Archive for December, 2004

December 26, 2004

UKRAINE UPDATE, from the New York Times:

Monday, Dec. 27 – Viktor A. Yushchenko, the opposition leader, appeared headed for a resounding victory early Monday in a riveting presidential race marked by intrigue, charges of poisoning, fervent street demonstrations and widespread abuses of state power.

There were no independent reports of the egregious election violations that had discredited the previous round of voting. Mr. Yushchenko, addressing supporters at this headquarters, predicted an end at last to an extended and bitter election season.

“It has happened,” said Mr. Yushchenko, his face still disfigured from dioxin poisoning this fall for which he has blamed his adversaries in the government. “Today we are turning a page of lies, censorship and violence.” Ahead, he said, lay a “new epoch of a new great democracy.”

With 74 percent of the votes from the Sunday election counted, Mr. Yushchenko was leading Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovich by 55 percent to 40 percent, according to the Central Election Commission. The early results placed him within the range predicted by surveys of voters exiting the polls, which gave the opposition a 15- to 20-point lead.

This seems like excellent news, and it’s certainly a black eye for Putin, whose heavyhanded interference not only helped win the election for Yushchenko, but has ensured that this will send ripples throughout other former Soviet states. Some useful observations here:

–The mild support we gave to the democratic forces in the Ukraine proved far more powerful than most of the experts expected. The revolutionaries required a bit of guidance in the methods of non-violent resistance, a bit of communications gear, and many words of encouragement. They did the rest. The same can and should be done elsewhere in the world (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, China, North Korea…)
–Our democratic values are shared by the overwhelming majority of the people in the world, and are rejected, sometimes violently, by tyrants and their followers. We need to stick to our principles, which means that we cannot blindly and compulsively support all the policies of individual anti-democratic leaders just because they help us. That kind of support always gets us in trouble (as in the Middle East, where we are justly criticized for our many decades of support for corrupt tyrants). Sometimes we will have to make some compromises, but when we do, we must still support democratic forces–openly, unapologetically.

Read the whole thing.

MORE: Russian reaction here, along with these observations:

Ukraine has been a litmus test of Russia’s capacity to influence events in the neighbouring countries.

And it appears that capacity is limited after the defeat of Mr Yanukovych, the candidate Moscow directly backed with money, moral support, advertising and TV airtime. . . .

One communist newspaper, Pravda, says the result means “the complete loss of our gas and oil export routes to the USA or the European Union”. It also voices the fear that Mr Yushchenko’s election means “Russia no longer exists as a world-class power”. Pravda blames Washington for this.

Centrist commentators portray a very different situation.

A writer for business publication Kommersant claims the outcome of Ukraine’s political crisis means “the Orange Revolution virus will now spread to Russia”.

He writes: “It will not take long to dismantle the new Russian totalitarianism”.

Media sources close to the Kremlin have stayed away from an assessment of Ukrainian exit polls. Instead, they have concentrated on the happy atmosphere in Kiev, and the apparent absence (so far) of reports of mass violations.

It’s certainly good news, in my opinion.

December 26, 2004

DARFUR UPDATE: China’s role is noted again. Perhaps we should Buy Cambodian!

December 26, 2004

POWER LINE is fact-checking Tom Friedman:

Friedman then recapitulates, in a sentence or two, ten recent news stories, all of which are intended to reflect badly the Bush administration; . . . There is a fundamental problem, however, with Friedman’s attempt to show that our national priorities are wrong. The news stories he cites are largely either false, or mischaracterized by him. Let’s take them one at a time.

And they do. Part of Friedman’s problem is that he was suckered by the Post. Power Line concludes: “Actually, Tom, there is a debate going on. The New York Times just isn’t part of it, because it operates at too low a level of information to be useful to knowledgeable news consumers.” (Ouch! It’s like they’re channeling you-know-who!) But at least Friedman isn’t living in Modopia!

UPDATE: Tom Maguire notes ironies for Okrent.

I guess this is just more evidence that “the Internet is helping.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Friedman’s missed opportunity is discussed.

December 26, 2004

WHY THE TSUNAMI DEATH TOLL IS SO HIGH:

None of the countries most severely affected – including India, Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka – had a tsunami warning mechanism or tidal gauges to alert people to the wall of water that followed a massive earthquake, said Waverly Person of the USGS National Earthquake Information Centre.

“Most of those people could have been saved if they had had a tsunami warning system in place or tide gauges,” he said yesterday. . . .

US seismologists said it was unlikely the Indian Ocean region would be hit any time soon by a similarly devastating tsunami because it takes an enormously strong earthquake to generate one.

