Archive for February, 2006

February 23, 2006

HOWARD FINEMAN lists the blogs he reads.

February 23, 2006

DISSING BIN LADEN: Austin Bay has more captured Al Qaeda documents. Admiration for Osama was not universal.

February 23, 2006

AN ARMY OF BORG?

Heh. The underlying Gizmodo piece is cool.

February 23, 2006

ZEYAD has lots of updates on events in Iraq — just keep scrolling. Bottom line: “The situation in Baghdad is bad, bad, bad.”

UPDATE: More positive view here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts from Michael Novak.

February 23, 2006

MICHELLE MALKIN HAS BEEN HACKED, apparently. She’ll be posting at PJ Media until it’s fixed.

February 23, 2006

MICHAEL TOTTEN: “In Northern Iraq there is a place called Lalish where the Yezidis say the universe was born. I drove south from Dohok on snowy roads through an empty land, seemingly to the ends of the earth, and found it nestled among cold hills.”

February 23, 2006

THE CARNIVAL OF BLOG COVERAGE is a new blog by Daniel Glover that collects Big Media stories on the blogosphere.

February 23, 2006

IS THERE A CIVIL WAR LOOMING IN IRAQ? In some sense, of course, there’s been one for a while. But Bill Roggio looks at the indicators for a real civil war and finds it unlikely.

February 23, 2006

IF YOU WEREN’T ONLINE LAST NIGHT, say because you have a life or something, don’t miss our podcast interview with Jim Dunnigan and Austin Bay, focusing on the ports issue, the Philippines, Muslim integration in Europe, and more.

Hey, we’re getting good reviews:

If you’ve ever listened to a talk show and wanted the host to get out of the way and let a well-informed guest explain things at length, you will find yourself wanting to carve inspiring statues of Glenn and his co-host/wife Helen.

They’re like, the anti-Bill-O’Reilly.

Which is good, as I wouldn’t want to be married to Bill O’Reilly.

February 23, 2006

MORE ON SOUTH DAKOTA’S intellectual diversity legislation.

I’m guessing that the publicity over the Larry Summers affair will give this sort of thing a boost.

February 23, 2006

SEAN HACKBARTH is podcasting.

February 23, 2006

PEGGY NOONAN: “We are debating port security. While we’re at it, how about airport security? Does anyone really believe that has gotten much better since 19 terrorists hijacked four planes five years ago?”

I don’t.

UPDATE: More here: “Security experts say U.S. ports have long been ill-prepared for a terrorist attack — regardless of the nationality of the owner.”

Homeland Security remains pretty much a joke — air, sea, and land. The good news is, the Dubai deal won’t make things worse at Baltimore:

At least one of the ports where DP World is set to operate, Baltimore, has been dogged by security shortcomings for years. A Baltimore Sun investigation in June 2005 revealed that the port’s fiber-optic alarm system on the perimeter fence malfunctioned and was usually switched off, and that port police were so understaffed that their patrol boats often dry-docked because there was no one to operate them. The newspaper also found that a pair of “video cameras” guarding the entrance to one important marine terminal were actually blocks of wood on poles.

Last summer, a tour of the port, the nation’s eighth largest, revealed gaps in perimeter fences, unattended gates, surveillances systems that didn’t work and insufficient police patrols on land and sea. State officials have acknowledged security gaps and said they have been working to close them.

It can only get better, apparently . . . .

Read this piece by Jim Glassman, too: “Isn’t this precisely what the United States preaches? Don’t we want places like Dubai to fight terror and to grow, to invest, to buy, to trade, to adopt Western commercial practices, to expose themselves to the rest of the world and thus become tolerant and moderate?” Read the whole thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Over at WizBang, a correction is offered regarding my views on airport security. I stand corrected.

February 23, 2006

CENSORSHIP IN MINNESOTA: The story continues. Then there’s this case from Minnesota, too. What’s going on up there?

February 23, 2006

BILL BENNETT AND ALAN DERSHOWITZ:

We two come from different political and philosophical perspectives, but on this we agree: Over the past few weeks, the press has betrayed not only its duties but its responsibilities.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: And here’s a transcript of Dershowitz on Hugh Hewitt’s show last night.

February 22, 2006

PORT DEAL UPDATE: Reader Steve Soukup emails:

Drudge runs with the headline “Arab Co., White House had Secret Agreement…” Follow the link and you find an AP story detailing this “secret agreement.” At the end of the third paragraph, is the following, “Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.”

Really? So how, exactly, is this news? Does it really deserve to be fronted on Drudge?

Please help me understand what’s going on here. Has everyone gone crazy?

Yes. Well, this deal struck me funny when I first heard about it too, and in spite of Al Gore’s complaints, the notion that the Bush Administration is too friendly with Arab governments isn’t one that fails the straight-face test. But I’m now convinced — especially after talking to Jim Dunnigan and Austin Bay — that there’s not really much to this story.

As I noted earlier, we have a perfect storm brought about by the loss of confidence in the Administration’s backbone after their inadequate Cartoon Wars response, continuing fears of terrorism (at least now the Democrats won’t be able to say that it’s a case of Bush fanning the flames of fear) and lousy White House PR management. As Rich Galen says: “This port deal is not a national security issue. It is an issue of this administration having a continuing problem with understanding how these things will play in the public’s mind and not taking steps to set the stage so these things don’t come as a shock and are presented in their worst possible light.”

As I say, I don’t think there’s any real security issue here, but I think the Bush Administration needs to launch a full-bore effort to explain what’s actually going on, something that they still haven’t really mounted.

