October 24, 2004
AFGHAN ELECTION UPDATE: Karzai looks like a winner with 55% of the vote.
AFGHAN ELECTION UPDATE: Karzai looks like a winner with 55% of the vote.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF INSTAPUNDIT: I’ll be travelling for several days and not blogging much if at all. Ordinarily I’d just let the blog lie fallow, or make a superhuman effort to post, but this time I’ve got an all-star team of guestbloggers coming in: Ann Althouse, Megan McArdle, and Michael Totten. You can still reach ‘em by the regular email address. InstaPundit as a female-dominated group blog? Why not? Meanwhile, Tom Maguire will be filling in over at GlennReynolds.com.
JIM BENNETT’S NEW BOOK ON THE ANGLOSPHERE rose pretty high in the rankings this weekend after I mentioned it Saturday — from about a quarter-million to about 3,000 on Amazon — so I guess a lot of InstaPundit readers are interested in that stuff. Bennett emails to suggest that one major benefit of blogs is that they can bring obscure books more general attention. He also notes that — despite what it says on the Amazon page — the book is actually out now.
BRAZIL has successfully launched a rocket into space. Hey, if Burt Rutan can do it, why not?
IF YOU MISSED THIS WEEKEND’S Foresight Conference on Nanotechnology in Washington, well, it’s too late. But hey, they had overcapacity crowds anyway, so you can feel good about not adding to the human density. But you can read Adam Keiper’s liveblog.
And it’s not too late to attend the University of Tennessee’s nanotechnology conference on Tuesday, done in conjunction with Oak Ridge National Lab.
BUSH TO HAWAII? Hey, it worked for Elvis.
UPDATE: Tony Blair would vote for Dubya. “‘Tony thinks the world is a very dangerous and precarious place. Bush is the tough guy who keeps the bad guys under their rocks.’”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Joseph Malchow disagrees with Blair: “No! Bush is the tough guy who turns over the rocks and neutralizes what he finds underneath. Isn’t that what we’re seeing in Iraq?”
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Joshua Sharf emails: “I’d even go one better: Bush is the guy who picks up the rock and uses it to smash what’s underneath. Iraq used to be a base for terror, now the population is getting to use its resources to fight it.” This metaphor is getting overstretched.
MORE: In tenuously-related “election” news: Dang, I never did ask people to vote for me in this blog poll at the Post.
Interviews with dozens of former and current Iraqi officials by congressional investigators have produced new evidence that Saddam Hussein micro-managed business deals under the U.N. oil-for-food program to maximize political influence with important foreign governments like Russia and neighboring Arab states.
The Iraqi officials, who were flown outside of Iraq for their own safety during the interviews, provided a list of foreign companies favored by Saddam and his top lieutenants for import contracts under the U.N. program. They also revealed a parallel blacklist of companies that the then-Iraq leader disqualified from getting deals, investigators told The Associated Press.
The precaution of redoubled secrecy comes after an Iraqi official involved in the oil-for-food investigation of corruption died in a car bombing in late June after speaking with investigators.
I’m surprised this hasn’t gotten more attention.
DONALD SENSING: “Here is one of the newest US Marines, my son, PFC Stephen Sensing. He graduated yesterday from Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island. It was a fantastic day!” Congratulations: That’s something to be proud of.
ANN ALTHOUSE: “My election day prayer is: may whoever wins win by a lot.” Amen.
TWO GREAT ITEMS FROM OTHER PEOPLE’S COMMENT SECTIONS. This one from a post of Tom Maguire’s, in which the healthcare problem is solved:
The dirty little secret about healthcare insurance is that you have to maximize participation of young childless males either through coercion (single-payer) or obfuscation (make it free, which means take what would otherwise be salary and put it into the insurance pool). These guys don’t use or need the healthcare system except for accidents, so it’s rational for them not to sign up for insurance until they get married and have kids. Their payments offset the higher healthcare utilization of females, the old, etc.
With HSAs guys can chip in early and build a sizable nest egg tax-free for the day when they have a wife and kids, rational behavior that supports family values too. And if they have good genes and a healthy lifestyle, after a time they can take some of that money and buy a motorcycle! After the accident, the balance of HSA savings goes to their beneficiaries.
Bush should’ve used this argument for health savings accounts at the debate! Or maybe not. . . . And this somewhat more serious take on why the war, and Iraq, is important, from Will Allen over at Asymmetrical Information:
True enough, there are more than a few members of the Bush Administration that likely have failed to grasp how difficult every single thing is in the conduct of war, but since I think this war needed to be fought, I still prefer those who were willing to wage it to those who likely would have refrained.
Why do I think it needed to be waged? I agree with you that the Islamic world does not pose an existential threat to the U.S.. However, if the Islamic world does not rapidly change, we pose an existential threat to them, and although being among a few hundred million slaughtered is about as bad as things get, being among those who do the slaughtering of a few hundred million is pretty damned awful as well, and it is worth taking great, great, risks to avoid such action.
In fact, this prospect is so grim, and in my view, so likely, absent rapid revolutionary change in the Persian Gulf , I see no way that Kerry, who is essentially a reactionary, can be worthy of a vote. A politically, militarily, and economically, and technologically backward people who sit atop of the natural resource greatly desired by far more militarily, economically, and economically powerful people, are going to meet an extraordinarily violent end if they exhibit any proficiency for hostile action against the more powerful people. Obtaining and using the technology of the more powerful people for hostile action merely seals their doom. Neither Bush or Kerry is likely to be the 21st century Andrew Jackson or Phil Sheridan, but he will be found in short order absent the people of the Persian Gulf modernizing rapidly.
I hope he’s wrong about that, but I fear that he’s right.
MARK STEYN ON JOHN KERRY: “These are serious times and the senator is not a serious man. And so we have a campaign that has a sharper position on Mary Cheney’s lesbianism and the deficiencies of Laura Bush’s curriculum vitae than on the central question of the age.” Read the whole thing, as they say.
