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September 30, 2006
"CUT OFF THE HEAD OF THE PIG who says our religion exalts violence and hate."
CAPTAIN ED: "I cannot tell CQ readers how disgusted I am with Speaker Hastert." He's referring to reports that Hastert knew of Rep. Foley's behavior but did nothing.
I have been no fan of Hastert all along, of course. I wonder if this story ties in somehow with his over-the-top outrage regarding searches of Congressional offices in the William Jefferson case.
UPDATE: One of Capt. Ed's commenters is citing TV reports that Hastert asked Foley to resign as soon as he saw the IMs. I haven't seen those, but stay tuned. Lots of discussion, some of it informed, here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: John Hinderaker weighs in.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: TigerHawk is absolutely right, which means that -- in a phenomenon as regular as the sunrise but more frequent -- Glenn Greenwald is wrong again.
JOHN WIXTED ON BOB WOODWARD and "secret" levels of violence in Iraq:
A shocking fact the administration has kept secret? Please. As I noted, information about the number of attacks on American troops -- including this particular statistic of one attack every 15 minutes -- is not secret. Instead, it is very publicly available in the form of a big graph on page 22 of the Iraq Index (published by the Brookings Institution). In fact, that's probably where Woodward himself got the information. Some secret. The Iraq Index has been publishing attack statistics for a long, long time for anyone who is interested. . . .
But this talk of withdrawing troops is made with reference to the anti-American insurgency only, with no mention at all of sectarian violence when that is the real problem. In other words, like Bob Woodward, they gloss over the most important detail -- the one that undermines their position. The insurgency is not getting worse, but sectarian violence has gotten worse. If we leave, it will get worse still, and the Iraqi experiment in democracy could easily fail. And that's why calls for a timetable for withdrawal reflect a strategically unwise, anti-humanitarian attitude.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Read this item, too.
156 to 1: "Yes, if only there was some sort of media outlet — I don’t know, a newspaper or something — who could tell us about the important issues."
DEAN BARNETT: "It may have escaped you, but '24' is not a documentary, nor is it a scholarly inquiry on effective interrogation techniques."
TOM MAGUIRE has thoughts on torture. He's a bit hard on Andrew Sullivan, but not as hard as Sullivan is being on me -- Sullivan has brought out the waterboard of blogging, reprinting emails from readers of his who say they'll never read me again, only Sullivan, from now on. Okay, it's actually more like the endless-replaying-of-Barry-Manilow of blogging.
I've gotten some emails from readers wondering why Sullivan seems to think that my blog is the most important aspect of the torture debate, especially as -- once the Bush-bashing and posturing is set aside -- my position and Sullivan's aren't really very different. (As I wrote a while back, "What would I do? Ban anything that causes injury or outright pain. I'm not so sure about sleep deprivation and things like that. I'd permit playing Barry Manilow, too." Okay, so now I'm rethinking the Barry Manilow part.) I'll spare you the text of those emails; I used to wonder about that, but I've pretty much given up. Andrew will blog about what he wants to blog about, and I will blog about what I want to blog about. And that state of affairs will bother, well, at most one of us.
Meanwhile, note this comment by Tom Holsinger.
UPDATE: Reader Steven Jens demonstrates that the email thing works both ways:
I'd just like to say that I will never read Andrew Sullivan again. I have been increasingly put off by his hysteria, his double standards, and his rumored habit of squeezing the toothpaste from the middle of the tube. Time Magazine has given him a bully pulpit, and it's a shame that he can't be as wise, reasoned, or downright handsome as you are.
Heh. I think we've just seen the future of the blogosphere. And it scares me.
UPDATE: Uh oh. Manilow-blogging is spreading.
ANOTHER UPDATE: It's an out of control blog phenomenon!
CHARLES DUNLAP WARNS about military involvement in law enforcement:
Converting the war-fighting mind-set of the professional military to one that readily accepts the risks -- and delays -- inherent in policing under our Constitution can be extremely challenging and confusing to those wielding the guns and attempting to establish order.
Nonetheless, some military officers welcome domestic law enforcement roles. In a world where hijacked airliners, anthrax-infested envelopes and other serious threats arise close to home, there is a certain appeal to their thinking. And praise for the better-late-than-never Katrina effort has created an attitude friendly to domestic security duties among many in uniform.
What are they missing? Appreciation for the erosion that law enforcement duties could cause in the public affection and admiration the military wants -- and needs -- to sustain itself as an all-volunteer force. Americans in the end do not like heavy-handed security efforts, regardless of how well-intended they are, and typically react quite negatively to them. Think Kent State, Waco and Ruby Ridge.
He's right. Typically soldiers make bad police, and using soldiers as police for very long tends to make them bad soldiers, too.
UPDATE: More thoughts from Prof. Kenneth Anderson.
FOLEYGATE: "The perfect blogstorm."
RECHARGING the cars of the future.
PROF. KENNETH ANDERSON: "Are academic bloggers prepared to be quoted in the MSM?"
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON DOESN'T LIKE JIMMY CARTER MUCH: "In his dotage, Carter is proving once again that he is as malicious and mean-spirited a public figure as he is historically ignorant. And for all his sanctimonious Christian veneer, and fly-fishing, ‘aw shucks blue-jeans image, he can’t hide an essentially ungracious and unkind soul. . . . Carter’s Waterloo, of course was the Iranian hostage crisis. It was not just that his gutting of the military helped to explain the rescue disaster. Far more importantly, we can chart the rise of radical political Islam with the storming of the American embassy in Teheran and the impotent response of Jimmy Carter."
WELL, YES: "Al Qaeda increasingly reliant on media."
GEORGE ALLEN AND JAMES WEBB: "A Confederacy of Dunces."
Heh. It's not a campaign to inspire admiration.
ILYA SOMIN: "California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed into law five almost completely ineffectual post-Kelo eminent domain reform laws. . . . the enactment of post-Kelo reform laws that look impressive to the public, but actually achieve nothing, is all too common."
MICKEY KAUS ENGAGES IN A BORDER-FENCE GLOATFEST at the expense of a lot of people -- including the New York Times, about which he writes: "Readers who wanted to know what was actually happening would have been much better off reading Captain Ed." Isn't that always the case?
Meanwhile (via Kaus) Tom Maguire notes many other media errors and misrepresentations. Michael Duffy of Time is singled out.
UPDATE: Don Surber doesn't think the media problems are helping the Democrats.
LARRY KUDLOW SAYS WE'RE ENJOYING "A GOLDILOCKS ECONOMY:"
"We are enjoying a goldilocks economy, not too hot and not too cold." In other words, there's no economic bubble out there that's about to go "pop."
Recent economic reports confirm this: Factory production is strong. Core inflation has settled down. Excluding energy, consumer prices haven't moved all that much in the last three years. In the third quarter, real consumer spending is running 3.2 percent at an annual rate, ahead of the second quarter average. Non-defense capital-goods shipments (excluding aircraft) are 7.6 percent ahead of the second quarter. After-tax real disposable income is 5.4 percent higher than last year. And tax revenues are rolling in, with both states and the U.S. Treasury reporting record revenue collections.
Rising stocks, falling gas prices, low tax rates and the Goldilocks economy are powerful pluses for election-year Republicans. With so many indicators leaning positive, the Democrats aren't even talking about the economy anymore.
That last is the revealing bit. Just remember that, even in the Goldilocks story, the bears do eventually come home.
