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July 18, 2003

HERE'S A LINK TO BLAIR'S SPEECH. Excerpt:

There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don't; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values or Western values; that Afghan women were content under the lash of the Taliban; that Saddam was somehow beloved by his people; that Milosevic was Serbia's savior. Members of Congress, ours are not Western values. They are the universal values of the human spirit, and anywhere -- (applause) -- anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.

The spread of freedom is the best security for the free. It is our last line of defense and our first line of attack.

And just as the terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify around an idea. And that idea is liberty.

If I'm up this early it's usually because I'm catching an early flight, and that's what's going on this morning. So I'll refer you to Andrew Sullivan and James Lileks for more analysis. Here's an excerpt from Lileks:

Blair is, at heart, a socialist; I’ve no time for half the stuff he wants and most of the stuff he’d agree to. But he’d get my vote. We can argue about the shape and direction of Western Civ after we’ve made sure that such a thing will endure. I haven’t heard every single speech Tony Blair has made since he popped on to the political scene; I don’t know if he argues for increased license fees for domestic gerbils with the same passion and force. But today he sounded like a man who knew things, who knows that the threat is still grave, and cannot understand why others seek transient political advantage in exploiting those sixteen words.

Read it all. Blogging will be intermittent or nonexistent until Sunday night. See you then.

July 17, 2003

THESE STORIES JUST KEEP COMING:

In the latest in a series of grisly discoveries, the U.S. military said Thursday it found another mass grave this one in northern Iraq and thought to contain the bodies of up to 400 Kurdish women and children slain by Saddam Hussein's regime. . . .

Some 25 sets of remains all women and children have been pulled from the grave, each with a bullet hole in the skull. The military said the size of the area leads them to believe the site contains between 200 and 400 bodies.

Since the end of the Iraq war, at least 60 mass graves, some with hundreds of corpses, have been discovered. The United Nations is investigating the killing or disappearance of at least 300,000 Iraqis believed murdered during Saddam's regime.

At least.

JOE BIDEN seems to be backing away from his own bill, the dumb RAVE Act that was passed via a bit of procedural chicanery last year.

Here's a column I wrote on the bill last year. Maybe Biden should have read it.

AMEN, BROTHER:

Trent Stamp, an adept number cruncher and database sleuth, has spent the past two years poring over the finances of the nation's leading nonprofit organizations, and he is convinced of one thing: There are just too damn many charities in this country. To hear Stamp tell it, financial inefficiency and mismanagement are more prevalent among nonprofits than anyone knows, and he wants to let the whole world in on the secret.

Interesting article.

JEFF JARVIS writes that rationalizing hate crimes is "the moral mistake of the age."

In a totally unrelated development (er, except that it involves Jeff) he's testing out AOL's new blogging tool.

YET ANOTHER INSTALLMENT OF THE DAILY HOWLER says that the press is murdering the facts on the Niger uranium story. He's got transcripts, too.

Meanwhile Steven Den Beste notes: "You know, it's odd that no one is accusing Bush of lying about how brutal and vicious Saddam was."

HERE'S AN INTERVIEW WITH ROGER SIMON in which he discusses blogs, writing, and much more.

A DATE WITH MERYL YOURISH? What are you single bloggers waiting for?

THE BBC IS GETTING POUNDED IN THE TIMES:

There are legitimate questions about WMD but that does not justify the charges Gilligan has laid against the Government. The BBC will not admit that the allegations are false but nor does it still insist that the story was correct — merely that it has the right to broadcast what it wants. Greg Dyke, the BBC Director-General, has persuaded his governing board that a high principle of independence is at stake and an apology would cede editorial control to No 10.

This is utter rubbish. On this issue the BBC does not stand for principle but Blundering Bombastic Cynicism. Is the corporation becoming the Blair Baiting Campaign or is it a case of Blinkered Bosses Cornered? Maybe both. Bye Bye Credibility.

Hmm. Perhaps New Labour will find broadcast privatization more appealing now.

I'VE BEEN READING JIM DUNNIGAN'S NEW BOOK, The Perfect Soldier: Special Operations, Commandos, and the Future of U.S. Warfare, and I think it's pretty good. There's a lot of information on how things were done in Afghanistan. One thing that it makes clear is the importance of the learning curve -- and, in particular, the importance of learning from things that don't go well. That's a lesson worth taking to heart in our ongoing war.

The book also has lots of useful background and reference material, which I imagine journalists and lawmakers will find helpful. And, like all Dunnigan's stuff, it's clearly written and highly readable.

MARK STEYN:

I repeat: where’s the lie? Why isn’t it merely a good-faith mistake? The anti-war crowd have been wrong on everything, from hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths to environmental catastrophe, from the horrors of the ‘brutal Afghan winter’ — now 22 months behind schedule — to those of the brutal Iraqi summer, which George Galloway was still trying to flog in the Guardian this week: ‘The US and British armies have entered the gates of hell. Soon it will be 100 degrees at midnight in Baghdad, but there will be no respite from the need for full body armour.’ Really? The average overnight low in July (Baghdad’s hottest month) is 77. On Monday night, after an unusually hot day, by 10.30 p.m. it was already down to a pleasant 83. . . .

Nonetheless, the Democrats smell blood and don’t want to be told that it’s their own.

Some of us are trying to help them out, but I doubt they'll listen.

PRO-LIFERS ON THE TAKE? Ramesh Ponnuru says some are. Others aren't.

UPDATE: Here's more.

CATS AND DOGS, LIVING TOGETHER: Bryan Preston points out a positive piece on postwar Iraq, from Reuters.

VOTING MACHINE FRAUD? Cringely is on the story. I don't know if these concerns are true, but I think that people should investigate. Meanwhile I've offered a surefire technological fix elsewhere.

THIS VIRGINIA POSTREL COLUMN on online sales and state protectionism is worth reading. They should move her to the op-ed page and give her a weekly slot.

SEX, BOOZE AND DICK CHENEY -- all this and more over at The Volokh Conspiracy.

POLITICAL ADVICE FOR THE DEMOCRATS -- they seem to need it, and I'm offering it over at GlennReynolds.com.

I don't think, though, that anyone would offer me the DNC chairmanship, though it was once held by a law school classmate of mine. And the Democrats were doing better then, too.

UPDATE: John Conyers apparently hasn't gotten the memo about the youth vote.

And here's an issue too.

And a reader has more suggestions, as follow:

Read More ?


THE CAL POLY ADMINISTRATION-RACISM STORY has made The Atlantic Monthly with a piece by Stuart Taylor. Read the whole thing.

There's contact information for the Cal Poly folks here, if anyone wants to, you know, send them a copy so that they can see the way they're damaging their school's reputation.

HUGH HEWITT WRITES on the genius of James Lileks, and why he should be in every newspaper in America. And he's got proof:

You can test our assertion by a visit to technorati.com, which allows you to check the blogosphere's connectivity ratings. Lileks is widely linked to and commented upon, and his fans stretch across the vast political spectrum of the Internet's chattering class. This is a sure sign of broad appeal because the weak are never recognized by the blogosphere and the old and the lazy are mercilessly culled from the herd. Lileks is prospering on the web because Lileks is good. . . .

I write about his relative obscurity because it illustrates a point that needs to be made again and again: Newspapers and TV talking heads are falling behind their audiences because they refuse to read the map that is in front of their noses. They want to regain their monopoly on commentary, and seem to believe that by ignoring the repeated tidal waves that hit them, they can will themselves back to relevance.

Yep. Maybe they should add The Bleat to the New York Times website. Just a thought.

UPDATE: For those who haven't mastered Technorati, here's the link to the Technorati page that collects pages linking to Lileks.

OH, THAT LIBERAL MEDIA.

BILL KELLER, CALL YOUR OFFICE: Kevin Holtsberry points out more dishonest headline-writing at the New York Times. This story by James Dao (which is actually pretty fair) is headlined "In Ohio, Iraq Questions Shake Even Some of Bush's Faithful."

