European Union seems not to have put the screws to Thailand over its purchase of the new A380 airliner."

LOTS OF INTERESTING STUFF on the Iraqi blog Hammorabi, including the observation that the Iraqi example is already putting democratic pressure on its neighbors.

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE offers a roundup of military bloggers in Iraq.

JAMES LILEKS OFFERS A PREVIEW of Iraq election coverage:

However the election goes will be one thing; how it’s reported is another. The thing to watch is the position of the Damning But, the old DB. The DB will probably bob up in the first or second paragraphs of most dispatches. “The election went as planned in 95 percent of the country, but violence marred polling in the disputed Sunny D Triangle, where insurgents opposed to Tropicana Juice fired automatic weapons into an juice concentrate factory.” That’s one spin. “The election, long anticipated as a flashpoint for insurgent activity, went off with few delays. Despite sporadic gunfire marring the overall mood of success in several provinces, observers said that the process was ‘smooth as a Sade groove,’ adding that they were annoyed Sade had simply faded away instead of letting her career end with a tasteful layout in Playboy.” See? No DB there. We’ll see.

The Sade point is a good one, too.

VIRGINIA POSTREL looks at the surprisingly high benefits of free trade.

LAWRENCE KAPLAN comes in for some criticism. And both Mickey Kaus and M. Simon are scourging the fainthearted.

All I can say is: "Courage."

January 27, 2005

JEFF JARVIS GIVES ERIC ALTERMAN BOTH BARRELS for speculating that pro-American Iraqi bloggers must be CIA plants.

Of course, Jeff's double-barrel assault is figurative; if Eric's irresponsible comments inspire one, it will be literal.

SGT. THOMAS FOREMAN is a Pennsylvania National Guardsman serving in Iraq. Here' is his newspaper column on the elections.

UPDATE: Related thoughts, here.

SO WHILE THE INSTA-WIFE AND INSTA-DAUGHTER watched Joey and The Apprentice, I plugged the headphones into the laptop and watched this William Gibson documentary. It's quite good, in a low-key way -- mostly Gibson riding around in the backseat of a limo, talking to the camera about stuff he thinks is important. I didn't realize that he was from around here -- his family is from Wytheville, just across the Virginia line, and he lived in Oak Ridge for a while.

Sadly, no offers have come in to make the Lileks documentary I envisioned, though.

UPDATE: Well, somebody's interested.

KURDS IN NASHVILLE:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) For years, the thousands of Kurds living in Nashville have blended into the city's immigrant community in relative anonymity.

But now they are in the spotlight with Iraq's national elections that begin Friday and run through Sunday. Nashville is one of five American cities where Iraqi expatriates can vote, and nearly 4,000 of them are registered here more than Los Angeles and Washington. Detroit and Chicago have more. . . .

Many are thrilled to have a chance to vote in a real election without fear of reprisal.

''The ballot before had Saddam Hussein yes or no and if you put no, the bodyguard took you to the jail,'' said Ali Almoumineen, 38, who left Iraq with his wife and two children in 1999. He isn't Kurdish, but found a home in the community nonetheless.

Kurdish expert Michael Gunter, a professor at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville and author of six books on the people of Northern Iraq, said the Kurds who moved to Nashville were comforted by the anonymity of the Music City.

''You can sort of go about the business of becoming an American in Nashville easier than Washington, New York or California, where things are more politicized,'' Gunter said. ''Many Kurds just wanted to start a new life and emphasize the private things not keep fighting the public battles.''

I've known a few Kurds in Knoxville whose families were in Nashville.

UPDATE: Here's a report on Iraqis voting in Australia -- and on who showed up to protest.

JONATHAN ADLER:

The Gallagher kerfuffle conceals one of the Beltway's tidy little secrets: Hundreds, if not thousands, of policy experts and advocates receive federal grants and contracts. Federal funding of experts, advocacy groups, and other nonprofits is so widespread that it scarcely ever warrants attention. The real scandal is not that a federal agency paid Maggie Gallagher for her expertise, but that federal agencies dole out millions in taxpayer dollars each and every year to activist organizations that turn around and call for Congress to grant these agencies even greater power. This is the real "political payola" in Washington, and it is about time it received some attention.

And there's more here:

In furtherance of Jonathan Adler's point, if you go to Landmark Legal Foundation's website you will find thousands of environmental groups that receive government grants. The Washington Post has used scores of these groups in its news stories. Does the Washington Post have a policy of disclosing the groups' government connections in its news pages? Not that I can discern. When the groups' representatives are on radio and TV shows, do they disclose that they've received money from the government? Not that I can discern.

Hey, I'm starting to like the new rules. Disclosure for all!

UPDATE: Bill Quick notes the people who got Enron money and observes: "Want a journalist? Go buy one. They're cheap. Really cheap. Oh, and relatively inexpensive, too."

TRAFFIC CAMERA UPDATE:

A brand new, exhaustive study of all seven Virginia red light camera programs shows an overall increase in injury accidents has occured where the devices are installed. The study was performed by The Virginia Transportation Research Council at the request of the state transportation secretary. . . .

Despite a distinct sympathy in favor of camera enforcement, the researchers found a "definite" increase in rear-end accidents and only a "possible" decrease in angle accidents. Most importantly, the net effect was that more injuries happened after cameras are installed. Camera proponents explain this away by asserting angle accidents are more serious, but this claim has not been scientifically studied according to this report. The rear end collisions caused by the cameras still produce injuries -- the original promise of camera proponents was that they would reduce accidents and injuries, not rearrange them.

This study agrees with long-term findings in Australia and North Carolina.

On the other hand, they generate revenue! Or maybe not: "The report also notes a fatal flaw in the Virginia's camera law -- motorists can ignore any ticket received in the mail. Only tickets that are personally served matter (the same thing happened in Arizona)." Oops.

OMRI CEREN REPORTS ON open anti-semitism at USC. (Via Bones of Contention).

BABES WITH BLASTERS, Experimental Babes, Alien Babes, and more -- all at Babes in Space, a collection of lurid cover art from science fiction's pulp era.

UPDATE: There's a massive collection of space babes here, arranged by decade, from movies and TV. And TexasBestGrok has a poll running for "best SF babes" from Dr. Who. Here's a gallery of previous winners.

It's amazing the links people will email you once you post on a subject.

UNNATURAL ACTS AND FULL DISCLOSURE: I call this a case of too much information, and I think that Eric Alterman would agree.

AN INTERESTING EMAIL from Condi Rice.

AN OFFICER ON THE U.S.S. ABRAHAM LINCOLN disputes a story about rude and inept U.N. passengers that has been widely circulated in the blogosphere.

