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November 02, 2006
JIM GERAGHTY writes: "I'm sorry, did the New York Times just put on the front page that IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB?"
This is apparently the Times' November surprise, but it's a surprising one indeed. The Times has just authenticated the entire collection of memos, some of which give very detailed accounts of Iraqi ties to terrorist organizations. Just this past Monday, I posted a memo which showed that the Saddam regime actively coordinated with Palestinian terrorists in the PFLP as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. On September 20th, I reposted a translation of an IIS memo written four days after 9/11 that worried the US would discover Iraq's ties to Osama bin Laden.
It doesn't end there with the Times, either. In a revelation buried far beneath the jump, the Times acknowledges that the UN also believed Saddam to be nearing development of nuclear weapons. . . . The Times wanted readers to cluck their tongues at the Bush administration for releasing the documents, although Congress actually did that. However, the net result should be a complete re-evaluation of the threat Saddam posed by critics of the war. Let's see if the Times figures this out for themselves.
Kind of undercuts that whole "Bush lied about WMD" thing. Reader Eric Anondson emails: "It surely must have been a Rovian plot to somehow get the Times to admit that Iraq has a nuclear weapons program on the verge of an atomic bomb by as early as 2003... and right before an election where the Iraq War is listed as the top election concern among likely voters." (Actually, it was 1991, I believe, but this does underscore why WMD fears were reasonable, especially as Saddam was trying to restart things).
TigerHawk: "Seems that the New York Times owes Judith Miller an apology. Or at least a hat tip."
MORE: Judging from some of the delighted emails I'm getting, I need to warn people not to get too carried away -- this doesn't say that Saddam would have had a bomb in 2004. But it does say that he had all the knowledge needed to have a bomb in short order. And as we know he was looking to reconstitute his program once sanctions were ended -- and that sanctions were breaking down in 2003 -- that's pretty significant. However, perhaps even more significant, given that we knew most of the above already, is that the NYT apparently regards the documents that bloggers have been translating for months as reliable, which means that reports of Iraqi intelligence's relations with Osama bin Laden, and "friendly" Western press agencies, are presumably also reliable.
posted at 11:45 PM by Glenn Reynolds
PLAGIARISM CHARGES AIMED AT JAMES WEBB? I'm skeptical. How many millions have read his books, and this is just surfacing now?
My thoughts on plagiarism generally can be found here, excerpted here. Read this, too.
posted at 11:37 PM by Glenn Reynolds
COFFEE GRINDER UPDATE: I got lots of advice, including "drink instant, it's silent" (the coffee equivalent of responding to PC questions with "get a Mac!" I guess) and a suggestion to just put an oven mitt over the grinder. Well, if my Braun weren't busted, I might try that . . . .
The most positive recommendations went to this Kitchenaid model -- a little pricey, but people say it's quiet and will last forever. Did I say pricey? It's cheaper than this one, which several people also recommended. InstaPundit readers aren't chintzy on the kitchen gear, apparently. Yowza.
Much cheaper was this Capresso grinder, which several people liked -- or this one, which is also more my price range. And reader John Kluge suggests that I just go for the Cuisinart grind and brew coffeemaker. Looks good, but I've done all the coffeemaker buying I plan to do for a while. For the history of that, go here and here. I still like the DeLonghi coffeemaker, by the way.
UPDATE: James Lileks emails:
I’d recommend the Cuisinart, because it has a nifty & convenient feature: the cup in which you grind the beans is detachable, so you can pulverize your beans at one location and transport the result to your machine.
Unfortunately, my unit has gone rogue. Bean molecules have foiled the safety feature. Like most units, you can’t turn on the grinder without pressing down a safety button; in this case it’s the part that covers the detachable cup. Recently the grinder decided to spin up the blades as soon as the cup was reseated, shooting up a brown cloud of finely-ground coffee. So now I have to unplug it after using it. Other than that, and the possibility of losing a finger, it’s one of those appliances about which I can confidently say: the finish doesn’t show fingerprints as bad as I thought.
Well, there's a recommendation!
posted at 08:36 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE INSIDERS AT DARTMOUTH lost big. I think blogs deserve some of the credit. Background here.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh thinks the suicide-bomber costume is no big deal: It's Halloween, after all. Hmm. Would a university President really pose for photos with someone in a Klan outfit, or wearing blackface? I find that hard to imagine. And if not, why is the suicide bomber outfit OK?
The Nazi analogy is, I think, a poor one. Nazis are a vanquished former enemy. Suicide bombers are a current enemy. Could that be a relevant difference?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene responds: "I would likewise defend someone who came to a party as a Klansman. Same theory -- Klansmen are scary; Halloween is about scary costumes; Halloween is not about endorsing the characters you're dressing as."
I remain skeptical that a Klansman costume would be received in the same fashion, or that an Ivy League university President would be comfortable being photographed with someone wearing a Klan costume.
A familiar paradox about leftist celebrities in the entertainment industry is that their embrace of progressivism almost never includes a wholehearted embrace of progressive taxation, i.e., the principle that the richer you get, the larger the percentage of your income you ought to pay in taxes. The latest example is U2's Bono, a committed and unusually sophisticated anti-poverty crusader who is taking surprisingly little heat for the decision by his band, U2, to relocate its music-publishing business from Ireland to the Netherlands in order to shelter its songwriting royalties from taxation.