But, once again, the story doesn't support the gloom of the headline. Here's the key graf:

In conversations here with nearly three dozen voters, the vast majority said they generally like President Bush and believe he is doing a good job. Many people said they remained convinced that Iraq posed a threat, even though no chemical or biological weapons have been found. And there was a broad consensus that the result of the war — the ousting of a brutal dictator — was good for Iraq as well as the United States.

"Whether or not they find weapons of mass destruction is besides the point," Joyce Allen, 71, a retired bank teller, said as she ate lunch with a friend at Cincinnati's Museum Center. "The people there needed to be freed, and somebody had to do it."

This is shaken faith? I wonder what you'd hear if you asked a few dozen Ohioans whether they trust The New York Times?

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus observes:

The whole story was seemingly assigned (and edited) in order to allow that hed to be written. ... There's some sort of editorial scandal-promoting machine operating here that survives (and predates) Howell Raines.

This sort of thing is shaking Americans' in the Times! No, really, it is.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And here it is: "In Ohio, questions of accuracy and fairness shake even Times faithful." My headline's even accurate.

AMIR TAHERI WRITES FROM BAGHDAD:

This chorus wants us to believe that most Iraqis regret the ancien regime, and are ready to kill and die to expel their liberators.

Sorry, guys, this is not the case.

Neither the wishful thinking of part of the Arab media, long in the pay of Saddam, nor the visceral dislike of part of the Western media for George W. Bush and Tony Blair changes the facts on the ground in Iraq.

ONE fact is that a visitor to Iraq these days never finds anyone who wants Saddam back.

There are many complaints, mostly in Baghdad, about lack of security and power cuts. There is anxiety about the future at a time that middle-class unemployment is estimated at 40 percent. Iraqis also wonder why it is that the coalition does not communicate with them more effectively. That does not mean that there is popular support for violent action against the coalition.

Another fact is that the violence we have witnessed, especially against American troops, in the past six weeks is limited to less than 1 percent of the Iraqi territory, in the so-called "Sunni Triangle," which includes parts of Baghdad.

Elsewhere, the coalition presence is either accepted as a fact of life or welcomed. On the 4th of July some shops and private homes in various parts of Iraq, including the Kurdish areas and cities in the Shiite heartland, put up the star-spangled flag as a show of gratitude to the United States. . . .

The portrayal of Baghdad as an oriental version of the Far West in Hollywood Westerns misses the point. It ignores the fact that life is creeping back to normal, that weddings, always popular in summer, are being celebrated again, often with traditional tribal ostentation. The first rock concert since the war, offered by a boys' band, has already taken place, and Iraq's National Football (soccer) Squad has resumed training under a German coach.

THERE are two Iraqs today: One as portrayed by those in America and Europe who wish to use it as a means of damaging Bush and Blair, and the other as it really exists, home to 24 million people with many hopes and aspirations and, naturally, some anxiety about the future.

"After we have aired our grievances we remember the essential point: Saddam is gone," says Mohsen Saleh, a geologist in Baghdad. "A man who is cured of cancer does not complain about a common cold."

Read the whole thing.

THE BATTLE OVER GUN-CONTROL HAS ENTERED THE ROLLBACK PHASE:

The D.C. Personal Protection Act, introduced Tuesday by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), would repeal the District's ban on handguns, end strict registration requirements for ammunition and other firearms, and lift prohibitions on the possession or carrying of weapons at homes and workplaces. . . .

"It is time to restore the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and to defend their families against murderous predators," said Hatch, whose bill has 18 co-sponsors. "Try to imagine the horror that [a] victim felt when he faced a gun-toting criminal and could not legally reach for a firearm to protect himself."

According to U.S. Justice Department statistics, the District's per-capita murder rate hovered between third- and seventh-highest from 1994 to 2001 among cities with more than 100,000 residents. Calling the District the "murder capital of the United States," Hatch said the gun prohibition is "as ineffective and deplorable as it is unconstitutional."

The District of Columbia is a case-study in the ineffectiveness of gun-control. Heck, it's a case study in the ineffectiveness of a lot of outdated government policies.

But here's the most revealing quote:

Matt Nosanchuk, litigation director for the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control advocacy group, said there is no evidence that greater access to guns reduces crime.

Remember how anti-gun folks used to say that reducing gun controls would lead to "blood in the streets?" Now the best they can claim is that it probably won't reduce crime.

Take 'em at their word. If liberalizing gun laws won't make crime better, but won't make it worse either, then what's the justification for keeping the laws on the books? That some people find gun ownership offensive?

Some people find gay sex offensive, too. Big deal. You don't outlaw things and deny people civil rights on the basis of offensiveness.

THE EU SCANDALS KEEP UNFOLDING:

A widespread inquiry into secret bank accounts and fictitious contracts across the European Commission was launched on Wednesday, amid growing anger at the scale of alleged fraud in the European Union's executive.

The secret bank accounts at Eurostat were set up by Commission officials to hold money paid through inflated contracts to sub-contractors. Mr Kinnock told the parliament's budgetary control committee: "If they are discovered [elsewhere], for whatever reason and to whatever degree we will take appropriate action."

Mr Kinnock says he has no idea how much money has gone into them, or what happens to it.

Stay tuned.

HERE'S MORE ON THE RACISM AND CRUSHING OF DISSENT AT CAL POLY. It's an ugly story, and it's certainly not helping Cal Poly's reputation.

RED TAPE AT THE FAA is holding back commercial space ventures, according to a coalition of rocket companies and space activists (read the press release here). I think they're right that it was the intent of Congress in the 1984 Commercial Space Launch Act, and subsequent legislation, that there would be one-stop regulation of space launch activities via the Office of Commercial Space Transportation, which is now part of the FAA, and that the FAA's aircraft-regulation shops wouldn't be involved.

BAITING NERDS: Matthew Hoy has bagged his limit.

BUSH LIED(TM) FOR DUMMIES: It's all here.

SCIENCE MARCHES ON: "Men have many ways of using their prostate." Indeed. In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, "it's part of our lifestyle."

July 16, 2003

WEIRD RESULTS FROM GOOGLE. Go figure.

THE TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION is strangling the popular armed-pilots program with bureaucratic red tape.

Does the Bush Administration care more about public safety? Or bureaucrats' comfort?

A pro-gun Democrat like, say, Howard Dean might want to ask that question. It might even hurt Bush in pro-gun (and anti-bureaucrat) states like Tennessee or Pennsylvania. This is just more trouble for Bush, courtesy of the lame bureaucrats in homeland security.

ANTISEMITIC VIOLENCE IN FRANCE -- some pretty awful stories:

The violence in France parallels incidents throughout Europe, where attacks on Jewish institutions and other expressions of anti-Semitism have risen over the past few years, as has strong criticism of Israel. But in many ways, France -- with 6 million Muslims and 600,000 Jews, the largest population of each group in Western Europe -- is unique.

For Jews here, many of whom had thought of themselves as French first and foremost, the violence and the initial tepid response of government officials have led to a crisis of identity.

"At first, neither the politicians, nor the courts, nor the intellectuals, nor the media, nor public opinion, nor civil society -- none of them said anything," said Simon Kouhama, president of the Jewish Citizens Forum. . .

The alarm bells first started ringing for Zenouda in October 2000, as he watched television coverage of pro-Palestinian demonstrators in the Place de la Republique shouting "Death to the Jews" and other anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slogans. That month, five synagogues were firebombed and there were attempts against 19 other synagogues, homes and businesses.

The official response, he says, was "glacial silence," followed by rationalizations. Many officials denied there was any pattern or meaning to the unrest. Others portrayed the violence as either the isolated acts of troubled Arab youths or street brawls in which both sides were equally to blame. And in his view, everyone appeared to hold Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's hard-line policies ultimately responsible. A controversial letter by Socialist Party adviser Pascal Boniface suggested that politicians concerned with reelection ought to pay more attention to Muslims, who outnumber the Jews by 10 to 1.

