December 5, 2004
AS GENUINE AS A DAN RATHER MEMO! The Protein Wisdom Jacques Chirac interview.
AS GENUINE AS A DAN RATHER MEMO! The Protein Wisdom Jacques Chirac interview.
SELF-DEFENSE ACTIVISM IN BRITAIN:
Remember Robert Symonds? It is the name of the 45-year-old Putney teacher who six weeks ago was stabbed to death in the hall of his home by a burglar. His body was found by his wife while their two children slept upstairs.
It was as a result of that incident that this newspaper launched our “right to fight back” campaign, which calls for the public to be given an unqualified right to self defence against intruders in their own homes. The point that struck me so forcibly at the time was not just the horror of Mr Symonds’s death, but the fact that had Mr Symonds picked up a kitchen knife before encountering the burglar, and managed to get blows in first, then he would now, as the law stands, be facing a murder trial.
The defenders of the status quo argue that a jury might acquit, on grounds that such self-defence was “reasonable force”. We argue that such cases should never even be considered as crimes in the first place.
I agree. In fact, as self-defense against burglars generates positive exernalities, by reducing the number of burglars, and their willingness to break into homes which might be occupied (thus reducing the risk that people will suffer Mr. Symonds’ fate), there’s a good economic argument that it ought to be not simply tolerated, but actively encouraged and even subsidized.
THE FOLKS AT TIME send a press release with this kicker:
New York – President George W. Bush’s cabinet is more diverse than National Public Radio, Tavis Smiley tells TIME in an exclusive interview. “It is ironic that a Republican President has an Administration that is more inclusive and more diverse than a so-called liberal-media-élite network,” Smiley says.
That’s got to hurt.
UPDATE: Here’s a link to the full interview, and here’s the exact quote:
WHAT’S MORE DIVERSE THESE DAYS — NPR OR PRESIDENT BUSH’S CABINET?
Bush’s Cabinet. It is ironic that a Republican President has an Administration that is more inclusive and more diverse than a so-called liberal-media-elite network.
IS THAT AN ORANGE TIE on Bush in this picture? Looks that way.
Several readers emailed with various Turtledove observations — one saw him at the Los Angeles Science Fiction Writers’ Assocation last week, where he observed that if he had actually gotten an academic job with his Ph.D. in Byzantine history, that would have been a seriously alternative history.
Speaking of matters Byzantine, I really liked his Justinian, written under the name “H.N. Turtletaub.” In an Amazon review, I asked why the different name, and he emailed me that he already had too many books coming out that year and his publisher insisted that he use a different name. That’s probably his biggest weakness as a writer: He writes too many books. It’s hypocritical of me to say that, since I eagerly await the new ones, but it’s still true.
I’m not sure what I’ll read next. I was planning to read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but I think it’s too big to fit in my backpack and I need something portable right now. Hmm.
MY KOFI ANNAN / VACLAV HAVEL COLUMN from the Wall Street Journal on Monday is now up with a free link at OpinionJournal.
I THINK THIS IS IMPRACTICAL for a number of reasons, but reader Alan Martin suggests Arnold Schwarzenegger as a replacement for Kofi Annan:
* Proven executive talent.
* Derails 99 44/100ths% of the fuss over repealing the Natural Born
* Places the onus on critics to explain why he’s any *less* qualified
than the man he’d be replacing.
* Establishes an environment where the chattering classes would be so
busy ridiculing him they wouldn’t have the energy to oppose him.
They’d wake up one day to find the institution irreversibly fixed.
Heh. It’s fun to think about. And it’s amazing just how many candidates do well in the “places the onus” department. . . .
Meanwhile, here’s a critical response to the New York Times’ defense of Kofi this morning.
SOME INTERESTING — and likely constructive — goings-on within the Democratic Party leadership.
OUCH: Press watchdog beheaded by razor-sharp tongue.
The son of Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary-General, lobbied for business contacts at gatherings of UN officials on behalf of a company in the same year as it won an oil-for-food programme deal, it has emerged.
The second disclosure in a week about Kojo Annan’s role with the Swiss company Cotecna Inspection Services, which secured the $4.8 million (£2.46 million) UN contract to monitor goods entering and leaving Iraq in 1998, has raised embarrassing questions for his father.
