June 25, 2006
THE KHOBAR TOWERS: A tenth anniversary retrospective.
THE KHOBAR TOWERS: A tenth anniversary retrospective.
MORE THOUGHTS on the Maliki reconciliation plan discussed below, from Mohammed at Iraq the Model.
GILLIARD-GATE: Jason Zengerle writes:
Steve Gilliard claims that he did not write the email I attributed to him in this post. After doing some further investigating, I’m afraid to say that he is correct. He did not write that email. I apologize to Gilliard for not checking with him before publishing my post, and I regret the error.
He provides some explanation on what happened, too.
TERRORISTS MURDER Russian diplomats.
ROBERT KENNEDY REDUX: “Despite the hype, the Times seems to have brought up the Rolling Stone article mainly to mock the lefty blogs. . . . We shall not let the NY Times paint with too broad a brush – although I am sure there were plenty of lefty blogs that rallied to Kennedy’s fantasy, plenty of other top lefties stayed away (Odd how the Times missed that in describing Kennedy’s critics – one might almost think they would like to discredit the lefty blogs as a class in order to preserve their own ascendancy in the liberal pantheon). ”
It’s almost as if there’s some sort of coordinated Big Media effort underway, or something.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: More revolving doors and close friendships:
When defense contractor Nicholas Karangelen launched a political action committee directed by the stepdaughter of the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, he added another dimension to a tight circle of Capitol Hill relationships that is under federal investigation.
The relationships revolve around Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, who leads the Appropriations Committee and has extraordinarily close ties to lobbyists Letitia White and Bill Lowery.
White worked for Lewis for 21 years before joining Lowery’s lobbying firm in 2003. Lowery, a former San Diego congressman who sat on the Appropriations Committee, is one of Lewis’ closest friends and his principal fundraiser.
Read the whole thing (via TPM Muckraker). Actually, the most damning part may be this statement: “A spokesman for the lobbying firm defended its work as typical of Washington advocacy in an era of explosive growth in earmarking.”
ANN ALTHOUSE: “I assume there is a conspiracy and a strategy to investigate Kos. And it’s so easy to do because it can succeed even if it fails to turn anything up, because it will provoke him, and when he reacts, they’ll all say he’s paranoid, belligerent. Escort that man back outside the gate.”
UPDATE: Rogers Cadenhead is digging deeper.
THOUGHTS ON FRIENDSHIP AND ISOLATION, over at the Insta-Wife’s blog.
ANDY ROTH looks back to 1896, and a speech that got less attention than William Jennings Bryan’s famous “Cross of Gold” effort.
MALIKI INTRODUCES HIS NATIONAL RECONCILIATION PLAN FOR IRAQ:
The 24-point plan offers an amnesty to some insurgents, but not those from groups who have targeted Iraqi civilians, such as al-Qaeda.
It outlines plans to disarm militias and beef up Iraqi security forces ahead of a takeover from coalition forces. . . .
But the BBC’s Jim Muir in Baghdad says there are concerns that the plan will not work as it does not seek reconciliation with those at the heart of the insurgency – the radical Islamists, many of them foreigners, who want Iraq to be the centre of a new Islamic empire.
Muir doesn’t seem to provide suggestions on how you achieve reconciliation with those guys. But the Sunnis seem to be on board with this deal, and if the native Sunni part of the insurgency drops out, the foreign terrorists will be left pretty isolated, I expect.
UPDATE: Arthur Chrenkoff emails:
Not only that, but notice the moving goal-posts – hasn’t the media been telling us in the past that “at the heart of the insurgency” there are the native Sunni nationalists who want the foreign occupiers out of the country, and that “the radical Islamists, many of them foreign terrorists” are merely a marginal phenomenon? Is that because there’s a chance that the new strategy of reconciliation will actually work to diminish the insurgency, so the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government have to be set up for failure according to a new and more demanding (if not an impossible) standard? On the positive side, it’s good to see that the BBC finally acknowledges that at least some of our enemies want to create “a new Islamic empire”.
AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION VIOLATES antitrust consent decree.
AN ARMY OF PHOTOSHOPPERS: Hey, catchy phrase.
DAVID BROOKS enters the blog wars.
SGT. T.F. BOGGS writes a letter to the New York Times.
PATTERICO is cancelling his subscription to the L.A. Times.
A REPORT FROM BONNAROO by Jack Neely, Jack Rentfro, and Tracy Jackson.
ROBERT MAYER OF PUBLIUSPUNDIT is reporting from Mexico on the runup to the elections.
A MARTIN PERETZ VS. DAILY KOS SMACKDOWN:
Forgive me. But I never read Daily Kos until today. Well, now that I’ve read it, the first thought that came to me is how illiterate Kos is, just plain illiterate. . . .
And his rant against us, well, borders on a nut case’s. When a high-minded or, rather, high-strung moralist is accused by The New York Times of journalistic hanky-panky and then by TNR of running an ideological censorship bureau, reminiscent of the old Catholic Legion of Decency, he will go off the rails. And he did. “This is what The New Republic had evolved into–just another cog of the Vast RIGHT Wing Conspiracy.” An old professor of mine once warned me against writers who use capital letters for emphasis. Good advice she gave me. Capital letters suggest some imbalance in the mind of their employer. In whose interests has TNR sought “to destroy the new people-powered movement”? Kos answers his own question: “for the sake of its Lieberman-worshipping neo-con owners; that it stands with the National Review and wingnutosphere in their opposition to grassroots Democrats.” Don’t look at Kos’s grammar. He’s ranting.