Charming.

THE LAWRENCE DECISION AND STATUTORY RAPE: Eugene Volokh has posts here and here.

GAY TV: Cathy Seipp offers a mixed review.

FOXNEWS HONG KONG UPDATE: Reader Paul Shelton emails:

Seems like someone got your memo about FoxNews not picking up the Hong Kong protestors. Tony Snow and the All-Star panel gave the story a thorough discussion.

Wow. What pull. Maybe as much as Moveon.org has with CNN.

Surely not that much.

UPDATE: Speaking of Hong Kong, the protests seem to be doing some good, as officials resign under pressure.

CHIRAC WAS HECKLED BY AIDS PROTESTERS:

PARIS (Reuters) - The European Union defended its record on funding a global scheme to fight AIDS as angry protesters heckled French President Jacques Chirac at an international conference on the disease Wednesday. . . .

But the real problem isn't Chirac's own efforts, but his inability to bring other European nations into a coalition:

Former South African President Nelson Mandela had called on Europe to match the commitment of President Bush, who in May signed into law a plan to triple AIDS funding over five years to $15 billion. . . .

Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair had urged other leaders to promise up to $1 billion at the Paris talks. But diplomatic sources said Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands had blocked increased EU funding.

Chirac, whose speech to the closing session of he conference was interrupted for five minutes by protesters chanting "Shame!," said he still hoped Europe would make this pledge.

Sounds like they should really be heckling Schroeder et al.

I BLAME THE FRENCH. A reader from Britain sends this from The Times:

An Italian newspaper has published obviously false documents implicating its secret services in the Niger-Iraq uranium affair, days before Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, visits Washington.

In an embarrassing move for the Italian Government, La Repubblica infers in its two-page report that Military Intelligence from Italy as well as Britain, the US was apparently duped by obviously questionable material used to bolster the case for going to war against Iraq.

She adds: "Let's see. Italians fooled. Brits fooled. CIA left out of the loop until it was too late and the Govt presentation was compromised...Soooo...I guess that leaves France as the perp. Which is what everybody knows already, but pretends not to." Sounds plausible. Is it true? I don't know. But somebody does.

THE DAILY HOWLER IS DEFENDING BUSH AGAIN and its readers are unhappy:

What was wrong with the articles we criticized yesterday? Let’s make this as simple as possible. If you’re going to accuse public officials of conducting a “hoax” (Nicholas Kristof), you can’t refuse to publish their explanation (Kristof) and you can’t bury their explanation at the end of a long, front-page article (the Post). You can’t pretend you don’t know what they’ve said. And no, you can’t make the kind of factual presentation made on Monday night’s Hardball. . . .

Readers, those were simply horrible pieces which we critiqued in yesterday’s HOWLER. And there’s no excuse for that silly presentation on Hardball (Matthews made similar presentations last night). Meanwhile, the irony here must be apparent. While Matthews accuses Bush of not knowing his brief, it is Matthews who seems unaware of basic facts. Rice and Rumsfeld were everywhere last weekend, saying that the “16 words” were not about Niger. Maybe Matthews was at the beach. Like Ted Baxter, he seems deeply clueless.

Gee! We wonder if Matthews is simply reading what his handlers put up on his screen…

There's a lot more, read it. (Via Erik).

UPDATE: Meanwhile Max Boot writes:

The decision to go to war was not based on 16 words in the State of the Union. In fact, that address was delivered more than three months after both houses of Congress had already authorized Bush to take military action against Iraq. Lest we forget, that resolution was endorsed by Democratic Sens. John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and John Edwards and Rep. Dick Gephardt, all of whom are now carping that they were deceived by the president. They must have been pretty clairvoyant to have been deceived by a claim that Bush had not yet made.

It seems to me that when you're being called liars by both The Daily Howler and Max Boot, your political strategy is pretty lousy.

IRANIAN GOVERNMENT ADMITS TO KILLING JOURNALIST:

A top Iranian government official admitted that an Iranian-Canadian photo-journalist who died after her arrest here last month had suffered a "brain haemorrhage caused by a beating".

Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a reformist, also made the dramatic claim that the death of 54-year-old Zahra Kazemi was linked to wave of arrests carried out by regime hardliners seeking to undermine the embattled pro-reform camp.

"She died of a brain haemorrhage caused by a beating," Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi told reporters after Wednesday's cabinet meeting, giving the preliminary result of a government probe.

"We have witnessed a kind of comprehensive attack," added Abtahi, a close ally to embattled reformist President Mohammad Khatami, pointing to a wave of arrests of dissidents and journalists "and even the death of Zahra Kazemi".

Kazemi was arrested on June 23 for taking photographs of protesters outside Evin prison in northern Tehran who were demanding the release of relatives locked up during last month's wave of anti-regime protests.

The mullahs have the lid on for now. More pressure from human-rights groups would be nice.

IS THE KYOTO PROTOCOL DOOMED? Colby Cosh thinks the Russians have written it off. It's a blog-post long and detailed enough that some magazine should have paid him to write it.

BEST OF THE WEB asks "Was Kristof merely duped, or is this part of a broader pattern of dishonesty and delusion at the New York Times?"

A lot of us have been wondering that. I hope that the new management will raise the standards across the board. If it doesn't, the Times' influence will only continue to diminish.

TIM GRAHAM IS HORRIFIED that I construed this post as defending Eric Alterman. Well, I was being a bit cute in my post on the subject, but seeing as it was The Corner I felt that criticism of a critic counted as a defense in this case.

MORE WMD BLOWBACK -- even Ed Koch is mad at the Democrats:

The Democratic candidates for president – and many in the media – are trying to make President Bush seem like a liar. In so doing, they are making an unforgivable mistake. . . .

Although I am a Democrat, I am no ideologue. In some local and state elections, I have proudly crossed party lines for candidates I thought were appreciably better. I believe that the most important issue facing the world is international terrorism, and it is my current intention to vote for George W. Bush for re-election.

I do not agree with him on many domestic issues, ranging from privatizing Social Security to tax reductions favoring the wealthy. However, because of his leadership and successes in the war against international terrorism, he is my current choice in 2004. . . .

I believe Democrats and their media allies will fail to bring Bush down, because taking on Saddam Hussein was the right course of action for America.

Read the whole thing. Meanwhile Tom Friedman thinks Bush's big mistake is paying attention to the carping:

For me, though, it is a disturbing thought that the Bush team could get itself so tied up defending its phony reasons for going to war — the notion that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction that were undeterrable and could threaten us, or that he had links with Al Qaeda — that it could get distracted from fulfilling the real and valid reason for the war: to install a decent, tolerant, pluralistic, multireligious government in Iraq that would be the best answer and antidote to both Saddam and Osama.

If the Bush team wants to win the real war, it must keep its eyes on the prize.

I think he's right, and I think that all of this has been exactly what Ed Koch call it, an effort by some Democrats and their media allies to distract people. I wonder if, in part, the purpose wasn't to generate a smokescreen to undercut the impact on black voters of Bush's trip to Africa.

UPDATE: Via Andrew Sullivan I found this from weapons inspector David Kay:

Kay: I’ve already seen enough to convince me, but that’s not the standard. I’ve got to have enough evidence to convince everyone of that. And that’s why we’re going through this process. . . .

Well, he was certainly hiding and moving things around. He’s been doing that for twelve years. There was a tremendous amount of destruction and moving of things immediately and during the war. And some of this actually continued after the war. We’ve seen targeted looting in which you’ll go into a building and the only thing that’s destroyed are the documents in the file cabinets that are ashes. That’s why these documents right here are so important to us. . . .

