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August 16, 2003

BLOG PHOTOJOURNALISM: John Daley sends this:

If you're interested, here are some blog entries posted from Bryant Park (using a verizon hotspot, not the park's) during the blackout. There are also photos.


Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Very cool stuff. Somebody tell Mark Glaser!

UPDATE: Here's another firsthand report, from Chris Sciabarra, who's guest-posting at Arthur Silber's blog.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Brendan Loy has more cool photos. And here's a link to blog video of the lights coming on in Chelsea.

MORE BBC DEVELOPMENTS:

The reputation of BBC journalism, already under the spotlight at the Hutton Inquiry, faces another test after one of its senior correspondents announced he was taking legal action against an American magazine.

Tom Mangold said he was "issuing legal proceedings" against Newsweek after it alleged that his exclusive report on tthe arrest of a British-Indian businessman for attempting to sell missiles to Islamic terrorists had "blown" a major intelligence operation.

Hmm. This strikes me as ill-advised. Bill Adams has more thoughts on the subject.

TYLER COWEN HAS A ROUNDUP OF LINKS on economics and electricity regulation, and responds to Robert Kuttner's predictable call for more regulation:

Kuttner argues that the vertically integrated, regulated monopolist (“Con Ed”) model is better. I would like to see an empirical comparison of blackout rates (does anyone know of one?), but of course we had serious blackouts before deregulation. Besides, it is probably too late to go back to consolidation, and this model was dismal on the innovation front.

Meanwhile Sparkey has a roundup of technical information and links. Don't miss it. And, if that's not enough to worry about, here's a post from Alex Knapp on the looming shortage of drinkable water. (Not here in the East Tennessee Rain Forest, Alex!) (Via Winds of Change, which also has an excellent blackout linkfest.)

UPDATE: And Virginia Postrel brings a good firsthand report, which includes this gem:

On Thursday afternoon when the computers popped off and the lights dimmed -- brownout! -- I said: No prob, I'll walk home. Then I said: Wait a minute, what‚ll I do when I get there? I live on the 68th floor. Think I'll stay at the office.

Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Steve Verdon has multiple posts on electricity regulation and deregulation.

"THE REAL QUESTION is not why we had an urban blackout, but why we didn't have one sooner."

TOM MAGUIRE POSTS on heat waves, French government incompetence, and gloating.

IF YOU WANT TO BE GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA, Tacitus advises, it's best to renounce your past connections to fascist hatemongers.

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll: "those crickets on the set of the Today Show are still chirping."

WHITE HOUSE DROPPED BALL: This White House press release seems a bit confused about the role of the federal judiciary:

President George W. Bush today announced his intention to nominate one individual to serve in his administration:

The President intends to nominate Peter Sheridan, of New Jersey, to be United States District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey.

"In his administration?" I'm sure someone just cut-and-pasted the wrong language, but it's a bit embarrassing -- and sure to confirm his critics' worst fears! (Thanks to reader Ben Finkelstein for the link).

NICK GILLESPIE WRITES on why things didn't go wrong:

Indeed, the most interesting blackout-related story is the one that never happened. The sort of pandemonium, hysteria, looting, crime, and chaos that typically greets even minor football victories as well as catastrophic utility failures simply didn't materialize. This was true even in New York City, where such antisocial behavior was once seen as part of the city's very essence. Indeed, the iconic '70s Manhattan-based sitcom Escape from New York was titled that way for a reason—one that no longer makes sense.

(Note to Gillespie: two "Indeeds" in one paragraph? You'll be hearing from my trademark lawyers, as soon as they take a break from the work for Fox. . . .)

Really, though, as Kathleen Tierney has noted, the panic-and-chaos reaction is the exception, though the media tend to treat it as the rule. (More on that here.) But the media tend always to paint ordinary people as, well, worse than they really are. Why is that?

UPDATE: Reader Mark Tough explains something else confusing:

The John Carpenter film, Escape from New York, is neither a sitcom, nor a (direct) product of the 70s, having been made in 1981.

Cruising over to Reason, the quote looked the same until I checked the source HTML, where the problem becomes clear. Nick's original text actually reads:
"Indeed, the iconic '70s Manhattan-based sitcom The Odd Couple even featured a Boy Scout punching one of the characters, among other signs of defining Big Apple vitriol. The 1981 cult classic Escape from New York was titled that way for a reason -- one that no longer makes sense."

Better?

Indeed.

It is better. But sorry, Mark, you'll still be hearing from my lawyers. Gotta protect that trademark. . . .

UPDATE: John Podhoretz is crediting Rudy Giuliani. Does Rudy's influence reach to Cleveland and Detroit?

FISHING FOR BAD QUOTES ON THE ECONOMY? A reader forwards this email from the New York Times:

The New York Times is working on an article about the rising cost of higher education, and the simultaneous reduction of academic programs on some campuses. They want to know how this is affecting members of NSCS.

Is it going to take longer for you to graduate than you hoped? Are you taking out more loans than you expected? Working more? Partying less? Taking a forced break from school?

To share your story, please contact Greg Winter at the New York Times as soon as possible, with your name and chapter, by phone or email.

"Working more, partying less?" The horror.

HERE'S A BLOG ENTRY, purportedly from Iraq. No reason to doubt it, but I don't know the blogger.