UPDATE: Reader Mike Sterling emails:

I took one of your earlier posts on the whole port deal – Bush is either stupid or there was a quid pro quo, etc – to mean you were opposed to the idea. Now that you appear to have changed your mind you keep asserting the the administration mismanaged the PR side of this deal. Well, dammit, hindsight is 20/20. How much stuff does a presidential administration deal with in one day? There is absolutely no way to foresee all of the potential problems that any given decision might cause.

Anyway, had they spotted this one, something else would have blindsided them. No, the fault for the hyperactive response to this “story” is with those who hopped on board the meme without checking facts. In this case, and uncharacteristically, I think, you are one of those people.And I really don’t think that the admin’s response to the cartoon stupidity – disappointing as it was and remains – matters a whole lot in this particular firestorm.
But I like your point about the Dems not being able to blame Bush for fanning the flames of fear this time. Good observation.

Love your work.

Well, actually I think I was right about both parts of my earlier observation: The deal seems to be very important, and the veto threat was idiotic. I just caught a panel on Scarborough and the report was that Bush’s veto threat — an uncharacteristic threat, as I noted, given that he never vetoes — was in fact one of the things that sent Congress into a tizzy because it was such a drastic and unexplained escalation.

I will admit that my knee jerked on hearing this story, and that I should have waited to learn more before offering an opinion. In my defense, I’ll note that I gathered more information and changed my mind. Still, mea culpa.

But (and this is a separate point from the merits of the decision, or of my take thereon) it wasn’t just me — there were an awful lot of knees jerking on this decision, and the White House, or somebody, should have foreseen that. That doesn’t get me off the hook, of course, but it doesn’t reflect well on them, either.

What’s more, this issue resonates so much because there is a huge amount of dissatisfaction out there regarding the Administration’s position on border control and homeland security. That’s certainly something they should know about, and that made this problem even more predictable.

Related thoughts here.

February 22, 2006

MOSQUES BOMBED IN IRAQ: Omar from Iraq the Model has a firsthand report. And Bill Roggio and The Belmont Club have thoughts.

If Danish cartoons could create riots worldwide against the defamers of Islam, you’d think that bombing of mosques would create anti-terrorist marches all over.

February 22, 2006

BRUCE SCHNEIER discovers that employees don’t care about security. At least, not enough. He also thinks that the people who design and maintain computers don’t care enough, either. I like the furnace analogy. (Via Jamulblog, which also notes that it’s not just the employees.)

UPDATE: The Jamulblog link was broken before. Fixed now. Sorry!

February 22, 2006

LA SHAWN BARBER writes on why bloggers should review books. Going beyond the obvious: Free books!

February 22, 2006

baydunnigan.jpgOnce again we’re featuring blogger and author Austin Bay and StrategyPage publisher, and author of many books, Jim Dunnigan. Bay and Dunnigan have been our most popular guests so far — their last episode has been downloaded over 125,000 times — and this time they talk about the ongoing Dubai ports imbroglio, the troubles of Islamists in the Philippines, the continuing danger posed by Iran, and Europe’s problems with Muslim immigration. Don’t miss it, especially their take on the ports issue, which suggests that we’ve been much too worried about terrorism in connection with the deal. I’m now convinced that there isn’t much there, there.

You can click right here to listen directly. (No iPod needed!) You can also subscribe via iTunes, and there’s a low-bandwidth podcast archive, for dialup users, cellphone listeners, etc., right here. Hope you like it. And don’t forget there’s an archive of previous episodes here.

As always, my lovely and talented producer is soliciting comments and suggestions.

UPDATE: Austin Bay has posted some additional thoughts and information relating to his podcast comments.

February 22, 2006

CARTOON WARS UPDATE: Christopher Hitchens writes:

Please be outside the Embassy of Denmark, 3200 Whitehaven Street (off Massachusetts Avenue) between noon and 1 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 24. Quietness and calm are the necessities, plus cheerful conversation. Danish flags are good, or posters reading “Stand By Denmark” and any variation on this theme (such as “Buy Carlsberg/ Havarti/ Lego”) The response has been astonishing and I know that the Danes are appreciative. But they are an embassy and thus do not of course endorse or comment on any demonstration. Let us hope, however, to set a precedent for other cities and countries. Please pass on this message to friends and colleagues.

If you’re there, send me any pix or video!

February 22, 2006

JIM GERAGHTY writes that blogs have blown it on the ports story. Though the misconceptions seem to come from Big Media reporting, and the error correction mostly from bloggers and reader email.

At any rate, this is a perfect storm of bungled PR by the White House (which has forfeited much trust because of its excessive friendliness to the Saudis and limp response to the Cartoon Jihad, as well as general perceived laxity on homeland security and immigration), coupled with generalized anxiety about how things are going on the terrorism front. The White House should have had the facts out quickly, and should be on top of things now. It’s not too late, but there’s already considerable Congressional upset. You can respond to that sort of concern with facts, but not with a mixture of “trust us” and charges of bigotry which has been the White House’s main tactic so far.

At any rate, we just did our podcast interview with Austin Bay and Jim Dunnigan. It’ll be up in a couple of hours, but they think that the concern over this transaction is misplaced, and suggest why the Administration’s PR effort hasn’t been as good as it might.

February 22, 2006

AN INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD PERLE, who accuses the Bush Administration of “extraordinary, even foolish restraint” in disseminating documents from Saddam’s regime — Also Jack Kelly, who wasn’t overly impressed with the Intelligence Summit. Up over at The WMD Files.

February 22, 2006

JIM MILLER HAS ADVICE FOR HARVARD: “You have just effectively fired Harvard president Larry Summers. I request that you consider me as his replacement.”