MICHAEL BARONE looks at poll numbers on Iraq, and finds they're not what you might expect given the tenor of media coverage.
HERE'S A ROUNDUP ON EVENTS IN BAGHDAD, from Pajamas Media.
UPDATE: Omar reports from Baghdad that things have calmed down:
The situation in Baghdad calmed down soon after we made the previous post. Saturday has been so quiet so far, never a single explosion happened as far as I know and there was hardly any sound of gunfire in or around our district in Baghdad.
What can be noticed about this particular curfew is that it's being strictly enforced by Iraqi and US forces in Baghdad. During most previous days of curfew, vehicles and pedestrians were occasionally seen on the streets but this is not the case today.
Apparently the authorities got the idea that something bad was about to happen, and moved to scotch it.
YES, BLOGGING'S BEEN LIGHT: Michael Totten is passing through town, and we hung out, had dinner, visited a brewpub, and recorded a podcast interview that will be up later. It was nice to see him.
September 29, 2006
FENCE BILL PASSES SENATE: "The U.S. Senate on Friday overwhelmingly agreed to authorize construction of a fence along the U.S. border with Mexico, sending to President George W. Bush before the November 7 elections a bill that Republicans hope will showcase their efforts to stop illegal immigration. The Republican-written bill authorizing construction of about 700 miles of fence was one of the last bills to clear Congress as lawmakers prepared to leave Washington to campaign for the congressional elections. On a vote of 80-19 the Senate approved the bill already passed by the House of Representatives and it now goes to Bush for his signature."
REP. MARK FOLEY (R-FL) resigns from Congress. This should make things a bit easier for the Dems.
WELL, photoshopping me into a bikini is the traditional way to beg for a pointless link, but okay.
GAY MARRIAGE UPDATE:
A gay couple from Rhode Island has the right to marry in Massachusetts because laws in their home state do not expressly prohibit same-sex marriage, a judge ruled Friday.
Wendy Becker and Mary Norton of Providence argued that a 1913 law that forbids out-of-state residents from marrying in Massachusetts if their marriage would not be permitted in their home state did not apply to them because Rhode Island does not specifically ban gay marriage.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly agreed.
Sounds like clever lawyering. And it worked.
THE LAST-MINUTE FLURRY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY CONTINUES:
The House approved a bill Thursday that would grant legal status to President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program with new restrictions. Republicans called it a test before the election of whether Democrats want to fight or coddle terrorists. . . .
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., that give legal status under certain conditions to Bush's warrantless wiretapping of calls and e-mails between people on U.S. soil making calls or sending e-mails and those in other countries.
Under the measure, the president would be authorized to conduct such wiretaps if he:
_ Notifies the House and Senate intelligence committees and congressional leaders.
_ Believes an attack is imminent and later explains the reason and names the individuals and groups involved.
_ Renews his certification every 90 days.
The Senate also could vote on a similar bill before Congress recesses at the end of the week. Leaders concede that differences between the versions are so significant they cannot reconcile them into a final bill that can be delivered to Bush before the Nov. 7 congressional elections.
It's almost as if they're more interested in forcing Democrats to vote on this before the elections than they are in actually getting the bill out.
AMANDA CONGDON, having left Rocketboom, is now videoblogging from the road at Amanda Across America.
GUNTER GRASS HYPOCRISY UPDATE:
First there is a new revelation about Günter Grass. The writer who has only recently admitted to having been a member of the Waffen SS (more here), wrote two letters to SPD politician Karl Schiller in 1969 and 1970, calling on Schiller to admit he'd been an SA member (storm trooper): "Dear Karl Schiller, once more I would like to remind you of our discussion and ask you outright to speak openly at the next opportunity – and I mean publicly – about your political past during the Nazi era. The postwar generation knows nothing but placation, and inadmissible playing down of the Federal Chancellor's past, for instance, with all the talk that he was a member of the NSDAP neither out of personal conviction nor as an opportunist. I would hope you would openly admit your mistake. That would be a relief for you, and at the same time it would have the beneficial effect of a cleansing rain."
Wigbert Löer tells how the FAZ came across the letters. The young Freiburg political scientist Torben Lütjen discovered them as he was "carrying out research on his biography of Karl Schiller. He had already finished the manuscript when Grass acknowledged his own 'mistake'. Lütjen had no way of knowing that he had discovered in the federal archives in Koblenz an extraordinarily intimate example of Grass' talent for suppression."
JOE LIEBERMAN: THE PAJAMAS MEDIA INTERVIEW -- video and transcript are available here. Excerpt: "The fastest growing political party in America is no party, which is to say, that the fastest growing group of voters are unaffiliated with either party. That’s a market statement on the two major parties."
IN THE MAIL: Mark Halperin and John Harris's new book, The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008. I think the subject will be near and dear to a lot of people's hearts.
REP. JIM OBERSTAR fails the pork test.
UPDATE: Here's more on Oberstar, including video.
A REPORT ON THE NANOTECHNOLOGY DISCUSSION at the MIT Emerging Tech Conference:
The question put before the panel of five esteemed scientists speaking here is, essentially, “How much should we be worrying about the health consequences of the new nanosubstances we are rushing to develop.” And this question isn’t just academic. As Dr. Vicki Colvin, a Chemist from Rice University points out, the carbon nanomaterial c60 is already used in over-the-counter cosmetics, and is an important component in many fuel cells.
But what do such materials do to our cells? The answer is that no one is quite sure. Studies are showing that the basic physical properties of certain substances can change when you get to the nanoscale. The questions still outweigh the answers. Are we even dealing with new materials? Should they be reclassified? After all is engineered nano c60 a new material, or is it just plain old soot? It turns out that how you manufacture your materials—and how you treat and dispose of them, can dramatically change their effect on the human body and the environment.
As I mentioned, the presentation shows that at this point, there is a lot of research to be done, but it is also encouraging to see these concerns raised early in the life cycle of nanotechnology. After all, as one of the speakers here pointed out, it took years after mass production and deployment of technologies such as DDT and chlorofluorocarbons before we realized their detrimental side effects—side effects that ended up overshadowing the scientific benefits that those technologies provided. One of the panelists, Andrew Maynard, chief science advisor for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, sees this as a unique time when we can build in toxicity research and oversight into the development process. And when you think about it, doing the responsible research early on will ensure the long-term viability of the entire nanotech field. All it takes is one health scare to turn the term “nano” from a new-economy buzz word into a technological pariah.
That's right. I have some further thoughts on the topic here.
DARFUR UPDATE: Austin Bay writes that the sword is mightier than the pen:
The mounting death toll in Darfur tests Annan's stirring words. But when it comes to ending genocide, words require swords. Fine words cannot protect the vulnerable from dedicated killers -- that job demands soldiers. . . . Despite Annan's fine words, outside of London and Washington such leadership is not in evidence. Until it appears, 'the international community' deserves to be shamed.
Read the whole thing.
OVER AT PUBLIUS, a look at Russia's meddling in Georgia.
September 28, 2006
UNNECESSARY DIVISIONS OVER UNNECESSARY DIVISIONS: Eric Scheie -- whose picture appears in the dictionary next to the word "decent" -- writes: "The 'blogostorm' between Dean Esmay and Michelle Malkin has little to do with me personally, but everything to do with the national debate this country has been having since 9/11 when we were attacked by suicidal Saudi Salafists."