The irony was stated in admirably stark terms by Bloomberg's Fergal O'Brien, who reported on Oct. 16: "Bono, the rock star and campaigner against Third World debt, is asking the Irish government to contribute more to Africa. At the same time, he's reducing tax payments that could help fund that aid."
It's easier to be generous with other people's money. Cheaper, too! And yet if anything it seems to be more admired than being generous with one's own.
A Morocco-born computer virus that crashed the Department of Homeland Security's US-VISIT border screening system last year first passed though the backbone network of the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement bureau, according to newly released documents on the incident.
The documents were released by court order, following a yearlong battle by Wired News to obtain the pages under the Freedom of Information Act. They provide the first official acknowledgement that DHS erred by deliberately leaving more than 1,300 sensitive US-VISIT workstations vulnerable to attack, even as it mounted an all-out effort to patch routine desktop computers against the virulent Zotob worm.
posted at 12:48 PM by Glenn Reynolds
I THINK THAT THIS ASSESSMENT of George Allen's political future is probably right:
One does hope that Allen doesn't make Kerry's mistake and think himself still a viable presidential candidate if he prevails on Tuesday. This ineptly run campaign has finished him in that regard, and he will show a lot more character if he just faces that fact and moves on.
His stumbles may not have been Kerry-league, but they've been bad enough.
posted at 12:45 PM by Glenn Reynolds
ADVICE BLEG: My coffee grinder is on the fritz. It's a Braun, works fine (er, until it broke), but has always been very loud. Can anybody recommend a replacement model that doesn't sound like a circular saw when it's running? I hate to wake people up when I make coffee, and they don't let you test them with real beans in the stores.
posted at 10:37 AM by Glenn Reynolds
IN THE MAIL: Lois McMaster Bujold's new book, Beguilement. For those who have read her before, this is closer to her Chalion books than to the Vorkosigan books.
A.C. KLEINHEIDER NOTES two new polls showing Corker with a substantial lead over Ford. I wouldn't recommend too much faith in those numbers -- I think the race remains very close, and winnable by either side.
posted at 09:33 AM by Glenn Reynolds
DEFENDING THE COCOON: Patterico notes that the New York Timesmisquotes Kerry's remarks, leaving its readers with a false impression.
Unarmed security guard sounds a little like a contradiction ... at best a deterrence to the more stupid or minor criminals (don't steal that bike -- there's a guy in uniform), at worst, a man put in an impossible situation, charged with protecting others, but having nothing but a radio to call for help, and maybe his fists.
Yes. People hire them, I suspect, because they don't want to pay the premium it would cost to hire someone who can be trusted to carry a gun while dealing with malefactors and non-malefactors. But as with an awful lot of "security" efforts, they're really paying for the appearance of security without its substance. Only someone else, the guard or a victim, sometimes winds up paying the price for the difference between appearance and substance.
posted at 08:29 AM by Glenn Reynolds
TIRED OF THE WEBB/ALLEN CIRCUS? Meryl Yourish is running for Senate in Virginia.
More than 70 Muslim workers at France's main airport have been stripped of the security clearance for allegedly posing a risk to passengers, officials say.
The staff at Charles de Gaulle airport, including baggage handlers, are said to have visited terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
One man is thought to have been a friend of Richard Reid, the so-called British shoe bomber. . . . It is also believed another worker had been close to a senior figure in an Algerian terrorist group with links to al-Qaeda.
But some of the men who have lost their security clearance are suing airport authorities.
They claim they are being discriminated against because of their religion.
It almost makes you wonder how any flight ever reaches its destination in one piece.
posted at 07:55 AM by Glenn Reynolds
"GIS DROP SMART BOMB ON KERRY" -- the real question is what brilliant strategist thought that Kerry would do much for Angelides even if everything went right?
Investigators said questionable registration forms for new voters were collected by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a group that works to improve minority and low-income communities.
The four indicted -- Kwaim A. Stenson, Dale D. Franklin, Stephanie L. Davis and Brian Gardner -- were employed by ACORN as registration recruiters. They were each charged with two counts.
Federal indictments allege the four turned in false voter registration applications. Prosecutors said the indictments are part of a national investigation.
I remember in one of Fred Saberhagen's Berserker stories, a man captured by an alien killing machine managed to get it to biopsy his tumor when it was taking tissue samples, so that the "lethal" virus it created was instead a cure for cancer. Okay, this isn't quite as exciting a story, but still . . . .
What happened was, one year he got parking tickets that weren't paid, and the next year he had a citation for fishing without a license.
First Abramoff, now this? I'm appalled. I guess they don't call them "rethuglicans" for nothing . . . .
posted at 09:33 PM by Glenn Reynolds
I HAVEN'T PAID MUCH ATTENTION TO TENNESSEE POLITICS other than the Ford-Corker race (which I see as more a national race than a Tennessee race, really) but it's worth noting that Tennessee blogger Bob Krumm is running for State Senate against incumbent Senator Doug Henry.
