Archive for June, 2004

June 27, 2004

FRITZ SCHRANCK gives a negative review to Michael Moore.

June 27, 2004

I’VE WRITTEN — both here and elsewhere — about the importance of a decentralized response to terrorism and disasters. Winds of Change has a post on disaster preparedness, and you might also find this earlier article of mine on the subject useful. You might want to read this, too. And go here, and scroll up, for personal survival tips from Amy Langfield.

(Langfield link bad before; fixed now. Sorry!)

June 27, 2004

HERE’S THE LATEST DARFUR ROUNDUP, from Passion of the Present.

James Moore notes that concern on this issue is thoroughly bipartisan.

UPDATE: Richard Aubrey emails: “It will be bipartisan until we actually start to do something. Woe be to George Bush if he takes some forthright initiative on this.” Sigh. I’d like to believe this is wrong.

June 27, 2004

CBS MAY BE IN TROUBLE WITH THE FCC for its Amazon Associates linkage with Clinton’s book:

CBS is part of the Associates Program of Amazon.com. Every sale of Clinton’s book — or of any other product listed by Amazon — will generate a commission of up to 10 percent of the total sale for CBS, according to Kristin Mariani, a spokeswoman for Amazon.com. . . .

That conflict of interest calls into question the objectivity of CBS. When it makes programming decisions about whom it interviews and how much publicity it generates for the events, without disclosing its vested interest in the book sales, it becomes ethics-challenged.

The FCC has rules about disclosure of business arrangements or other conflicts of interest.

“If there is a problem, it could be regarding the lack of sponsorship identification and payola,” according to an FCC source.

“If anyone complains, we will take a look at it,” said Ken Scheibel, an attorney in the FCC enforcement bureau.

“Payola” and “plugola” roughly translate into a broadcaster receiving something of value in exchange for playing a song or plugging a product, but not disclosing that information to the audience.

It’s not the Amazon linkage that’s the issue per se, but the tie to what’s broadcast. (Via RatherBiased.com). Arguably, of course, it is disclosed at the point that matters, on the website — if you look at the links, the Amazon referrer code is pretty obvious to anyone who knows anything. But I don’t think the FCC would buy that, as they’d probably feel the relevant disclosure is in the broadcast, not on the website.

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis says that this is a bogus issue. As a matter of substantive ethics, he’s no doubt right. But surely he’s not arguing that the FCC deals in matters of substance? They’ve got rules about this stuff; they’re not in the business of ethical analysis. And while RatherBiased.com’s campaign on the subject has an element of “gotcha” to it, Sixty Minutes would hardly seem to be in a position to complain about that. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: In an update to the post linked above, Jeff is now razzing the columnist quoted above because there’s a Google Ad for Clinton’s book on the same page as the column. But I think that misses the point. Any idiot can tell that the Google Ads are ads. The FCC rules are about running ads that aren’t disclosed as ads — payola and plugola, as mentioned above. The audience is supposed to know when the broadcaster is getting paid to hype a product. Nobody’s suggesting that advertising is illegal or wrong, or that “commerce” is evil. I don’t think that RatherBiased.com is even suggesting that Amazon referral fees are wrong, and certainly I’m not. But CBS ran what was, essentially, a commercial for Clinton’s book, and CBS didn’t disclose that it was making money from the book’s sale. I think it’s de minimis, under the circumstances, but it’s wholly different from what Jeff’s talking about.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Q&0 says there’s no story here, and actually explains why. Seems persuasive to me.

June 26, 2004

FORGET PERFECTION: As Donald Sensing notes, in war, the winner is the least screwed up.

Read this piece on bumbling from The Belmont Club, too.

June 26, 2004

RALPH NADER WRITES that Michael Moore has sold out — to the Democrats. And he’s mocking Moore’s weight.

And here’s an earlier piece by Nader on the same topic.

UPDATE: Comments, and advice to Moore, here.

June 26, 2004

PUNK’D: Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh.

June 26, 2004

UNLIKE JAMES LILEKS, I don’t get around to watching DVDs as soon as I buy them. But I ordered the complete Lost in Space first season on DVD and managed to watch several episodes today while puttering around the house. I watched the reruns as a kid, but what I’d forgotten was the dark, Forbidden Planet ambiance of the early episodes. I’d also forgotten the meta-plot from the first episode, where the Robinson family is just the vanguard of 10 million American families heading to Alpha Centauri as part of an effort to remedy overpopulation.

The shows are better than I remembered, and there are some interesting bits — such as the one in episode 3 where Dr. Robinson (Guy Williams) thanks Divine Providence for their survival, after the fashion of old-time explorers. Surely this was the last possible cultural moment for something like that on network TV.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

I just finished watching this complete set, an episode per day for the last month. I’ve been a fan of the series for over 30 years and have never seen it look so well. The DVD release further deepened my fondness and respect for the series. Be prepared for a pleasant surprise with the cliffhanger at the end of the last episode of the first season.

By the way, the fellow in that alien cyclops suit was Lamar Lundy, 1/4 of the LA Rams’ “Fearsome Foursome” of the 1960′s.

Rumor has it that 20th Century Fox will release the other seasons on DVD, as well as its sister series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

Cool.

June 26, 2004

WORTHWHILE CANADIAN ELECTION: Colby Cosh has an article on the Canadian election, and what it might mean for ours: “To put things in a way that summarizes the dialectic neatly, Michael Moore has stopped by to urge Canadians not to vote Conservative.”

UPDATE: More here, from Collin May. And scroll for additional coverage. More here, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: From the Toronto Sun: Salim Mansur: “Canadian politics reek of anti-U.S. stench.”

June 26, 2004

AMIR TAHERI:

In London the other day the Iraqi national football team met a team made up of MPs, mostly opponents of the war, for a friendly match.

The Iraqis won 15-0.

Six months ago the team did not even exist. But in August, after defeating several opponents, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, the men will stand to attention as Iraq’s new flag is raised at the Olympic games in Athens.

Iraq today is no bed of roses, I know. I have just come back from a tour of the country. But I don’t recognise the place I have just visited as the war zone depicted by the Arab and western media.

Read the whole thing.