SOME NICE WORDS FROM MICHAEL MALONE OF ABC NEWS:
Pajamas got off to a shaky start — stumbling just enough to satisfy those who had predicted it to fail but eventually finding its legs.
Now that the mainstream media have moved on to other stories, Pajamas is pulling in hundreds of thousands of readers each day, all drawn to its attractive mix of stories, viewpoints and, increasingly, videos.
Right now, especially on the big international stories, nobody covers events from more perspectives and with greater nuance than Pajamas Media.
I do think that the site has gotten much better, and it's now doing the kinds of things I hoped for at its inception. Malone has also found "a vision for what a true, Web-based global news network should look like."
A POLICE ACADEMY DEBACLE in Iraq. Kim Catrall and Steve Guttenberg were not involved, but the Army Corps of Engineers was.
ANOTHER "I TOLD YOU SO" on Lieberman.
MICKEY KAUS: "An old controversy, I know--but that's why it's so astonishing to find this casual, loaded distortion in the lede of an important story. Hernandez--or whatever anonymous Times editor decided to goose up his second graf--had to have known that the sentence was deceptive, no? Or if they didn't know they didn't care. ... We're a month away from an election! They're manning the battle stations at the NYT. ..."
DARFUR UPDATE: "The U.N. chief in Sudan said Thursday the government is unlikely to let U.N. peacekeepers in the country anytime soon, and the international community should instead push for the African Union force to remain in the war-torn region indefinitely. . . . A U.N. Security Council resolution calls for 20,000 peacekeepers to replace the ill-equipped and underfunded AU force that has done little to prevent escalating violence in Darfur. But Sudan's president fiercely rejects the U.N. mission, and it can't deploy without his consent."
It seems a bit rich to ask permission of the genocidaires before sending in troops to stop a genocide.
SUDDENLY, CONGRESS IS DOING A LOT: "just moments ago, the Senate invoked cloture on the Secure Fence Act of 2006 by a vote of 71-28. Tomorrow the Senate will pass this legislation and send it to the President’s desk for his signature."
THE DETAINEE TRIAL BILL has passed, in a form that seems to be pretty close to what the White House wanted, though I haven't read the actual bill:
Earlier, the Senate narrowly rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), that would have allowed suspected terrorists to challenge their detention in federal court. Senators voted 51 to 48 against the amendment, which called for deleting from the bill a provision that rules out habeas corpus petitions for foreigners held in the war on terrorism. The writ of habeas corpus, which is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, allows people to challenge in court the legality of their detention, essentially meaning that they cannot be held indefinitely without charge or trial.
The issue was one of the most contentious in the bill, which authorizes the president "to establish military commissions for the trial of alien unlawful enemy combatants engaged in hostilities against the United States for violations of the law of war and other offenses. . . ." Under the rules in the bill, statements obtained from a detainee by torture would not be admissible as evidence, but information extracted using harsh interrogation methods that violate a ban on "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" would be allowed if they were obtained before the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 went into effect on Dec. 30 and if a judge found them to be reliable and in the interests of justice.
The proposed legislation would also set the parameters for interrogating terrorism suspects. It bars the president from authorizing any interrogation techniques that amount to war crimes, which it says include torture, murder, mutilation or maiming, rape, sexual abuse, serious bodily injury, hostage-taking, biological experiments and cruel or inhuman treatment. However, the president could "interpret the meaning and application" of Geneva Convention standards regarding less severe interrogation methods, the Associated Press reported.
Under a compromise reached last week with three recalcitrant Republican senators, the bill omits a provision sought by Bush that interpreted U.S. obligations under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Critics said that provision amounted to redefining a key part of the conventions and would put captured U.S. troops at risk if an enemy decided to do the same.
The last argument is silly, as we haven't had an enemy that respected the Geneva Conventions in my lifetime, and aren't likely to have one any time soon. And if our enemies' disregard for the laws of war doesn't justify us acting similarly, then it's not clear why any behavior on our part would justify a departure from the Conventions on the part of some hypothetical future enemy.
As for the rest, I don't understand the admissibility of evidence before December 30. It seems to me that it's either wrong or it's not, and that an arbitrary date doesn't make wrong conduct right, or right conduct wrong.
I've seen some people calling this an abolition of habeas corpus, but as I understand it, habeas is suspended only with regard to non-citizens. This removes a key danger of abuse, since the potential politically-motivated abuses that are most worrisome involve U.S. citizens, not aliens. And Congress quite explicitly has the Constitutional power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, though whether this counts as a "suspension" of the writ is open for debate. Like Orin Kerr, I'm not an expert on habeas and thus don't have a lot more to say about it.
At any rate, I can't say I'm surprised that it worked out this way, as this is pretty consistent with polls I've seen on public attitudes. Congress has acted, and the political system seems pretty much in agreement, both between the legislative and executive branches, and between those branches and the electorate.
Meanwhile, the locus of criticism of the legislation, the Democratic opposition, and more can be found at Balkinization. Go there for lots of critiques and complaints.
UPDATE: Via TVC, I found this column by Jonathan Rauch. It's a few days old, but I believe this analysis remains on-point:
The differences between the proposals were fairly important, but what was really momentous was their similarity. On several fundamental points, a consensus has taken shape.
First, torture should be legally off-limits, period, regardless of circumstances. Hardly anyone says otherwise.
Second, some kind of special and secret system for detaining and interrogating high-value terrorism suspects is justifiable and necessary. In a statement on September 6, Sen. Jay Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the Democratic vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, "I support the continuation of a CIA detention and interrogation program, but it must be operated in a lawful manner." No prominent Democrat, or Republican, was heard to disagree.
Finally, general agreement exists that the central purpose of a detention and interrogation system is to prevent terrorism, not to prevent torture. That point may sound trivial, but it is not: Many human-rights advocates believe that the foremost responsibility of any detention system is to treat detainees humanely. On Capitol Hill, both parties reject that view. In its way, this is a seminal decision.
Read the whole thing, which -- as with all of Rauch's work -- is worth reading.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A.J. Strata thinks it's a disaster for the Democrats. He's not the only one. Read this, too.
MORE: According to an email published by Jonah Goldberg, the bill doesn't just apply to aliens. That conflicts with the report above, and with my understanding, and with a piece I heard on NPR this morning. But if it's true, it's a major problem with the bill, one that increases the likelihood ofits being found unconstitutional, and one that would make me much more unhappy with the bill.
MORE STILL: Jonah has a followup indicating that the above is in error, and that the bill applies only to aliens.
That kind of yanks the rug out from under this post by Andrew Sullivan, too. But I think that we're seeing the instantiation of what I warned him about nearly two years ago. ("I think the effort to turn this into an anti-Bush political issue is a serious mistake, and the most likely outcome will be, in essence, the ratification of torture (with today's hype becoming tomorrow's reality) and a political defeat for the Democrats.") Meanwhile, his gratuitious slap at PorkBusters seems more peevishly jealous than anything else. But PorkBusters has worked because it is bipartisan, focuses on the goal rather than the bloggers pushing it, and tries to treat people (except, perhaps, occasionally Trent Lott) with some minimal courtesy, an approach that Andrew might consider emulating in his next crusade.
And here's a post by Jack Balkin saying that the habeas-stripping procedures only apply to aliens, but that other provisions regarding unlawful combatants may apply to U.S. citizens. I tend to agree that to the extent this is true it is probably unconstitutional, though I haven't studied this issue to nearly the extent that Jack has.