February 22, 2006

TERRY HEATON has read An Army of Davids, and posts this blog review:

This is a must-read for people who follow the empowerment of everyday people through technology. It’s an easy read and filled with thoughtful questions (and a few predictions) about tomorrow. It’s the best new media book I’ve read so far.

The title paints the picture of big media (Goliath) now facing an army of Davids, which brought to mind Gordon Borrell’s analogy of the deer having guns. What do you do when you’re facing an army of Davids? Get into the slingshot business.

Heh. Indeed.

February 22, 2006

GRAND ROUNDS IS UP.

February 22, 2006

AUSTIN BAY looks at more captured Al Qaeda documents.

February 22, 2006

VARIOUS READER QUESTIONS ON AN ARMY OF DAVIDS, ANSWERED:

Why can’t I get a copy yet?

Its official publication date is March 7. Some people are writing about it, but they’re either people who got advance copies from the publisher, or who bought copies (or had friends buy them) at my Washington, DC book-signing last week. Otherwise, it’s not out yet — I just got my author’s copies yesterday.

Should I ask for it at bookstores?

Sure! It can’t hurt. Ordering it from Amazon or BarnesandNoble.com is fine (and preorders are actually advantageous), but brick-and-mortar sales are good, too.

How do I get it autographed?

As several readers suggested in response to an earlier post, I’ll be putting up an address where you can send a stamped, self-addressed envelope; I’ll return an autographed bookplate. It’s much easier than sending the entire book. I’ll even put what you want in the autograph, pretty much, so long as it’s not something like “To my master, Satan” — I’ve already promised that one to Frank J.

Why should I buy your book?

Aside from the obvious reason — to make me money — I think it offers an interesting and coherent take on what’s going on in the world. It’s true that if you read this blog and my other stuff, you’ve already been exposed to that in a way, but it comes across rather differently in book form than in disconnected bits here and there, which is how it comes across on the blog, etc. In fact, when I was writing the book I was surprised at how coherent it became, and how many disconnected bits turned out to fit together. I hope you’ll think so, too. In the meantime, you can read what these folks have to say.

February 22, 2006

REPORTS THAT YAHOO! won’t allow “Allah” in email addresses are apparently erroneous. The Yahoo! address that Pete Blackwell used to send me this link contained “allah.”

UPDATE: According to this story in The Register, the Allah ban was real, but short-lived. Thanks to reader Clay Young for the link.

February 22, 2006

“A DUBIOUS VICTORY FOR THE POLITICALLY CORRECT:” Alan Dershowitz on the Larry Summers affair.

February 22, 2006

STRATEGYPAGE:

An American magazine, “Imaging Notes”, recently published satellite photos, taken by commercial satellites, showing heretofore secret Chinese military installations. Of most interest were the coastal tunnels for Chinese submarines to operate from. Such tunnels were long rumored, and their existence denied by the Chinese. But there they are. An excellent way for subs to avoid air attack.

The companies that provide commercial satellite photos will usually abide by requests from nations to not distribute photos of certain areas, or not provide high resolution photos of some areas. But as more operators are out there selling their photos, competitive pressures have made it possible to get just about whatever you want. It’s a whole new world, and anyone can get a detailed satellite view of it.

It’s turning into space reconnaissance for the Army of Davids. . . .

February 22, 2006

MAX BOOT:

The Pentagon has reacted to the post-9/11 world by enlarging the Special Operations Command and placing greater emphasis on language and cultural education. It’s not enough, but it’s a beginning — and it’s more than the State Department has done so far. The Foreign Service remains trapped in a framework straight out of the 19th century, producing diplomats whose primary skill is liaison work with other diplomats. That leaves Foggy Bottom woefully ill-equipped to deal with two particularly pressing challenges: public diplomacy and nation-building.

As usual, read the whole thing.

February 22, 2006

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL editorializes in favor of the port deal, and there’s more discussion over at On Tap.

UPDATE: Lileks has a new Screed posted, and is stunned by the political ineptitude on display: “It’s one thing for an Administration to misjudge how a particular decision will be received; it’s another entirely to misjudge an issue that cuts to the core of the Administration’s core strength.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: We’re going to have Austin Bay and Jim Dunnigan on tonight’s podcast, talking about this, but here’s what Dunnigan just emailed: “UAE is one of our best allies over there, and no fan of al Qaeda. Stiffing them on the port deal will only hurt us.”

February 22, 2006

BIOWAR FOR DUMMIES: How hard is it to build your own weapon of mass destruction? Paul Boutin takes a (hands-on) look. I’d say it’s more reason to build up our quick-response capabilities, as suggested by Ray Kurzweil and Bill Frist.

February 22, 2006

IS EUROPE holding women back?

February 22, 2006

I MEANT TO COMMENT on David Irving’s conviction for Holocaust denial yesterday, but got distracted and forgot. Mickey Kaus, however, has it about right. I should also note that this further exacerbates the “censorship envy” of the radical Muslims — with European countries happy to punish some speech that is regarded as beyond the pale, the discussion has shifted from whether censorship should exist at all to when it should be justified. This is yet another reason why a general rule in favor of free speech is actually better for ensuring social peace than a set of rules prohibiting offensiveness.

February 22, 2006

WILL VIDEO KILL THE BLOGOSPHERE STAR?

I do think that video is a trend.

February 21, 2006

MALIK SHABAZZ AUDITIONS FOR THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS CORPS: Michelle Malkin has video.