There's no question that Krumm has used the Internet more effectively. I remember Henry from when I interned for the state Senate back in the 1980s; sitting in his office on a Saturday with a broken leg talking about Omar Khayyam, who I was reading at the time and with whose work Henry was quite familiar. I liked him. But Krumm's more 21st Century in his approach, I think it's fair to say.
posted at 08:27 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A LAMONT CAMPAIGN PRE-MORTEM in the New York Observer:
The apparent end of the much-ballyhooed Lamont phenomenon is causing a great deal of soul-searching and recrimination in all corners of the Democratic Party. The bloggers that once championed Mr. Lamont as an awkward but earnest savior now alternately blame Washington’s strategists for hijacking their candidate and Democratic leaders for abandoning him. Beltway consultants fault the Lamont campaign for failing to move the candidate beyond his left-wing celebrity and define him for a greater electorate. . . .
The night of his primary victory, when Mr. Lamont first introduced himself to the wider Connecticut electorate, his campaign betrayed the first cracks of disorganization by allowing a motley crew of out-of-state politicians, including such controversial figures as the Reverend Al Sharpton, to appear behind him onstage.
Then the candidate seemed to simply disappear.
“Everybody went on vacation—Ned, the communications director, the campaign manager,” said a Democratic strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Anybody who has ever been on a campaign before knows that the day after the primary is when you have to start defining yourself.”
But hey, my "pre-mortem" for the GOP is looking slightly premature in the wake of John Kerry's dumb remarks. Perhaps some Republican equivalent of John Kerry will breathe new life into Lamont's campaign.
TENNESSEE SENATE UPDATE: So the Insta-Mom volunteered at Harold Ford, Jr. headquarters today. Downside for Ford: This was because a friend of hers who was volunteering said they had a shortage of people making phone calls. Upside for Ford: She said that most of the people she called (obviously identified as likely Democratic voters) said that they'd already voted for him in early voting.
Also, I note that you see a lot of Ford signs out in the rural countryside. I have a friend who keeps promising to send me a picture of a house in Sixmile with a Harold Ford sign in the yard and a Confederate flag hanging on the porch, but so far he hasn't delivered. I trust his report, though.
Researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the National Institute on Aging report that a natural substance found in red wine, known as resveratrol, offsets the bad effects of a high-calorie diet in mice and significantly extends their lifespan.
Their report, published electronically today in Nature, implies that very large daily doses of resveratrol could offset the unhealthy, high-calorie diet thought to underlie the rising toll of obesity in the United States and elsewhere, should people respond to the drug as mice do.
Resveratrol is found in the skin of grapes and in red wine and is conjectured to be a partial explanation for the French paradox, the puzzling fact that people in France tend to enjoy a high-fat diet yet suffer less heart disease than Americans.
The researchers fed one group of mice a diet in which 60 percent of calories came from fat. The diet started when the mice, all males, were 1 year old, which is middle-aged in mouse terms. As expected, the mice soon developed signs of impending diabetes, with grossly enlarged livers, and started to die much sooner than mice fed a standard diet.
Another group of mice was fed the identical high-fat diet but with a large daily dose of resveratrol. The resveratrol did not stop them from putting on weight and growing as tubby as the other fat-eating mice. But it averted the high levels of glucose and insulin in the bloodstream, which are warning signs of diabetes, and it kept the mice’s livers at normal size.
Even more strikingly, the substance sharply extended the mice’s lifetimes. Those fed resveratrol along with the high-fat diet died many months later than the mice on high fat alone, and at the same rate as mice on a standard healthy diet. They had all the pleasures of gluttony but paid none of the price.
Bring it on! There'll be more human research out in about a year. Until then: “Have another glass of pinot noir — that’s as far as I’d take it right now.”
posted at 07:22 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A ROUNDUP OF "RIGHT-WING NUTJOBS" -- I guess real Democrats, on Kerry's say-so, won't vote for any of them . . . .
Seventeen years after recognizing same-sex relationships in Scandinavia there are higher marriage rates for heterosexuals, lower divorce rates, lower rates for out-of-wedlock births, lower STD rates, more stable and durable gay relationships, more monogamy among gay couples, and so far no slippery slope to polygamy, incestuous marriages, or "man-on-dog" unions.
In an unscheduled call-in interview this morning, Senator John Kerry (D-Ma) spoke with Don Imus about his misstatements in a speech Monday. He said that he is “sorry for the botched joke,” and that “everybody knows I botched a joke.” He also says he is going back to Washington so that he is “not a distraction” to the campaigns.
Be sure to read the transcript. One thing this affair illustrates is just how badly the Democrats did to nominate Kerry in 2004. I'm reminded of what John Zogby wrote a year ago about a poll he had run:
In our new poll, every president since Carter defeats Bush. But Kerry still loses to Bush by one point. What am I missing here?
What he was missing was that Kerry was an extraordinarily weak candidate. Bush himself was a pretty weak candidate; he was just stronger than Kerry. I'd really like to see the Democrats run somebody decent next time around. Even Hillary! As I've noted before:
Even if the statement was a "botched joke," what on earth would possess Kerry to think that this excuses what he said? George Allen and Trent Lott didn't get passes for "botched jokes"; indeed, here is what Kerry himself said about Lott, according to Salon . . . . "I simply do not believe the country can today afford to have someone who has made these statements again and again be the leader of the United States Senate."
I thought that about Lott, too. And I think the same about Kerry, though happily he's unlikely to ever have the opportunity to resign any office of greater consequence than Senator.
UPDATE: Victor Davis Hanson: "Kerry surely must be one of the saddest Democratic liabilities around. Some afterthoughts about his latest gaffe, which is one of those rare glimpses into an entire troubled ideology. . . . Today, Democrats must be wondering why they have embraced an overrated empty suit, and ostracized a real talent like Joe Lieberman."