Despite this, however, Peretz doesn’t really understand the game, and tries to refute charges of being right-wing by pointing out his positions on issues like gay marriage or abortion. Trust me, that doesn’t work.
Blue Crab Boulevard is still unsatisfied, though: “The other day I said this was like watching professional wrestling only with no ring girls. Now it’s more like heavyweight boxing, although there are still no ring girls.” (Via the TTLB aggregator page).
Plus comedy gold! [LATER: But see this item by Jason Zengerle, or just follow the link for Tom Maguire's update.] This was, when it started — as I said at the time — a pretty minor story. It’s the Kos Krowd’s over-the-top response that has turned it into a bigger one.
UPDATE: Related thoughts from Don Surber and Lindsay Beyerstein. And Kevin Drum writes: “Is it really a shocker that Kos acts like an activist and TNR acts like a magazine? Should I consider myself insane because I read and enjoy both?”
And there’s this: “Kos and Kompany may be sustaining some long term damage here to their credibility with the mainstream media . . .. The longer they keep up the full attack mode, the more shrill and out of control they will be seen by more people. I don’t think that will be a winning strategy.”
I agree, though I hope that this behavior won’t relect badly on the blogosphere as a whole.
Other people see poetry.
And still others see more Clinton connections.
Or P.T. Barnum, whatever.
And here’s a roundup from the National Journal’s “Beltway Blogroll. It all started with an article in Salon, proving that the right-wing conspiracy is even bigger than I thought!
Bill Quick says there’s no news here.
Sing along with the Saturday night karaoke at Tom Maguire’s!
BUSH’S EXECUTIVE ORDER ON TAKINGS gets a negative review from Ilya Somin: “On the surface, the order seems to forbid federal agencies from undertaking economic development condemnations. But its wording undercuts this goal. . . . Bogus reform efforts such as this one create a danger that the public will be falsely persuaded that the problem has been solved; indeed, I suspect that in some cases that is part of their purpose (though I have no evidence of the Bush Administration’s motives for issuing this order). Sometimes, a bogus reform is worse than no reform at all.”
Sen. John Kerry has spent a career taking the side of America’s enemies. His call last week for a pullout from Iraq was the latest evidence he is unfit to serve in the Senate — never mind the White House.
Kerry’s proposal to withdraw us completely from Iraq by July of next year was resoundingly defeated in the Senate by a vote of 86 to 13. And just days before, he said the deadline should be the end of this year.
But Kerry’s idea is the exact opposite of what he was calling for in late 2003 while running for president. Back then he was accusing President Bush of planning to prematurely withdraw from Iraq.
“I fear that in the run-up to the 2004 election the administration is considering what is tantamount to a cut-and-run strategy,” Kerry told the Council on Foreign Relations. He said it would be “a disaster and a disgraceful betrayal of principle” to allow “a politically expedient withdrawal of American troops.”
That’s one of but many Kerry flip-flops, but he’s been consistent over the years in siding against the U.S. in war.
Kerry will have his Iraq position all figured out by, say, 2016. This is one of many reasons why Democrats should be embarrassed that he was their nominee — and why Republicans should be embarrassed that he came so close to winning.
JONAH GOLDBERG offers advice to the lefty blogosphere: “If the Democrats take back the Congress and the White House in 2008, the impact and relevance of the leftwing blogosphere will plummet, I guarantee you. The ones with staying power will be those that actually have something interesting to say beyond mere ‘winning.’”
A LOOK AT COMPROMISING NATIONAL SECURITY as a marketing strategy.
YESTERDAY’S DECK CHAIR POST produced some emails suggesting a cheaper version available at Lowe’s. I don’t know if it’s the same chair — it looks more like this chair, I think — but reader C.G. Browning says he bought one and liked it enough that he went back and bought more. And at less than half the price, it might be worth a try.
BATTLING REVIEWERS: Now this is kind of cool. Frank Wilson, who reviewed An Army of Davids for the Philadelphia Inquirer when it first came out, has now posted a response to the TNR review by Christine Rosen that I mentioned earlier this week.
It occurs to me that TNR has managed to attack both me and Kos from the right this week, which is no small achievement. Hey, maybe Kos is telling the truth about them going all conservative . . . .
A KELO-RELATED Executive Order: “It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.”
I’M ON HUGH HEWITT’S SHOW with Ed Morrissey, talking about the New York Times’ latest publication of classified information. You can listen live here.
Nobody from The Times was willing to talk, but you can see what others are saying here.
UPDATE: A reader who has lots of experience working for SWIFT (the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transfers, the entity involved in the financial surveillance program in question) emails:
What has not been stressed is that SWIFT is not used for individuals. It is used for processing money transfers, stock transfers and bond transfers from companies, governments, banks, insurance companies and NGO’s. What we essentially had on file was the holdings for almost all our clients and the clearance data for these transactions dating back for years. We had to keep all this on file to satisfy all the governmental regulations on taxations, etc.
What the NY Times has essentially done is open up to the terrorists the trails of all their transactions and how the banking procedures of money laundering was done for them by the system. They have essentially stopped dead the ability to track this money and keep it from being put in the hands of our worst enemies. Whether the terrorists might have guessed that their money was being transferred is a moot point. The NY Times had told them that their worst fears have been realized and that they need to find another way to move money around the world. They know it for sure now. Thank you, Bill Keller, and when the nice young man or woman from down the street is killed by one of these terrorists I can thank you for that as well.
When big companies dump toxic waste into rivers to enrich themselves, they’re criticized by the press. But this is the same kind of thing — self-serving profiteering at the public’s expense.
Meanwhile, a humorous take: “If anti-terror officials are allowed to access banking records now, then how long before the IRS has access to them as well?”