June 26, 2004

SEATTLE TIMES: “Bill Gates could join the ranks of bloggers.”

Well, when you’re the richest man in the world, there’s only one more mountain to climb. . . .

June 26, 2004

STEPHEN HAYES says that Bill Clinton was right, and we forget that at our peril.

June 26, 2004

PLEASE SEND YOUR CONDOLENCES TO MATTHEW YGLESIAS on the death of his mother.

June 26, 2004

DARFUR UPDATE: Arthur Chrenkoff comments on goings-on, and is unimpressed with the diplomatic community’s efforts so far.

June 26, 2004

FIRST IT WAS QUESTIONS ABOUT KOJO ANNAN AND OIL-FOR-FO0D. And now there’s this:

Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, son of the late French president, has been arrested as part of an investigation into alleged money-laundering and arms-trafficking in Africa.

Miterrand’s behavior has been the subject of rumors among Africa hands for years. I hope that some people are looking into this.

UPDATE: More thoughts here.

June 26, 2004

JOSH CHAFETZ says that the Kerry Campaign is sending out an “incredibly dishonest” email. “I’m not sure whether this is malice or incompetence on the part of the Kerry Campaign — and I suspect the answer is incompetence — but it doesn’t bode well for them either way.”

UPDATE: A couple of readers think that the real unfairness is in the Bush campaign’s use of a couple of fringe elements to suggest that the Democratic mainstream is comparing Bush to Hitler. The trouble with this argument, though, is that the Democratic mainstream is making such comparisons. Just ask Al Gore, or Guido Calabresi. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jared Walczak emails:

You wrote that some of your readers objected to the Bush campaign’s association of liberal fringe elements with the Kerry campaign re the Hitler ads. However, as an email from the Bush campaign today notes, there is a connection: Zack Exley, the man behind MoveOn.org, is now employed by the Kerry campaign as the director of internet operations.

Good point. Meanwhile reader Richard McEnroe emails:

Actually, doesn’t Kerry still have a link to DU on his campaign homepage? How long do we have to maintain the polite fiction that the Democratic Fringe is not driving party policy when MacAuliffe and Pelosi show up for the premier of F911? :-\

There’s a link on the blog page. I don’t know how much you ought to make of that. I certainly link to people with whom I disagree in my blogroll. But does Kerry? It doesn’t look like it, which suggests that the folks he links aren’t just there as a resource or a guide to various opinions, but are sites he endorses.

It’s certainly true that the ideas of the lunatic fringe have been showing up in the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Personally, I think this is a mistake in terms of the campaign — and that it will seriously bite them on the ass if Kerry should get elected.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here. And I’m told that the Bush people have updated their ad with more context, but I haven’t seen it yet. And don’t miss this response from the Bush blog: “Why has John Kerry not denounced billionaire and Democrat Party donor George Soros for comparing the Bush Administration to Nazis?”

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Just watched it. It’s even more damning, and the Democratic complaints will just ensure that everyone watches it. Rope-a-dope?

MORE: A reader reminds me of this from January: “SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER CRITICIZES MOVEON.ORG FOR POSTING AD COMPARING BUSH TO HITLER:”

“Politics and preparing for a presidential election is one thing, but comparing the Bush Administration’s fight against Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein with the policies of Adolf Hitler is shameful, beyond the pale and has no place in the legitimate discourse of American politics,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Center’s founder and dean. “Adolf Hitler was responsible for the greatest crime in the history of mankind – the Holocaust. To compare Hitler to an American President is not only ludicrous, but defames the Holocaust,” he added.

“This ad is not about Democrats or Republicans – it is about lies and a distortion of history,” he said. “Move On.org has a responsibility to publicly repudiate such lies as do all political leaders,” he concluded.

This would seem to reflect poorly on the Kerry campaign’s hiring decisions.

STILL MORE: Jay Reding: “It’s incredibly effective, which is why the Kerry team is already complaining about it. . . . I hope the Bush team makes a national air buy with this ad.”

Tim Graham: “The chairman of the DNC is happily mugging at Moore’s DC premiere and applauding his movie as a campaign tool. Kerry has hired people away from MoveOn.org for his campaign. He has distanced himself from neither group, nor from Gore’s MoveOn-sponsored ‘digital brownshirt’ ravings. Meanwhile, Democrats quickly tied Bush I to his base of Buchanan and Robertson, who they thought were wild-eyed ideologues of hate. In every cycle, the media highlight the conservative base of the GOP and how the nominee will suffer from the ‘hard right’ associations. Now, Kerry and Terry have to embrace every Moore fan and MoveOn bake-saler to keep some Naderites in their camp, and it’s not fair to point out the ‘hard left’ base?”

June 25, 2004

INTERESTING NEWS FROM VIETNAM: Interesting, but somehow not surprising.

June 25, 2004

SPENT MOST OF THE NIGHT at the Secret City Film Festival, where the Insta-Wife showed a recut version of her film Six, with some additional footage of interviews with the murderers and people who knew them. It was nice to see it on a big screen, in a big theater.

There seemed to be quite a few other excellent offerings. I really liked Hell’s Highway, a documentary on the origins of those garish driver’s-ed scare’em safety films. (You can see a trailer here. It’ll be showing in New York and elsewhere starting next week.) I would have liked to see Martian in Motion, the Leo Szilard documentary, and Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea, but babysitting issues intervened.

June 25, 2004

JUST SAW JEFF JARVIS on Aaron Brown. Jeff was excellent, and CNN credited him as “Jeff Jarvis, Buzzmachine.com,” which was cool.

UPDATE: Here’s a transcript, and here’s a post from Jeff.

I just wonder whether a film that made similar accusations against a Democratic President would get such a respectful reception from mainstream media. Well, no I don’t.

June 25, 2004

ANN ALTHOUSE:

Quite aside from the general inadvisability of calling your political opponents fascists, you’d think that if Al Gore wanted to call someone a fascist, the last synonym he’d pick from the thesaurus would be “brownshirt,” considering that he was famous for literally wearing a brown shirt. I’m just distracted into thinking about that whole Naomi Wolf/alpha male business again. He’s lost control of his imagery in more ways than one.

