November 14, 2004
“THE BEST OF THE BEST FROM THE INDIAN BLOGOSPHERE:” This week’s Blog Mela is up. And happy Diwali!
“THE BEST OF THE BEST FROM THE INDIAN BLOGOSPHERE:” This week’s Blog Mela is up. And happy Diwali!
MY GOD, KRUGMAN, ALTERMAN AND DOWD WERE RIGHT! And Carole Simpson, too! Bush is re-elected and almost overnight Confederate soldiers are camped out under the Stars and Bars, occupying my town! It’s Karl Rove’s evil plan coming to fruition at last!
Okay, it’s actually re-enactors at the Toms Mansion on Kingston Pike. Or so they would have us believe. . . .
WORDS TO CHILL THE BRAVEST HEART: “Your Lifelong Enemy, James F. Treacher.”
FOR REASONS THAT ESCAPE ME, the folks at The Corner don’t like Home Depot. But Phil Carter notes that it’s been named the most military-friendly employer in America. He’s got the full top 25 list. As Phil says: “Keep up the good work: — America’s reservists and veterans deserve this kind of support.” Indeed.
MORE THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT: Ninjas. Fortunately, Frank J. has the scoop with his “Ninja FAQ” page.
ONE OF THE NICEST THINGS about being a professor is seeing your former students praised for their accomplishments.
FAMILY DYNAMICS IN THE INCREDIBLES: Plus a roundup of reviews, over at BlogCritics.
WOOHOO: Stopped at the car wash and opened the laptop to work on a column while I waited. To my surprise, they’ve got free wireless internet now. I love that.
UPDATE: Where is it? It’s the Simoniz car wash (formerly The Clean Machine) at the corner of Northshore and Kingston Pike. For non-Knoxvillians who may find this while searching the Web for free wi-fi in Knoxville, that’s close to the Papermill Drive exit from I-40.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Tim Cavanaugh is skeptical of municipally operated wifi networks. I’m all for open wifi in libraries, etc., but I agree that trying for ubiquitous wifi as a city project is probably silly, especially when you can already get free wifi at car washes and fast food places. Not to mention breweries and pizza joints.
TIM BLAIR: “Surreal? It’s perfect!”
ANDREA SEE is offering bargain ad rates at her Xiamen-based webzine.
JONAH GOLDBERG has a post on TV and abortion that raises some interesting issues. I agree with the part about how hypocritical the TV shows are — the characters always agonize about abortion, but always decide not to have one — but that’s not the part that really caught my interest:
I don’t mean to say that such pretend anguish doesn’t capture a certain reality, and a very sad one. But at the end of the day — or often at the end of sweeps week — the woman always says “it’s my choice, I’m keeping the baby.” Or, they’ll have a scene where the woman gets a sonogram and she realizes she loves the baby and again she’ll say “it’s my choice. I’m having this baby.”
And, the moment the women decide to have the baby, the fetus is automatically discussed as if it were a complete person worth talking to, reading to, singing to etc. The implication here, of course, is that if Rachel or whoever had simply chosen not to have the baby, that choice and that choice alone would have been enough of an abracadabra to metaphysically transform the fetus into nothing more than a lump of cells or the inconvenient consequence of a one-night-stand not worth reading to at all.
I realize I’m not quite addressing Jonah’s argument here, but it’s not so shocking that a single decision like that might change, if not a person’s moral status, at least the constellation of duties that someone has in regard to them. A classic example (and one that I’ve always meant to write a law review article about, but never gotten around to) has to do with abortion and the duty to rescue.
At common law — and still, pretty much, the law generally — there’s no duty to rescue. The classic example, in fact, involves a man walking down the sidewalk and observing a baby drowning in a half-inch of water. Even if the man could rescue the baby with no risk and minimal inconvenience to himself, he’s under no duty to take any action at all, and can simply keep walking without facing any penalty beyond moral condemnation.
But if he decides to help, and takes action, then he becomes obligated to follow through and must exert all reasonable effort (short of risking death or serious bodily harm; inconvenience doesn’t generally count) to save the baby’s life and leave it in a position of reasonable safety. The analogy should be obvious here.
Now I’ve thought of this argument in a different context, as an explanation for why you could both support abortion rights (as, of course, I do) and also support holding pregnant women liable for engaging in behavior — like drug use, excessive alcohol consumption, etc. — that might endanger the fetus. But I think it provides at least a partial answer to Jonah’s question.
UPDATE: Reader Luke White emails:
A great post on abortion and duty to rescue, thanks! One question to throw on to the pile, though: If you follow this line of reasoning through, wouldn’t it result in a legal situation in which a woman would be obligated to abort if she’d engaged in behavior that had put her child at significant risk for birth defects?
An example: Alcohol does most of its structural damage during the first trimester of pregancy, during which time, of course, it’s still legal to abort for most any reason. If you apply the duty-to-rescue doctrine, don’t you run into a situation in which the mother could be held liable for carrying the baby, defects and all, to term, while suffering no liability if she simply chooses a first-trimester abortion?
From a med student/pro-life position, this seems problematic to me, in that you’d be punishing the woman who brings viable life to term while the woman who engages in the same behavior and doesn’t bring the child to term suffers no consequences. This would seem to be a major incentive to abort.