ANOTHER UPDATE: King Banaian has a much more thorough description of what’s going on with SWIFT.
THE TRUTH IS OUT: I’m a Leninist ally of Hillary Clinton.
And I tried so hard to conceal it!
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: More on Mollohan:
Representative Alan Mollohan helped funnel at least $179 million in U.S. government contracts over the last six years to companies that gave to the West Virginia Democrat’s family-run charity, tax records and other documents show.
The money went to 21 companies and nonprofit groups that contributed $225,427 to the Robert H. Mollohan Family Charitable Foundation in 2004 — almost half of the charity’s revenue, according to the documents. The congressman, an Appropriations Committee member whose finances are under federal investigation, is the secretary of the foundation, which is named for his father.
The charity, which distributes scholarships to West Virginia students, raises most of its money from corporate sponsors of an annual golf tournament attended by Mollohan, 63. The event gives company executives an opportunity to meet with him in a casual setting without having to report the donations as lobbying expenses.
“They are buying time, they are buying access, they are buying goodwill for their particular corporate needs,” said Rick Cohen, executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a Washington-based group that advocates strict ethical standards for charities.
THE MIAMI TERROR ARRESTS are apparently all about changing the focus from John Kerry.
You need a reason to change the focus from John Kerry?
I’M BEING CRITICIZED FROM THE LEFT for being insufficiently suspicious of the Clintons.
This really is the week where I just can’t please anybody.
UPDATE: No, really, I can’t.
TIM CHAPMAN has a new blog.
THIS WEEK’S BLOG WEEK IN REVIEW PODCAST is up over at PJ Media, with Austin Bay, Marc Cooper, Neo-Neocon, and me.
BLOGNITIVE DISSONANCE: I’m not sure what it means, but it sounds cool . . . .
ROVE AND SATAN: Together again! I guess now that he doesn’t have that indictment hanging over his head, it’s safe . . . .
UPDATE: Reader Ryan Hamilton emails: “The fact that they’ve been seen together is going to disappoint a lot of people who had insisted that Rove IS Satan.”
Nah. If he were Satan, he’d have better hair.
SCALIA INVERTS CRIMINOLOGY RESEARCH in the Hudson case.
I’ve never been a Scalia fan, and this certainly doesn’t improve my opinion.
UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias is taking a let’s you and him fight approach.
Meanwhile, Dean Esmay comments: “This all SO reminds me of the ‘Buchanan Brigades’ on the internet, circa 1992-1996. I seem to be the only one left who remembers Pat Buchanan’s internet-based political campaign, and how exactly they acted like the Kos-ites act now.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: “If you strike me down, Lord Vader, I shall only become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”
Although I can imagine an awful lot.
MORE: A suggestion that I should have invoked a different movie.
How about this line: “He saw Jedi 17 times, eh.”
MORE STILL: Yep, somebody got the reference.
The Democrats’ Iraq policy is NOT “cut and run” (Reed and Kerry), NOT “irresponsible” or “unpatriotic” (Reid), and NOT based on “political considerations,” (Feingold).
Glad that’s cleared up.
EGYPTIAN BLOGGER ALAA has been released from prison.
SO THE BEACH HOUSE WE RENTED came with this cool deck chair, which everybody loved. I liked it so much that I wrote down the name, searched it on the Web, and ordered one from Amazon. It reclines kind of like one of those zero-gravity recliner chairs, and even though it folds up neatly for storage, it’s not rickety like most folding deck chairs. Downside — it’s not especially cheap. But given my unsatisfactory experiences with its predecessors, I’m happy.
Perhaps it will encourage me to spend more time on the deck drinking beer, and less time at the computer . . . .
WHAT HATH KIM JONG IL WROUGHT?
Many Japanese in the aftermath of the Cold War seriously questioned their country’s security alliance with the United States. A decade later, those voices are a lot softer, and one nation deserves much of the credit: North Korea.
The fears this week that the mercurial communist regime is preparing for its first test of a long-range missile since 1998 have again illustrated one of the premier rationales for Tokyo’s enduring partnership with Washington.
Military ties between the two are already tight.
Another reason, you’d think, why the Chinese would want to keep the North Koreans on a shorter leash. And there’s this:
Japan and Washington agreed Friday to strengthen cooperation on missile defense amid concerns of a possible long-range rocket launch by North Korea, as U.S. forces wrapped up massive Pacific war games in a show of military might.
The five days of exercises _ the largest in the Pacific since the Vietnam War _ brought together three aircraft carriers along with 22,000 troops and 280 warplanes off Guam in the western Pacific.
The exercise “was a demonstration of the U.S. Pacific Command’s ability to quickly amass a force … and project peace, power and presence in the region,” Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula told The Associated Press.
Like I said.
DENNIS HASTERT HAS UNLEASHED HIS LAWYERS ON THE SUNLIGHT FOUNDATION, regarding his real estate / earmarking scandal. Their legal argument seems rather unimpressive to me, and the move seems guaranteed mostly to ensure more publicity, and more people looking into Hastert’s affairs.
My thoughts on blogs and libel, along with cautionary advice for public-figure plaintiffs, can be found here.
JOHN TAMMES ROUNDS UP news from Afghanistan that you may have missed.
WHAT IF YOU HAD A GITMO PROTEST and only seven people showed up? All of them working for the organizers.
Why, you’d get major media coverage, of course!
AUSTIN BAY looks at Iran vs. Iraq, and the Iraqi government’s peace offer to the Sunnis. “Maliki’s amnesty looks very similar to the program Allawi wanted to implement. The difference is Maliki has the political power of a democratically-elected national unity government behind him. The Sunnis holdouts have also suffered another two years of defeat.”
A PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS MUIR AND MICHAEL YON, over at TCS Daily.
“NATIONAL SECURITY? THAT’S FOR US TO DECIDE, BUB. We’re newspapermen!”
A fresh barrage of criticism is erupting over the decision of The New York Times to disclose last night another classified surveillance program aimed at gathering information about terrorist plots.
“The president is concerned that, once again, the New York Times has chosen to expose a classified program that is protecting the American people,” a White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, said last night. “We know that terrorists look for any clue about the weapons we’re using to fight them and now, with this exposure, they have more information and it increases the challenge for our law enforcement and intelligence officials.”
The Times report, which appears in today’s editions and was posted last evening on the paper’s Web site, details the federal government’s use of subpoenas to gather large troves of data from a Belgium-based consortium that handles international bank transfers, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, known as Swift.
But boy, if somebody steps on their scoops, they sure get mad. Some secrecy is sacred.
UPDATE: A big roundup of blog reaction on this, over at PJ Media.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen Spruiell:
According to the NYT’s own reporting, the program is legal. The program is helping us catch terrorists. The administration has briefed the appropriate members of Congress. The program has built-in safeguards to prevent abuse. And yet, with nothing more than a vague appeal to the “public interest” (which apparently is not outweighed in this case by the public’s interest in apprehending terrorists), the NYT disregards all that and publishes intimate, classified details about the program. Keller and his team really do believe they are above the law. When it comes to national security, it isn’t the government that should decide when secrecy is essential to a program’s effectiveness. It is the New York Times.
National security be damned. There are Pulitzers to be won.
The press is much harder on other businesses that sacrifice the public interest for profits.
MORE: Ed Morrissey writes:
Excuse me, but no one voted to put Bill Keller in charge of our national security, and the laws covering classification of materials does not have an option for journalists to invalidate their clearance level. The continuing arrogance of Keller and his two reporters has damaged our national security, and in this case on a ridiculously laughable story that tells us absolutely nothing we didn’t already know in concept. They keep pretending to offer news to their readers, but instead all they do is blow our national-security programs for profit.
The administration has told us on many occasions that one of the main fronts in the war on terror would be the financial systems. We have seen plenty of coverage on how the US has pressured various banking systems into revealing their records in order for us to freeze terrorist assets. If anyone wondered whether our efforts had any effect, all they needed to read was the stories of Hamas officials having to smuggle cash in valises in order to get spot funding for the Palestinian Authority. Their neighboring Arab nations pledged upwards of $150 million in direct aid, which banks would not transfer lest the US discover the transactions and lock them out of the global banking system.
Thanks to the Times for helping with that.
What’s interesting to me is that when you talk about military force, we’re supposed to use law-enforcement and intelligence methods instead. But if you use law-enforcement and intelligence methods, people shout “Big Brother” and the Times runs stories exposing them.
JONATHAN CHAIT: “the radicalism of the lefty bloggers lies not so much in their ideological platform but in their ideological style.”
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: “God, I love Australia.”
Quote in today’s paper: “The world’s least free place for making movies is the US, because it has a fixed model.”
Ang Lee. Ang Lee. So how’s that Saudi distribution deal for “Brokeback” going, eh?
Read the whole thing.
WHY PORN IS GOOD FOR AMERICA: Over at GlennReynolds.com.
UPDATE: Dave Kopel emails:
“More porn, less rape.”
More broadly, from the 1970-2006 comparison:
More guns, more sex – and less alcohol, but with more heavy drinking by young women = less rape.
The pillars of a global social reform movement?
Heh. “Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy!”
JEEZ, THINGS HAVE REALLY DEGENERATED: In this post, I rained scorn on dumbass claims that Kos was gay. (One of which was cited in the Blogometer item from yesterday that I had just linked). So what do I get? Somebody says I’m trying to spread the idea. I mean, that’s just pathetic, and says more about the way the accuser thinks than anything else . . .
There’s a sensible reply from Ogged in the comments:
Are the Reynolds bashers kidding here? What he wrote isn’t just unobjectionable, it’s gracious and I think totally sincere. The quoted paragraph is in the middle of a post defending Kos from accusations of corruption, so it hardly seems strange that he’d defend him from another charge floating around. And if you’re going to impute backwardness to his readers, you have to go all the way: saying that Kos is married and has a kid carries a lot of weight with the unenlightened, doesn’t it?
(Via TTLB). Glad somebody figured it out. And, sadly, there seems to be a lot of backwardness, of various varieties, out there. This is not the blogosphere’s finest hour. Seventh-grade, indeed.
UPDATE: Bill Ardolino surveys more not-so-finest hour moments.
And reader Ricky West emails: “Let’s see, you defend Kos and his acolytes attack you. Lesson learned: that’s what you get for defending Kos.”
The scorched-earth approach seems unwise to me; in fact, it seems to be turning a fundamentally minor issue into a bigger one. And it certainly doesn’t make me feel great about being “gracious.” Though at least today’s Blogometer noticed. Well, actually they noticed that I defended Kos and Kos attacked me. Like I said, jeez.
MORE: Reader Toby Weber emails:
What’s notable about the left side of the blogosphere’s reaction to the Kosola allegations and Kos’ request for silence is that they seem to confirm how much sway he actually has.
Kos requested that liberal bloggers not write about the story, and many didn’t until their hands were forced by TNR, if at all. Even weirder, the usual liberal commenters on right-wing blogs aren’t participating in the comment threads that deal with the story (at least at the blogs I frequent, like Ace of Spades & Protein Wisdom). Kos said that by discounting the allegations, you were passive-aggressively pumping them up. That’s now a full-fledged meme among many liberal blogs.