February 21, 2006

TED FRANK attended a speech by Justice Scalia and reports that it was rather different from the picture drawn by the AP report:

In a speech of about 40 minutes (the web-cast should be available later this week), he laid out when it was and wasn’t appropriate to use foreign law in American jurisprudence, and pointed out the contradictions and selective use of foreign law in recent Supreme Court opinions. He then took questions from the audience of over 100. . . . Naturally, the only AP coverage of the speech focused on the LaRouche heckler, and (without mentioning his affiliation) made him out to be a censored hero rather than a cult member who’s pulled similar stunts at Kerry and Nader events. This is sure to make the Supreme Court all the more welcoming of tv cameras.

Though at least then we could watch the video for ourselves.

UPDATE: Reader Andrew Centofani emails:

I have to second what Ted Frank wrote. I listened to the audio live on my lunch break (via C-Span radio here in the District), was pretty impressed with Scalia’s talk and thought he handed the LaRouche’ite questioner very well. The questioner came across as someone who thought he was brilliant and witty but was sadly mistaken. Scalia suffered his foolishness for about a minute then politely pounded him into the ground. Great stuff.

Let’s hear it for disintermediation.

MORE: Eugene Volokh writes: “Is it just me, or is the AP being fundamentally unserious here? . . . This is the Associated Press, an organization that’s supposed to be dedicated to conveying the important news of the day.”

February 21, 2006

DR. SANITY has thoughts on the Larry Summers affair.

February 21, 2006

SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO: “Men in their fifties are more satisfied with their sex lives than men in their thirties and forties, recording similar levels to 20-29 year-olds, according to a survey published in the February issue of BJU International.”

February 21, 2006

MARK GLASER raises dark suspicions about how iTunes picks its featured podcasts. When the Glenn and Helen show was featured last week, it came via somebody from Apple emailing me and asking if I’d add an image tag so that they could feature it. No sub rosa commercial considerations involved, as far as I can tell.

February 21, 2006

ERIC S. RAYMOND:

Americans have never really understood ideological warfare. Our gut-level assumption is that everybody in the world really wants the same comfortable material success we have. We use “extremist” as a negative epithetic. Even the few fanatics and revolutionary idealists we have, whatever their political flavor, expect everybody else to behave like a bourgeois.

We don’t expect ideas to matter — or, when they do, we expect them to matter only because people have been flipped into a vulnerable mode by repression or poverty. Thus all our divagation about the “root causes” of Islamic terrorism, as if the terrorists’ very clear and very ideological account of their own theory and motivations is somehow not to be believed.

By contrast, ideological and memetic warfare has been a favored tactic for all of America’s three great adversaries of the last hundred years — Nazis, Communists, and Islamists.

Read the whole thing.

February 21, 2006

TOM MAGUIRE has further thoughts on Kelo and its coverage in the press.

February 21, 2006

RAND SIMBERG: “David Gregory, I revoke my proxy.”

February 21, 2006

A CAT PIANO? I wonder if they can do that with puppies?

February 21, 2006

SO NOW BUSH IS THREATENING TO VETO any legislation that would block the Dubai ports deal? Either this deal is somehow a lot more important than it seems (a quid pro quo for, well, something . . . ) or Bush is an idiot. Your call.

UPDATE: Here’s an argument that there’s less to the port deal than meets the eye. Of course, that makes me wonder why the White House thinks it’s so important.

Don Surber, meanwhile, emails to castigate me for suggesting that Bush is a crook. But that’s not what I meant by the quid pro quo remark. I was wondering if there wasn’t some diplomatic importance to this deal. That seems somewhat more plausible now. There must be something important here to get Bush to threaten a veto — had he done more vetoing, of course, that wouldn’t be quite so obvious.

On the other hand, maybe the whole thing is just a clever ruse to get Chuck Schumer to endorse racial profiling.

Meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg observes: “I agree entirely with the now-obvious consensus that the UAE deal is bad politics. I’m even somewhat convinced that it’s bad policy. But I can’t help but get the whiff of hysteria in all of this.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Robert Ferrigno, author of Prayers for the Assassin, emails:

Bush is going to take some ugly political flak for a better cause. The USA needs to strengthen ties with Arab nations. Period. The UAE is not Switzerland, but it’s not Afghanistan either, and yes they recognized the Taliban government. They’re politicians too. If we can do business with Pakistan, and we must, the UAE is as good an Islamic business partner as we’re going to get.

To take away the deal from the UAE now, for no other reason than their religion, would rightly insult all Muslims, and do irreparable damage to our long term interests. This would not even be an issue if the ports were secure. That should be the focus of conservative attention, not who gets the deal to run the port.

Several other readers also think that this wouldn’t be such an issue if it weren’t for the cartoon riots.

John McCain is also backing Bush here. So is Will Collier, who pretty much takes the Ferrigno line. But the Bush Administration set itself up for this, in part, with its response to the Cartoon Wars, as reader C.J. Burch emails:

When you combine the Dubai thing with the administration’s very lame reaction to the Danish cartoons…well, I’m one dissatisfied customer.

I think that’s part of what’s going on here. That limp response cost them credibility that they need now.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt:

Majority Leader Frist just told my audience that an override of a presidential veto of legislation blocking the port deal was possible. Looks like a showdown, and it isn’t one the president can win.

What is the White House thinking? If this deal is that important, they should have been ahead of the story, not behind it.

A.J. Strata, meanwhile, thinks that Bush is right and bin Laden is laughing.

MORE: John Cross emails:

Professor, the UAE has been our ally since the 80’s. I was there during the Iran-Iraq War, and when we hit the Iranians during Operation Praying Mantis, the Iranians responded by going after the UAE oil platforms.

They are a moderate Arab country that we need to maintain economic engagement with. And they occupy a strategic point. Bush isn’t an idiot…we need to get past the knee-jerk reaction here.