Of course, if one doesn’t accept that a first-trimester fetus is a fully rights-endowed human, you could maybe make the case that the dereliction is in allowing the fetus to get to that status at birth with the avoidable problems drinking and the like present. But then it seems as if you could extend that censure to any woman who knowingly carries a baby with defects (eg Down’s Syndrome) to term, leading to forced abortions couched in a duty-to-rescue defense: They knew, so why did they allow the child to be born with such a disadvantage? many pro-abortion/population control advocates might ask.
Anyway, thanks again for the post! It’s a unique angle, and I hope you write that article!
Hmm. Interesting questions, which I hadn’t thought of in quite that fashion — my thinking was “decide not to have the abortion, and assume the duty to avoid dangerous behavior.” But I suppose this is the flipside of that. (This is the difference between a blog post and a law review article). I don’t know if I’ll ever get to writing this piece, despite the kind encouragement, though, as my scholarly rangetop extends about ten miles back, it has so many back burners. (I think I’ll get to “Law as an Agoric Open System” — which I actually did some research and outlining on, first, and I don’t know that I’ll ever get to that one behind all the pieces I’m committed to write as it is).
Meanwhile several readers sent variations on this theme, from Wayne Wren: “If you put ‘someone ( a fetus)’ in peril, i.e., have unprotected sex, do you have an obligation to rescue?” I don’t think this works, as there’s no one in existence when you have sex, unless you believe that life begins before conception, which I think is a nonstarter even for pro-lifers. A more sophisticated version of this argument would say that (1) A standard exception to “no duty to rescue” is when there’s a special relationship creating such a duty, and (2) a pregnant woman has such a duty to a fetus, which she assumes by having sex. That seems a bit of a question-begging move, though. It is perhaps less so if you distinguish (as Wren does) between sex and “unprotected sex.”
It is the case, of course, that men are often held to assume a duty of support (for a longer period, if not in such an intimate fashion) simply by having sex, even when such sex is not “unprotected.” (And sometimes men are held to assume such a duty even when the child in question isn’t theirs at all.) This is a stress-line in abortion doctrine and family law that has gotten more attention in recent years, but not enough. (I had an idea for another article on this topic, entitled “Ejaculation as an Ultra-Hazardous Activity” — but that one, too, is probably best left unwritten.)
Meanwhile, in response to my earlier post, reader Lawrence Kaplan emails: “I’m putting together a wish list that starts with the Nikon D70 a 28 to 200 zoom and a good flash unit. What do you use and/or what would you recommend as the best choice for a flash?”
Unfortunately, I can’t help from firsthand experience (I buy the stuff I write about — manufacturers unaccountably don’t send me freebies). I’m still using my ancient Vivitar 283 when I use a flash at all, which is seldom as I prefer natural light. But reader P.J. Swenson, who sent the link to the India photos above, also sent a link to this review of the Nikon SB-600 flash, which is cheaper than the SB-800 and, according to the review, probably better in many ways. I can’t comment from firsthand experience, though.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
I have been using a Cannon S110 (2.1MP) for the last three, almost four years. It takes great photos and the small size makes it so easy to carry, that I’ve almost completely given up using my 35mm SLR(Minolta XG-1) that has been my trusty companion since 1982.
Just last month, I upgraded to a Cannon S500 (5MP). I have been too busy to get out and use it lately, but will as soon as time permits.
Anyway, please keep the links to digital photography and photos going on the weekends. It’s a refreshing break, kind of like Friday cat blogging.
That’s kind of my feeling. It can’t all be war and politics. And the small-camera point is a good one. The camera that you carry with you is always better than the one that’s in a drawer at home! Meanwhile, reader Rick Lee disagrees with one aspect of the review I link above:
I use the SB-80DX which predates the 800/600 flashes.
The reviewer dismisses the built-in white card and the inclusion of the dome diffuser… it’s true you can get replacements, but I fear that many buyers won’t get around to it. As a professional, I take MOST of my (on-camera) flash pictures using either the dome (mostly) or the white card with bounce. The difference in the lighting quality from using the dome vs straight flash is HUGE and one shouldn’t ignore that. Bouncing from a ceiling while using a white index card rubber banded to the flash gives a very similar look but is, of course, a little messy.
I don’t do a lot of “on-camera-flash” type shooting. Mostly I’m setting up elaborate lighting setups… but I do a little bit of “event-coverage” stuff which requires on-camera flash and I prefer that it doesn’t LOOK like on-camera flash.
I don’t like flash either. And I don’t like flash that’s right above the lens, because the flat, shadowless lighting it produces looks lifeless and dead to me.
AS USUAL WITH HIS BLOGOSPHERIC EFFORTS, JAMES WOLCOTT IS A DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT, having been reduced to recycling ancient bogus claims of t-shirt racism. It’s a sad but accurate reflection of the state of the East Coast literary establishment, when its members are reduced to making troll-posts on the Internet in a desperate bid for attention.
UPDATE: From the trackbacks on Wolcott’s post, I see that some people are giving him a hard time. Far be it from me to say he doesn’t deserve it, but I think his extra-pungent bitterness these days comes from self-reproach over having single-handedly delivered Florida to the Bush campaign. . . .
“IMAGINE JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER FRONTING A PUNK BAND:” Hmm. Malcolm Forbes, easily. John D.? Well, maybe, though I see him as more of a rapper. . . .
CREEPING PROHIBITIONISM: This cartoon is sadly apt.
I’M A BIG FAN OF DAVID HACKETT FISCHER’S ALBION’S SEED: Now he’s got a new book out, Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America’s Founding Ideas. I haven’t read it yet, but there’s a post about it over at ChicagoBoyz. Meanwhile, here’s a post I wrote on his last book, Washington’s Crossing.