It’s fascinating how the two sides of the blogosphere have evolved and behave in such different ways. I think Tom Maguire’s Pack (the right) vs. Hive (the left) analogy is playing out quite well. Kos it seems, is the queen bee (no gay implication intended Really!).
Not being on Kos’s mailing list, I didn’t know I was supposed to keep quiet instead of defending him. I’ve defended him in the past, too, but I don’t think I’ll be quite as quick to do so in the future.
SO I’VE BEEN READING TIM PARKS’ Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence. It’s a pretty interesting book, with a juxtaposition of prejudices against sodomy and usury (both seen as “against nature”) as a background for the Renaissance.
It’s mostly a history of the Medici banking empire, though, and it’s interesting to see how the bank declined. The problem was the passing of a generation of bankers who loved the work — Cosimo Medici said that he’d remain a banker even if he could make money by waving a wand — and its replacement by those who weren’t terribly interested in the actual work, but rather in the opportunity their jobs provided to hang around with kings, queens, and cardinals. Not surprisingly, things went downhill fast once that happened.
I think that’s a metaphor for politics and journalism today — and a cautionary example for the blogosphere.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Here’s more on Dennis Hastert:
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) made a $2 million profit last year on the sale of land 5 1/2 miles from a highway project that he helped to finance with targeted federal funds.
A Republican House member from California, meanwhile, received nearly double what he paid for a four-acre parcel near an Air Force base after securing $8 million for a planned freeway interchange 16 miles away. And another California GOP congressman obtained funding in last year’s highway bill for street improvements near a planned residential and commercial development that he co-owns.
In all three cases, Hastert and Reps. Ken Calvert and Gary Miller say that they were securing funds their home districts wanted badly, and that in no way did the earmarks have any impact on the land values of their investments. But for watchdog groups, the cases have opened a fresh avenue for investigation and a new wrinkle in the ongoing controversy over earmarks — home-district projects funded through narrowly written legislative language.
For more than a year, the congressional corruption scandal triggered by former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has focused attention on earmarks secured by lawmakers on lobbyists’ and government contractors’ behalf. Now watchdog groups are combing through lawmakers’ land holdings and legislative activities, searching for earmarks that may have boosted the value of those investments.
“The sound bites from politicians have always been that they’re doing what’s best for their districts, but we’re starting to see a pattern that looks like they might be doing what’s best for their pocketbooks,” said Keith Ashdown, vice president of the group Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Gee, do you think? (Via Ed Morrissey, who has further thoughts).
UPDATE: Reader Pat McNiff emails: “Could this be why Hastert got so exercised when the FBI raided William Jefferson’s office?”
EATS SHOOTS AND LOBBIES: Armed Liberal looks at the American Hunters and Shooters Association and isn’t overly impressed.
Newly disclosed documents allege al-Qaida had plans to turn cameras into stun guns and crash a hijacked plane into East London’s Canary Wharf development.
The U.S. Department of Homeland security document was obtained by ABC News and detailed as many as nine plots to hijack and crash aircraft. None of them took place, as computer files written in English belonging to a key lieutenant of Osama bin Laden were seized in Lahore, Pakistan, in 2004.
Apparently, they haven’t given up, though I’m not sure the stun guns would have done the job.
MYSTERY POLLSTER looks at social conservatism in the military, in response to some comments by Peggy Noonan.
EXTREME MORTMAN: “Michael Moore is surprisingly silent these days.”
The bloodshed in Iraq is getting worse, and involving U.S. troops less and less. . . .
Iraqis have, over the last three years, come to accept the fact that this violence is an Iraqi problem. Until the last year, most of the killers were former Saddam enforcers. Those thugs are still around, but in the last year, most of the blood is being shed by Kurds and Shia Arabs seeking vengeance against Sunni Arabs in general, and known Sunni Arab thugs in particular. American troops are no longer feared as much as they used to be, for the Iraqi killers are more common and prolific. For Sunni Arabs, U.S. troops are often seen as protectors. Moreover, Iraqis have noted that when Americans stage a raid, there is rarely any gunfire at all. But Iraqi troops and police are much more trigger happy. The Americans like to come in quiet, and at night, with no lights (because of the night vision gear.) Iraqi security forces come in with lots of shouting, lights and gunfire.
Read the whole thing.
N.Z. BEAR warns The New Republic regarding Kos’s wrath.
Arizona voters may get a chance to do something that Gov. Janet Napolitano would not: limit her power to take away their guns or limit their rights to carry guns during an emergency. On a 4-2 party-line vote, the Republican-controlled Senate Government Committee approved a measure Tuesday that would legally bar any governor from using a state of emergency to place new restrictions on the possession, transfer, sales, carrying, storage, display or use of firearms or ammunition. The bill also would remove any ability to commandeer and use weapons or ammunition during any state of war.
Meanwhile, Prof. Joseph Olson emails:
Minnesota AG Mike Hatch has joined twelve other Attorneys General in supporting a meaningful individual right to keep and bear arms. The amicus brief was filed June 16, 2006 in Parker v. DC. (the Cato Institute-backed Second Amendment-based challenge to DC’s gun ban now on appeal in the US Court of appeals for the Disctrict of Columbia Link).
The AGs’ position is that:
“The district court’s holding that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right to keep and bear arms denies American citizens a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution. *** [A]lthough the individual right to keep and bear arms protected by the Second Amendment is not an absolute right immune from any restrictions whatsoever, … the D. C. Code provisions … which essentially impose blanket prohibitions on handgun ownership and possession of functional long guns…, are fundamentally inconsistent with the Second Amendment right of Americans to keep and bear arms. As such, they are unconstitutional on their face.”