Well, first of all, a big chunk of them deals with foreign procurement. Where they actually - every WMD program in this country has always had large elements of foreign procurement. So we’re finding purchasing records that tells us what they imported. They also-they were assiduous as record-keepers. So we’re finding progress reports. They also got financial rewards from Saddam Hussein by indicating breakthroughs. They actually went to Saddam and said we have made this progress. Their records, their audio tapes of those interviews give us that.

Read the whole thing. And the "foreign procurement" stuff has got to be making people nervous. No doubt, though, the French will claim that the documents are all forgeries. Say, you don't think that was what the fake Niger documents were all about, do you?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed Cone writes:

If a Democrat wins next year, what would be the future of Bush’s aggressive military strategy of addressing state-sponsored terrorism emanating from the Middle East? What will our message be toward Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria? How much time and money would a Democratic president devote to nation building? Those are answers I’d like to hear.

It doesn’t matter if you didn’t want to go to war, it’s done. We are where we are. Where we go next is the key.

That doesn’t mean that Bush shouldn’t get pounded for any shady tactics used to sell his agenda to the nation. But that agenda is in place. Friedman hardly gives Bush a free pass on resorting to “phony reasons for going to war,” but he’s able to compartmentalize. His advice is detailed and tough: “Sunni Muslim areas…need to be reinvaded and then showered with reconstruction funds,” and “we must provide massive support for the new Council.”

Screwing up on nation-building in Iraq will lead to more terrorism and undermine our status in the world. The same is true in Afghanistan. That’s why Democrats should lay off the trusty quagmire rhetoric and avoid politicizing the reconstruction process. There is no quick exit or cheap solution if we do it right.

If you want to get elected, you need a plan. Do the Democrats have one?

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The WMD argument has officially entered its baroque phase.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Yes, it's definitely there now.

POSITIVELY THE LAST UPDATE TO THIS POST: Tom Maguire has much more on this, and says that Josh Marshall is either being spun, or is on his way to a Pulitzer.

A COUP IN SAO TOME: Bill Hobbs thinks it deserves more attention.

PORPHYROGENITUS HAS TEN LIES WE WERE TOLD ABOUT IRAQ. Excerpt:

1) The Iraqi Army would fight much harder to defend its country than it did in Kuwait.

Most Iraqi soldiers deserted at the first opportunity, having no desire to defend the Ba'ath National Socialist regime.

2) Iraq is not Afghanistan - it will take half a million American troops and at least six months to capture Baghdad, resulting in 50,000 American casualties (of which approximately 10,000 would be deaths).

As with the earlier "Afghanistan is not Iraq" prediction, this one likewise failed to materialize. It took half that number of American troops, less than a third as much time, and a tiny fraction of that casualty estimate.

3) Iraq will draw Israel into the war, leading to a larger Middle East conflagration.

Didn't happen.

4) There would be massive resistance from the Iraqi population defending their country from invasion.

Hardly anyone lifted a finger to defend the Ba'ath National Socialist Regime. Aside from the Republican Guard, Special Republican Guard, Ba'athist thugs, and foreign volunteers, the bulk of the population simply stayed out of the way.
Even now, if one looks at the pattern of attacks, they are by and large restricted to a region north and west of Baghdad, where Saddam drew his greatest support, and carried out by Ba'athist death squads (typically the same sort of people who were used to terrorize the Iraqi population) and foreign auxiliaries from other Arab states. The vast majority of the Iraqi population, rather than supporting these attacks, are mainly concerned that we end them and produce security.

5) There would be street by street, house to house fighting in Baghdad that would destroy the city, cost thousands of American casualties, and drag on for six weeks or more.

Didn't happen that way.

Read the whole thing. Porphyrogenitus asks: "Is it proper to characterize these as 'lies'? Or were they just, *ahem* 'intelligence' failures on the part of those who issued these pre-war warnings?" I demand a Congressional investigation!

MATTHEW HOY HAS DIVERSITY ADVICE for the New York Times:

There is not a major newspaper in the country whose collection of columnists are so dominated by one ideology. Diversity doesn't just mean skin color.

The Times needs a makeover. But can the oped pages be diversified without getting rid of Gail Collins? If Bill Keller wants it, and the Sulzberger family thinks the paper's in trouble, yes. The question is whether the wall of denial has really been breached.

Meanwhile, it seems that at the rest of the paper, diversity was only skin (and stereotype) deep:

Halloway's problems could lead to similar questions, since she is also African-American. Like Blair, she had caught the attention of Raines, who put her in the media section of the paper, insiders said. "She was a Howell appointment," said one insider. "He wanted to increase coverage of hip-hop music."

As Andrew Sullivan observes:

I guess I'm lucky I didn't work for Raines. He'd have had me covering hairdressers and musical comedy. And he'd have expected me to be grateful.

No doubt.

PONTIFEX HAS SOME FIRSTHAND OBSERVATIONS on repressed sexuality in Iraq.

GEORGIA TECH has hired cryptography and nanotech pioneer (they're closer than you think) Ralph Merkle. Good move on their part.

IRAQ NOW HAS A WAR CRIMES MUSEUM: I don't think Robert Fisk will be pleased, though:

Dubbed Amna Suraka (Red Security), the building was used by the ex-regime to house and torture prisoners.

One of the chambers was ironically referred to as the “Sheraton” by the prisoners since it was a clean, tidy room with walls made of sound-proof material so cries would not emanate from the chamber while prisoners were being tortured.

It can't really be a war crime if America isn't involved, after all.

LT SMASH has a roundup of military bloggers from the Iraq region. He also responds to a critic.

STEVEN DEN BESTE thinks that Saudi Arabia is likely to be in the crosshairs next. I hope he's right.

THIS REPORT makes it sound as if the Turks are still in denial:

The message to the delegation of the Assembly of Turkish-American Associations (ATAA), a U.S.-based lobbying group, which visited Turkey in June was blunt. "The Turkish authorities clearly want us to go back to the U.S. and tell people that Turkey made no mistakes and to defend Ankara's policies before the Iraqi war," one Turkish-American leader complained. A member of the ATAA delegation declared that the moderate Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan preached to the delegation about the merits of promoting peace in Islam as a way to go to heaven.

Behind closed doors, however, Turks bitterly complain to each other that the Erdogan government committed a monumental mistake and destroyed decades-old strategic relationship with Washington.

I'd say "seriously damaged" but not quite "destroyed." But I tend toward optimism, and this degree of denial may make that optimism misplaced. Still, as the article suggests, there are lots of reasons for cooperation.

DAVID ADESNIK writes that the Washington Post doesn't understand its own polls.

JOSE BOVE'S PRISON IN FRANCE was renovated with help from McDonald's. Heh.

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner has more on Bove.

JAMES LILEKS SPOTS A CULTURAL WATERSHED:

But you know, now that I think about it, there’s been a sharp decrease in the Boomer Uber Alles effect. If an ad agency suggested using a Joe Cocker song for a car commercial they’d be met with rolled eyes. There’s a marked decrease in tie-dye nostalgia and dead rock-star hagiography. Culturally speaking, I think that pig in the python has finally been digested.

I think he may be right.

NOW THIS IS INTERESTING:

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Hundreds of Syrian troops have begun dismantling bases in Lebanon, officials said Tuesday, moving to reduce Syria's military profile in the country.

Syria has some 20,000 troops in Lebanon, about 1,000 of which began dismantling bases near Beirut and in eastern and northern areas late Monday, the official told The Associated Press.

The troops moves were seen as a bid by Damascus to placate criticism at home and abroad of Syria's prolonged military presence in Lebanon, its western neighbor.

Hmm.

RON BAILEY HAS AN INTERESTING REPORT on the goings-on at a conference about conflicts of interest in science. But here's my favorite bit:

It turns out that four of the 18 speakers earn a substantial portion of their incomes by being plaintiff's witnesses in product liability suits, while two of the four moderators work for activist groups. Hmmm? None of the four journalists on the media panel at the conference had anything to disclose other than that they are journalists?