TONY MAURO profiles the Institute for Justice, which has two cases before the Supreme Court this term.

SHOULD I DISCLOSE THIS? In the mail today, I got two books from Charles Stross: The Atrocity Archives and The Family Trade. Autographed, no less.

Meanwhile, lefty blogger Newshog wonders why I like Stross, and gets replies from me and from Stross in the comments.

TONGUE TIED is looking for co-bloggers.

"I TOOK FEDERAL MONEY:" Brian Noggle makes full disclosure.

TSUNAMI UPDATE: The U.N. is trying to take credit for the work of others, but is busted by the Diplomad.

MAX BOOT examines Seymour Hersh and finds him wanting in objectivity and suffering from "relaxed reportorial standards." He concludes: "His record doesn't inspire confidence."

THE SPEED OF BLOG: Barb Kaye from the U.T. Journalism Department emails:

I'm introducing my Web journalism students to blogging. Instapundit is on the big screen, and we're hoping you'll respond to us so students can see how blogging works.

Anything to oblige a colleague.

UPDATE: I should mention that she has a new textbook out on electronic media, which talks about blogs. In fact, she got me to write a short segment.

IT SEEMS AS IF every other time I go to Amazon, one of these is shown as the "featured product." Are they advertising that much to everyone, or do they know something that I don't? . . . Should I be taking this as advice?

UPDATE: Reader Rick Sawyer emails:

Ironically, when I sign on, I see this: Panasonic ES246AC Bikini Shaper and Trimmer

To paraphrase from you, do they know something I don't? And if so, HOW??Ugh.

Heh.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I'm not the only one.

MICKEY KAUS comments on my MSNBC Kurtz piece. I agree that the Gallagher and Kurtz cases aren't the same -- my point in mentioning Kurtz, and Kaus's critique of him, was simply that lots of people in the pundit class have conflicts, and don't disclose them every time. And, as I said, I don't share Kaus's criticisms of Kurtz.

Still, Kaus makes a good point when he observes that Kurtz's position is somewhat unique, and there may be something to this point:

The issue with Kurtz isn't whether he discloses his conflict with CNN (he usually does, though not always). The issue is whether even disclosure of the conflict cures his problem, or whether the conflict is so great Kurtz can't be trusted on his beat even with disclosure. ... Clearly, by the conventional MSM standards, Kurtz should be taken off the beat. The Post wouldn't let a reporter who had a lucrative gig with General Motors cover General Motors, as Charles Kaiser has noted. ... The issue was settled, in my mind, when Kurtz went soft on CNN in the Eason Jordan/Saddam atrocity scandal. He's a great reporter, but you can't trust anything he writes about CNN anymore. They have him by the balls. (That's especially true now, when CNN's whole programming approach is under review. Does Kurtz want to offend Jon Klein, the man who'll decide whether to cancel his show? He sure didn't when he interviewed his paymaster in this January 6 WaPo story.) ...

The big question, I guess, is what do you do? Kurtz is a one-man media empire. You could, I guess, say that such things shouldn't exist. Or you could rely on a system that's big, and diverse, enough that they don't matter so much when they do. I tend to favor the latter approach. Diversity, and markets, are better than regulations.

UPDATE: Reader Richard Samuelson emails:

I realize that this point is easing into satire, but I am making a serious point. In principle wouldn't true full disclosure, if we were really to get serious about it, require that reporters disclose who is paying their spouses, and perhaps children? If it were Kurtz's wife who worked for CNN, rather than Kurtz himself would the conflict of interest be any less real.

Incidentally, Jonah Goldberg was very good about that when his wife was working for Attorney General Ashcroft. But he's an opinion journalist, so it is easier for him. How many others have been similarly good? The age of the two-earner family makes things difficult in this regard, but that does not mean that we should have no standards.

Yeah, there's a huge array of things you might disclose. The problem is that it gets unwieldy. And I think that although Kurtz's Gallagher story makes clear (sort of) that the case isn't an Armstrong Williams pay-for-play story, it's being spun that way. One ethical consideration for journalists, beyond conflict of interest, involves covering stories in ways that contribute to that sort of spin. I don't know how you could make a rule for that, but it's certainly a consideration. This is especially true when the herd instinct strikes, and "me-too" journalism leads latecomers to try to make their stories sound more like others that were big news than they really are.

One also wonders why people like Bill Moyers don't get more attention. Or -- to pick a somewhat less significant example -- CNN commentators James Carville and Paul Begala, who joined the Kerry campaign while staying on the air for CNN. In Carville and Begala's case, I guess the viewer expects them to be shilling for whoever the Democratic nominee is.

Then again, that's probably true for Moyers, too. Nonetheless, his case seems rather significant.

ED MORRISSEY says that the Washington Post is offering its readers a rare experience.

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT that the 21st Century's biggest problem would be underpopulation?

There seems to be a growing consensus that this is a serious issue.

GLOBAL WARMING: At least we've got a dialogue! Gregory Benford and Martin Hoffert are criticizing Michael Crichton, while Jerry Pournelle is debating a climatologist.

JAMES KIRCHICK writes that Yale has a diversity problem.

So, according to this report, does Dartmouth.

UPDATE: More on Yale and diversity here, from Tico Almeida. And there's more on Dartmouth, with lots of links to related posts, here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Diversity problems at Kansas State, too.

SOCIAL SECURITY UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal (free link) has an interview with Edward "Ned" Gramlich, a U.S. Federal Reserve governor who chaired a Social Security advisory commission a decade ago. He's only partly on-board with the Bush reform plan.

UPDATE: David Hogberg offers some thoughts on the shape of the debate.

January 26, 2005

RUNNING THE NUMBERS WITH BIDEN AND RICE: Ed Morrissey has been corresponding with Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times.

THE AMERICAN COPTIC UNION is crying foul at claims that the New Jersey killings weren't motivated by religious hatred.

IF YOU GO TO THIS USA TODAY STORY on the Iraqi elections, you'll see a sidebar of good news compiled by blogger Dave Weigel.

TRAFFIC CAMERAS are a longtime InstaPundit concern, but I haven't paid enough attention to the issue lately. Eric Scheie, however, offers a serious rant on the subject.

ACTIVISM AS RITUAL WORSHIP: A phenomenon of the left and right.

IT'S NOT A NATIONAL ID CARD:

Oh sure, it will add a magnetic identification strip and identifying photo to your existing Social Security card, and you'll be required to present the new card for identification any time you want to apply for a new job. At that point, your prospective employer would then check the identification listed on your card against a national database which identifies eligible employees.

But Rep. Dreier's bill will not create a national identification card.

(Via Arthur Silber).