"UNFAIR, UNBALANCED, AND AFRAID:" Josh Chafetz of OxBlog has the cover story in the latest Weekly Standard. It's about the ongoing unravelling of the BBC:

The testimony so far has not been flattering to the BBC (or the government). Charges and countercharges of corruption fill the front pages of the papers. (Had TV cameras been allowed into the Royal Courts of Justice, where the witnesses are testifying, the BBC might have unwittingly produced and starred in a hugely popular reality TV show.) It turns out that what a captive audience gets from a media megalith with a government-enforced subsidy is exactly what a beginning student of economics would predict: The BBC may be arrogant, but it's also incompetent, not to mention surly and evasive when criticized.

It's a short road from the BBC to the DMV.

UPDATE: This post has led one reader to email in defense of the DMV.

August 15, 2003

WE KEEP HEARING about those Iraqi tips on dealing with blackouts. Now John Cole has some West Virginia tips for Iraqis:

1.) Quit sabotaging your god damn power transmission sites.

2.) Quit looting your damn country.

3.) Quit shooting your AK in the air out of anger, sadness, joy, jubilation.

4.) Quit shooting your AK at coalition troops and provisional Iraqi police.

Silliness, I tell you. I shall also note, when the power went out, no one went to their local Shi'a Cleric to demand protests and burnings of the American flag. They dealt with it, and tried to be part of the solution.

Yes, that is a difference.

Meanwhile C.D. Harris says this never would have happened if people had just listened to Dick Cheney. Cheney? What does he know about energy?

WORTH REMEMBERING:

The number of East Germans killed as they attempted to seek freedom in the West was above 1,000, researchers said yesterday as they released updated figures.

A society established to remember the victims of the Berlin Wall said it had uncovered the identity of a further 23 people, including a pregnant woman, who died.

The workers' paradise. Of course, some vestiges remain:

The reigning Miss Vietnam, who was preparing to study at Luton University, has been kidnapped, allegedly by the son of a senior police officer upset at her desire to leave her communist homeland.

Is that pathetic, or what?

POWER HAS BEEN FULLY RESTORED in New York City.

RAND SIMBERG HAS A GOOD COLUMN on the X-Prize and suborbital flight over at TechCentralStation.

GORELICK UPDATE: Beldar's Blog has been defending Jamie Gorelick, and there's been a lot of back and forth. There are quite a few posts, but this one seems to link back to most of the others. You may also want to follow this technorati link, which references the original post by Dwight Meredith. Weirdly, though, it doesn't include my post linking Dwight's, meaning that I can't promise that it's not leaving something else out. Here's the technorati cosmos for that post, but it doesn't pick up on Beldar's reference to it. Apparently, technorati is less comprehensive than I had thought. That's not a criticism -- after all, it's free -- but it's worth remembering.

HERE'S AN EMAIL FROM BASRA that's worth reading.

MESSAGE TO FRANK J.: Resistance is futile. You were warned.

UPDATE: Heh. Some people are just too good with Photoshop.

HERE'S A PHONED-IN BLOG ENTRY from powerless Oak Park, MI, dictated over the phone by Moe Freedman. Backup power for gas stations turns out to be important.

UPDATE: Reader Mike Doffing emails:

The biggest problem with having a generator around is not the generator itself but the hassle of storing dangerous (and slowly degrading) gasoline. Gas stations presumably don't have that problem. How about the Bush administration announcing a plan to give a nice tax break to all stations who buy a generator. To make sure they keep it and not sell it, how about having the county inspectors who check the pumps for dispensing accuracy check on the generators as well. They can also check to make sure they have a hand siphon to solve the catch-22 problem of getting the initial gas to power the generator. There are a lot of registered voters sitting in those three hour gas lines.

Good point. Me, I want one of those tripower generators -- natural gas, propane, or gasoline, whatever's handy. . . .

RICH HAILEY HAS A LONG and rather good post on power systems and blackouts.

JUST GOT BACK from a visit to a former student's startup video-game company. I played a beta version of the game, Hostile Intent. I wiped out a bunch of international terrorists who were holding a Chechen leader hostage, blocking a peace agreement with Russia. The game lets you do cool things like blow holes in the walls of buildings with C-4 or rocket launchers, which most games don't. Here's a video story about it. Pretty cool stuff.

I'll be writing a bit more on this later. I've been meaning to pay more attention to the game world, which no doubt has more actual influence on the world than weblogs do.

ALGERIAN TOURIST UPDATE:

Algerian security forces and two helicopters have been seen near the border with Mali where 14 Europeans are being held hostage, sources told AFP in the Kidal region.

"I have seen dozens of armed Algerian soldiers, and two Algerian military helicopters near the border with Mali," said an official who returned from the area.

Another source also confirmed the presence of Algerian troops and two helicopters in the Algerian town of Bordj Mokhtar, about 10 kilometers (six miles) from Mali.

I guess somebody thinks the negotations aren't certain to pan out.

DANIEL DREZNER REPORTS THAT IT'S NOT JUST THE BBC: The foreign press in general seems hell-bent to make things sound chaotic.

COPYCAT SNIPER ATTACKS? Sheesh.

READER TIM MCCULLOCH wonders why no one is talking about a SCADA attack as the cause of the blackout. Beats me, though as I mentioned earlier, you don't need terrorists to get a blackout on a hot August day.

UPDATE: Here's the latest report I've seen on the inquiry into what happened:

MICHEHL GENT, PRESIDENT of the North American Electric Reliability Council, or NERC, said in a conference call with reporters that investigators had determined that a section of the power grid known as the Lake Erie loop experienced a “oscillating power phenomenon” that lasted nine or 10 seconds at the outset of Thursday’s outage.