Maybe that's enough.

OF POLITICS AND HEALTH: This is interesting.

ALPHECCA'S WEEKLY SURVEY OF GUN BIAS IN THE MEDIA is up. This is a great service, and Eric Scheie reports that Jeff could use the cash, so feel free to hit his tipjar (on the left, disguised as a picture of cats).

July 15, 2003

CATS AND DOGS, LIVING TOGETHER -- CONT'D: What a day. First Eric Alterman was being defended in The Corner. Now The Daily Howler is defending the Bush Administration and says the press is deliberately getting the story wrong to make Bush look bad:

But what “new evidence” do the writers mean? What new evidence suggests that the Admin had early warning that the uranium-from-Africa claim could be false? Uh-oh! Priest and Milbank cite yet another 2002 mission to Niger, in which General Carlton Pulford concluded “that Iraq probably could not acquire nuclear material from Niger” (our emphasis). Of course, since the Bushies have said that the SOTU statement refers to other countries as well as Niger, Pulford’s report—even if believed—doesn’t contradict Bush’s speech. But in this article, that point is obscured right from the start. A reader has to work very hard to dig that info out of this article.

Indeed, all over the press corps, reporters are now mysteriously failing to get the point the Admin made this weekend. In particular, many scribes are conflating the earlier uranium-from-Niger report with the later uranium-from-one-of-several-countries claim—the claim which the Brits still affirm. Last night, Chris Matthews conflated these claims on Hardball; Jim Angle even conflated the claims on last night’s Special Report. But the most striking conflation is found in the lead of Nicholas Kristof’s column this morning. . . .

Apparently, there’s a great deal to this story that Kristof doesn’t know, like what the Bush Admin said all weekend. Did Bush’s statement constitute a “Niger uranium hoax?” All weekend long, major spokesmen explained that Bush’s statement concerned nations other than Niger. But legions of scribes don’t seem to have heard. Kristof is just one of many.

For the record, Kristof pushes this point very hard. He persistently implies that Bush’s statement was a reference to Niger only. “[T]he White House, eager to spice up the State of the Union address, recklessly resurrected the discredited Niger tidbit,” he says. And he never reports what the Admin has actually said—that the statement referred to other countries. Kristof complains about the Administration’s “dishonesty and delusion,” and he calls the Bush statement a “falsehood.” But given his column’s shaping of facts, he may have a slight problem himself.

What is happening here? In the case of individual scribes, we can’t tell you, but in the aggregate, this pattern is familiar. To all appearances, the press corps has reached an overall judgment—the Bush Admin spun the intelligence on Iraq. That overall judgment may well be true. But as you know, when the press corps reaches an overall judgment, they often start looking for easy-to-tell stories to illustrate their global belief. If they have to change or make up facts, all too often they’re willing to do it. In this case, the Washington press corps has clearly decided that the Bush Admin mistreated intelligence. And, as they have done many times in the past, they seem to be massaging some basic facts to convince you of that global conclusion.

There's much more to this post, and you should read the whole thing. (Via Erik Peterson).

WHILE CHECKING OUT JESSE WALKER'S BLOG for a piece that I'm writing on low power radio, I ran across this story from the New York Times dated July 6. It says that the "children's prison" liberated by allied forces in Iraq was really an orphanage, but that the troops mistook it for a jail. (Must've been pretty Oliver Twistian to inspire that sort of mistake). I missed that story when it came out, so I want to note it here.

The children's mass graves, however, still appear to be genuine.

UPDATE: Hmm. Reader Mitchell Kaufmann emails: "Glenn, what kind of orphanage has parents and relatives outside eagerly greeting the children?"

And sure enough, the original report says: "There were parents running up, so happy to have their kids back." Something's wrong here. The original story says that the kids were imprisoned because they hadn't joined the youth branch of the Ba'ath party. The new story, by Tyler Hicks, doesn't explain any of this, or name any sources.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Katz has more on this, and the Times story looks a bit dubious.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Darren Kaplan points out that there was a U.N. weapons' inspector's report of children's prisons in Iraq on record before the war started: "It appeared to be a prison for children — toddlers up to pre-adolescents — whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene."

But then, those guys said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, too.

PEOPLE ARE UNHAPPY WITH MOVIES: Readers comment on why, over at GlennReynolds.com.

ARE WE HEADING TOWARD WAR IN KOREA? I rather doubt it. Though "assisted regime change" -- with Chinese help, perhaps -- isn't out of the question.

UPDATE: This is interesting, and it's the kind of thing I had in mind.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Sounds like Joe Biden is calling for war. Or something pretty close.

A NEW CAMPAIGN TACTIC: Bob Graham is sponsoring a NASCAR driver? That's what it says. Probably not a bad idea; it's at least interesting.

AARON BROWN IS BEING SAVAGED FOR HYPOCRISY:

On his first night back since falsely impugning President Bush, by highlighting an already-revealed fraudulent Web site report about how a CIA consultant claimed to have informed Bush, before his State of the Union address, about the falsity of the report about Iraq seeking uranium from Africa, CNN anchor Aaron Brown failed to offer a correction.

But, see, Brown didn't lie. He just relied in good faith on somebody else's report. It's only a "lie" to do that if you're a Republican. I guess this attitude is why CNN is getting "pummeled" in the ratings.

HERE'S A BLOG DEVOTED TO NANOTECHNOLOGY -- not to be confused with this Slashdot-like site devoted to nanotechnology.

HOROLOGIUM NOTES that it's a lot of libertarians and right-wingers attacking Pat Robertson over his sleazy Liberia connections. Well, not just libertarians and right-wingers. But it's true, I think, that Cynthia McKinney got less grief from the left than Robertson's getting from the right.

IT'S OFFICIAL NOW: "Glenn Reynolds is no socialist."

I hope that will put those scurrilous rumors to rest, once and for all.

CREEPING DOWDIFICATION? The Democrats have a commercial -- ironically named "truth" -- that features a clip of President Bush saying:

Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

Of course, what Bush actually said was:

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

(Emphasis added.) In Dowdian fashion, the commercial omits that crucial phrase. It also fails to note that the British stand by this statement, and pooh-pooh the U.S. investigator who, without access to their information, said it wasn't true:

They dismissed a report from a former US diplomat who was sent to Niger to investigate the claims and rejected them. "He seems to have asked a few people if it was true and when they said 'no' he accepted it all," one official said. "We see no reason at all to change our assessment."

This commercial proves that someone is shading the truth, all right. It also proves that the Democrats are idiots. There are lots of real issues (hey, I'm giving 'em away for free here, every day) that they could use, but they're running with this one because they hate Bush more than they care about the truth. Or, seemingly, about winning. Apparently, they haven't read the memo.

Bryan Preston, meanwhile, thinks that Slate has gone off the rails on this issue, too.

UPDATE: Read this dissection of the many "lie" claims.

THE BUREAUCRAT'S NOSE IN THE TENT: Why Homeland Security is an embarrassment, and getting worse, in my TechCentralStation column.

Here's yet another issue for the Democrats, if they're smart enough to run with it.

THE WMD BACKLASH HAS BEGUN:

According to Krugman, the Bush administration is to be held accountable both for not being sufficiently alarmist with respect to intelligence estimates prior to 9/11 and then for being unduly alarmist with those same intelligence estimates after 9/11.

Think about the absurdity and hypocrisy of this for a moment: Krugman wants to vilify the Bush administration for not piecing together scraps of intelligence, speculation and theory to "predict and prevent" a one-in-a-million terrorist attack scenario and then turn around and vilify the administration when they take seriously intelligence reports - reports that the British government continues to stand by even to this very moment - that Hussein attempted to purchase material to make a nuclear bomb.

