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March 04, 2006

ED MORRISSEY is trying to organize a blogswarm to evaluate recent claims about Guantanamo internees.

AUSTIN BAY writes on ending information isolation.

ED DRISCOLL INTERVIEWS EVAN COYNE MALONEY, on DIY video.

TIMOTHY GARTON ASH says we should stand up to the creeping tyranny of the group, whether we're talking animal-rights fanatics or Islamic terrorists:

Human lives are saved by medicines developed as a result of tests on animals; no comparable good is achieved by the republication of cartoons of the prophet. But the mechanism of intimidation is very similar, including the fact that it works across frontiers and is therefore hard to tackle by national laws or law enforcement agencies.

If the intimidators succeed, then the lesson for any group that strongly believes in anything is: shout more loudly, be more extreme, threaten violence, and you will get your way. Frightened firms, newspapers or universities will cave in, as will softbellied democratic states, where politicians scrabble to keep the votes of diverse constituencies. But in our increasingly mixed-up, multicultural world, there are so many groups that care so strongly about so many different things, from fruitarians to anti-abortionists and from Jehovah's Witnesses to Kurdish nationalists. Aggregate all their taboos and you have a vast herd of sacred cows. Let the frightened nanny state enshrine all those taboos in new laws or bureaucratic prohibitions, and you have a drastic loss of freedom. That, I think, is what is happening to us, issue by issue.

Expecting politicians to protect free speech is probably expecting too much. It's up to us.

GOOD NEWS:

Canada has been showered with attention for its oil sands — deposits of thick, sludgy crude in remote parts of northern Alberta — but until now most of that oil has flowed only as far south as Chicago.

This week, crude spun out of Canada's oil sands came all the way to this flat Oklahoma prairie town that's known as the oil pipeline capital of the world.

Enbridge, a Calgary-based oil delivery and storage company, opened the taps to its Spearhead Pipeline, a 650-mile stretch of steel from Chicago to Cushing, and the first western Canada crude sloshed into the company's mammoth Cushing terminal early Thursday.

For years the pipe, which used to be owned by BP, carried Gulf of Mexico crude to northern markets that needed the oil. But as the Gulf slowly but surely plays out, and Canada's oil sands production picks up steam, the crude is flowing in a different direction.

It's a sign of the times. Canada, which is already the biggest exporter of oil to the U.S., outranking Mexico, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, will likely double its oil production in the next decade, thanks to production from the oil sands.

Bring it on.

WHILE I'LL BE WORKING HARD to promote the book next week, apparently someone else will be relaxing on the beaches of Southern California, to judge by this sighting report and photo from N.Z. Bear.

The closest I'll get to the beaches of Southern California is being on Tammy Bruce's show starting at 8 Eastern tonight.

aod_beach.jpg

NO, I WON'T be watching the Oscars.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: The Kenyan government attacks a TV station. BareKnucklePolitics has the video.

CRICKET.

A MUSLIM LAWYER'S defense of publishing the Mohammed cartoons.

ED CONE: "Was the terrifying incident at UNC yesterday an act of home-grown terrorism? Nine people were struck by a Jeep driven by a man who is alleged to have said he was avenging American treatment of Muslims. Fortunately, injuries were minor. Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar is reportedly being charged with nine counts of attempted first-degree murder and nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill."

BOB OWENS LOOKS AT The Big Truth.

MICHAEL MALONE POSTS a lengthy review of An Army of Davids at ABC's Silicon Insider. Excerpt:

I cannot think of a better book for the average reader to understand just how the Web and other digital technologies are reversing the polarities of modern society — restoring many features of daily life lost with the Industrial Revolution, while at the same time inventing powerful new cultural institutions. And for those of us who make careers out of watching this transformation, no book to date so well summarizes all of the diverse trends in a single narrative.

It's a great review, and I have no complaints. But I'm a bit frustrated -- with myself -- because Malone doesn't see the connection between the final chapters of the book (on nanotechnology, space, and the Singularity) and the earlier chapters on more contemporary phenomena. That's my fault, not his. I thought I had a pretty clear story arc, starting with events today, then explaining how nanotechnology will represent a vast intensification of current trends, leading to vastly (and to a degree, dangerously) empowered individuals, with worries that we'd see either explosive chaos, or a global police state (I invoke Larry Niven's A.R.M., and note that it's actually a rather benign vision of such things) -- with the space bit appearing to explain why we need the safety factor of dispersing people beyond earth, and how the new space frontier will protect values of individualism. I quote Bob Zubrin on that point. (I also discuss the X-Prize, which has a real Army-of-Davids character.)

It seemed clear to me, but Malone's not the only one to miss that, which makes it my fault. Maybe I'll add a few paragraphs to the next edition, if there is one, to make that point clearer.

UPDATE: Comments on my response.

BLOGS, THE SLUTTY ONE-NIGHT STANDS OF THE MEDIA WORLD?

I meet new blogs all the time, through word of mouth and serendipity, and we have some nice moments together. But I don't usually crave a second date. Life is too short.

But it's nice to get together with someone who's doing it for fun, not for the money.

A BEAT DOWN IN HELL TOWN: The Lukashenko regime in Belarus lives up to the title of Europe's Last Dictator:

When one of the candidates challenging Mr Lukashenko in this month's presidential election tried to get into the People's Assembly, he was knocked to the ground by plain clothes officers and beaten.

Alexander Kozulin was then dragged off and taken into custody.

Outside the police station, a number of his supporters and journalists were detained, too. One newspaper photographer at the scene was beaten up by police. He received concussion and a broken nose.

Later another presidential candidate from the opposition had problems.

Alexander Milinkevich attempted to hold an election rally in the city centre. But the authorities declared it illegal and sent in the security forces: hundreds of riot police blocked off the roads and dispersed a crowd of several thousand Milenkevich supporters.

"The authorities saw that the popularity of the opposition is growing rapidly," Yaroslav Romanchuk of the United Civil Party told me. "That's why they are now trying to block the opposition from campaigning. This isn't an election. It's a sham."

I have seen two very different pictures of Belarus here this week. The first - on a TV screen, painted in pomp and ceremony, depicting Belarus as a haven of stability with a leader adored by the nation. And a second Belarus - an unofficial one, not intended for live broadcast and public consumption; a country where political rivals are beaten and detained by police.

Much more at the B23 Blog.

March 03, 2006

A LOOK AT THE KATRINA RESPONSE AND AFTERMATH from Lou Dolinar.

JOHN HAWKINS has more thoughts on Jim Geraghty's "Tipping Point" theory.

UPDATE: Read this, too.

PR AND BLOGGER ETHICS: I talked to a reporter about blogs and PR -- I won't spoil the story, but the gist is that some PR people have been sending stuff to bloggers, and some bloggers have apparently reprinted some of it without attribution.

I think that's bad, but as I stressed in our interview, it's not as if this supports a "bloggers lack the standards of mainstream journalism" conclusion. In fact, here's a bit from The Appearance of Impropriety on that topic:

Thirty-five years ago Daniel Boorstin wrote of what he called "pseudo-events," and noted that much of what passes for news is actually made up of items manufactured by public relations flacks and distributed to the public by way of news organizations. The news organizations, he wrote, go along with this sort of thing out of a need for material, and out of laziness: it's just easier to take predigested material and reprint it than it is to come up with real news. In tones of dismay, Boorstin reported that the National Press Club in Washington was equipped with racks holding the handouts from press conferences throughout the capital, in order to save the reporters the trouble of actually attending. As Boorstin went on to note:

We begin to be puzzled about what is really the "original" of an event. The authentic news record of what "happens" or is said comes increasingly to seem to be what is given out in advance. More and more news events become dramatic performances in which "men in the news" simply act out more or less well their prepared script. The story prepared "for future release" acquires an authenticity that competes with that of the actual occurrences on the scheduled date.

The practice Boorstin described has not gone away: it has expanded into new frontiers. Technology in the early 1960s was primitive, and favored live or minimally-produced television news; as a result, that medium acquired a reputation for realism and immediacy that print reporting lacked. A print story could be made up, but an image on television was real. But nowadays, when many high schools have network-quality television studios, and when videotape is sold at convenience stores, that has changed. Although a "video news release" is still more expensive to produce than a standard paper press release, they have become much more common. According to a recent poll, seventy-five percent of TV news directors reported using video news releases at least once per day.