AIRBRUSHING at the Washington Post?

ANOTHER BLOGGER SUCCUMBS TO SCALZI'S irresistible charms:

You can chalk me up as another victim of John Scalzi's Old Man's War. The book arrived this afternoon, and I've hardly put it down.

I liked it, too.

AUSTIN BAY'S COLUMN is up. Plus, on his blog, he has a critique of easily-fatigued pundits.

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF ROUNDS UP GOOD NEWS FROM THE MUSLIM WORLD -- and there's a lot more of it than you might think from reading Western media where the focus is almost entirely on the Muslim world as a problem.

JOHNNY DOLLAR GOES TO THE TRANSCRIPTS to see if Fox News allows criticism of the Bush Administration. Shockingly, the anwer is yes!

Meanwhile, Kos responds to criticism over the press-pass incident.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES is up.

STOP BITCHING, START A REVOLUTION: Evan Coyne Maloney was at the inaugural anti-Bush demonstrations, and has a new video.

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE: "On the other hand, to give credit where due, no one covers the insurgent side of the war quite like the AP."

IN THE MAIL: Craig Shirley's new book, Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign that Started it All. I haven't read it, but Joe Trippi likes it: "It’s a must-read to understand the movement that has put President Bush in the Oval Office for a second term, what drives that movement, and why President Bush will implement an aggressive plan to achieve his goals. For Democrats it is a must-read because the book provides an object lesson on how a party thought to be void of ideas, moribund, and on life support 29 years ago, rose up and changed course and is now defining the debate at home and abroad."

And how do I know this? Because somebody (Shirley's publicist, I think) posted the review, along with some others, in the Amazon comments. Smart promotion.

UPDATE: A Bush-Reagan comparison here, saved from the NYT's editorial wastebasket through the magic of the blog.

ANOTHER UPDATE: You can see Trippi interviewing Shirley here.

THE CLUB FOR GROWTH has a Social Security reform blog.

HOWARD KURTZ, MAGGIE GALLAGHER AND CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Over at GlennReynolds.com.

UPDATE: Gallagher got money from the Clinton Administration, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I still think that this is true, though:

I think that guild-mindedness and political slant is a much bigger problem for the press than institutional conflicts -- and I suspect that that's one reason why the press spends so much time talking about the latter while piously (and bogusly) claiming freedom from the former.

Some things don't change.

TSUNAMI UPDATE: The death toll has hit 280,000, and we also learn this: "In Indonesia's worst-hit Aceh province more than 1,000 bodies a day are still being recovered."

Jeez. I don't have words, really. (Via Tim Blair.)

CONFIRMATIONBLOGGING isn't a big thing here at InstaPundit. But Legal Affairs is hosting a debate on Gonzales' confirmation over at their site. Remember, this isn't an exclusive relationship -- you can read other people! [What, it's like "friends, with benefits?" -- Ed. Er, sort of, I guess.]

UPDATE: RedState has launched a confirmation blog.

MORE ON HUGO CHAVEZ'S TIES TO TERRORISM: Why am I not surprised to be reading this?

HERE'S ANOTHER BLOW to any hopes CBS might have had that the Thornburgh Report would put RatherGate behind it:

A document examiner involved in the flawed "60 Minutes Wednesday" report on George W. Bush's National Guard service claims that he was defamed and his reputation damaged by the recent report from an independent review panel that investigated the show's reporting practices, E&P has learned.

Marcel Matley, one of four document experts consulted by CBS News while reporting its Sept. 8, 2004, report on Bush, is demanding a slew of corrections in the report, which was issued earlier this month. In an interview with E&P, he referred to the report's treatment of him as "defamation." . . .

He said the report has already hurt his professional reputation, claiming it was mentioned last week during his appearance in a Modesto, Calif., courtroom on a probate case. "Someone brought it up that I was the one who made the mistake in the '60 Minutes' case," he said. "I've already had this thrown at me."

Matley told E&P he had yet to hear back from CBS or Thornburgh about the e-mail. "They have not acknowledged my existence," he declared. "They have not even replied."

Jeez.

ARMED SELF-DEFENSE WORKS:

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- \When two men walked into a popular country store outside Atlanta, announced a holdup and fired a shot, owners Bobby and Gloria Doster never hesitated. The pair pulled out their own pistols and opened fire.

The armed suspect and his partner were killed. The Dosters won't be charged, according to local officials, because they were acting in self-defense.

"I just started shooting," said Gloria Doster, 56. "I was trying to blow his brains out is what I was trying to do." . . .

Police arrived about five minutes after receiving Gloria Doster's call; the suspects died a short time later at a hospital.

The bloodshed, nevertheless, startled Gloria Doster, who has been around guns all her life, and has used them for target shooting. "But I never figured I'd have to use them on anybody," she said.

The practice worked. And note that the police also would have been too late to save the victims, if they had needed help.

UPDATE: Read this story, sent by reader George Johns, too.

PROBLEMS AT THE FBI are a long-running InstaPundit topic of interest, but this is still a big deal:

A federal jury today awarded nearly $6.6 million in damages to former Chicago police Officer Steven Manning, finding two veteran FBI agents framed him for a Cook County murder that put him on Death Row.

The jury also held that one of the FBI agents also framed Manning in a Missouri kidnapping case. Manning spent 14 years in prison before both convictions were overturned and the prosecutions were dropped.

The damages could go even higher. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly, who presided over the six-week trial, is yet to rule on whether the United States shares responsibility with the two agents for malicious prosecutions.

"It's a long, long way from Death Row to complete vindication,'' Manning said after the verdict.

Then there's this bit:

Both Miller and Buchan remain with the bureau, according to FBI spokeswoman Cynthia Yates.

In closing arguments Jan. 11, a federal prosecutor lauded both Buchan and Miller as dedicated, law-abiding FBI agents.

In a fateful decision, the FBI used a notorious informant named Tommy Dye to try to elicit evidence about the Pellegrino murder while Dye and Manning were incarcerated in Cook County Jail.

Dye asserted he had captured a confession by Manning on a hidden recorder, but when nothing was audible, he claimed that the confession came during a two-second inaudible portion of the recording.

Sounds like he should work for CBS. But this is no joking matter, and (1) it's appalling that someone would introduce such dubious evidence; and (2) this sort of thing needs to be punished so that it doesn't happen again. No doubt the agents would claim that the defendant is really guilty, and that the evidence is "fake but accurate," but that doesn't wash.

The question is whether this represents a systemic problem at the FBI, and I fear that it does. Can Porter Goss go there next?

If he does, he should listen to Dave Kopel and Paul Blackman on what ought to be done.