Even if they agree that speed limits are necessary, many motorists resent having to obey them all the time. They say they hate being constantly on the lookout for cameras and accuse the government of treating them like cash machines.
“It’s just a road tax,” said Ian Murray, a sales clerk at an army-navy surplus store in Kelvedon Hatch. He understands the need for cameras in residential areas, he said, but feels aggrieved when he sees them on the highway, where the national speed limit is 70 m.p.h. but where the fast lane generally clips along at 80 m.p.h. or higher.
“What happens is you see the speed camera, and you put on your anchor and drop your speed, and then when you get past it you speed up again,” Mr. Murray said. Also, he said, the cameras cause people to brake suddenly, endangering themselves and the people behind them.
Paul Smith, head of an anti-camera group called the Safe Speed Road Safety Campaign, said that drivers spent so much time scouring the roadside for cameras that they forget to pay attention to the road.
“We’ve got a nation of people who have one eye looking out for the next speed camera, another looking for a speed limit sign and another looking at the speedometer — which is a bit of a shame, when you only have two eyes,” he said.
As I've noted elsewhere, there's evidence suggesting that these cameras make things more dangerous, not safer. And it seems beyond dispute that the primary motivation for deploying them is financial.
Somebody's just filed a traffic-camera lawsuit in Knoxville. You can see a copy of the complaint online here. I hadn't realized that Knoxville's system makes you pay $67.50 up front in "costs" if you want a hearing on your $50 ticket . . . .
UPDATE: Don Jacobs of the Knoxville News-Sentinel says that I'm in error about having to pay that $67.50 up front. But I'm looking at an image of a "Hearing Request" form that someone sent me and it says "To schedule a hearing you will be assessed a court processing fee of $67.50." So am I missing something here?
Ilya Somin, meanwhile, says it's even worse than Cowen thinks: "If European governments fail to improve the anemic economic performance described by Tyler, and remain unable to assimilate Muslim immigrants effectively, there is a real chance that voter frustration will increase, and the far right or far left will successfully exploit it and eventually come to power in one or more major European nations - with potentially disastrous results."
That's been my worry for a while.
posted at 06:40 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MICKEY KAUS: "The Feiler Faster principle will probably take care of John Kerry's Iraq gaffe long before it has any significant effect on the midterm vote--but the NYT's Adam Nagourney wasn't about to rely on that. Instead, Nagourney comes close to arguing that Kerry affirmatively helped the Dems because his remarks provoked an attack from President Bush, and "in the process, Mr. Bush brought renewed attention to the war in Iraq ..." Hey, that's the sort of wacky contrarian take a blogger might have! In applying such impressive ingenuity to the pro-Dem shaping of the news, Nagourney has triumphantly gone beyond cocooning--loosely defined as looking in a crowd of news stories for the most comforting friends--and into the realm of active spinning. A breakthrough, of sorts. ... "
Dana Milbank, meanwhile, simply accuses Karl Rove of having magical powers. I'm with Milbank!
In the spare space of 24 hours Kerry has resurrected the Vietnam Syndrome –at least his and the left wing of the Democratic Party’s Vietnam (loser’s) Syndrome. This is stupid but particularly stupid in the last week of a national election. Doubly stupid in the midst of a long, grinding war. Kerry is trapped, in an odd sort of amber. He’s stuck on stupid and stuck in the past simultaneously. . . .
Why didn’t Senator Kerry just apologize? “I’m sorry for what I said. I meant to crack a joke and it came out sounding like an insult to US troops. Forgive me. We owe our defenders so much.”
I’ll bet Senator Clinton absolutely loves watching her potential ’08 rival shoot himself in the foot.
BTW, I’m another National Merit Scholar serving in the active duty military. I missed 4 questions on the SATs. But the real insult to my intelligence came when Senator Kerry tried to pretend he was talking about Bush.
That was a pretty unconvincing response. I don't think he's used to the power of YouTube in politics. Bill Frist, meanwhile, joins those demanding an apology.
Our review of Pentagon enlistee data shows that the only group that is lowering its participation in the military is the poor. The percentage of recruits from the poorest American neighborhoods (with one-fifth of the U.S. population) declined from 18 percent in 1999 to 14.6 percent in 2003, 14.1 percent in 2004, and 13.7 percent in 2005. . . .
In summary, the additional years of recruit data (2004–2005) support the previous finding that U.S. military recruits are more similar than dissimilar to the American youth population. The slight differences are that wartime U.S. military enlistees are better educated, wealthier, and more rural on average than their civilian peers.
Recruits have a higher percentage of high school graduates and representation from Southern and rural areas. No evidence indicates exploitation of racial minorities (either by race or by race-weighted ZIP code areas). Finally, the distribution of household income of recruits is noticeably higher than that of the entire youth population.
In about 30 minutes I wll leave to attend the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Richard Buerstetta, killed in action in Iraq two weekends ago. He was a2004 graduate of Franklin High School, where both my sons knew him. He and my eldest son were actually scehduled to go to boot camp at Parris Island, SC, the same day, but a change by their recruiter sent them on different days. Lance Cpl. Buerstetta was a Marine reservist, enrolled in college at Middle Tennessee State University, when his callup came. Without a flicker of hesitation at being yanked from his college courses, he shouldered his seabags and went off to war. “His bags stayed packed,” according to a family member. He died about a month after arriving in Iraq.