That event — which saw a 300 megawatt eastward flow of electricity quickly reverse into a 500 megawatt flow to the west — caused other transmission lines and power plants on the grid to shut down as protection systems automatically disconnected them to prevent damaging equipment, he said. . . .

The Lake Erie loop, which runs from New York as far west as Detroit, then jogs northward into Canada before dropping back into the United State, has “been a problem for years,” Gent said, explaining that the locus of transmission lines south of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario makes it difficult to monitor and control the flow of electricity.

Bottom line: nobody knows anything yet. But elected officials are already making fools of themselves by blaming each other. Shut up, guys -- at least until next week.

Meanwhile Nick Schulz is quoting Jose Ortega y Gasset:

As they do not see, behind the benefits of civilisation, marvels of invention and construction which can only be maintained by great effort and foresight, they imagine that their role is limited to demanding these benefits peremptorily, as if they were natural rights.

Indeed.

AMY LANGFIELD IS BLOGGING FIRSTHAND REPORTS FROM NEW YORK: Just scroll up from this link, which is to her account of being stuck on the subway. And Jeff Jarvis has loads of stuff.

UPDATE: Megan McArdle reports in on her long, barefoot walk through Manhattan.

BARRY DAUPHIN SAYS YOU CAN'T TRUST THE BBC IN A CRISIS:

I'm writing from a blackout area, but my power has recently come back on (Ypsilanti, MI). Last night while listening to my wind up radio, on comes the "authoritative" BBC voice. Their headline was that the power outage was causing "chaos" in several American cities. Well, there was no chaos in the Metro Detroit area. Listening for a few hours to the radio revealed no chaos in any American city. People calmly did what they needed to do. There's very little, if any, panic. Seems like the BBC "sexed up" its journalism once again.

Is Andrew Gilligan reporting from NY or is this just the usual BBC?

It's not clear that there's anything terribly unusual about Andrew Gilligan's reporting.

ROGER SIMON ADMINISTERS A SPANKING TO TIM NOAH, whom he's accusing of trolling:

What is going on here couldn’t be more obvious—Noah is behaving like an Internet troll, looking for reactions (well… I guess he got one here). But it’s a little more than that because Slate is something of an online bully pulpit (Salon having more or less faded from view) and what Noah is doing riding the Arnold fad for all it’s worth. I doubt the writer himself really believes what he’s saying—or if he does he has simply convinced himself for the convenience of turning a non-issue into an issue. This is one of the ways “yellow journalism” happens and that's what's happening here.

Remind me not to get on Roger's bad side.

BLOG MELA CELEBRATES 56 years of Indian independence. If you're not familiar with the Indian sector of the Blogosphere, you ought to check it out!

ANDREW HOFER EMAILS:

1. I hear power is NOT back on Wall Street. It certainly isn't here, two blocks up from Wall Street.

2. Corporate blogs used in emergency - Link

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Mindles Dreck reports that streetlights fed by generators are probably responsible for the reports that power is back on Wall Street. He has more information, too.

THIS WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL IS ON POINT:

Everyone who recalls September 11 immediately thought of terrorism, and we can all be thankful it wasn't the cause. But it's somehow not reassuring to hear government officials refer to the event the way New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg did as a "natural occurrence." Natural is what happens in nature, like a tornado, but a national power grid is a man-made operation.

The breadth of the energy disruption suggests that some major rethinking deserves to be done about the vulnerability of America's power grid. If an accident can shut down an entire U.S. region for half a day, imagine what well-planned sabotage could do. The U.S. has grown complacent as the memory of California's blackouts in 2000 has faded. But especially in the Northeast, the U.S. is still operating on an energy supply and with a load-sharing grid that has very little room for error.

Yes, and something needs to be done.

ADVANCE INTERNET SERVICES (including NJ.com, Nola.com, Cleveland.com, Masslive.com, etc.) has been using weblogs as a backup -- their emergency page sends people to The Command Post, Buzzmachine, etc. for updates while they work to restore service.

Weblogs as distributed redundant news services. Why not?

Here's an update from Patrick Brown in London, Ontario:

For what it's worth, power is still off in my neighbourhood in London, Ontario, though it's on at the university a 15 minute walk away (which is where I'm emailing you from). Parts of the city have had power since about 8 pm yesterday. We're situated about halfway between Detroit and Toronto. The big news here is no news - no disasters, no looting. People spontaneously organized themselves in traffic. I drove right across the city (it's a sprawling town of 330,000) at 5 pm yesterday and saw only politeness and efficient managing of intersections. I only saw a traffic cop at one intersection. Everywhere else, people took turns and were polite. Lots of reports to radio stations suggested people were getting along fine, helping each other. At one radio station in Kitchener, Ontario (an hour down the highway from here), the staff took batteries out of their cars and ran the station using them.

CBC is reporting traffic "chaos" in Toronto, but that's CBC. One of their reporters in a live, on-the-scene report during rush hour, with a breathy, dramatic voice, allowed that things were so bad he "wouldn't be surprised to see a fender-bender or a pedestrian being hit." Oh, the humanity!!

Well, back to marking term papers for my summer course :- (

Grading term papers -- now that is a disaster.

LET THIS serve as a warning to Frank J.