The ridiculousness of this part of Krugman's argument does, I think, put a nice highlight on why this issue may not damage President Bush the way the Democrats hope and may even backfire on them in a big way.

Rather than offer up a clear cut case that "BUSH LIED!", what the Niger/uranium story does indicate explicitly to voters in this country is that if there is even the slightest indication that terrorists or rogue regimes around the world are trying to get their hands on WMD's, President Bush is willing to act swiftly and forcefully to take them down and defend America. This stands in stark - and I mean STARK- contrast to Howard "Let's Send Troops to Liberia but Not Iraq" Dean and most of the rest of the Dem presidential hopefuls.

Stay tuned.

CATS AND DOGS, LIVING TOGETHER: THEY'RE DEFENDING ERIC ALTERMAN over at The Corner.

INTELLIGENCE, OR DECEPTION? William Sjostrom says that Nick Kristof is being disingenuously coy with his unnamed sources. Maybe if he admitted that they're associated with CounterPunch and similar loony groups people would find his argument less persuasive, eh?

Kristof is trying to pass off a fairly left-wing group as a group of non-partisan "professionals". Remember Katie Couric's description of MoveOn, a very left anti-war group as simply an outfit “started by two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs frustrated by the political process”? This is the same kind of scam.

I wonder if Bill Keller will exercise some adult supervision.

UPDATE: I'm tempted to simply say that Dan Kennedy is naive. But I think that if Bill Keller thinks the sloppiness and dishonesty that have come to mark the Times op-ed pages are hurting the brand, something will be done, especially given that the Times' sliding reputation has gotten the attention of the owners.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kennedy emails that Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. is Maureen Dowd's biggest fan. In which case the Times' troubles are only beginning. . . .

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: In Kennedy's column today (same URL as above) he thinks he's "caught" me making a mistake. But that's based on his rather gotcha-oriented reading of what I said, and what he said. I'm hardly the only one to think that Bill Keller's accession might bring about changes. In fact, newspaper professional Matthew Hoy suggests that Keller's accession should lead to changes with columnists, just as I did. Is Hoy making a "rookie mistake" too? Or is Kennedy trying a bit too hard to score points here? I link. You decide.

WUNDERKINDER WONDERS WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE DEMOCRATS:

I might not be a super-lefty on this subject, but the fact remains that I'm far more liberal than President Bush (perhaps to be expected) but I'm also far more liberal than the entire leadership of the Democratic Party. What gives? Why are Democrats getting a pass on this issue. In fact, the Dems are more to blame for how slowly the gay rights debate is emerging than any other group. In contentious issues like abortion rights, for example, the dichotomy between the two parties naturally leads to compromise and the overall protection of abortion rights. But how can you expect even a compromise to occur when not even the leaders of your party support your position?

Many key Democratic constituencies -- the remaining Democratic blue-collar workers, and blacks, for example -- are not particularly pro-gay. In fact, they're probably less supportive of gay rights than average. I suspect that the leadership fears getting too far out in front of them on this issue.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE LEFT:

But, as McClure found out, "everywhere" does not include Congo. In fact, it doesn't include Africa at all. ANSWER has organized no protests and issued no statements on Africa's four most ravaged countries--Congo, Liberia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe--although they contain exponentially more oppression and suffering than the four targeted by the group's "International Days of Protest."

ANSWER is symptomatic of the left in general. A LexisNexis search going back to 2000 finds not a single reference to the crises in Congo, Liberia, Sudan, or Zimbabwe from Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Michael Moore, Michael Lerner, Gore Vidal, Cornel West, or Howard Zinn. In Congo alone, according to the International Rescue Committee, five years of civil war have taken the lives of a mind-boggling 3.3 million people. How can the leaders of the global left--men and women ostensibly dedicated to solidarity with the world's oppressed, impoverished masses--not care?

The answer, I think, is that the left isn't galvanized by victims; it's galvanized by victimizers. The theme of answer's upcoming protest, after all, is "Occupation and Empire." In a recent essay, Roy explained that "the real and pressing danger, the greatest threat of all, is the locomotive force that drives the political and economic engine of the U.S. government." In other words, imperialism, what she elsewhere calls "a super-power's self-destructive impulse toward supremacy, stranglehold, global hegemony."

But, if the greatest injustice in the world is U.S. imperialism, the world's greatest injustices must be found where U.S. imperialism is strongest. And, here, Africa poses a problem. Africa, after all, has less contact with the United States than any other part of the world.

"Ostensibly" is the operative term. Are there people whose suffering won't advance the Cause? Ignore 'em. End the occupation of Iraq! Free Mumia!

UPDATE: Reader Dennis Hollingsworth emails that Peter Beinart, in the passage above, conflates the "left" with the "hard left." Fair enough point, I guess -- though when Nick Kristof presents the "hard left" as mainstream when it suits his purposes, well, it's hard to get too exercised about Beinart's presentation.

THE EU IS FACING ECONOMIC STRAIN:

Moves to formally consign the EU's stability and growth pact to the dustbin gathered pace yesterday as French president Jacques Chirac called for it to be suspended, brushing aside the rigid spending code established by treaty law to ensure the long-term survival of monetary union.

Now don't go all unilateral on us, Jacques. . . . Oops, too late:

France is already facing censure for its defiant breach of the spending rules. The French deficit was 3.1pc in 2002 and is almost certain to be over 3.5pc this year, and yet M Chirac has vowed to press ahead with tax cuts and costly plans to build a new aircraft carrier battle group and nuclear submarines.

My goodness. Where's his respect for international organizations?

UPDATE: Dodd Harris emails:

My question would be: Why isn't the Left complaining the Chirac is "busting the budget" on tax cuts and a military buildup?

Oh, I think we know the answer to that one.

July 14, 2003

ED CONE IS DEFENDING THE FRENCH: "The French aren’t perfect, they just think they are. And it’s not like they were going to be much help on the battlefield anyway."

THE FAKE NIGER DOCUMENTS WEREN'T BEHIND THE BRITISH REPORT that Saddam was trying to buy uranium there, according to The Telegraph:

British officials admitted that the country was Niger but insisted that the intelligence behind it was genuine and had nothing to do with the fake documents. It was convincing and they were sticking with it, the officials said.

They dismissed a report from a former US diplomat who was sent to Niger to investigate the claims and rejected them. "He seems to have asked a few people if it was true and when they said 'no' he accepted it all," one official said. "We see no reason at all to change our assessment."

The fake documents were not behind that assessment and were not seen by MI6 until after they were denounced by the IAEA. If MI6 had seen them earlier, it would have immediately advised the Americans that they were fakes.

As mentioned here quite some time ago, the French appear to have been involved in the bogus documents. Now why would they have a hand in that?

WHAT? A SAUDI LINK TO TERRORISM? Say it ain't so!

THE "AL QAEDA" TAPE is bogus, according to stories linked by Bill Adams. However, I did allow for that possibility when I linked it.

HOWARD DEAN is guest-blogging for Larry Lessig.

Dean-fan Aziz Poonawalla is less impressed than I would have expected.

ROGER SIMON thinks that Bill Keller will be a good Editor for The New York Times, and thinks that TimesWatch's criticisms are off base.

I DIDN'T KNOW that Jerusalem was in Iraq. I guess those professional journalist guys know things the rest of us don't.

(BLOG)ROLLIN', ROLLIN', ROLLIN', KEEP THOSE WEBLOGS ROLLIN': Kathleen Parker says I'm the Rowdy Yates of the Blogosphere.

Thankee, Ma'am. Though I tend to think of myself as more the Gil Favor type, complete with diary to introduce each episode. . . .

NOW HERE'S AN ISSUE FOR THE DEMOCRATS, but I'll bet they won't pick up on it:

Because she is fluent in Turkish and other Middle Eastern languages, Edmonds, a Turkish-American, was hired by the FBI soon after Sept. 11 and given top-secret security clearance to translate some of the reams of documents seized by FBI agents who, for the past year, have been rounding up suspected terrorists across the United States and abroad.