UKRAINE UPDATE: Newsweek is calling it Putin’s Pratfall:
Dec. 13 issue – To Vladimir Putin, the cheers ringing through Kiev’s aptly named Independence Square must have sounded like catcalls from hell. Only three weeks before, in a ham-handed display of Kremlin bullying, Putin had championed his own dubious candidate for Ukraine’s presidency, ex-convict Viktor Yanukovych. A fraud-tainted election followed, and the Russian leader haughtily dismissed calls for a recount, warning against Western “interference.” But after a long, tense standoff in which tens of thousands of Ukrainians thronged the streets in protest—and only a day after Putin again rejected the idea of a runoff—Ukraine’s Supreme Court last Friday ordered a new election for Dec. 26. When the news was broadcast live on the giant television screens in central Kiev, more than 30,000 supporters of opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko went wild, kissing, hugging and blowing noisemakers. Then the pro-Western Yushchenko appeared, declaring: “Today Ukraine is a democratic country.”
Why is that bad for Vladimir Putin? Because he’s got grand plans that don’t necessarily square with a free-thinking demo-cracy next door. The last thing Putin wants to see is another chunk of the old U.S.S.R. disappear down the maw of the ever encroaching West.
Meanwhile, there are supporting pro-democracy protests in Chicago:
Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Chicago Saturday to rally for the Ukraine. They’re supporting a decision to go ahead with a new vote for president.
Saturday in Chicago a much smaller but strikingly similar demonstration by those with ties to the Ukraine.
“All Ukranians around the world ar eunited to build a free society for the Ukraine,” said Dr. Yuri Melnik.
“What we would like is for the eyes of the world to be on Ukraine right now. This is a burning beacon of the world. We want it to burn even brighter,” said another demonstrator.
Some here carry signs that demand Russian President Vladimir Putin “not” meddle in the affairs of the former Soviet Republic.
I actually feel somewhat sorry for Putin. He’s tried to consolidate his power in Russia in ways that are sometimes plausible — in many ways, his writ doesn’t run far from Moscow, even now — but he’s overreached. The question is whether he’ll be smart enough to climb down gracefully, rather than doing things that make matters worse.
UKRAINE UPDATE: Nick Kristof has some advice to President Bush — wear orange:
Here’s a suggestion for President Bush from the protesters behind the democratic “orange revolution” here: Wear an orange tie.
“If he wore an orange tie, people here would be crying,” said Yuri Maluta, a protester from Lviv. “It would show that the American president supports democracy here.”
The request says something about the lighthearted and pro-American spirit on the streets. Since my father grew up in what is now southwestern Ukraine, I decided to come here to join my people – and I found that waging revolution has rarely been such fun.
Young people enveloped in orange scarves, hats and ribbons alternately chant slogans for freedom, boogie to rock music, eat oranges, warm up and flirt at McDonald’s, and disappear into their downtown “tent city” to make love, not war.
I wonder if this planned “lifestyle center” mall in Knoxville will take advantage of that sort of thing?
I THINK VACLAV HAVEL has a better chance of replacing Kofi Annan than this guy, despite his worldwide reputation.
RIPNREAD is a blogger podcast, featuring audio excerpts from a number of blogs every day.
WENT TO THE MALL with the Insta-Daughter and one of her friends. Build-a-Bear was absolutely jammed, providing still more evidence (if any were needed) of my inability to tell when a business is going to make it.
We saw the SpongeBob Squarepants movie, and while it didn’t suck — it was lightyears better than the last cartoon movie I saw, which I thought was pretty bad — it doesn’t say anything good about Oliver Stone’s Alexander that SpongeBob beat him out at the box office last week.
I actually like SpongeBob, though I wouldn’t have gone to see the movie on my own. But if you’re not being dragged by a kid, I’d recommend one of the tv episode collections on DVD over the movie. SpongeBob is funnier in shorter doses.
UPDATE: Hey, here are some SpongeBob movie customer reviews from other people. Some liked it more than I did, some less. Best line: “If I were Sandy Cheeks’ agent, I would be on the line for my client wanting to know what happened to my character’s part.”
PHIL CARTER writes in Slate that Kerik was a good choice: “Most of all, Kerik knows that the most likely person to stop or encounter a terrorist attack is not an FBI agent or CIA analyst, but a cop walking the beat or a transit worker who sees something suspicious.”