READER BROCK CUSICK emails that power is back on on Wall Street, as of just a few minutes ago. News reports still say Manhattan is largely without power, though. Here's the latest from the Times, and here's the Globe story.

Meanwhile reader Herbert Jacobi has some thoughts on what this means:

Read More ?


MORE ARROGANT UNILATERALISM FROM THE FRENCH:

France is threatening to scupper the deal reached with Libya over compensation for the Lockerbie bombing.

It wants the same deal for victims of the UTA jet that was blown up over Africa in 1989.

If they do not get it, the French say they will stop the UN lifting sanctions against Libya - which is part of the agreement.

Get those losers off the Security Council. They're nothing but trouble.

I'LL BET THERE'S MORE to this story:

Britain has expelled a Saudi diplomat, described as an intelligence officer, after allegations that he bribed a Metropolitan police officer.
Ali al-Shamarani is alleged to have paid PC Ghazi Ahmed Kassim, 52, to obtain confidential information from police computers about people with Middle Eastern connections living in the UK.

Hmm. More turning of the screws on the Saudis?

August 14, 2003

HERE ARE THE TOP TEN REASONS for the Northeastern blackout.

UPDATE: Suman Palit points to a lot of more serious reasons, and to an MIT report on electrical industry restructuring that suggests that it hasn't gone very well.

MSNBC says there's "serious looting" in Ottawa, but has no further details.

UPDATE: Grahame Young emails:

I'm in a hotel in the heart of downtown Ottawa right now. The laptop battery indicator estimates I have 50 minutes left. There's been no sign of power being restored, and I have seen no sign of any looting going on in the downtown area (near the Parliament/Rideau Canal area).

I was out for a walk 45 minutes ago and there are a few people here and there enjoying the warm evening.

During rush hour, the citizenry of the city were amazingly adept at self-regulating traffic flow...or at least they were polite, waving each other through intersections, stopping to let pedestrians move about.

Anyway, I'm off to bed. If the power comes up before I fall asleep I'll drop you a note.

Thanks, Grahame. Nicholas Packwood reports the looting in the east end of Ottawa. I don't know how far that is from downtown.

NICHOLAS PACKWOOD EMAILS: "Power went back on in Toronto about five minutes ago ( 10:45 p.m. EST). CBC's national broadcast is cutting in and out."

UPDATE: Packwood sends more:

It turns out only parts of Toronto have power back and the Premiere (Governor) of Ontario has warned us to expect rolling black-outs over the next two days at least. Non-essential workers have been asked to stay home tomorrow.

Ok, that's that. Let's see if I can send this email before the power goes out again...

Folks, get a big, honking UPS. I need your reports. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's one:

Our power in Long Beach, Nassau County, Long Island, NY came back on at about 10:30 PM.

My daughter was in Manhattan today, luckily just got off the subway when the power went off. She walked across the Williamsburg Bridge from downtown Chinatown) to Brooklyn and then went to a firehouse where my husband and I picked her up at about 9:00 PM.

Everything was very orderly, there were police at every important intersection, traffic in Brooklyn and Queens was moving very smoothly. During the afternoon we were listening to the NYC Fire Department transmissions and everything was going very well. The dispatchers do a wonderful job keeping in touch with all the fire companies. The most interesting thing we heard was that a woman on the Long Island Railroad train was having a baby and they dispatched a tower truck to the site. I think the train was on an overpass and they had to bring her out in the bucket.

Interesting.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's more:

When the power in New York City is restored it will take at least 6 hours for the subway system to be restored. There are approximately 900 miles of track in the system and every signal and every train has to be checked before service can be resumed.

People are standing in the street holding up destination signs and drivers are picking them up and taking them home.

Bars are giving away their tap beer, or are selling it at a very low price.

Circle Line, which operates sightseeing boats around Manhattan, put their boats into service to carry people across the Hudson River to New Jersey, free, I believe.

Most, or all, of the bridges and tunnels are open only one way - out of Manhattan.

Some restaurants are open and are feeding people for free.

There is some gouging going on by taxi cab drivers.

I have only heard of one looting report, 3 people arrested in Brooklyn.

If I sold backup generators, I'd try to be the first one across those bridges into Manhattan when they open. . .

IT'S WORTH PAYING ATTENTION to Sean Gorman's dissertation on electric power system vulnerabilities. Here's more, including a link to the IEEE statement on electric power reliability, and the deterioration of the grid.

UPDATE: Here's more.

THE HOMELAND SECURITY WEBSITE has, as of 9:58 p.m., absolutely no information on the blackout. The lead item is still the Blaster Worm. (Via The Command Post). But what's really damning is that it didn't even occur to me to see if they had anything.

UPDATE: FEMA's website has info, and a reader says that it has been doing a good job -- though I don't see that much info. Funny that Homeland Security hasn't updated, and hasn't even linked it.

THIS POWER LOAD GRAPH suggests that things are starting to come back, at least in Connecticut. This one, too. That's consistent with reader Max Rosenthal's note, below. Plus, it's kind of cool.

UPDATE: Now this is funny: "Bloggers Among Hardest Hit by Massive Blackout."

ENERGY BLOGGER LYNN KIESLING will be on Greta Van Susteren's show on Fox tonight (10 p.m. Eastern) to talk about the blackout.

Vish Subramanian emails:

Do you find it shocking that 2 years after 9/11, a power outage causes a complete breakdown of transport in NY. Even BUSES were down? Plus NO cell phone access?