These releases, with their high quality images and slick production, are produced by companies and groups who want to get their message across, but don't want simply to purchase advertising time. They are designed so that television producers at local stations or (less often) major networks, can simply intersperse shots of their own reporters or anchors (often reading scripted lines provided with the release) to give the impression that the story is their own. Their use has been the subject of considerable controversy within the journalistic profession, although some commentators have claimed that they are used no more often, or misleadingly, than written press releases are used by the print media.

A recent scandal in Britain involved network use of a video news release produced by the group Greenpeace that some considered misleading. But of course for every video news release, or VNR as they are called in the trade, that comes from an environmental group there are hundreds that come from businesses or government organizations. Though a keen eye can usually spot a VNR (hint: the subject matter wouldn't otherwise be news, and it usually involves experts and locales far from the station that airs it) most viewers probably believe that today’s story on cell-phone safety or miracle bras is just another product of the news program's producers – and hence, implicitly backed by the news people’s public commitment to objective journalism. The truth, however, is different.

It is fair to say that the wholesale use of others' work is a major part of modern journalism. But news officials are quick to distinguish that from plagiarism. In a mini-scandal at the San Diego Tribune, a reporter's story was cancelled when editors noticed that it looked very much like a story that had already appeared elsewhere. At first, presumably, it was thought that the story had been taken from the other publication. Then it turned out that both stories were simply near-verbatim versions of a press release. According to the Tribune's deputy editor, that wasn't plagiarism. "If you look up the definition of plagiarism, it is the unauthorized use of someone's material. When someone sends you a press packet, you're entitled to use everything in there."

Certainly this statement seems to capture the attitude of many in the journalistic professions. One public-relations handbook explains it this way:

Most reporters aren’t scoop-hungry investigators. They’re wage earners who want to please their editors with as little effort as possible, and they’re happy to let you provide them with ideas and facts for publishable stories. That is why most publicity is positive for people and their businesses.

You’re still not convinced? Go to the library and glance through a few days’ issues of several newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and some local papers. You’ll discover that the same stories appear over and over again. That’s because they were initiated by the companies being covered, not by an eager young reporter looking for a scoop.

An experiment by a group of journalism students at the University of Tennessee demonstrates just how willing reporters can be to accept facts and story ideas that involve little work. The students concocted a fictitious press release from a group opposing "political correctness" and mailed it to a number of newspapers. Most did not run it, but quite a few did -- and none checked the details one way or another. One newspaper even embellished the story with additional details that were not included in the original press release. When word of the experiment got out, journalists were predictably outraged, with one even saying that it violated the bond of trust (!) between journalists and public-relations professionals. A more likely explanation for the outrage is that the experiment uncovered a pattern of shoddy work that its practitioners would have preferred to keep unexposed. Not plagiarism, perhaps, but something that in many ways is worse.

Every successful system attracts parasites. The blogosphere is a successful system. That doesn't excuse bad conduct, of course. But I hope that nobody will try to pretend that this sort of thing is new or unusual, even if the setting is.

UPDATE: A confession:

It is far easier to repackage (or sometimes quote verbatim) what someone else is saying, rather than doing the reporting yourself. I fess up to being guilty of this when I interned with a couple airline magazines a few years ago. They basically handed me a bunch of press releases, asked me to hit the Internet, make a couple phone calls, and then craft an article from it.

Trudy Schuett, meanwhile, has thoughts on the subversive potential of republishing press releases while labeling them as such.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Galvin defends the PR industry in a lengthy missive. Click "read more" to read it. I don't deny that PR is valuable, actually. My point was simply that journalists rely a lot more heavily on PR than they admit, and that pointing a finger at bloggers in this case without acknowledging that fact (in a "see, you can't trust bloggers because they lack our journalistic standards" fashion) would be deeply unfair, even dishonest.

Read More ?


SHOP and awe.

BAD NEWS for Air America.

WHO ARE THE GUANTANAMO DETAINEES: Professor Bainbridge takes a look, and doesn't like it.

DON SURBER IS defending Robert Byrd.

HOLD THE CONSPIRACY WORRIES: A blogger reports on being unable to find a copy of An Army of Davids at bookstores. Remember, it doesn't officially come out until Tuesday, even though some places are stocking it and Amazon is starting to ship early.

UPDATE: Even if you can't find it, you can read a short excerpt from the book here, courtesy of The New Atlantis.

CARTOON WARS UPDATE: Manan Ahmed reports that they're blocking blogspot in Pakistan to keep the dread cartoons out.

Pathetic.

CORRUPTION AT THE CIA?

The stunning investigation of bribery and corruption in Congress has spread to the CIA, ABC News has learned.

The CIA Inspector General has opened an investigation into the spy agency's executive director, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, and his connections to two defense contractors accused of bribing a member of Congress and Pentagon officials.

The CIA released an official statement on the matter to ABC News, saying: "It is standard practice for CIA's Office of Inspector General — an aggressive, independent watchdog — to look into assertions that mention agency officers. That should in no way be seen as lending credibility to any allegation."

Stay tuned. Between this and the leaks investigations, there's likely to be a fair amount of action at CIA headquarters.

RAND SIMBERG HAS A SUGGESTION: Replace "Boondocks," which is going on hiatus, with "Day by Day."

Sounds good to me!

DANISH CONSULATE RALLY: Reader Kevin Patrick sends this report from New York:

About 150-200 People in attendance at any one time (some of us are supposed to be working). Friendly crowd handing out danish cheese (even in relatively cold weather). About a half dozen danish flags and even more signs in support of the Danes. Healthy discussions/debates going on as well. Couple of people vocalizing their attendance on behalf of friends serving in Iraq and elsewhere. Police in attendance also managing crowd in an orderly manner. All in all a good showing in suuport of the Danes.

Another reader sends the photo below, which can also be found on his blog.

danishnyc.jpg

UPDATE: Lots more pictures and reporting here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Pamela at Atlas Shrugs has lots more pictures and promises video later.

Here's one of hers:

denmarknycpam.jpg

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Lots more reporting and pictures at the Resplendent Mango. Here's one:

danishmango.jpg

GOOD IDEA: "New Mexico's 33 counties will switch from a patchwork of voting methods to a single paper-ballot system under a bill signed into law Thursday by Gov. Bill Richardson. The governor, who pushed the proposal through the recent legislative session, said the system would make voting more secure and restore the public's confidence in elections."

Actually, it sounds like a great idea! It's bad news for the manufacturers of electronic voting machines, of course, but they've had years to build in security sufficient to earn popular trust, and they've failed miserably at that task.

MARK DANIELS REPORTS on his struggle with Cliff Clavin disease.

POWER LINE'S PODCAST is now new and notable on iTunes. And they're currently #5 in the "politics" category. Hannity's #6.

I'M GETTING LOTS OF EMAIL asking what's happened to Neal Boortz's website. I don't know. If anyone has news, drop me a line.

UPDATE: Here's a not so very informative post from Boortz's radio station. Some people can see the site now, and some can't, which suggests a DNS change is propagating. It should be back soon.

ALSO IN THE MAIL: William Gurstelle's Adventures from the Technology Underground : Catapults, Pulsejets, Rail Guns, Flamethrowers, Tesla Coils, Air Cannons, and the Garage Warriors Who Love Them. Gurstelle is the author of the popular Backyard Ballistics, so I expect that there will be a lot of interest in this book. Follow the Amazon link for some cool photos, too. There's even a flying car!

MICHAEL TOTTEN REPORTS from one of Saddam's old torture chambers.

UPDATE: Further thoughts here.

I'M SHOCKED, SHOCKED at the idea that there might be price-fixing in the music business:

The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into online music pricing at the world's major music labels, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Let the subpoenas fly.

IN THE MAIL: The new book by Jerome Armstrong and Kos, Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics. Obviously I don't think that it will help the Democratic Party to move in the DailyKos direction (though that's not quite what the book advocates), but the book's thesis that the Democratic establishment has gotten out of touch with actual Democrats seems hard to dispute.