Plus, some useful thoughts from Eugene Volokh.
THE MORAL TESTIMONY OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM: Eugene Volokh comments on remarks by former Bush bioethics advisor Leon Kass: "This is poetry, it seems to me, not argument."
And we're not talking Yeats, either.
A.C. KLEINHEIDER thinks that I'm overly positive on Harold Ford, Jr.'s chances, and that the Ford family will cause him problems.
He may be right. I haven't written about the Jake Ford / Steve Cohen race because Steve Cohen gave me great tickets to see John Fogerty's first "comeback" concert when he opened the Centerfield tour in Memphis, and thus earned my undying loyalty. Hence, a conflict of interest.
Plus, the WSJ shows Corker up 5% now. It's a close race, and it'll probably stay one.
JOE LIEBERMAN ON AL GORE: "I can forgive, but I probably won't forget."
Meanwhile, Lieberman leads Lamont by ten points.
4000 AL QAEDA KILLED IN IRAQ. Good riddance.
MICHELLE MALKIN responds to Dean Esmay.
INDEED: "When you spend nine to 10 months calling each other names, and when the person best at that wins, you get a Congress just as we have -- addicted to the kind of wedge-issue, name-calling politics that has people so fed up with the Congress."
See this post from Tigerhawk, on the role of gerrymandering and safe seats in promoting nastiness, too.
MICHAEL SILENCE REMINDS THE NEW YORK TIMES that Tennessee is not actually a red state: "Polls and surveys have shown for 12 years now that independents outnumber both Republicans and Democrats. . . . Harold Ford Jr. knows all this, and he's playing it like a virtuoso violinist."
IN THE MAIL: John Fund's book, Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy.
My thoughts on the subject can be found here.
COOL STUFF BEING MADE: The folks at the National Association of Manufacturers have a series of posts on how things are made, along with video and photos from the shop floor. Given how divorced most people are from the process of actually making things these days, I think this is very cool. It should be a TV series! Er, I mean . . .
THOUGHTS ON ART, OPERA, AND ISLAMISTS:
Now that some Muslims have made it painfully obvious that religion-taunting is not an easy game anymore, abandoning it expresses fear, not respect for religion. And continuing to disrespect the religions that don't lash back only highlights that cowardice. Poor transgressive rebel artists! How are they to shock the middle class anymore?
They may have to go back to actually doing work that's, you know, good.
HAROLD FORD, JR. voted for the detainee bill.
HOW PARTISAN IS TOO PARTISAN? David Adesnik has some further thoughts.
IT'S A ROUGH YEAR FOR REPUBLICANS, with Tennessee in play and George Allen barely holding on. But there's some good news. First, the economy:
A wave of positive economic news, capped by this week's run-up in the stock market and a continuing drop in gasoline prices, seems to be coming at an ideal time for Republicans worried about the November elections.
And New Jersey is looking bad for the Democrats:
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez's closest political adviser was secretly recorded seven years ago boasting of political power and urging a Hudson county contractor to hire somone as a favor to Menendez, according to a transcript obtained by The Star-Ledger.
Tonight Menendez's campaign says he has severed his ties with the adviser, Donald Scarinci, after learning of the taped conversation. . . . Menendez, locked in a tight U.S. Senate election race against Republican Tom Kean Jr., is already facing political fallout from a federal investigation into a rental deal he had with a non-profit organization in Union City years ago.
A GOP pickup in New Jersey would make Democrats' chances of retaking the Senate look much worse.
JEFF BEZOS TALKS ON HOW AMAZON is going all Army of Davids:
It is, in short, open source business strategy. Amazon has spent years building up a technological and physical infrastructure to their business, and instead of keeping it proprietary, they are selling their unused capacity to others. The Web services I mentioned here are only a few of what the company is now offering (you can check out the rest at aws.amazon.com), but it seems either a very brave or very stupid way of doing business. Give the tools of the big guy to the little guy, and you may just empower the little company that will one day bring you down. But then again, (to abuse a metaphor) if you’re the one facilitating the rising tide, it’s probably not your boat that’s going to sink.
I think it's a smart approach.
September 27, 2006
GEORGE ALLEN'S CAMPAIGN looks to be floundering, but they're up by five percent in the latest poll.
CATHY SEIPP: "An anti-STD vaccine no more encourages promiscuity than locking your doors at night encourages burglars."
DEAN ESMAY disputes suggestions that Muslims are incapable of democracy.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: "Throughout these last crazy weeks, I have been struck by Western tolerance and benevolence. Can you imagine, as Pakistan’s Musharref does, a President Bush publishing his book in Pakistan and then touring the Hindu Kush, hawking its message of criticism of his host to local tribes?"
When Pakistan has its own version of The Daily Show, we will have won.
BACK TO THE FUTURE: The Mudville Gazette looks at the NIE, Iraq, and 1998.
UPDATE: Some further thoughts on the NIE: "nowhere does this report mention the Israel/Palestine conflict as a source of tension, a motivation for jihadists, or a factor in global anti-American sentiment."
SOCK-PUPPETRY, AGAIN: "A top aide to U.S. Rep. Charles Bass resigned Tuesday after disclosures that he posed as a supporter of the Republican's opponent in blog messages intended to convince people that the race was not competitive."
JEFF COOPER HAS DIED. Johnathan Pearce remembers him.
I recommend his many writings, particularly Principles of Personal Defense and his memoir, To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth. My favorite bit in the latter was his reminscence of travel by ocean liner in the 1930s, which sounded pretty nice.
UPDATE: Here's a lengthier tribute by Marc "Armed Liberal" Danziger.
AL QAEDA IS POLLING BADLY IN IRAQ: I guess that whole bombing-mosques thing isn't working out for them.
TENNESSEE SENATE UPDATE: One thing that everyone in Washington asked me about was the Tennessee Senate race between Bob Corker (R) and Harold Ford, Jr. (D). Here's what I told them. I think that Ford's got an excellent, and probably better-than-even chance at winning. That's because he's a very strong candidate with an excellent campaign operation.
There's nothing wrong with Corker, but he's not as impressive on TV, and his campaign seems to be much less of a well-oiled machine. The conventional wisdom was that Ford might pull even during the summer, but that once Corker started spending money and running ads, he'd pull into the lead and stay there. That hasn't happened. In fact, if you look at the polls at Pollster.com, it seems that the race shifted in Ford's favor about the time (mid-August) that Corker started really running his ads. This suggests that Corker needs new ads.
The race could still go either way, but the momentum is very much in Ford's favor at the moment. Ford's biggest weakness: The Ford family, an old West Tennessee dynasty which has a lot of skeletons. Nobody's tied Harold Ford, Jr. to the scandals that have afflicted many other members of his family, and Corker would be a fool to run commercials based on that issue (attacking someone via his/her family looks tacky), but if one of them says or does something dumb between now and the election it might hurt him. I imagine they'll be trying to keep them quiet. People wonder if race is an issue for Ford, but I don't think it's hurting him, and in fact it may well be helping him.
If Corker wants to win, he's going to need better ads, and a better-organized staff. Right now, I'd give the edge to Ford, who's already got both. Follow the links for our interviews with Bob Corker and Harold Ford, Jr.