Well, I heard cellphone service was intermittent. But, yeah, there ought to be ways to keep traffic flowing, and cellphones should be at least as reliable as landline service now -- they're past the point of being luxuries and toys, and are actually more important in an emergency.

And Jeff Jarvis reports:

Well, this apparently isn't an act of terrorism. But it certainly demonstrated to bad guys how easy it would be to bring down the Northeast of America.

It doesn't look like we learned a lot on September 11. The evacuation of New York is a frigging mess -- worse than it was then.

Let's learn something, this time. Okay? Especially as this isn't really an "evacuation" -- just a bunch of people trying to get home from work without power.

BLAME CANADA:

An extraordinary power blackout hit steamy U.S. and Canadian cities Thursday, stranding people in subways, closing nine nuclear power plants from New York to Michigan and choking streets with workers driven from stifling offices.

Officials were looking at a power transmission problem from Canada as the most likely cause of the biggest outage in U.S. history, said a spokeswoman for New York Gov. George Pataki. There was no sign of terrorism, officials in New York and Washington agreed.

The article says 50 million people were affected. Seriously, though, this sort of thing happens with the electrical grid, for a variety of reasons that are hard to address. The key is to be prepared -- which means emergency power for things that people really need.

I wonder why more traffic lights at vital intersections don't have backup power? It seems to be a question of cost -- five to ten thousand dollars each -- but it seems like it would be worth it to prevent the kinds of massive traffic jams we've seen. Heck, even a half-hour of backup would help get the roads cleared.

UPDATE: Here's more on that problem, suggesting that doing something about traffic signals might help:

In scenes no doubt repeated throughout the affected area, the city's wide avenues turned into rivers of pedestrians as people swarmed through gnarled traffic in streets devoid of traffic signals. Traffic agents gamely tried to keep people and machines separated.

Of course, in New York you've also got the problem of subways and trains without power.

UPDATE: But Susanna Cornett reports:

Lights are coming back bits and pieces in New Jersey, apparently faster than in NY. Traffic is not being allowed into Manhattan from New Jersey; Holland and Lincoln Tunnels and GW Bridge are out only.

People are standing on the street corners in Manhattan, some for hours, to get out into the outer boroughs. Buses are on their regular routes, and some are passing passengers empty, causing some anger. You'll probably hear more about that.

There's probably a good reason for that, but you can't blame people for being upset.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Warren Cheney emails:

While it would be counterproductive to regale you with Power Outage Stories, I will pass along the info that while the Canadian government and CNN are reporting that the cause of said failure is due to a lightning strike upon the Niagara Falls power complex, WBEN radio has been reporting that the local office of the National Weather Service and their Canadian counterparts at Environment Canada can't seem to find any sort of lightning strikes in the area short of, say, Chicago.

Local residents were asking, "Lightning? Here? Wha?" seeing that we just got rid of the weather system that could have produced said lightning a day or three ago...

Not that I'm surprised about this...

This lightning strike map certainly doesn't show anything near Niagara.

FREEDOM TO PLAY SOCCER? Yep. And it's a big deal, if you're a girl in Afghanistan.

POWER UPDATE: Reader Steve Hornbeck emails: "Power is on in a lot of Albany, N.Y. Thankfully, the power in my neighborhood was only off for 30 minutes so my first beer of the Great Northeast Blackout is satisfyingly frosty."

Meanwhile, Crooked Timber links to a paper on cascading failures that may be relevant, though most readers will prefer a frosty beer.

UPDATE: Hossein Derakshan reports that "Toronto is dead, almost," and observes: "Ok, I just have to say this: The whole concept of modern society is based on electricity and when it goes out, big cities would be worse than deserts."

Charles Donefer, on the other hand, uses the occasion to draw regional distinctions.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Corner is reporting that some power has returned in New York. And here's the best conspiracy theory so far, from reader Douglas Brosz:

Maybe someone at the NY Times will pick this up but my hunch is that this blackout was orchestrated by the White House to lower electricity expectations in Iraq.

Of course! It's all Karl Rove's fault! He sure is tricky. . . .

MORE: Max Rosenthal emails at 9:45:

For general reference, power's now back in Fairfield, CT. The sections near the Bridgeport grid seemed to have come back on a while beforehand; all of the town was congregated in the lighted westward areas having dinner when we drove out for pizza. But the New York-side areas seem to be kosher again as well.

Kosher pizza? I know where you can get some in Grenoble. . . .

READER ROBERT CONNOLLY just emailed from the World Financial Center in New York that he's lost power and that the rest of the city seems down, too. (How did he email? Beats me.)

UPDATE: Connolly responds: "Generator, my man. Generator." He adds: "Supposedly, the NorthEast has been hit with a massive black-out. My wife is down in Barnegat, NJ - they lost power too."

I was a little kid during the Great Northeastern Blackout. I remember it clearly.

ANOTHER UPDATE: NPR is reporting outages in Detroit, and in other cities, including Canada. Connolly wondered if terrorism might be involved. Hard not to think about it, of course, and I do recall reports about hack attacks on U.S. power companies, but you don't need terrorist hackers to get power outages in August.

Andrew Hofer emails: "We're on generator and backup power. I"m across the street from the WTC site and the power's mostly out here as well."

