March 5, 2006
MICKEY KAUS has questions for Paul Krugman.
MICKEY KAUS has questions for Paul Krugman.
THINKING ABOUT IRAN: I wish we didn’t have to. I suspect the Iranians will, too, before it’s over.
ABORTION BILLS ARE BUSTING OUT ALL OVER: With legislation in South Dakota, and, according to this report, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Carolina and Kentucky, the issue is heating up. I can’t decide if that’s good or bad.
Bad: I’m against these bills. I don’t think abortion ought to be illegal. I think that outlawing abortion (not “late term” or “partial-birth” abortion, which is a relatively minor issue except for its symbolism, and which could be regulated under Roe anyway, but abortion in general) is a bad idea. While it’s possible that such laws would reduce the number of abortions, I suspect that there would be substantial black markets, noncompliance, civil disobedience, and other side effects — something not as far-reaching, perhaps, but in many ways like the destructive consequences of banning guns. One advantage — you can go to another state to have an abortion, but you can’t legally go to another state to buy a gun. That may cut down on the black-market angle, unless a lot of states enact bans, which I doubt. As the South Dakota story above notes, that’s nearly the situation in some states already, on a de facto basis.
Good: On the other hand, I think the abortion issue is “stuck,” and would probably have reached a better, or at least less painful, resolution via legislative processes if Roe v. Wade hadn’t shunted the issue aside. That resolution would probably look more like what we see in Europe — abortion available, but less freely than in the U.S. — and the political pathology associated with abortion polarization would have been avoided. I also suspect that the absolutist slogans on both sides today come from the “stuckness” created by Roe. That sort of thing is easy when the sloganeers know there’s no real chance of their slogans being enacted into law in a fashion that would require them to take responsibility. The democratic process might well discharge the tensions built up over the past three-plus decades.
Horserace point: I’m pretty sure that this development will actually be bad for the Republicans. When the topic is defense, the Democrats lose. When it’s sex, the Republicans lose. And the abortion debate will, I think, turn into a sex debate before it’s over. (I suspect that Missouri Governor Matt Blunt agrees — but pro-choicers may not benefit from a major public debate either).
Advice for the GOP: Try to convince the media that you want to see American abortion law look “more European.”
Advice for the Democrats: Don’t act like you’re ashamed of abortion. Don’t talk about a “woman’s right to choose” without saying what she’s choosing. You can’t win on a policy you’re ashamed of.
Of course, maybe I’m just “pro-death” like Scott Adams, which would probably make taking my advice a terrible mistake. I mean, more than usual. . . .
UPDATE: Stephen Waters writes: “The real issue isn’t abortion, but how do you take care of unwanted children.” This is actually one place where I’ll give the pro-lifers credit. Back when I did pro-choice stuff in college, I challenged them to support, rather than condemn, unwed mothers, and I think they’re actually much better about that. Indeed, I know of several teen moms (one who used to live right across the street from me) who were treated quite supportively by very conservative religious folks who saw that as part of their pro-life duty.
Of course, one reason they honor the choice to have a child rather than an abortion may be because it is a choice.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s somebody recommending the German model.
THE CARNIVAL OF THE CATS goes mainstream.
UPDATE: It’s mockery all around.
Amusing George Clooney graphic here.
As for this red-carpet photo, all I can say is “Ew.”
MORE: Another bad review for George Clooney.
GOD LIED, people died?
ANN ALTHOUSE: “In other words, Spielberg is totally bullshitting. It’s not about Bush, it’s about Clinton.”
CENTCOM is podcasting.
BAD PRESS FOR RALPH REED: “Ralph Reed has said he didn’t know it until last year, but emails suggest he was informed that eLot — a firm then in the online lottery business — was behind his effort to fend off a ban against internet gambling in 2000. . . . Reed, a lifelong opponent of gambling, said last year that he did not know in 2000 he was actually working on behalf of eLottery.”
(Via the Hotline Blog).
This time we interview cardiologist Dr. Wes Fisher, and Laurie Anderson of WebMD, about heart attacks, heart attack prevention, and the latest information on cardiac health. Also, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Stewart Baker talks about the Dubai Ports deal, and comments on some port security suggestions from Frank J.
The heart stuff is near and dear to our, er, hearts, since Helen had a heart attack six years ago and now sports an implantable pacemaker/defibrillator. We learn how men and women differ in this area, what the latest research suggests about diet, exercise, and supplements like CoEnzyme Q10, Folic Acid, etc. Our guests also answer some questions from Helen’s blog readers about heart health and coping with the aftermath of heart attacks. It turns out that women as young as 18 years old can be at risk for heart attacks, and that traditional medical tests often miss those. (Dr. Fisher also sells medical t-shirts, like the one worn by Helen in the picture at right, at Medtees.com).
Stewart Baker is the Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security. He talks about the Dubai Ports deal, and the security issues involved. He also responds to some comments from Jim Dunnigan and Austin Bay on previous podcasts, and comments on blogger Frank J. Fleming’s suggestions on ways to improve port security. Hey, if you want to think outside the box, there’s no better place to start than Frank J. — he lives outside the box.
As always, my lovely and talented co-host is taking suggestions and comments.
Music is from “Suitcase and a Gun,” by the Nebraska Guitar Militia, off the album Four Pickups of the Apocalypse.