I’m not expecting a win on this, but it’s more sign of shifting sentiments, and politics.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: It’s not just Dennis Hastert:
Last June, the Los Angeles Times reported how the ranking member on the defense appropriations subcommittee has a brother, Robert Murtha, whose lobbying firm represents 10 companies that received more than $20 million from last year’s defense spending bill. “Clients of the lobbying firm KSA Consulting — whose top officials also include former congressional aide Carmen V. Scialabba, who worked for Rep. Murtha as a congressional aide for 27 years — received a total of $20.8 million from the bill,” the L.A. Times reported.
In early 2004, according to Roll Call, Mr. Murtha “reportedly leaned on U.S. Navy officials to sign a contract to transfer the Hunters Point Shipyard to the city of San Francisco.” Laurence Pelosi, nephew of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, at the time was an executive of the company which owned the rights to the land. The same article also reported how Mr. Murtha has been behind millions of dollars worth of earmarks in defense appropriations bills that went to companies owned by the children of fellow Pennsylvania Democrat, Rep. Paul Kanjorski. Meanwhile, the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan campaign-finance watchdog group, lists Mr. Murtha as the top recipient of defense industry dollars in the current 2006 election cycle.
As Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, has said, “If there is a potential pattern where Congressman Murtha has helped other Democrats secure appropriations that also benefited relatives of those members, I believe this would be something that merits further review by the ethics committee.”
It’s odd that the media, which has been fairly unbiased in going after corrupt politicians recently, has gone silent on Mr. Murtha’s questionable actions.
PANDAGON: ” I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen that there are just simply no consequences to getting on kos’s bad side. There really aren’t. And certainly not through the liberal blogads network, of which pandagon is still a member. Maybe he’d like to have the power to force people to get in line. I dunno. And maybe there’s a perception that he does have such power. I dunno about that either. But I suspect that you don’t need to threaten a lapdog with discipline. I’m not claiming to be the definitive authority or anything. But there aren’t many bloggers who have been more scathingly critical of kos from the lefty side than I have.”
UPDATE: Rogers Cadenhead emails: “I’m surprised at your mild response to Jerome Armstrong’s stock tout suit. He and Kos were becoming the blogging wunderkinds of the Dean campaign at the same time Armstrong was under active SEC investigation, and they stayed with the campaign. How would it have looked if the story broke in late 2003 or early 2004, when Dean was the Dem frontrunner?”
I wonder if they told the Dean campaign? I hadn’t really thought about the issue as a question of responsibility to their campaign clients, but of course it is. Rogers has a post on that here. And here are some further thoughts on blogs, politics, and journalism.
Daniel Drezner downplays the non-stock-related aspects of the story: “What’s going on is not illegal, or even out of the ordinary in Washington, DC. It’s politics as usual. The only reason the story is noteworthy is because bloggers like Kos have persistently said that they and theirs — a.k.a., the netroots — are not about politics as usual. Over time, however, that claim looks less and less viable. The question is whether bloggers like Kos find that their legions of readers are turned off by these kind of revelations, or whether they comfortably adjust into being middleweight power brokers.”
Since “having a friend who works for a campaign” is apparently the new prima facie standard for evidence of corruption in Washington, it would actually be nice if journalists spent some more time tracking the chain of money and jobs in Washington – campaigns to consultants to lobbyists to media figures and around and around – to untangle the genuine financial conflicts of interest which rule that town.
SORRY FOR THE LIGHT POSTING: I’ve been having trouble reaching the site, and apparently so have a lot of you. If things don’t get better, don’t forget the backup site.
I’M STILL NOT SURE how big the WMD story is — especially with Hoekstra and Santorum saying that there’s much more waiting to be declassified — but Chester has some thoughts on why we haven’t heard about this sooner.
MORE WEIRD STUFF about Jason Leopold.
CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN IRAQ: Austin Bay has a roundup on this story.
UPDATE: The document is here. And a transcript of the press conference, just received via email, is in the extended entry area. Click “read more” to read it.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed Morrissey has more, and observes:
The next question will be why the White House did not release this information at the time of their discovery. Santorum’s statement says, “The information released today proves that weapons of mass destruction are, in fact, in Iraq[.] It is essential for the American people to understand that these weapons are in Iraq. I will continue to advocate for the complete declassification of this report so we can more fully understand the complete WMD picture inside Iraq.” That implies that a broader analysis of WMD in Iraq exists — and that it differs significantly from the common understanding shown thus far.
Some will claim that the release is strictly for political purposes. They may have a point, but I doubt it will have anything to do with domestic politics. If Bush wanted to use it for that, he would have done so in October 2004 and not in June 2006. This information changes the picture about our pre-war intelligence in time for the Iranian confrontation — and I suspect that the White House wants to declassify it in order to convince European leaders that our intel actually paid off. . . .
So why keep this quiet? Perhaps CENTCOM did not want to tip the AQ-I forces to their continued existence. Another explanation may have been that some of this got captured through active intel sources that would have blown continuing operations. Obviously the Intelligence Committee felt that the need for secrecy had passed.
Stay tuned. WMD wasn’t the big issue for me, but it certainly has been turned into a keystone of the war debate, which may turn out to have been a mistake for war opponents.
And Canada’s Western Standard blog observes: “The MSM will probably give more play to Saddam’s newly announced hunger strike.”