Got that? High school graduate. College student. US Marine. Iraq. . . .
I dare you, Senator Kerry, to come to Lance Cpl. Buerstetta’s funeral and tell that to his parents. Tell them that their son, high school graduate, college student, was just too uneducated and too stupid to avoid enlisting in an all-volunteer military.
This is yet another example of a political kerfuffle where the response to the mistake is worse than the mistake itself. If Kerry had spared us the vitriolic bluster and just apologized for a poor choice of words — explaining that he absolutely, obviously never meant to insult the troops — this story might be dead by now. Instead, he’s given right-wing propagandists like Drudge a golden opportunity to run context-free headlines such as “I APOLOGIZE TO NO ONE,” implying that Kerry stands by an insult that he never intended to deliver. This is the very definition of an unforced error.
So, in conclusion, John Kerry an idiot. But he doesn’t think our troops are idiots. I mean, c’mon. Like Bush, he’s stupid, not evil.
Loy's commenters don't seem to be buying it. Tom Maguire notes a similar claim on Kerry's behalf and comments:
As to the "context" question, the quote was clear enough and Kerry's non-apology was absurd enough. The real explanation - the quip was a Bush-basher that went awry - is probably true, but how would we have known that (Kerry has not used a similar formulation in our presence)?
As to believing that Kerry meant this as a troop-basher - well, it is hard to believe that he would have reflected carefully and said this.
But, he notes, Kerry hasn't been shy about bashing troops in the past. His bottom line:
Kerry should apologize for not being able to speak English as well as the typical recruit. But enough already with Kerry delivering "dumb" jokes.
Or, in another take: " A Democratic congressman told ABC News Tuesday, 'I guess Kerry wasn't content blowing 2004, now he wants to blow 2006, too.'"
Indeed. Or are the Karl Rove mind-control rays just that overpowering?
FINALLY: Here's a big roundup on this story, from Pajamas Media. And Chip Mathis reminds us that Kerry's grades at Yale were worse than Bush's. This explains a lot . . . .
The John Kerry "stuck in Iraq" story is dominating the news today. It's rather unfair to the Democrats who are actually running in the election. I'd love to hear the behind-the-scenes cursing he so richly deserves. (And let me add that Kerry is outrageously lying when he says he wasn't referring to the troops. This is only prolonging his time in the spotlight, when he should get out of the way and let actual candidates speak.) . . . . I've seen the video of the whole context, and it's obvious what he was saying. His attempt to interpret it away is outrageous. It only makes it worse. I know exactly what he was saying and it is the sort of thing that antiwar people say, that the volunteer military is full of unfortunate, deluded souls.
They managed to stifle Dukakis. They can't seem to keep Kerry quiet.
posted at 05:24 PM by Glenn Reynolds
HUBBLE REPAIR APPROVED: "The 11-day rehab mission, likely launching in May 2008 using space shuttle Discovery, would keep Hubble working until about 2013. Its estimated cost is $900 million."
Kerry's suggestion that the troops in Iraq are dumb failures is not only reprehensible, but false on the facts. In other words, a typical Kerry performance, just in time for the elections. Democrats must be wondering what they were thinking to nominate him in 2004, and why he won't go away now.
UPDATE: John McCain's office sends this demand for a Kerry apology from Sen. McCain:
Senator Kerry owes an apology to the many thousands of Americans serving in Iraq, who answered their country's call because they are patriots and not because of any deficiencies in their education. Americans from all backgrounds, well off and less fortunate, with high school diplomas and graduate degrees, take seriously their duty to our country, and risk their lives today to defend the rest of us in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. They all deserve our respect and deepest gratitude for their service. The suggestion that only the least educated Americans would agree to serve in the military and fight in Iraq, is an insult to every soldier serving in combat, and should deeply offend any American with an ounce of appreciation for what they suffer and risk so that the rest of us can sleep more comfortably at night. Without them, we wouldn't live in a country where people securely possess all their God-given rights, including the right to express insensitive, ill-considered and uninformed remarks.
A major blunder for Kerry and the Democrats, timed to do maximum damage to them and maximum good for the Republicans.
Philip Klein observes: "What struck me about this comment beyond the obvious fact that it is insulting to our troops, is just how politically incompetent John Kerry is. Here we are, a week before Election Day, Democrats are favored to win back control of the House and possibly the Senate . . . But in this video Kerry, the party's most recent candidate for President and one of its most recognizable figures, is out there calling troops fighting in Iraq a bunch of morons."
UPDATE: Hmm. With over 5,000 votes in so far, 60% of InstaPundit readers think the GOP will keep both houses. 34% see a split decision and only 6% think the Dems will take both. That's actually slightly more optimistic than last week's poll -- and both polls see the GOP's chances more favorably than I do, or the political futures markets do. So who's right? We'll see.
AN INTERESTING STORY ON LONGEVITY RESEARCH in the New York Times starts off with calorie restriction but quickly moves on to the larger topic:
Recent tests show that the animals on restricted diets, including Canto and Eeyore, two other rhesus monkeys at the primate research center, are in indisputably better health as they near old age than Matthias and other normally fed lab mates like Owen and Johann. The average lifespan for laboratory monkeys is 27.