In a recent press briefing General George Casey (the commander of Multinational Forces in Iraq) countered virtually every inflated claim made by the media regarding Iraq’s recent “civil war” in the wake of the Shrine bombing in Samarra. But there are significant disconnects between what Gen Casey said and how his words are reported. . . .
The media is free to dispute the General’s claims – that’s expected of them. But in this case they aren’t, they are simply using his words selectively in a manner that supports their own previously published fictions. There’s no law that says U.S. media outlets are required to report accurately or completely on comments made by military or government officials. Likewise there are no requirements for media outlets to acknowledge that they are printing unverified claims made by “other parties” in the war as confirmed “news” – as was the case in the aftermath of the Shrine bombing (See here and here). But consumers of those reports should be aware of their flaws.
The press had better hope we win this war, because if we don’t, a lot of people will blame the media.
UPDATE: Ralph Peters: Dude, Where’s My Civil War?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Lest we recapitulate a discussion that’s happened already, read this post, in which I expanded on the above at considerably more length. Also this post, this post, and this rather disturbing post.
MORE: Pierce Wetter looks at the Brookings Institution data on Iraq and observes some interesting things:
In February, US soldiers killed in action or wounded has gone down for the 4th straight month in a row
Number of Iraqi Policemen killed dropped in February:
As did the number of civilians killed.
See the entire post, which has many interesting graphs. It’s certainly something that’s not appearing in the news much.
MORE: Matt Sherman writes on civil-warmongering.
MORE STILL: Don Surber (an actual member of the press!) writes:
Anyone remember the white phosphorus equals chemical warfare crap? How about Giuliana Sgrena’s claim that the U.S. deliberately opened fire on her after she was released by her “kidnappers”? Time after time, the press has gone ahead with major reports that have not been properly vetted. The latest is this complete withdrawal in 2007 story. Reuters didn’t even bother asking anyone at teh Pentagon or MOD about it.
That is not journalism. That is propaganda. That is deliberately misinforming people. Two sides to the story, people, two sides. Pentagon came out later and said it is untrue. As usual. Just like the pullout by June 2004 (for the U.S. election) story.
Yes, I’ve gotten some email of the “you only want happy news” variety, which proves that those people didn’t read the posts I indicated above. I just want the press to avoid false information that damages the war effort. Is that asking too much?
Apparently. Others write that if we lose the war it won’t be the press’s fault, but the fault of Chimpy McHitlerburton. Well, maybe. But even so, that won’t change the fact that a press that looks in many ways as if it’s rooting for defeat won’t make an appealing scapegoat for a lot of people. Given the press’s concern for how it’s perceived in various communities, you’d think it would care enough to avoid being perceived as unpatriotic by the patriotic-American community. Yet the exquisite sensitivity that we see in other settings is not so apparent here.
VIRGINIA POSTREL is donating a kidney, but notes that — unless people like Leon Kass get their way — this will be an obsolete procedure in the not too distant future.
UPDATE: Various readers email about embryonic stem cells vs. adult stem cells, etc. Kass, however, seems negative on the notion of extending life in general, as noted here.
MUSLIMS AGAINST TERROR: Gateway Pundit has a roundup, and pictures, from a massive antiterror protest in Bahrain.
I’M NOT SURPRISED AT THIS DEVELOPMENT: “The Bush administration, seeking to limit leaks of classified information, has launched initiatives targeting journalists and their possible government sources.”
Members of the press are, for the most part, appalled. But having made a big deal of leaks and their alleged harm to National Security in the Plame case, they’re in a poor position to complain. Bill Keller’s outrage is particularly out of place, and his suggestion that the Bush Administration is “declaring war at home on the values it professes to be promoting abroad” is just a political sound-bite, and not a particularly good one. There’s not even a right of journalists to protect leakers under the U.S. Constitution, despite journalists’ representations, and doing so has hardly been a slogan on the war on terror. The tendency of the press to conflate its own desire for guild-like special privileges with the protections of the First Amendment is one of the reasons for its decline in trust and popularity.
UPDATE: More thoughts from Roger Simon.
Reynolds’ highly informative book – a must-read if you want to have some idea of the direction things are taking – is about a lot more than the effect of blogging on Big Media. Its theme is “the triumph of personal technology over mass technology,” which is a trend Reynolds believes is only “going to strengthen over the coming decades.”. . .
Reynolds covers a lot of territory in this little book, from being able to have a state-of-the-art recording studio in your home for about $1,000 to “electronic privateering” in the war on terror, to video games’ potential as teaching devices (likely to discombobulate teachers the way blogs have journalists). Reynolds knows how to pack a lot of information into a relatively small space and provides clear and concise explanations of such things as “horizontal knowledge” – “communication among individuals who may not know each other, but who are loosely coordinated by their involvement in something, or someone, of mutual interest.”
As a professed “transhumanist,” Reynolds waxes enthusiastic on nanotechnology, planetary colonization, and “Scientifically Engineered Negligible Senescence.” But, like Ray Kurzweil – author of The Singularity Is Near, last year’s big futurist book – Reynolds is well aware of the dangers that technological change can pose and favors taking reasonable steps to prevent such things as a terrorist-generated plague from happening.
There’s an accompanying podcast interview, too.
UPDATE: And here’s another blog review.
ED MORRISSEY is trying to organize a blogswarm to evaluate recent claims about Guantanamo internees.