MEDIA ENRON UPDATE:
Just how deep is the newspaper circulation scandal of 2004? Combined with other substantial circulation losses, how damaging will it be to the bread and butter of advertising revenues for 2004, for 2005 and by extension in years to come? Is it yet another sign of the gradual but inexorable decline of the industry and the medium in which many of us practice journalism? . . .
Lately the party line in the industry is that the worst of the scandal part is behind us. Industry leaders say the tally of recent losses, while admittedly bad, is not quite as bad as some had predicted. Business is getting back to normal, they say.
Not so fast, we are here to tell you. We stumbled serendipitously on a set of facts suggesting that the impact to date is actually 50 percent worse than we and others who track the industry had thought.
If it were any other industry, the press would be all over this story. I wonder if there will be prosecutions.
UPDATE: A reader points out that Newsday deserves credit for covering this scandal aggressively in a way that other media, even those organs not involved in the scandal, haven’t.
I SHOULD BE CELEBRATING events in Kiev with a shot of this Ukrainian “Presidential Vodka” from Bill Clinton’s 1995 visit. (My brother had a girlfriend in the Embassy back then, and picked this up when he was visiting her.) That’s Bill in the hat.
HOWARD LOVY is back blogging on nanotechnology.
MORE TROUBLE FOR KOFI: “U.N. worker accused of genocide in Rwanda.”
RAND SIMBERG REPORTS that legislation to boost the commercial space industry is being held up by John McCain in a dispute over boxing-reform legislation.
THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES is up.
FROM MY EARLIER LINK to the short Web film Tooth Fairy, reader Robert Sterling emails: “Did you notice that the security guard was played by Jeff Bezos?” Not until he pointed it out, I didn’t.
THERE’S LOTS OF GOOD STUFF at The Belmont Club. Just keep scrolling.
EUGENE VOLOKH: crazed egalitarian.
PEOPLE ARE STILL VOTING for the Weblog Awards.
UKRAINE UPDATE: “Ukraine’s Supreme Court has nullified the results of the country’s disputed presidential election and called for a repeat of the runoff in three weeks.”
WHAT I’M READING: the new Harry Turtledove book, which is okay, but not his best. I’d like to see a point-counterpoint review by Eric Muller and Michelle Malkin. . . .
THE MARS BUG: As this article in the Times notes, life on Mars may not be a blessing:
The search for life on Mars, now more than a century old, is still not finally resolved. But the odds that life existed there and may still exist are shortening, according to planetary experts, Dr Kargel said.
Nobody any longer expects Martian life forms to be anything like those on Earth. But there remains a possibility that bacteria or other microscopic organisms may survive in regions where there is still water. On Earth, almost every imaginable habitat, including deep underground, has specialised bacteria — called extremophiles — living and thriving.
The risks are twofold: probes sent from Earth may contaminate Mars with terrestrial bacteria, wrecking future studies of Martian life; or, more important, bacteria brought back from Mars may contaminate the Earth with unpredictable effects.
Here’s a column on the subject that I wrote a while back.
I WAS A COMMUNIST FOR DUTCH INTELLIGENCE: The WSJ has a story (subscription only, alas) on a phony Maoist group set up by Dutch intelligence, which has recently come out of the cold. Not everyone is happy:
Set up and run by spooks in 1969, his party, the MLPN, had its own newspaper, De Kommunist, written and edited by the secret service. As well as Mr. Boevé playing Chris Petersen, the secretary-general, it had a chairman (another fraud) and a Central Committee stacked with secret agents. To add authenticity, the party let Mr. Wartena and a handful of other true believers join its otherwise nonexistent ranks, telling them that they were part of a network of underground cells. . . .
“I totally wasted 12 years of my life,” says Paul Wartena, an ex-MLPN member who was so dedicated to the cause he used to donate 20% of his salary to the fake party. He says he “had some doubts now and then” about the MLPN but stayed loyal because “I was very naive and Mr. Boevé was such a good actor.” Now a researcher at a university in Utrecht, Mr. Wartena wants Dutch intelligence to pay him back for all his donations.
Mr. Boevé, now 74, scoffs at his acolyte: “He was an idiot.”