IT’S NOT QUITE A FISKING, but Ann Althouse offers an extensive critique of Jeff Rosen’s article on the Supreme Court that I linked yesterday.
IT’S A LITTLE LATE for Friday catblogging, but there’s no rule against Saturday catblogging. Taken by the InstaDaughter, with this. She’s actually getting to be a pretty good photographer.
NEAL POLLACK’S ADVICE TO DEMOCRATS: “The last three Democratic Presidents came from Texas, Georgia, and Arkansas, respectively. I say this to all of you who think it’s funny and wise to say ‘fuck the South.’ If you fuck the South, you’re fucking yourselves.”
Assuming that you care about winning elections, anyway.
UPDATE: Steve Sturm responds. And a reader emails:
By keeping their disdain for red staters in the news, blue staters are hurting themselves. Don’t get me wrong. I love that we’re having an honest debate with liberals not trying to hide who they are. However, folks that voted for Bush already understand what the elites think of them. This venom spewed by the left is just a validation not a surprise. On the other hand, if you were on the fence, but voted for Kerry, I fail to understand how this vile mockery of 60,000,000 is attractive. The folks posting this stuff must fancy themselves the high school clique who gets to decide what’s cool for the rest of us. I’ve got news. After you grow up, the only place this works is in Hollywood and Manhattan.
Yeah. And the hysterical overreaction to losing the election demonstrates just how much of their self-image is tied up in that role. And on that point, it’s worth reading this Reason article from 1999 on the Matthew Shepard case and the media’s treatment of so-called “hate states.” Conclusion: “In Wyoming, there are a few bigots who don’t like gays. In the media, there are a lot more bigots who don’t like Wyoming.”
SOMETIMES TECHNOLOGISTS SHOULD JUST SAY NO: What if terrorists get hold of one of these?
NOT ALL THOSE WHO WANDER are lost.
HEH: “Question authority, but not ours. Hate the man, but we’re not him.”
UPDATE: Reader Thomas Van Gilder emails: “I’m on the verge of getting the Nikon D70 and am wondering if you would recommend the ‘standard’ lens that is most often bundled with it. I scrolled through your D70 comments and couldn’t find anything but an oblique reference to the lens that came with your D70.”
Dang. That’s an omission. The “kit” lens (it’s an 18-70 ED) that comes with the D70 outfit is a very respectable piece of glass. The quality is excellent, and the focal range is quite versatile, though I often find myself wishing for a bit more reach at the telephoto end. I’ve also got the 28-200mm zoom that I wrote about here. I’d like the 12-24mm wide-zoom lens, too, but it’s a bit pricey. (I did buy this 50mm normal lens though — it was cheap, at under a hundred bucks, and it’s fast and sharp). Other questions answered here. If you wind up buying a D70 — or a Canon Digital Rebel, which is an excellent camera, too, despite my Nikon-preference — be aware that there are rebates out on both. More information on those at DPreview.com.
And, by the way, if you’re into making video you might be interested in this veterans’ living history project sponsored by the Library of Congress and currently being touted by my brother.
MORE: Gigapixel images? I won’t be taking these any time soon.
And here, just because I ran across the URL, is my D70 review for Gizmodo from last year.
STILL MORE: Over at Entropy Manor we get this observation: “I need an inexpensive hobby which gets me away from the computer thank you.”
MORE STILL: Got this email on the kit lens:
Dennis here (of the ‘aurora borealis’ link you posted recently). I agree completely with your assessment of the 18-70mm kit lens being included with the D70. One additional note is how well-built, quiet, and fast the lens is. It’s a great all-purpose unit that is well worth purchasing, even for people who only have a D70 body.
Yes, I’m very happy with that lens.
And reader Mike Maas sends this link to a page of high-resolution images that I think I’ve mentioned before. But it’s still cool.
FIRSTHAND REPORTING FROM IRAQ, with photos, at The Mudville Gazette. Don’t miss it.
AXIS OF WEASELS is continuing to sell well. Congratulations, Scott!
RODNEY KING AND THE CIA: Fritz Schranck says there’s a parallel.
Voting coalitions are ruled by the least committed members.
So the question to the cultural conservatives is: do you want 2004 to be the Republican high water mark or would you like to extend the string?
We’ll find out the answer to that question soon.
UPDATE: Jeff Rosen:
In the last 36 years, four Republican presidents have appointed all but two of the current nine justices.
But on the most contested social issues – abortion, affirmative action, school prayer and gay rights – the court has sided with liberals, while only modestly advancing the deregulatory agenda of the Republicans.
“If the goal of Republican presidents was to build a court that exercised its own power with greater restraint or adhered strictly to the original constitutional text, then they have clearly failed,” said Thomas Keck, a political science professor at Syracuse University and author of “The Most Activist Supreme Court in History.”
Read the whole thing.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Of course, as I should have noted, this book is essential reading on the subject!
THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES is up!
MORE DEBUNKING of election-fraud theories.