Republicans should be worried that the GOP, now that it's in power, seems to be displaying some of the same problems.

UPDATE: Reader Raymond Sauer emails: "Seems?"

GOOD NEWS ON OIL:

Chevron Corp. is doubling down its bet on Alberta's oil sands, saying it aims to spend billions over the next decade to launch a second project.

The company said Thursday it has acquired rights to 73,000 hectares northwest of Fort McMurray — land that Chevron believes holds 7.5 billion barrels of oil.

(Via Newsbeat1). Bring on the Colorado oil shale stuff, too.

ROGER SIMON notices an odd omission.

DAVID BERNSTEIN: "Should being an active member of a racist, anti-gay, anti-semitic organization disqualify someone from serving on a state hate crimes commission? You would think so, but, at least in Illinois, you'd be wrong."

IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN TO TOM MAGUIRE'S BLOG lately, well, you should drop by. Lots of interesting new stuff, including this on Murray Waas's latest "scoop:"

It is reassuring that President Bush got the same news the rest of us did.

Read the whole thing.

I HAVEN'T PAID ENOUGH ATTENTION TO "ABLE DANGER," but now there's an Able Danger blog.

IF YOU'RE IN NEW YORK CITY, don't forget today's rally at the Danish Consulate.

NORM GERAS looks at U.N. efforts to reform the Human Rights Commission. Well, they're not exactly "U.N. efforts."

UPDATE: More on that here.

HITCHENS ON HEWITT, talking about North Korea, Francis Fukuyama, and other insoluble problems. Transcript and audio here.

DANIEL DREZNER IS PLEASED with the India nuclear deal. I think that a nuclear India is unlikely to be a threat, and that we're better off with a strong (and even nuclear) democracy in the region.

I WAS ON HUGH HEWITT LAST NIGHT, talking about -- what else? -- An Army of Davids. There's a transcript and audio here if you're interested.

March 02, 2006

HARRY BROWNE has died.

"A CLASH BETWEEN CIVILIZATION AND BACKWARDNESS:" Wafa Sultan on Al Jazeera.

(Via Daily Scorecard).

A PRO-DENMARK RALLY IN NEW YORK, tomorrow at the Danish consulate. Details here. If you go, send me pics.

UPDATE: Link was broken. Fixed now.

NO DOUBT THE MEDIA WILL BE ALL OVER THIS STORY TOMORROW:

In the hectic, confused hours after Hurricane Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast, Louisiana's governor hesitantly but mistakenly assured the Bush administration that New Orleans' protective levees were intact, according to new video obtained by The Associated Press showing briefings that day with federal officials.

Think it'll get as much play as today's story?

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey was already on this.

MICHAEL BARONE: "Here's a fascinating issue, and one of great importance for the news business: whether the government should prosecute newspapers for printing classified information and government employees for divulging it. Specifically, should the New York Times be prosecuted for its Dec. 16, 2005, story on the NSA surveillance of communications between suspected al Qaeda operatives abroad and people in the United States?"

Read the whole thing.

MICKEY KAUS:

Is the despised, self-parodying MSM intentionally glossing over this important difference in order to exaggerate the anti-Bush shock value of the video? I don't know--but I do know that the actual "topped" quote was hard to find in print, lending some of the stories an eerie, undocumented quality. Do reporters not print the quote because then they couldn't justify the charge that Bush lied about the "breach"? You make the call. I'm too paranoid at this point. ... P.P.S.: Shouldn't Bush's press operation, rather than Patterico, be pointing all this out?

Bush's operation has relied rather heavily on the Army. Too heavily, I'd say.

JIM BENNETT: "Bush's trip to India, and the deal made there today, may end up being the single most consequential act of the Bush presidency."

JIM GERAGHTY thinks that post-tipping-point politics are going to be ugly, and agrees with me that the Bush Administration's limp response to the Cartoon Wars is part of the reason:

In the USA Today poll, when asked, “Which comes closer to your view about Arab and Muslim countries that are allies of the United States?” 45 percent of respondents said, “trust the same as any other ally”; 51 percent said they trust these countries “less than other allies.”

That’s a remarkably honest poll result. Let’s face it, Americans have been told since kindergarten not to judge ethnic and religious groups differently from one another; now slightly more than half are willing to come out and say, “you know, I just don’t trust those guys as much as I trust others.”

Welcome to Post-Tipping Point politics. There is no upside to doing the right thing – which is to emphasize, as one blogger put it, that there is a difference between Dubai and Damascus. There is tremendous political upside to doing the wrong thing, boldly declaring, “I don’t care what the Muslim world thinks, I’m not allowing any Arab country running ports here in America! I don’t care how much President Bush claims these guys are our allies, I don’t trust them, and I’m not going to hand them the keys to the vital entries to our country!”

And more and more, I think Glenn Reynolds had it right; the entire Tipping Point phenomenon can be summed up as action and reaction. The Bush Administration’s reaction to the cartoon riots was comparably milquetoast. The violence and threats committed over the cartoons shocked, frightened and really, really angered Americans. They want somebody to smack the Muslim world back onto its heels and set them straight: “It doesn’t matter how offensive a cartoon is, you’re not allowed to riot, burn down embassies and kill people over it.”

They’re ashamed that Denmark is leading the fight over this.

When the Bush administration’s reaction was mostly equivocating statements and a failure to confront the Muslim world over its insistence of the worldwide applicability of its blasphemy laws, I suspect a lot of folks whose top issue is the war on terror concluded that Bush was going wobbly. . . . The interesting thing is the post-Tipping Point view on the Muslim world is alien to Bush; I suspect he would find it abhorrent. Unfortunately, that puts him out of step with a large chunk of the public — a vocal, angry chunk that is likely to have plenty of politicians courting it.

Read the whole thing.

TOM ELIA: "Is we educating our children good?"

"IS ISLAM COMPATIBLE WITH DEMOCRACY?" A program at the University of Wisconsin that sounds very interesting.

I'LL BE ON HUGH HEWITT'S SHOW in just a minute. You can listen live here, though I probably won't hang up on Hugh the way John Zogby just did.

IT'S NOT JUST BILL CLINTON: Reader Daniel Holmes sends this story, which I had missed:

The lobbying of former Senate majority leader Robert J. Dole on behalf of the Dubai-owned company set to take over management of terminals at six major U.S. seaports is creating a political problem for his wife, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.).

The chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Jerry Meek, yesterday called on Sen. Dole to remove herself from "any congressional oversight" of the Dubai port deal. "The fact that Dubai is paying her husband to help pass the deal presents both a financial and ethical conflict of interest for Senator Dole," Meek said.

It always seems a bit shady to me when former elected officials are paid to represent foreign interests. We're not talking Gerhard Schroeder territory here for either Clinton or Dole, but it's still a bit iffy.

A WHILE BACK, I suggested that lawyers might be overpaid, which led to a stirring dissent from attorney Ronald Coleman. ("It’s the free market, Instapundit.") He makes some good points, though take it from a member of the cartel: the market's not that free . . .

Meanwhile, in a sort-of-related item, Arnold Kling looks for ways to "reward engineers and marketers, rather than patent attorneys."

I FREQUENTLY WARN MY STUDENTS about overreliance on spellcheckers. Here's a good object lesson.

THE JOY OF PODCASTING: It was good for me, too.

DAVID GREGORY ON IMUS: Transcript here, video here.

I wonder if he's related to this guy?

UPDATE: Here's a link to the full audio.

MARC COOPER: "Oh, I can’t tell you how much I love this one. Bill Clinton advising the monarchs of Dubai on how to sell the ports deal. I’d expect no less from Slick Willie. Just happy to see one more confirmation of what absolute, rank opportunists he and the Missus are. It all reminds me of how the Whitewater development project specialized in ripping off working class rubes with bait and switch mortgage deals. Yum-yum!"

He also wonders how Bush is going to get out of trouble on the ports deal. Perhaps it depends on what else happens in the next 45 days.

BLAMING IRAN for the mosque attack. I don't know, but it seems like the way to bet.