I wonder what some Al Jazeera fans will be saying in 20 years?
PIERCING TO THE TRUTH: The Tehran Times reports that Al Jazeera is actually a Zionist plot to make Arabs and Islam look bad:
But the actions of the network gradually revealed the fact that Al-Jazeera officials, on the orders of Zionist agents, are trying to divide Islamic countries and tarnish the image of Islam. . . .
By broadcasting abhorrent scenes of the beheadings of foreign hostages by the criminal agents of the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi terrorist group, the network succeeded in increasing anti-Muslim sentiment throughout the world, particularly in the West.
It’s hard to argue with that. (Via Right-thinking).
IS HAMAS SOFTENING ITS STANCE toward Israel? This is big news if it pans out. But that’s a big “if,” too.
WIRELESS UPDATE: I took the InstaWife to the doctor’s this morning, and I’m wireless-blogging from the waiting room using the Verizon wireless card I mentioned the other day. The signal’s strong here, and it’s about like using a really good dialup connection. Not bad. It’ll be better, of course, when they roll out the wireless broadband here in a few months.
HOAXED? “LONDON (Reuters) – BBC World said on Friday that an interview it ran with a man it identified as a spokesman for Dow Chemical Co, in which he said the U.S. company accepted responsibility for India’s Bhopal disaster, was wrong and part of an ‘elaborate deception.’”
TOOTH FAIRY: The latest Web film is up over at Amazon. My daughter still pretends to believe in the tooth fairy, since I explained to her several years ago that you don’t get money if you don’t believe in her. It’s become a running joke with us. Fortunately, though, I’ve never had to do what this dad does.
Although the Iraqi elections on Jan. 30 will top her incoming agenda, the first real indicator of Condoleezza Rice’s tenure as secretary of state will be how she handles something most in her new department would rather ignore: the U.N.’s oil-for-food scandal.
Yes, that’s a major item.
THANKS for all the donations. I’ve thanked everyone who sent a paypal donation, and all the Amazon donors who clicked the button to send me an email. If you didn’t do that, you’re anonymous to me so this will have to be your thank-you note. Thanks!
OVER AT THE BELGRAVIA DISPATCH, Greg Djerejian looks at the latest by Chris Hedges and ponders the New York Times / New York Review of Books echo chamber.
I got the promotional email for this issue of the NYRB, which states: “With the approaching commencement of George Bush¹s second term, the Holiday Issue serves as an engaging and necessary guide to start America thinking with the right foot forward.” I don’t think it’s actually the right foot. . . .
LOTS OF COMPANIES ARE mining blogs for market research.
HERE’S MORE ON MARC RICH, whose activities don’t sound very admirable, though they certainly are diverse.
THE WEBLOG AWARDS are online, and voting is underway.
MY EARLIER REVIEW of John Scalzi’s forthcoming book, together with comments on some other science fiction, led Hiawatha Bray to email and recommend Orphanage, by Robert Buettner. I haven’t read it myself, but here’s what he sent:
Old Man’s War sounds great. I haven’t read much SF in recent years, and probably would have ignored your review. But by sheer chance, a few weeks ago I stumbled across another SF war novel in our book editor’s discard bin. I started to skim it, and was immediately hooked. It’s called Orphanage, and it’s a real page-turner in the manner of classic Heinlein. By all means check it out.
I’M GLAD I DIDN’T BUY A VAIO, and I think I’ll avoid buying any Sony products this Christmas. That’s because Sony has been rather mean to Jason Kottke, and in a fashion that certainly seems quite unreasonable.
Jeff Jarvis thinks we need a bloggers’ legal defense fund, and he may be right.
But Sony needs to be encouraged not to pick on bloggers.
JOHN DANFORTH HAS RESIGNED as Ambassador to the U.N.: “Danforth, who has been described as frustrated with the slow-moving U.N. bureaucracy, had recently told friends that he was running out of patience, especially with the Security Council, whose deliberations he considered difficult, Mitchell reported.” He’s also disappointed that Condi Rice got the nod for Secretary of State, a job he apparently wanted.