UPDATE: Arthur Chrenkoff on the weakness of Kerry’s Euro-coalition:
European leaders must secretly love the Bush Presidency, as it allows them to do nothing (which is the usual European tactic) and at the same time feel very righteous about it. . . .
The Europeans are like teenage children of a divorce, who prefer to spend time with their Democrat mother rather than a strict Republican dad, not because they like the mother more (dude, parents they like, suck, or what?) but because she won’t force them to take out the trash and clean the dishes. No wonder the father is increasingly thinking that his 59 year old teenager should finally move out of home and start supporting himself.
The final sentence of a column in The Guide on Saturday caused offence to some readers. The Guardian associates itself with the following statement from the writer.
“Charlie Brooker apologises for any offence caused by his comments relating to President Bush in his TV column, Screen Burn. The views expressed in this column are not those of the Guardian. Although flippant and tasteless, his closing comments were intended as an ironic joke, not as a call to action – an intention he believed regular readers of his humorous column would understand. He deplores violence of any kind.”
So there you are. The column has been replaced by the correction, but you can still see it, for the moment at least, here.
UPDATE: James Lileks: “Look, you lackwits: we’re not that stupid. Of course it was an ironic joke, at least if you define “joke” as “mirthless adolescent japery along the order of drawing a Hitler moustache on your teacher’s yearbook picture.” What’s noteworthy is that it got through in the first place. Slid through like mercury down a mirror, probably. No one gave it a second thought. Stands to reason any sensible person would want the tosser done away with, no?”
I DON’T THINK I’D BLAME JOHN KERRY FOR THIS:
Rosie O’Donnell addressed a nearly vacant CLUB OVATION Saturday night in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida during a get-out-the-vote rally for Dem presidential hopeful John Kerry. . . .
The debacle came one night after only a couple hundred came out to see Cher rally for Kerry at Miami Beach’s CROBAR disco.
I mean, honestly, how many people can there be who want to hear either of those two talk about politics?
Somewhere in Florida, 25,000 disembodied rat neurons are thinking about flying an F-22.
These neurons are growing on top of a multi-electrode array and form a living “brain” that’s hooked up to a flight simulator on a desktop computer. When information on the simulated aircraft’s horizontal and vertical movements are fed into the brain by stimulating the electrodes, the neurons fire away in patterns that are then used to control its “body” — the simulated aircraft. . . .
Currently the brain has learned enough to be able to control the pitch and roll of the simulated F-22 fighter jet in weather conditions ranging from blue skies to hurricane-force winds. Initially the aircraft drifted, because the brain hadn’t figured out how to control its “body,” but over time the neurons learned to stabilize the aircraft to a straight, level flight.
Just in case you forgot we were living in the 21st Century. More here.
VIDEOBLOGGING UPDATE: I’ve had poor experience with small, cheap MPEG4 videocams. But this one from Phillips (it’s also an MP3 player!) seems to be getting good reviews on Amazon. The size is nice, and the price (about $200) is good. On the other hand, my cheap Sony still camera isn’t a whole lot more expensive, and I strongly suspect that the video is better — though it won’t hold 25 minutes’ worth on one chip. Adam Keiper is managing to do his Nanotech Conference videoblogging using the same Sony camera that I have. And I just noticed that he was inspired by some of my videoblog envangelism:
There is a secondary goal here, too: I’m going to try to test the limits and usefulness of liveblogging, or newsblogging, or conferenceblogging (an unwieldy neologism). Professor Glenn Reynolds, the InstaPundit, among others, has pushed the concept of bloggers as news collectors, and I hope to put that idea to the test. So this is a sort of media experiment, too.
Looks like a successful one to me, and I hope that more people will emulate his approach.
UPDATE: Reader Melody emails:
You might want to check out the little Canon Powershot S410 for this purpose. It’s a 4.0 mp digital still camera about the size of a cigarette pack, but takes pretty good video with surprisingly decent audio quality. My 20 yo daughter purchsed this for herself recently. She has the 256 ultra chip — she tells me ultra is important because it’s faster — but says they also have a 1 gig chip for it. Go to thenitelite.net under “media” then “Summer of Darkness” at Trees, Dallas is an example of some video shot with this camera but by her 14 year old sister. It was the first time she’d used the camera. They recorded several songs in their entirety, but only uploaded this partial one because it was shorter and she didn’t want to spend all evening uploading to her friend’s site. It wasn’t the best of the video they shot that evening.
I agree about the Sony cybershots. We have two different models in our household, and they’ve been excellent little cameras for the price. Two years
being used by teenaged daughters, and never a single problem. They seem rather slow, though. Neither of ours gets audio with the video.
Some time ago you mentioned buying an all weather or waterproof camera for someone deploying to Iraq. I’d be interested in seeing an update on how that has worked out. We’re considering purchasing one for a gift for use in that environment, so obviously it needs to be tough and dustproof.
Yeah, that was this Pentax. I’ll see if I can get a review posted on that. The Canon Powershots are great little cameras, but they don’t take AA batteries in a pinch, which I think is important when you’re trying to do blog-journalism. But the concert video — and sound — is pretty good!
And here’s more from Justin Katz. (Katz link bad before — fixed now. Sorry.)
MORE: Reader Jay Kim corrects me on the PowerShots — well, one of them, anyway:
The Canon PowerShot S1 is my video camera of choice. It costs ~400, and has a video mode of 640×480, with 10X zoom, and image stabilization. 3.2 MP stills, too. Can take CF cards up to 4GB, AND AA BATTERIES!
Cool. And it’s about $350. Doesn’t look easily pocketable, though.