The findings cast doubt on long-held scientific and cultural beliefs regarding the inevitability of the body’s decline. They also suggest that other interventions, which include new drugs, may retard aging even if the diet itself should prove ineffective in humans. One leading candidate, a newly synthesized form of resveratrol — an antioxidant present in large amounts in red wine — is already being tested in patients. It may eventually be the first of a new class of anti-aging drugs. Extrapolating from recent animal findings, Dr. Richard A. Miller, a pathologist at the University of Michigan, estimated that a pill mimicking the effects of calorie restriction might increase human life span to about 112 healthy years, with the occasional senior living until 140, though some experts view that projection as overly optimistic.
According to a report by the Rand Corporation, such a drug would be among the most cost-effective breakthroughs possible in medicine, providing Americans more healthy years at less expense (an estimated $8,800 a year) than new cancer vaccines or stroke treatments.
That's absolutely right. Calorie restriction is unlikely to work in humans -- and I'm not sure it's worth it anyway -- but drugs that mimic its effects are another thing entirely.
Of course, some critics say that this is going for the low-hanging fruit when we should be working on stopping or reversing aging, not just slowing it down. I figured I'd find a discussion of that issue over at FightAging.org, and sure enough I was right. I think, though, that it's nice to see that people are getting interested in this field at all, and if there's a prospect of antiaging drugs that work better, lots of companies will jump on it as the financial incentives are huge.
Via FightAging I see that there's also an article in the Wall Street Journal today (subscription required, but this link may work for nonsubscribers). Excerpt:
Still, some experts on aging doubt that enough is known about CR to guide the development of drugs that mimic its effects. "We know a lot about CR's effects," says Edward Masoro, a leading gerontologist. "But what bothers me is that I don't think we've figured out CR's basic mechanism yet."
Dr. Sinclair's idea that resveratrol mimics CR has come under heavy fire. His main adversaries are two researchers who used to rub elbows with him when they all studied together with MIT's Dr. Guarente. The skeptics maintain that resveratrol's mode of action is still murky; instead, they are looking at other mechanisms that may account for how CR works.
The resveratrol doses used in the life-span-extension studies in animals were far higher than the amount people can get by drinking wine -- they were roughly equivalent to hundreds of glasses a day. Resveratrol is available as a dietary supplement, but to replicate the doses used in the studies, a person would need to take scores of pills a day. (Sirtris says it is developing prescription drugs that work like resveratrol but are hundreds of times more potent.) The dietary supplements haven't been tested in clinical trials, so their efficacy isn't proven, nor is it clear what dose might make people live healthier or longer. And although they seem safe at modest doses, megadoses may not be.
Nevertheless Dr. Sinclair, a 37-year-old Australia native, thinks taking small doses over time may yield health benefits and has been taking the supplements for three years. . . .
Sirtris, the company Dr. Sinclair co-founded, says it has made progress. Test-tube and animal studies suggest that its early-stage drugs may help treat various neurological killers as well as diabetes, says Dr. Westphal. The company plans soon to begin testing a drug in people with MELAS syndrome, a rare metabolic disorder that afflicts youngsters with potentially fatal brain and muscle deterioration.
At a recent meeting on aging research, a Sirtris scientist reported that SIRT1-activating compounds, including resveratrol, dramatically lowered blood levels of glucose and insulin in mice that get diabetes on high-fat diets, as well as helped to keep their weight down -- just as CR does.
It's easy to get overexcited about early research, but let's hope that this succeeds. The economic boost of extending people's healthy lifespans would be huge, and of particular value to countries with big unfunded pension obligations and low birthrates, which is most industrial countries. Such research is likely to be politically popular with an aging electorate, too. (But note the usual man-wasn't-meant-to-do-this line from Leon Kass at the end of the NYT story.)
I've got a pretty lengthy discussion of the topic in An Army of Davids, and I've also addressed it in articles here and here, and in a lengthier review essay here. It's a huge issue for coming decades.
DEMOCRATS: Seeking victory, not a mandate. This part seems plausible: "the ongoing non-success of Nutroots darling Ned Lamont in Blue Connecticut certainly suggests that the power or the progressives is less than they might have thought." If the anti-war guy can't win in Connecticut . . . .
The Audit Bureau of Circulations FAS-FAX report for the six-month period ending September 2006 released this morning confirmed yet again that major metros are struggling to show growth. The losses are steep while the gains are meager.
This is the fourth consecutive semi-annual report to register a severe drop in daily circulation and -- perhaps more troubling to the industry -- Sunday copies. While the estimated decline 2.8% for daily circulation for all reporting papers may seem negligible, consider that in years past that decrease averaged around 1%. Sunday, considered the industry's bread-and-butter, showed even steeper losses, with a decline of about 3.4%.
Big cities like L.A., Miami, and Boston are feeling the effects of the Internet and the trimming of other-paid circulation. In New York, however, a 5.1% surge for the New York Post allowed it to leapfrog past its rival, the Daily News -- and The Washington Post -- into fifth place in daily circ.
The Los Angeles Times reported that daily circulation fell 8% to 775,766. Sunday dropped 6% to 1,172,005.
And I suspect that the news would be worse still if it weren't for the various gimmicks used to inflate the circulation figures.
posted at 09:21 PM by Glenn Reynolds
K.C. JOHNSON has more on the Duke rape case, which should probably be renamed the "Duke prosecutorial mosconduct case" at this point.