UPDATE: Hmm. Maybe all my talk about the growth in online shopping this Christmas season is right. Just saw a segment on Kudlow & Cramer saying that online shopping is way up, and that it may be partly responsible for the softness in other retail sales. And apparently a lot of women are shopping online for the first time this year, just like the InstaWife.
UPDATE UPDATE: Reader Mark Hessey emails:
The speed of order fulfillment seems unsurpassed as well. Of three orders placed with three different merchants; I’ve had UPS knocking within two days on two and three days on the third (and that includes Amazon’s free shipping that they intimate will be considerably longer). In fact, now that I think of it, they were all free shipping.
I can’t say I’ve noticed unusual speed — but it hasn’t been any slower, which is an accomplishment in itself.
ANOTHER UPDATE UPDATE: More on online shopping, with particular attention to WalMart, here.
I’M ON CKNW radio, Vancouver, talking about problems with the U.N. You can listen live by following the link.
UPDATE: Er, well, I was on, but when they came back to me after the break I lost the connection.
HEY, MAYBE I’M PART OF A SHOPPING TREND: “Web sales strong even as traditional retailers struggle.”
GAYPATRIOT is back from Australia and blogging up a storm.
GEORGE GALLOWAY has won a libel judgment against the Telegraph. Apparently his support for Saddam’s regime was freely given, rather than bought.
UPDATE: Actually, it’s not so clear that the charges were proved false; the question seems to have been whether the Telegraph was neutral not whether it was accurate, and truth is not a defense in British libel law if I recall correctly. But Galloway’s certainly treating it as a vindication, and is already working on a comeback:
Fresh from his libel victory over the Daily Telegraph, George Galloway this evening announced his intention to challenge the Labour MP Oona King at the general election.
Mr Galloway – who was expelled from the Labour party over his opposition to the invasion of Iraq – believes the large Muslim community in Ms King’s Bethnal Green and Bow constituency, in east London, would welcome his anti-war message.
He is seeking the nomination of the anti-war Respect coalition, which he co-founded with the Socialist Workers party to capitalise on the recent renaissance of the peace movement.
If anybody knows more about the truth issues, send me a link. I’ve looked at several stories and none actually says the charge was disproved.
ANOTHER UPDATE: David M. has looked further, and believes that the charges probably were false, though the legal posture didn’t require their truth to be proved or disproved. So I guess Galloway was giving it away, rather than charging for it.
MORE: Even more here, from someone who seems to have followed the trial closely: “It also looks like the judge also did not question the authenticity of the documents, although he didn’t verify them either. His verdict was based upon the Telegraph making claims that supposedly went beyond what was contained in their evidence, such as calling Galloway a ‘traitor’.” Yes, it’s certainly unimaginable that anyone would think Galloway disloyal.
Andrew Sullivan has more.
MAX BOOT: “What we won in Fallouja.” Not the ability to agree on a spelling, apparently, but otherwise he thinks things went rather well.
HOW CLEVER IS TENNESSEE GOVERNOR PHIL BREDESEN? Bill Hobbs observes: “He has made cutting government spending on healthcare attractive to one of the state’s largest liberal special interests.”
CATHY SEIPP WRITES on Bill O’Reilly’s odd defense of Dan Rather.
THE GRONINGEN PROTOCOL: It sounds like the title of a Robert Ludlum novel, but it’s not. Hugh Hewitt writes on infant euthanasia in the Netherlands, or what some people are calling “post-birth abortion.”
I don’t know whether this is really illustrative of abortion “mission creep” as some pro-lifers (including Hugh) suggest — I’m not familiar with the Netherlands’ law on abortion, but in general abortion is somewhat harder to get in Europe than it is in the United States (it says here that there’s a 5-day waiting period, and no abortion after 24 weeks, but I haven’t researched the matter beyond a quick Google search). For the rest, I highly recommend Eugene Volokh’s article on slippery slopes.
UPDATE: In a related post, Eric Olsen notes that current U.S. abortion policy is resulting in steadily falling numbers of abortions.
And here’s more on the Dutch policy.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Peter Singer takes another view, reportedly. So long as they’re not animals!
And Diplomad observes a contradiction:
One of the “joys” we Diplomads overseas get to handle are the constant attacks on the USA at the UN and elsewhere from European diplomats, journalists, and NGOs (e.g., Amnesty International) because about 40 US states have the death penalty on their law books, and a few of them, e.g., Texas, Florida, Virginia, Alabama, actually use it . . . .