UPDATE: Greg Djerejian emails to disagree: "The chances of Iran being involved in the Samarra shrine bombing are somewhere between zero and less than zero. It’s almost as absurd as Ahmadi-Nejad blaming the Jews and Americans for it. . . . The trail is much simpler. It goes to al-Qaeda in Iraq, namely Zarqawi."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Gary Metz thinks that Djerejian is too quick to dismiss the Iranian connection:

First of all, Al Qaeda takes credit for its attacks. They have NOT taken credit for this.

But it is also important to remember that Zarqawi has been spending much of his time inside of Iran.

Lastly, Greg just dismisses the preliminary findings of those on the ground. Hmmmm.

Hard to know. I can certainly see why Iran would want a Sunni-Shia split.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jon Henke looks at some other Iran evidence. And TigerHawk has related thoughts.

DIVERSITY ISSUES at The New York Times.

THE ONION:

In a press conference on the steps of the Capitol Monday, Congressional Democrats announced that, despite the scandals plaguing the Republican Party and widespread calls for change in Washington, their party will remain true to its hopeless direction.

"We are entirely capable of bungling this opportunity to regain control of the House and Senate and the trust of the American people," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said to scattered applause. "It will take some doing, but we're in this for the long and pointless haul." . . . "Don't lose faithlessness, Democrats," Kennedy said. "The next election is ours to lose. To those who say we can't, I say: Remember Michael Dukakis. Remember Al Gore. Remember John Kerry."

Kennedy said that, even if the Democrats were to regain the upper hand in the midterm elections, they would still need to agree on a platform and chart a legislative agenda—an obstacle he called "insurmountable."

"Universal health care, the war in Iraq, civil liberties, a living wage, gun control—we're not even close to a consensus within our own ranks," Kennedy said. "And even if we were, we wouldn't know how to implement that consensus."

Sounds like The Onion has been reading Megan McArdle.

Of course, the Republicans' problem is that they've got ideas -- they just don't use them.

CRUNCHY CON WARS: Not being a "con," though I suppose I have my crunchy side, I'm happy to be left out of this.

AS I NOTED A WHILE BACK, I liked Peter Hamilton's book Pandora's Star enough that I immediately ordered the sequel, Judas Unchained. It just showed up!

WE'RE BACK TO HEARING ABOUT KATRINA, which is a pretty good sign the media is trying to gin up another anti-Bush swarm ("While the information in the video has been public for months, and was the subject of hearings and reports by Congress and the White House, the footage is giving new life to charges that the administration was detached and unresponsive in the face of one of the nation's worst natural disasters." In other words, there's no news here, but we hope it'll have traction anyway.) Patterico says that the Los Angeles Times is dishonestly portraying the video's contents, but if you get to the second page of the LAT story you find a bit of a dig at the AP for selective editing:

The AP video does not include footage of Chertoff asking Brown whether he needs any other help or of Chertoff asking whether Brown wants him to approach the Department of Defense. Transcripts show that to both questions, Brown indicated that no additional assistance was needed.

In the transcript of a briefing the following day, Aug. 29, Brown is quoted as saying that Bush "is very engaged, and he's asking a lot of really good questions I would expect him to ask."

That Aug. 29 transcript showed that hours after the hurricane hit, federal and state officials remained optimistic about handling the disaster and were unaware that the levees in New Orleans were failing.

Katrina taught the media that if they all swarmed Bush at once they could do harm even if -- as turned out to be the case -- much of what they reported was outright false. I've noticed a lot more of that since. The Bush Administration is quite capable of making its own trouble with PR -- see the ports issue, for example -- but it's also quite clear that the media is doing this sort of thing for entirely partisan reasons.

UPDATE: For some history here, it's worth revisiting this post. And this one. Also a reader sends this useful point:

I have to admit, it had me spun up for about a half an hour, too. What did Bush know? When did he know it? Then I stopped and remembered... wait a minute! Didn't we already know that Bush knew about the potential of the hurricane in advance, because he made calls to Mayor Nagin asking him to make the evacuation call?

Where is the actual news, here?

The news is that the port-deal publicity is dying down, Iraq's not in a civil war, and we need something to fill the headlines with anti-Bush stuff.

UPDATE: Wizbang notes a Rathergate connection.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Gateway Pundit has more on what people knew when.

BILL ROGGIO NOTES A BIG AL QAEDA ARREST and also observes: "CNN irresponsibly obscures Rahman’s ties to al-Qaeda."

Austin Bay, however, does not.

MARK STEYN talks about America and the United Nations, which he describes as

a shamefully squalid organization whose corruption is almost impossible to exaggerate. If you think—as the media and the left do in this country—that Iraq is a God-awful mess (which it’s not), then try being the Balkans or Sudan or even Cyprus or anywhere where the problem’s been left to the United Nations. If you don’t want to bulk up your pension by skimming the Oil-for-Food program, no need to worry. Whatever your bag, the UN can find somewhere that suits—in West Africa, it’s Sex-for-Food, with aid workers demanding sexual services from locals as young as four; in Cambodia, it’s drug dealing; in Kenya, it’s the refugee extortion racket; in the Balkans, sex slaves. On a UN peace mission, everyone gets his piece.

Ouch.

PUBLIUS LOOKS at the politics of the Iraqi shrine attack, the questionable role of Al Sadr, and the Iranian influence. Publius seems to have joined the rather large group of people who think that it is time for Sadr to go.

Meanwhile Chester looks at the key strategic question of the war on terror.

UPDATE: Here's more on the post-shrine attack fallout from StrategyPage. And Mickey Kaus pronounces the perennially doomsaying New York Times one of the major casualties of the attack. "I'm not saying Bill Keller's headline and lede writers were amping up the Iraq hysteria in order to manufacture another Tet. Maybe they just have no judgment or perspective."

The folks at the Times are lucky they've got Mickey to defend them!

March 01, 2006

A DOUBLE-BARRELLED APPROACH: "Bill Clinton, former US president, advised top officials from Dubai two weeks ago on how to address growing US concerns over the acquisition of five US container terminals by DP World. It came even as his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, was leading efforts to derail the deal."

MICKEY KAUS: "I notice my hits have been down a bit this week--must be the lack of Brokeback coverage."

A LOOK AT Saddam's death warrants.

PEOPLE OFTEN ASK where the moderate Muslims are, and why they don't stand up. Well, Tim Blair has noticed something:

The forbidden cartoons of Mohammadness have been published more widely in Muslim countries than in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada combined. In Malaysia alone, three newspapers ran images – compared to just two newspapers in Australia.

Not a single major US daily went near them.

Though I'd call the Rocky Mountain News major.

UPDATE: And the Philadelphia Inquirer.

AMERICA'S NEWEST FRIEND: Jacques Chirac? "After five years of trying to build an anti-U.S. front with Germany—splitting Europe down the middle—the French president is reaching into his diplomatic toolbox and coming up with initiatives that are increasingly in tune with America's global agenda."

UPDATE: Jim Hoft emails that it's not just Chirac. He says that Silvio Berlusconi is shamelessly using President Bush to get votes.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A couple of readers complain that the update equates Chirac with Berlusconi, who's been a reliable friend all along. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise; I thought that it was interesting that Berlusconi thought Bush was worth votes at home, despite what we hear about US unpopularity in Europe.

A LOOK AT the best blogging newspapers in the United States.

TOM MCMAHON writes on "What I have learned in fifteen years" of taking care of a brain-damaged son.

I'm happy to say that the medical woes that my family has experienced haven't reached this caliber, but I'm sorry to say that I've learned many of the same things.

Speaking of which, if you're an oncologist and know something about spindle-cell sarcoma, I'd appreciate you dropping me a line. No it's not a problem in my immediate family, but it's a problem in my family nonetheless, alas.

TOM FRIEDMAN ON LOU DOBBS: I couldn't get the video to play, but apparently he's not happy.

ZEYAD is still unhappy with the security situation in Iraq, and entirely unimpressed with Saddam's trial.

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE publishes an extensive review of events in Iraq over the past week, and pronounces the media coverage poor. But there's this observation:

There was a step 4 to the plan, by the way. That would be the violent takfiri "response" to the desired Shiite response to the shrine bombing. While that Shiite response was less than anticipated, the response of the media met the planners expectations to the point they could move forward anyway, so we're seeing elements of step 4 enacted now with continuing violence across Iraq. More people are dying, but no, you're not seeing civil war.