“That’s really what has created all of these problems – is that the earthquake is just so massive,” said Dan Blakeman, a USGS earthquake analyst.

But Person said governments should instruct people living along the coast to move after a quake. Since a tsunami is generated at the source of an underwater earthquake, there is usually time – from 20 minutes to two hours – to get people away as it builds in the ocean.

“People along the Japanese coasts, along the coasts of California – people are taught to move away from the coasts. But a lot of these people in the area where this occurred – they probably had no kind of lessons or any knowledge of tsunamis because they are so rare.”

Like an asteroid strike, it seemed too unlikely to be worth guarding against.

December 26, 2004

STRATEGYPAGE: Iraq: The War That Isn’t Reported. A must-read.

UPDATE: The Belmont Club is standing up for the public’s right to know. I think that it’s further support for the thesis of Hugh Hewitt’s new book.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Lindgren offers some perspective.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: A followup to The Belmont Club’s post, with a poll, from Egyptian blogger The Big Pharaoh.

December 26, 2004

LOTS OF UKRAINE ELECTION POSTS at Le Sabot Post-Moderne.

UPDATE: Much more here. Exit polls show Yushchenko winning by 15%.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Yushchenko supporters are claiming victory. And this passage should worry some people:

“Putin didn’t manage to push Yanukovich into power because even Putin understands that you can’t stop freedom,” Mykola Tomenko, a deputy in Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine coalition, told the cheering crowd.

“We have to help people in former Soviet republics carry out their revolutions.”

This is starting to look like a major miscalculation on Putin’s part.

MORE: Interesting background posts from Geitner Simmons, here and here.

December 26, 2004

IN THE MAIL: A copy of Hugh Hewitt’s new book, Blog : Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World — which is already at #924 on Amazon, I notice. Just glancing through it, it looks quite good and I’m sure it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the blogosphere. I’ll report back when I’ve finished it.

And no, I don’t actually get mail on Sunday — I just came into the office today. It arrived sometime last week.

December 26, 2004

REGGIE WHITE IS DEAD. Kevin Connors expects me to have a lot to say, but mostly all I have to say is that it’s sad. Reggie wasn’t perfect, but he was a good man and — unlike some other University of Tennessee players I can think of — did as much to boost the University’s reputation off the field as he did when he was on it. I wish there were more people like him in professional sports.

December 26, 2004

YOU DON’T NEED AN ASTEROID: There’s been an earthquake/tsunami in the Indian Ocean. The Command Post has a roundup; it seems quite horrific.

Malaysian blogger Rajan Rishyakaran is posting numerous updates, with links to bloggers from around the region. And here’s more from Indian blogger Nitin Pai.

UPDATE: Historical perspective, from Amit Varma, who remembers the Maharashtra quake of 1993. And Malaysian blogger Jeff Ooi has more, and a huge roundup of links to other bloggers in the region. Fellow Malaysian blogger Peter Tan is posting regularly, too, with reports from the affected areas.

It seems clear that the scope of this disaster is enormous, and the death-toll figures are likely to rise considerably as we learn more.

MORE: Here’s an extensive discussion thread from Slashdot, with lots of useful information.

STILL MORE: The United States is offering aid to affected nations. And quite a few readers want to know where they can send donations. I don’t know, but Tim Blair is promising to post information on that as soon as he has some.

MORE STILL: Here’s a first-hand report, with a photo.

December 26, 2004

WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY, and he isn’t us.

December 26, 2004

MORE ASTEROID NEWS — drawing the proper line between realistic concern and hysteria.

This asteroid, 2004 MN, is still unlikely to strike — and it’s not big enough to produce a Lucifer’s Hammer kind of situation. It’s more of a Krakatoa-level threat, which is bad enough, but not a civilization-ender. The big lesson, though, is that this sort of threat isn’t just theoretical. Though the probability of a big hit is low, even a hit of this level — which at 1/42 can’t be called very low-probability at this point — is serious. We’re fortunate that nothing like this happened during the Cold War, when it might have triggered a nuclear exchange. But as nuclear weapons proliferate, there’s more reason to try to ensure that we’re not caught by surprise even by these smaller impacts.

December 26, 2004

THE UKRAINE ELECTION RE-RUN IS UNDER WAY:

Ukrainians are voting for a new president in a repeat ballot called after outrage over fraud led to the cancellation of the result.

Pro-Western opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko is strongly tipped to defeat Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, whose 21 November win was widely discredited.

Correspondents say the margin of victory will be almost as important in a country with a sharp east-west split.

About 12,000 foreign observers are monitoring the vote across the country.