To Bush-bashers, it may be the most infuriating revelation yet from the military records of the two presidential candidates: the young George W. Bush probably had a higher I.Q. than did the young John Kerry.
The second-most infuriating thing must be having to read this in the Sunday New York Times . . .
MORT ZUCKERMAN notes the overlooked parts of the Duelfer Report:
There is, in fact, a much darker side, and here it is:
Saddam wanted to re-create Iraq’s banned weapons programs, including nuclear weapons.
Saddam was determined to develop ballistic missiles and tactical chemical weapons when the U.N. sanctions were either lifted or corroded.
Saddam retained the industrial equipment to help restart these programs, having increased from 1996 to 2002 his military industrial spending 40-fold and his technical military research 80-fold. Even while U.N. weapons inspectors were in Iraq, Saddam’s scientists were performing deadly experiments on human guinea pigs in secret labs.
To what end? The overlooked section of the Duelfer report could not have put it any clearer: “Iraq would have been able to produce mustard agents in a period of months and nerve agent in less than a year or two.” While Saddam had abandoned his biological weapons programs, he retained the scientists and other technicians “needed to restart a potential biological weapons program,” and he “intended to reconstitute long-range delivery systems [that is, missiles] and . . . the systems potentially were for WMD.” . . .
With the complicity of the U.N. officials allegedly involved in Saddam’s Oil-for-Food bribery scheme, can there be any doubt that the sanctions would have eventually disappeared?
The French worked at every turn to frustrate efforts to hold Saddam’s feet to the fire. A French legislator even told an Iraqi intelligence official that Paris would veto any U.N. resolution authorizing war against Iraq. In fact, France threatened to do just that. But for what, exactly? Iraq’s deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, told Duelfer that “French oil companies wanted to secure two large oil contracts.” National bribery on top of individual bribery–now, that’s something you don’t see every day.
Duelfer told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “Sanctions were in free fall . . . . If not for 9/11, I don’t think they would exist today” and described Saddam as “a grave threat” to the Middle East and to the entire world.
Glad to see this stuff getting some attention outside of the blogosphere.
JOHN LEO RESPONDS TO ANDREW SULLIVAN:
But consider the background music here. “Even within the Democratic Party” is an acknowledgment that a good many Americans don’t trust the Democrats to run a war on terror. “Has to be a bipartisan affair” blinks the message that the Democrats, as a national party, often seem detached from that war, not just from the campaign in Iraq.
Many of the doubts that hover over Sullivan’s case for Kerry are rooted in the value system widely shared among Democrats: Most people are basically good; wars are caused not by evil motives but by misunderstandings that can be talked out; conflict can be overcome by more tolerance and examining of our own faults or by taking disputes to the United Nations. As a personal creed, these benign and humble attitudes are admirable. As the foundation of a policy to confront terrorists who wish to blow up our cities, they are alarming.
These doubts explain why Kerry’s two oddest verbal slips–”nuisance” and “global test” –have resonated.
Read the whole thing.
ANALOG BROWNSHIRTS: These are the headlines at Drudge right now:
Early voting brings cries of bullying…
Bush/Cheney Cincinnati headquarters robbed…
Republican Party headquarters in Flagstaff vandalized…
UK GUARDIAN: ‘John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr – where are you now that we need you?’…
LAPHAMIZATION UPDATE: Images of the covers of the Evan Thomas election book, which goes both ways.
INSTAPUNDIT CORRESPONDENT DAN CASSARO sends these photos and a report from a Bush rally in Jacksonville, which looks to have been well-attended:
Taken with my Nikon 5700, fyi….
The original site for the rally was the Jacksonville Landing, a riverside location that would hold, at most, a few thousand. Demand for tickets was so high they moved it to Alltel stadium (where the Jacksonville Jaguars play). Attendance was estimated at 40,000. We passed a group of Kerry supporters on the way in, maybe 50 at most.
First is a wide shot of the stadium, they had the top levels blocked off. Not a lot of empty seats anywhere. When GWB came out, the noise was incredible. That’s him in the blue shirt at the microphone.
Second is the lone protester I saw leaving the stadium, with a with the word “War” on one side, and moral equivalence on the other. I don’t think he was old enough to vote either way….
Finally is the moonbat with the “Utilize Poland!” sign. He wouldn’t answer questions, he just kept shouting “Poland!” I don’t get it. Nobody else did, either.
PS Air Force One made a low, slow pass over the stadium on the way in… an awesome sight!
I don’t get the Poland bit either. Maybe he meant this?
UPDATE: ConfigSysBoy has posted a recap (“The Babes for Bush phenomenon is alive and well in Jacksonville. . . Speaking of which, the turnout today among the 18-30 demo was absolutely staggering.”) and image gallery from the Jacksonville rally. And for those few who insist on Big Media coverage, here are some pictures from the Times-Union.
BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?
SEEMS TO BE A NEW VIRUS: I’m getting a lot of variations on the theme of “something was wrong with my last email, so I put it in this attachment” — all bogus, of course. Beware, regardless of the purported source, as there’s address-spoofing involved.
I HAVEN’T READ IT, but in response to my earlier discussion of Jacksonianism in connection with David Hackett Fischer’s categorizations of American culture and British roots, a reader notes James Webb’s new book Born Fighting : How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. And thanks to the miracle of Google, I found this NPR interview with Webb from Day to Day a couple of weeks back. It sounds interesting.
UPDATE: Here’s a column by Webb.
MORE PEACE-TALK FROM THE GLOBAL LEFT:
On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod’s law dictates he’ll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr – where are you now that we need you?
You know, if a Republican said something like that, it would be hate speech. And, really, if you need a reason to vote for Bush, that it will make people like this miserable for four years surely ought to be enough. (More thoughts at The Daily Ablution).
UPDATE: A reader emails: “The Guardian wants Dick Cheney to be president?” Heh. And who’s the big winner out of all this? Paul Krugman, who looks reasonable, if only by comparison!