No country has been more firmly against the death penalty than the Netherlands.
Obviously we should relabel our executions “euthanasia.” To relieve the psychic pain of murderers.
NANOTECHNOLOGY IS ANOTHER TOPIC THAT I HAVEN’T PAID ENOUGH ATTENTION TO lately. But Howard Lovy has an interesting piece on underground nanotechnology and the coming atomic age.
I’VE BEEN DISTRACTED with election stuff and so on, and haven’t paid enough attention to the Iraqi bloggers lately. But luckily the Carnival of the Liberated has been rounding up their posts.
AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, I’ve done all my Christmas shopping so far right here, though I may venture to the mall today. The InstaWife, who’s never shopped online in previous years, decided that she didn’t feel well enough to go shopping and bought everything from Amazon, too.
I think that this is a trend, as I’m hearing the same from others. And here’s some support:
Web sales doubled to $133 million on Thursday, Thanksgiving, from a year earlier and surged 40 percent to $250 million on Friday, according to ComScore Networks, an Internet researcher.
Chuck Davis, president of Shopzilla Inc., a Los Angeles- based operator of a site where shoppers compare prices, said more people with faster Web connections at their homes helped spur the increase, as did consumers wanting to avoid crowds.
“At a time when gasoline and traffic are at record levels, the convenience of online saves time, which is priceless,” said Davis in an interview. “Our Shopzilla sales shot up very heavily on Friday and Saturday.”
Traffic, etc., is worse every year. Or maybe not, soon, if more people are shopping online.
MICROSOFT ENTERS THE BLOG MARKET with MSN Spaces.
DON’T FORGET THAT CHRIS MUIR’S DAY BY DAY CARTOON IS BACK!
CNN DUPED BY PENTAGON: Heh.
UPDATE: Austin Bay says it’s not just satire: “The thing is, when CNN gripes about the Pentagon using them, it’s a pretty hollow gripe. . . . Didn’t CNN dupe us, after a fashion? As I recall, Saddam let CNN keep its Baghdad bureau open in exchange for ‘suppressing’ or ‘sugar-coating’ stories that would have exposed the depravity and evil of his regime. Didn’t a CNN executive admit this (though not so bluntly) in a NY Times op-ed?”
Yes. That was Eason Jordan, and CNN — along with the rest of the institutional press — would much prefer that you forgot about it.
I haven’t paid close attention, but it seems to me that the militarization of the toy market — which I noted shortly after September 11 — has continued. Am I right?
WHAT’S WRONG WITH LIBERALISM, AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT: Peter Beinart says that liberals need to take a lesson from the 1940s:
By 1949, three years after Winston Churchill warned that an “iron curtain” had descended across Europe, Schlesinger could write in The Vital Center: “Mid-twentieth century liberalism, I believe, has thus been fundamentally reshaped … by the exposure of the Soviet Union, and by the deepening of our knowledge of man. The consequence of this historical re-education has been an unconditional rejection of totalitarianism.”
Today, three years after September 11 brought the United States face-to-face with a new totalitarian threat, liberalism has still not “been fundamentally reshaped” by the experience. On the right, a “historical re-education” has indeed occurred–replacing the isolationism of the Gingrich Congress with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s near-theological faith in the transformative capacity of U.S. military might. But American liberalism, as defined by its activist organizations, remains largely what it was in the 1990s–a collection of domestic interests and concerns. On health care, gay rights, and the environment, there is a positive vision, articulated with passion. But there is little liberal passion to win the struggle against Al Qaeda–even though totalitarian Islam has killed thousands of Americans and aims to kill millions; and even though, if it gained power, its efforts to force every aspect of life into conformity with a barbaric interpretation of Islam would reign terror upon women, religious minorities, and anyone in the Muslim world with a thirst for modernity or freedom.
When liberals talk about America’s new era, the discussion is largely negative–against the Iraq war, against restrictions on civil liberties, against America’s worsening reputation in the world. In sharp contrast to the first years of the cold war, post-September 11 liberalism has produced leaders and institutions–most notably Michael Moore and MoveOn–that do not put the struggle against America’s new totalitarian foe at the center of their hopes for a better world.