Let’s hope that all goes well.

December 26, 2004

UNSCAM UPDATE:

GENEVA (AP) — The U.N.-ordered probe into oil-for-food corruption is being seriously hampered by an elaborate system of ghost firms set up around the world to cover the tracks of bribes to Saddam Hussein as he cheated the $60 billion program, a top investigator said.

Not a surprise.

December 25, 2004

VERONICA KHOKHLOVA is posting more Ukraine updates. More on tomorrow’s elections here, from the BBC, and here, from Reuters.

December 25, 2004

POWER LINE: “Am I missing something, or has the AP now admitted everything it was charged with by Wretchard?” Wretchard, meanwhile, has another question. And Roger Simon is unhappy.

It’s interesting that intelligence agencies like the CIA have come under a lot of fire by the media for using individuals with, um, questionable associations in order to get the story, but that news media organizations themselves seem to be doing something not too different.

December 25, 2004

IT’S A MILBLOGGERS’ CHRISTMAS ROUNDUP over at The Mudville Gazette, and there’s a poem, too.

December 25, 2004

JONATHAN LAST is defending The American Prospect.

December 25, 2004

THE WASHINGTON POST GETS IT BACKWARD ON PELL GRANTS: At least they admitted the error:

The headline on a Dec. 24 article about the Education Department’s new formula for federal college scholarship aid incorrectly said that fewer students will be eligible for Pell Grants. Although 80,000 to 90,000 grantees at the higher-income end will be dropped from the Pell program in the 2005-2006 academic year, the department expects more students to be eligible overall because of a rising number of low-income high school graduates.

But, of course, the correction isn’t as prominent as the error.

December 25, 2004

A CHRISTMAS COLUMN from Austin Bay.

December 25, 2004

ZEYAD has numerous posts about the Iraqi elections.

December 25, 2004

UKRAINE UPDATE:

A Ukrainian court says a key change to the country’s election law violates the constitution, in a dramatic ruling on the eve of Sunday’s presidential vote.

A reform limiting voting from home was passed by parliament amid the crisis generated by November’s disputed poll.

Viktor Yanukovych’s backers challenged the law, saying it would discriminate against the disabled and housebound.

Their solicitude for the less-fortunate is commendable. Meanwhile a reader sends this, from Dick Morris:

The stakes for global liberty couldn’t be higher. In Russia’s bid to come back as an imperial power, the Ukraine struggle is the equivalent of Hitler’s bid to remilitarize the Rhineland. A determined stand here will keep Russia (145 million) and Ukraine (50 million) separate and cripple Putin’s imperial ambitions. With Ukraine inevitably drawing closer to the EU and further away from Moscow, its chances for prosperity and freedom will increase.

But all depends on forcing the country’s powers-that-be to count the votes accurately.

Indeed.

December 25, 2004

JAY MANIFOLD HAS MORE on the asteroid threat mentioned below. And here’s an article, though the risk has been revised upward since.

UPDATE: Some further discussion on Slashdot.

And it’s worth noting that what we are missing is in some ways as troubling as what we’re seeing.

December 25, 2004

DAVID BROOKS looks at the best political essays of 2004. I particularly agree with his choices regarding the Stuntz and Longman pieces.

December 25, 2004

IT’S NOT FEELING MUCH LIKE CHRISTMAS at the U.N.: “A longtime confidant and adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan abruptly resigned this week, while two senior management and budgetary experts indicated they plan to leave shortly. The exodus reflects a period of uncertainty among senior U.N. management as Mr. Annan enters the final two years of his current term, a time that is likely to be focused in large measure on the oil-for-food scandal.”

December 25, 2004

LONDON CALLING ASKS WHERE’S THE GLOBAL BLOGGER? Good question. I do what I can to encourage bloggers elsewhere, but there’s only one of me.

UPDATE: Read this post by Joi Ito, too.

December 25, 2004

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Here’s a Christmas song by Audra and the Antidote.

December 24, 2004

HERE’S A FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT OF RUMSFELD’S IRAQ VISIT, from a soldier. Thanks to reader Richard Mattson, the brother of the author, for sending the link.

December 24, 2004

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT? I don’t know what the folks at The American Prospect are thinking, but this legal threat sounds like a bad idea to me. And I say this as someone who’s no particular fan of Steve Sailer’s positions on immigration (and, I believe, he thinks rather less of mine, and of me, though I seem to recall that he once complimented my typing skills).

December 24, 2004

WELL, I’VE NEVER SEEN JAMES WOLCOTT AND WILL COLLIER photographed together, but this post suggests that they’re really the same person.