And don't offer undue credit to the American troops. You are seeing proof of what they all know to be true - violence is ongoing, but the Iraqis are increasingly capable of handling it themselves. A few more "civil wars" like this one and the troops will indeed be home.

He's particularly hard on the Washington Post's wildly inflated death toll.

JOHN STOSSEL defends freedom of excellence.

A DARK SIDE OF THE ARMY OF DAVIDS? Yankee Muse reads the book and foresees an Army of Mohammeds. Well, as I note in the book, terrorism is an early bad manifestation of technology empowering individuals and small groups. Fortunately, that's not the whole story.

UPDATE: N.Z. Bear emails:

Quick reaction thought to the terrorism as Army of Davids-like --you're exactly right that terrorism was an early manifestation of a similar phenomenon. The key difference, however, is that while we have already seen what happens when destructive technologies become widely available (explosives, etc.), we are now seeing what happens when *constructive* technologies become highly distributed. We're already dealing with the bad side of the coin, now we're at least starting to see some of the good...

Yes, that's part of my take. And of Vernor Vinge's.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oh, what the hell: This guy's endorsements do sell books.

HENRY COPELAND would like you to take this survey of blog readers. If you do, please list "InstaPundit" as the referring blog when asked.

If you're interested to see previous years' results, you can click here and here.

A RALLY FOR DENMARK IN NYC THIS FRIDAY: Details at Kesher Talk.

BILL STUNTZ says that Harvard is the General Motors of universities: "rich, bureaucratic, and confident--a deadly combination. Fifty years from now, Larry Summers's resignation will be known as the moment when Harvard embraced GM's fate."

It's also clear that, as with GM, making the customers happy with the product is less of a priority than bureaucratic infighting.

UPDATE: Bad news for Harvard -- when you compare it to GM, the GM fans complain! Reader William Girardot emails:

I usually find myself agreeing with your commentary and even when I don't, your views are quite thought provoking. Unfortunately, your opinions on GM and its products don't fall into that category. GM's products, from its new offerings in the Cadillac line to its new convertible roadsters, are eye-catching automobiles that surpass most German engineered cars and are nearly the equal of the Japanese.

Well, it's the arrogant GM of several decades ago that Stuntz was invoking, not the much more eager to please GM of today.

Of course, it's worth noting that it's not just Harvard that's suffering from the problems that Stuntz points out.

DANIEL HARRISON looks at disruptive technologies in the Fourth Estate.

ARMY OF DAVIDS UPDATE: Reader Don Hodun reports that his copy has arrived in Seattle: "Looks great!"

I had ordered from Barnes & Noble and that one arrived yesterday, but my Amazon test-order hasn't shown up yet. Since the book isn't officially out until next week, I imagine both shipments and bookstore appearances will be uneven for the next few days. But if you get a copy -- or see it in a bookstore -- let me know! Photos optional.

And Brad Miner is certainly pushing it!

UPDATE: Another happy recipient!

CONCOCTING A POISONOUS DAY OF NEWS: Gateway Pundit is unimpressed with the press.

Meanwhile, Mystery Pollster looks at Zogby's poll of troops in Iraq. Hmm. Apparently it's sort of like an exit poll. Those certainly didn't work out well. . . .

The Officers' Club and Murdoc Online have some questions, too.

Just yesterday, Ralph Peters' comment was: "You are being lied to."

No doubt the reports are fake, but accurate.

UPDATE: LT Smash on the poll.

ANOTHER UPDATE: J.D. Johannes has a theory about what happened with the poll.

STEPHEN BAINBRIDGE WRITES on Howard Stern and CBS.

MAX BOOT: "ARE WE WINNING or losing in Iraq? Liberals and conservatives safe at home have no trouble formulating glib answers to that fundamental question. The former can always point to setbacks, the latter to successes. The picture becomes blurrier, the future murkier when you spend time in Iraq, as I did last week."

CATHY SEIPP has thoughts on free speech.

JAMIE KIRCHICK HAS MORE ON THE YALE TALIBAN:

The administration believes Yale is lucky to have Hashemi. According to the New York Times, Yale had "another foreigner of Rahmatullah's caliber apply for special-student status." Said former Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw, "We lost him to Harvard. I don't want that to happen again." Who was the applicant? A member of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party? A protege of Robert Mugabe's?

Don't expect a word of protest from our feminist and gay groups, who now have in their midst a live remnant of one of the most misogynistic and homophobic regimes ever. They're busy hunting bogeymen like frat parties and single-sex bathrooms. The answer Hashemi gave five years ago when asked about the lack of women's rights in Afghanistan, "American women don't have the right not to find images of themselves in swimsuits on the side of a bus," is the sort of sophistry likely to curry favor among Yale's feminist activists, who make every effort to paint American society as chauvinistic while refraining from criticizing non-Western cultures. To do so would be "cultural imperialism," and we cannot have that at an enlightened place like Yale.

I personally want to know whether Hashemi supports the flattening of homosexuals via brick walls, which was one of the ways the Taliban dealt with gay men. Having written a newspaper column for nearly my entire time at Yale, I suspect some of my peers would like to see me flattened by a wall, but I doubt any of them served a regime that carried out such a practice as official policy.

It's not one of Yale's finer moments.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS writes on The End of Fukuyama.

WRITING IN FOREIGN POLICY, PHILLIP LONGMAN expounds on a theme that James Taranto has been sounding for a while: "Across the globe, people are choosing to have fewer children or none at all. Governments are desperate to halt the trend, but their influence seems to stop at the bedroom door. Are some societies destined to become extinct? Hardly. It’s more likely that conservatives will inherit the Earth. Like it or not, a growing proportion of the next generation will be born into families who believe that father knows best."

I'm somewhat skeptical of demographic arguments like this, but he's a serious guy.

HOWARD BASHMAN: "Alabama's sex-toy litigation ends not with a bang, but with a whimper."

WHAT'S IN A NAME-CHANGE: Austin Bay looks at the U.N.'s latest on human rights.

BILL ROGGIO looks at Al Qaeda's foreign fighters in Iraq.

IN THE MAIL: Simon Young's Designer Evolution: A Transhumanist Manifesto. Looks pretty interesting, and it has forewords by Aubrey de Grey and Robert Freitas.

IF YOU'RE IN THE D.C. AREA, I'll be doing a book launch program at the National Press Club on Monday at 6:30, co-sponsored by Reason and TCS Daily. Barry Lynn and Joe Trippi will be debating the whole "Army of Davids" concept with me.

Details are here.

WILL AGING RESEARCH BECOME AN ELECTION ISSUE? My TCS Daily column is up.

IMPORTANT ADVICE ON PORT SECURITY from Frank J.: "Muslim extremists hate cartoon depictions of the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), so put an unflattering comic about Mohammed on your door. If anyone tries to kill you over it, treat that person with suspicion." He's got a lot more of 'em.

THOUGH THE WHITE HOUSE WAS MUM IN ADVANCE, Bush made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on his way to India.

UPDATE: Lorie Byrd writes: "I Love It When He Does Stuff Like This."

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON:

Last week the golden dome of the Askariya shrine in Samarra was blown apart. Sectarian riots followed, and reprisals and deaths ensued. Thugs and criminals came out of the woodwork to foment further violence. But instead of the apocalypse of an ensuing civil war, a curfew was enforced. Iraqi security forces stepped in with some success. Shaken Sunni and Shiite leaders appeared on television to urge restraint, and there appeared at least the semblance of reconciliation that may soon presage a viable coalition government.

But here at home you would have thought that our own capitol dome had exploded. Indeed, Americans more than the Iraqis needed such advice for calm to quiet our own frenzy. Almost before the golden shards of the mosque hit the pavement, pundits wrote off the war as lost--as we heard the tired metaphors of "final straw" and "camel's back" mindlessly repeated. The long-anticipated civil strife among Shiites and Sunnis, we were assured, was not merely imminent, but already well upon us. Then the great civil war sort of fizzled out; our own frenzy subsided; and now exhausted we await next week's new prescription of doom--apparently the hyped-up story of Arabs at our ports. That the Iraqi security forces are becoming bigger and better, that we have witnessed three successful elections, and that hundreds of brave American soldiers have died to get us to the brink of seeing an Iraqi government emerge was forgotten in a 24-hour news cycle.

Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Ralph Peters reports from Baghdad:

Yesterday, I crisscrossed Baghdad, visiting communities on both banks of the Tigris and logging at least 25 miles on the streets. With the weekend curfew lifted, I saw traffic jams, booming business — and everyday life in abundance.


Yes, there were bombings yesterday. The terrorists won't give up on their dream of sectional strife, and know they can count on allies in the media as long as they keep the images of carnage coming. They'll keep on bombing. But Baghdad isn't London during the Blitz, and certainly not New York on 9/11. . . .

The bombing made headlines (and a news photographer just happened to be on the scene). Here in Baghdad, it just made the average Iraqis hate the terrorists even more.

You are being lied to. By elements in the media determined that Iraq must fail. Just give 'em the Bronx cheer.

Read the whole thing.

AN EXTRAORDINARY ACT OF CIVIL OBEDIENCE: Some Atlanta students drive the speed limit and videotape the resulting mayhem. As one of them says, "I'm just glad nobody got hurt. It had the potential to be dangerous, which was really, again, the point. We were dangerous because we were obeying the law."

UPDAE: Alan, Esq. thinks that this was against the law, and there's an interesting discussion going on in the comments with some of the students.

February 28, 2006

WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, and The U.N. cares about human rights.

A MANIFESTO AGAINST THE NEW ISLAMIC TOTALITARIANISM: Bravo. Click "read more" to read it.

Read More ?


BUSH AND BLOGS: Hey, maybe the message finally got through.

The Glenn and Helen Show: Claire Berlinski on Europe

berlinskicov.jpgWe interviewed Claire Berlinski, author of Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's, Too, about Europe, Muslim integration (and the lack thereof), and the political, diplomatic, and military consequences thereof. I think it's one of the most important books of the year, and that this is one of the most important podcast interviews we've done. Her advice to the White House and State Department on Europe: "Make contingency plans in case it all goes to hell, because it very well might."


You can listen directly (no iPod needed!) by clicking here, or you can get it via iTunes.

There's also a podcast archive here, and there are low-bandwidth versions for dialup users, etc., here.

Music: "Too Many Goodbyes," by The Defenders of the Faith, from Original Sins, the first album I ever produced. That's the Insta-Brother, Jonathan Reynolds, on guitar along with Hector Qirko, and Doug Weinstein plays drums and Hammond organ.

As always, my lovely and talented cohost is soliciting comments and suggestions.

INTERESTING REPORT FROM IRAQ:

In the days that followed the bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine, Iraq seemed within a hair's breadth of civil war. But an aggressive U.S. and Kurdish diplomatic campaign appears for now to have coaxed the country back from open conflict between Sunni Arabs and Shiites, according to Iraqi politicians and Western diplomats speaking in interviews on Monday.

Read the whole thing.

STRATEGYPAGE:

In the southwest, where most of Iran's oil, and Arabs, are found, two bombs went off in government offices. There were four injuries. These bombings have been going on since last Summer. The government blames foreign instigators. That may be true, but not the British foreigners the government names, but Iraqi Shia Arabs who feel the connection with their fellow Shia Arabs across the border in Iran. Like the Iraqi Shia Arabs, the Iranian Shia Arabs have not gotten much from all the oil produced around them. The ethnic Iranians (an Indo-European people) control the oil, and the money it brings in. The 1980 war between Iran and Iraq was started when Saddam Hussein tried to "liberate" his fellow Arabs just across the border in Iran, along with the oil they were sitting on. Saddam already had a reputation for treating Shias badly, and Iran's Arabs remained loyal in resisting Saddam's army. But now, the situation is different. Shia Arabs are basically running Iraq. This bothers the non-Arab Iranians, and encourages the Arab Iranians.

There's also this:

Iran would also like to get rid of all the foreign spies. Increasingly, Iranian intelligence is getting reports of more foreigners offering money for information. This is a common intelligence gathering technique in the Middle East, where information is just another item to be bought, sold or bartered. In Iran, where smuggling has been big business for a long time, information is one of the items carried into, and out of, the country. Foreigners want to know about resistance to the government and attitudes towards Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Hmm. I wonder who is behind that.

I'M ON WAMU talking about blogs, the ports, and An Army of Davids until 1:00. Follow the link to stream live.

UPDATE: It's archived here.

AN EXTENSIVE, AND MOSTLY RIGHT look at the Bush Administration's political problems.

IS BLOGGING LEGAL SCHOLARSHIP? My Dean says so, which makes me, on a word-count basis, at least, one of the most productive scholars around!

Here's an article on that topic from the National Law Journal. And Paul Caron rounds up some thoughts from quite a few law professors.

Ann Althouse has further thoughts, and adds:

And speaking of U.S. News, wouldn't it be funny if it used faculty blogging as a factor? There would be all these blogs by lawprofs trying to move their school up the rankings.

Indeed there would.

THREATSWATCH looks at Iran's efforts to gain influence in the Middle East, which seem to be succeeding while the world is occupied with nuke rumors and cartoon wars:

But, typically, the nature of the Iranian nuclear program is not revealed by the UN agency tasked with investigating the crisis, but rather by the swirling events that continue to define it. And while the world remains affixed on the state of the Iranian nuclear countdown and the IAEA as it haplessly tries to get a fix on a moving target, the nature of the Iranian crisis transcends developments on the atomic front. . . .

While the Iranians are seemingly making little progress convincing the world of their ‘peaceful nuclear power program’ save for buying time, they are making considerable progress elsewhere throughout the region with visible, tangible gains in the Palestinian Territories, conditions inexplicably favorable in Lebanon, constant bloody tinkering in Iraq (especially through Basra) and a regional diplomatic ‘charm offensive’ ongoing.

Meanwhile, where it appears Iran is employing a short to mid-term regional strategy, the United States seems entrenched employing long-term strategies of seemingly endless UN-centered wrangling and funding supportive broadcasts into a largely immobile internal Iranian opposition.

I'm afraid that it's going to come to open military action against Iran, sooner rather than later.

It's also worth reading this piece on what Hamas is planning. Meryl Yourish has some further thoughts.

KARL ROVE comments on the Army of Davids:

Rove considers Memogate a watershed in the rise of the alternative media.

“The whole incident in the fall of 2004 showed really the power of the 'blogosphere',” he said in his West Wing office.

“Because in essence you had now, an army of self-appointed experts looking over the shoulder of the mainstream media and bringing to bear enormously sophisticated skills,” he added.

Still, Rove cautioned that the Internet’s political potential has a darker side.

Like all things. And the Bush Administration's ineptitude where the ports story is involved demonstrates that it's always a two-edged sword.

UPDATE: More thoughts here.

DOUGLAS MURRAY WRITES that we should fear Holland's silence:

‘Would you write the name you’d like to use here, and your real name there?” asked the girl at reception. I had just been driven to a hotel in the Hague. An hour earlier I’d been greeted at Amsterdam airport by a man holding a sign with a pre-agreed cipher. I hadn’t known where I would be staying, or where I would be speaking. The secrecy was necessary: I had come to Holland to talk about Islam. . . .

The event was scholarly, incisive and wide-ranging. There were no ranters or rabble-rousers, just an invited audience of academics, writers, politicians and sombre party members. As yet another example of Islam’s violent confrontation with the West (this time caused by cartoons) swept across the globe, we tried to discuss Islam as openly as we could. The Dutch security service in the Hague was among those who considered the threat to us for doing this as particularly high. The security status of the event was put at just one level below “national emergency”.

This may seem fantastic to people in Britain. But the story of Holland — which I have been charting for some years — should be noted by her allies. Where Holland has gone, Britain and the rest of Europe are following. The silencing happens bit by bit. A student paper in Britain that ran the Danish cartoons got pulped. A London magazine withdrew the cartoons from its website after the British police informed the editor they could not protect him, his staff, or his offices from attack. This happened only days before the police provided 500 officers to protect a “peaceful” Muslim protest in Trafalgar Square.

