May 29, 2005
HERE’S A POST ON TORTURE AND PRISONER ABUSE that, unlike some, is both non-hysterical and well-documented. I highly recommend that you read it.
HERE’S A POST ON TORTURE AND PRISONER ABUSE that, unlike some, is both non-hysterical and well-documented. I highly recommend that you read it.
French voters were said tonight to have resoundingly rejected the EU Constitution, sending a defiant message to France’s political establishment and dealing a blow to plans for further European integration.
As polls closed around the country, the three major French polling organisations all reported a “no” vote of around 55-56 per cent, in line with opinion polls before today’s vote.
The rejection of the treaty, drafted by a panel headed by Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president, leaves the Constitution effectively dead in the water and the 25-nation European Union in crisis. It also means that Tony Blair may no longer need to argue the case for a Constitution in a UK referendum that had been due next year.
“It’s a massive ‘no’, a heavy rejection of the Constitution and a huge humiliation for President Chirac,” said Charles Bremner, Times correspondent in Paris. “It’s also a huge repudiation of the political establishment – all the major parties were in favour of this document.”
It’s possible that this is a mere bump in the road, although it’s a big one. On the other hand, it’s possible that this is the beginning of a significant political shift in Europe, which I suspect will be a good thing if it happens.
Certainly some folks are battening down the hatches.
UPDATE: Perhaps this response: “Your votes say no no no, but your better classes say yes, yes, yes!”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Smith emails: “I have yet to see an american blogger that has recognized that a lot of people that voted Non want France to be a MORE socialist state. It’s a fear that the EU will be more capitalist.”
Well, that’s been a theme of a lot of the coverage I’ve linked to, and it certainly seems to be true. In fact, though I can’t find a working link to the story now, I seem to recall that French free-market activist Sabine Herold supported the EU because she thought that only an external institution could break the power of the French unions.
As for the defeat on two grounds, it seems an obvious consequence of the EU’s general strategy of obfuscation — this works well in a bureaucratic environment, but in the context of referenda, where people tend to vote their fears more than their hopes, it’s been self-defeating. Transparency tends to work better under such circumstances, and transparency has not been the Eurocrats’ forte.
And some people are paying the price:
PARIS – French voters rejected the European Union’s first constitution Sunday, President Jacques Chirac said — a stinging repudiation of his leadership and the ambitious, decades-long effort to further unite the continent.
Ouch. Meanwhile, Daniel Drezner has thoughts — presciently ahead of the vote — on the consequences of a French no.
MORE: Over at ChicagoBoyz, these comments:
This is almost as good as the purple fingers in Iraq. It is a step in the right direction. . . .
The fact that anti-Americanism drove much of the vote doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t want people to like us nearly as much as I want them to be able to govern themselves the way they see fit, have real elections with real consequences, and get the benefits and bear the consequences of those decisions. If the French don’t want capitalisme sauvage or anglo-saxonisme or hyper-liberalisme, OK by me. They are free to have as much socialism as they can get away with.
Indeed. Greg Djerejian has more thoughts, including these:
And it’s certainly not a great day for Jacques Chirac, is it? One might say that he’s now completely damaged goods. Pity. Meantime, let’s now keep an even closer eye on Sarkozy as ’07 looms. Truth be told, it’s silly and sophomoric to emptily cheer-lead this historical repudiation of the EU constitution solely because it’s such tremendously poor news for Jacques. . . .
There will doubtless be yet another referendum a few years hence on the issue. Giscard d’Estaing, for instance, is already on the record stating there will have to be a re-vote going forward. But this is a tremendous setback indeed to the entire process of European integration, of course, and it also showcases a massive failure of leadership by the Chirac Administration. They simply were not able to convince their country on the merits of their vision of Europe’s future. And carping on about “multipolarity” and the big, bad Anglo-Saxon meanies didn’t do the trick, it seems.
Interesting times ahead for French politics. Read this post by Djerejian, too, for some additional background.
MORE STILL: Mark Steyn joins the list of skeptics who doubt that the Euro-establishment will give up:
So, a couple of days before the first referendum, Jean-Claude Juncker, the “president” of the European Union, let French and Dutch voters know how much he values their opinion:
“If at the end of the ratification process, we do not manage to solve the problems, the countries that would have said No, would have to ask themselves the question again,” “President” Juncker told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.