AUSTIN BAY writes on ending information isolation.
ED DRISCOLL INTERVIEWS EVAN COYNE MALONEY, on DIY video.
TIMOTHY GARTON ASH says we should stand up to the creeping tyranny of the group, whether we’re talking animal-rights fanatics or Islamic terrorists:
Human lives are saved by medicines developed as a result of tests on animals; no comparable good is achieved by the republication of cartoons of the prophet. But the mechanism of intimidation is very similar, including the fact that it works across frontiers and is therefore hard to tackle by national laws or law enforcement agencies.
If the intimidators succeed, then the lesson for any group that strongly believes in anything is: shout more loudly, be more extreme, threaten violence, and you will get your way. Frightened firms, newspapers or universities will cave in, as will softbellied democratic states, where politicians scrabble to keep the votes of diverse constituencies. But in our increasingly mixed-up, multicultural world, there are so many groups that care so strongly about so many different things, from fruitarians to anti-abortionists and from Jehovah’s Witnesses to Kurdish nationalists. Aggregate all their taboos and you have a vast herd of sacred cows. Let the frightened nanny state enshrine all those taboos in new laws or bureaucratic prohibitions, and you have a drastic loss of freedom. That, I think, is what is happening to us, issue by issue.
Expecting politicians to protect free speech is probably expecting too much. It’s up to us.
Canada has been showered with attention for its oil sands — deposits of thick, sludgy crude in remote parts of northern Alberta — but until now most of that oil has flowed only as far south as Chicago.
This week, crude spun out of Canada’s oil sands came all the way to this flat Oklahoma prairie town that’s known as the oil pipeline capital of the world.
Enbridge, a Calgary-based oil delivery and storage company, opened the taps to its Spearhead Pipeline, a 650-mile stretch of steel from Chicago to Cushing, and the first western Canada crude sloshed into the company’s mammoth Cushing terminal early Thursday.
For years the pipe, which used to be owned by BP, carried Gulf of Mexico crude to northern markets that needed the oil. But as the Gulf slowly but surely plays out, and Canada’s oil sands production picks up steam, the crude is flowing in a different direction.
It’s a sign of the times. Canada, which is already the biggest exporter of oil to the U.S., outranking Mexico, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, will likely double its oil production in the next decade, thanks to production from the oil sands.
Bring it on.
WHILE I’LL BE WORKING HARD to promote the book next week, apparently someone else will be relaxing on the beaches of Southern California, to judge by this sighting report and photo from N.Z. Bear.
The closest I’ll get to the beaches of Southern California is being on Tammy Bruce’s show starting at 8 Eastern tonight.
NO, I WON’T be watching the Oscars.
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: The Kenyan government attacks a TV station. BareKnucklePolitics has the video.
A MUSLIM LAWYER’S defense of publishing the Mohammed cartoons.
ED CONE: “Was the terrifying incident at UNC yesterday an act of home-grown terrorism? Nine people were struck by a Jeep driven by a man who is alleged to have said he was avenging American treatment of Muslims. Fortunately, injuries were minor. Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar is reportedly being charged with nine counts of attempted first-degree murder and nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill.”
BOB OWENS LOOKS AT The Big Truth.
MICHAEL MALONE POSTS a lengthy review of An Army of Davids at ABC’s Silicon Insider. Excerpt:
I cannot think of a better book for the average reader to understand just how the Web and other digital technologies are reversing the polarities of modern society — restoring many features of daily life lost with the Industrial Revolution, while at the same time inventing powerful new cultural institutions. And for those of us who make careers out of watching this transformation, no book to date so well summarizes all of the diverse trends in a single narrative.
It’s a great review, and I have no complaints. But I’m a bit frustrated — with myself — because Malone doesn’t see the connection between the final chapters of the book (on nanotechnology, space, and the Singularity) and the earlier chapters on more contemporary phenomena. That’s my fault, not his. I thought I had a pretty clear story arc, starting with events today, then explaining how nanotechnology will represent a vast intensification of current trends, leading to vastly (and to a degree, dangerously) empowered individuals, with worries that we’d see either explosive chaos, or a global police state (I invoke Larry Niven’s A.R.M., and note that it’s actually a rather benign vision of such things) — with the space bit appearing to explain why we need the safety factor of dispersing people beyond earth, and how the new space frontier will protect values of individualism. I quote Bob Zubrin on that point. (I also discuss the X-Prize, which has a real Army-of-Davids character.)
It seemed clear to me, but Malone’s not the only one to miss that, which makes it my fault. Maybe I’ll add a few paragraphs to the next edition, if there is one, to make that point clearer.
UPDATE: Comments on my response.
BLOGS, THE SLUTTY ONE-NIGHT STANDS OF THE MEDIA WORLD?
I meet new blogs all the time, through word of mouth and serendipity, and we have some nice moments together. But I don’t usually crave a second date. Life is too short.
But it’s nice to get together with someone who’s doing it for fun, not for the money.
A BEAT DOWN IN HELL TOWN: The Lukashenko regime in Belarus lives up to the title of Europe’s Last Dictator:
When one of the candidates challenging Mr Lukashenko in this month’s presidential election tried to get into the People’s Assembly, he was knocked to the ground by plain clothes officers and beaten.
Alexander Kozulin was then dragged off and taken into custody.