Indeed.

June 25, 2004

DANIEL DREZNER has thoughts on Allawi and Iraq that are worth reading.

June 25, 2004

WHAT HATH AL GORE WROUGHT? I’m guessing this.

June 25, 2004

ERNEST MILLER FISKS A STATUTE: In this case, Orrin Hatch’s dumb INDUCE Act. It’s a must-read.

And Hatch should be ashamed to be shilling for Hollywood and the music industry. Why aren’t the social conservatives all over him for this?

June 25, 2004

BIGWIG MAKES THE CASE FOR KERRY: I wish I believed this, as it would make me more comfortable with the election. At any rate, it’s certainly a stronger pro-Kerry case than Al Gore’s making.

June 25, 2004

TRANSHUMANISTS VS. BIOCONSERVATIVES: Interesting item over at Beliefnet.

June 25, 2004

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION INTERVIEW with aging-treatment researcher Aubrey de Grey generated some comments. There’s a roundup here.

June 25, 2004

SOME PEOPLE WILL SAY THIS IS SELF-INTERESTED:

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — Colorado Republican Senate hopeful Pete Coors yesterday criticized the legal drinking age, chiding the federal government for coercing states into raising the age limit from 18 to 21.

“We got along fine for years with the 18-year-old drinking age,” the former CEO of the Coors Brewing Co. told an audience of about 200 people at a candidates’ debate here. “We’re criminalizing our young people.”

But I’m not a brewing magnate, and I agree! As I’ve written elsewhere, the increase in the drinking age — which Liddy Dole, to her shame, boasts of “spearheading” — was a dumb and unfair idea. If Republicans are serious about federalism, as Dole certainly isn’t, they’ll work to repeal it. Congratulations to Coors for raising the subject.

UPDATE: More thoughts here.

June 25, 2004

ANDREW MCCARTHY IS TAKING THE NEW YORK TIMES TO TASK for hypocrisy and dishonesty on Iraq/Al Qaeda connections: “Most pathetic of all in today’s article is the Times‘s self-serving rationale for withholding critical information while it was accusing the president of misleading the country. . . . No one is more aware than the ‘newspaper of record’ that if the American people become convinced Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were in cahoots, the national perception of the necessity for this war will drastically change, and the president’s reelection will be a virtual lock. That’s what this is about. And who knows what else the Times is not telling us?”

UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Miller seems to think this is unfair, because of the Times’ separation between News and Editorial.

If the Bush Administration said something stupid because of managerial separations, would the Times cut it similar slack?

June 25, 2004

AL GORE, THEN AND NOW: Timothy Perry notes some contradictions between his “Bush lied!” stance today and what he said in the past. And here’s audio of Gore claiming an Iraqi terror connection and WMD back in 1992. Sounds genuine to me, and I’m told that Fox ran video along these lines yesterday, though I didn’t see it.

UPDATE: More on Gore from John Tabin, here:

Indeed, the Clinton administration’s experiences with Saddam’s penchant for terrorism go all the way back to Clinton’s first term, when it was confirmed that the Iraqi Intelligence Service had attempted an assassination of former President George H.W. Bush. Clinton ordered a missile strike on the IIS headquarters in June, 1993, in retaliation.

“The suffering inside Iraq can come to an end when Saddam Hussein’s regime is replaced,” said a top Clinton administration official at the time. “And I hope — and most of the world community hopes — that this regime based on terrorism and atrocities against his own people will be replaced. Over time, we hope to achieve that result.”

The official? Al Gore.

Read the whole thing.

June 25, 2004

JEFF JARVIS will be on CNN tonight, talking about Michael Moore.

June 25, 2004

QUERY: IS THE STEPFORD WIVES just another example of bigotry against robosexuals?

I wonder what Dannii Minogue thinks.

June 25, 2004

THE “WRONG” BLACKS AT HARVARD: Interesting thoughts here and here.

June 25, 2004

ZARQAWI’S OATH: The Belmont Club observes:

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s oath to fight “until Islamic rule is back on earth” — besides being historically wrong, as it never was — and his vow to kill the Shi’ite President of the interim Iraqi government, can be more accurately understood as a desire to fight for leadership of the Sunni triangle. The control of Iraq has slipped forever beyond his grasp. Iraqi blogger Hammorabi’s breakdown of the the foreign fighters killed in one US strike on Fallujah underscores the point.

Read the whole thing, and especially the concluding paragraph.

June 25, 2004

JAMES LILEKS ON AL GORE:

Today Al Gore upped the ante. He coined a new term for the Internet critics of his positions: digital brownshirts. Yes, yes, it’s over the top. But it’s not the sentiment that raises eyebrows, it’s the position of the person who’s saying it. We don’t expect presidential candidates past or present to indulge in Usenet flame-war lingo. We don’t expect serious party elders to call the other side Nazis, and for good reason: it’s obscene. The brownshirts were evil. The brownshirts kicked the Jews in the streets and made the little kids put their hands on their heads as they stumbled off to the trains. The brownshirts were not interested in refuting arguments. They were interested in killing the people who dared argue at all.

At some point, I fear, the political discourse of 2004 is going to seem horribly irrelevant and misplaced in the face of some loud new wretched horror; it will seem as oddly disconnected from reality as the Condit / Killer-Shark news reports of August 2001. An indolent luxury.

Gore, of course, is an embarrassment to his party. But some regard him as a useful embarrassment. However, he would be well advised to read these comments by Ann Althouse, on a different case of Nazi-mongering:

I think that style of argument (like the Moore style of documentary) appeals to people who are already committed to your side and makes other people not want to listen to you at all. People interested in rational arguments will choose not to engage with you, which you might wrongly read as agreement, leading you to become complacent about the correctness and persuasiveness of your beliefs. But you miss the opportunity to persuade people who don’t already agree and you lose touch with how they think about things. You may wind up thinking that people who don’t agree with you must be ignorant or ill-willed. Now you’re in the end stage where you’re calling people stupid and fascist.

Al’s there. What I think is interesting is that if you call actual fascist dictators like Saddam Hussein fascist, you’re regarded as over-the-top by some of the same people who don’t mind using such terms to describe their own fellow citizens who simply disagree with them.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg notes an additional irony.