DEAN BARNETT on the Webb / Allen race: "At this rate, the Allen-Webb race should easily surpass 1984’s Jesse Helms – Jim Hunt Senate race as the most dispiriting political exercise of the modern era. I know Allen and Webb both really wanted to make history, each in his own way. But I bet this isn’t what either one of them had in mind."
DICK MORRIS promising new Clinton scandals.
Janet Jackson in the news.
The Dow approaching record territory.
It's like the 1990s all over again.
UPDATE: Dick Morris links isn't working for some reason. It's at Gateway Pundit -- just scroll down.
TODAY'S FLIGHT was better than last time's -- actually arrived a few minutes early after a no-hassle departure.
Plus, this heartwarming review from my trip to DC:
Glenn Reynolds displayed no visible antennae, wires or other electronic components. His grip was warm and remarkably flesh-like, and his optics tracked movement with reptilian smoothness. Remarkable.
It doesn't get any better than that. No, really, for me it pretty much doesn't.
HEADING HOME: And hoping my flight is better this time. I stopped by the Capitol briefly to meet with Bill Frist (we talked about podcasting, PorkBusters followups, etc.), and on the way through security saw some Cynthia McKinney fallout: An officer of the Capitol Police was telling some of his troops that they should check ID on everyone, and not worry if members of Congress complained; I got the impression that this is still a contentious issue, as they seemed pretty unhappy. Jeez. There are 535 members of Congress, most of whose constituents probably couldn't pick them out of a lineup, and every officer of the Capitol Police is supposed to know them on sight? The rest of the country has had to make adjustments to security. So should Congress.
MIKE TREDER IS LIVEBLOGGING from MIT's Emerging Technologies conference.
SPLIT AN ATOM, SAVE THE WORLD? My TCS Daily column is up.
THREE WOMEN, THREE RELIGIONS, ONE GOAL: It's easy to make fun of this kind of earnest, can't-we-all-get-along stuff, but in fact it's exactly what we need.
I haven't read The Faith Club, but it looks pretty interesting.
HAMID KARZAI on the press and terrorism.
LAST NIGHT'S NATIONAL PRESS CLUB EVENT went quite well, with an over-capacity crowd and a spirited discussion that went on until they ran us out. I was too tired to blog about it last night, but Paul Mirengoff managed.
UPDATE: Some followup thoughts by Tom Bevan.
A NEW WATERSHED IN HUMAN RIGHTS LAW:
George Blake, who spied for the Soviet Union, won a human rights claim against the British Government yesterday, 40 years after he escaped from prison in London and fled to Moscow.
Britain was ordered by judges in Strasbourg to pay 84-year-old Blake £3,350 in damages and £1,340 costs for breaching his right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time.
It took the European Court of Human Rights five years and eight months to decide Blake's case.
Blake, a double agent, had complained that legal action brought by the Attorney General in the English courts to stop him profiting from his autobiography had taken more than nine years to resolve.
Nice to see that they're on the job in Strasbourg.
MATT DRUDGE: The Walter Cronkite of our times? That could be so, which says a lot about Drudge, our times . . . and Walter Cronkite.
STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS are beginning to take a hand in immigration law enforcement.
RAMADAN RIOTING in Brussels. Just in time for the elections.
THE NIE HAS BEEN DECLASSIFIED: Go here for the "Key Judgments."
Bill Frist comments here. And John Podhoretz has a question for the NYT editors now that we know what the NIE actually says.
It's late but I'll add one more thought: While we should fire the leakers on general principles, we should probably also fire whoever wrote this -- for producing a meaningless document full of empty bureaucratic twaddle. If the jihadists win, they'll have more prestige! And they will probably use the internets! Do tell. Jesus Christ, if this is the quality of intelligence we're getting, no wonder we haven't won yet.
UPDATE: Here's a roundup of reactions.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Carl Bridges emails:
You're on target in your scorn for the NIE assessment as released in nonclassified form. It sure contains a lot of "coulds," "likelies," and "mights." As for what the US government is supposed to do, it reminds me of those sportcasters who, whenever someone misses a pass, says, "You've got to catch those." Uh, yeah.
Yes, it doesn't inspire confidence.
MORE: Reader Dale Harkey suspects a Rovian plot, given that the full document actually says that we're doing pretty well:
The set-up is oh so beautiful. Rove (it has to be Rove, right?) has the worst-case-scenario portions of a generally favorable NIE leaked to a gullible and traitorous media salaciously eager to run with it. The left-wing nuts explode in glee and establish their bonafides with all manner of stupid utterances. And since it is easily observed to be a politically motivated leak, (here comes the left hook the appeasers have leaned into because they can’t see it coming) what more justification can there be than to de-classify the original so the whole picture is available (and oh by the way, get the good stuff out there before the elections.) They sure couldn’t just hand the media a copy of the NIE and say, “hey, check this out, it says we’re doing okay,” could they? A dirty trick inside a dirty trick that turns the passion of the Bush-haters onto itself.
Is Karl Rove really that smart?
MORE STILL: Maybe so, as John Wixted notes that -- the post-leak critics having built up the NIE into a document of vast importance and implicit reliability -- they have to cope with this angle:
On the plus side for President Bush, it says that if United States military forces withdrew anytime soon from Iraq, then al Qaida would use that perceived victory to recruit new members. That's bad news for any congressional Democrats who advocate removing troops in the near term.
He notes that this is sinking in (the quote above is actually from Tim Noah) and observes: "In other words, that vague little 3-page snippet from the NIE completely undermines the only substantive suggestion that Democrats have brought to the table with regard to Iraq (namely, a timetable for withdrawal)."
And no, I don't really think that Karl Rove is smart enough to have set this up. But, really, with the opposition he faces, he doesn't have to be.
September 26, 2006
ARE WE MORE OR LESS SAFE? Robert Kagan writes:
For instance, what specifically does it mean to say that the Iraq war has worsened the "terrorism threat"? Presumably, the NIE's authors would admit that this is speculation rather than a statement of fact, since the facts suggest otherwise. Before the Iraq war, the United States suffered a series of terrorist attacks: the bombing and destruction of two American embassies in East Africa in 1998, the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in 2000, and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since the Iraq war started, there have not been any successful terrorist attacks against the United States. That doesn't mean the threat has diminished because of the Iraq war, but it does place the burden of proof on those who argue that it has increased.
Probably what the NIE's authors mean is not that the Iraq war has increased the actual threat. According to the Times, the report is agnostic on whether another terrorist attack is more or less likely. Rather, its authors claim that the war has increased the number of potential terrorists. Unfortunately, neither The Post nor the Times provides any figures to support this. Does the NIE? Or are its authors simply assuming that because Muslims have been angered by the war, some percentage of them must be joining the ranks of terrorists?
As a poor substitute for actual figures, The Post notes that, according to the NIE, members of terrorist cells post messages on their Web sites depicting the Iraq war as "a Western attempt to conquer Islam." No doubt they do. But to move from that observation to the conclusion that the Iraq war has increased the terrorist threat requires answering a few additional questions.
The NIE will apparently be released soon, so maybe we'll get some answers. Or maybe not.
BASHIR GOTH: "If it takes a village to raise a child in Africa, it takes a community to kill a writer, artist and a journalist in the Muslim world."
MY EARLIER COMPLAINTS ABOUT AIRLINE SERVICE reminded me of this article by James Fallows on how new technology might lead to a "mesh network" approach to air travel, with lots of small planes, as opposed to today's big-plane hub-and-spoke approach.