ANOTHER UPDATE: People are emailing me to say that the Guardian has pulled the article, but actually the entire Guardian site appears to be down at the moment. I suspect that’s unrelated to the column, unless Drudge has slashdotted their servers, which seems highly unlikely. To be fair, I should note that the guy who wrote this piece (here’s his bio) is just a weekly columnist, and not a Guardian staffer — though this certainly had to get by an editor to see print. Though Tim Blair wonders. . . .
MORE LIVEBLOGGING FROM THE FORESIGHT NANOTECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE in Washington.
NORM GERAS OFFERS THE LAST WORD ON THE IRAQ WAR: “There was no persuasive moral case against the Iraq war.”
MEGAN MCARDLE: “Surely there’s one fair prince among you who holds the key to unlock my weary heart?”
INTENSITIES IN TENT CITY: An Iraq report from The Mudville Gazette.
ANGLOSPHERE UPDATE: Jim Bennett has a book out called The Anglosphere Challenge: Why the English-Speaking Nations Will Lead the Way in the Twenty-First Century. I haven’t seen it yet, but judging from his earlier writings on this subject, it’s sure to be interesting.
SOME FRIDAY-NIGHT CATBLOGGING, in homage to Kevin Drum.
This is Precious, who likes to look out that window at the birds.
I’M SURPRISED THIS STORY HASN’T GOTTEN MORE ATTENTION:
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Preparations for the crucial January election are “on track” and the absence of international observers due to the country’s tenuous security should not detract from the vote’s credibility, the top U.N. electoral expert here said.
Given the record of the international observers in Venezuela, I think he’s got a point.
UPDATE: Hey, that’s two days in a row that I’ve agreed with the pronouncement of a U.N. official! Well, when they’re right, they’re right.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed Morrissey observes:
Those who claim that George Bush lives outside of reality, as John Kerry put it earlier, because he insists that elections will be held on schedule may find this a shock. However, we saw the Iraqis take back their sovereignty on schedule when everyone said that the US simply could not deliver it. I find no reason to doubt that Bush means to stick to his timetable, but just as in Afghanistan, the doubters likely won’t stop claiming the sky is falling until after the balloting starts.
SEBASTIAN MALLABY has a rather critical take on NGO’s and poverty. “A swarm of media-savvy Western activists has descended upon aid agencies, staging protests to block projects that allegedly exploit the developing world. The protests serve professional agitators by keeping their pet causes in the headlines. But they do not always serve the millions of people who live without clean water or electricity.”
JOHN PODHORETZ WRITES:
Has there ever, ever, ever been an election as exciting as this one?
The answer, after some consideration, is: No way, not by a long shot. . . .
Most exciting and most addicting are the blogs — the citizen-journalist news sites. They offer campaign coverage of the highest order, from viewpoints spanning the political spectrum. So when I’m awake in the middle of the night taking care of a baby, I can surf Web sites to see the latest polling — and then do so again five hours later, and again every hour after that.
I think by the time this is over I’ll have had all the excitement I want.
UPDATE: A reader emails asking if the above means I’m planning to quit. No, not anytime soon. But I started this blog with the intent of dealing with, um, less intense issues, and I’ll be glad to see the election end. I realize that there will still be lots of stuff to worry about, but still. As Steven den Beste wrote, I was tired of this election in November of 2003.
An extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at the 2004 Kerry presidential victory reported by Newsweek’s premier political reporters, including bestselling biographer Evan Thomas. A full year before the presidential election, four Newsweek reporters are detached from the magazine to work fulltime on getting inside the campaigns of the Republican and Democratic candidates. Because Newsweek promises not to reveal any information until after the votes are cast, the reporters receive highly unusual access.
Including, apparently, access to the time machine! Heh. [No wonder the press "wants Kerry to win" -- Ed. Indeed.]
UPDATE: In response to Kevin Aylward’s question, I think this is just a mistake, though an amusing one.
PHIL BOWERMASTER has thoughts on good news and bad news.
ADAM KEIPER IS LIVEBLOGGING FROM THE FORESIGHT NANOTECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE in Washington — with pictures and video, too! He also reports that the conference has drawn an overcapacity crowd. I told you this was a big deal.
UPDATE: Howard Lovy is blogging from the conference, too.
LARRY KUDLOW has a new blog, called Kudlow’s Money Politics. Check it out!
THE TRUTH IS OUT! Fortunately, my goon squads will ensure that it goes unreported.
JESSE WALKER LOOKS AT First Amendment hypocrites.
DAVID BERNSTEIN’S BOOK, You Can’t Say That! The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws, is now out in paperback.
The centerpiece of John Kerry’s foreign policy is to rebuild our alliances so the world will come to our aid, especially in Iraq. He repeats this endlessly because it is the only foreign policy idea he has to offer. The problem for Kerry is that he cannot explain just how he proposes to do this. . . .
He really does want to end America’s isolation. And he has an idea how to do it. For understandable reasons, however, he will not explain how on the eve of an election.
Think about it: What do the Europeans and the Arab states endlessly rail about in the Middle East? What (outside of Iraq) is the area of most friction with U.S. policy? What single issue most isolates America from the overwhelming majority of countries at the United Nations?
The answer is obvious: Israel.
In what currency, therefore, would we pay the rest of the world in exchange for their support in places such as Iraq? The answer is obvious: giving in to them on Israel.
No Democrat will say that openly. But anyone familiar with the code words of Middle East diplomacy can read between the lines.
I think he’s probably right.
My tentative explanation is this. Bush’s most effective opposition this year has come not from Kerry and the Democrats but from Old Media, the New York Times and the news pages of the Washington Post, along with the broadcast networks ABC, CBS, and NBC. Old Media gave very heavy coverage to stories that tended to hurt Bush—violence in Iraq, Abu Ghraib, the false charges of Richard Clarke and Joseph Wilson, etc. And during the first eight months of the year Bush did a poor job of making his case.