Outside the police station, a number of his supporters and journalists were detained, too. One newspaper photographer at the scene was beaten up by police. He received concussion and a broken nose.
Later another presidential candidate from the opposition had problems.
Alexander Milinkevich attempted to hold an election rally in the city centre. But the authorities declared it illegal and sent in the security forces: hundreds of riot police blocked off the roads and dispersed a crowd of several thousand Milenkevich supporters.
“The authorities saw that the popularity of the opposition is growing rapidly,” Yaroslav Romanchuk of the United Civil Party told me. “That’s why they are now trying to block the opposition from campaigning. This isn’t an election. It’s a sham.”
I have seen two very different pictures of Belarus here this week. The first – on a TV screen, painted in pomp and ceremony, depicting Belarus as a haven of stability with a leader adored by the nation. And a second Belarus – an unofficial one, not intended for live broadcast and public consumption; a country where political rivals are beaten and detained by police.
Much more at the B23 Blog.
A LOOK AT THE KATRINA RESPONSE AND AFTERMATH from Lou Dolinar.
PR AND BLOGGER ETHICS: I talked to a reporter about blogs and PR — I won’t spoil the story, but the gist is that some PR people have been sending stuff to bloggers, and some bloggers have apparently reprinted some of it without attribution.
I think that’s bad, but as I stressed in our interview, it’s not as if this supports a “bloggers lack the standards of mainstream journalism” conclusion. In fact, here’s a bit from The Appearance of Impropriety on that topic:
Thirty-five years ago Daniel Boorstin wrote of what he called “pseudo-events,” and noted that much of what passes for news is actually made up of items manufactured by public relations flacks and distributed to the public by way of news organizations. The news organizations, he wrote, go along with this sort of thing out of a need for material, and out of laziness: it’s just easier to take predigested material and reprint it than it is to come up with real news. In tones of dismay, Boorstin reported that the National Press Club in Washington was equipped with racks holding the handouts from press conferences throughout the capital, in order to save the reporters the trouble of actually attending. As Boorstin went on to note:
We begin to be puzzled about what is really the “original” of an event. The authentic news record of what “happens” or is said comes increasingly to seem to be what is given out in advance. More and more news events become dramatic performances in which “men in the news” simply act out more or less well their prepared script. The story prepared “for future release” acquires an authenticity that competes with that of the actual occurrences on the scheduled date.
The practice Boorstin described has not gone away: it has expanded into new frontiers. Technology in the early 1960s was primitive, and favored live or minimally-produced television news; as a result, that medium acquired a reputation for realism and immediacy that print reporting lacked. A print story could be made up, but an image on television was real. But nowadays, when many high schools have network-quality television studios, and when videotape is sold at convenience stores, that has changed. Although a “video news release” is still more expensive to produce than a standard paper press release, they have become much more common. According to a recent poll, seventy-five percent of TV news directors reported using video news releases at least once per day.
These releases, with their high quality images and slick production, are produced by companies and groups who want to get their message across, but don’t want simply to purchase advertising time. They are designed so that television producers at local stations or (less often) major networks, can simply intersperse shots of their own reporters or anchors (often reading scripted lines provided with the release) to give the impression that the story is their own. Their use has been the subject of considerable controversy within the journalistic profession, although some commentators have claimed that they are used no more often, or misleadingly, than written press releases are used by the print media.
A recent scandal in Britain involved network use of a video news release produced by the group Greenpeace that some considered misleading. But of course for every video news release, or VNR as they are called in the trade, that comes from an environmental group there are hundreds that come from businesses or government organizations. Though a keen eye can usually spot a VNR (hint: the subject matter wouldn’t otherwise be news, and it usually involves experts and locales far from the station that airs it) most viewers probably believe that today’s story on cell-phone safety or miracle bras is just another product of the news program’s producers – and hence, implicitly backed by the news people’s public commitment to objective journalism. The truth, however, is different.
It is fair to say that the wholesale use of others’ work is a major part of modern journalism. But news officials are quick to distinguish that from plagiarism. In a mini-scandal at the San Diego Tribune, a reporter’s story was cancelled when editors noticed that it looked very much like a story that had already appeared elsewhere. At first, presumably, it was thought that the story had been taken from the other publication. Then it turned out that both stories were simply near-verbatim versions of a press release. According to the Tribune’s deputy editor, that wasn’t plagiarism. “If you look up the definition of plagiarism, it is the unauthorized use of someone’s material. When someone sends you a press packet, you’re entitled to use everything in there.”
Certainly this statement seems to capture the attitude of many in the journalistic professions. One public-relations handbook explains it this way:
Most reporters aren’t scoop-hungry investigators. They’re wage earners who want to please their editors with as little effort as possible, and they’re happy to let you provide them with ideas and facts for publishable stories. That is why most publicity is positive for people and their businesses.
You’re still not convinced? Go to the library and glance through a few days’ issues of several newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and some local papers. You’ll discover that the same stories appear over and over again. That’s because they were initiated by the companies being covered, not by an eager young reporter looking for a scoop.
An experiment by a group of journalism students at the University of Tennessee demonstrates just how willing reporters can be to accept facts and story ideas that involve little work. The students concocted a fictitious press release from a group opposing “political correctness” and mailed it to a number of newspapers. Most did not run it, but quite a few did — and none checked the details one way or another. One newspaper even embellished the story with additional details that were not included in the original press release. When word of the experiment got out, journalists were predictably outraged, with one even saying that it violated the bond of trust (!) between journalists and public-relations professionals. A more likely explanation for the outrage is that the experiment uncovered a pattern of shoddy work that its practitioners would have preferred to keep unexposed. Not plagiarism, perhaps, but something that in many ways is worse.