June 25, 2004

GERMAN MEDIA: Hey, the holocaust wasn’t all that bad! Look what the Americans did in Abu Ghraib!

This self-serving historical revisionism pretty much explains the German position on the war. Note to Germans: You’re not fooling anyone but yourselves. And Michael Moore. And Al Gore. And maybe Guido Calabresi.

In other words, the people who want to be fooled. . . .

June 25, 2004

BOOK PROMOTION BY TV JOURNALISTS? It’s getting out of hand, writes AP television writer Lynne Elber.

June 25, 2004

JUDGE GUIDO CALABRESI HAS APOLOGIZED for his outburst:

A Manhattan federal appeals judge who compared President Bush with Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini at a lawyers’ conference last week apologized yesterday for his breach of judicial manners.

In a letter to colleagues, Judge Guido Calabresi wrote that he understood his remarks could too easily be taken as partisan – a big no-no for a sitting judge.

Indeed. I’m glad to see this.

UPDATE: Here’s more from The New York Times:

Judge Calabresi said that in his off-the-cuff remarks he was trying to make “a rather complicated academic argument,” but he understood that they had been taken as an attack on President Bush. In a letter that contained no less than four apologies, he said he was “truly sorry” for “any embarrassment” he might have caused the appeals court. He did not, however, renounce the views he expressed.

Read the whole thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here:

Critics of Judge Calabresi’s comments said yesterday they welcomed the judge’s concession that his remarks were inappropriate.

“It’s good he recognizes that,” said a professor and legal ethics specialist at George Mason University, Ronald Rotunda. But the professor said the apology does not erase concerns about Judge Calabresi’s impartiality.

“One wonders whether anybody with a case of political significance could get a fair shake from Calabresi,” Mr. Rotunda said.

Howard Bashman has a roundup of reactions.

June 25, 2004

SOMEBODY TELL AL GORE: The New York Times reports an Iraqi document — one that it obtained several weeks ago, but that the 9/11 Commission seems somehow to have overlooked — outlining collaboration between Saddam and Osama back in the 1990s. This is, of course, consistent with these media reports of such contacts from 1999.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey says that the Times was hypocritical to demand apologies from the White House when it was sitting on evidence that undermined its position:

So the Times has had in its possession a document that details contacts and collaboration which it determined that the government found authentic, and still editorialized about the purported dishonesty of Bush and Cheney? Obviously, someone’s being dishonest, but more and more it looks like the supposed defenders of truth at the Gray Lady.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: More, including a timeline, here.

June 25, 2004

TIM WORSTALL on what Burt Rutan and Paul Allen have achieved:

So while I congratulate Burt Rutan and Paul Allen on their achievement I’m also remembering the advice of Frederic Bastiat to economists: always look for the hidden. What is important about Spaceship One is not that a private organization has done it once, but that now that it has been done once free markets will continue to make it better, faster, cheaper and someone, one amongst our fellow humans, will work out what to actually do with it, in a manner that none of us today has any inkling of. That’s why free markets are important, that’s why the first private space trip is important and that’s why Paul Allen has done a great deal more than fund a rich man’s toy.

Indeed. Here’s more from The Economist:

The craft’s sponsor, Paul Allen (who co-founded Microsoft), could have spent as much, or more, on a luxury yacht. Furthermore, there is cause for modest optimism about the changes that the flight of SpaceShipOne signals in the broader space business, as a new breed of entrepreneur creates a thoroughly modern industry.

I think that’s right. And as Andrew Case notes: “the giggle factor is pretty much dead as far as investors are concerned.”

Here’s more from Newsweek, and here’s a Leonard David article on space tourism. Back when I was doing legislative work for the National Space Society over ten years ago, we were pushing this — and the “giggle factor” was pretty significant then. Not anymore.

UPDATE: Worstall has more thoughts on his blog, here.

June 25, 2004

SOME COGENT THOUGHTS ON HOMELAND SECURITY, from this column in the Washington Post:

A first review of the Sept. 11 commission’s report indicates that the system failed, but that is wrong. While the U.S. air defense system did fail to halt the attacks, our improvised, high-tech citizen defense “system” was extraordinarily successful.

Confronted by a cruel and diabolical surprise that day, those with formal responsibility for protecting our country from air attack could not defend us. . . .

What is surprising is that an alternative defense system, one with no formal authority or security funding, did succeed, and probably saved our seat of government. The downing of United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania was a heroic feat executed by the plane’s passengers. But it was more: the culmination of a strikingly efficient chain of responses by networked Americans.

Requiring less time than it took the White House to gather intelligence and issue an attack order (which was in fact not acted on), American citizens gathered information from national media and relayed that information to citizens aboard the flight, who organized themselves and effectively carried out a counterattack against the terrorists, foiling their plans. Armed with television and cell phones, quick-thinking, courageous citizens who were fed information by loved ones probably saved the White House or Congress from devastation. . . .

From a military perspective, our only effective weapon against the terrorists on Sept. 11 was a connected, smart-thinking citizenry. Educating and equipping critical-thinking, network-savvy citizens will be key to winning this war of infiltration and surprise.

This point was made shortly after 9/11 by Brad Todd in his famous 109 Minutes column, and I’ve made it myself a time or two, but it’s worth repeating, as the lesson does not appear to have penetrated to the decisionmakers.

June 24, 2004

THE DARFUR INFORMATION CENTER is a link-rich source of information on the looming Darfur genocide, going back a couple of years.

June 24, 2004

BLACKFIVE has questions about the CIA.

June 24, 2004

EARLIER, I linked to Will Baude’s TNR piece, but the link I gave was subscriber-only. Here’s a link that will work for everybody.

June 24, 2004

THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES is up. Don’t miss it!

June 24, 2004

UNSCAM UPDATE: William Safire is keeping the heat on the oil-for-food scandal. Meanwhile Congressional investigators say that Paul Bremer is hindering the investigation. Kojo Annan’s company Cotecna is playing a major role, and Safire speculates that Bremer’s foot-dragging is part of a White House effort not to offend the U.N. As I’ve said before, I think that the White House will, once again, get little of value from the U.N.