Got that? You have the right to vote, but only if you give the answer your rulers want you to give. But don’t worry, if you don’t, we’ll treat you like a particularly backward nursery school and keep asking the question until you get the answer right.
A pretty safe bet. On the other hand, The New York Times calls this a “crushing defeat” for the E.U. Constitution. We’ll see. I suspect that a lot depends on whether the politicians who pushed it have a political future, or get hammered. In the meantime, I note that both Chirac and Schroeder have tried to prop up their political fortunes by playing the anti-Americanism card, and both have found that gambit insufficient to the task.
David Carr, meanwhile, is offering heartfelt thanks to the responsible parties. And Jeff Jarvis observes: “It’s about trying to turn Europe in to a faux nation. It’s about protectionism. It’s about Europe thinking it is a world player when it is no longer. And it’s about a bad constitution that made up for in bureaucracy what it lacked in vision.”
AND EVEN MORE: Austin Bay observes:
It’s clear that a disgruntled and discombobulated French electorate expressed various types of outrage and enrage (an odd construction but given France’s constant straddling act, strikes me as appropirate). However, if the Communist Redshirts and Le Pen’s fascist Brownshirts are politically determinative in France –and that’s an argument one can make based on this plebiscite– then let’s recognize France as the politically sick society it truly is. If “sick” is a push word and too therapeutic for the pragmatic set, then call it the “lost” society. In some ways the news that the Cold War really is over has finally reached Paris.
He has some thoughts on what ought to come next, too:
So let’s offer NAFTA membership to Holland and the United Kingdom. If you’re Dutch or British, why be stuck in the floundering lost cause of a Franco-centric Greater Europe? We’ll call it the North Atlantic Free Trade Association. Heck, we don’t even have to change the acronym.
Read the whole thing. And read this column by George Will, too.
FINALLY, I think that this comment is really the last word:
The French people decided to look out for their own individual financial interests and also to demonstrate their independence of other countries. How can Chirac be suprised when this is exactly what led him to oppose the U.S. attempt to enforce UN resolutions on Iraq? People criticize Chirac’s leadership on the issue of the referendum but actually the French are following his lead precisely.
RICK LEE has posted some very cool photos.
THE FRENCH ARE VOTING ON THE E.U. TODAY, but we won’t know the results until all the polls have closed. Right now the No vote seems to be ahead:
On Thursday (26 May) the No was still ahead (55 per cent), according to an Ipsos poll, with 66 per cent of the people saying their choice is definitive.
Only 23 per cent predicted a Yes victory, compared to 49 per cent saying they thought the No would win.
And on Friday, an Ifop poll put the No camp at 56 per cent, whereas a TNS Sofres poll put it at 51 per cent.
There are a lot of undecideds, though.
UPDATE: More background, here.
SYRIA IS CRACKING DOWN ON DISSIDENTS: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.
“AMERICAN TWATS:” Another stellar episode for the BBC.
WATCH OUT, GEARBOX: It’s another episode of The Carnival of Cars.
PUBLIUS HAS MORE on the elections in Lebanon.
BEATINGS AT GUANTANAMO: An eyewitness report.
PAJAMAS MEDIA QUESTION NUMBER TWO: How can we be an online Joe Friday?
ELECTIONS IN LEBANON: Publius has a roundup. “Undoubtedly, Lebanon will never be the same after March’s Cedar Revolution, but that won’t stop the country’s professional politicians from pulling as many strings as possible to stay in power.”
HERE’S AN IMAGE, from Kaus: “If Johnny Apple and Andrew Sullivan had a love child, he might find this editorial highly persuasive.”
THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES IS UP!
JOURNALIST AND NEWSPAPER GUILD MEMBER HIAWATHA BRAY is challenging Linda Foley to back up her Eason-Jordan-like statements, or to apologize:
Since then, you have failed to provide supporting evidence for your remarks, but neither have you retracted them. I spoke with you at 11:10 AM today by telephone; union secretary-treasurer Bernard Lunzer was also on the call.
When I told you that I would publish your response to me on the Internet, you declined further comment–except for the following: “I am not going to discuss this with you on the eve of Memorial Day weekend.”
This remark strikes me as extremely odd. I can’t think of a better time to redeem the honor of the US military by beginning a serious investigation of outrageous conduct on its part. If our soldiers are deliberately killing journalists, it’s our duty to publicize it, so that such a terrible stain on our nation’s integrity may be quickly cleansed.