It sounds good to me -- and there are obvious homeland-security benefits to an approach that uses planes too small to serve as manned missiles. And I notice from USA Today that Honda is getting into the game with an inexpensive small jet carrying 6 or 7 passengers. NetJets for the masses? I like the idea, if it can be made to work.
BUSH'S TAX CUTS: Bad for the rich?
The 2003 tax cut was the third in three years, but the tax code still remains highly progressive. The average tax rate ranges from 2.97 percent of income for the bottom half of the earning spectrum to 23.49 percent for the top 1 percent.
The top-earning 25 percent of taxpayers (AGI over $60,041) earned 66.1 percent of nation’s income, but they paid more than four out of every five dollars collected by the federal income tax (84.9 percent). The top 1 percent of taxpayers (AGI over $328,049) earned approximately 19 percent of the nation’s income (as defined by AGI), yet paid 36.9 percent of all federal income taxes.
What's more, TaxProf notes that people in the top half of the income distribution are paying the highest share in decades.
A SAVE THE ACLU CAMPAIGN from supporters who feel the organization has become excessively politicized.
UPDATE: Ron Coleman emails:
Glenn, maybe I'm missing something here. I thought perhaps the idea was to move the ACLU toward the center while retaining its civil liberties focus. This seems to be an attempt to move it further to the left! The only polilcy (as opposed to personnel) specifics I see complained about on the website are dissatisfaction with the ACLU's "acquiescence" to the Patriot Act and the CFC "blacklist."
Well no, it's not an effort to move it to the center. I guess I should have used a different word ("factionalized?"), though the real problem is a species of office politics, the tendency of organizations to be run for the convenience of the insiders.
ATTENDED THE BILL SIGNING for S. 2590, the "Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act," and then a followup meeting with Clay Johnson, Deputy Director of OMB, about implementation.
I'll have a full report later, but what struck me at the signing was the fully bipartisan nature of the bill's support, with lots of people from the left and right in favor. (It was also interesting that most of us in the anti-pork coalition had never met in the flesh before). That bipartisan character showed in the Senators and Representatives who showed up, too, with Rep. Henry Waxman showing up late, and President Bush joking that the affair had now become "fully bipartisan."
I was a little worried about follow-through here, but I'm now pretty confident that OMB will implement the bill properly, especially as there seems to be strong and continuing support from Sens. Coburn and Obama.
UPDATE: Here's a picture of Bush signing the Bill, flanked by its bipartisan array of sponsors.
Here's an article from the Washington Times, and here's a post by Danny Glover, in which Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo) sounds a bit churlish. That may be unfair, as this timeline from Blunt certainly gives bloggers credit.
This was a beginning: A small step along the road to less waste and more accountability, not a giant leap. But it's a good start, and we'll have to keep paying attention to these things so that more steps, big and small, will follow.
I thought about shooting video, but I'm glad I didn't bother, as it's already up along with a transcript and background information, at the White House site. And here's an AP story about the bill.
On implementation, the OMB folks are soliciting input from bloggers on what sort of information ought to be available, and in what forms. One thing stressed by several bloggers at the meeting was the importance of making the entire database public and available in raw form, so that people can analyze it in whatever fashion they think most helpful. It sounds like they're going to do that, and that's a very good thing.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More pics and coverage from Tim Chapman.
MORE: Bill Frist credits the blogosphere, left and right, for the bill's passage.
MORE STILL: TPM Muckraker, which played a vital role in the passage of the bill, didn't get invited. That's just wrong. The White House should have invited them, and one of the Democratic sponsors of the bill should have made sure it happened. The Sunlight Foundation people were invited, though.
A LOOK AT the leaky CIA.
HOMELAND SECURITY: Have the terrorists scored a victory? If having us act unwisely is a victory, then yes:
But the increase in air transportation security has had an impact. Fewer people are flying. The airlines don't like to discuss this, but customer satisfaction, and travel, surveys show that people, especially business flyers (the most lucrative kind of passengers) are flying less. The reason is the increased, and seemingly irrational, screening methods. These antics also have a negative effect on the security personnel. There are now 2,100 air marshals (versus 33 on September 11, 2001), and half of them are unavailable (all or part of the time) because of health issues caused by too much time in the air. The air marshals work a heavy schedule, averaging twenty flights a week. Not that it's doing much good. Until this Summer, air marshals had to fly wearing suits, despite the fact that most passengers go casual. Thus the air marshals stick out, giving any potential bad guys an easy way to identify, and take down, the law.
While the air marshals can now blend in, most flight personnel realize that it is more likely that a mob of enraged passengers is the best defense against any hijackers. Air marshals only fly a small (classified) number of flight, there are many passengers on each flight who are willing to risk all to take down hijackers. The airlines don't like to encourage that sort of thing, but there is it. And the terrorists know it as well, which is why they stay away from air transportation.
Security was no problem for me yesterday, though. It was just the usual degree of delay and irritation. But this stuff is cumulative.
CHESTER LOOKS AT THE THAI COUP and the Muslim insurgency in the south.
BLOGS AND POLITICS:
In reality, it is hard to measure the precise impact of bloggers on such events. But the idea of an insurgent grass-roots movement, energised by folk tapping away at their computers, appeals to the romantic, anti-elitist strain in US politics. Many politicians in America and elsewhere clearly feel the need to pay their respects to the blogosphere – if only as a precaution.
It is not self-evident, however, that the blogosphere’s influence on politics is all for the good. A political consultant once complained that his bosses’ reliance on focus groups handed power to people who were prepared to sit around for hours talking about politics with strangers, in return for a free sandwich. Similarly if politics is increasingly shaped by the blogosphere, it will mean more power and influence for a sub-section of the population willing to waste hours trawling through dross on the internet.
That's not a bug, it's a feature!
WHILE I'M IN WASHINGTON, Jonah Goldberg is headed to Knoxville. Hope his flight's better than mine was.
MICKEY KAUS: "WaPo's Chris Cillizza and Jim VandeHei visited Ohio's GOP-leaning 1st District and were surprised, they say, to discover that immigration is the hot issue, even though there isn't a 'huge' illegal problem in the area. Why?"
JUST GOT TO THE HOTEL. More blogging tomorrow.
September 25, 2006
AZNAR ON APOLOGIES: "It is interesting to note that while a lot of people in the world are asking the pope to apologise for his speech, I have never heard a Muslim say sorry for having conquered Spain and occupying it for eight centuries."
"APPARENTLY, THERE'S ANOTHER PROBLEM:" I left home for the airport at 2. If I had left for Washington then, I'd be halfway there by now. So far, Toyota is looking better, and U.S. Airways is looking worse.
UPDATE: I've watched over two hours of CNN nonstop, too, which only serves to remind me why I don't do usually do that.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Still on the ground, with another revised boarding time passing. If this flight doesn't go off, they say they'll put me on another that will get me to DC by 10:38 -- later than I would have gotten there if I'd started driving at 2, when I left to come to the airport.
I'm beginning to think that air travel is overrated.
A LOOK AT COMBAT REPORTING, from StrategyPage.
JONAH GOLDBERG: "I can hear the whispers: polygamy is the answer to the shortage of good men."
I SHOULD HAVE DRIVEN: Now my flight's delayed past 5:30.
IS IT THE AUTUMN OF THE PARTISANS? "The base may still nominate but in an era when it doesn’t elect does the hyperpartisan still get to serve?"