Much more at his blog.

And finally, Tom Maguire says that the fuss over this deal from the right undermines the “authoritarian cult theory” espoused by some lefty bloggers.

Plus, extra points for Bush as “a uniter, not a divider.”

STILL MORE: Former InstaPundit Afghanistan Correspondent John Tammes emails:

I managed some cooperative efforts with the UAE Special Forces troops stationed at Bagram. They did some patrols in the area I was responsible for, and more importantly, they did some humanitarian assistance missions. The Afghans absolutely loved the UAE troops. They were thrilled to have SOMEBODY from the Arab world (besides our excellent Egyptian hospital) come out and HELP, rather than hinder.

We had a lot of supplies come from UAE based concerns too – if they were good enough to serve along side us in the field, and good enough to supply bottled water, food and the like to our troops..well, that sure sounds like a friendly nation to me.

Good point. And reader Eric Bainter makes a similar one:

I don’t know squat about the details of the port deal, but I did spend a rather hot humid summer in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, quietly camping out at a UAE air force base that hosts an USAF unit. Prior to 9-11, there was a tanker squadron there, but within a few weeks after 9-11 the US presence ramped up dramatically, eventually becoming an expeditionary wing, and in time to support the Afghanistan effort. It is unusual for large, dramatic changes to happen quickly in Arab-dom, so for us to multiply the base footprint that rapidly means the UAE must been very supportive of our efforts. At the time I was there we did not publicly associate the name of the base with our mission or the type of aircraft we had, as our hosts preferred to remain low-key about our presence, so I won’t go into details of that. However, I will note that while I was there we dedicated the biggest aircraft ramp the USAF Red Horse units (special construction outfit, kind of like SeaBees) had constructed since the Vietnam war. Now it is also true that the city of Abu Dhabi hosts some kind of anti-Israel/Jew outfit, like the Center for the Study of Zionism or somesuch. I do not consider that to be a mark in the “plus” column. However, it is also true that I got a beer ration while stationed there, which was purchased in downtown Abu Dhabi, and on more than one occasion I noticed that my bottle of Corona (yes, the Mexican beer in the clear bottle) was printed entirely in HEBREW, except for the name “Corona” and a statement in English that said the beer was distributed by an Israeli company. So, as is so often said about the Arab world, one thing is said in public, something else is done in private.

I don’t know if the port deal has a big behind-the-scene quid-pro-quo, but it would not surprise me a bit. Oh, and BTW, I recall that the UAE seemed to regard Iran as a primary threat, which might be a handy confluence of interests. (Of course, this did not stop them from advertising a lot of holiday packages to Iran.)

You’d think the White House would have been ready with stuff like this, wouldn’t you?

February 21, 2006

A PACK, NOT A HERD:

Anton Faur is a migrant pickpocket. When he recently showed up for work in Venice, his hopes were high: Every year, around 12 million tourists throng and jostle through the city’s narrow streets. This time, though, the target-rich environment didn’t bear fruit. In just five days, the 17-year-old Romanian was arrested twice. “Venice is beautiful, but not for work,” he complained as police booked him.

But it wasn’t the police who caught him. Faur was nabbed both times by a civilian antipickpocket patrol called Cittadini Non Distratti, or Undistracted Citizens. Members, who call themselves “Citizens,” walk around Venice looking for pickpockets. As thievery spikes during Carnival, when tipsy tourists mob the streets, the group increases patrols. . . .

Plainclothes cops like to think they blend right in. Artful dodgers think otherwise. “You can tell right away who’s undercover,” says a 28-year-old female pickpocket from Bosnia who requested anonymity. (Her hint: Look for the men in jeans, blue T-shirts, running shoes, and fanny packs roaming about with cell phones and indiscreet eyes.) Guessing if a passerby might intervene is next to impossible. After a recent wallet-snatch, a bystander seized her and held on until the uniforms showed up. She went to jail.

Rome Police Chief Aldo Zanetti says this “participative security” is increasingly common in Italy, and this new culture seems to be working. According to numbers in a 2005 Interior Ministry report, pickpocketing and purse-snatching have declined nationwide every year since 1997. The authors attribute part of this success to “reciprocal collaboration among the citizenry, law enforcement and institutions.”

Read the whole thing. Somebody should write a book on this kind of phenomenon. Oh, wait. . . .

February 21, 2006

LOTS OF VIDEO FROM THIS WEEKEND’S INTELLIGENCE SUMMIT is up over at The WMD Files, including interviews with James Woolsey, Richard Miniter, and Bill Tierney.

UPDATE: I’ve watched it all now. Very interesting, and well worth your time. (Bumped)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Byron York has more thoughts. I confess that I, too, found Tierney less than convincing.

February 21, 2006

BILL FRIST is unhappy with the seaports deal.

February 21, 2006

STANLEY KURTZ: “Appeasing tyrants is a bad idea. That’s what the Summers fiasco teaches.”

February 21, 2006

PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION will go before the Supreme Court.

I hope they’ll address the rather serious federalism problems with Congressional regulation of abortion, but I rather doubt they will.

February 21, 2006

TERROR INDICTMENTS IN OHIO: “Three men were charged in Ohio with conspiracy to kill people and planning attacks against U.S. forces overseas, a federal law enforcement official said on Tuesday.”

UPDATE: The Counterterrorism Blog has more.

February 21, 2006

IN THE MAIL: Rod Dreher’s new book, Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party). Looking at the list of “crunchy con” characteristics on the back cover I’m quite sure I don’t fit the description (can you be a libertarian transhumanist crunchy-con? I doubt it), but it’s an interesting thesis.