Edmonds says that to her amazement, from the day she started the job, she was told repeatedly by one of her supervisors that there was no urgency - that she should take longer to translate documents so that the department would appear overworked and understaffed. That way, it would receive a larger budget for the next year.

“We were told by our supervisors that this was the great opportunity for asking for increased budget and asking for more translators,” says Edmonds. “And in order to do that, don't do the work and let the documents pile up so we can show it and say that we need more translators and expand the department.”

Edmonds says that the supervisor, in an effort to slow her down, went so far as to erase completed translations from her FBI computer after she'd left work for the day.

(Via World Wide Rant). Homeland security has been a joke since day one. Is it better now that Tom Ridge and the Department of Homeland Security have taken over? Nope. He's off engaging in bureaucratic mission creep by chasing "child predators." What does that have to do with terrorism?

My TechCentralStation column will have a lot more about this.

UPDATE: Michael Demmons notes that the Democrats didn't speak up when six competent translators were fired because they were gay, making it unlikely they'll complain about mere budget-padding. Good point.

ANOTHER UPDATE: WyethWire says that some Democrats objected. Is that responsive to Demmons point above? I link, you decide. But it's not as if they were making attack ads on the subject. That's saved for other topics.

THE JENIN MASSACRE, DEBUNKED AGAIN: "Palestinian sources confirm that at least 34 Palestinian armed terrorists were killed fighting in the battle for the Jenin Refugee Camp. The total number of Palestinian causalities in the battle was 52, a sharp contrast from the claims of Palestinian propaganda professionals who have openly stated that thousands had died."

The truth comes out, though I rather doubt the BBC will give this major play. And this story from The Independent, dated yesterday, still refers to Israeli "atrocities" at Jenin, though the massacre claims have been debunked repeatedly over the past many months.

This blood libel seems a bigger deal than the Niger uranium story to me. But don't expect it to get the same kind of attention. Lies about Jews are okay, you see.

WHY AUSTIN BAY IS REALLY SMART: His prescience on the "flypaper" strategy is explored over at GlennReynolds.com.

JAMES MORROW HAS FOUND A WINNING ISSUE FOR THE DEMOCRATS, but I don't think they'll have to fortitude to run with it. Too bad.

"END THE OCCUPATION OF IRAQ! FREE MUMIA!" You can't make this stuff up. Well, you could, I guess. But you don't have to.

SAMIZDATA IS OBSERVING BASTILLE DAY in irrepressible fashion:

The storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 was an event more important in the mythology of the French Revolution than in the actually history of it (far from freeing imprisioned patriots, the inmates were four forgers, two lunatics, and the Marquis de Sade), but it was indeed a portent.

Heh.

I THINK THAT BILL KELLER will be a big improvement over Howell Raines. TimesWatch isn't crazy about him, though.

JIM BENNETT WRITES that it's time to disestablish the Church of the BBC:

The two principal models are the American one of privately owned networks supported by advertising revenues, and the British one of a tax-supported organization, the British Broadcasting Corp., governed by a politically appointed board, that is supposed to provide a "national" voice representative of the whole nation and its various viewpoints.

Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other Anglosphere nations tend to fall somewhere in between these two models, although the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. resembles the BBC substantially.

What is interesting about the two competing models is the way they echo, in certain ways, the differing approaches to the organization of religion that have historically held sway in each country. Interestingly enough, this parallel continues to be instructive today, as both the Church of England and the BBC are increasingly subject to debate over whether they should be disestablished. . . .

Today, both the Church of England and the BBC have lost their way. Not having to fight for the attention and donations of their congregants has permitted their worldviews to grow further and further apart from those who are required to support them. For a long time this disparity has been tolerated, partly because each institution had inherited a large store of moral credibility, which has gradually been squandered. Not surprisingly, the Church has seen growing discussion of the need to disestablish itself. Ironically, American churches, supported by voluntary donations, enjoy a far larger and more enthusiastic membership.

The discussion of BBC disestablishment, in contrast, has just begun. It is not quite yet a mainstream opinion or topic in Britain. However, it is a topic heard far more today than just, say, five years ago.

Read the whole thing.

DANIEL DREZNER REMINDS US why Pat Robertson was one of the original models for the term "idiotarian."

Robertson isn't just idiotic, though: he's also corrupt. But, then, that's a trait he shares with a lot of others covered by that term.

UPDATE: Michael Graham is savaging Robertson. And don't miss this Michael Barone column on Robertson's sleazy Liberia connections, either. ("Pat Robertson's tie to Charles Taylor is based on a financial connection. In 1999 Robertson's Freedom Gold company signed a deal to mine an area in southeastern Liberia. The Liberian government, i.e. Taylor, has a 10 percent interest in Freedom Gold.")

IS EVERYTHING THAT GEORGE GALLOWAY SAYS A LIE? OR IS IT JUST THE STUFF THAT YOU CAN CHECK?

The Guardian again gives George Galloway another platform to defend Saddam. Galloway rants on with stuff that would embarrass Robert Fisk . . .

Leave aside all the obviously delusional stuff. The average high in Baghdad in July, its hottest month, is 110; the average low in July is 78. So where did Galloway's "100 degrees at midnight" stuff come from? This sort of thing is easily checkable.

It sure seems as if it's one or the other, but no doubt a truthful phrase does cross his lips from time to time.

A MUSLIM U.S. SOLDIER IN BAGHDAD WRITES:

While skepticism given America's foreign-policy record in this part of the world may be warranted, on an interpersonal level I see the U.S. military treating Iraqis with respect over and over again. I see commanders asking me and other American Muslims for advice on how to deal with religious and cultural sensitivities and taking very seriously any real or perceived abuses by troops. I see Iraqis risk their safety and the safety of their families to inform on rogue elements. I see soldiers who've never left places like Kansas City understand and use the word inshallah. I've seen food distribution that was slow and methodical because U.S. soldiers there wanted to make sure that older mothers got what they needed first. Afterwards community leaders and elders who normally would have cursed these foreigners thank them for treating their people with dignity.

There is an Arab proverb that says a thousand days of tyranny is better than one day of anarchy. It's time we kick that proverb to the curb.

I'll bet that proverb was written by a tyrant.

MORE NEWS FROM IRAQ:

THE new 25-member Iraqi Governing Council savaged the Arab media today for romanticising deposed dictator Saddam Hussein and turning a blind eye to the atrocities he committed against his own people.

"I say this to the Arab media: stop advising the Iraqis to fight the Americans," Nasseer al-Shadershi, the Sunni Muslim head of the Iraqi Democratic Current, told reporters to a roar of applause. . . .

He scolded the media for ignoring the crimes of Saddam, invoking the 1988 gassing of the Kurds and the brutal supression of the Shi'ite and Kurdish uprising at the conclusion of the 1991 Gulf War.

"Come see the mass graves," he said, to a furious round of applause.

(Via On The Third Hand).

INTERESTING EDITORIAL from the Kampala, Uganda New Visions:

When world citizens - young and old - crave for things American, from Colas to dollars, some call it cultural imperialism, etc. But because the American magic pleases the body and soul, we swallow it with relish.

Moreover, for Africans calling Americans imperialists is rather ironic. History has it clearly that Americans having suffered the British colonial yoke, were with Africans in kicking out the crown.

Well, someone could be quick to add that it was Americans who enslaved Africans in the first place. Granted. But we should not also forget that it was mainly under American masters that African slaves at least survived and eventually took their place under the sun.

African slaves were equally taken in huge numbers to the Arab world, but where are they today? Wouldn't black people in the Arab world be in millions? Where are the Arab Colin Powells, Condoleezza Rices, Rosa Whitakers, who would be walking the corridors of power? Is it true that male African slaves in the Arab world were castrated to deny them reproduction?