June 24, 2004

LAW PROFESSOR ANN ALTHOUSE has comments on Judge Guido Calabresi’s outburst earlier this week, and concludes:

I can’t help thinking that Judge Calabresi and his American Constitution Society audience would not have taken the same position about Presidential power if the election had fallen out the other way and Gore had become President.

Yes, had Gore won, I think we’d be hearing about the nobility of the Electoral College, and the dangers of populist democracy — not to mention the absolute criticality of a strong executive, a la FDR, in wartime. . . .

June 24, 2004

PROF. YVETTE PEARSON writes in the Journal of Philosophy, Science & Law, that the White House is playing politics with bioethics.

June 24, 2004

PAN-O-RAMA: Movie Guru Clint Daniels doesn’t think much of The Stepford Wives;

Updated version of a cult classic is simply dreadful . . . . an unbearable, muddled farce that’s best avoided at all costs.

Ouch. Meanwhile Melissa Schwartz didn’t like Fahrenheit 9/11:

I finally put my finger on why, exactly, Moore bothers me so much: he is not smarter than me (and I think it’s safe to identify myself as being a typical American), though he thinks that he is. . . .

Instead, he’s full of either obvious-isms or underdeveloped (and often conveniently edited), emotionally-driven thought. I get the feeling that F9/11 is a bunch of factoids culled together to poke fun and make a vague point (but as long as the rage is there, it’s okay!)

Indeed. But nobody — even Christopher Hitchens — can top Jeff Jarvis in the Moore-dissection sweepstakes. I won’t excerpt it — just read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Moore seems to have been flummoxed by a 17-year-old — though one who, unlike Moore, had his facts in order.

Meanwhile Melissa clarifies her post — it’s not the movie she dislikes (yet, anyway), but rather Moore himself.

June 24, 2004

I’M BACK: There was no blogging while on travel because, well, I had better things to do. The Insta-Wife managed to piggyback some business of her own (with the state psychology board she’s on) and accompanied me on the trip. We took the occasion to celebrate our tenth anniversary in a different city, without children. It was nice.

Blogging will resume later this evening.

June 23, 2004

I’LL BE OFF SUPPORTING SOCIALISM by delivering a Bar Review lecture. Blogging will be limited today and tomorrow. In the meantime, The Volokh Conspiracy is richly supplied with eminent guest bloggers, so drop by and check them out. And you might want to read Tom Maguire’s reflections on complaints that the problem with homeland security is not enough high-profile press conferences.

June 23, 2004

CBS BLOG SCOOP confirmed.

June 23, 2004

A LOT OF PEOPLE, including me, have criticized the GOP for being behind the curve on the Internet. But now Paul Boutin says they’re catching up.

June 23, 2004

ANDREW BOLT WRITES THAT WE’RE BEHEADING OURSELVES, and the media are the knife:

Not only did Saddam house and help terrorists, including Abu Abbas, Abu Nidal, Palestinian suicide bombers and a bomb-maker of the 1993 World Trade Centre attack, but his scientists worked on chemical and biological weapons up until the war, as the Iraq Survey Group now confirms. The day would surely come when Saddam’s weapons and the terrorists who wanted them finally met.

This is what Bush, Britain’s Tony Blair and our John Howard warned of. But now this history is being shamelessly rewritten in the media.

This week’s 9/11 commission reports also said Saddam approached al-Qaida at least three times when it was based in Sudan, and again, it seems, when it was in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaida boss Osama bin Laden asked for training camps and weapons, but, the reports claim, “Iraq apparently never responded”, and the talks “do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship”, although at least one Iraqi terrorist group did join his “broader Islamic army”.

The reports for some reason don’t discuss other reported links between Iraq and al-Qaida, but cautiously conclude: “We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaida co-operated on attacks against the United States.”

So there were links between Saddam and al-Qaida, not to mention other terrorists, but no proof (yet) of active collaboration or co-operation in the September 11 attacks.

This is almost word for word what Bush has long said.

“We’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September 11th,” he repeated on CNN last year. But there was evidence “that he has been involved with al-Qaida”.

Yet ABC TV news said this week’s reports prove al-Qaida “had no links with Saddam Hussein, as suggested by the White House”, and ABC’s The World Today added: “One of the Bush administration’s central arguments for going to war with Iraq appears to be in tatters.” As if Bush had blamed Iraq for the September 11 attacks. The liar.

More of this and al-Nashami can take it easy. We’ll have cut our own throats already.

Ouch.

June 23, 2004

REMEMBER WHEN MOQTADA AL-SADR was going to lead a popular uprising across Iraq? (That was April’s we’re-losing story). Well, he didn’t, and here’s the story of how we won. I wonder how much attention it’ll get.

June 23, 2004

PEOPLE SOMETIMES ASK me how my wife feels about my blogging, and whether it interferes with family life. I always respond that she has plenty of outside pursuits of her own, and that we accommodate each other that way. As you can see from this picture of our den, she’s pursuing one of her projects now.

I’ve accommodated it mostly by staying out of the way. . . .

June 23, 2004

MICKEY KAUS talks about yesterday’s radio show (and provides a link):

Everyone was civil, unfortunately. . . .

I was surprised Instapundit agreed with Wright’s argument that the blog world has become more balkanized and “cocooned,” with people reading blogs with which they already agree and bloggers persuading the persuaded. … I’ve always been partial to the argument that blogs are less balkanized (than, say, talk radio and cable news) because bloggers argue with each other and hence read each other and occasionally even change their minds.

Both are true, I think. The blogosphere has become more divided, with less cross-talk than there used to be. The tipping point seems to me to have been the 2002 elections. That’s when the level of cross-blog name-calling went up, and I know I’m much less likely to read blogs that call me names. I suspect others are, too. Nonethless, I think there’s still a lot more diversity and conversation than there is in talk radio and cable news.

I’ve got some more thoughts over at GlennReynolds.com. And Mickey makes a good host — somebody should give him his own show!

June 23, 2004

THIS sounds promising:

A cancer treatment that uses a combination of gold nanoshells and near-infrared light to burn tumors while sparing healthy tissue has proven effective in mice.