John Hinderaker has more, including an email from Michael Ledeen:
Please point out to your readers that Negroponte only declassified a few fragments of a much bigger document. Read the press conference and you will see that Santorum and Hoekstra were furious at the meager declassification. They will push for more, and we all must do that. I am told that there is a lot more in the full document, which CIA is desperate to protect, since it shows the miserable job they did looking for WMDs in Iraq.
Some future historians will have fun with the CIA’s bureaucratic turf wars. I just hope that they’re writing in English, and not Arabic . . . .
UPDATE: The document is here. …’ »
THE AUDIO FROM MY TALK OF THE NATION APPEARANCE this afternoon is up. You can listen to it here.
THE BLOGOSPHERE’S “SMOKE-FILLED BACKROOM:”
Are Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas (of the famous Daily Kos) engaged in a pay-for-play scheme in which politicians who hire Armstrong as a consultant get the support of Kos? That’s the question that’s been bouncing around the blogosphere ever since The New York Times’s Chris Suellentrop broke the news last Friday about a 2000 run-in Armstrong had with the Securities and Exchange Commission over alleged stock touting. But Armstrong, Kos, and other big-time liberal bloggers have almost entirely ignored the issue, which is a bit surprising considering their tendency to rapidly respond to even the smallest criticism.
Why the strange silence in the face of such damning allegations? Well, I think we now know the answer. It’s a deliberate strategy orchestrated by Kos. TNR obtained a missive Kos sent earlier this week to “Townhouse,” a private email list comprising elite liberal bloggers, including Jane Hamsher, Matt Stoller, and Christy Hardin Smith. And what was Kos’s message to this group that secretly plots strategy in the digital equivalent of a smoke-filled backroom? Stay mum!
As usual, I wasn’t invited, but then I don’t smoke that stuff. As for the scandal aspects, well, this seems to me like politics as usual. Perhaps, following Kinsley’s Law, that’s the real scandal, but — except to the extent, probably small, that this causes Kos’s readers to lose faith in him as something new and special — I don’t see a big scandal in this, though I can’t help noting that if something like this were going on on the right, the bloggers of the “Townhouse” list would probably be somewhat less charitable.
But remember — it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up!
UPDATE: Ann Althouse: “I wonder who’s the leaker among the elite bloggers.”
Outside the Beltway has a roundup, and notes that Stirling Newberry is accusing The New Republic of libel, though his post doesn’t actually say that the email isn’t genuine. (He may want to look here for some libel advice.) He also attributes the story to both “Nasty Republicans” and “establishment Democrats.” It’s a conspiracy so vast . . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Patrick Kelly emails: “FWIW, I put a link to the TNR article in the comments at Firedoglake (Hamsher and Smith’s blog), it didn’t last 5 minutes.” Hey, it could have been worse.
And Will Collier observes: “Yep, this one just crossed the entertainment threshold. Time to make some popcorn.”
MORE: Zengerle says it’s all about the Benjamins for the liberal bloggers. “Kos (along with Armstrong and Bowers) gets to decide which blogs belong–and don’t belong–to Advertising Liberally, which means a lot of these blogs’ financial health hinges upon staying in Kos’s good graces. Is it any wonder they’re so obedient?” Still no scandal here, exactly, but boy would these guys be making a stink if this stuff were happening on the right. (Via the Hotline Blog.)
Meanwhile, Blogometer asks: “If Kos is so beholden to Armstrong, why would he support James Webb? Webb wasn’t the candidate of choice in Mark Warner’s world.”
And as an aside, I see some blog-commenters are speculating that Kos is gay. Why that should matter, I don’t know, but I remember — back when the blogosphere was younger and people were nicer — commiserating with Kos over his wife’s miscarriage (my wife and I had several) and assuring him that it didn’t preclude successful pregnancies later on, which I believe his wife has since had. So try to keep things at something better than a seventh-grade level.
STILL MORE: Kos is defended at TAPPED: ” I’m a member of the Liberal BlogAds Network. I’ve mocked Kos’s “Libertarian Democrats” concept, derided his elevator pitches, and generally been surly and disagreeable when it suited me. The idea that Markos can just throw folks off the list is a bit silly, particularly for any of us who remember the endless e-mail thread when Jerome and him tried to create some uniformity in the rules for entry.” Also, see Max Sawicky: “I have run afoul of Kos — f** him and all — and I am still in the network. Got an ad or two this past month too. If you’re big enough for exclusion from the network to be financially meaningful — I’m not, that’s for sure — then being excluded would not prevent you from getting ads independently. There are other blog networks too.”
Blue Crab Boulevard: “it sounds like old fashioned backroom politics. Not exactly cutting edge. . . . The email is a different story. If lefty bloggers are indeed following Kos’ directions to starve the story of oxygen by not writing about it, those bloggers may damage themselves in the long run.”
THIS SEEMS PRETTY DAMNING where college admissions are concerned:
In “Negative Action Versus Affirmative Action: Asian Pacific Americans Are Still Caught in the Crossfire,” William C. Kidder takes issue with the Princeton study and similar findings by other scholars. It’s not that the demographic shift seen by the Princeton researchers wouldn’t take place in an admissions system that’s truly race-neutral, says Kidder, a senior policy analyst at the University of California at Davis. Rather, it’s the question of why those slots would go to Asian applicants.
The reason, he says, isn’t the elimination of affirmative action, but the widespread use of “negative action,” under which colleges appear to hold Asian American applicants to higher standards than they hold other applicants. Using the available data from the Princeton study — and not all of it is available — Kidder argues that the vast majority of the gains that Asian American applicants would see come from the elimination of “negative action,” not the opening up of slots currently used for affirmative action. Based on the data used by the Princeton study, Kidder argues that negative action is the equivalent of losing 50 points on the SAT.