JEFF JARVIS ON THE HOMELESS:

And the real issue isn't homelessness. It's insanity. The laws in this country make it impossible to commit and help even the obviously and often the dangerously insane.

I say that One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is as much at fault as any politician, for it made the institution frightening and the people who run it bad guys.

Yes. Lakeshore Park, the lovely place where I sometimes walk or jog, is actually on the grounds of the former Eastern State Mental Hospital, which housed thousands of people. There are still a few left in a couple of buildings, but what used to be a place to care for mentally ill folks is now a complex of baseball fields, putting greens, and jogging trails. The people who once would have been cared for there are now, for the most part, on their own.

My wife thinks that the de-institutionalization movement was a dreadful mistake, and that a lot of people have suffered as a result. And they're not just the people who were deinstitutionalized, either, though they suffer the most. Her documentary on the Lillelid murders notes that the ringleader of the killers was discharged from a mental hospital after 11 days -- actually a fairly long stay by today's standards -- despite a clear recognition that she was dangerous to herself and others; if she'd had proper treatment, the family that she and her confederates murdered would still be alive. (My wife felt strongly enough about the importance of this point that it's in the trailer). Ironically, the killer is finally getting mental health treatment in an institutional setting, and she's doing better than she was before. As my wife notes, prisons have become the mental hospitals for many people now -- it's just too bad that the price of an admission ticket is sometimes murder.

I think that Jeff's right about the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest effect. And mental hospitals often aren't -- and weren't -- nice places to be (though they weren't all hellholes, either: I recently talked with a woman who had spent six weeks in a Virginia state hospital back in the 1960s who said it was one of the most pleasant times in her life, as "they had a swimming pool, the food was good, and nobody bothered you").

On the streets, lots of people bother you. Though we tend to talk about the homeless in terms of their bothering others -- and, God knows, they do -- the experience is usually pretty bad for them, too.

UPDATE: Reader Rosemary Bright emails:

Glenn, as someone who was in the graduate school of social work at the University of Texas in the '80's I saw the beginnings of the deinstitutional movement. Under the laws that were passed there was a time frame the state had to meet on getting the mentally retarded and mentally ill out of the state institutions. The day-to-day workers were against it, there weren't enough group homes for folks to go to (neighborhoods went up in arms when a home was being converted in their area). It was clear to me, someone new to the area, that there were a lot of people who needed to stay where they were.

I've heard numbers that some 60% of the "homeless" on the street are mentally ill. Anyone who's dealt with the mentally ill know they will get off their medications. Family members of these people are usually worn out from caring for them, worrying about them and are not equipped at all. It was the wrong kind of reform to take.

I got out of the whole profession ... realized I was a capitalist at heart! But that whole concept of how to deal with mental illness desperately needs to be revisited.

De-institutionalization let states save money while looking compassionate. It was irresistible. But the more difficult (and expensive) follow-through was highly resistible. Reader Ben Bauman emails:

Many of the mentally ill need constant care and do not get it. My brother was one of these people. His mental instability constantly got him in trouble and the only way he could have a normal life was when he was in mental institutional care. He would only receive this when he would get in trouble and went to jail. We could not get him institutionalized through the courts. So, he roamed the country (primarily CA and NV) until he would get in trouble or some one would harm him (therefore requiring medical care). Normally he would be released after 6 months in a mental institution because he was "healthy" enough to make it on his own (survive). Well, this went on for years until he finally passed away last year at the age of 40. The system really did kill him. I thank god for the Salvation Army for all the time they spent trying to help him, but the evil people out there took advantage of him constantly. Again, I think your wife is right on this issue from my own personal experience.

I'm sorry to hear that. Not all the homeless are mentally ill, of course, but a lot are -- and they're usually the ones who have, and cause, the most serious problems.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.

MORE: George Roper emails:

Dear Mr. Reynolds, first, a great posting on de-institutionalization of the mentally ill. I started working in a mental hospital in 1969 as a recreation therapist. At the time I started working, we had well over 2000 patients in a hospital that could comfortably hold only 1800 or so. By the time I finished my graduate degree in 1973, the population was down to about 800 or so. The majority of the some 1500 clients were placed in nursing homes, with family or in sheltered homes. But, they didn't stay. The mental health field adopted the idea of short term treatment for even the severely disturbed as the ultimate goal and psychiatry/psychology became a game of numbers. Legally, in Texas at least, you cannot be committed for treatment unless A. you are mentally ill and B. as a result of that illness you are a clear danger to yourself or others. So, no matter how disturbed you are, if you aren't a danger under current law, you cannot be forced into treatment. Unfortunately, by the time a patient is patently dangerous, it may be too late.

The massive release of mentally ill patients between the late 1960's and mid 1970's unfortunately did not include the concept of required treatment. Because many of the anti-psychotic medications produce a significant decrease in libido, many patients quit taking their medications in favor of an active sex life. Many patients, left to their own devices quit taking their medications because they just didn't remember. Many families quit "forcing" their family to take their medication because it was just too hard, too much work. The results are evident across the country.

We have collectively done a great disservice to those who, through no fault of their own, have severe mental illness and are not getting active treatment.

One example of the ignoring of mental illness and its resulting tragedies is the issue of suicide which I address in my blog here: Link

Judith Lown writes:

I worked for a year in a post-doc internship at a facility for the homeless mentally ill in San Diego. Not only are the vast majority of the homeless
mentally ill, most of them have long drug and alcohol histories. It's really impossible to sort out self-medication from fried brain due to drugs. But after a
while, it's possible to guess pretty accurately what drug is implicated in the variety of fried brain you're seeing.

San Diego was the early capital of meth manufacture and use and we saw a lot of meth induced psychosis--some in people who were previously productive middle class citizens. I don't have an answer. I left clinical psychology.
But the homeless mentally ill were my favorite clients. Beat the middle class navel gazers by a mile.

Ouch.

STILL MORE: Background and history on what went wrong, here.

I'VE NEVER BEEN A FAN of the Patriot Act, though I have to admit that its operations so far haven't proven as dire as I feared. But this column by Walter Williams is worth reading, and I agree with this suggestion:

Government officials have always wanted open access to our financial records; the war against terrorism gives them the cover to do so. Here's what might be proof: How about an amendment to the Patriot Act whereby any information gathered under its provisions cannot be used in a court of law unless it can be tied to terrorist activity? I'm guessing that few politicians and law enforcement authorities would agree to such an amendment.

Most vital to the conduct of any war, including a war on terrorism, is a vibrant, flexible economy. There's a possibility that massive volumes of security regulations and massive security expenditures can weaken our economy and thereby threaten national security. Al-Qaeda type terrorism is not our only national security threat either now or in the future. Keep in mind it was our productive capacity that ultimately won the Cold War.