February 21, 2006

MY TCS DAILY COLUMN IS UP: “So which is it? Are blogs too commercial, or not enough? Just taking off, or doomed?”

February 21, 2006

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Here’s more on that “secret” appropriations meeting.

February 21, 2006

THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTS:

The old story of technology in business was a trickle-down affair. From telephones to computers, big companies came first. They could afford the latest innovations, and they reaped the benefits of greater efficiency, increased sales and expansion into distant markets. As a technology spread and costs fell, small businesses joined the parade, though from the rear. . . .

The second-generation Internet technologies — combined with earlier tools like the Web itself and e-mail — are drastically reducing the cost of communicating, finding things and distributing and receiving services online. That means a cost leveling that puts small companies on equal footing with big ones, making it easier for upstarts to innovate, disrupt industries and even get big fast.

The phenomenon is a big step in the democratization of information technology. Its imprint is evident well beyond business, in the social and cultural impact of everything from blogs to online role-playing games. Still, it seems that small businesses, and the marketplace they represent, will be affected the most in the overall economy. Long-held assumptions are suddenly under assault.

Hey, somebody should write a book about this!

UPDATE: Speaking of which, here’s another Army of Davids blog review! Scott Schmidt isn’t as taken with the nanotechnology, etc., in the book as he is with the more near-term stuff, though I would note that those advanced technologies are included not just because I think they’re cool (as he correctly guesses), but also because they represent things that will vastly amplify the trends I describe earlier in the book. That’s a point I thought I made pretty clearly, but I guess I was wrong.

February 21, 2006

THE KELO AFTERMATH CONTINUES:

In a rare display of unanimity that cuts across partisan and geographic lines, lawmakers in virtually every statehouse across the country are advancing bills and constitutional amendments to limit use of the government’s power of eminent domain to seize private property for economic development purposes.

The measures are in direct response to the United States Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision last June in a landmark property rights case from Connecticut, upholding the authority of the City of New London to condemn homes in an aging neighborhood to make way for a private development of offices, condominiums and a hotel. It was a decision that one justice, who had written for the majority, later all but apologized for.

As I’ve said before, I think that this will be like the aftermath of Bowers v. Hardwick — a loss that galvanizes the opposition.

February 21, 2006

AUSTIN BAY looks at another declassified Al Qaeda document.

February 21, 2006

I WASN’T IN THE CAR MUCH YESTERDAY, but every talk show I caught a bit of was going on about the UAE port takeover story I mentioned a while back, so I think it’s going to be big. Here’s the latest:

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said yesterday that he is considering legal moves to either delay or “simply void” the federally approved business deal that would give an Arab company control of operations at the Port of Baltimore. . . .

New York Gov. George E. Pataki, also a Republican, made a similar threat last night, saying he was “very concerned” about the purchase, which also would cover five other ports, including New York.

I don’t know much about the underlying facts here, and its certainly true that not every Arab-owned company is a terrorist front, but I’m guessing that the politics of this, with criticism coming from both Democrats and Republicans now, are likely to scuttle the deal.

February 21, 2006

DOESN’T SOUND LIKE A GUY WHO’S WINNING: Osama is vowing death before capture. I’m okay either way, actually, but Osama may just want to end it all right now after reading this entry from Donald Sensing. (Via Michael Silence).

February 21, 2006

MICHAEL TOTTEN has more reporting from Iraq, and speculates, as many have, that Iraq may wind up splitting. Excerpt:

If Middle Easterners had drawn the borders themselves, Iraq wouldn’t even exist. Blame the British for shackling Kurds and Arabs together when they created the new post-imperial and post-Ottoman map. The Kurds do. They call the W.C. (the “water closet,” i.e. the toilet) “Winston Churchill.” Several times when my translator needed a bathroom break he said “I need to use the Winston Churchill.”

Arab Iraqis who want to “keep” Kurdistan ought to thank the heavens for Jalal Talabani, Iraq’s new president and the party chief of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. He belongs to the 1.3 percent of Iraqi Kurds who want to stay connected to Baghdad. The Kurds love Talabani, whom they affectionately call “Mam Jalal” (Uncle Jalal), for leading the militarily successful fight against Saddam Hussein.

Read the whole thing.

February 20, 2006

J.D. JOHANNES is angry.

February 20, 2006

MORE SWAT-TEAM THUGGERY: With video.

February 20, 2006

MORE CENSORSHIP IN SWEDEN: Here’s the Swedish Embassy’s homepage.

Meanwhile, Rebecca MacKinnon has a column in Newsweek about U.S. companies’ complicity in Chinese censorship.

February 20, 2006

IF IT’S TRUE, IT’S WORSE NEWS FOR HARVARD THAN FOR HIM: A Harvard blog reports a rumor that Larry Summers is resigning.

February 20, 2006

AUSTIN BAY has more on events in the Philippines.

February 20, 2006

I THINK THERE’S ALSO A BLUE MOON THIS MONTH: “The NYT has published back-to-back articles about how the military is turning things around in Iraq.”

February 20, 2006

ONE OF THE SIMPLE PLEASURES: Eating bread, fresh-baked by your 10-year-old daughter, still warm from the oven.

February 20, 2006

PUBLIUS: “The municipal government in Volgograd has decided to close down a local newspaper for printing a cartoon showing Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, and Moses watching a crowd of clashing people while saying, ‘We never taught them to do that…’ The mayor of the city is quoted as saying that the paper was shut down in order to prevent inter-religious strife; meanwhile, the prosecutor-general is looking to file charges.”

Want people to defer to your religious views and refrain from even the mildest of criticism? Threaten to kill them. Apparently, it works pretty well.