Then, suddenly, that case was made with maximum effectiveness at the Republican National Convention in New York—by John McCain and Rudolph Giuliani, by Zell Miller and Arnold Schwarzenegger, by Laura Bush and Dick Cheney and George W. Bush himself. Bush was able to get his message out unmediated by Old Media.
Interesting theory. And — as always when Barone writes about polling and elections — you should read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Robert Musil has thoughts of his own on polls.
THEY HIRED OLIVER WILLIS AND ATRIOS — but I never thought they’d buy off Frank J. I guess George Soros must really be throwing around a lot of cash.
HATE MAIL OF THE DAY:
Pro-homosexuals like you never bring up issues such as these, and this (1 in 3) is just violence in LGBT relationships, doesn´t even go into numbers about outside relationship violence and harassment, since homos and pro-homos are too dishonest to talk about that, when the perpetrators are homos and bisexuals and the victims are heterosexuals. To how many of these GBLT battererer´s and rapists did you clap at in the latest Pride parade?
CLONING DEBATE AT THE UNITED NATIONS:
UNITED NATIONS – Britain staunchly defended the right to use human embryos for medical research while the Vaticanbacked a complete ban on human cloning as U.N. members Thursday began two days of debate on the highly contentious issue.
The U.N. General Assembly’s legal committee will meet again Friday to discuss two competing resolutions:
Costa Rica’s draft calls for a treaty banning all cloning. Belgium’s draft calls for a treaty banning the cloning of babies but allowing countries to decide on using embryos for research, which many scientists believe may lead to new treatments for diseases.
Britain’s U.N. ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said his country was among the first to ban human reproductive cloning when it passed such an act in 2001.
“However, we cannot support any attempt to ban or unreasonably restrict cloning for research purposes, known as therapeutic cloning. We are convinced that therapeutic cloning holds enormous promise for new treatments for serious degenerative conditions that are currently incurable,” he said.
Good for the British — though, in fact, I don’t support a ban on reproductive cloning, either. Meanwhile, Kofi Annan actually gets it right:
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Thursday fired another shot across the bow of US President George W. Bush in backing cloning for medical research, which the United States wants to ban worldwide.
The announcement by Annan, a regular critic of Bush policy, came as the UN’s legal committee opened debate on human cloning with hopes of drafting an international treaty to address the divisive issue.
I wonder whether this is on the merits, or just another anti-Bush move? Regardless, Annan’s right, and Bush is wrong, on this one. Here’s a column I wrote on the subject a while back.
UPDATE: Nikita Demosthenes says I’m wrong about cloning.
CHECK OUT THE IRAQ DEMOCRACY PROJECT at Spirit of America. If you’re so inclined, make a donation. I did, as I think it’s a worthy cause.
IT’S BUSH V. KERRY in the Hip-Hop Debate. Bush is currently winning, 56-44. Go figure.
IT’S STILL NOT TOO LATE: If you want to attend this weekend’s First Annual Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology: Research, Applications, and Policy.
UPDATE: And if you miss the D.C. conference, here’s a University of Tennessee conference on nanotechnology in Knoxville next week, cosponsored with Oak Ridge National Lab.
SOME NICE COLORADO PHOTOBLOGGING by Karol Sheinin.
BOIFROMTROY DEBATES KERRY AND BUSH: Advantage: BoiFromTroy! But you knew that, right?
I’VE UPLOADED some of the photos of the UT Campus that I posted earlier this week to the Exposure Manager gallery.
CATHY SEIPP reviews the limited success of The Guardian’s Clark County project.
REASON’S PRESIDENTIAL POLL IS UP: I’m in it. So is a guy who illustrates, I think, why libertarianism isn’t selling well with the public:
2004 vote: I never vote. I don’t wish to soil my hands.
2000 vote: Had I been forced to cast a ballot for president in the 2000 election, I might have died of septicemic disgust.
Most embarrassing vote: I voted only once in a presidential election, in 1976, and I did so on that occasion only so that I could irritate my left-liberal colleagues at the University of Washington by telling them that I had voted for “that idiot” Gerald Ford.
This isn’t an attitude that’s likely to pave the way to political success. And I say this as a guy who’s never been overwhelmed with the quality of the choices given me, and who’s voted Libertarian for President three times.
UPDATE: Gabe Posey emails:
I think the primary reason for mainstream American not grasping hold of Libertarianism isn’t that the party doesn’t have great ideals or spokespeople, but primarily that the same upper crust elitism seen so profoundly in the Democratic party is rampant in the academically pious Libertarians. The party that demonstrates they are the party of the people is usually the party that wins. For the last two presidential elections it hasn’t been the Greens, Libertarians or the Democrats. I still have hope for the Liberty Caucus of the Republican Party.
As the folks at The Guardian have learned, letting people know you think they’re idiots isn’t an especially effective way of winning their votes.
More thoughts here. And reader Edward Clark emails:
I would like you to explain a little more on your impressions of libertarianism. I consider myself a libertarian, and not just because of my name. But listening to the libertarian party today leaves me with one reaction. Huh?
Their isolationist stance on security and foreign policy just doesn’t make any sense in today’s world. It is like surrending for the sake of liberty, which means liberty would end. On most other issues I pretty much agree with them. But on most of those issues they are closer to Republicans (but not very close) than democrats. Why would so many on Reason’s poll be mixed between libertarians and democrats? It seems some people just claim to be libertarian because it sounds so independent and thoughtful.
I wish there was a party more along the lines of the Ayn Rand Institute. True Libertarianism. Call it the Objectivist Party.
I’m not an Objectivist, myself, but I have noted that they seem more realistic on foreign relations.