I think that all of these special "terrorism" provisions -- many of which have already been invoked by prosecutors in mundane criminal cases -- should in fact be limited to cases involving terrorism, and I think that government officials who abuse their authority ought to be subject to punishment, and to lawsuits. And it's very hard for me to take "antiterrorism" legislation lacking such safeguards seriously.

CHINA TARGETS SPACE: My TechCentralStation column is up.

UPDATE: Rand Simberg sends this link to a column he wrote last year on China. He thinks they're no threat until they start taking a more entrepreneurial approach. I actually hope that they do, for reasons explained in my column.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Read this column by Mark Whittington, too. He's hoping for a space race.

INTERESTING NEW POLL RESULTS from Iraq. The Iraqis' views on security are especially interesting: "75% of Iraqis say security where they live is either 'good' or 'average.' Not exactly the impression you would get from the American press."

UPDATE: Be sure to check the new Iraqi website, Friends of Democracy, regularly.

January 25, 2005

ANOTHER OPED PAYOLA SCANDAL? What are these people thinking?

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey says that Drudge misrepresents the Gallagher story, and that it's not another Armstrong Williams case.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Gallagher responds here:

I was not paid to promote marriage. I was paid to produce particular research and writing products (articles, brochures, presentations), which I produced. My lifelong experience in marriage research, public education and advocacy is the reason HHS hired me.

But the real truth is that it never occurred to me. On reflection, I think Howard is right. I should have disclosed a government contract when I later wrote about the Bush marriage initiative. I would have, if I had remembered it. My apologies to my readers.

Seems like a tempest in a teapot to me. I think we're in the midst of another ethical feeding-frenzy, of the sort discussed at length here, in which conduct that wouldn't have raised an eyebrow six months ago, or six months from now, is likely to get a lot of attention.

MORE: Scandal or non-scandal, LaShawn Barber sees it as an opportunity!

STILL MORE: Reader David Jones emails:

The old adage applies: Circumstances alter cases. This was not "payola" and as you observe only has the appearance of being such because of the proximity in time to the Armstrong W debacle. Of course, those who are opposed to Maggie's strong defense of marriage will make the most of it to discredit her. She deserves better.

I'm actually not very familiar with her "strong defense of marriage," and suspect that I might well disagree with it. But while it would have been better for her to disclose this, it seems quite different from the Williams case. And you can't disclose everything -- or, if you do, it becomes a joke, like the "do not eat" warning label on the iPod Shuffle. Some sense of proportion is called for.

I suspect, though, that there are a lot of people on the left and right who couldn't pass the test that's set for Gallagher. Which is why I think this furor will die down soon.

MORE PHOTOBLOGGING FROM IRAQ, by Lance Frizzell.

PROF. BAINBRIDGE has a stinginess update.

TIM BLAIR is back.

YES, ROBERT BYRD is an awkward choice. Fortunately for him, the media won't make a big deal of this, as they might in other circumstances.

UPDATE: Others, however, are doing so.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Related posts here and here and here. It's a good thing that Democrats are doing this, because if Republicans were doing it it would be evidence of racism at the highest levels of American society.

MORE: Still more here.

STILL MORE: Roger Simon has further thoughts.

YOU KNOW, I wish I could cancel a few days' classes, hop a plane, and go Kayaking in Death Valley. And don't just follow that link, but check out Ken Layne's entire Highways West blog.

It's like Arizona Highways Magazine, er, except it's not just about Arizona, and it's a blog, not a magazine. And it's by Ken Layne.

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE about the Wisconsin electoral-fraud story, the Badger Blog Alliance is all over it.

Meanwhile, over at GlennReynolds.com, I call for action to remedy voter fraud now, so that it can be implemented in time for 2008.

UPDATE: Here's a report on vote fraud in East St. Louis.

LOOKING PAST THE IRAQI ELECTIONS: Brett McGurk, recently back from Baghad, has written an oped and done an online chat at the Washington Post. And here's a PBS NewHour transcript of a discussion featuring McGurk and Larry Diamond. And here's the article on lawyering in Baghdad that I linked a while back.

DANIEL DREZNER looks at the costs and benefits of airline deregulation. And he's right, this Matt Welch piece on deregulation and low-cost service in Europe is great.

THIS seems like good news:

U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly rose in January to a six-month high after the economy added more jobs and incomes grew, raising the odds that spending will spur the economy.

The Conference Board's index increased to 103.4 from a revised 102.7 in December that was higher than first reported, the New York-based research group said today. Optimism about the current economic situation rose to the highest since May 2002, helping fuel gains in stock prices and the dollar.

Consumer purchases probably rose at the fastest pace in more than four years from July through December, and weekly retail surveys suggest shoppers haven't let up this month. Last year was the best on record for sales of previously owned homes, the National Association of Realtors said today.

Not exactly a depression we're in, is it?

BLOGGER'S DELIGHT:

Google and Yahoo are introducing services that will let users search through television programs based on words spoken on the air. The services will look for keywords in the closed captioning information that is encoded in many programs, mainly as an aid to deaf viewers.

Google's service, scheduled to be introduced today, does not actually permit people to watch the video on their computers. Instead, it presents them with short excerpts of program transcripts with text matching their search queries and a single image from the program. Google records TV programs for use in the service.

Not quite the whole deal, but pretty cool.

HERE'S MORE on election fraud in Wisconsin. Really, it seems as if we need to tighten up the rules on voter registration. And here's more on efforts to fix problems in Washington state.

UPDATE: This isn't election fraud, exactly, but it's pretty lame.

MICHAEL MOORE is short of sympathy on the Left.

UPDATE: Roger Simon: "They adopted Moore for a short while to make a point which is now fading even for them. Most people in Hollywood now see, although maybe they won't admit it, that democracy in Iraq is extremely important. For Moore, it's over."

RICH LOWRY:

For the second day in a row, the New York Times has a positive Iraq piece, this one about Sunnis wanting to have a part drafting the consitution. For weeks, administration insiders have been telling me how: 1) the Shiite slate has been amazingly respsonsible in its actions and statements; 2) there will be plenty of chances to buy reasonable Sunnis into the political process even after the January 30 election. Stunningly, both points have now been reported and given high-profile play in the Times.

That's news, all right. Here's the story.

UPDATE: Capt. Ed has more on the terrorists' plans to disrupt the Iraqi elections, and observes: "What I find most fascinating is the terrorist reliance on the media and their confidence in manipulating journalists to the terrorist ends." Terrorism is parasitic on modern media. Or, perhaps, symbiotic.