December 24, 2004

MORE DISHONESTY from the AP, according to Power Line.

UPDATE: Read this, too.

December 24, 2004

MORE to worry about: “So, in summary, there’s a 1-in-233 chance of the worst disaster in recorded history happening on April 13, 2029, and a 232-in-233 chance of nothing happening. Have a nice day!”

Related thoughts here.

UPDATE: Uh-oh. The risk is now upgraded to 1/62.5, with a Torino scale of 4. (Via Liberty’s Blog). This is moving out of the “isn’t that interesting” range, and into the “isn’t that worrisome” range.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The risk has been upgraded again, to 1 in 42.

December 24, 2004

IT PAYS TO BE VIOLENT IN BRITAIN: No doubt this lesson will be heeded by many.

December 24, 2004

FORGET TIREBLOGGING, says Ann Althouse — the big thing is cabbage-blogging!

December 24, 2004

ROGER SIMON HAS UNLIMBERED HIS cool digital camera and brings us photos of a Mexican Christmas in L.A.

A Jewish blogger uses a Japanese camera (made in Thailand, I think) to bring us pictures of a Mexican Christmas. Now that’s America!

UPDATE: These pictures from James Lileks, on the other hand, are downright psychedelic.

December 24, 2004

ANOTHER UKRAINE UPDATE at Le Sabot Post-Moderne. And Veronica Khokhlova is posting regularly, too.

December 24, 2004

RUMSFELD WENT TO IRAQ: I suspect that President Bush will be visiting some troops over the weekend, too.

UPDATE: More on Rumsfeld in Iraq here:

“How do we win the war on the media?” asks a soldier. “How do we win the propaganda war?”

That sounds like a question that was planted by the press [perfect comedic pause, appreciative audience laughter]. That happens sometimes.

Read the whole thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Michael Young looks at Syrian involvement in Iraq.

MORE: Here’s the CNN transcript, which has the passage as follows:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, how do we win the war in the media? It seems like that is the place where we’re getting beat up more than anybody else. I’ve been here — this is my third tour over here, and we have done some amazing things. And it seems like the enemy’s Web sites and everything else are all over the media, and they love it. But the thing is, is everything we do good, no matter if it’s helping a little kid or building a new school, the public affairs sends out the message, but the media doesn’t pick up on it. How do we win the propaganda war?

RUMSFELD: That does not sound like a question that was planted by the press.

(LAUGHTER)

RUMSFELD: That happens sometimes. It’s one of the hardest things we do in our country. We have freedom of the press. We believe in that. We believe that democracy can take that massive misinformation and differing of views, and that free people can synthesize all of that and find their way to right decisions. . . .

I was talking to a group of congressmen and senators the other day, and there were a couple of them who had negative things to say, and they were in the press in five minutes. There were 15 or 20 that had positive things to say about what’s going on in Iraq, and they couldn’t get on television. Television just said we’re not interested. That’s just sorry.

Yes, it is.

December 24, 2004

I WAS ON CANADIAN RADIO LAST NIGHT, talking about Kofi Annan and the U.N. (Bad news for Kofi — the Canadians seem to be losing faith in him. When you lose the Canadians, well. . . .) David Janes has audio, along with more from Canadian blogger Kate MacMillan of SmallDeadAnimals. The audio was recorded using his new tool, Blog Matrix Sparks, which lets you record streaming audio from the Internet. I haven’t tried it, but it sounds cool.

December 24, 2004

DARFUR UPDATE: Rajan Rishyakaran has posted another Sudan genocide roundup, where — among other things — we learn more about Chinese oil interests in the region.

December 24, 2004

I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE over Christmas weekend, so blogging will continue, though probably at a reduced pace. Thanks to the folks who suggested that I take the weekend off, but honestly as long as I’m around a computer it’s not that much trouble.

Since portability is less of an issue, I’ve started reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and so far (I’m about 100+ pages into it) I’m liking it very much. That may serve as a bit of a distraction, too.

UPDATE: Polipundit’s Lorie Byrd seems to be posting up a storm. And Mickey Kaus looks at the ongoing Fannie Mae scandal, which I suspect deserves more attention than it’s getting.

December 24, 2004

THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES is up!

December 23, 2004

JEFF JARVIS IS AGREEING WITH MICHELLE MALKIN on questions of religion.

December 23, 2004

MORE PROBLEMS with the U.N.’s Congo operation:

The expert was a Frenchman who worked at Goma airport as part of the UN’s $700 million-a-year effort to rebuild the war-shattered country. When police raided his home they discovered that he had turned his bedroom into a studio for videotaping and photographing sex sessions with young girls.