Every successful system attracts parasites. The blogosphere is a successful system. That doesn’t excuse bad conduct, of course. But I hope that nobody will try to pretend that this sort of thing is new or unusual, even if the setting is.
UPDATE: A confession:
It is far easier to repackage (or sometimes quote verbatim) what someone else is saying, rather than doing the reporting yourself. I fess up to being guilty of this when I interned with a couple airline magazines a few years ago. They basically handed me a bunch of press releases, asked me to hit the Internet, make a couple phone calls, and then craft an article from it.
Trudy Schuett, meanwhile, has thoughts on the subversive potential of republishing press releases while labeling them as such.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Galvin defends the PR industry in a lengthy missive. Click “read more” to read it. I don’t deny that PR is valuable, actually. My point was simply that journalists rely a lot more heavily on PR than they admit, and that pointing a finger at bloggers in this case without acknowledging that fact (in a “see, you can’t trust bloggers because they lack our journalistic standards” fashion) would be deeply unfair, even dishonest.
SHOP and awe.
BAD NEWS for Air America.
WHO ARE THE GUANTANAMO DETAINEES: Professor Bainbridge takes a look, and doesn’t like it.
DON SURBER IS defending Robert Byrd.
HOLD THE CONSPIRACY WORRIES: A blogger reports on being unable to find a copy of An Army of Davids at bookstores. Remember, it doesn’t officially come out until Tuesday, even though some places are stocking it and Amazon is starting to ship early.
UPDATE: Even if you can’t find it, you can read a short excerpt from the book here, courtesy of The New Atlantis.
CARTOON WARS UPDATE: Manan Ahmed reports that they’re blocking blogspot in Pakistan to keep the dread cartoons out.
The stunning investigation of bribery and corruption in Congress has spread to the CIA, ABC News has learned.
The CIA Inspector General has opened an investigation into the spy agency’s executive director, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, and his connections to two defense contractors accused of bribing a member of Congress and Pentagon officials.
The CIA released an official statement on the matter to ABC News, saying: “It is standard practice for CIA’s Office of Inspector General — an aggressive, independent watchdog — to look into assertions that mention agency officers. That should in no way be seen as lending credibility to any allegation.”
Stay tuned. Between this and the leaks investigations, there’s likely to be a fair amount of action at CIA headquarters.
DANISH CONSULATE RALLY: Reader Kevin Patrick sends this report from New York:
About 150-200 People in attendance at any one time (some of us are supposed to be working). Friendly crowd handing out danish cheese (even in relatively cold weather). About a half dozen danish flags and even more signs in support of the Danes. Healthy discussions/debates going on as well. Couple of people vocalizing their attendance on behalf of friends serving in Iraq and elsewhere. Police in attendance also managing crowd in an orderly manner. All in all a good showing in suuport of the Danes.
Another reader sends the photo below, which can also be found on his blog.
UPDATE: Lots more pictures and reporting here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Pamela at Atlas Shrugs has lots more pictures and promises video later.
Here’s one of hers:
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Lots more reporting and pictures at the Resplendent Mango. Here’s one:
GOOD IDEA: “New Mexico’s 33 counties will switch from a patchwork of voting methods to a single paper-ballot system under a bill signed into law Thursday by Gov. Bill Richardson. The governor, who pushed the proposal through the recent legislative session, said the system would make voting more secure and restore the public’s confidence in elections.”
Actually, it sounds like a great idea! It’s bad news for the manufacturers of electronic voting machines, of course, but they’ve had years to build in security sufficient to earn popular trust, and they’ve failed miserably at that task.
MARK DANIELS REPORTS on his struggle with Cliff Clavin disease.
POWER LINE’S PODCAST is now new and notable on iTunes. And they’re currently #5 in the “politics” category. Hannity’s #6.
I’M GETTING LOTS OF EMAIL asking what’s happened to Neal Boortz’s website. I don’t know. If anyone has news, drop me a line.
UPDATE: Here’s a not so very informative post from Boortz’s radio station. Some people can see the site now, and some can’t, which suggests a DNS change is propagating. It should be back soon.
ALSO IN THE MAIL: William Gurstelle’s Adventures from the Technology Underground : Catapults, Pulsejets, Rail Guns, Flamethrowers, Tesla Coils, Air Cannons, and the Garage Warriors Who Love Them. Gurstelle is the author of the popular Backyard Ballistics, so I expect that there will be a lot of interest in this book. Follow the Amazon link for some cool photos, too. There’s even a flying car!
I’M SHOCKED, SHOCKED at the idea that there might be price-fixing in the music business:
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into online music pricing at the world’s major music labels, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Let the subpoenas fly.
IN THE MAIL: The new book by Jerome Armstrong and Kos, Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics. Obviously I don’t think that it will help the Democratic Party to move in the DailyKos direction (though that’s not quite what the book advocates), but the book’s thesis that the Democratic establishment has gotten out of touch with actual Democrats seems hard to dispute.
Republicans should be worried that the GOP, now that it’s in power, seems to be displaying some of the same problems.