ER, I THINK YOU MEANT FISKED, HUGH:

Just this weekend, Tim Blair, an Australian blogger, a very good blogger, took a "Washington Post" piece that was completely silly -- and the term is fist -- destroyed it, deconstructed it, proved that it was all spin. When Barbara Boxer made her inane comments last week at the Condoleezza Rice hearings, bloggers posted them, dissected them before the news had even put it on the air.

Then again, given what Blair did to them this time, maybe it's not a transcription error . . .

WERE THE MEDIA REALLY more enthusiastic about Iraqi elections two years ago than they are today?

JOHNNY CARSON: Pro-space visionary?

ALPHECCA REPORTS that gun crime is up in gun-free Britain.

INTERESTING COLUMN ON FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS IN ASIA: The term "anglosphere" isn't used, but the concept certainly seems to be in play:

Egeland’s comment also reflects a certain European view that contends that the state, and in this case a universal state, should be responsible for the welfare of humanity. Not surprisingly, this view is not shared by the United States, which looks far more to private and community-based actions to resolve social problems. Given this context, Egeland’s complaint was seen as most directly attacking the United States. And if you’ve worked in the UN/NGO community you’d know that this sort of assumption would not be wholly off the mark.

This leads us to the second event. While American diplomats derided Egeland’s slip of the tongue, the US engaged in an activity that said far more than any words could regarding the new international order. Without any concern for the UN, the US proceeded to set up a core group of nations to deal with the disaster. Partners in the group were Australia, Japan and India. It is this alliance that will matter most to the US in the future. The four big Pacific democracies, three with strong Anglo-Saxon histories, will most likely develop into the central alliance of the twenty-first century.

Read the whole thing.

A FEARLESS PREDICTION:

Oh, by the way. Hillary is running for president. Official announcement to follow in three years. Obama will be her veep pick. It will be a campaign with energy on the left beyond anything you might have thought you saw last year.

Well, this would be in accord with the prediction that she'll be "the most uncompromising wartime president in the history of the United States!"

But although forecasts about 2008 are brave, Austin Bay has election predictions out to 2016.

MICHAEL MOORE: An Oscar shut-out. I think some people are unhappy with him for giving the election to Bush.

Other people are saying I told you so.

WANT HEALTH CARE BLOGGING? It's at Grand Rounds.

MORE ON PHIL BREDESEN and the Democrats in 2008, over at GlennReynolds.com.

UPDATE: Over at the MSNBC site linked above, I quote a piece from The New Republic on an antiwar "counter inaugural." That leads reader John Lucas to write:

While these people are rooting for the enemy, here's an excerpt from an e-mail from a guy who gets it:

"I truly see this as a battle between the forces of good and evil. How can anyone not? Good brings hope to a whole people that have never know any and evil cuts the heads off innocent civilians on tv. . . . We didn't come here to rule an impoverished people or to gain riches for ourselves. We came here to try and win this one battle in what I am afraid is going to be a long and costly war that we have only begun to fight."

That is from my 27-year old son who is currently fighting in Baghdad. I think that he has captured the essence of what is going on in a way that many "intellectuals" have missed. His may be the "Occam's Razor" explanation of our national purpose.

We are in a war in which the enemy can only defeat us if they break our national will. It is being fought on the home front just as much as in Iraq.

Indeed.

ARNOLD KLING looks at the dubious future of self-marginalizing groups -- in a discussion inspired by Jim Bennett's new book, The Anglosphere Challenge.

THIS SEEMS LIKE POSITIVE NEWS:

With the Shiites on the brink of capturing power here for the first time, their political leaders say they have decided to put a secular face on the new Iraqi government they plan to form, relegating Islam to a supporting role.

The senior leaders of the United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of mostly Shiite groups that is poised to capture the most votes in the election next Sunday, have agreed that the Iraqi whom they nominate to be the country's next prime minister would be a lay person, not an Islamic cleric.

The Shiite leaders say there is a similar but less formal agreement that clerics will also be excluded from running the government ministries.

"There will be no turbans in the government," said Adnan Ali, a senior leader of the Dawa Party, one of the largest Shiite parties. "Everyone agrees on that." . . .

The conviction that the Iranian model should be avoided in Iraq is apparently shared by the Iranians themselves. One Iraqi Shiite leader, who recently traveled to Tehran, the Iranian capital, said he was warned by the Iranians themselves against putting clerics in the government.

"They said it caused too many problems," the Iraqi said.

Less than a week until the elections. And I suspect they'll be watching closely in Iran.

OLD DOGS, NEW TRICKS:

Old beagles, like old humans, act younger and smarter when they get the right diet and plenty of intellectual stimulation. A report published in the January issue of Neurobiology of Aging found that a diet rich in antioxidants combined with a stimulating environment slowed the canine aging process. . . .

By the end of the two-year trial, it was clear that the enriched diet alone and the enriched environment alone were each helpful in preventing decline. But the mental functioning of the dogs given a combination of enriched diet and stimulating environment was considerably higher than that of the dogs in the other three groups, the researchers found.

Maybe there's hope for Dan Rather.

AN APOLOGY TO THE WORLD: "P.S. If you need any help in the future, please call Canada."

January 24, 2005

"THEY DOWDIFIED US IN THE SAME OLD WAY, and, you know, we Fisked them in the same old way." And it wasn't a near thing, either.

Marstheory.jpg

I GUESS THIS WILL BE NEXT, from various under-informed Boards of Education. (Via an amusing series of Mars photoshops at Fark).

THE BONNAROO FESTIVAL has announced its line-up of artists for this year. Tickets go on sale January 29th.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: "MIAMI - A trial opened Monday in a $3 million-plus lawsuit by 13 people who say they were injured or traumatized when federal agents seized a screaming Elian Gonzalez from his Miami relatives' home. The opening witness was neighbor Maria Riera, who testified that she clutched her chest and thought she was dying when an agent doused her with tear gas during the April 22, 2000, raid to reunite the 6-year-old boy with his father in Cuba."

DONALD SENSING WRITES THAT IT'S ROPE-A-DOPE IN IRAQ, and that Zarqawi is the dope. "Z-man is only marginalizing Islamism when he bombs and assassinates Iraqis who support democracy. Increasingly, his claim that such Muslims are really infidels deserving to die is seen as untenable. Mass heresy among millions of Iraqis? Who could possibly have the right credibly to claim that? Not Abu Musab al-Zarqawi nor anyone else. And who will believe it? Not the Iraqis themselves nor millions of their Arab neighbors."

BUSH'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS played well in Iran, according to Pejman Yousefzadeh.