STEVEN LANDSBURG: "Does pornography breed rape? Do violent movies breed violent crime? Quite the opposite, it seems. . . . The bottom line on these experiments is, 'More Net access, less rape.' A 10 percent increase in Net access yields about a 7.3 percent decrease in reported rapes. States that adopted the Internet quickly saw the biggest declines. And, according to Clemson professor Todd Kendall, the effects remain even after you control for all of the obvious confounding variables, such as alcohol consumption, police presence, poverty and unemployment rates, population density, and so forth."
A quarter century after the Reagan revolution and a dozen years after Republicans vaulted into control of Congress, a new CNN poll finds most Americans still agree with the bedrock conservative premise that, as the Gipper put it, "government is not the answer to our problems -- government is the problem."
The poll released Friday also showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans perceive, correctly, that the size and cost of government have gone up in the past four years, when Republicans have had a grip on the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House. . . .
Queried about their views on the role of government, 54 percent of the 1,013 adults polled said they thought it was trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Only 37 percent said they thought the government should do more to solve the country's problems.
I think the answer is "yes."
posted at 03:05 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MAX BOOT IS GUESTBLOGGING at The Volokh Conspiracy. His first post is here.
posted at 02:20 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A FAKE AD? Or a fake fake ad? Or a fake, fake, fake . . . . the mind reels.
posted at 01:59 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A "JESUS-LOVING GUN-SUPPORTING" SENATOR from Tennessee! I was talking to one of my colleagues about Harold Ford's run to the right, and he said he'd vote for Ford in spite of his disapproval of Ford's opposition to gay marriage, support for posting the ten commandments, hard stance on immigration, etc. Anything's worth it, he decided, to get a Democratic Congress. Ford's strategy is obviously to hope that a lot of left-leaning Democrats feel that way, while pulling in people who would otherwise vote Republican. It could work.
And, in the spirit of writing book reports on books one hasn't finished, I'm about halfway through blogosphere legend Arthur Chrenkoff's new novel Night Trains, and so far it's terrific -- it's like a mixture of Harry Turtledove and Ken MacLeod. Is there anything he isn't good at?
UPDATE: Another Buruma review, and more on Van Gogh, here.
Rove is giving a virtuoso performance designed to prevent the Democrats from taking control of the House and Senate or, if that is no longer possible, to hold down the size of the Democratic victory to make it easier for the GOP to come back in 2008. His plan is three-pronged: to reenergize any conservatives who may be flagging; to make sure the GOP's carefully constructed campaign apparatus is functioning at peak efficiency; and to put the resources of the federal government to use for political gain. . . .
In 2002, Rove's system outperformed the Democrats' in mobilizing voters and is credited with giving GOP candidates the narrow edge that secured victories for the party in 2002 and 2004.
For 2006, Rove and Mehlman hope a turnout advantage could help them eke out victories in tight House and Senate races that they believe will determine control of both chambers.
THE PRO-NUCLEAR HAROLD FORD: I think he's right on this, and I'm glad to see more Democrats -- as Mark Warner did in our interview last week -- looking seriously at nuclear power.
posted at 06:31 AM by Glenn Reynolds
THE NETROOTS ARE ALREADY assigning blame for a Lamont defeat: "The American people know this. They know that Democratic Senators are moral lepers, weaklings, and that is the only reason we aren't further ahead when the Republicans screw everything up. The Democratic Senate leaders will sell us out at every opportunity, be it torture, Iraq, Alito, Lieberman, the Bankruptcy Bill, or stopping war with Iran. They aren't poll-driven, they aren't fear-driven, and they aren't driven by strategic differences. They are simply driven to beat us down, their voters, by any means necessary. That's why they cheered Joe. . . . We can win this fight, as the polls are tightening. But it would be a whole lot easier without that knife in our back."
UPDATE: TigerHawk emails:
The Matt Stoller piece you linked is the traditional rant among defeated true believers. Although I was but a toddler at the time, my recollection of the history is that Barry Goldwater's supporters had much the same reaction in 1964. On the one hand, they spent a lot of years in the desert after that. On the other hand, it inspired them to build a dominant political force 15 years later. The question is, will today's lefty activists accommodate themselves to the compromises necessary to do that, as conservatives did?
Well, they haven't lost yet, though calling Democratic Senators "moral lepers" and "weaklings" just before a big election on which the balance of power rests is probably unconstructive. . . . But I think that the Netroots blogosphere will probably make the kind of necessary political compromise that TigerHawk describes harder to achieve. When you've got an empowered and connected network of boss-haters it's much more difficult to pull that sort of thing off.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader James Somer emails:
I had to laugh at the rant you linked to assigning blame for Lamont's expected loss in Connecticut. I live in Connecticut's Farmington Valley, which up here is what passes for a Republican redoubt. You wouldn't believe how many yards I've seen in my town this fall that have a "Sticking With Joe" sign right next to a sign for the GOP incumbent congresswoman, Nancy Johnson. Meanwhile, the Republican candidate for Senate, Schlesinger, may not even hit double-digits on election day. The Netroots wanted to punish Lieberman so they saw to it that he was booted in the primary. But in so doing, they drove up Lieberman's popularity with Republicans and independents who are dubious of such ideological hatchet jobs. Even worse (or better, if you're Karl Rove) the Angry Left's savaging of the moderate Lieberman also gave Connecticut's three endangered GOP congresspersons cover, as it created a confusing, three-way Senate race in a state where a very popular, moderate Republican governor (Jodi Rell) was already running at the top of the ticket. In a year where Democrats should be insisting on a black-and-white referendum between Republicans and Democrats, the netroots filled Connecticut's politics with many shades of gray.