He’s right, and I think it’s why Kerry lost. This is a problem that Anne Applebaum identified in yesterday’s Washington Post:
At least a part of the Western left — or rather the Western far left — is now so anti-American, or so anti-Bush, that it actually prefers authoritarian or totalitarian leaders to any government that would be friendly to the United States. Many of the same people who found it hard to say anything bad about Saddam Hussein find it equally difficult to say anything nice about pro-democracy demonstrators in Ukraine. Many of the same people who would refuse to condemn a dictator who is anti-American cannot bring themselves to admire democrats who admire, or at least don’t hate, the United States. I certainly don’t believe, as President Bush sometimes simplistically says, that everyone who disagrees with American policies in Iraq or elsewhere “hates freedom.” That’s why it’s so shocking to discover that some of them do.
I used to be shocked by it, but I’m over that. The real question is whether there’s a figure in the Democratic establishment who’s willing to take on the Michael Moore / MoveOn aspects of the party — or whether those aspects have become, in some important ways, the soul of the party today. If the latter, then the Republicans will achieve the kind of decades-long dominance that Karl Rove seeks. And they’ll deserve it. As for the Left elsewhere in the world, well, Theo Van Gogh’s murder is just one of many wakeup calls that have left many still desperately hitting the snooze button.
UPDATE: Reader Chuck Fulner emails:
This particular passage from your blog resonates with my own thinking about the Democratic Party. I live in a Purple community (Louisville KY) in a Red State and run across a lot of elitist Democrats in my daily life. When they ask how I could possibly be a registered Republican, I generally respond by saying that I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me when Scoop Jackson died, Wendell Ford retired, the party dissed Bob Casey and then drove away Zell Miller. If any major Democrat tells Michael Moore, Move On, George Soros and the Holloywood elite that they have no place in the Democratic Party, then I might go back to my political roots.
Joe Lieberman has gone about as far as anyone has in telling the nut-wing elements that Anne Applebaum wrote about to kiss off and all it got him was an early exit in the last presidential primaries. He doesn’t have a loud enough voice.
Here is my nominee: Hillary Clinton. In fact, I think she will do it because it is the best way to become President in 2008. If she tells the coastal cultural elites that they are the ones who are out of step with the country, then tones down her socialistic one payer health insurance scheme from 1993-4 and repeats her husband’s line about abortion (safe, legal and rare) she could win in 2008.
I would not be happy with that outcome, because I wouldn’t believe her if she said those things, but it is a distinct possibility she could say them and win.
UPDATE: Well, some have predicted that she would be “the most uncompromising wartime president in the history of the United States!” It’s worth reading this column on future elections by Austin Bay, too.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Illustrative post here. Remind me never to get this guy mad at me.
“YOU CAN BLOG, BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE:” Eugene Volokh has an excellent op-ed in today’s New York Times, on the First Amendment, confidential sources, and journalism today.
PERSPECTIVE, from King Banaian.
HEH: The Ten Least Successful Holiday Specials of All Time: My favorites are Ayn Rand’s A Selfish Christmas (1951) and The Lost Star Trek Christmas Episode: ‘A Most Illogical Holiday’ (1968) — though you’ve got to love The Village People in Can’t Stop the Christmas Music — On Ice! (1980) (“in which music group the Village People mobilize to save Christmas after Santa Claus (Paul Lynde) experiences a hernia”).
UNSCAM UPDATE: LAST YEAR I WAS SKEPTICAL of claims that fugitive financier (and Clinton pardon-recipent) Marc Rich was involved in the oil-for-food scandal. But now ABC News is reporting that Rich was involved after all:
Former American fugitive Marc Rich was a middleman for several of Iraq’s suspect oil deals in February 2001, just one month after his pardon from President Clinton, according to oil industry shipping records obtained by ABC News.
And a U.S. criminal investigation is looking into whether Rich, as well as several other prominent oil traders, made illegal payments to Iraq in order to obtain the lucrative oil contracts.
Sounds like there’s something to it after all — and this is bound to be a bit embarrassing for the Clintons.
UPDATE: Reader Pete Brittain emails:
I’ll bet you dinner at your favorite Knoxville chow hall that the connection between Rich and the scandal dies a slow death…it’ll get buried somewhere and forgotten. Heck, I’ll even fork over dinner at any good restaurant of your choice
in the continental US if I lose. Deal?