The bed was surrounded by large mirrors on three sides, according to a senior Congolese police officer. On the fourth side was a camera that he could operate from the bed with a remote control.

When the police arrived the man was allegedly about to rape a 12-year-old girl sent to him in a sting operation. Three home-made porn videos and more than 50 photographs were found.

The case has highlighted the apparently rampant sexual exploitation of Congolese girls and women by the UN’s 11,000 peacekeepers and 1,000 civilians at a time when the UN is facing many problems, including the Iraqi “oil-for-food” scandal and accusations of sexual harassment by senior UN staff in Geneva and New York.

Kofi’s “annus horribilis” continues.

UPDATE: Richard Aubrey emails: “Do you think we’d be seeing more play made of this if Bush were Secretary General?”

Possibly.

December 23, 2004

UKRAINE UPDATE: “Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has said an attack on him by Russian President Vladimir Putin was ‘unfair’.”

December 23, 2004

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL lists 15 people to watch in 2005. One of them is Nick Denton — but then, he always bears watching . . . . (Free link).

December 23, 2004

PUTIN’S TONGUE SLIPS: Not a complete shock. But read this probably not-unrelated item. Yushchenko — a Jew!

Next they’ll be calling him a Likudnik! Or even a Neo-Con!

December 23, 2004

CATHY SEIPP looks at the McCarthyism of the Left — which seems to be where a lot of it is to be found these days.

December 23, 2004

A MUST-READ CHRISTMAS-SHOPPING POST from Tony Woodlief: I was going to excerpt it, but, really, you should just read the whole thing.

December 23, 2004

CBS POLITICAL WRITER DAVID PAUL KUHN seems to have dropped the ball again.

UPDATE: More here: “What do you think, is it time for Kuhn to start advocating that CBS be regulated?” But who would believe him if he did?

December 23, 2004

KOFI ANNAN UPDATE:

UNITED NATIONS – One of the biggest power players at the United Nations abruptly announced his retirement yesterday in what may signal the beginning of a Turtle Bay shake-up, just one day after Secretary-General Annan said that the scandals and attacks from outsiders had “cast a shadow” on the institution.

In an announcement that surprised even the U.N. spokesman, Fred Eckhard, who made it at a regular press briefing after a note was passed to him from upstairs, Mr. Annan said that he accepted a request from his chief of staff, Iqbal Riza, to retire “with very mixed emotions.” His retirement will take effect on January 15, Mr. Annan said in the statement. . . .

Mr. Riza, 70, who has been chief of staff since January 1997, is considered the most influential policy adviser to the secretary-general, and many feel he was a leader in a policy that is perceived as adversarial to Washington, especially on issues related to Iraq and Israel. A U.N. insider said Mr. Riza leads a group of advisers who have called on Mr. Annan to take a hard line, urging him to refuse to share information with the congressional oil-for-food investigations.

Are the dominoes falling?

December 23, 2004

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN has an article on exploding the self-esteem myth. Bottom line: “Boosting people’s sense of self-worth has become a national preoccupation. Yet surprisingly, research shows that such efforts are of little value in fostering academic progress or preventing undesirable behavior.” This isn’t a big surprise. The Insta-Wife has noted for years that inflated self-esteem is often associated with negative behavior among teenagers, while teens with low self-esteem often behave well. (Here’s a chapter from her book that discusses some of those issues.)

UPDATE: Contrary view here.

December 23, 2004

LONGEVITY UPDATE: Considerable progress for the Methuselah Mouse Prize, which seeks to do for longevity research what the X-Prize is doing for private spaceflight.

December 23, 2004

HELPING THE BLIND SEE: And we’re not talking about variable font size, here.

And speaking of eyesight to the blind, here’s another effort. But none are so blind as those who will not see.

December 23, 2004

UKRAINE UPDATE: Here’s an interesting column by former Solidarity figure and Polish foreign minister Bronislaw Geremek.

December 23, 2004

STILL MORE TIREBLOGGING — plus a long awaited photo of The Vulcanizer!

December 23, 2004

NOT OUT UNTIL JULY, but already number one on Amazon. The mind boggles.

December 23, 2004

TIREBLOGGING — A WORLDWIDE PHENOMENON! Following up on yesterday’s report from Nigeria, Manan Ahmed writes on tire changing in Pakistan.

December 23, 2004

DARFUR UPDATE: “UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says current attempts to end the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region are not working.”

December 23, 2004

HAPPY FESTIVUS!

December 23, 2004

A CANADIAN CHRISTMAS MIRACLE: God bless us, every one, eh?