I've never understood how targeting Lieberman squares with the goal of getting a Democratic majority.
SOME ALMOST-FORGOTTEN HISTORY: "On one wall of the plaza is a sculpture of a lunch counter with several people sitting at it. It's so very life-like that in nice weather people routinely sit down on the empty stools to eat their lunches at the counter. There is no plaque to explain the sculpture."
REPUBLICANS DON'T LOVE THE LORD? If a Republican said something like that about Democrats, it would be a national scandal. We're seeing a lot of unforced errors from Harold Ford all of a sudden. I think he and his campaign could use a good night's sleep.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Dean Barnett thought that Harold Ford looked tired on the Sunday shows. It's tempting to go all-out and shortchange yourself on sleep, but that drastically increases your risk of saying something damaging.
The administrator of Blogme.gr, a Greek blog aggregation website had his house raided, his hard drive seized and was himself arrested by the Greek cybercrime division last week, after having been served with a libel lawsuit without prior notice, because a public figure was offended by a satirical blog that was linked to by his site. The outraged response by Greek bloggers was immediate and unprecedented, reaching in the hundreds of posts within two days of the raid. The developing story coincides with the Internet Governance Forum being hosted in Athens this week, to be attended by Internet luminaries, entrepreneurs and activists like Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn and Joi Ito and featuring panels on Openness and Freedom of Expression.
Sounds like they need those panels. (Via Slashdot).
posted at 05:48 PM by Glenn Reynolds
JONATHAN ADLER: "An analysis of state-wide records by the Poughkeepsie Journal reveals that 77,000 dead people remain on election rolls in New York State, and some 2,600 may have managed to vote after they had died. The study also found that Democrats are more successful at voting after death than Republicans, by a margin of four-to-one, largely because so many dead people seem to vote in Democrat-dominated New York City."
I felt outraged on behalf of Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, whose photo was not even a tenth as big. My dad told me not to feel so bad, that no one, not even a Nobel Peace Prize winner, gets a photo as big as mine unless his story involves boobs. Note to future Nobel Prize winners: fight poverty and cure diseases with your shirt off.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva didn't celebrate the oil independence milestone out in an Amazon sugar field.
No, he smashed a champagne bottle on the spaceship-like deck of Brazil's vast P-50 oil rig in the Albacora Leste field in the deep blue Atlantic. Why? Brazil's oil independence had virtually nothing to do with its ethanol development. It came from drilling oil.
The federal government is investigating the takeover last year of a leading American manufacturer of electronic voting systems by a small software company that has been linked to the leftist Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chávez.
The inquiry is focusing on the Venezuelan owners of the software company, the Smartmatic Corporation, and is trying to determine whether the government in Caracas has any control or influence over the firm’s operations, government officials and others familiar with the investigation said.
See, with paper ballots you don't care who owns the paper company . . . .
posted at 01:33 PM by Glenn Reynolds
I HAVE SOME THOUGHTS on why there's no such thing as a "foreign press" any more.
UPDATE: Michael Totten has more on this subject. "It's all one Internet now. Even offline dead-tree newspapers in Iraq are plugged into it."
The ACLU said it was withdrawing the lawsuit filed more than three years ago because of "improvements to the law." The Justice Department argued last month that amendments approved by Congress in March 2006 had corrected any constitutional flaws in the Patriot Act.
Rob Port thinks there's a political angle, too. Regardless, I guess this means the end of the Patriot Act as an election slogan.
posted at 11:50 AM by Glenn Reynolds
LOOK AT HOW TONY SNOW HAS BEEN DOING since taking the job as White House Press Secretary. I think he's helped Bush, but I think it's a bit like George Allen's hiring of Jon Henke -- it would have helped a lot more if he'd made the change sooner.
What gives you a better grasp of the realities of Europe today? The front-page reports on the G8 and the U.S.-EU summit? The in-depth profile of Jacques Chirac or Dominique de Villepin? Or the small space-filler about a French police lieutenant promoted to captain despite spending 12 of the last 18 years on "paternity leave," in the course of which he wrote three books about the Beatles.
As a summation of contemporary Europe that could hardly be improved.
Meanwhile, in a testament to the power of clicks over bricks, reader John MacDonald notes that Mark Steyn's book, America Alone is Number Two on the Amazon Canada bestseller list (apparently swapping back and forth with Richard Dawkins), meaning that he's selling a lot even though it's not being carried in many bookstores there: "the major book chain -Indigo-hasn't really stocked his book (The owner-Heather Reisman and her husband Gerry Schwartz were major financial donors to the Liberals)."
WANT PRESS COVERAGE? Apparently, you have to run attack ads to get it, leading Bill Hobbs, after reviewing the research, to comment:
A story about the 21st district race would be a story about a clash between old and new, and between the entrenched elites and the next generation - a youthful challenger taking on 36-year-incumbent; a challenger using the Internet to discuss issues, raise money and find supporters while the incumbent hides from voters, avoids public debate and gets his money from special interests.
So, then, why isn't the Nashville news media covering the 21st district race between Bob Krumm and Sen. Henry?
The only answer seems to be the lack of negative attack ads.
That doesn't reflect positively on the news media.
posted at 07:52 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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