WHY IS TIM BLAIR'S SITE DOWN? I emailed him and he responds:

Readership has overwhelmed the server, so Hostmatters is shifting us to a new one.

Don't know when this will happen; soon, hopefully.

I blame Instapundit!

It's a fair cop.

UPDATE: Alternative theory: Eaten by dingoes. Well, she should know.


MORE: Andrea Harris emails that it was actually a flood of comment-spammers that shut it down. Those guys suck.

I'M GOING TO BE ON HUGH HEWITT'S SHOW shortly. You can listen live here.

BILL HOBBS: "Will Bredesen Turn TennCare Lemon Into Political Lemonade?"

HIGH PRAISE: "The campaign for clean elections led by Sound Politics is gaining steam." Don't miss the photo.

LT SMASH: "Zarqawi is Doomed." More here.

A BBC FLIP-FLOP ON WMD? Why would that surprise me?

JOURNALIST OR ACTIVIST? I think the difference between Kos and some other people with press cards is mostly that he admits he's taking a side.

UPDATE: Reader Dave Gudeman thinks I'm wrong here:

Kos doesn't just admit that he's partisan, he is also a professional organizer, fundraiser, and promoter for the Democratic party. That ought to disqualify him from carrying a press pass at any function that relates directly to the party. This is like having a top manager for a corporation wear a press pass at the corporation's annual shareholder's meeting. It's dishonest.

I suspect that Jim Geraghty disagrees, too, though he correctly notes that it's mostly an intra-Democratic Party question in this context.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Doc Searls says we'll see more of this sort of thing. Prof. Bainbridge is unconvinced that there's an issue here. And Ed Batista is retreating from his earlier comparison of Kos with U2. I don't think there's any danger of Kos turning into Bon Jovi, though.

And Bainbridge has some tough questions for the more traditional media.

ECONOBLOGGING: This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up.

IN THE MAIL: A copy of Leonard Sax's new book, Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences, a book that's sure to be controversial. Though it seems that it's okay to talk about sex differences, so long as it's done in a way that reflects badly on men.

THE PRESS DID ITS BEST TO IGNORE the Afghan elections. I suspect that, since that's not an option with the Iraqi vote, they'll be doing their best to portray it as a failure somehow. I also suspect that it won't work. One of the things that made press coverage so damaging in Vietnam was that it was the first time anyone remembered American reporters saying bad things about an American war effort. By now, hardly anyone is alive who remembers anything else.

UPDATE: More here.

MICKEY KAUS:

The people I've felt most sorry for are the journalists who have to pretend they are excited by the inauguration and Bush's second term. NPR personalities in particular. You can hear the inauthenticity and desperation in their voices. ... As far as I know, none of them have yet tried to cover any Bush festivities from the sanctuary of the FDR memorial--where an All Things Considered correspondent wound up fleeing, on air, during last year's Reagan ceremonies. But the term is young. ...

Heh.

THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTS THAT Internet advertising is booming:

Many of the same companies that were badly burned by Internet investments before are aggressively bidding for these sites not just because of the growing online ad business but because, like Dow Jones, they are worried that their current Web sites will not be able to keep up with demand.

"The existing old-line media companies, which have a big stake in where people advertise, have to recognize this medium," said Larry S. Kramer, a founder and chief executive of MarketWatch. "Our audience means more to them now because it's not just revenue they are going to pick up. It's revenue they are going to lose."

Online advertising is expected reach $9.7 billion in 2004, or about 3.7 percent of United States advertising spending, according to a recent Merrill Lynch report. Still, that number is expected to grow 19 percent this year as the nation's largest advertisers shift budgets from print and network television to cable and the Internet, the report said.

As a result, publishers are being forced to confront a potential advertising inventory crunch. There is no physical limitation to the number of Web pages, of course, but advertisers want to be placed on the most popular pages and those which cater to their most profitable audiences. And those kind of pages are in shorter supply.

Sounds like good news for Henry Copeland, anyway!

DEVELOPMENTS IN MILITARY NANOTECHNOLOGY: Best quote: "Getting the government to change the way they kill people is difficult."

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF OFFERS A GUIDE TO IRAQI POLITICAL PARTIES, and links to more election coverage.

JANUARY 24TH is the grimmest day of the year. Relax -- there's always February to look forward to!

CRUSHKERRY.COM is now AnkleBitingPundits.com, a reference to an ill-advised comment on the blogosphere by Steven Levy.

SHADES OF FALLEN ANGELS:

The findings from a team of American climate experts suggest that were it not for greenhouse gases produced by humans, the world would be well on the way to a frozen Armageddon.

Scientists have traditionally viewed the relative stability of the Earth's climate since the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago as being due to natural causes, but there is evidence that changes in solar radiation and greenhouse gas concentrations should have driven the Earth towards glacial conditions over the last few thousand years.

What stopped it has been the activity of humans, both ancient and modern, argue the scientists.

Heh. Whole story here.

UPDATE: I believe that this is the paper described above. Make of it what you will -- except that if what you want to make is a perversely delightful thesis for a science fiction novel, well, it's already been done. And though I think I've mentioned this before, you can read Fallen Angels for free at (where else) the Baen Free Library.

BREDESEN IN 2008? More thoughts over at GlennReynolds.com.

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs: "Bredesen in 2008? He has a better chance to win the White House than the Democratic primary." Which sums up the Democrats' institutional problems rather neatly.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Tim Roemer story is relevant here, too.

ALCOHOL: Good for your brain. (At least if you're an older woman). Viagra: Good for your heart. As Randall Parker observes: "The future is going to be a strange place."

One full of drunk old ladies and horny old men, I guess.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (free link) looks at Michael Powell's term as FCC chairman, and at the problems facing his successor. There's also an interactive poll where you can grade his performance. No voting twice, Jeff . . . .

AS ALWAYS, IT'S AN HONOR JUST TO BE NOMINATED: In this case, for a Wired Magazine "Rave Award."

January 23, 2005

nursinghomesignvbig.jpg
HAD DINNER with my grandmother tonight. My daughter has a cold -- not a terrible one, but a coughing-and-sneezing-a-lot one, which seemed like a bad thing to take to a place full of sick old people. So I went on my own, and picked up dinner for us both at Aubrey's, so as to give her a break from institutional food.

As the sign to the right -- reminding people of what day and year it is -- indicates, it's not an especially happy place by nature. But my grandmother manages to stay cheerful. She and one of her friends were laughing themselves silly making fun of the food, like freshman girls in a dorm. Her arm is healing and she can eat and write with it now, though she still can't support her weight.

The people there are actually quite nice, and seem to really care about the people they're taking care of. I don't think that I could do their jobs, but I'm glad that they can.