If, as I believe, your charge is false, I can think of no better time to retract this slander.
Read the whole thing.
ON TRAVEL: Back later.
PAJAMAS MEDIA QUESTION NUMBER ONE: What does it mean to be “fair and balanced?”
FRENCH LEADERS SURRENDER:
THE leader of France’s ruling party has privately admitted that Sunday’s referendum on the European constitution will result in a “no” vote, throwing Europe into turmoil.
“The thing is lost,” Nicolas Sarkozy told French ministers during an ill-tempered meeting.
THE DOG THAT DIDN’T BARK: Thomas Lipscomb notes another buried story in an Editor & Publisher column. “After all, Sherlock Holmes’s dog didn’t bark because he was good friends with the thief.”
ANOTHER BLOGGER BOOK: Being Good, by Todd Anderson, who also publishes Popshot Magazine.
Some parts remind me of my own life, back when I was a single twentysomething guy.
FORMER INSTAPUNDIT CORRESPONDENT Major John Tammes has started a new group blog with some of his friends. High point: “Say, it has now been 2 months and 6 days since anyone shot at me! I think a glass of port is in order.”
IT’S AS IF THEY’RE NEWSWEEK’S CORPORATE SIBLINGS OR SOMETHING:
In this morning’s coverage of Koran abuse allegations at Gitmo, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Boston Globe, Reuters, and Associated Press all mention in their lead paragraph that the Pentagon found no credible evidence that a guard flushed the Koran down a toilet. The Washington Post, on the other hand, does not bother to mention the Koran-flushing incident until its fourth paragraph and does not note until the thirteenth paragraph that the detainee who made that allegation has retracted it.
Tom Maguire, meanwhile, notes another omission that seems rather striking.
FUTUREBLOGGING: This week’s Carnival of Tomorrow is up, with an Ed Wood theme.
TIGERHAWK notes interesting developments regarding Syria.
NEAL BOORTZ is considering a career as a screenwriter.
53% OF AMERICANS say they’re likely to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008?
Well, if she wins, I hope she lives up to her billing as “the most uncompromising wartime president in the history of the United States.”
More evidence of Hillary’s growing influence here.
ETHIOPIAN ELECTIONS UPDATE: The E.U. observers are very critical:
Ethiopia’s electoral board appears to have lost control of the vote counting for the May 15 legislative polls, European Union election observers said in a report obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The confidential report went on to say the EU might have to make a public denunciation of developments to distance itself from “the lack of transparency, and assumed rigging” of the vote
“Ten days after the polling day, the situation is of political uncertainty and informational chaos regarding the results of the election,” according to the confidential report.
What’s more, Jimmy Carter made the problem worse:
The EU report also said former U.S. President Carter, who led a team of 50 election observers, undermined the electoral process and EU criticism with “his premature blessing of the elections and early positive assessment of the results.”
Unless there is a “drastic reverse toward good democratic practice” the observer team and EU “will have to publicly denounce the situation.”
“Otherwise, the EU jointly with ex-President Carter will be held largely responsible for the lack of transparency, and assumed rigging, of the elections.”
It’s Venezuela all over again for Jimmy, apparently. Meanwhile, several thousand Ethiopian-Americans protested the elections, at the State Department.
YOU CAN LEARN A LOT SOMETIMES from reading people’s websites.
BILL HOBBS has the indictments in the Tennessee legislative corruption cases.
JOE GANDELMAN says it’s not nice to make fun of Arlen Specter’s cancer.
GREG DJEREJIAN says there’s nothing to the Bolton NSA intercept story.
WILL PAJAMA-CLAD INTERNET ACTIVISTS BRING DOWN THE E.U.?
In cyberspace, a whole range of opinions – individual or on behalf of trade unions and anti-globalists group such as ATTAC – can be freely accessed, while “No” campaigners appear much more at ease with the Internet than the traditional party campaigners.
With an estimated 24 million internet users in France (out of a population of 60 million), it is an increasingly powerful tool.
Stanislas Magniant, at Publicis Consultants Net Intelligenz told one newspaper that in this campaign, France was seeing the beginning of real grass-roots militancy on the Internet.
HUGH HEWITT INTERVIEWED DANA MILBANK of The Washington Post. The transcript is posted here.
KURTZ CORRECTION: Note the email from Howard Kurtz, below.
SOME UNDERREPORTED GOOD NEWS from Africa.