The approach, being developed by researcher Jennifer West and colleagues at Rice University in Houston, Texas, could be a minimally invasive treatment for tumors in humans.

Let’s hope it pans out.

UPDATE: Some skepticism, here.

June 23, 2004

PLENTY OF READER REVIEWS for Clinton’s book over at Amazon now. You could write a dissertation in sociology or political science from these. And somebody probably will. . . .

June 23, 2004

DEATH BE NOT PROUD: My TechCentralStation column, an interview with Cambridge University biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey on aging research, is up.

June 23, 2004

JUSTIN KATZ looks at political meanness.

June 23, 2004

I’VE BEEN READING The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America by Adrian Woolridge and John Micklethwait, two Economist correspondents who cover American politics. I’m somewhat skeptical of their thesis, which is that America is moving almost inexorably rightward. There’s lots of interesting stuff, though, and I suspect that they’re right that Democrats are desperately afraid that this Presidential election might be their last chance to avoid a long term Republican ascendance. Anyhow, it’s pretty interesting, and if you like the “Lexington” column in The Economist you’ll probably like this.

June 23, 2004

ED CONE is declaring a pop-up jihad.

June 22, 2004

STANDING UP for free speech.

June 22, 2004

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS has published another installment in its series on Catholic Church priestly abuse.

June 22, 2004

INTERESTING 1999 CNN ARTICLE on Saddam and Osama:

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to bin Laden, who openly supports Iraq against the Western powers.

Then there’s this 1999 article from The Guardian:

The key meeting took place in the Afghan mountains near Kandahar in late December. The Iraqi delegation was led by Farouk Hijazi, Baghdad’s ambassador in Turkey and one of Saddam’s most powerful secret policemen, who is thought to have offered Bin Laden asylum in Iraq. . . .

Analysts believe that Mr Hijazi offered Mr bin Laden asylum in Iraq, most likely in return for co-operation in launching attacks on US and Saudi targets. Iraqi agents are believed to have made a similar offer to the Saudi maverick leader in the early 1990s when he was based in Sudan.

No doubt this was a preemptive fiction on the part of the not-yet-nominated Bush Administration.

June 22, 2004

A FASCINATING IRAQ NEWS ROUNDUP from Arthur Chrenkoff.

June 22, 2004

CNN’S SOURCE is changing his/her story on Rumsfeld and interrogation notes Ed Morrissey. Think this will get as much play as the original accusation?

UPDATE: Hmm. Some people will start talking about rope-a-dope again.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Powerline has more thoughts, and says that the Associated Press is spinning out of control.

June 22, 2004

CATHY SEIPP will be on Dennis Miller’s show tonight. CNBC.

June 22, 2004

ANOTHER DARFUR REPORT:

Arab militias, supported by the Sudanese government, are crossing into Chad to attack local villagers and refugees from the Darfur conflict.

Aid workers have said 158,000 refugees from Darfur in western Sudan have fled to neighbouring Chad to escape fighting, which broke out in February 2003. . . .

“Human Rights Watch documented at least seven cross-border incursions into Chad conducted by the Janjaweed militias since early June.

“The Janjaweed attack villages in Chad and refugees from Darfur, and also steal cattle,” the New York-based organisation said in its statement. . . .

Human Rights Watch said the Khartoum government must take responsibility for the raids.

“The Janjaweed is the government’s militia, and Khartoum has armed and empowered it to conduct ethnic cleansing’ in Darfur,” the statement quoted Jemera Rone, the group’s Sudan researcher, as saying.

Stay tuned.

June 22, 2004

DANIEL DREZNER IS DISSING LOU DOBBS.

June 22, 2004

HEH. Guess who got the first signed copy of Bill Clinton’s new book? Greg Packer!

June 22, 2004

JUST DID A SEGMENT on Mickey Kaus’s radio show. It’ll air at 5:30 this afternoon (Eastern time) and you can stream it from here. (Link in upper left).

Also on were Robert Wright, and Joe Trippi — who has a new book on the Internet and politics coming out.

June 22, 2004

PERRY DEHAVILLAND: “It seems astonishing that the state still gets involve with the content of TV programming in the USA. I expect this sort of crap in Britain and Europe, but in the USA?”

Sadly, yes.

June 22, 2004

NONPARTISAN WATCHDOGS.

June 22, 2004

IF YOU’RE A STUDENT INTERESTED IN NANOTECHNOLOGY, you might want to read this announcement from the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology.

June 22, 2004

IN THE NEW REPUBLIC, Andrew Sullivan is Fisking Dan Rather’s interview of Bill Clinton, and Will Baude is taking on the Supreme Court’s Hiibel decision.

June 22, 2004

INTERESTING NEWS from Gaza and the West Bank.

June 22, 2004

One guy was leafing through a copy when I walked by a few minutes later, but I don't know if he actually bought it.THEY MAY BE STANDING IN LONG LINES for Bill Clinton’s book in New York, but when I visited my local mall just a few minutes after it opened this morning, the customers didn’t seem to be lining up for their copies.

Interestingly, there are still no reader reviews on the book’s Amazon page, though it does report that the book’s number one. Maybe all the Knoxvillians bought their copies that way. . . .

UPDATE: You’ll have to click on the image on the right to see the big version, but a sharp-eyed reader notes that in the middle of the Clinton books is a copy of this book on presidential leadership from the Wall Street Journal folks. I swear I didn’t put it there. [Note: I changed the time on this post by a few minutes to put it back on top, so proud was I of the first-hand reporting and photojournalism involved. . . ]

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader points out that the New York lines are at a store where Clinton is personally autographing books. Good point. And maybe there’s more to Clinton’s book than some are saying — Andrew Sullivan notes a startling admission.

MORE: Well, there’s one reader review now. I expect it’s the first of a deluge. I was a bit surprised there weren’t some earlier as there are often reviews up before a book’s official release. I guess this one was held pretty close, though.

STILL MORE: Did Clinton hire a crowd? Some people are offering this link as proof, but I suspect the explanation is more innocuous. Still, if not it might be a scoop for someone. . .