The survival of the African slaves to become part of modern America explains one key aspect in the strength of the United States. Sticking to its roots as a land of immigrants, the United States absorbs people from other parts of the world with ease as its citizens.

Indeed. (Via Tacitus).

DICTATOR SUCK-UP WATCH (FoxNews subsection): A search of the FoxNews.com website still shows no stories on the massive Hong Kong protests.

UPDATE: Reader Bob McNear emails: "Last night, Fox News was reporting the protests in Hong Kong on their station's crawl." Um, okay. But where is it on the website?

SPEED LIMITS KILL, according to this piece in The New York Times.

ON FRIDAY I POSTED THIS ITEM linking to a column by Judge Gilbert S. Merritt of the Sixth Circuit, who discovered evidence of an Osama/Saddam connection while in Baghdad.

Here's a followup on that item, from Stephen F. Hayes of The Weekly Standard. Hayes' piece suggests that U.S. authorities are being extremely cautious in drawing connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam. You can read more here on the subject of Saddam/Osama links -- just keep scrolling. And here is a story on the subject from the Saturday New York Post.

Meanwhile, Judge Merritt says he's been gagged by the U.S. government. What does all this mean? I'm really not sure. But I think this story deserves a lot more attention than it's gotten.

UPDATE: Here's an item listing numerous articles from 1999 indicating a connection between Saddam and Osama. It would be more impressive if it included links, but I assume the quotations are accurate.

IT'S A FISK-A-THON OVER AT LILEKS' PLACE. Don't miss it.

WHY AM I UP AND BLOGGING SO EARLY? Beats me. I was a bit tired from the drive, so I went to bed earlier than usual. But I don't think that explains why I awoke at 5 a.m. fully-charged and unable to get back to sleep. Oh, well.

SPOONS is back and blogging again!

THE BEGINNINGS OF IRAQI SELF-GOVERNANCE:

In a deeply symbolic first public action, the governing council on Sunday set April 9 -- the day Baghdad fell to U.S. forces -- as a national holiday and banned celebrations on six dates important to Saddam and his Baath Party. And the act was announced, significantly, by a prominent Shiite cleric. Shiites, long oppressed by Saddam, now dominate the 25-member council.

``The establishment of this council represents the Iraqi national will after the collapse of the dictatorial regime,'' said the cleric, Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum from the holy southern city of Najaf.

The council will have real political muscle, with the power to name ministers and approve the 2004 budget. But final control of Iraq still rests with L. Paul Bremer -- the U.S. administrator of Iraq and a major architect of the council.

I agree with Tacitus that this is a big deal, and deserves a lot more attention than it has gotten.

THE UNITED NATIONS: FRIEND OF DICTATORS -- a seemingly ever-continuing series:

The UN has refused to arrest a Zimbabwean police officer accused of torture who is currently working for it in Kosovo as a member of an international training team.
The UN was informed in early June that the alleged torturer, Detective Inspector Henry Dowa, was working for it in Prizren, Kosovo, but it declined to take any action, according to documents obtained by the Guardian.

Zimbabwean police thought to have done a good job by the country's government are often seconded to UN peacekeeping missions, where conditions are comparatively good and they are paid in dollars.

Mr Dowa has been named by several Zimbabwean torture victims as having directed and carried out beatings with fists, boots and pickaxe handles, and as having administered electric shocks to the point of convulsions, at Harare central police station throughout 2002 and in early 2003.

The charges have been backed up by medical examinations which confirm injuries consistent with torture.

Sheesh. But it's not just the United Nations:

President Robert Mugabe's regime pulled off an extraordinary diplomatic coup yesterday when it was given a senior position within the African Union, the grouping set up to promote good governance in Africa.

The move was seen as a direct snub to President George W Bush who called for a "return to democracy in Zimbabwe" during his African tour last week.

It also outraged Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change which claimed that it was a "betrayal of the people of Zimbabwe" and made a mockery of the AU's founding commitment to good governance.

Like the UN, the AU is a dictators' club that takes care of its own. As, really, is the "international community" for which moral standing is often claimed, but seldom demonstrated.

July 13, 2003

HERE'S MORE ON HONG KONG:

This month, the spark may have been lighted.

A half-million Hong Kong citizens protested on July 1 against a proposed bill that would bring communist-style suppression of dissent to the territory. Another protest was held on July 9 and then a third Sunday.

Many in the crowds sang "We Shall Overcome," first in Cantonese, then in English, a bilingualism that reflects Hong Kong's historic straddle between East and West.

As they did the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, China's autocratic rulers are now trying to douse this latest display of people power before it spreads to the 1.2 billion Chinese workers and peasants - perhaps even to Tibet - or further pushes the people of Taiwan away from thoughts of eventual reunification with the mainland.

These marches for freedom have forced Hong Kong's already-unpopular chief executive, Tung Che Hwa, into political retreat. He first tried to water down the proposed security law; then he had to shelve it.

Most of all, he's lost the respect of people who thought he would keep China's promise that it would not meddle in Hong Kong's affairs for 50 years, under an arrangement called "one country, two systems."

Interesting times, as they say.

TO THE EXTENT THAT THIS STORY IS TRUE, it's more support for the "flypaper theory" in which U.S. troops in Iraq are pulling terrorist attacks away from other targets:

DUBAI (Reuters) - A group claiming to be linked to the al Qaeda network said in an audio tape aired on an Arab television station on Sunday that they and not the followers of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) were behind attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq (news - web sites).

"I swear by God no one from his (Saddam Hussein) followers carried out any jihad operations like he claims...they (attacks) are a result of our brothers in jihad," said the unidentified voice on the tape which was broadcast by Dubai-based Al Arabiya television.

Can we believe this? Beats me.

IRAN UPDATE: Hossein Derakshan reports:

I don't remember that Khatami has ever been under such a lot of pressure from everywhere. Aside from some intellectualls such as Abdolkarim Soroush and Mohsen Kadivar, whose recent open letters have been circulating among people in Iran, his own brother has wrote a letter to him, warning him of parallel security organizations' methods of action against not only opposition, but even reformist activists and journalists. Maybe that's why he has recently spoken about resignation again. He said that if people wanted him to go, he would step down.

The latest rumors is that hardliners are trying to arrest all influential reformist activists and based on their confessions under torture, accuse members of parliments of co-operating with Americans and cancel the whole parliment.

Stay tuned.

ZOGBYBLOG HAS MOVED to a new, non-Blogspot site. Adjust your bookmarks accordingly.

Nicholas Packwood's Ghost of a Flea has a new home, too.

LOW POWER FM POSES NO SIGNIFICANT INTERFERENCE THREAT, according to a MITRE study reported by Jesse Walker over at Hit and Run.

Big broadcasters -- and, most notably, NPR -- have tried to shut out low power FM for years. This will make it harder, though I'm sure they won't give up. But if Michael Powell takes the diversity-of-new-media argument seriously, he'll get behind a drastic expansion of low-power FM now that the interference threat bogeyman has been exploded. As Walker notes:

If the study is taken seriously, it should open the door to a lot of new low-power radio stations, not just in the countryside but in the cities. The political moment for such a change may be ripe, given how many people in Congress are professing their discontent with media consolidation -- a stance that, if sincere, should lead those politicians to support new sources of competition on the dial. Their response to this report will be a test of that sincerity.

I'm not holding my breath, though I'd love to have him prove me wrong on this.

I'M BACK. It was a nice trip. The InstaGrandmother is doing pretty well for 89, still living on her own, driving, and doing pretty much everything for herself, though she's slowed down a bit in recent years. We had a very nice, quiet visit, playing cards, talking, and eating. I ignored the news, and didn't even try to go online. That leaves me with some catching up to do (I swear that people send even more email when I go offline, even not counting Frank at IMAO's spambots). I'll try to plow through it when I get the chance.