THE BELMONT CLUB has moved to a backup location in response to more problems at Blogger.
Wherever you go, there you are. But at least in Arizona, you’re warmer, and CRIMINEY JUDAS I’m tired of being cold all the time.
Thus speaks a true Minnesotan. It’s unseasonably cool here, too. But that means 70 degrees.
A PACK, NOT A HERD:
For more than four years – steadily, seriously, and with the unsentimental rigor for which we love them – civil engineers have been studying the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, sifting the tragedy for its lessons. And it turns out that one of the lessons is: Disobey authority. In a connected world, ordinary people often have access to better information than officials do.
DAVE PRICE is saying I told you so.
AVIAN FLU UPDATE: Nature has a special issue devoted to the subject. Interestingly, they’ve chosen to dramatize it with a fictional weblog ostensibly authored by a journalist in the thick of next year’s epidemic. That’s a testament to blogs’ ability to capture news with immediacy and drama, I guess. (Via Effect Measure).
AN FBI STING OPERATION has resulted in the arrest of several Tennessee legislators. Bill Hobbs has a roundup.
HARRY’S PLACE worries that we’re backsliding on democracy in Egypt.
LAURENCE SIMON: “Today, I learned that I am some kind of illegal Mexican narcoterrorist gunrunner.” Well, yeah.
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH ZARQAWI? Austin Bay offers one theory:
Has Zarqawi been wounded or is he dead? Or is he being “withdrawn from the combat zone?” I raise these questions because at this point in time Zarqawi may be more valuable to Al Qaeda as a “mythic warrior” or “ghost.” It’s tough to kill a myth and darned hard to kill a ghost. Here’s the argument: Zarqawi’s damaged goods, physically and politically. From Al Qaeda’s point of view, and possibly Saddam’s henchmen, it’s time to get Z-Man out of Iraq, and then have Al-Jazeera and Newsweek turn him into Robin Hood.
Meanwhile, here’s a report that Zarqawi has been replaced, though it’s not clear what’s really going on.
GWYN PRINS WRITES:
For the first time, fear really stalks the Rue de la Loi in Brussels, headquarters of the European Commission. It is visceral. We know this because of the increasingly hysterical register of the messages in which the commissioners are sending French and Dutch voters preparing (in their referenda on 29 May and 1 June respectively) to vote down the treaty establishing a federal constitution. If you do so, the European Union nomenklatura is saying, you will bring to Europe economic disaster, a return to internecine war or (most tastelessly and least forgivably) another Holocaust. It is ridiculous hyperbole and therefore all the more demanding of explanation. How did it come to this?
Read the whole thing for some suggestions.
HOWARD KURTZ THINKS THAT NEWSWEEK HAS BEEN VINDICATED, but it’s not clear to me why that is:
Just to review: Newsweek made a specific error, saying this would be in a forthcoming military investigative report, and had to apologize and retract. But that never meant there was no Koran desecration–in fact, The Post reported such a charge in 2003 (as did other outlets later), but the charges were always attributed to detainees. Even these documents (which I’ll bet were seen by Isikoff’s source) atrribute the allegations to detainees. But that casts the outraged White House and Pentagon reaction in a slightly different light, doesn’t it?
(Emphasis in original.) If you read the story that Kurtz references, though, it also says that investigators found no basis to the allegations. It seems to me that Newsweek’s report — that government investigation did support the claims — was rather different, and that this constitutes something rather short of vindication.
UPDATE: Joe Gandelman has a survey of the issue, and agrees that this doesn’t get Newsweek off the hook, even though it’s being spun that way.
This report from the New York Times would seem to make that clear:
The accusation that soldiers had put a Koran in a toilet, which has been made by former and current inmates over the past two years, stirred violence this month that killed at least 17 people in Muslim countries after Newsweek magazine reported that a military investigation was expected to confirm that the incident had in fact occurred.
Newsweek retracted the report last week, saying it had relied on an American government official who had incomplete knowledge of the situation.
None of the documents released Wednesday indicate any such confirmation that the incident took place.
(Emph. added). I think that Newsweek’s defenders would be wise not to make too much of this.
MORE: A reader notes a bit of goalpost-moving:
In a recent post, you quoted the NYT as writing this in a report:
“The accusation that soldiers had put a Koran in a toilet, …”
Notice how it is now ‘put a Koran in a toilet’. No longer is the phrasing ‘flush a Koran down the toilet’. A subtle, yet important change. This version is _plausible_. And easier to get someone to substantiate (or at least say “well, I can’t say that it didn’t happen”).