MORE: Here’s an Objectivist take on foreign policy and the election.
OLD MEDIA LOSING INFLUENCE? I notice that Evan Thomas has revised his 15 percent estimate downward:
KURTZ: You’ve said on the program “Inside Washington” that because of the portrayal of Kerry and Edwards as young and dynamic and optimistic, that’s worth maybe 15 points. That would suggest…
THOMAS: Stupid thing to say. It was completely wrong. But I do think that — I do think that the mainstream press, I’m not talking about the blogs and Rush and all that, but the mainstream press favors Kerry. I don’t think it’s worth 15 points. That was just a stupid thing to say.
KURTZ: Is it worth 5 points?
THOMAS: Maybe, maybe.
I should note that when Newsweek’s Steven Levy interviewed me a few weeks back he seemed quite unhappy with my frequent reference to Evan Thomas’s earlier 15 points statement, and rather vehemently stated that Thomas didn’t speak for Newsweek as a whole. I don’t know how he’d feel about the 5 point line. . . .
SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT:
American teens have spoken, and they want George W. Bush for president. Nearly 1.4 million teens voted in the nation’s largest mock election, and the Republican incumbent wound up with 393 electoral votes and 55 percent of the total votes cast. . . .
In an exit poll taken after making their pick for president, teens weighed in on the issues most important to them. A majority of respondents– 44 percent– said that the war in Iraq was the most important issue facing the candidates today. The economy was the first priority in the minds of 22 percent of teens, followed by education (14 percent), national security (12 percent) and health care (8 percent).
No great surprise.
TOM MAGUIRE: Channeling Wonkette?
BLOGS BLOCKED: I’ve had that problem a time or two, and now Eric Muller is discovering that his blog is being blocked some places. He’s trying to survey the extent of blog-blocking in general.
BRUCE CHAPMAN WRITES IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:
BAGHDAD, Iraq–Basking in the sun by the Al Hamra Hotel swimming pool, a Spanish journalist complained to me that “all my editors want is blood, blood, blood. No context. No politics.”
Such editors are cruising to be scooped by such local Iraqi blogs as Iraq the Model, which last summer debunked a Los Angeles Times story on the departure of Coalition Provisional Authority head L. Paul Bremer. The Times told its readers that Bremer had fled abruptly, “afraid to look in the eye the people he had ruled for more than a year.” In fact, as Iraq the Model reported, Mr. Bremer before leaving delivered a television address that gave a moving account of his tenure and his hopes for the new all-Iraqi interim government.
The bloggers had heard it, the L.A. Times reporter had not. The paper ultimately had to correct its account, though never acknowledging the indignant Iraqis who caught its snide oversight.
Read the whole thing, which profiles a number of Iraqi bloggers.
UPDATE: Yes, the “blood, blood” without context bit above is exactly the kind of thing I was complaining about in this post. Interestingly, I got this email from a Big-Media reporter whose name you’d probably recognize, though I’m asked not to use it:
Personally, I’d never feel so comfortable in my certainty on matters such as Iraq if I hadn’t ever been to the place; indeed, even Andrew, who I presume gets his information about Iraq from the MSM, has often turned on a dime and accused those very same news sources of revealing clear biases in their eporting. And it’s been apparent from reading reports from many independent sources on the ground – not least the soldiers themselves – that the situation looks far better than it is portrayed in the mainstream press. Look, I don’t know what to think, though I’m cognizant of the very reasonable possibility that in 20 years Iraq may be a thriving democracy, that the Middle East may be far less a source of radicalism and terrorism, and that we will all be talking about the miraculous accomplishment of the U.S.-led coalition, which managed to do the job in a couple of years with “minimal” casualties. That’s the most optimistic way to look at things right now, but it’s also a viewpoint that takes historical perspective into account. It’s frankly impossible to imagine what might have happened to FDR’s presidency if WWII was covered the way the various news media do the job right now. Someone in the blogosphere recently pointed out that 750 American troops died in a training accident during preparations for D-Day. Can you imagine that? Today such an occurrence would have an almost apocalyptic impact in this country, if you consider the way it would be conveyed to the public through television. (Bear in mind that I’m part of the MSM, so I think I speak with a modicum of authority here.) If the blogosphere has a weakness, it is in its tendency to amplify the significance of current events, often without any sense of proportion or perspective. . . .
Well, though it leads some people to suggest that I “lack fire,” I do try to maintain that degree of historical perspective, and to avoid excessive excitability and shrillness. Sometimes I succeed. Meanwhile, I do think that the excitability — and outright, dishonest partisanship — of many Big Media outlets in reporting on the war is doing incalculable damage at home and abroad, and I think that the FDR example is a good illustration of why. The “zero defects” approach to war is, I think, born of a combination of military ignorance and partisanship.
MORE: Related thoughts here.
IN HIS LATEST COLUMN, Stephen Green introduces some people to ABC News.
I’M SKEPTICAL of the idea that the Red Sox victory will affect the election. But hey, what do I know?
ROBERT MUSIL notes some buried poll secrets.
MY GUARDIAN COLUMN for this week is up, in which I look at the prospects for a Kerry Administration.
SORRY FOR THE LIMITED BLOGGING TODAY: I had a coauthor in town and spent 12 hours on manuscript revisions.
JEFF JARVIS NOMINATES ME for President. If elected, I promise to nominate Eugene Volokh for the Supreme Court.
UPDATE: Reader Steven Wells emails:
I’m glad to hear that you would nominate Eugene Volokh to the Supreme Court if elected. I think he would do a better job than either of the nominees of the two major parties. Would you consider, though, Randy Barnett? I think his new book Restoring the Lost Constitution shows considerable promise for Mr. Barnett as a Supreme Court justice.