By the way, here’s a link to the BBC Clinton interview. The hot stuff begins about 28 minutes in. And there’s some very interesting trimming on Iraq and Saddam about 38 minutes in. Rwanda trimming begins at about 51 minutes.

June 22, 2004

INTERESTING REPORT:

The commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has received new information indicating that a senior officer in an elite unit of the security services of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein may have been a member of al-Qaida involved in the planning of the suicide hijackings, panel members said Sunday.

John F. Lehman, a Reagan-era GOP defense official told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that documents captured in Iraq “indicate that there is at least one officer of Saddam’s Fedayeen, a lieutenant colonel, who was a very prominent member of al Qaida.”

Funny, I wonder why this hasn’t gotten more attention. (More here.)

UPDATE: This story says that it may be a case of confusing two similar names.

June 22, 2004

IS IT A MEDIA INDUSTRY ENRON?

NEW YORK Troubled by last week’s circulation scandals at Hollinger International’s Chicago Sun-Times and the Tribune Co.’s Newsday and Hoy, Merrill Lynch’s Lauren Rich Fine released a report today calling into question the reliability of circulation figures for the entire industry. “Our biggest fear,” the report said, “is that these two announcements may not be isolated incidents.” . . .

The report also takes to task the Audit Bureau of Circulations, saying that the overstatement of circ figures seems to “suggest that there may be loopholes in the ABC audit system” and “at the very minimum, it suggests that ABC’s audits need to be completed much sooner.” Many newspapers use the ABC publisher’s statements to sell advertising because there is a lag in the ABC audited reports.

Hmm. Overstated sales? Shaky financial disclosures? Unreliable audits? Bilked customers? Why isn’t this frontpage news? Because the front page is the news?

You just can’t trust those corporate types! Sadly, these kinds of problems aren’t limited to print media. As I’ve noted before, transparency in readership numbers is another thing that bloggers — at least those of us with open sitemeter counters — have over Big Media. (And read this, too).

UPDATE: Steve Antler: “When it comes to circulation figures the blogosphere is the very embodiment of transparency.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here. Antler has a letter from a guy (who says he sent the same email to me, but I don’t seem to have it) distinguishing between counters like Sitemeter and third-party audits. Well, sitemeter is a third-party item, and while I suppose it could be fooled it’s more reliable than a self-report, and anyone who cares to browse the information it offers can learn a lot. As for the reliability of audits, that depends on how much you trust the auditors.

Meanwhile, another reader sent me an email that’s long enough I’m going to put it in the “extended entry” area. Click “more” to read it. I have no idea whether his assessment of the advertising industry is true, but perhaps this will spur those in a position to investigate to look further and see what they can find out.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Click more for an additional email from David Barlin, in favor of audited blog circulation numbers.

Continue reading ‘IS IT A MEDIA INDUSTRY ENRON?

NEW YORK Troubled by last week’s circulation scandals at Hollinger In…’ »

June 22, 2004

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS seems to dislike Michael Moore.

UPDATE: Roger Simon has comments.

June 22, 2004

LEGAL AFFAIRS presents an interesting debate between Richard Posner and Vicki Jackson on the extent to which the Supreme Court should pay attention to foreign law in interpreting the U.S. Constitution.

June 22, 2004

SILVIO BERLUSCONI FOR PRESIDENT! (Of the E.U.)

June 22, 2004

THE POST EDITORIALIZES:

If judges and lawyers wonder about why they are held in such low esteem by so many Americans, they might consider the loose lips of Federal Appeals Court Judge Guido Calabresi. . . .

The New York Sun reports that at last weekend’s annual convention of the American Constitution Society in Washington, Judge Calabrese compared Bush’s election to the rise of totalitarian despots Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. . . .

But common sense — and judicial fairness — demand that, given his blatant and public political bias, Judge Calabrese recuse himself from any and all cases involving the Bush administration, including any case on which the administration has taken a public position.

Clearly, he is in no position to evaluate such cases fairly.

(Via Howard Bashman). As I said on Hugh Hewitt’s show last night, I’m genuinely shocked by Calabresi’s comments, which by now I guess must have been reported accurately — at least, there’s no evidence otherwise, and you’d think he’d have said so if he were misquoted. I’m shocked that he’d think something as absurd, ahistorical, and illogical, and I’m even more shocked that when he did think such a thing, he had the poor judgment to proclaim it in a public speech.

Calabresi was always, in my experience, diplomatic; it’s sad to think that he might be less concerned with public propriety as a judge than he was as a law school dean. These comments have, as this editorial indicates, damaged his reputation, and that of the federal judiciary.

June 22, 2004

THE INSTADAUGHTER AND I finished watching the latest Simpsons DVD collection yesterday. My favorite episode is Marge vs. the Monorail, which features this memorable Homer line: “Doughnuts! Is there anything they can’t do?”

What’s more, Marge’s steadfast belief that the city would be better off funding road repairs than mass transit turns out to be environmentally sound:

Encouraging travellers to switch from cars and airlines to inter-city trains brings no benefits for the environment, new research has concluded.

Challenging assumptions about railways’ green superiority, the study finds that the weight and fuel requirements of trains have increased to the point where rail could become the least energy-efficient form of transport. . . .

Assuming the continuing dominance of fossil fuel-based electricity, the study indicates that suitable French-style rolling-stock would require twice as much fuel per seat as a Volkswagen Passat, and more than a short-haul aircraft.

Monorails, however, are not specifically mentioned. Still, Marge seems to have been on to something. Or, in other words: “Save the planet. Jump into your car.”

Maybe I should print up a bumper sticker with that slogan, and put it on my Passat!

June 22, 2004

KERRY’S NANTUCKET VACATION IS TAKING SHOTS FROM THE LEFT, as The Progressive writes:

Why was Kerry vacationing on Nantucket, of all places?

To go to this island retreat of the rich sent all the wrong messages to undecided voters, and it discourages his hard core.

Like his ski trip to Colorado after the primaries, the junket to Nantucket, where Kerry owns a home, reinforces the image of Kerry as a member of the upper class.

Well, he is a member of the upper class, of course. But it’s probably poor campaigning to stress the point.