As Martin Peretz said, they’ve circled the wagons on this one.
KURTZ-CORRECTION UPDATE: Howard Kurtz emails:
I absolutely don’t believe Newsweek has been vindicated, and if you got that impression, I must have been unclear. Newsweek made a bad mistake.
Here is what I’m writing for tomorrow:
“I don’t contend that these FBI papers, unearthed in an ACLU lawsuit,
get Newsweek off the hook. But you’d think they would be getting more
“Let’s parse the wording. Newsweek erred by saying in its ill-fated Periscope item that a forthcoming military investigative report would cite an allegation of the Koran being flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo. That was wrong, and Newsweek’s anonymous source backed off. The FBI documents don’t prove that these Koran incidents took place–indeed, it may be impossible to prove one way or the other.”
I did get that impression, but I’m glad that I was wrong.
Meanwhile, Tom Maguire has a useful roundup of this much-ado-about-not-much story.
MORE: Bill Quick adds some historical perspective that does a better job of explaining why I misunderstood Howard than I did.
MAX BOOT: “At a time when the Army and Marine Corps are struggling to fill their ranks, many conservatives are determined to limit the ability of women and gays to contribute to the war effort. Are they more concerned with winning culture wars at home or winning the war on terrorism abroad?”
JAY ROSEN HAS THREE QUESTONS FOR KEVIN DRUM:
Is the press, properly understood, a political animal?
If so, what kind of politics should it have?
How do we know if the press has got the politics part right?
Jay also asks for opinions from others, including me. I don’t usually blog on request, but this is interesting.
I think that the press is unavoidably political. What has bothered people (and what gets Kevin heated up about “the right wing press destruction machine”) is that until recently the politics were pretty uniformly left-leaning, to the point that the press became a well-defined political player on its own. Not for nothing does Howard Feinman write about the “Media Party.” Now that’s changing (this is the part that has Kevin heated up) and things that used to go unchallenged and unremarked are now challenged and remarked upon. This makes things seem more politicized, but what’s really changed is that people are talking about the politics, where before they were implicit.
What kind of politics should it have? Non-monolithic, and transparent. If, as First Amendment theory suggests, the marketplace of ideas is a check on the political power of an unelected press, then we need diversity of perspective and a willingness of press organs to criticize each others’ reporting.
How do we know when the press has it right? When we’ve got news organs representing a diversity of perspectives. We’re making progress in that direction, but we’re a long way from getting there.
UPDATE: Ernest Miller: “No one asked me, but I’ll go ahead and give my answers anyway.”
EUGENE VOLOKH WRITES on the political uses of loving one’s country.
GOOD QUESTION: “Is there an Italian law against defaming America?”
I MUST CONFESS that I’ve never thought of George Voinovich as a metrosexual.
KAUS ON COCCOONING:
Who else but reinforcement-craving Democrats would pay $49.95 a year to read Paul Krugman? … The Times, of course, is supposed to be the un-Balkanized, common-ground information outlet, so its shift toward a caterpillar strategy should be the cause of much more respectable hand-wringing than, say, the emergence of ideologically targeted sites like Lucianne.com and RealClearPolitics … Also, Lucianne and RCP actually do a much better job of forcing their readers to confront what they don’t want to see than the Times does.
UPDATE: Related thoughts here:
What’s peculiar about the economics of news-and-views is that, by raising the price, the Times will not merely reduce demand for their product, they’ll reduce its value, because the significance of an op-ed does not come only from the author, but from the audience as well. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech would have been much less interesting if it had been given at some obscure academic conference, rather than on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of an audience of hundreds of thousands. Likewise, John Tierney and Paul Krugman will be less interesting when they are no longer writing to the internet masses, to America and the world, but merely to the narrow, unrepresentative subscriber base of the Times.
GREG DJEREJIAN: “I have to say, reading this kind of risible crap gets me in the mood to say let’s all get behind John Bolton, shall we, and send him to USUN soonest. Particularly the comments of the German Ambassador to Washington, Wolfgang Ischinger, so dripping with condescension, disingenuousness and hypocrisy: ‘we tend to think of ourselves as more experienced in the way societies evolve,’ ‘(t)his is very complicated, ‘(c)hanging the way people think often has to do with religious and cultural issues…Americans think, Let’s solve the problem in the next four years!’ I mean, how many silly, tired, protest-placard stereotypes can the good Ambassador mutter on about in one short interview with the New Yorker?”