MORE: This is what's on the New York Times cover: "Power Outages Reported Along East Coast; North to Toronto, South to Maryland and West to Cleveland and Detroit (4:32 PM ET)." This Yahoo! story says that "Power outages were reported in the New York metropolitan area and Detroit, as well as in Toronto and Ottawa, witnesses said."

STILL MORE: Bill Hobbs emails:

CNN reports a fire at a Con-Ed plant in NY.

Scary if one fire at one plant can knock down that much of the power grid. If it isn't terrorism, I bet al Qaeda is going to school on it.

It was a relay the size of my fist that caused the Great Northeastern Blackout, I believe.

STILL MORE: Boston.com reports:

A major power outage has hit much of New York City as well as parts of Long Island, Connecticut and the cities of Albany, Cleveland, Toledo, and Detroit, and Toronto and Ottawa in Canada. In Manhattan, thousands of people are trapped in elevators and on subway trains; CNN is reporting that there is some panic and fear among the thousands of people who are pouring out of office buildings onto the street. Power is also out at LaGuardia and JFK airports. CNN is also reporting that the Con Edison power plant in NYC is on fire.

Bill Hobbs sends another email: "CNN reports Niagara Power Grid overloaded and is down; NYC officials say terrorism not likely."

Boston.com seems to be updating steadily. And Mindles Dreck on Asymmetrical Information is promising firsthand coverage. [LATER: Here's some.] Connolly sends another report:

I'm happy to report that people are staying very cool here - no panic whatsoever. Many are calling it a day and preparing themselves for a long journey home. All I can say is, thank God for NYWaterway. Hoboken never looked so good.

Have a safe trip. Courtesy of reader Paul Dowgewicz, here's a real time graph of power load in the Connecticut valley. You can see the dropoff. Here's a link to a map of North American power grids, and there's more information here. And here's a link to histories of the big New York blackouts of 1965 and 1977.

LAST UPDATE TO THIS POST: The Command Post is all over this story. And here's an excellent report from the Washington Post -- with video. And Perry DeHavilland finds a small positive development. . . .

YOU CAN LISTEN to my interview on NPR's Day to Day program here now, if you're interested.

WELL, THIS LOOKS LIKE GOOD NEWS:

A top al Qaeda member and a leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, Riduan Isamuddin — also known as Hambali — was arrested as part of a CIA undercover operation in the last 24 hours. The operation was cooperation with an unnamed Southeast Asian country that wants its participation kept secret, officials told ABCNEWS.

The CIA called the arrest the "most significant capture since that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," who was captured in March 2003, and believed to command al Qaeda's global terror network and have masterminded the 9/11 attacks. In the past, the CIA has called the Indonesia-born Hambali the "Osama bin Laden" of Southeast Asia.

Glad they've nabbed him.

UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh notes that this is more evidence that Iraq didn't distract us from the pursuit of Al Qaeda. Meanwhile Patrick Belton at OxBlog offers thanks to the -- necessarily unnamed -- people who pulled this off.

THE 2004 EDITION OF MICHAEL BARONE'S ALMANAC OF AMERICAN POLITICS IS OUT, and interestingly enough Barone has looked back to see what he got right, and wrong, in previous issues. What's more, he's put that part online. Anyone interested in politics should find it fascinating reading.

UPDATE: Hmm. Some readers are getting a "subscriber only" message on the link to the "online" part. I didn't. I'll try and figure out what's wrong.

RADLEY BALKO WRITES:

You might say that today, President Bush is doing many of the same things President Clinton did, only backwards, and in cowboy boots.

No, not those things. Get your mind out of the gutter.

GIRISH MAYA offers another glowing review of the documentary Spellbound. I hope I get to see it.

SET YOUR ALARM CLOCKS: Tony Adragna and Will Vehrs of Shouting 'Cross the Potomac will be on C-SPAN with Brian Lamb tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM.

WINDS OF CHANGE has a huge war news roundup. Links galore!

AT LAST, SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTANDS! I've made it my new slogan: "He sits upon his dark throne, sipping his puppy, while scanning the blogosphere for a few links that will not threaten his power."

Heh. Well, the Aeron is charcoal gray. I guess that counts as a "dark throne."

HERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT THE GREEN CANDIDATE in the California recall race.

PHIL CARTER TO PAUL KRUGMAN: "Do your homework!" He has a lot of links to supporting information. Excerpt:

Prof. Krugman could have written a brilliant piece on the economic calculus of a government contractor, and how rational choices are made in this situation. But he didn't. He ignored these details of government contract law and corporate decisionmaking to paint the corporations as the villain. That's sloppy reporting, as far as I'm concerned.

Read it all.

JUST TAPED AN INTERVIEW for the new NPR/Slate show "Day to Day" -- it'll air at about 12:15 Eastern time. The subject was conservative critics of the California recall. You can see if it's on in your area, and link to streaming audio, here.

OVER AT OXBLOG, David Adesnik is confronting a world turned upside down.

THE CALIFORNIA RECALL IS CONSERVATIVE, writes David Hogberg, who disagrees with George Will and Howard Owens.

HENRY MILLER SAYS WE'RE BLOWING IT ON WEST NILE. I think he's right.

HERE'S MORE on Reporters Without Borders and the U.N. Human Rights Commission:

It is telling what nations voted for and against Reporters Without Borders. On the side of Cuba and Libya were China, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the Congo, Pakistan and South Africa, as well as 17 other governments that are equally as respectful of the rule of law. Voting to defend a free press — and against the joke that Libya chairs the human-rights commission — were the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy and 19 other freedom-loving countries, including a handful that used to be behind the Iron Curtain and thus have a keen sense of oppression.