I like Randy as an Associate Justice, but I see Eugene as a better candidate for Chief — he’s more of a consensus builder. Meanwhile, several readers wonder if I can deliver the necessary Senate votes. My response is simple — in the face of the massive political breakdown needed to elect me to, well, any elective office at all, who knows? Anything’s possible!
MORE: Okay, this email is a bit scary:
I actually think I’m going to write you in for President. As I look at the Republican party, it just doesn’t look like me anymore. And the Democrats are even farther away. I consider myself fiscally conservative, socially libertarian (a practical, not loony one), and a hawk on the war on terror, and I worry that there is no one to represent my interests. We desperately need a party that represent these views at a national and local level. So, Glenn, I’m asking for your permission to write you in. I think with your following we can actually effect a small, but real change. If we didn’t believe this were the best path, we wouldn’t believe it at all. I’ll leave you with:
If not you, who? If not now, when? Stand up and unite us all of shared mind and principle.
When it comes to writing me in, I think the appropriate quote is “This calls for a really stupid, futile gesture. . . .” Sorry, but this election we’re stuck with the choices we’ve got, and denial isn’t an option. Even though I agree with the non-me-related part of the passage above.
NEAL STEPHENSON answers readers’ questions over at Slashdot.
PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE is liveblogging Jim Lindgren.
A BUNCH OF PEOPLE have emailed me with the suggestion that Kerry is not qualified to be President under the 14th Amendment. I haven’t regarded that as worth blogging about, but Eugene Volokh has a lengthy and interesting post on the subject. The blogosphere: a thousand points of light!
SPEAKING OF BRANCHING OUT IN YOUR BLOG-READING, don’t miss this week’s Carnival of the Vanities.
AUSTIN BAY’S LATEST COLUMN looks back at the Zarqawi memo from last year:
Zarqawi’s intercepted message to his Al Qaeda comrades admitted that his terror band was “failing to enlist support” inside Iraq and was “unable to scare the Americans into leaving.”
Zarqawi lamented “Iraq’s lack of mountains in which to take refuge,” which many commentators read as an echo of his experience in Afghanistan with Al Qaeda.
Zarqawi’s document also suggested a strategic solution to his group’s failure: launch attacks on Iraqi Shias and start a “sectarian war” that he suggested would “rally the Sunni Arabs” to his cause. This war against Shiites, Zarqawi thought, “must start soon — at ‘zero hour’ — before the Americans hand over sovereignty to the Iraqis.”
Despite orchestrating scores of savage attacks, Zarqawi has failed to ignite that sectarian war. Early in the summer, suicide car bombers (presumably under Zarqawi’s aegis) began attacking Iraqi police and National Guard soldiers as frequently as they targeted Shias and coalition troops. This suggested to some analysts that Islamic radical Zarqawi was cooperating with elements of the “secular Iraqi resistance” — former members of Saddam’s regime and holdouts in the Sunni Triangle. If that alliance existed, it was one of convenience, not long-term compatibility. That terror offensive, however, has failed to deter recruits. Iraqi security forces continue to grow in size and strength.
Zarqawi lacks political support and is increasingly desperate. His declaration of solidarity with Al Qaeda is both an emergency plea for Islamist reinforcements from Syria and Saudi Arabia, and the shrill cry of a true believer just rational enough to recognize he’s caught in a political and military vise.
Read the whole thing. More evidence that the campaign isn’t working can be found in this quote:
One of those who survived the blast was a national guard soldier named Qusay Hassan. He spoke with anger following the death and maiming of his comrades, and his spirit seemed unbroken.
“I will not kneel before these terrorists,” Mr. Hassan said. “If I don’t join the army, who is going to defend the country from the terrorists?”
Indeed. More here:
Foreigners are mystified at how Iraqis continue to join the police and army, despite the car bombings and other attacks directed against them. It’s not just for the money. For many of these recruits, there is a dead relative, murdered by some Sunni Arab thug working for Saddam. It’s civil war, and the coalition wants to prevent it from turning into an orgy of revenge. What gets little reported in the West is the enthusiasm among Iraqis, and especially members of the government, for just bombing Fallujah into rubble.
That would undercut the “it’s Vietnam all over again” story line. And it’s not. Does this mean that everything’s hunky-dory in Iraq? Nope, and — as even the rather negative Andrew Sullivan notes, you don’t need me to tell you that, when every attack gets headline treatment. But stuff like this, which provides perspective, doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
As I wrote a while back, the problem with the constant barrage of coverage on the latest mortar attack or car bombing is that it’s not only a ceaseless assault of bad news, but it’s both unrepresentative (because it’s only the bad news) and, just as bad, it’s probably the wrong bad news. If there are serious things going wrong, they’re not so much that people who don’t like us are trying to attack us, as that more serious things (like the CERP matter I’ve mentioned here regularly) are going unaddressed. And the ceaseless negativity of the media treatment — coupled with the media’s rather obvious desire to make Bush look bad before the election — leads to this problem I discussed a while back:
To make an Amartya Sen sort of point, what’s unfortunate about the slanted (and lazy) nature of most of the reporting is that it doesn’t point out real problems in ways that can let them be fixed, and that will bring them to the attention of people who can fix them. When the coverage continues to come from the same tired Vietnam template, applied to a very different situation, it’s not terribly useful and I suspect that it’s largely tuned out by folks in the White House who assume (more or less correctly) that it’s intended to hurt them.
But that means that they have to rely on the reports of people in the chain of command, who have their own agendas. The press is supposed to be a check on that sort of thing, but it’s fallen down on the job in postwar Iraq. Fortunately, the Internet has taken up some of the slack, and is (I’m being hopeful here) spurring the Big Media folks to take a second look at what they’re doing.
Sadly, my hopes there have gone largely unfulfilled. Perhaps that will change after the election. More on these issues, and why I report the stuff I do here, in this post.