RICH, BLOGGY GOODNESS: Don’t miss this week’s Carnival of the Vanities.
BLOGGER SUCKS: So Ann Althouse has set up a backup blog until it starts working again.
PEOPLE SOMETIMES CALL ME A NEOLIBERTARIAN. I’m not sure what that means, besides an effort to link me with neocons. [You don't look neo-ish! -- Ed.]
But if I were a Neo-Libertarian, then wouldn’t InstaPundit be the “Instapundit for the Neolibertarian Network?” I mean, that only makes sense.
I left the Libertarian Party in 2004 when presidential candidate Michael Badnarik asked supporters to wear black on the anniversary of 9/11 “to mourn the deaths of the thousands of people who have died as a result of U.S. government policies”.
Libertarians are often idealistic and myopic, ignoring the real world in pursuit of their goals, unable to compromise their principles. A little pragmatism is called for in the real world.
Yes, although I was a card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party in the 1990s, their pathetic response to the 9/11 attacks caused me to lose confidence in the party. And “pathetic” is putting it kindly.
JON HENKE writes that 2006 might be the Democrats’ 1994, as the Republican Congress grows less popular while not accomplishing much.
MICHAEL YOUNG: “Those who accuse the Bush administration of incompetence in the Middle East because of events in Iraq may soon have to temper that with an assessment of its shrewder behavior in Lebanon.” Of course, the latter was made possible by the former.
RON BAILEY REPORTS on the Kansas Intelligent Design hearings:
Who needs to make monkeys out of the Kansas Board of Education when its members are doing such a good job of it themselves? . . .
The anti-evolutionists affect not to know who or what the “intelligent designer” of their theory might be. He, she, it, or they could be little green men or purple space squid or a race of intelligent supercomputers—or maybe, just maybe, an omnipotent God. Who knows? We’re all just innocently asking “scientific” questions here.
But away from the glare of media attention, this pose of scientific objectivity cracks. “ID has theological implications. ID is not strictly Christian, but it is theistic,” admitted board member Martin. The intelligent design proponents in Kansas ask: Why not let children in public schools hear arguments for intelligent design in biology classes? Schools could “teach the controversy.”
Biologists retort by asking, “So it’s OK then for high schools to teach astrology, phrenology, mesmerism, tarot card reading, crystal healing, astral projection and water witching, too?”
Personally, I’m a Tiplerite.
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT:
ROME (Reuters) – A judge has ordered best-selling writer and journalist Oriana Fallaci to stand trial in her native Italy on charges she defamed Islam in a recent book.
Fabrizio Quattrochi was unavailable for comment. However, Jeff Goldstein sees this as a “velvet insurgency.”
Basically, where people warn about theocracy in the United States, we’re seeing what amounts to a trial for blasphemy in Italy.
Tom Wolfe once said that Fascism is forever descending on the United States, but that somehow it always lands on Europe. Perhaps the same is true with theocracy?
HERE’S AN INTERESTING PASSAGE from the filibuster-compromise memo:
We believe that, under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, the word “Advice” speaks to consultation between the Senate and the President with regard to the use of the President’s power to make nominations. We encourage the Executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration.
I suppose that I should see this as a sort of vindication, since I recommended just that approach in an article entitled Taking Advice Seriously: An Immodest Proposal for Reforming the Confirmation Process, published in the Southern California Law Review some years back, though I suspect that they’re not willing to go quite as far as I suggested..
I guess that makes me a member of the Coalition of the Chillin’.
GATEWAY PUNDIT has more on Uzbekistan. Karimov is cozying up to China, whose leaders are understandably disturbed by the spread of democracy in the region, and untroubled by Karimov’s Tiananmen-like massacre.
PARTY LIKE IT’S 1999: Reader Clark Ghitis sends this from the WSJ (subscription only):
The number of millionaires in the U.S. increased to a record last year, boosted by gains in stocks and global financial markets, according to two new studies.
The number of U.S. households with a net worth of $1 million or more rose 21% in 2004, according to a survey released yesterday by Spectrem Group, a wealth-research firm in Chicago. It is the largest increase since 1998, according to the study, which was based on data from more than 450 qualified respondents. There now are 7.5 million millionaire households in the U.S., breaking the record set in 1999 of 7.1 million. The study excluded the value of primary residences, but included second homes and other real estate.