UPDATE: Reader Raymond Sauer emails: “Seems?”
GOOD NEWS ON OIL:
Chevron Corp. is doubling down its bet on Alberta’s oil sands, saying it aims to spend billions over the next decade to launch a second project.
The company said Thursday it has acquired rights to 73,000 hectares northwest of Fort McMurray — land that Chevron believes holds 7.5 billion barrels of oil.
ROGER SIMON notices an odd omission.
DAVID BERNSTEIN: “Should being an active member of a racist, anti-gay, anti-semitic organization disqualify someone from serving on a state hate crimes commission? You would think so, but, at least in Illinois, you’d be wrong.”
I HAVEN’T PAID ENOUGH ATTENTION TO “ABLE DANGER,” but now there’s an Able Danger blog.
IF YOU’RE IN NEW YORK CITY, don’t forget today’s rally at the Danish Consulate.
HITCHENS ON HEWITT, talking about North Korea, Francis Fukuyama, and other insoluble problems. Transcript and audio here.
DANIEL DREZNER IS PLEASED with the India nuclear deal. I think that a nuclear India is unlikely to be a threat, and that we’re better off with a strong (and even nuclear) democracy in the region.
HARRY BROWNE has died.
A PRO-DENMARK RALLY IN NEW YORK, tomorrow at the Danish consulate. Details here. If you go, send me pics.
UPDATE: Link was broken. Fixed now.
NO DOUBT THE MEDIA WILL BE ALL OVER THIS STORY TOMORROW:
In the hectic, confused hours after Hurricane Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast, Louisiana’s governor hesitantly but mistakenly assured the Bush administration that New Orleans’ protective levees were intact, according to new video obtained by The Associated Press showing briefings that day with federal officials.
Think it’ll get as much play as today’s story?
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey was already on this.
MICHAEL BARONE: “Here’s a fascinating issue, and one of great importance for the news business: whether the government should prosecute newspapers for printing classified information and government employees for divulging it. Specifically, should the New York Times be prosecuted for its Dec. 16, 2005, story on the NSA surveillance of communications between suspected al Qaeda operatives abroad and people in the United States?”
Read the whole thing.
Is the despised, self-parodying MSM intentionally glossing over this important difference in order to exaggerate the anti-Bush shock value of the video? I don’t know–but I do know that the actual “topped” quote was hard to find in print, lending some of the stories an eerie, undocumented quality. Do reporters not print the quote because then they couldn’t justify the charge that Bush lied about the “breach”? You make the call. I’m too paranoid at this point. … P.P.S.: Shouldn’t Bush’s press operation, rather than Patterico, be pointing all this out?
Bush’s operation has relied rather heavily on the Army. Too heavily, I’d say.
JIM BENNETT: “Bush’s trip to India, and the deal made there today, may end up being the single most consequential act of the Bush presidency.”
JIM GERAGHTY thinks that post-tipping-point politics are going to be ugly, and agrees with me that the Bush Administration’s limp response to the Cartoon Wars is part of the reason:
In the USA Today poll, when asked, “Which comes closer to your view about Arab and Muslim countries that are allies of the United States?” 45 percent of respondents said, “trust the same as any other ally”; 51 percent said they trust these countries “less than other allies.”
That’s a remarkably honest poll result. Let’s face it, Americans have been told since kindergarten not to judge ethnic and religious groups differently from one another; now slightly more than half are willing to come out and say, “you know, I just don’t trust those guys as much as I trust others.”
Welcome to Post-Tipping Point politics. There is no upside to doing the right thing – which is to emphasize, as one blogger put it, that there is a difference between Dubai and Damascus. There is tremendous political upside to doing the wrong thing, boldly declaring, “I don’t care what the Muslim world thinks, I’m not allowing any Arab country running ports here in America! I don’t care how much President Bush claims these guys are our allies, I don’t trust them, and I’m not going to hand them the keys to the vital entries to our country!”
And more and more, I think Glenn Reynolds had it right; the entire Tipping Point phenomenon can be summed up as action and reaction. The Bush Administration’s reaction to the cartoon riots was comparably milquetoast. The violence and threats committed over the cartoons shocked, frightened and really, really angered Americans. They want somebody to smack the Muslim world back onto its heels and set them straight: “It doesn’t matter how offensive a cartoon is, you’re not allowed to riot, burn down embassies and kill people over it.”
They’re ashamed that Denmark is leading the fight over this.
When the Bush administration’s reaction was mostly equivocating statements and a failure to confront the Muslim world over its insistence of the worldwide applicability of its blasphemy laws, I suspect a lot of folks whose top issue is the war on terror concluded that Bush was going wobbly. . . . The interesting thing is the post-Tipping Point view on the Muslim world is alien to Bush; I suspect he would find it abhorrent. Unfortunately, that puts him out of step with a large chunk of the public — a vocal, angry chunk that is likely to have plenty of politicians courting it.
Read the whole thing.
TOM ELIA: “Is we educating our children good?”
“IS ISLAM COMPATIBLE WITH DEMOCRACY?” A program at the University of Wisconsin that sounds very interesting.
IT’S NOT JUST BILL CLINTON: Reader Daniel Holmes sends this story, which I had missed:
The lobbying of former Senate majority leader Robert J. Dole on behalf of the Dubai-owned company set to take over management of terminals at six major U.S. seaports is creating a political problem for his wife, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.).
The chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Jerry Meek, yesterday called on Sen. Dole to remove herself from “any congressional oversight” of the Dubai port deal. “The fact that Dubai is paying her husband to help pass the deal presents both a financial and ethical conflict of interest for Senator Dole,” Meek said.
It always seems a bit shady to me when former elected officials are paid to represent foreign interests. We’re not talking Gerhard Schroeder territory here for either Clinton or Dole, but it’s still a bit iffy.
A WHILE BACK, I suggested that lawyers might be overpaid, which led to a stirring dissent from attorney Ronald Coleman. (“It’s the free market, Instapundit.”) He makes some good points, though take it from a member of the cartel: the market’s not that free . . .
Meanwhile, in a sort-of-related item, Arnold Kling looks for ways to “reward engineers and marketers, rather than patent attorneys.”
I FREQUENTLY WARN MY STUDENTS about overreliance on spellcheckers. Here’s a good object lesson.
THE JOY OF PODCASTING: It was good for me, too.
MARC COOPER: “Oh, I can’t tell you how much I love this one. Bill Clinton advising the monarchs of Dubai on how to sell the ports deal. I’d expect no less from Slick Willie. Just happy to see one more confirmation of what absolute, rank opportunists he and the Missus are. It all reminds me of how the Whitewater development project specialized in ripping off working class rubes with bait and switch mortgage deals. Yum-yum!”
He also wonders how Bush is going to get out of trouble on the ports deal. Perhaps it depends on what else happens in the next 45 days.
BLAMING IRAN for the mosque attack. I don’t know, but it seems like the way to bet.
UPDATE: Greg Djerejian emails to disagree: “The chances of Iran being involved in the Samarra shrine bombing are somewhere between zero and less than zero. It’s almost as absurd as Ahmadi-Nejad blaming the Jews and Americans for it. . . . The trail is much simpler. It goes to al-Qaeda in Iraq, namely Zarqawi.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Gary Metz thinks that Djerejian is too quick to dismiss the Iranian connection:
First of all, Al Qaeda takes credit for its attacks. They have NOT taken credit for this.
But it is also important to remember that Zarqawi has been spending much of his time inside of Iran.
Lastly, Greg just dismisses the preliminary findings of those on the ground. Hmmmm.
Hard to know. I can certainly see why Iran would want a Sunni-Shia split.
DIVERSITY ISSUES at The New York Times.
In a press conference on the steps of the Capitol Monday, Congressional Democrats announced that, despite the scandals plaguing the Republican Party and widespread calls for change in Washington, their party will remain true to its hopeless direction.
“We are entirely capable of bungling this opportunity to regain control of the House and Senate and the trust of the American people,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said to scattered applause. “It will take some doing, but we’re in this for the long and pointless haul.” . . . “Don’t lose faithlessness, Democrats,” Kennedy said. “The next election is ours to lose. To those who say we can’t, I say: Remember Michael Dukakis. Remember Al Gore. Remember John Kerry.”
Kennedy said that, even if the Democrats were to regain the upper hand in the midterm elections, they would still need to agree on a platform and chart a legislative agenda—an obstacle he called “insurmountable.”
“Universal health care, the war in Iraq, civil liberties, a living wage, gun control—we’re not even close to a consensus within our own ranks,” Kennedy said. “And even if we were, we wouldn’t know how to implement that consensus.”
Sounds like The Onion has been reading Megan McArdle.
Of course, the Republicans’ problem is that they’ve got ideas — they just don’t use them.
CRUNCHY CON WARS: Not being a “con,” though I suppose I have my crunchy side, I’m happy to be left out of this.
WE’RE BACK TO HEARING ABOUT KATRINA, which is a pretty good sign the media is trying to gin up another anti-Bush swarm (“While the information in the video has been public for months, and was the subject of hearings and reports by Congress and the White House, the footage is giving new life to charges that the administration was detached and unresponsive in the face of one of the nation’s worst natural disasters.” In other words, there’s no news here, but we hope it’ll have traction anyway.) Patterico says that the Los Angeles Times is dishonestly portraying the video’s contents, but if you get to the second page of the LAT story you find a bit of a dig at the AP for selective editing:
The AP video does not include footage of Chertoff asking Brown whether he needs any other help or of Chertoff asking whether Brown wants him to approach the Department of Defense. Transcripts show that to both questions, Brown indicated that no additional assistance was needed.
In the transcript of a briefing the following day, Aug. 29, Brown is quoted as saying that Bush “is very engaged, and he’s asking a lot of really good questions I would expect him to ask.”
That Aug. 29 transcript showed that hours after the hurricane hit, federal and state officials remained optimistic about handling the disaster and were unaware that the levees in New Orleans were failing.
Katrina taught the media that if they all swarmed Bush at once they could do harm even if — as turned out to be the case — much of what they reported was outright false. I’ve noticed a lot more of that since. The Bush Administration is quite capable of making its own trouble with PR — see the ports issue, for example — but it’s also quite clear that the media is doing this sort of thing for entirely partisan reasons.
I have to admit, it had me spun up for about a half an hour, too. What did Bush know? When did he know it? Then I stopped and remembered… wait a minute! Didn’t we already know that Bush knew about the potential of the hurricane in advance, because he made calls to Mayor Nagin asking him to make the evacuation call?