The fact that a U.N. council is split 27-23 over transparency with the media serves as a reminder that freedom of the press is not something to be taken for granted in a large part of the world.

It is also a reminder -- as if we needed one -- that far from being a Parliament Of Nations imbued with respect for all that's good, the United Nations is, in fact, a dictators' club whose chief role is protecting the perks of dictators.

UPDATE: Read this piece on the U.N. Human Rights Commission's plans to expand its jurisdiction.

TELL RALPH PETERS TO STOP MINCING WORDS and say what he really means. I think he's painting with a somewhat broad brush here, myself.

VIRGINIA POSTREL WRITES:

If you go to Lowe's to get a key copied, you have a choice. For $1.24, you can get a standard brass key. For $2.97, you can choose from a half-dozen colorful patterns — flowers, American flags, tie-dyes, flames.

The more expensive key will not open the door any better. The difference is purely aesthetic.

I'm up to page 100 in her new book, which has a lot more to say on the subject.

TERRORIST MISSILES AND AIRLINERS: Jim Dunnigan reports:

Some 29 commercial aircraft have been shot down by such missiles. However, the downed aircraft have been small, and most of these tragedies have taken place in Africa. The wars in Africa are the worst on the planet, so violent that most journalists avoid them. For three decades, this has kept the use of portable missiles against civilian aircraft off the front page.

Poor Africa. Meanwhile, James Lileks has some thoughts on the subject, too.

UPDATE: Bruce Rolston says that Dunnigan's wrong about the numbers of missile attacks in Africa.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a piece on low-tech threats from Ralph Kinney Bennett that's worth reading.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's more from Mitch Berg.

JOSHUA CLAYBOURN COLLECTS candidates' statements on the first thing they'd do if elected President.

August 13, 2003

FRESH BLOGGY GOODNESS, from bloggers you may not have visited before, is collected at this week's Carnival of the Vanities. Drop by and visit some of the over 70 (!) bloggers represented, and see if you find some you like enough to visit regularly.

A FLASH MOB OF KEVINS ON ARNOLD. And yes, you'll have to follow the link to see what that means.

MORE ARNOLD LINKS: Jim Bennett writes that the recall may cause politicians to rethink direct democracy:

Initiative, referendum, and recall will probably get more scrutiny than they have before. However, it is also worth re-examining the idea of electing judges, for example. Have they really brought better judges to the bench than the Federal system of lifetime appointment?

For that matter, making direct election of Senators mandatory was sold as a means of making them more responsible to the people, and less beholden to money. In the era of mass media markets and perpetual fundraising, this has been a joke.

Meanwhile Forbes writer RiShawn Biddle examines Schwarzenegger's business history in the Los Angeles Business Journal.

UPDATE: Call me crazy, but I don't think the release of this picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger (NOT work-safe -- er, well, as always that depends on where you work, I guess, but. . . .) will hurt his reputation any.

THIS ARTICLE from tomorrow's Christian Science Monitor offers a good survey of nanotechnology issues at the moment.

THANKS A LOT, BBC:

While publicly congratulating themselves over the bust of an international arms dealer in an alleged plot to sell Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, top Justice Department officials are privately fuming over a premature news leak that may have blown a rare opportunity to penetrate Al Qaeda’s arms-buying network, NEWSWEEK has learned. . . .

The bureau’s plan was to quickly flip Lakhani, a British citizen of Indian extraction, and then use him as an undercover informant who could lead agents to real-life Osama bin Laden operatives seeking sophisticated weapons.

But those plans went awry late Tuesday afternoon when the Feds learned that the BBC was about to broadcast a sensational report on Lakhani’s arrest by one of its star correspondents, Tom Mangold. The BBC story, based on an apparent leak from a law-enforcement source, had some key details wrong. For one thing, it falsely claimed that the arms dealer’s attempted sale of a shoulder-fired SA-18 missile and launder was part of a plot by terrorists to shoot down Air Force One—a target that never actually came up in the discussions.

But even so, U.S. law-enforcement sources tell NEWSWEEK, the damage was done. The FBI had to abort its plan to recruit Lakhani as an informant and instead charged him today in federal court in Newark, N.J., with weapons smuggling and with providing material support to terrorists.

Thanks again.

UPDATE: Hmm. This story isn't exactly inconsistent with the above, but read it, too. (Via Bill Adams.)

MORE COMPLAINTS AGAINST THE BBC -- this time, upheld by its own watchdog. The Beeb has a watchdog? Glad it's finally awake. . . .

FINES FOR HUMAN SHIELDS? Eugene Volokh observes: "I'm not sure how wise this sort of enforcement is, but it's pretty clearly authorized by law."

I don't see anything unwise about it. People like this risk themselves and others, all to make a puerile political point -- if not to actually adhere to the nation's enemies.

UPDATE: Reader Kristopher Stewart emails:

I wonder if Jim McDermott and the other Democrats that snuck over to support Saddam got hit with the same fine.

It would certainly be interesting to find out if there is a double standard for elected officials on the subject.

I'm not sure the same statute applies, but I'm sure that there's a double standard if it does.

DECLAN MCCULLAGH has an interview with Sherman Austin, who is going to jail for linking to bomb-making instructions. There's more on the case here. (Via Venkat Balasubramani).