It seems the British police — who regularly provide protection for mosques (as they did after the 7/7 bombs) — were unable to send even one policeman to protect an organ of free speech. At the notorious London protests, Islamists were allowed to incite murder and bloodshed on the streets, but a passer-by objecting to these displays was threatened with detention for making trouble.

When other groups decide that the way to get favorable press is to use violence, those who have wimped out now will have no one to blame but themselves. As a reader emailed me a while back, what use is a free press if it doesn't believe in free speech?

People talk about Eurabia, but what's really happened is that Europe has become Weimarized, with governments and institutions too morally and intellectually weak to stand up for the principles they pretend to embody. And we know what that led to last time . . . .

UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

BOINGBOING IS BANNED IN VARIOUS MIDDLE EASTERN COUNTRIES: Here's some advice on how to get around the censorware, but since it's on BoingBoing, and hence presumably blocked to the people who need it, I'm also reposting it below; I'm pretty sure the BoingBoing folks won't mind. [LATER: Xeni Jardin emails: "Mind???? We're thrilled!"] Click "read more" to read it.

What's really lame is that these countries, which include Iran, are using filtering software made by a United States company to block content. Selling the rope, and all that.

Read More ?


BLOGGER BOB "CONFEDERATE YANKEE" OWENS is interviewed in the Washington Post.

STANDING UP TO BARBARISM: Gateway Pundit notes that Poland is no France.

ANOTHER ARMY OF DAVIDS SIGHTING -- Ian Schwartz emails: "I just picked up a copy of the book at Books a Million --- one of the last few."

Words to warm an author's heart.

GRAND ROUNDS is up. So is the Carnival of the Capitalists, and the Blawg Review. Plus, the Carnival of the Cats! Lots more carnivals at BlogCarnival.com.

UPDATE: Also, Haveil Havalim and the Carnival of Homeschooling.

And The Manolo reminds me not to miss the Carnival of Couture.

February 27, 2006

JASON FRY:

Maybe you've heard: Blogs are a vanishing fad -- this year's digital Pet Rock. Or a business bubble about to pop. Or a sucker's bet for new-media fame seekers.

Recent weeks have seen the rise of a cottage industry in Whither Blogging? articles. New York magazine cast cold water on newly minted bloggers' dreams with an examination of the divide between a handful of A-list blogs and countless B-list and C-list blogs that can't get much traffic no matter how hard their creators work. Slate's Daniel Gross spotlighted signs that blogs may have peaked as a business. And a much-discussed poll from Gallup concluded that growth in U.S. blog readers was "somewhere between nil and negative." From there it was off to the races, with all manner of commentators weighing in, led by the Chicago Tribune, which smirked its way through an anti-blogging editorial that got Mr. Gross's name wrong while taking odd potshots at Al Gore and snowboarding.

Reports of blogging's demise are bosh, but if we're lucky, something else really is going away: the by-turns overheated and uninformed obsession with blogging. Which would be just fine, because it would let blogging become what it was always destined to be: just another digital technology and method of communication, one with plenty to offer but no particular claim to revolution.

He's mostly right. Blogging isn't so much a revolution in itself as a symptom of a larger revolution. You can read my thoughts on blogs in particular here.

DAVID WARREN has more on the Cartoon Wars:

The reason I have written so copiously on this subject -- not the cartoons themselves, but what I have called the “organized apoplexy” in response to them -- is because it is important. In my judgement, it is the most important thing that has happened since the Al Qaeda attack on the United States, in 2001. It is important in combination with other fast-developing events, including the victory of the openly terrorist Hamas in a Palestinian election; Iran’s public promise to “wipe Israel off the map”; collapsing public order in Pakistan, Nigeria, and elsewhere; the recent Muslim riots, and continuing low-level Intifada in France; and now the destruction of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, triggering vicious sectarian strife in Iraq. And quite literally, hundreds of lesser events of the same nature -- each revealing an Islamic world in combustion, and a West retreating into contrived apologies and other confused gestures of cowardice and panic.

One cannot keep up with all these events -- the wheels of history are turning too quickly. The world in which we will find ourselves, a few years hence, will not resemble the world we inhabited a few years ago. Yet this is among the few predictions that can be safely made.

It's not a good time to go wobbly.

BRUSSELS JOURNAL REPORTS:

Vladimir Bukovksy, the 63-year old former Soviet dissident, fears that the European Union is on its way to becoming another Soviet Union. In a speech he delivered in Brussels last week Mr Bukovsky called the EU a “monster” that must be destroyed, the sooner the better, before it develops into a fullfledged totalitarian state.

I doubt the E.U. will last long enough for that. I certainly hope that it straightens out, though.

YEAH, I've watched a lot of Jimmy Neutron in my time, too.

THE PORKBUSTERS PAGE is now at Porkbusters.org -- make a note of it.

EUGENE VOLOKH NOTES a new opinion on the right to keep and bear arms by the Kentucky Supreme Court, in Posey v. State. (Big pdf file). I haven't had time to read the whole thing yet (it's 64 pages) but it looks pretty interesting.

I HAVE A NEW BLOGCHILD: "I must admit, although I've read many blogs recently, I never considered starting a blog of my own until I caught Glenn Reynolds, the creator of Instapundit, on C-SPAN yesterday."

THIS LOOKS LIKE A NON-STORY: Lots of people are talking about this AP story, which scarily begins:

Citing broad gaps in U.S. intelligence, the Coast Guard cautioned the Bush administration weeks ago that it could not determine whether a United Arab Emirates-based company seeking a stake in some U.S. port operations might support terrorist operations.

Of course, Rob Port notes that further on the same story says:

The Coast Guard said the concerns reflected in the document ultimately were addressed. In a statement, the Coast Guard said other U.S. intelligence agencies were able to provide answers to the questions it raised.

So what's the big deal, exactly?

VITAL PERSPECTIVES has the full text of the embargoed IAEA report on Iran. (Via Michelle Malkin).

GOT A HEART QUESTION? The Insta-Wife is soliciting questions for an upcoming cardiological podcast.

DOC SEARLS HAS THOUGHTS on the two-tier Internet and the naked conversation. Eric S. Raymond has thoughts in response.

JIM GERAGHTY says there's "an organized disinformation campaign" on the ports deal.

ROGER SIMON joins those with questions about Yale's admissions policies.

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE notes an overlooked third party in the ports imbroglio.

ARMY OF DAVIDS ARRIVES: Reader Dusty Loy emails: "Arrived from Barnes and Noble 15 minutes ago, can't wait to read it!" I guess those other reports were right.

Meanwhile my publisher emails: "Army of Davids is Amazon's no. 1 business preorder." Cool.

JAMES JOYNER thinks there may be an upside to Iraqi civil war. Hmm. Mickey Kaus said the same thing a while back, but as I've noted here before, I think it's better off avoided. This kind of thinking reminds me of Josh Marshall's worries in 2003 that we didn't kill enough Iraqis to ensure stable government postwar. Of course, some people today might say he was right about that, though I haven't noticed any I-told-you-sos on this account from Josh.

ANN ALTHOUSE: "Someone needs to do a Gender Studies seminar on Don Knotts."

A TIPPING POINT on the Muslim world? I worry, over at GlennReynolds.com.

AUSTIN BAY writes on the uncomfortable overlap between Bush's military strategy and his political posture.

UPDATE: Maybe there's a psychological explanation.

MICHAEL TOTTEN has more blog-reporting from Iraq.

IF YOU WERE OFFLINE OVER THE WEEKEND, don't miss our podcast interview with John Scalzi, author of Old Man's War and Ghost Brigades, and Tim Minear, of Firefly, and Wonderfalls.

FORGET THE PORTS: "Never has an article made me blink with astonishment as much as when I read in yesterday's New York Times magazine that Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is now studying at Yale on a U.S. student visa. This is taking the obsession that U.S. universities have with promoting diversity a bit too far. . . . 'In some ways,' Mr. Rahmatullah told the New York Times. 'I'm the luckiest person in the world. I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Instead I ended up at Yale.'"

Unless things have improved since I was there, however, the food will be inferior to Guantanamo's. I wonder if he attends Yale's famous naked parties. If so, someone should save pictures.