June 22, 2004

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES IS BUSTED FOR FALSE REPORTS of what the 9/11 Commission said. “Does the L.A. Times think we don’t know how to find and read a transcript?”

UPDATE: Greg Djerejian has problems with the Washington Post, too.

June 22, 2004

STILL MORE on the Catholic Church’s effort to cover up abuse by priests, from the Dallas Morning News.

June 22, 2004

RAJAN RISHYAKARAN has a link-rich Darfur news roundup.

June 21, 2004

JEFF JARVIS ON THE 9/11 COMMISSION:

Turns out that the Commission members “do not get involved in staff reports,” Kerrey said yesterday. So this report did not come from the “Commission.” It is shocking that the commission would allow this to happen. It is another indication of the Commission’s incompetence and the politicization of 9/11 it has allowed and fostered.

Safire gives five suggestions for how the Commission can regain its nonpartisan credibility.

Horse. Barn. Gone.

The Commission should be tripping over itself to try to set the record straight but I have no hope of that.

Ouch.

June 21, 2004

MELISSA SCHWARTZ LIKES the new Metallica documentary.

June 21, 2004

EUGENE VOLOKH calls Slate’s “Kerryisms” column “increasingly surreal.”

Maybe they’re just trying to make the “Bushisms” feature look fair by comparison. . . .

June 21, 2004

STILL MORE ON DARFUR, from Greg Djerejian.

“Don’t worry — we’ve got plenty of lawyers working on it now!”

Call me crazy, but sending some special forces trainers and a bunch of guns to stiffen the resistance would seem more likely to do some good.

UPDATE: A somewhat more positive take on the situation, here.

June 21, 2004

I’LL BE ON THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW in a few minutes, talking about Judge Guido Calabresi. Go here to listen online.

June 21, 2004

TACITUS OFFERS INSTRUCTION on White House PR activities.

June 21, 2004

DARFUR UPDATE: Here’s a roundup of newspaper editorials from the Center for American Progress. Meanwhile here’s another troubling news report:

Over one million non-Arabs have been displaced within Darfur, predominantly by attacks conducted by Arab Janjawid militias, who are reportedly allied to the government. The government denies involvement in the attacks. Up to 200,000 people are estimated to have fled to neighbouring Chad, while estimates of numbers killed vary from between 15,000 and 30,000.

The US Agency for International Development recently warned that a further 350,000 might die over the coming months from a combination of hunger and disease.

On Sunday, the head of the African Union (AU), Alpha Oumar Konare, flew into Darfur on a two-day assessment of the situation. Sudanese television reported that President Umar Hassan al-Bashir met Konare in Khartoum to discuss the situation. Bashir had earlier ordered security forces to disarm all groups, including the Arab militia blamed for perpetrating atrocities in Darfur, known as the Janjawid.

Progress is slow, if it exists at all. Bashir’s government is behind the massacres, and any cooperation we get from it will be forced, and will last only as long as the pressure is on.

June 21, 2004

THE U.N. AND ANTI-SEMITISM: Some pointed comments from Anne Bayefsky.

June 21, 2004

ONE REASON WHY I WOULD RATHER BE AN ACADEMIC than a federal judge is that academics can say whatever we think, and can make outrageous-but-clever points without worry, even if our logic goes astray. Judges can’t do that without risking their own reputations, and harming that of the federal judiciary.

This is something that my former law professor, now judge, Guido Calabresi, should have thought about more deeply before making remarks comparing Bush to Mussolini. From an academic, these remarks would have been unimpressive but unimportant. From a Senator, they would have been unfortunately overwrought and divisive.

From a federal appeals judge, Guido’s remarks (assuming they have been correctly reported) are not only tendentious and inflammatory, but will serve to further encourage those who call the federal courts politicized and overweeningly liberal. He’s a smart and thoughtful guy, but he should have been smarter and more thoughtful here.

(Via Andrew Sullivan).

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh delivers a much more vigorous spanking here.

It’s deserved, I’m afraid.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here, in response to Calabresi’s call for Bush to be voted out of office:

It is hard to take Calabresi’s structural argument seriously; the argument is a political one. . . .

In the past, I have advocated according judges broad free speech rights. I retain this position. In general, I think more harm comes from muzzling judges than from letting them freely speak, even on topics that intersect with politics. What constitutional issue does not have a political dimension, after all.

But Judge Calabresi’s remarks go too far. His speech constitutes an unambiguous violation of the Code of Conduct. He has improperly publicly declared opposition to a specific political candidate (and thereby implicitly endorsed another). Such brazen politicking from members of the federal bench cannot be tolerated.

Read the whole thing. In a later post, Eugene Volokh observes:

It’s possible (though far from certain) that, given the Supreme Court’s decision in Republican Party v. White (2002), that Judge Calabresi can claim his speech is protected by the First Amendment, notwithstanding Canon 7. Nonetheless, even if Canon 7 can’t be legally binding for that reason, it is (as I understand it) a pretty authoritative ethical judgment about how judges should behave, and thus an important ethical constraint. It seems that the comments at the American Constitution Society meeting transgressed that constraint.

It is my fond hope that a transcript will demonstrate that Calabresi was misquoted.

MORE: Jonah Goldberg observes:

Calabresi’s argument for ousting Bush seems like a silly and partisan rationalization for his desire to oust Bush. And, I should say, that demanding a popular uprising to “cleanse” the decadent democratic system in order to sweep your side into power is itself an argument a great many fascists would find very familiar.

Indeed.

STILL MORE: Howard Bashman has a related report.

June 21, 2004

PROF. BAINBRIDGE has taken a long and close look at Air America’s financial troubles. He thinks that we may see actions for fraud.

June 21, 2004

BILL HOBBS has annotated Maureen Dowd’s latest column with hyperlinks. The result is quite interesting.

Meanwhile Ann Althouse wonders what’s happened to Dan Rather: “Did Barbara Walters tutor him on how to do celebrity interviews? At my house, we were laughing quite a lot at Rather. He was speaking in an extra-slow, extra-sensitive way that might have been appropriate for addressing a child.”

Maybe he was trying to maximize his Amazon referral fees. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!