THE IDEA Of SETTING UP AN OIL TRUST to deliver oil revenues directly to the Iraqi people originally appeared here in March of 2003, was picked up by Michael Barone and some others, and then didn’t seem to go anywhere. But now it’s reappearing:
Ba’athist dead-enders are, in essence, fighting to regain the power to steal fellow Iraqis’ wealth — and kill anyone who objects. Their terrorist allies would also be hurt by the creation of the Freedom Trust. The commonsense justice of giving Iraqis a personal stake in their own oil wealth would undercut terrorists’ appeal to Iraqi youth. These “militants” would suddenly find themselves defined as fighting to steal young Iraqis’ future, while Iraq’s Army and National Guards would be fighting to defend that future. .
It is deeply disappointing that the Bush Administration, which is advancing the virtues of an “ownership society” in America has not advanced any creative ideas for using Iraq’s oil to benefit its people directly. Nor has the Allawi government laid out any path away from the regional tradition of state-centered oil paternalism and public clientelism. Yet it is difficult to conceive a policy action that could better clarify what it means to “liberate” Iraq, empower its people, and create real common ground for a national rebirth. Reform in the distribution of oil revenue is as critical to “winning the peace” in Iraq as land reform was to fostering democracy in post-war Japan.
By sharing some of Iraq’s vast oil wealth with its people, a new Iraqi government could foster the rise of a broad-based, democratic middle class. It could turn black gold into liquid freedom, the fuel for democracy and the engine of development. The Freedom Trust would give the Iraqi people, and their new police and Army, a future to believe in — and fight for. This single move would do more than any other initiative to help secure a lasting peace, grounded in justice. And such a peace may be the only outcome that could, in some small measure, redeem the sacrifices that Americans and Iraqis are now enduring.
While some people have raised reasonable-sounding objections to this approach, so far I haven’t seen anything that should be a deal-killer, and the failure to go forward with this idea has probably been the Administration’s biggest mistake in Iraq. After the transfer of sovereignty, of course, this is for the Iraqi government to do. But it seems like an idea that it ought to consider, and that we ought to encourage it to consider.
UPDATE: Reader Roy Mumaw notices that StrategyPage has picked this idea up.
And read this article from Slate on how Norway handles things.
W.H.O. WILL APPROVE EXPERIMENTS WITH GENETICALLY-ALTERED SMALLPOX — which suggests to me that someone is worried that such smallpox is already a threat, from somewhere.
I GUESS I’M A COLUMN-A KIND OF GUY, REALLY — but with more column-B characteristics than most.
HEH. Yes, there are a few parallels in their platforms.
The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $4 million in grants to study the health and environmental risks posed by manufactured nanomaterials — the new and invisibly tiny materials that are revolutionizing many industries but whose effects on living things remain largely unknown.
The grants to a dozen universities mark the first significant federal effort to assess the biological and medical implications of nanotechnology, a burgeoning field of science that is expected to become a trillion-dollar industry within the next decade.
I’m not surprised, and I think this is a good thing. You can read my account of the EPA Science Advisory Board meeting where this was discussed here.
SCOTT PETERSON IS GUILTY OF FIRST DEGREE MURDER: Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft is doing a LiveChat discussion on the Washington Post site at this very moment. No doubt there will be more stuff on her blog as well. And she’ll be on Hannity and Colmes tonight with more discussion.
My main feeling is disappointment that it’s over: For many, many months I’ve been able to look up at TVs in bars, restaurants, the gym, etc. — and when the Peterson trial was on, I knew right away that there was no actual news to report. Now I’ve lost that valuable tool.
And here’s a gallery of action photos from the National Wakeboarding championship.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader J.D. Metcalf likes this site.
And I should note that I’ve been very happy with my photo-hosting service, ExposureManager.com. You can see my photo galleries here. I’ve also ordered prints from them with excellent results, including one 20×30 print that was tack-sharp and dirt-cheap.
BLOGS AND POLITICS: This article echoes something that I’ve said before — if Kerry had hired Joe Trippi, he’d probably be President-elect now.
Of course, the notion of using blogs to make a rapid response to the Swift Boat Vets’ allegations might have stumbled on the Kerry campaign’s big problem, which is that it didn’t have a very good response. But more active use of blogs would at least have kept them from being taken by surprise.
WELL, DANG: It looks as if the Times Literary Supplement review of Jim Bennett’s new book isn’t going to be available online to nonsubscribers, at least not today. But North Sea Diaries has a bit of it. And I’ve got a bit more below — click “read more” to read it.
THOUGHTS ON RELIGION AND DEMOCRACY, over at The Belmont Club.
“Wild Crowds, Gunfire Force Hasty Arafat Burial:” If the Palestinian “authorities” can’t even organize a funeral, how are they going to run a country? The answer, judging from past experience, is “miserably, violently and with massive corruption.”
IS THE TIMES TRYING TO MAKE BLOGS LOOK BAD? Yesterday I linked to a Wall Street Journal piece asking:
Is it just me, or does the whole mainstream-media-generated controversy over blogs savor of an attempt to score a hit against blogs out of pique and envy? . . . Would it be unrealistic to see the gleeful reporting on the fallibility of the blogs as a feeble and rather clueless attempt to dent their credibility — in effect, to say, you’d better leave it to the pros next time? Of course, virtually all the mainstream media (MSM) cheerfully jumped on the supposed Kerry victory bandwagon, leading, as blogger Mickey Kaus put it, to the “Seven-Hour Presidency of JFK.” But then the MSM have never been too good at self-analysis.