Do I look like a sucker?
SIGH. There’s always next year.
FORT CARSON, Colo. — More than 400 soldiers of Fort Carson’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment re-enlisted in a mass ceremony Wednesday with another tour of duty in Iraq barely four months away. “I am doing it because of him,” said Spc. Chad Mobley, pointing to Spc. Josh Soelzer. “He’s like a brother to me.”
Meanwhile, Phil Carter notes the military’s new effort to accommodate disabled veterans who want to stay in the service.
I’M BLOGGING THIS VIA A NEW VERIZON DATA CARD that seems to be working pretty well so far. Knoxville is still a “national access” area, with 115kbps (really more like 80-90) speed but it’s supposed to go broadband at 256-512kbps in the next few months. Anyway, lately I’ve been forced to hang out in places where there’s no wi-fi, so I decided to give this a try.
FRITZ SCHRANCK got a fundraising appeal for the Washington gubernatorial recount that, er, has some problems.
READER IAN ROBERTS EMAILS: “I read your blog every day and I have often seen you recommend the Carnival of the Vanities blog. Well, it’s taken me about a year, but I finally checked it out and it’s great!”
But of course! Still, for anyone who hasn’t checked it out, here’s the link again. And for new readers, it’s a collection of blog posts from all sorts of bloggers. The topics and participants vary from week to week, but it’s a good way to branch out in your blog reading. And if you’re just hanging out at InstaPundit and a few other blogs, you probably should branch out.
WINE WARS: Here’s a paper on interstate wine shipment and the Commerce Clause from the Pacific Research Institute.
ASHCROFT V. RAICH isn’t a case about marijuana, really. As Jonathan Adler explains, it’s really a test of whether the Supreme Court takes the constitution seriously.
CNN.COM wants to know if you read blogs regularly. There’s a poll at the lower right corner of the page. Right now 19% say “yes,” which actually seems like quite a few to me. Especially given that blog readers probably tend to follow links to individual stories, not go to the main homepage.
UPDATE: They’ve replaced it with a poll on U.S./Canada relations.
JUST FINISHED JOHN SCALZI’S OLD MAN’S WAR and liked it very much. It definitely did remind me of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, — along with a bit of John Steakley’s Armor. If you like those books, you’ll certainly like Scalzi’s. I was quite disappointed when it was over, which is a good thing indeed. (It would also make a good movie — something that occurred to me at several points, especially the ping-pong scene.)
I wish I could say the same for David Weber’s The Shadow of Saganami, but although I’ve enjoyed earlier books in this series, this one just dragged — because, I think, the politics were too realistic. It’s space opera, and that means it needs action, and character development. This was like reading a Horatio Hornblower novel (on which the series is modeled) and having 3/4 of it taken up by diplomatic maneuverings surrounding the Peninsular Campaign. No, no, no. (But it made number 16 on the NYT Hardcover Bestsellers list, so I’ll bet Weber doesn’t care what I think. But bear in mind that I didn’t find Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle too long and discursive . . . .)
KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s opposition scored a victory on Wednesday in its drive to overturn what it says was a rigged election, when parliament sacked the government of Prime Minister and president-designate Viktor Yanukovich.
Bravo. It’s not over, but this is exceptionally good news. More here.
MICHAEL TOTTEN IS BACK FROM LIBYA, and although you’ll have to wait to read his full account in the L.A. Weekly, he’s posted a lot of interesting photographs.
JIM GERAGHTY slams Brian Williams for his put-down of bloggers:
Look, Human Chin, you work in a medium where you would still be doing the traffic report back in Elmira, N.Y. if you looked like Dennis Kucinich. In other words, you’ve got your job because you’re pretty. I’m not sure you should be shooting your mouth off about other people’s qualifications to do the news.
Ouch. By the way, I’m glad to see that Geraghty’s blog is still running at NRO, and I hope they’ll keep it even though the election is over. I guess it’ll need a new name, though.
RICH, BLOGGY GOODNESS: Ashish Hanwadikar is hosting this week’s Carnival of the Vanities. Check it out.
THE BLOGOSPHERE: An implausible, but amusing future.