THE BROTHEL OF THE FUTURE: It's reportedly a success.
A FIRST DAY OF COLLEGE REPORT, from "Semi-Diversity U."
MEGAN MCARDLE says that things are getting better for working people in lots of measurable ways.
And people will start measuring them, as soon as there's a Democrat in the White House.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Bill Clinton has managed to get everybody talking about him again. Welcome back, Bill!
I think this is likely bad for the Democrats, but I think he likes being the center of attention.
UPDATE: "Now that I've seen the reaction on the left, I'm convinced that Clinton went on the show planning to act the way he did." Is Hillary at risk?
JOHN TAMMES takes after his father.
MARY KATHARINE HAM rounds up stories of female self-defense.
AIR TRAVEL SUCKS: So now I'm stuck at the airport with a flight that's delayed until 5. I nearly drove to DC instead of flying, and I'm already wishing that I had. . . .
QUESTIONING THE TIMING of pre-election CIA leaks.
EN ROUTE TO DC for the National Press Club event on partisanship and politics. I'll also be at the White House for tomorrow's Porkbusters bill signing. I'll report on all of that but blogging may be light for a bit as I travel.
ABC NEWS: "Dozens of Foreign Pilots Training Illegally at US Flight Schools."
THE ALLEN CAMPAIGN is calling foul on Salon.
PATRICK HYNES WRITES that conservatives did not distinguish themselves during the torture debate.
HOW WRONG WAS JOSH MARSHALL? A Plame-affair retrospective.
UPDATE: Some related gloating from Tom Maguire.
IN THE MAIL: Jennifer Weber's Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln's Opponents in the North. Seems very interesting and relevant.
HEH: "Bin Laden apparently died after eating E.coli tainted spinach that had been given to him as part of a cunning assassination plot spearheaded by the CIA. While the CIA won't publicly take credit for Bin Laden's death there has apparently been much celebration in Langley."
EFFORTS TO ESTABLISH A RANKING HIERARCHY FOR LEGAL SCHOLARSHIP have reached a logical end-point.
TIME ASKS if the Netroots have hit their limit. I'd say no, but we'll have a good empirical test of Netroots power in November.
UPDATE: Dean Barnett says that Time has missed the story: "The Netroots attempt to set the Democratic Party’s agenda, and their effectiveness is only growing. This is something that pleases both me and Markos, albeit for quite different reasons. . . . The fact that not a single Democrats has pursued his (or her) Sister Soldjah moment at the Netroots’ expense is rather telling."
MORE CLINTON-FLAP FALLOUT: Howard Kurtz calls it "Clinton's finger-wagging moment." And Mickey Kaus fact-checks and observes: "Clinton was winning before he plowed on into paranoia about Rupert Murdoch and Fox."
I know that people think this is some sort of clever strategic move by the Clintons, but it seems to me to be another such effort that has backfired.
PLUG-IN HYBRIDS: Good for reducing oil dependency, but only marginal in reducing overall pollution. We could fix that, though, if we got more electricity from nice, clean nuclear plants.
ADVICE TO HOWARD DEAN from Kevin Drum: "Know your audience. This is Persuasion 101. Can't anybody play this game anymore?"
It's good advice.
MARK STEYN: "It may be news to the Council of Foreign Relations types and the Dems, but the U.N. demonstrated this last week that it is utterly incapable of reform. Indeed, any reforms would be more likely to upgrade and enhance the cliques of thugs and despots than of the few states willing to stand up to them. The most sensible proposal this week came from Chavez, who demanded the U.N. relocate to Venezuela."
DEFENSE TECH'S David Axe is going back to Iraq.
September 24, 2006
TIM BLAIR deplores racism at the polls. It was obstructing minority voters, too.
TIGHTENING IMMIGRATION LAWS in Switzerland. I think we'll see more of that across Europe.
OVER AT THE COUNTERTERRORISM BLOG, Andrew Cochran writes on the New York Times' reporting of leaked excerpts from the National Intelligence Estimate:
The American people deserve to know, to the maximum extent possible, the actual findings and conclusions in this NIE and not depend on partial reports and leaks, which could be driven by all sorts of hidden agendas. The White House and DNI Negroponte should ask the members of the 9/11 Commission to independently review the NIE and release an unclassified version or summary of the report as soon as possible.
Hidden agendas? Surely not.
RALLYING AGAINST HEZBOLLAH in Lebanon.
TRAVELLING TO DISCUSS GLOBAL WARMING via Lear Jet.
JAKE TAPPER corrects Bill Clinton's history.
Plus, Chris Wallace's questions for Rumsfeld.
LARRY KUDLOW says that Bush is turning things around for the Republicans. It does look that way now, but there's still lots of time before the elections.
UPDATE: John Wixted has a somewhat-related post on Bush and the economy.
MARTIN LINDESKOG wants advice on affordable digital cameras.
I've been partial to the small Sonys. My current pocket camera of choice is the Sony DSC-W7, though you could cut down to the 5-megapixel W5 model without sacrificing much. Ann Althouse has the DSC-T9, which adds optical image stabilization, something I wish my camera had. (And as her blog illustrates, she gets excellent photos out of it.) On the other hand, my camera uses AA batteries, which means that you can use alkalines in a pinch. Any other suggestions for Martin? He's taking comments.
One thing that's worth looking at in a digital still camera is video capability. For example, I shot this video, both above and underwater, using digital still cameras and the quality was entirely adequate for the Web. That's very convenient.
RADLEY BALKO'S REASON ARTICLE ON CORY MAYE is now available on line and you should read the whole thing. But here's a bit on how no-knock wrong-house raids go wrong and the double standard in prosecuting innocent citizens who respond appropriately to having their doors kicked down by unidentified strangers:
In 2000 drug cops in Modesto, California, accidentally shot 11-year-old Alberto Sepulveda in the back of the head at point-blank range during a botched raid on the boy’s home. In 2003 police in New York City raided the home of 57-year-old city worker Alberta Spruill based on a bad tip from an informant. The terrified Spruill had a heart attack and died at the scene. Last year Baltimore County police shot and killed Cheryl Lynn Noel, a churchgoing wife and mother, during a no-knock raid on her home after finding some marijuana seeds while sifting through the family’s trash.
There are dozens more examples. And a botched raid needn’t end in death to do harm. It’s hard to get a firm grip on just how often it happens—police tend to be reluctant to track their mistakes, and victims can be squeamish about coming forward—but a 20-year review of press accounts, court cases, and Kraska’s research suggests that each year there are at least dozens, perhaps hundreds, of “wrong door” raids. And even when everything goes right, it’s overkill to use what is essentially an urban warfare unit to apprehend a nonviolent drug suspect.
Criminal charges against police officers who accidentally kill innocent people in these raids are rare. Prosecutors almost always determine that the violent, confrontational nature of the raids and the split-second decisions made while conducting them demand that police be given a great deal of discretion. Yet it’s the policy of using volatile forced-entry raids to serve routine drug warrants that creates those circumstances in the first place.
Worse, prosecutors are much less inclined to take circumstances into account when it comes to pressing charges against civilians who make similar mistakes. When civilians who are innocent or who have no history of violence defend their homes during a mistaken raid, they have about a one in two chance of facing criminal charges if a policeman is killed or injured. When convicted, they’ve received sentences ranging from probation to life in prison to, in Maye’s case, the death penalty.