DUANE PATTERSON looks at the politics of NASCAR and the Bush campaign.
A NEW LAW PROFESSOR BLOG devoted to antitrust law. Very cool.
I MUST BE BIG MEDIA NOW: Howard Kurtz is hosting a discussion on the question of whether I’m biased. Here’s the answer: Yes! What’s the point of having a blog if you can’t spout your own opinions? And why would anyone expect anything else?
UPDATE: Reader Jose Sorzano emails:
Regarding the silly charge that you are not “objective”: I read you precisely because of a) your judgment. You selection of items to be highlighted is always interesting. It is obviously not “value-free” but the results of your choices almost always (one exception is nanotechnology) makes me want to follow the links to learn more about it. I can’t recall when I was disappointed. b) your analysis. It is also inevitably imbued with your values which is manifested in the resulting product which is clear, sober, balanced, rational, and a pleasure to read. Thanks for the effort you put into it.
I hope most readers realize this. Not everyone is likely to be as happy, but that’s okay, too, since there are lots of other blogs out there. I see the blogosphere as a pointillist painting where lots of people are putting up the dots. Or, perhaps, some better metaphor that makes the same point. . . At any rate, I don’t try for “balance” in the traditional sense because unlike a broadcast outlet or a newspaper, I’m not a quasi-monopolist, but one of millions of bloggers. You don’t like my take on things? When I suggest you go elsewhere, I’m not being hostile — well, usually. It’s just that there are a hell of a lot of good blogs out there, and if you don’t like mine there’s sure to be another one that’s more to your taste. And that’s a good thing. It’s why I’m always telling people to branch out. And I really mean that.
Meanwhile, I’m sorry to disappoint Andrew Sullivan by not being “more abusive.” But I’ve actually tried quite consciously to moderate my tone in the run-up to the elections, because I think that there’s quite enough abuse out there. I realize that this only serves to underscore complaints that I lack fire. To which I can only respond that if you’re coming to a blog written by a law professor in search of “fire,” well, you really need to read some other blogs. . . .
PEOPLE WONDER why I’m not writing more about the polls. The answer is that I don’t know what to think about them. I’m inclined to agree with Stephen Green: “The more I read the polls, the less I know. . . . I don’t know how this thing is going to pan out. Neither do you. But right now, I feel as though the electorate is going to play all of us pundits – amateur and professional – for fools.”
EUGENE VOLOKH has been increasingly critical of Slate, lately. Here’s his latest comment.
THE BLOGOSPHERE GROWS UP: First of two pre-election columns on this subject, over at TechCentralStation.
FEARMONGERING on Social Security and the draft: William Safire thinks the Kerry campaign is looking desperate. Then again: “Ethicists, pundits and other goo-goos can all tut-tut about scare tactics, but the big question for political strategists is: do they work? We’ll know in two weeks.” There’s then a rather odd segue to the Judith Miller case.
Read this column, too. The trouble with stuff like this is that if it does help Kerry win, it leaves him in a weak position. Kerry’s platform consists of a few things he probably can’t deliver on, like national health care, and of one big thing: not being George W. Bush. Neither is likely to wear well over the course of a term in office.
UPDATE: It seems the Kerry campaign has discovered the strategic uses of vaporware: “Now it turns out that some of the Kerry commercials are being written, edited, produced and put on satellites for the purpose of generating news articles. They have not actually aired on any network or local station — except in reports about the Democrat’s campaign.”
As many tech companies have learned, this works best when you have cooperative folks in the press.
UNSCAM UPDATE: Claudia Rosett finds Kofi Annan’s huffy denials of corruption unpersuasive:
In dealing with Saddam, Mr. Annan no doubt had a lot to keep track of. There are many questions yet to be answered about Oil for Food before final blame is parceled out. But if the idea is to save the U.N. itself from becoming the world’s biggest banana institution, there are serious and important questions to be asked about why Secretary-General Kofi Annan finds it “inconceivable” that in the U.N.’s core debates, rampant graft might matter.
BILL STUNTZ WRITES on terrorism and the Mob:
By now, everyone in America knows that John Kerry has compared fighting terrorism to prosecuting organized crime figures for gambling and prostitution. The comparison has attracted a lot of criticism. Actually, it’s a pretty good analogy — but it leads to a different lesson than Kerry believes.
Read the whole thing.
JOHN HAWKINS has a Kerry quote roundup that’s very interesting.
JOHN KERRY’S BAND, THE ELECTRAS, has a new music video out, featuring John Edwards.
LOOK WHO SEEMS TO BE MISSING AND UNACCOUNTED FOR. I’m not shocked, but it’s surprising that we’re not hearing this kind of analysis from Peter Jennings.
WEB VIDEO AND THE ELECTIONS: Some thoughts over at GlennReynolds.com.
SPEAKING OF ALTERNATE HISTORY: SunnyBlog looks at a world where we hadn’t invaded Iraq:
Democrat Presidential nominee John Kerry delivered a speech today condemning President Bush for failing to invade Iraq in the follow-up of military action against the Talaban and Al Qaeda in Afghanastan. “Leaving this tyrant in power in contravention of numerous United Nations resolutions is unconscionable,” Kerry told the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “He has left available a base of operations and a source of supply and money.”
Kerry went on to criticize the war against terror as “stalled” while the real threat to America, “Saddam Hussein’s Iraq goes untouched.” Kerry said, “People are murdered daily in Baghdad and throughout the country. Rape rooms are a tragic reality. Torture chambers are full as Saddam’s sons carry out their sadistic impulses on the helpless and hapless victims of this regime. President Bush has done nothing as this brutal dictator takes the money from the Oil for Food to build palaces while his people go without food…
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: More alternate history, here.
EFFORTS TO KEEP STOLEN HONOR off the air would seem to be backfiring: “John Kerry Tried to Stop You From Seeing This Film.”