The InstaPundit household isn’t among those new millionaires, though.
UPDATE: No, sadly, we’re not among those old millionaires, either.
The American chestnut, prized for its timber and its crop of glossy dark nuts, once dominated Eastern forests from Maine to Georgia. The graceful trees were virtually wiped out by blight starting at the turn of the 20th century.
That loss, Case said, “was the greatest environmental disaster in the Western Hemisphere since the Ice Age.”
Now, after years of breeding, cloning and crossbreeding, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is ready to reintroduce disease-resistant chestnuts to Eastern forests next year.
Maybe we’ll get the elms back, too.
UPDATE: Reader Greg Hlatky sends this link to elm-restoration efforts.
ZARQAWI, AL QAEDA, AND SADDAM: Austin Bay has some observations.
HOWARD FINEMAN SUGGESTS — perhaps a bit hopefully — that the filibuster compromise represents a political turning point:
A generation ago, voters turned against the Democrats for the excesses of their welfare-state, big-government thinking. Washington WASN’T the answer to everything.
But, voters may conclude, the Bible isn’t either. They could turn against the GOP if they think the party is sacrificing the American tradition of pragmatism and respect for scientific progress – on, say, stem-cell research – in favor of religious fundamentalism, however sincere. Take a look at some of the key supporters of stem-cell research: Nancy Reagan, to name one – not to mention corporate executives who don’t want to see research money and energy drift away to other countries. Two religions are in collision, one of them secular and scientific, the other Biblical.
I’ve been warning of this for a while, and I think it bears repeating: Americans, for the most part, don’t share in the reflexive hostility to religion found in the upper reaches of journalism and the academy. On the other hand, Americans don’t like self-righteous busybodies — whether of the PC left or the religious right — telling them how to live, either.
There’s a relatively small group — under 20% of the electorate, I’d guess — that would really like to recast American society under far more religiously determined lines. That’s enough to steer the Republican party to disaster, as a similar group has done for the Democrats, but not enough to win elections much. The Democrats’ problem, of course, is that they’re even more dominated by their fringe than the Republicans, and the fact that the media establishment tends to share those views will make it harder for them to extricate themselves from this fix.
FUTURES MARKETS ELICIT INSIDER INFORMATION: I mentioned earlier that London bookmakers are giving odds on which character will be killed off in the next Harry Potter book. Now — spoiler alert — it seems that this has caused information to leak out. Tom Maguire has more, and notes that this supports the “futures on terror” idea.
I’ve got a modest proposal to Ted Koppel and “Nightline”: why don’t you read one day the names and show the pictures of the 170,000 or so American servicemen and women stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan who every day are working their hardest to ensure that democracy takes root, terrorists are defeated, and these two countries have a chance to build a better future for their people. That might convince a cynic such as myself that you really care for the troops generally, and not just only when they can be cynically used to embarrass the Bush Administration.
It would take more than that to convince me, but this would be a start.
THINGS ARE GETTING WORSE IN BOLIVIA: I blame Hugo Chavez.
PRODUCT DESIGN MEETS VERSION FATIGUE: My TechCentralStation column for tomorrow addresses this subject — but for you, as InstaPundit PremiumTM subscribers (the only kind there are), it’s available now!
BLOG ENTRY solves murder.
DEMOCRACY, WHISKEY — can “sexy” be far behind?
EASONGATE II CONTINUES, with this observation:
At the Communications Workers of America, Candice Johnson said she could not provide any evidence for Foley’s revival of the Eason Jordan charges. Linda Foley refused requests for an interview.
Retired Air Force General Thomas McInerney, a Fox News military consultant, was “frankly astonished.”
“It may be legitimate to investigate whether there may or may not have been an incident in which U.S. troops have targeted journalists, but there is no question at this point that major media figures are targeting the men and women of the United States military in Iraq, repeatedly and with no evidence,” he said.
MICHAEL TOTTEN says the Washington Post is misreporting on Lebanon.
A PARTY-VOTE ANALYSIS of the House stem-cell research vote.
BILL MAHER CAN RELAX, because Rob Smith is defending him against charges of treason.
THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF REVOLUTIONS is up.
ALPHECCA’S WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF BIAS in media reporting on guns is up.
WHILE I’M WISHING GAS GANGRENE ON ZARQAWI, I’m about ready to wish it on the bastards from “The Bullseye Network” whose miserable adware is on my daughter’s computer.