It’s a remarkable double standard. The reason these raids are often conducted late at night or very early in the morning is to catch suspects while they’re sleeping and least capable of processing what’s going on around them. Raids are often preceded by the deployment of flash-bang grenades, devices designed to confuse everyone in the vicinity. While narcotics officers have (or at least are supposed to have) extensive training in how to act during a raid, suspects don’t, and officers have the advantage of surprise. Yet prosecutors readily forgive mistaken police shootings of innocent civilians and unarmed drug suspects while expecting the people on the receiving end of late-night raids to show exemplary composure, judgment, and control in determining whether the attackers in their homes are cops or criminals.
This is wrong. It's not only a reason why no-knock raids should be banned except in life-or-death situations, but it's also an example of how unfettered prosecutorial discretion is unfair and dangerous. In cases like this, there should be much more accountability for decisions to prosecute, or not to prosecute.
I'd also like to see federal legislation -- justified under Congress's 14th Amendment section 5 powers -- limiting such raids and providing for legal remedies, including money damages without the shield of official immunity for officers, supervisors, and agencies.
I think such legislation would be fairly popular, but I suspect that the power of the interests involved is sufficient to ensure that it doesn't ever happen.
And Jim Henley gives Radley Balko a much-deserved pat on the back for his excellent work on this case.
"YEAH, YEAH, EVERYTHING YOU SAY. FILL IT UP, BOY!" An amusing cartoon from Venezuela.
CLINTON ON CHRIS WALLACE: "You read the transcript yesterday. You saw the clip. Now, you've seen the whole interview."
Actually, I was on a weekend trip to the mountains with family (rainy but nice) and didn't see the interview. But the clip is online here.
A better response for Clinton would seem to have been something like this: (Indulgent smile with slight look of boyish contrition, not carried to the lip-biting level) "Well, I admit we made some mistakes in the 1990s, and I'm sure President Bush has made some too. But the real question is where we go from here, and . . . "
He knows that, too, I suspect. So why did he respond the way he did?
UPDATE: Some history, here and here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Clinton and bin Laden and the perils of citing Richard Clarke: "even a casual reading of Clarke's book reveals that it was one of the more important sources for 'The Path To 9/11,' the ABC miniseries that so irritated the Clintonites. For that reason and many others, I wouldn't want more people reading Clarke's book if I were Clinton."
MORE: Still more history here. Clinton is apparently forgetting his own Administration's public positions, including those taken in the 1998 indictment of Osama bin Laden. Once again, I think his reaction was very unwise, and likely to harm Democratic prospects this fall.
MORE STILL: A different take on what Clinton was about:
What's struck me most, in the context of these recent events, is just how extremely *protective* of Clinton liberals (e.g. blogs & blog commenters) have become. This isn't surprising, and it's not a negative thing per se: cf. the protectiveness of Bush on the right, especially when he's being assailed (unfairly & dishonestly, in their view) by the media. The comparison is illuminating, of course, because Bush does very little public self-defending against his harshest critics (and never complains of being 'victimized' by the media)-- though of course commenters on the right do that for him. Clinton, with these recent actions, is (I think) trying to tap into a similar dynamic-- e.g. trying to tap into the (surprising-- and surprisingly mainstream) surge of protectiveness & feeling for him during the impeachment saga. (And lest we forget, that was the origin of moveon.org, wasn't it.) . . .
I do think it's likely that his latest public acts are a kind of strategic gamble, specifically directed at the left (rallying it for Hillary, who can then do what she needs to do to convince the center)-- (and the left is eating it up aren't they, he's playing them like a piano)--- more likely than that this last outburst was an 'accident' (esp. when the questioning was *so* to be expected-- he himself practically *asked* for it, in making such a big deal of the 9/11 movie).
I THINK JOHN COLE IS MISSING THE POINT WHEN HE WRITES:
The notion that the media somehow share some culpability in the murders, mayhem, and chaos that followed the Pope’s speech because they ‘willingly’ work with terrorists to ‘ambush’ the general public is so absurd that it shouldn’t warrant comment. Is the media to blame for the murder rate, because every night I check the television, and they cover it? . . .
But to suggest that the media covering jihadist tendencies and calls to arms by radical clerics is somehow working in concert with terorists is not just offensive, it is stupid.
Cole undermines his case a bit by admitting that there are cases where media people have "behaved inappropriately" -- that is, faked news on terrorists' behalf, but the bigger point, stressed in my post and in the Austin Bay article that I linked, is that media attention isn't just neutral coverage -- the way it generally is with, say, urban crime -- but rather the actual goal of terrorists. In fact, it's their lifeblood. Terrorism is an information war disguised as a military conflict, and media coverage is an essential part of the terrorist plan.
Media people know this, and even admit it, but don't let it affect their coverage -- though as Pam Hess of UPI admitted, they're far more careful about being spun by the U.S. military -- and one reason why they don't let it affect their coverage is that terrorism gives them ratings. That's what I meant by their mutually-supporting relationship. Terrorists provide ratings (and, as we've seen, often via staged news events) and news media provide the coverage that terrorists need. As I've noted in the past, news media are entirely capable of moderating their own coverage when they think the stakes are high -- say, protection of confidential sources, or promotion of racial tolerance -- but here they clearly don't feel that way. If they applied as much skepticism and adversarialism to terrorist behavior as they do to the U.S. military, few of us would be complaining.
In his novel Soft Targets, Dean Ing suggested a media-based information campaign against terrorism. One of the many ways in which that novel is obsolete is that it's now impossible to imagine the press cooperating.
UPDATE: More thoughts on terrorists and the media here, from a journalist. "So then, why does the media take such pains to avoid parroting, carrying water for or even vaguely reflecting the ideals of the U.S. military or the nation's elected government yet so wantonly accept and even hire the terrorists' spin?"
SOME FAQS ON BLOGGING from Dean Barnett, who's becoming a master of that form.
ERIC SCHEIE: Was this a war against bin Laden? Or is it a war against jihad?
Personally, I think it's the latter, which makes news of bin Laden's painful and "pathetic" death -- though welcome if true -- only moderately important.
MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE TRUSTWORTHINESS OF A.P. REPORTING from the Middle East, in the Boston Herald.
SECRETS OF SOUTH PARK:
"That's where we kind of agree with some of the people who've criticized our show," Stone says. "Because it really is open season on Jesus. We can do whatever we want to Jesus, and we have. We've had him say bad words. We've had him shoot a gun. We've had him kill people. We can do whatever we want. But Mohammed, we couldn't just show a simple image."
During the part of the show where Mohammed was to be depicted — benignly, Stone and Parker say — the show ran a black screen that read: "Comedy Central has refused to broadcast an image of Mohammed on their network."
Other networks took a similar course, refusing to air images of Mohammed — even when reporting on the Denmark cartoon riots — claiming they were refraining because they're religiously tolerant, the South Park creators say.
"No you're not," Stone retorts. "You're afraid of getting blown up. That's what you're afraid of. Comedy Central copped to that, you know: 'We're afraid of getting blown up.'"
Conveying an unfortunate message, and lesson, in the process.
MEGAN MCARDLE: "I'm not sure you could pay me enough to go back to 1973, in fact. I think I'd rather be a journalist living now than a multi-millionaire living then."
Plus, some sensible thoughts on terrorism and civil liberties.