Now some people are suggesting that this NYT article, which is admittedly a bit hard on Kos and others, is an example of that phenomenon. I’d have to give it mixed marks though. First, to its credit, it debunks the election-fraud conspiracy theories. (“‘We know this was an emotional election, and the losing side is very upset,’ said Daniel Hoffheimer, the lead lawyer for the Kerry campaign in Ohio. But, he said, ‘I have not seen anything to indicate intentional fraud or tampering.’”) Second, it makes this point:
But while the widely read universe of Web logs was often blamed for the swift propagation of faulty analyses, the blogosphere, as it has come to be known, spread the rumors so fast that experts were soon able to debunk them, rather than allowing them to linger and feed conspiracy theories. Within days of the first rumors of a stolen election, in fact, the most popular theories were being proved wrong – though many were still reluctant to let them go.
It’s Mickey Kaus’s asymptotic approach to the truth. (On the other hand, though the article doesn’t mention it, semi-mainstream guys, like Keith Olbermann, have been in many ways no more skeptical than the blogosphere.)
Of course, it would have been fairer to the blogosphere had the Times noted that some blogs — like, ahem, this one — were appropriately skeptical of both the early exit polls and the post-election fraud/conspiracy theories.
UPDATE: Bryan Preston is less charitable, and thinks that the Times is trying to use lefty blogs to discredit the entire blogosphere: “The legacy media empire, burned by a couple of years of legitimate blogger triumphalism over catching the media in various forms of bias and hackery, will use the election conspiracy theories and the exit poll fiasco to strike back at the rebels. . . . Watch for more of this bloggers-can’t-be-trusted reporting.”
UPDATE: Reader John MacDonald thinks that Preston is right here, and adds: “CBS will go on the offensive, instead of answering questions: Wait for them to do hard hitting analysis of the blogosphere in order to diminish its credibility. . . . Riding out the storm isn’t going to cut it because their integrity is shot to hell by doing nothing.” I think it’s pretty well shot regardless.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:
On Hardball tonight it was transparently obvious Chris Matthews has picked up on the meme to put bloggers down by criticizing the behaviour of left-wing bloggers solely (re conspiracy theories regarding the election) without mentioning it is left-wing bloggers’ behaviour they are talking about. Susan Molinari also chimed in strongly on the same theme, though in her case she just seems ignorant of blogs and bloggers altogether.
I predict that this strategy will work as well as their ceaseless flacking for Kerry did.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: More — including lots of links — here.
SANDY BERGER UPDATE: Er, or non-update. My RatherGate followup post, below, led a couple of readers to ask what’s going on with the Sandy Berger “pantsgate” story. Beats me, and I couldn’t find anything recent on Google News.
THE RIGHT TO ARMS AND CONCEALED CARRY: Dave Kopel has posted a draft of his forthcoming law review article, for those who are interested.
ROGER SIMON WONDERS who to believe:
The Syrian Defense Minister called Arafat “the son of sixty thousand whores,” but Jimmy Carter called him “a powerful human symbol and forceful advocate” for a Palestinian homeland.
I know what I think.
“I HATE ILLINOIS NAZIS.” That line, referenced below, is from the Blues Brothers movie.
The fancy car stunts in that movie were coordinated by George Koopman, who was a founder of an early commercial-space company, The American Rocket Company. Amroc was a pioneer in solid/liquid hybrid rocket engines of the sort used in SpaceShipOne to win the X-Prize.
Another founder of the American Rocket Company was Jim Bennett, now best known for his UPI columns and his new book, The Anglosphere Challenge: Why the English-Speaking Nations Will Lead the Way in the Twenty-First Century. (Bennett’s book gets a nice review in this weekend’s Times Literary Supplement — I’ll post a link when it’s available online). Other space-movement bloggers include Rand Simberg and Dale Amon of Samizdata. Just a bit of background for those playing six-degrees-of-separation and wondering “how do these people know each other?”
UPDATE: Another blogger with a Burt Rutan connection. To which I should add that I was on the National Space Society Board of Directors with Buzz Aldrin, who’s a business partner of Rutan’s.
DANIEL HENNINGER SURVEYS THE FALLOUT FROM RATHERGATE and some other journalistic scandals:
The prominent case studies here are Dan Rather’s failed National Guard story on CBS and the front page the past year of the New York Times (a proxy for many large dailies). Add in as well Big Media’s handling of Abu Ghraib, a real story that got blown into a monthlong bonfire that obviously was intended to burn down the legitimacy of the war in Iraq. I think many people thought the over-the-top Abu Ghraib coverage, amid a war, was the media shouting fire in a crowded theater. . . .
Two months ago, Gallup reported that public belief in the media’s ability to report news accurately and fairly had fallen to 44%–what Gallup called a significant drop from 54% just a year ago. The larger media outlets have been pushing the edge of the partisanship envelope for a long time. People have kvetched about “spin” for years but then largely internalized it. Not in 2004. Big Media chose precisely the wrong moment to give itself over to an apparent compulsion to overthrow the Bush presidency.
He’s not entirely pleased with this outcome, nor should he be. Read the whole thing.
THANKS to all the folks who’ve been making donations through the Amazon and PayPal buttons. Each one offsets dozens of hatemails.
I HATE NAZIS. But I love John Howard.
NS greetings, we would like to proudly announce our intention to field National Socialist Movement candidates in the 2008 Presidential Race. These probable Candidates would be for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency of the United States of America. We will announce the names of these individuals, along with our Public Proclamation in 2007, and perhaps others running for Public Office within the National Socialist Movement.