December 23, 2004

A CHRISTMAS CAROL, remixed by Doug Kern. Here’s the Ayn Rand version:

The ruggedly handsome and weirdly articulate Ebenezer Scrooge is a successful executive held back by the corrupt morality of a society that hates success and fails to understand the value of selfishness. So Scrooge explains that value in a 272-page soliloquy. Deep down, Scrooge’s enemies know that he is right, but they resent him out of a sense of their own inferiority. Several hot sex scenes and unlikely monologues later, Scrooge triumphs over all adversity — except a really mean review by Whittaker Chambers. Meanwhile, Tiny Tim croaks. Socialized medicine is to blame.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Okay, I can’t resist quoting the Richard Dawkins version, either: “Ghosts don’t exist. Scrooge does whatever he wants. Tiny Tim dies. Later, Scrooge dies. No one cares. The Christmas Carol meme lives on indefinitely.”

December 23, 2004

THANK YOU, STEVEN DEN BESTE. When I wrote that before, I was talking about stuff like this — really, a tremendous contribution to the blogosphere.

But thanks again, because the Den Beste example — with his complaints about the grinding effect of negative email, and how that contributed to his getting tired of blogging — has led a lot of readers to send me nice notes, and even donations, in the hope that it’ll encourage me to stick around.

They’re much appreciated. Thanks!

December 23, 2004

FISH. BARREL. Ka-Pow. Easy, yet strangely satisfying.

December 23, 2004

YES, IT’S ALWAYS SEEMED THIS WAY to me, too:

Ok, so here we have little Rudolph with an unfortunate deformity. All of the other reindeer laughed and called him names, shunning him from the tightly-knit reindeer community — right up until they have a use for the little mutant’s deformity! Then they suddenly declare they “love” him. Yeah, right. Just so long as his honker lights up the night sky!

Indeed.

December 22, 2004

ANOTHER NEAR MISS: Not so troubling in itself, as for what it represents.

December 22, 2004

RUSH LIMBAUGH BUSTED for cigar hypocrisy.

December 22, 2004

I AM NOT CONVINCED by Gregory Djerejian’s criticism of Rumsfeld and current troop-level policy in Iraq. But people in the Administration ought to be reading his blog because — unlike many in the media and elsewhere — he’s an honest critic who wants our effort to succeed. And one of the dangers of an unrelenting media assault is that it can lead you to tune out all criticism, simply because some of it is dishonest. That tends to produce serious errors.

And this is certainly true: “Elections are not a panacea leading to stability.” They’ll help a lot — and it’s certainly clear that Zarqawi, et al., fear them — but this is a lengthy process, not one of quick fixes.

December 22, 2004

IT’S A UKRAINE ROUNDUP over at Le Sabot Post-Moderne. And there’s more from Veronica Khokhlova, who has a report, too.

UPDATE: Read this, too.

December 22, 2004

ARE YOU AN OP-ED COLUMNIST LOOKING FOR MATERIAL to fill the obligatory end-of-the-year roundup column? Don’t stress yourself — just go over to Tim Blair’s, where he’s rounded up the best material from 2004 by month, with links! The column will almost write itself. Just drop a few bucks in his tipjar to show your gratitude. [Tipjar? You're dreaming, right? -- Ed. Hey, maybe they'll be moved by the Christmas Holiday spirit! Oh, Puhleez. -- Ed.]

December 22, 2004

A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE from Martha Stewart.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Rachel Lucas is the recipient of a very different Christmas message.

December 22, 2004

BILL QUICK TRIUMPHS over blogger burnout.

December 22, 2004

ADVENTURES IN JOURNALISM: Pajamas are worn.

December 22, 2004

MY BROTHER IS REPRESENTING NIGERIA in the tireblogging Olympics! I think he takes the gold medal with this entry. (This post will help to illustrate the contrast he describes).

I’ve been encouraging him to write a book on West African automotive culture for quite a while.

I told you that tireblogging was the next big thing!

December 22, 2004

DREAMING EUROPE IN A WIDE-AWAKE WORLD: Jim Bennett has a very interesting review essay in The National Interest.

Shockingly, it’s not, as such things often are, just a rehash of his recent book, but rather contains lots of actual new thoughts.

December 22, 2004

THE NEW YORK TIMES: A shamelessly pro-Bush rag?

December 22, 2004

GAYPATRIOT looks at the growing demographic clout of red states and suggests that gay activists need to tailor their message.

UPDATE: Related thoughts on demographics here.

December 22, 2004

KOFI ANNAN SAYS THE UNITED STATES NEEDS THE U.N. as much as the U.N. needs the United States: Ed Morrissey is unconvinced.