The lead author of the Princeton study did not respond to messages about the findings. . . . Kidder argues that all the references to growing Asian enrollments in a post-affirmative action world encourage a return to the “yellow peril” fear of people from Asia taking over. More broadly, he thinks Asian Americans in particular aren’t getting accurate information about the real cause of their perceived difficulties getting into competitive colleges. Their obstacle, he says, isn’t affirmative action, but the discrimination Asian Americans experience by being held to higher standards than anyone else. He says that the differential standards appear to be growing and are similar in some ways to the way some Ivy League institutions limited Jewish enrollments in the first half of the 20th century.
Quotas for asians have been suspected for a while, and this is troubling. Would more asians mean more “diversity” or less? Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: More on diversity developments from David Bernstein.
THE WORLD’S LARGEST DNA DATABASE, in Tennessee.
I’LL BE ON NPR’S TALK OF THE NATION in a few minutes, talking about the GOP and the midterm elections.
SOME VIDEO FROM AFGHANISTAN, shot by Bill Roggio, at PJ Media.
VOTING ON ABORTION: Some thoughts at GlennReynolds.com.
PROBABLY NOT: “You know, what the Democrats need is a presidential candidate who was critical of the war early on, but who now firmly supports the successful completion of the mission. Gore?”
THIS IS MORE LIKE IT: An Army of Davids tops NRO’s summer reading list. ” I admit I’m already half-way through this book, and it’s great — an exhilarating and provocative exploration of how technological change is empowering individuals and spurring the creation of a new, dispersed entrepreneurial class.”
In other news, Jesse Walker sends this link to a bad review of a Christine Rosen piece on videogames. She just doesn’t seem to like, or understand, technology much. She likes Leon Kass, though, which may explain her antipathy to my work. Good thing I didn’t have a chapter on eating ice cream cones in public!
AVIAN FLU UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal (free link) is analyzing bird flu deaths to date.
DAN GAINOR WONDERS WHY the Fannie Mae scandal isn’t getting more attention:
When most people hear the word “Enron,” they mentally complete the phrase by adding the word “scandal.” As reporter Lester Holt of NBC’s “Today” put it in a Jan. 1 story, “Enron has been the poster child, if you will, of corporate scandals.”
It isn’t the only one, though. There’s $40-billion scandal with most of the same elements — even connection to prominent politicians. Just don’t expect to see much about it on TV. After all, the top people involved here are Democrats.
Welcome to Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored mortgage giant. As part of a scandal that’s been running nearly two years, Fannie Mae has “misstated earnings” to the tune of $10.8 billion. That’s some tune.
Okay, he doesn’t actually wonder.
I still have my original Slate umbrella, a premium for subscribing during their brief subscription phase. It ought to fetch a pretty penny on eBay, as I think I was the only one . . . .
CHINESE ASTRONAUTS WITH A JAPANESE FLAG: CBS News’ layers of professional editors and fact-checkers seem to have dropped the ball.
UPDATE: John Kreiser of CBS emails: “Thanks for pointing out that we had the wrong flag on the story about China planning its moon mission. We goofed; we’ve fixed it.”
That’s the way to do things.
FROM KABUL TO QALAT: Bill Roggio posts another report from Afghanistan, this one involving a close encounter of the Taliban kind.
LARRY LESSIG looks at net neutrality and Gary Reback’s latest efforts.
ERIC UMANSKY is skeptical of Ron Suskind’s revelations.
TIM CAVANAUGH LOOKS AT No-Knock raids after Hudson and sees more danger for innocent civilians and police alike:
Ironically, part of the impetus for the no-knock raid is the safety of police and civilians. There’s a certain logic to that: A quick and efficient raid, in which the power of the police is immediately established and no resistance is possible, would seem like the quickest means of assuring domestic tranquility. But what happens when a citizen with a legally purchased handgun reacts to a home invasion, by people who have not knocked and are less than prompt in identifying themselves as police officers, in the most reasonable manner available—by shooting one of the invaders? The Mississippian Cory Maye is famously sitting on death row for shooting a cop who didn’t identify himself before trespassing on Maye’s residence. But Officer Ron Jones, by all accounts an excellent cop and standup guy, is dead. This case is not directly applicable (Maye’s home was not part of the search Jones was conducting), but the principle is the same: A violent home invasion increases the likelihood that somebody will get hurt, and the Supreme Court ought to proceed with caution before raising the likelihood of an event like that. We can take a charitable view and assume that Scalia and the high court majority are committed to reducing the amount of violence in America. But the best way to avoid a fight is not to start it.
Armed people breaking into homes unannounced ought to be in danger of being shot at. Police shouldn’t put themselves in that situation except in extraordinary cases — where, for example, someone’s being held hostage. Worries that someone might flush a bag of reefer don’t qualify, in my opinion.
ARMED ROBOTS for urban warfare. Is it too late to trademark the name “Bolo?”
CRAIG NEWMARK announces a resolution to the Cox Cable / Craigslist problem.
GRAND ROUNDS is up!
DARFUR UPDATE: “Despite rapidly escalating violence throughout Darfur and eastern Chad, the UN Security Council refuses to push for urgent measures to protect civilians and humanitarians. Instead, deferential Council members have repeatedly insisted that the genocidaires of the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum will determine whether an international force deploys to Darfur, even as the regime continues to send explicit signals that it has no intention of allowing for such deployment.”
UPDATE: Lou Minatti says it’s all about the oil.
TRUTHOUT EXPLAINS ALL: Tom Maguire is amused but not impressed.
READILY-PREPARED STORY LINES: Heh.