No openly National Socialist Candidate has ran for the Presidency of the United States, since Commander George Lincoln Rockwell planned on doing so, prior to his assassination in the 1960′s. The National Socialist Movement hear by declares its intention to change that, and give the American People a probable choice when they go to the ballot booths in 2008.
The American People deserve far better than to have to make an ill informed choice between the lesser of two evils. Let them vote National Socialist in 2008.
Well, we disagree on a lot of things. Nazis. I hate those guys. (And the Illinois ones, too.)
I’VE BEEN REALLY HAPPY WITH MY NIKON D70 (some sample pix here and here). Now DPreview reports rebates on Nikon and Canon digital SLRs for anyone out there who may be on the fence. I have, by the way, added links to DPreview and Steve’s Digicams — along with Glenn Fleishman’s WiFi Networking News — to the “recommended” section over on the right, replacing the various candidate blogs that were there for months. I’m happy to make the change, which I hope will anticipate a shift away from the recent extra-heavy emphasis on politics.
WAITING FOR NEWS ON RATHERGATE: Over at GlennReynolds.com.
UPDATE: RatherGate envy?
ANOTHER UPDATE: From today’s Wall Street Journal:
Is it just me, or does the whole mainstream-media-generated controversy over blogs savor of an attempt to score a hit against blogs out of pique and envy? Blogs completely changed the tenor of reporting in this campaign, notably giving CBS and the New York Times black eyes at crucial moments. Would it be unrealistic to see the gleeful reporting on the fallibility of the blogs as a feeble and rather clueless attempt to dent their credibility — in effect, to say, you’d better leave it to the pros next time? Of course, virtually all the mainstream media (MSM) cheerfully jumped on the supposed Kerry victory bandwagon, leading, as blogger Mickey Kaus put it, to the “Seven-Hour Presidency of JFK.” But then the MSM have never been too good at self-analysis.
It’s not just you.
And this CBS apology isn’t for RatherGate. Sheesh.
UPDATE: Reader Hunter Weatherly emails: “CBS Apology explained: People actually watch CSI!”
LIFE CAN BE SWEET.
VANITY FAIR HAS LAUNCHED ITS NEW WEBSITE, with a feature that looks suspiciously as if it might turn into a blog. I hope so.
MARTIN PERETZ: “I actually believe that, had Lieberman won the nomination, he would have won the election. . . . John Kerry would not have been a good president; he might even have been a dangerously bad one. Next time, Democrats need to nominate not merely a candidate who they imagine can win but a candidate who deserves to.”
UPDATE: Read this, too: “I think its safe to say that a majority of American voters have rejected the ‘not-Bush’ doctrine.”
GERRYMANDERING IN THE HOUSE: David Broder says it’s more of a threat to democracy than many appreciate:
The Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to rehear the Texas redistricting case, but unless it someday decides to curb partisan gerrymandering, the makeup of the House is almost immune to change. Thanks to rigged boundaries and the incumbents’ immense fundraising advantage, nearly 96 percent of the “races” were won by a margin of at least 10 percent. Richie noted that 29 of the 33 open seats (with no incumbents running) stayed with the same party. The turnout of voters was about 50 percent higher than in off-year 2002, but party ratios in the House barely budged.
At the founding of this republic, House members were given the shortest terms — half the length of the president’s, one-third that of senators — to ensure that they would be sensitive to any shifts in public opinion. Now they have more job security than the queen of England — and as little need to seek their subjects’ assent.
This is a real problem.
UPDATE: A reader sends this link to a New Yorker article by Jeffrey Toobin. Several other readers note that gerrymandering is suddenly being seen as much more of a threat to democracy now that it’s protecting Republican incumbents. That’s probably true, but that doesn’t mean the basic point isn’t right.
Perhaps we should look to Iowa.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More on gerrymandering from Prof. Bainbridge.
PHONECARDS FOR THE TROOPS: Go here if you’d like to help.
I WROTE ABOUT THE RELIGIOUS LEFT in my first Guardian column on the elections, and now Dan Gerstein is encouraging Democrats to show “More Muscle, More God, Less Shrum.” And in what probably isn’t a coincidence, it looks as if Hillary Clinton is trying to boost the amount of God-talk on the Left.
I guess “Jesusland” is expanding to the blue states — though if you’ll read my Guardian column you’ll see that it was really always there.
UPDATE: More thoughts on religion, here.
I WAS GOING TO GIVE THE WHOLE CBS THING A REST, but this Colby Cosh response to Eric Engberg’s piece is too good not to mention.
And, say, when is that RatherGate investigation going to be complete?
I never seriously considered attending, as it was my plan all along to take things relatively easy post-election, and cross-country travel doesn’t go with that. I enjoyed the first Bloggercon at Harvard very much, despite feeling a bit ganged-up-on by people who thought I was foolish for not endorsing their characterization of the Plame case — hmm, my take is looking better with time, though, isn’t it? — but I’m a lawyer and thick-skinned. I havent’ been since then, but I get the sense that these events are taking on more and more of Dave Winer’s personality and slant. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it will tend to narrow their audience.
UPDATE: Speaking of blog get-togethers, here’s one asking whether blogs tipped the election, featuring Ana Marie Cox, Daniel Drezner, Henry Farrell, and Michael Tomasky.
HUGH HEWITT writes that the activists who are going after Arlen Specter could learn a few lessons from Zell Miller, and adds:
Parties do have to agree on some non-negotiables. For Republicans that list includes a commitment to battle obstructionism in the judicial confirmation process, but it ought not to include a loyalty oath on every nominee. I and the vast majority of Republicans are pro-life, but I know there aren’t enough pro-life votes in the country to empower a governing coalition.