UPDATE: More thoughts on the U.S. and the U.N., with special attention to Darfur, over at GlennReynolds.com.

December 22, 2004

A BIT MORE ALTERNATE HISTORY from Rand Simberg. He’s no Harry Turtledove, but it’s definitely “heh”-worthy.

December 22, 2004

MORE ON BUSH’S STINGINESS REGARDING PARDONS at the Sentencing Law & Policy Blog. I can understand being gun-shy after the Clinton debacle, but using the pardon power to mitigate injustices in the system is part of the job. Being careful is one thing; shirking is another.

UPDATE: Brett Bellmore emails: “Shirking, indeed; One could equally ask, were there no bills in the last four years deserving of a veto? Bush seems strangely unwilling to exercise certain Presidential powers.”

On the other hand, Bob Schneider emails: “I see a pattern here, with his frugal (indeed, non-existent) use of the veto. Despite protests from the Left of a president eager to usurp rights and power, Bush is a actually overly cautious about overruling the decisions of other institutions.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: More on the pardons issue here.

December 22, 2004

FOR TRUE GEEKS ONLY: How to build an Apollo guidance computer in your basement! I admire people who do stuff like this, but I have no desire to join them.

December 22, 2004

DARFUR UPDATE:

The aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), has expressed shock at the killing of one of its local staff in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region.

The aid worker was shot in front of its warehouse in an attack on Labado last week, a spokesman confirmed.

MSF says it will continue its presence in Darfur, but called for aid workers’ neutrality to be respected.

On Tuesday, UK charity Save the Children withdrew from Darfur after four of their staff were killed.

When you’re trying to save people that others want dead, and to free people that others want enslaved, there’s really no such thing as “neutrality.”

December 22, 2004

IN THE MAIL: A copy of No End in Sight: The Continuing Menace of Nuclear Proliferation — sadly, I think there is no end in sight, short of making sure that there aren’t any countries likely to use them against us.

December 22, 2004

THE BELMONT CLUB HAS A MUST-READ POST on the attack at Mosul:

The enemy chose the weakest point he could find to attack; exploited the known limitations of the American response; and understood that he was to all intents and purposes exempted from the condemnation attendant to attacking the wounded and medical personnel. The chaplain and the medical personnel knew this and did not mill around expecting the Geneva Convention to protect them from those who have never heard of it, except as it applies to their own convenience. . . .

But the enemy ability to exploit the limits of American response and attack medical personnel with public relations impunity are examples of military advantages that arise from political restraints. To the extent the blogosphere can dispel the propaganda cover willingly provided by the Left, people on the home front can help the soldiers in the field. It is necessary to link the war criminal behavior of the enemy with the studied blindness of ‘sophisticates’ towards their most heinous crimes. They are twinned; with the former made possible by the latter. The Daily Telegraph describes how some European agencies actually refuse to look at mass grave sites to avoid being party to the punishment of war criminals.

Read the whole thing.

December 22, 2004

RICH, BLOGGY GOODNESS: This week’s Carnival of the Vanities is up.

December 22, 2004

BLOGGING AND OPEN-SOURCE JOURNALISM: Jay Rosen notes an interesting development here and here. (Via Ed Cone).

It’s also worth noting what James Lileks says in his syndicated column for today:

In a sense, blogging is so 2004. The next big thing will be videoblogs. You can fit a rudimentary TV studio in a suitcase — a laptop, a camcorder, a few cables, and a nearby Starbucks with Wi-Fi you can leech onto to upload your reports. This too will be good. One hundred thousand pairs of eyes looking high and low, versus CBS’ staring monocular orb. We’ll all turn to the nets to see what they think we should think. And then we’ll hit the blogs for the rest of the story.

It’s the end of the old media, but only the start of the new.

Yeah, and you can actually fit that studio in a smallish briefcase, nowadays.

December 22, 2004

JAMES LILEKS DELIVERS A TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS FISKING to a beloved bird-blogger. I didn’t know he was beloved . . . .

UPDATE: Related post here. My own take on Wolcott is “don’t feed the troll.”

December 22, 2004

I BEG YOUR PARDON:

The only two Presidents who completed a Term in office with fewer pardons than Bush are the first two Presidents — George Washington and John Adams — and that was only because at the time there was no one around to pardon. . . .

Presidential pardons can be politically risky; just ask Bill Clinton about pardoning Marc Rich. But it’s the President’s job to do the right thing regardless of what the pollsters say. There are currently 150,000 people in federal prisons, with another 50,000 or so on probation. Could it be that none of them deserve Presidential pardons?