UPDATE: Several readers sent emails like this one from Carey Cline:

I agree with you about the staff at rehab centers/nursing facilities. Early last summer my mother was in a rehab center in my home town (Dalton, GA) following knee replacement surgery. She stayed about a month and while she was not exactly thrilled about being there I couldn't have been more pleased by the facility and staff. The were attentive and cheerful, the place was immaculate and her care was top notch. All this knowing that they are paid very little for very difficult work

Many times during the 4 weeks she was there I thought that the staff was doing God's work, and knew that I couldn't do it. When some nursing home horror story is publicized the people that care for the old and ill in this country are sometimes painted with a broad brush that is undeserved. As we all age, I can only hope there will be people and facilities as good as Momma's was if I am in need of their services.

I was watching a woman there feed an old man who was unable to feed himself, and it was quite touching. These people really don't get enough credit.

CHARLES STROSS UPDATE: Reader Dave Price likes Singularity Sky:

Thanks so much for recommending Singularity Sky. Read it this weekend. Of course, being a huge fan of physicist Brian Greene’s Fabric of the Cosmos and The Elegant Universe, I was hooked by the first mention of quantum entanglement and causality violations. I also read the suthor described as a “leftist,” which gives me great hope for the future as it seemed to endorse a lot free-market libertarianism ideals. If this is the kernel of a someday-to-emerge neoleftism, who knows: I might even vote Democrat some day.

I'd like to see more forward-looking, free-market Democrats. I have, by the way, just received a copy of his forthcoming book Accelerando. It's set in the near-future, and looks pretty interesting, but I haven't actually read it yet.

MILITARY BLOGGER NEIL PRAKASH has been awarded the Silver Star. Here is his blog.

ANOTHER REPORT OF SLEAZY BEHAVIOR from Jack Kemp:

TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE, some American elites are actively shilling for the Chavez regime even as the media crackdown proceeds. Jack Kemp, notably, has been busy opening doors for the Chavez government. Recently Kemp and the Venezuelan ambassador visited the Wall Street Journal's editorial board in an unsuccessful attempt to charm the paper away from its anti-Chavez stance. Since that visit, the Journal reported that Kemp has been trying to broker a complicated deal to fill the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve with Venezuelan oil via an intermediary company--Free Market Petroleum LLC--on whose board Kemp sits. Since hooking up with Free Market Petroleum, Kemp has visited with Chavez and his ministers in Caracas. Surely he must have noticed Chavez's brutality here.

American elites should be helping pressure the Chavez regime and publicizing its anti-democratic doings in Venezuela, not seeking to profit from collaboration with it.

First oil-for-food, and now this. Kemp was always into gold, but . . . .

ED CONE NOTES another lame story about the Internet, from the New York Times Magazine:

For its cover article The Making of a Molester, the magazine asks if the Internet "allowed Roy to go from being a seemingly normal man to a man who could solicit sex from a 12-year-old?"

Um, no?

I read the article. I was duly horrified. But when I got to the part where Roy goes all pervy, there was nothing to suggest that the Internet had ANYTHING AT ALL to do with his sickness.

Nope. But the Times is scared of the Internet.

UPDATE: A Slashdot reader looks at previous NYT coverage: "Dr. Bob Hamburger, associate shaman at Ye Olde Schoole Of Medickal Arts and Alckemy, considers the automobile to be a new horse for child molestation: 'There are three areas of concern. First, the molesters can use these 'cars' to travel to children, getting to them much faster than they could using just a horse or even a team of horses. Second, the automobile's interior can be used as an area for molestation. Third, the easy accessibility can facilitate moving over boundaries.'"

AUSTIN BAY WRITES THAT ZARQAWI HAS BEEN SUCKERED:

Z-Man’s been suckered. Z-Man is the troops’ nickname for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al Qaeda’s jefe in Iraq. Z-MAN has declared a “fierce war” on democracy. Z’s taken Bush’s bait– except the Presiden’ts “bait” of promoting democracy and declaring war on tyranny and 0ppression isn’t mere bait, it’s essential American values. The ideological dimensions of the War on Terror (The Millennium War) were there from the get-go, but the Presiden’t inaugural address has focused them. That’s a huge step, I think, to obtaining the kind of resilient victory and secure peace the American people deserve. . . .

Yup– a week before the Iraqi election Zarqawi has come out in public for imperialism, in his case Islamo-fascist imperialism.

Read the whole thing. It's like somebody planned it or something.

UPDATE: Zarqawi isn't getting much geek-respect, either, as a reader emails: "Someone should tell that Zarqawi guy that until he puts his tapes up as podcasts, we aren't listening."

BLIZZARD-BLOGGING: Lots of people are doing it. Links here, here, here, here, and here.

And Ann Althouse remains the blogosphere's champion photodinnerblogger.

UPDATE: More blizzardblogging, with photos, here.

IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN READING THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE LATELY, well, you should be.

FRIENDS OF DEMOCRACY is an Iraqi NGO bringing "Ground-level election news from the people of Iraq."

ED MORRISSEY offers a Ukrainian perspective on Bush's inauguration speech. Seems like it's playing pretty well there . . . .

JEFF JARVIS has much more to say about the Tim Blair item linked below.

UPDATE: Roger Simon has more on the myth of the foreign correspondent.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ouch: "Let me get this straight, MSM whine about the expense of sending reporters to Iraq, then they use that money to file a story about a guy who was embarrassed when his mother saw his girlie mags. What's next, wasting a fortune on 'Local Man Falls Asleep After Heavy Meal'?"

I'm guessing that Michael Moore would figure in that one . . . .

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: More here, plus a unique perspective from Iowahawk.

HUGH HEWITT offers advice to the news media in today's Los Angeles Times: "Cover the Terror War as a War."

MORE VIDEOBLOGGING: The Insta-Daughter spent the night with a friend last night, which let me and the Insta-Wife spend some quality time together. Among other things, we watched Sex, Lies and Videotape, which neither of us had seen since it was in theaters. If anything, we liked it better than we remembered. And I bought the DVD at Target for a bargain price of $5.50, too. If that sort of thing becomes common, it's going to be hell on video-rental stores.

And I'll always be grateful to Steven Soderbergh for providing me with an excellent title.

IN CALIFORNIA, they're digging their heels in against education reform. Does Arnold know about this?

PARVEEN BABI has died.

IN SOMALIA, even the dead are not safe, apparently.

TIM BLAIR: "It's another My Lai! Congratulations for exposing this, Washington Post."

AMIT VARMA visits the bad side of Bloggerville and discovers plagiarism and worse.

WHITE HOUSE BACKPEDALING on Bush's inaugural address? That's not good.

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