George W. Bush collected around 59,750,000 votes, about 3.5 million more than did John Kerry.
What percentage of Bush’s votes were pro-choice, I wonder? Thirty? Twenty? Ten?
Even if it is only 10 percent, those 5.7 million votes provided Bush with his margin of popular-vote victory. Should the first action of the new Senate be the announcement that pro-choice Republicans will not be trusted with power? . . .
Beginning a new era with a purge is simply the worst possible politics, a self-inflicted wound, and one the consequences of which could be far reaching and awful.
Seems right to me. Hugh makes another useful point, too: “A party without a vigorous minority loses the ability to police itself. And then the nuts rush in.”
UPDATE: Brett Thomas says that the percentage is pretty big: “roughly 20.8 million, or 35% of Bush’s voters in 2004 think abortion should be “Always Legal” or “Mostly Legal” (including your humble author). You lose twenty percent of those voters and we’re quite possibly sitting here wondering who President Kerry is going to appoint.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Anti-Specter blogger Countertop Chronicles finds Hugh persuasive: “[T]his is probably in line with my long standing prior position, my hard and fast rule of political and life survival, Pigs Get Slaughtered. Conservatives should take a breather and learn a lesson from gay rights activists, who probably regret filing that Massachusetts lawsuit right now.”
MORE: Reader Paul Stukel says that Hugh and I have it wrong:
At issue is not whether Specter is pro-life or not pro-life. What is at issue is whether Specter agrees with the broad spectrum of conservative, libertarian and moderate thought that the Courts shouldn’t be an alternative, unelected legislature. The concept of a “living Constitution” is completely oxymoronic (particularly when our Constitution provides a very straightforward process when “updating” is needed – nowhere therein, I might add, is a provision for unelected judges to take care of that for us), and completely antithetical to liberty. Surely you understand that. Specter clearly does not.
Again, it’s not about pro-life. It’s about Constitutional integrity. Why are we confusing the two?
Well, I can see that argument. But I don’t see it as the one that the folks at The Corner are making.
FREDERICK TURNER writes on religious and secular voting in America.
SCOTT OTT’S BOOK, AXIS OF WEASELS, is doing very well on Amazon, in terms of both sales-rank and reviews. I look forward to it becoming a major motion picture!
MAX BOOT: “It is considered bad form to speak ill of the dead, but I will make an exception for Yasser Arafat, the pathetic embodiment of all that went wrong in the Third World after the demise of the European empires.”
Read the whole thing.
NPR’S ANNE GARRELS IS REPORTING that Sarin nerve gas has been found in Fallujah. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: NPR has changed the story to say that it’s kits to test for Sarin. Thanks to reader Gary Schamburg for the tip.
THERE’S AN INTERESTING DEBATE ON AGING RESEARCH between Aubrey de Grey and Jay Olshansky, over at FightAging.org.
SOME INTERESTING THOUGHTS on the shocking lack of diversity in higher education, in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
HAPPY VETERANS DAY: InstaPundit’s Afghanistan photo-correspondent, Major John Tammes, sends this photo and reports: “Every time I accompany one of our patrols in the area, it seems like the circus has come to town. We manage to draw a crowd no matter how isolated an area we visit. This is what we saw near Hassankheyl – a nearly deserted village that is starting to show signs of life again. Or at least signs of kids and camels…”
That’s life, though I’m fonder of the former than the latter.
UPDATE: More Veterans’ Day thoughts here.
GERMANY SAYS “SORRY!”
AN “EXHAUSTIVE SEARCH” OF WEB PHOTOS featuring Kate Beckinsale’s breasts, over at the ContractsProf blog: Just more evidence that law professors will undergo any hardship in our ceaseless quest for the truth.
NOT EVERYONE WILL BE SAD ABOUT THIS NEWS:
The BBC is planning to axe as many as 50 per cent of jobs across the board, insiders revealed today.
A raft of cuts is being designed to prove the BBC is giving value for money before a review of its 10-year royal charter in 2006.
High-ranking sources say earlier rumours of 6,000 losses from 28,000 staff may turn out to be a wild underestimate.
Payback for the Gilligan affair? Probably not.
GOOD RIDDANCE: CNN is reporting that Arafat is dead.
IF A REPUBLICAN WROTE THIS, it would be homophobic. Luckily, one didn’t.
UPDATE: Reader William Aronstein writes: “Dear Professor Reynolds: It’s not luck.”
PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE: “If it had been anybody else than US Senators, the SEC would have been sending out subpoenas and combing trading records and generally doing its thing. Punks.”
YES, IT’S A TOPSY-TURVY WORLD we live in, these days.
ARNOLD KLING OFFERS reality-based election analysis.
Leaders of a United States Senate subcommittee investigating allegations of fraud in the oil-for-food program in Iraq have accused Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, of obstructing their inquiry.
In a letter sent to Mr. Annan yesterday, the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations charged that the secretary general and a panel he appointed to conduct an independent investigation into the charges of abuses appeared to be “affirmatively preventing” the Senate from getting documents from a former United Nations contractor that inspected goods bought by Iraq. . . .
(Via Tom Maguire).
IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY: That’s the name of a new blog devoted to the 2008 elections. I’m not so sure that it’s never too early. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s too early right now. . . .