February 20, 2006

INTERESTED IN FLY-FISHING? Check out The Itinerant Angler, which also has a photoblog, and podcasts, including video on topics like how to make a braided loop, or tie the Davy Knot.

February 20, 2006

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON writes that porkbusting is going bipartisan:

A number of new Congressional proposals have put “earmarks” in the crosshairs. Earmarks are the pet spending items members of Congress request — and which are often slipped into massive appropriations bills behind closed conference committee doors or in the dead of night. These projects are currently not subject to individual up-or-down votes.

And while there are many other areas — including tax and regulatory reform — that would save taxpayers exponentially more than earmark reform, bringing transparency and accountability to this process is an important area where strange ideological bedfellows can join forces.

And this remains for me the most interesting thing about the moves to slice the pork: the way they cut across party lines. Among the competing anti-pork legislation currently jockeying for position in Congress is a Senate bill proposed by John McCain and Tom Coburn and cosponsored by Russ Feingold and Evan Bayh, another introduced by Trent Lott and Diane Feinstein, and a House bill cosponsored by Republican Jeff Flake and Democrat Harold Ford.

The bills vary in scope, strictness and the degree of transparency they require, but they all recognize that something needs to be done to derail the corporate welfare gravy train.

You know something interesting is afoot when Tom Coburn and Barack Obama — and in the blogosphere, TruthLaidBear and Instapundit — are all pushing the same issue.

She’s right that Bush has been fairly limp on this, too.

February 20, 2006

A LOOK AT THE DIVERSE WISDOM OF BLOGGERS, from Tim Montgomerie, who himself has a blog.

UPDATE: Oops. Had the link to Montgomerie’s blog wrong before. It’s right now. Sorry!

February 20, 2006

MORE ON THE CARTOON WARS over at GlennReynolds.com. Note that MSNBC is kinda-sorta publishing the cartoons — you have to click on a “warning — offensive” box to see them.

February 20, 2006

ED DRISCOLL writes on the Spinal Tap media.

February 20, 2006

A PHILIPPINE COUP? Austin Bay looks at reports.

February 20, 2006

I’VE GOT A GUEST REVIEW up over at Gizmodo.

February 20, 2006

IS GOOGLE CENSORING STUFF IN AMERICA? Fred Lapides would like to know.

UPDATE: According to this post at Digg, it’s not Google, but the submitter, who decided that it shouldn’t be playable in the U.S.

February 20, 2006

IN THE MAIL: Bruce Bartlett’s Impostor : How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, which seems to be setting off considerable discussion about the “end of conservatism.”

Not being a conservative myself, I don’t have a dog in this hunt, exactly. But remind me again, who was the conservative who had a decent shot at the Republican nomination in 2000? John McCain?

And if the Republicans had nominated a true-blue conservative, rather than a “compassionate conservative,” in 2000 would he have won?

As a libertarian myself, I’d love to see the nation run under small-government principles (which is part of what people are talking about here), but I also recognize that there’s no very substantial base of electoral support for that. (And the Libertarian Party hasn’t done anything to improve things; quite the contrary, it’s probably a net negative.)

You want a True Conservative in the White House? Persuade a majority of Americans that true conservatism is what they want. If you want to start on that, you might take a look at PorkBusters Hall of Shame Grand Prize Winner Ted Stevens (R-AK) and ask if he’s the best face for the Republican Party. Because right now, he is the face of the Republican Party.

February 20, 2006

hallofshame.bmp

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: We have a winner in the PorkBusters Hall of Shame. As always, it’s a dishonor just to be nominated, but I certainly do feel that the competitors have given it their all.

February 20, 2006

SAUDI BLOGGER The Religious Policeman writes:

This is THE big meeting of the OIC, the Organization of the Islamic Conference. So are they finally going to resolve the Darfur conflict, the Brown-Muslim-on-Black-Muslim genocide that has already claimed an estimated 300,000 lives?

Well, actually, no.

As usual, their priorities are elsewhere.

February 20, 2006

TAMMY BRUCE continues to stand up for women ski-jumpers.

February 20, 2006

“AN INSTINCT FOR THE CAPILLARY:” I’ve got a piece on the press and the Cheney kerfuffle in today’s Guardian.

February 19, 2006

MORE BAD PRESS for the Daily Illini. “In an effort to gratuitously antagonize a fresh new segment of the populace, the Illini has implemented a new policy prohibiting its staff from writing blogs.”

February 19, 2006

ANYONE WHO THINKS “PAPER TIGER” is a synonym for “harmless” has never been involved in litigation:

A soldier wounded in Afghanistan and the widow of his slain comrade were awarded a $102.6 million judgment from the estate of a suspected al-Qaida financier.

U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell said the lawsuit may be the first filed by an American soldier against terrorists under the Patriot Act. . . . Attorney Dennis Flynn said the U.S. and Canadian governments have frozen the assets of the elder Khadr.

Sic the trial lawyers on ‘em. They’ll be begging for mercy.

UPDATE: Howard Bashman has more, including a link to the opinion.

February 19, 2006

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: I don’t blame John Ashcroft for this one.

February 19, 2006

I’LL BE ON PUNDIT REVIEW RADIO tonight at about 8:15 Eastern, talking about An Army of Davids, technology, politics, etc. You can listen live via WRKO if you’re interested.

February 19, 2006

ED MORRISSEY IS DOWN ON THE PRESS: “When our media has the testicular fortitude to report on terrorists honestly, then they will have gained the moral authority to lecture any White House on censorship and the responsibility of fully informing the public.”

UPDATE: Blackfive says they’re mythical.

February 19, 2006

A HATE CRIME IN PARIS?