IT'S NOT OFFICIALLY OUT FOR A WEEK, but An Army of Davids is apparently starting to ship from Amazon. At least, several readers have gotten emails from Amazon saying that their copies have shipped.

UPDATE: Another reader writes: "FYI, it's also shipping from Barnes & Noble if I'm to believe their E-mail."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Stephen Keating emails: "It's in Books a Million in Reston already."

Ask for it at your bookstore! Maybe I should do like Scalzi and ask for people to send in photos. . . .

"UNITY PROTESTS" break out in Iraq. Strangely, they're getting less attention.

MARC COOPER was at Restoration Weekend and reports that Republicans are worried about the midterm elections. Well, they should be.

UPDATE: More thoughts from The Bull Moose. Related post here.

CAFE HAYEK:

Proponents of single-payer health care reform in the United States have long pointed toward Canada as a model for the US to emulate.

The New York Times reports that the Canadian system is imploding. A recent Candian Supreme Court decision allowed private health care (oh, the shame, the horror) and as a result, Canadians tired of waiting for radiation therapy, eye surgery and hip replacements have turned toward private alternatives springing up under the new legal environment.

Read the whole thing. Evan Coyne Maloney and Stuart Browning had better finish their film on the Canadian health system fast.

February 26, 2006

JEFF JARVIS goes from a BBC reporter's thoughts on American politics to some thoughts on the impact of different media:

But perhaps it’s not the use or control of the media but, instead, the appropriateness of the message for the medium of the time. Cue McLuhan.

Broadcasting — sermonizing — to the masses was, then, inherently liberal.

Narrowcasting — ranting — on cable is better for the conservatives.

But what about the internet? It’s tailor-made for the libertarians. The internet is the embodiment of individual liberty, the great product and celebration of freedom.

When blogs started, I wondered why so many bloggers seemed to be libertarian, why they gathered in this medium in apparently disproportionate numbers. That’s obvious to me now. They have found their home. They have the message and the medium for it. But they’re just as disorganized as the Democrats and the Republicans. It’s not just about Democratic disarray. It’s about a benign anarchy sweeping the politics of the land.

There's an old joke: "How many libertarians does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one, but you've got to get him to show up."

IAN SCHWARTZ has posted some video highlights of my C-SPAN interview.

UPDATE: Now C-SPAN has posted video and a transcript of the whole thing.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING BIT from the transcript I just got in the mail from CNN. It's the Iraqi National Security Adviser, on "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

On who is responsible for the recent bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra
MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAIE: The blueprint of that unfortunate event, the blueprints of al Qaeda in Iraq is that. It’s the same design, the same methods, the same objectives they want to achieve, which is a civil war. They wanted to drive a wedge between the two communities in Iraq, between the Shia and Sunnis. And they've been trying this for the last two and a half years. And they failed miserably in this.

And I think also this is one of the most horrible, really terrible attacks on the doctrine, on the belief of the largest community in Iraq. And still, Iraqi people have proven that they've gone through this difficulty, yet again, and they have shown the al Qaeda and the outside world that they will never be driven to the civil war.

BLITZER: So when you saw al Qaeda in Iraq, you mean Abu Musab al- Zarqawi? Is that right?

AL-RUBAIE: That's absolutely right. It's the same organization of al Qaeda, this international terrorist organization, and one -- the branch office in Iraq is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi leading this -- this terrible attack, terrorist attack against our people.

On whether any individuals have been arrested for the bombing
AL-RUBAIE: We have arrested 10 people. Four from the guards of the Golden Tomb shrine. And six -- there were in the city of Samarra, just moved in and rented a place. Six young people there. So we are investigating then. We are very -- there are two leads, and these leads are very, very good in our investigations. And we will reveal this in the very near future at Jala (ph).

I wonder if the trail will lead back to Iran.

RIOTS IN DUBLIN were covered by Irish bloggers, here, here and here. Lots of photos and firsthand reportage.

AS I SUSPECTED, the "ricin" found in Texas turned out not to be ricin. The Texans seem to have kept their sense of humor, though.

UPDATE: Not quite so happy at Generation Why?

DESPITE the Mark Steyn column linked below, here's some good news from France:

Tens of thousands of people have marched through Paris to protest against racism and anti-Semitism after the kidnap and murder of a young Jew. Ilan Halimi, 23, was found naked with horrific injuries, three weeks after he was kidnapped by an extortion gang. . . .

Among those at Sunday's rally were members of the government and the opposition, Jewish and anti-racism campaigners, and leaders of the Jewish and other religious communities.

Worried as I am, I haven't written Europe off yet. As Roger Simon observes: "This may not equal the crowds they muster for a transit workers strike, but let's hope this marks a new resistance to racism and anti-Semitism in France."

AUSTIN BAY continues his look at captured Al Qaeda documents.

MORE ARMY OF DAVIDS BLOG REVIEWS: From Ed Cone, and Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft.

MEDIA OVERLOAD: I'll be on Brian Lamb's Q&A on C-SPAN tonight at 8 pm Eastern. I think it reruns at 11.

If you're tired of hearing about me, An Army of Davids, etc., well, I guess I don't blame you. It'll settle down in a couple of weeks, unless a miracle occurs and the book becomes a bestseller, in which case it'll settle down in a couple of more weeks after that.

MARK STEYN:

In five years' time, how many Jews will be living in France? Two years ago, a 23-year-old Paris disc jockey called Sebastien Selam was heading off to work from his parents' apartment when he was jumped in the parking garage by his Muslim neighbor Adel. Selam's throat was slit twice, to the point of near-decapitation; his face was ripped off with a fork; and his eyes were gouged out. Adel climbed the stairs of the apartment house dripping blood and yelling, "I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven."

Is that an gripping story? You'd think so. Particularly when, in the same city, on the same night, a Jewish woman was brutally murdered in the presence of her daughter by another Muslim. You've got the making of a mini-trend there, and the media love trends.

Yet no major French newspaper carried the story.

This month, there was another murder. Ilan Halimi, also 23, also Jewish, was found by a railway track outside Paris with burns and knife wounds all over his body. He died en route to the hospital, having been held prisoner, hooded and naked, and brutally tortured for almost three weeks by a gang that had demanded half a million dollars from his family. Can you take a wild guess at the particular identity of the gang? During the ransom phone calls, his uncle reported that they were made to listen to Ilan's screams as he was being burned while his torturers read out verses from the Quran.

This time around, the French media did carry the story, yet every public official insisted there was no anti-Jewish element.

In-Seine ain't just a river in France. Everybody should be reading the new books on Europe and Islam by Claire Berlinski and Bruce Bawer.

I've linked 'em before, but you can read Brad Miner's interviews with Bawer and Berlinski online. We recorded a podcast interview with Berlinski the other day, and it'll be up probably on Tuesday.

GPS UPDATE: In response to a reader question yesterday, reader Bobby Sayer emails:

In response to a reader's request for in-car GPS info...I'd recommend TomTom's products. I'm using their "TomTom Navigator 5" software for my Windows Mobile phone (Cingular 8125), and so far it's been pretty good. The software comes with a rechargable Bluetooth GPS module for $300, though you could probably find it cheaper online. If you don't have a Windows Mobile or Palm device, TomTom's GO 300 and 700 are pretty sweet as well.

My brother has a handheld GPS that he likes a lot, but I'm not sure of the model. I don't own one. Heck, I don't even own a TiVo -- and when I tried to get a DirecTV TiVo-equivalent I discovered that they don't offer a model that will burn DVDs, which sucks, so I probably won't own one any time soon.

I'LL BE ON CNN'S RELIABLE SOURCES at about 10:15 Eastern, talking about the ports imbroglio, events in Iraq, and more.

UPDATE: Ian Schwartz has the video.

JOHN HINDERAKER: "Actually, I think this kind of conflict is a good thing: the plain vanilla ad man slogan vs. the early 19th century challenge. Personally, I'm with General Stark."

WHILE THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS DESERVES SOME PUSHBACK on its irritating and intrusive stance regarding guns, I agree with Eugene Volokh that laws to ban pediatricians asking about guns are a clear First Amendment violation.

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