UPDATE: Ran the MS antispyware beta and seem to have gotten rid of it, along with a bunch of other crap — but I had to do manual surgery before I could even access the Internet to download the program from MS. (I’ve used AdAware for this before, but wanted to give the MS version a try; seemed fine.)
Kids’ sites seem to be especially infested with this crap, which is particularly unforgivable.
UPDATE: Yep, reader Ben Cooper sends a link to this report confirming my suspicion that even reputable kids’ sites are adware nightmares:
Mainstream children’s Web sites host a glut of adware, a security firm said this week, proof that spyware makers are targeting kids in an attempt to slip by parents and get their software onto home computers.
Over a three-month period, said Kraig Lane, a group product manager in Symantec’s consumer division, his lab took new PCs out of the box, connected them to the Internet without monkeying with any of the default settings in Windows XP SP2, then surfed well-known sites in several categories, ranging from kids and sports to news and shopping.
“Our testers went to name-brand Web sites, and spent 30 minutes to an hour reading or interacting with sites,” said Lane. Testers tried to emulate real-world browser by reading articles, interacting with the site’s features, but not explicitly looking to accumulate files by downloading. “Then they ran spyware detection software and counted up what kind of security risks and how many files had been installed on the machines,” Lane said.
Children were the biggest target for spyware makers, by far. The trip to several kids’ sites installed a whopping 359 pieces of adware on Symantec’s PCs, five times more than the nearest category rival, travel. Popup ads proliferated on the machines after that, making them virtually unusable.
Message to the folks at NeoPets: Clean up your act.
AUSTIN BAY POINTS TO a useful article on security in Iraq.
IN A HOLE, NEWSWEEK keeps digging. “We retracted, but we didn’t really mean it!”
CAN WE-DIA SAVE THE FIRST AMENDMENT FROM MEDIA? Some thoughts over at GlennReynolds.com.
BILL QUICK ASKS:
What was the last “big one” that secular, small-government, constitutionalist conservatives won under the GWB administration?
If you give me a week, I might think of something.
UPDATE: Interesting discussion in Bill’s comments. Reader Thomas Manning sends this link to a post by Virginia Postrel on the Bush Administration’s regulatory philosophy, which is better than its predecessor’s.
Meanwhile, reader James De Benedetti answers Bill’s question: “That would be Social Security privatization, which you don’t seem too thrilled about.”
Er, we’ve “won” that one? I’d be thrilled if we did, but I don’t think it’s ready to go into the victory column.
CHUCK SIMMINS has a report, with photos, from an anti-Bush protest over Social Security.
MICROMEDIA challenging dictatorship in North Korea.
A REUTERS-ERROR FISKING: On Hummingbirds!
ARABS ARE DOING MUCH BETTER IN AMERICA than anywhere else. This raises questions:
This census data should prompt soul-searching in many quarters. Cultural determinists may want to revise their theories of Arab backwardness. Arab leaders should be ashamed when they see their emigrants prospering in the United States while their own people are miserable. And Europe should wake up to the possibility that it may have less of an “Arab problem” than a “European problem.” Then again, maybe the cultural determinists have an explanation for why Europeans are so predisposed against Arab success.
(Via Daniel Drezner, who advises “read the whole thing” — good phrase! — and who has some interesting stuff in his comments, too).
IF THE SAUDIS DON’T LIKE HIM, I’m inclined to think he might be OK.
NOAM SCHEIBER on the filibuster deal:
So a deal has been struck on the filibuster. Republicans will allow Democrats to keep the filibuster as long as Democrats never use it. This way, both sides win (except for the Democrats).
Once again, the Republicans have shown their skillfulness when it comes to resetting parameters. Until recently, the perception had been that Bush had consistently filled the courts with extreme conservatives, with only a handful of truly batty nominees failing to meet the standards of Democrats. Now, facing the threat of the “nuclear option,” Democrats have backed down on these as well.
Well, the compromise certainly seems to have produced bipartisan unhappiness. I don’t know if that’s a mark in its favor or not.
UPDATE: Josh Trevino is unhappy, too, but for different reasons.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Oops, my mistake. That’s not Noam Scheiber, but T.A. Frank, who’s filling in for him at &c.
FORENSIC ACCOUNTANTS are testifying on the Canadian scandals. Newsbeat 1 is covering it.