Where is the actual news, here?
The news is that the port-deal publicity is dying down, Iraq’s not in a civil war, and we need something to fill the headlines with anti-Bush stuff.
UPDATE: Wizbang notes a Rathergate connection.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Gateway Pundit has more on what people knew when.
MARK STEYN talks about America and the United Nations, which he describes as
a shamefully squalid organization whose corruption is almost impossible to exaggerate. If you think—as the media and the left do in this country—that Iraq is a God-awful mess (which it’s not), then try being the Balkans or Sudan or even Cyprus or anywhere where the problem’s been left to the United Nations. If you don’t want to bulk up your pension by skimming the Oil-for-Food program, no need to worry. Whatever your bag, the UN can find somewhere that suits—in West Africa, it’s Sex-for-Food, with aid workers demanding sexual services from locals as young as four; in Cambodia, it’s drug dealing; in Kenya, it’s the refugee extortion racket; in the Balkans, sex slaves. On a UN peace mission, everyone gets his piece.
PUBLIUS LOOKS at the politics of the Iraqi shrine attack, the questionable role of Al Sadr, and the Iranian influence. Publius seems to have joined the rather large group of people who think that it is time for Sadr to go.
Meanwhile Chester looks at the key strategic question of the war on terror.
UPDATE: Here’s more on the post-shrine attack fallout from StrategyPage. And Mickey Kaus pronounces the perennially doomsaying New York Times one of the major casualties of the attack. “I’m not saying Bill Keller’s headline and lede writers were amping up the Iraq hysteria in order to manufacture another Tet. Maybe they just have no judgment or perspective.”
The folks at the Times are lucky they’ve got Mickey to defend them!
A DOUBLE-BARRELLED APPROACH: “Bill Clinton, former US president, advised top officials from Dubai two weeks ago on how to address growing US concerns over the acquisition of five US container terminals by DP World. It came even as his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, was leading efforts to derail the deal.”
MICKEY KAUS: “I notice my hits have been down a bit this week–must be the lack of Brokeback coverage.”
A LOOK AT Saddam’s death warrants.
PEOPLE OFTEN ASK where the moderate Muslims are, and why they don’t stand up. Well, Tim Blair has noticed something:
The forbidden cartoons of Mohammadness have been published more widely in Muslim countries than in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada combined. In Malaysia alone, three newspapers ran images – compared to just two newspapers in Australia.
Not a single major US daily went near them.
Though I’d call the Rocky Mountain News major.
UPDATE: And the Philadelphia Inquirer.
AMERICA’S NEWEST FRIEND: Jacques Chirac? “After five years of trying to build an anti-U.S. front with Germany—splitting Europe down the middle—the French president is reaching into his diplomatic toolbox and coming up with initiatives that are increasingly in tune with America’s global agenda.”
UPDATE: Jim Hoft emails that it’s not just Chirac. He says that Silvio Berlusconi is shamelessly using President Bush to get votes.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A couple of readers complain that the update equates Chirac with Berlusconi, who’s been a reliable friend all along. I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise; I thought that it was interesting that Berlusconi thought Bush was worth votes at home, despite what we hear about US unpopularity in Europe.
TOM MCMAHON writes on “What I have learned in fifteen years” of taking care of a brain-damaged son.
I’m happy to say that the medical woes that my family has experienced haven’t reached this caliber, but I’m sorry to say that I’ve learned many of the same things.
Speaking of which, if you’re an oncologist and know something about spindle-cell sarcoma, I’d appreciate you dropping me a line. No it’s not a problem in my immediate family, but it’s a problem in my family nonetheless, alas.
TOM FRIEDMAN ON LOU DOBBS: I couldn’t get the video to play, but apparently he’s not happy.
ZEYAD is still unhappy with the security situation in Iraq, and entirely unimpressed with Saddam’s trial.
THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE publishes an extensive review of events in Iraq over the past week, and pronounces the media coverage poor. But there’s this observation:
There was a step 4 to the plan, by the way. That would be the violent takfiri “response” to the desired Shiite response to the shrine bombing. While that Shiite response was less than anticipated, the response of the media met the planners expectations to the point they could move forward anyway, so we’re seeing elements of step 4 enacted now with continuing violence across Iraq. More people are dying, but no, you’re not seeing civil war.
And don’t offer undue credit to the American troops. You are seeing proof of what they all know to be true – violence is ongoing, but the Iraqis are increasingly capable of handling it themselves. A few more “civil wars” like this one and the troops will indeed be home.
He’s particularly hard on the Washington Post’s wildly inflated death toll.
JOHN STOSSEL defends freedom of excellence.
A DARK SIDE OF THE ARMY OF DAVIDS? Yankee Muse reads the book and foresees an Army of Mohammeds. Well, as I note in the book, terrorism is an early bad manifestation of technology empowering individuals and small groups. Fortunately, that’s not the whole story.
UPDATE: N.Z. Bear emails:
Quick reaction thought to the terrorism as Army of Davids-like –you’re exactly right that terrorism was an early manifestation of a similar phenomenon. The key difference, however, is that while we have already seen what happens when destructive technologies become widely available (explosives, etc.), we are now seeing what happens when *constructive* technologies become highly distributed. We’re already dealing with the bad side of the coin, now we’re at least starting to see some of the good…
Yes, that’s part of my take. And of Vernor Vinge’s.