WOW, LOTS OF PRO-GUN READERS AT DAILY KOS: Who knew?
TENNESSEE’S DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR PHIL BREDESEN plans to scrap the state’s TennCare medical program as too expensive. TennCare was a testbed for HillaryCare, and a model for Kerry’s health care reform plan.
UPDATE: Michael Silence has a roundup, and notes that Tennessee’s plan covered a higher percentage of the populace (nearly a quarter of Tennesseans) than any other state plan.
ANOTHER UPDATE: SKBubba: “The more I think about it the more think it’s a bluff — brilliant political theater unlike anything in recent Tennessee history. And it will work for the Governor, one way or another.” As I’ve said before, national Democrats who want to win elections could learn a lot from Bredesen.
And there’s more on TennCare’s problems, here.
MORE: Bill Hobbs has some thoughts on what Bredesen is trying to accomplish.
SCOTT OTT’S NEW BOOK, Axis of Weasels, is out. He assures me that it makes a perfect Christmas or Hanukkah gift. Also good for weddings, wakes, and bar mitzvahs!
You’ll notice some prominent bloggers in the Amazon reviews.
DON’T MISS THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES, where the theme is “Things Having Nothing To Do With Partisan Politics.”
GOOD RIDDANCE: Martin Peretz on John Kerry:
Still, the extreme and bitter judgments against the citizenry after this election are especially tendentious. For what the electorate did on Nov. 2 was essentially (or maybe just merely) turn down John Kerry, a candidate who until very late in the Democratic primaries was almost no one’s choice as the nominee, the party’s last option because it could rally around no one else. What a pathetic vessel in which to have placed liberalism’s hopes! A senator for two decades who had stood for nothing, really nothing. . . .
Had you noticed, by the way, that money in politics ceased to be an issue for the Democrats? There’s no mystery why this is so. They and those 527s that circled around the Kerry effort collected much more money than they could spend usefully, which is why there were so many inane ads aimed unnecessarily at New York voters in the New York Times. The problem of money in politics, it turns out, was actually just Republican money. But all the Democratic money that was raised — nearly $100 million from George Soros, University of Phoenix founder John Sperling, and the imperious chairman of the Progressive Corporation Peter Lewis alone — accomplished, let’s face it, nothing.
If, however, Mr. Kerry had won, there was a chance, insiders say, that Mr. Soros would have been made secretary of state or of the Treasury. Imagine Mr. Soros at his first meetings with the ministers of finance of allied countries whose currencies he’d once trashed. Perhaps he would lecture them on the virtues of multilateralism.
Ouch. Read the whole thing. The Soros money was not a complete waste, however, as it purchased a few blogads here, and helped pay for the laptop with which I’m posting this entry. Thanks, George! Your legacy lives on.
UPDATE: Reader Kent Guida wants to know which laptop I bought. It was this Dell Inspiron 700m. I managed to use one of those $750 coupons that were briefly floating around. I’m quite happy with it so far — battery life with the extended-life battery is quite good, and the display is excellent. It’s also quite light.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Not as light as that Amazon page says, though. If it were, I’d have to duct-tape it to a brick to keep it from floating away. . . .
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Check out the Cordair art gallery blogad to the right: “Funding for this BlogAd Certified Soros-Free.” Heh. That’s pretty funny.
RANDY BARNETT SAYS HE’S out of the running for the Attorney General slot.
UPDATE: Bill Hobbs suggests Fred Thompson: “Everybody trusts Fred Thompson. After the polarizing John Ashcroft, that counts for something.”
Not a bad idea. I mean, since we can’t have Randy Barnett.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jerry Shaw emails: “Rather than Attorney General, how about Fred Thompson as the new Chief Justice?”
OVER AT CORANTE, Ernest Miller interviews Jeff Jarvis on the future of media:
* Control: I say the most revolutionary invention in media was not the Gutenberg press but the remote control. It and the cable box, the VCR, and the TiVo enabled us to control consumption of media — and we took advantage of that. Bad TV died; good TV rose in the ratings; HBO was born; TV exploded; TV improved — thanks to the good taste and newfound control of the American public.
* Creation: Now come tools that let us create media: blogging software (which is merely history’s cheapest easiest publishing tool connected to history’s best distribution network) and all those neat things that come with Macs today. They allow us to make text, photo, audio, and video media. And what we make has value. Jonathan Miller, head of AOL, told me that 60-70 percent of the time spent on his service is spent with content created by his audience. That’s where the money is.
Read the whole thing. He’s probably right that TV’s better overall — though I think that Gilligan’s Island beats Survivor: Vanuatu any day.
Among the legacy media, the mood is what it must have been inside the Kremlin the day after the Berlin Wall fell. Lost power, diminished influence, and the sinking feeling that a lot of people can now ignore you. The term “legacy media” is a precise one. In the computer biz, “legacy systems” are old, outdated, and must be replaced if their purpose is to be served. It’s happening in the media, and the process is accelerating.
Except that, actually, “legacy systems” tend to outlive their usefulness simply because replacing them is a lot of trouble. That may be the Big Media’s salvation. . . .
BASICALLY, Bush did better everywhere than he did in 2000.
EVERYBODY’S GIVING ADVICE TO THE DEMOCRATS: Now John Tabin is offering advice to the Republicans. It’s good advice, too.
HERE’S VIDEO of ABC’s Carole Simpson explaining that Bush voters are unrepentant slaveholders, or somesuch.