February 19, 2006

HEH.

February 19, 2006

THE FINAL WORD on the Cheney Kerfuffle, from Scott Adams: “I think it’s the worst kind of pandering to shoot a lawyer just because your popularity is low. But I’ll bet it works.”

Yep: “After a weeklong bump into the double digits, the Dick Cheney June 30 retirement futures at intrade.com have plummeted; they’re now below where they were before the shooting.”

February 19, 2006

MORE ON THE MASSACRE IN NIGERIA: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.

UPDATE: Tim Blair, meanwhile, reports from Australia, and notes another injunction from Australian Prime Minister John Howard to Muslim immigrants: stop “raving on about jihad.”

February 19, 2006

THE CARTOON WARS have TigerHawk rethinking “tolerance.” He’s opposed to the asymmetrical variety. He’s right to be. Tolerance is a two-way street. Those who do not grant it, have no right to demand it.

UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

February 19, 2006

THOUGHTS ON THE welfare – terrorism connection from the InstaWife. This is something that Kaus has noted, though at a greater personal remove, for a while.

February 19, 2006

CHINA AND THE INTERNET: An interesting story in the Washington Post. Excerpt:

No one told the editor in chief. For 90 minutes, he ran the meeting, oblivious to the political storm that was brewing. Then Li announced what he had done.

The chief editor stammered and rushed back to his office, witnesses recalled. But by then, Li’s memo had leaked and was spreading across the Internet in countless e-mails and instant messages. Copies were posted on China’s most popular Web forums, and within hours people across the country were sending Li messages of support.

The government’s Internet censors scrambled, ordering one Web site after another to delete the letter. But two days later, in an embarrassing retreat, the party bowed to public outrage and scrapped the editor in chief’s plan to muzzle his reporters.

Via Hugh Hewitt, who observes “The Party ought to require every member read An Army of Davids. (Who’s got the rights in the PRC Glenn?)”. Why limit it to Party members? I think that everyone in China should read it!

February 19, 2006

OKAY, I didn’t post these originally, since I don’t generally post other people’s work without permission (I’ll sometimes deep-link images with a link back to the source, but that’s different — and hard to do given that big-media folks haven’t been falling all over themselves to slap these on their websites). But by now I’m pretty sure the Danish authors don’t mind, and apparently various ignorant thugs are threatening sites that post them. So I guess that makes it my turn. Here are a couple of the better ones. More will follow if this nonsense keeps up.

danish005.jpg

danish011.jpg

Hardly worth rioting over, in my opinion. But the people who do this sort of thing don’t care much about my opinion. So why should I care about theirs?

UPDATE: James Hudnall makes an important point — in fact, the actual cartoons weren’t that controversial until the Danish Imams added three fake cartoons to fuel the fire. Perhaps the Danish Government should immediately imprison them for hate crime, to appease the mob . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Various readers write to tell me how “brave” I am for publishing this. Not hardly. We’re at more risk from the Insta-Wife’s clients. . . .

February 19, 2006

IRAQ WANTS TO join NATO. I suspect they’ll prove more reliable allies than some we’ve already got.

UPDATE: Austin Bay looks at some history.

February 19, 2006

ARI FLEISCHER on the Cheney kerfuffle:

On why Vice President Cheney’s office should have handled the hunting accident differently

FLEISCHER: Well, I think this could have and should have been a one or two day story. It was a serious story, so I don’t know that it would have gone away instantly, but it could have and should have gone away much quicker. And so I do differ with the vice president about how it was handled…I do think that the vice president should have and could have announced this either Saturday night or Sunday morning.

On how the White House press corps were both right and “bonkers”

FLEISCHER: I think the White House correspondents were right on this one. They did have a legitimate beef. They should have been told about it. But I think you can be right and still go bonkers, and I think that’s what happened here…I do think there is an element here of the press going bonkers because they didn’t get the story. Somebody else did, and they wished it had been them. It should have been them, but that does feed into their anger.

(Via email from the Reliable Sources folks.)

February 19, 2006

DARTBLOG:

Just yesterday, Hamas came into power. As I noted, its first order of business was to indemnify itself—rhetorically, if not legally—from the obligations of Oslo, and to assert that, no, the nation of Israel does not have the right to exist in this world. Despite Hamas’ being essentially a successor government (and thus required under international law to abide by treaties to which the previous government acceded), the party has renounced any treaty that recognized Israel.

Can you guess what the second order of business was? That’s right: to condemn Israel’s decision to cease sending cash to the Palestinian Authority. Specifically, $42.2 million. Since the PA and its new Hamas bosses run almost entirely on the swiftly-eroding goodwill of the rest of the world (terrorism doesn’t pay very well), Hamas is now demanding that Israel reconsider its decision to cut funding. A representative said: “This is a faulty decison, and the Israelis must reconsider their decision. It will only increase hatred.”

It really is like dealing with teenagers. Except, you know, for the murder part.

UPDATE: Bob Krumm writes that the Palestinians certainly understand the meaning of the term “Chutzpah.”

February 19, 2006

OVER AT GAYPATRIOT, a review of Norah Vincent’s Self Made Man. “Despite its hype, the book did not disappoint. Indeed, I would call it one of the most important books published in the past decade, particularly important for gay people as it deals with the difficult subject of gender difference.”

February 18, 2006

MORE IGNORANT THUGGERY: “Nigerian Muslims protesting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches on Saturday, killing at least 15 people in the deadliest confrontation yet in the whirlwind of Muslim anger over the drawings.”

If Christians were burning mosques, it would be portrayed as proof of their inherent degeneracy and violence.

UPDATE: More here.