Good point.

December 22, 2004

WHO IS NICK KRISTOF CHANNELING? Bill Stuntz? Or Jonah Goldberg?

December 22, 2004

2004: A GOOD YEAR FOR FREE SPEECH? My TechCentralStation column is up.

December 21, 2004

A BAD DAY FOR JOHN KERRY: And it seems as if quite a few people are having fun at his expense, though only Kos seems to want him shot. Actually, except for the “lined up and shot” bit, I think that Kos’s critique of the Kerry campaign is pretty much spot-on. In fact, if you look through my archives you’ll see that I was saying similar things before the election. But I think it’s unfair to pick on Kerry now that the election’s over.

UPDATE: The world turned upside down — CrushKerry.com is defending Kerry from Kos’s assault.

December 21, 2004

“EVERY SUCCESSFUL SYSTEM ATTRACTS PARASITES.” Thomas Ray said it, and it’s still true. It’s pretty near a universal law, in fact.

December 21, 2004

UKRAINE UPDATE: At first I thought that this sounded like good news:

But in a conciliatory gesture, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has strongly backed Ukraine’s prime minister, said Tuesday that he could work with an administration headed by Yushchenko, a former prime minister and head of the Central Bank.

“We have worked with him already and the cooperation was not bad,” Putin said during a visit to Germany. “If he wins, I don’t see any problems.”

But then I read this:

If you are looking for a guide to the future of Russia, you need only listen to the words of President Putin. Listen carefully — and then take it for granted that the exact opposite will happen.

Uh oh.

December 21, 2004

MARK GLASER: “For way too long, it has been the mainstream media (MSM) that’s played God with the American public, telling everyone what’s news and what’s not, what to play up and what to downplay. But 2004 was the year the power started shifting, that the Little People, if you will, started to tell the gods of media what the public really wanted.”

December 21, 2004

HUGH HEWITT:

I interviewed Mickey Kaus on the Washington Post takeover of Slate, and discovered that Mickey has a 30-day out in his deal with Slate. In other words, Kausfiles is as locked in to Slate/The Washington Post as Pedro was to Boston.

Now, if the New York Times wanted to mess with the Post, it would make Mickey an offer he couldn’t refuse. Why suggest such mischief? Because as free agency helped all baseball players, so does this acquisition help all bloggers, and a Mickeystakes would be grand for all involved in the text business.

Heh. If I were the Post, I’d give Mickey a big raise, just to make sure he sticks around.

December 21, 2004

HERE’S A BLOG ACCOUNT from a chaplain in Mosul.

December 21, 2004

EUGENE VOLOKH’S NEW BOOK IS now available on Amazon! Eugene helpfully observes: “And remember, some people appreciate New Year’s gifts as well as Christmas gifts.” Or follow the second link to order an autographed copy. Also makes a tasteful gift for weddings or bar mitzvahs!

December 21, 2004

IRAQPUNDIT IS CALLING FOUL on media coverage again:

In an alternate universe that included Iraqis (and not just the disappointing raw security recruits), we might, for example, have the occasional headline about their “resolve.” Fallujah’s thugs have had “resolve” attributed to them in front-page headlines, but never ordinary Iraqis.

Yet ordinary Iraqis seem to be showing a great deal of resolve in the face of murder, and a great deal of commitment to the coming elections. I have discovered evidence of this in an obscure publication called The Washington Post, in a dusty edition that originally appeared on Monday, December 20, 2004.

Heh. Read the whole thing.

December 21, 2004

DAVID ADESNIK LOOKS AT THAT CHRISTIAN NUT in the White House.

December 21, 2004

RATHERGATE UPDATE: Jim Geraghty reports: “A little birdie familiar with discussions at CBS News tells me that the network suits will announce Dan Rather’s replacement the day they release the report into the fake memos.”

UPDATE: Maybe they’ll name Keith Olbermann!

December 21, 2004

MORE CHRISTMAS ETIQUETTE:

When is it considered socially acceptable to joke to a stranger that people like you should all be dead?

Answer: When you find out someone is a lawyer. . . .

Now, you could substitute any group for lawyers in that joke, and I’m sure the joke has had many versions over the years, used to express hostility to all sorts of groups. But the only version I’ve ever heard is aimed at lawyers, because apparently it’s just perfectly fine to say anything nasty you want about lawyers. But here I am, buying Christmas presents at the man’s store. How about a little “Merry Christmas”? Or even “Happy Holidays”? What the hell, I’d settle for “Seasons Greetings”?

Indeed.

December 21, 2004

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF LOOKS AT SADDAM’S LEGAL TEAM.