TRENT TELENKO BELIEVES that the move toward Saudi regime change is starting.

UPDATE: The Telegraph seems to agree:

The suspension of British Airways flights to Saudi Arabia yesterday, following "credible intelligence of a serious threat", is an ominous indication of al-Qa'eda's undiminished capacity to threaten Western global interests. . . .

The House of Saud itself is implicated in some of these hostile activities, and appears to be in denial about the threat of its own overthrow. Mass arrests and executions of terrorists are only the public face of Saudi policy towards al-Qa'eda; privately, the emphasis has been on appeasement.

Under these circumstances, Britain and America would be wise to prepare for the possibility of regime change in Saudi Arabia.

Indeed.

WELL, THIS MAKES SENSE: E! Online is all over the Schwarzenegger candidacy.

DANIEL DREZNER IS WORRIED about how things are going in Iraq. Given the persistently negative slant of press coverage, and the size and diversity of Iraq, it's hard to grasp the full picture. But it's certainly clear that -- as I said even before the war -- the key will be patience, and the willingness to commit the resources to finish the job. The American people seem to have both. What's worrisome is Drezner's suggestion that the Administration doesn't.

It had better, because if Bush screws this up, he'll have screwed up his Presidency. The good news is that I'm sure he knows that, and I suspect that everyone else in the White House does, too.

UPDATE: Alan of Petrified Truth has a slightly different concern:

Good point, but my concern is that the Bushies could fall into the same trap as previous administrations, including father Bush -- not a lack of patience per se and not naivete, but convincing themselves that the situation can be finessed; trying to be too clever balancing strategy against politics; and then finding themselves, and us, out-maneuvered by events and enemies who are both numerous and implacable.

G.H.W. Bush knew that Saddam was a psychotic despot, but thought he could be managed -- when in fact Saddam could only be defeated. We need to press on with the kind of vigor that allowed us to tune out the conventional wisdom and pull the trigger for a change.

Indeed.

JACK BALKIN HAS more on the Franken/Fox suit.

THERE'S MORE ON THE TRANSHUMANISM DEBATE, over at GlennReynolds.com.

BILL HERBERT IDENTIFIES ANOTHER WOLFOWITZ CANARD and notes: "There is a difference between saying that our dealings with Saddam have to be viewed in the context of the September 11 attacks and claiming that he was behind them. Some people still can't grasp that." Or don't want to, because it undercuts the "Bush lied" claim.

JUST GOT A COPY OF VIRGINIA POSTREL'S NEW BOOK, The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness in the mail. It looks quite good, and the cover is certainly more aesthetically pleasing than the cover of the other book that came in the mail: National Security and Military Law in a Nutshell, which is bound in attractive woodland camo.

I'll blog more on Virginia's book after I've actually, you know, read it. But since it's by Virginia, it's a safe bet that it'll be worth reading.

MORE ON THE DUMBNESS OF FOX NEWS' suit against Al Franken, via Jeff Jarvis.

Of course, as several people have pointed out, this "dumb" suit has gotten both Fox and Franken a lot of free publicity. Well, that's the media biz, these days.

TERRORISM, DISEASE, AND WHY LEARNING FASTER IS IMPORTANT: My TechCentralStation column is up.

MORE TROUBLE FOR THE BBC:

Newsnight reporter Susan Watts today denounced the BBC's "attempts to mould" her stories in what she believed was a misguided strategy to corroborate Andrew Gilligan's controversial report on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

In an extraordinary development at the Hutton inquiry today, Watts revealed she felt compelled to seek separate legal representation because of pressure from her BBC managers to reveal David Kelly as her main source in order to corroborate Gilligan's story - a move she felt "was misguided and false". . . .

"I felt under some considerable pressure from the BBC. I also felt the purpose of that was to help corroborate Andrew Gilligan's allegations, not for any news purposes," said Watts.

Mr Dingemans then asked Watts whether she thought her Newsnight stories corroborated Gilligan's allegations, including whether Alastair Campbell had inserted the 45 minute claim into last September's Iraq dossier.

"No I don't," she replied. "I felt there were significant differences between my reports and his reports."

Remember: it's the coverup that gets you.

HOWARD VEIT REPORTS that the California recall is turning violent. Somebody should look into this.

UPDATE: Here's more.

I HAVE SNATCHED THE PEBBLE FROM THE MASTER'S HAND: Just read what Mickey Kaus writes about my post on Arnold and Iraq.

UPDATE: I should note, in light of something Kaus says further down, that I'm not pinning a lot of hope on a Bush "rope-a-dope" strategy of revealing WMD evidence in the fall. Actually, I've been quite skeptical of that, but have noted in recent posts that there does seem to be some evidence supporting it. That's not the same thing.

Kaus quotes an Iraqi saying that there were never any weapons of mass destruction. That can't be true, as (1) Saddam used 'em; and (2) UN Inspectors saw 'em. So where did they go? Did Saddam secretly get rid of them while pretending to still have them, even to the point of flagrantly obstructing inspectors so as to make it look as if he had something to hide? Hard to believe, but if so it was the mother of all miscalculations!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Read this, too.

READER GREG PIPER NOTES that this sounds "awfully Jayson-Blairish:"

Gilligan's eccentric working practices are well known at the BBC, which he joined four years ago from the Sunday Telegraph. He was headhunted by Today's then editor, Rod Liddle, who appears to have cut him a good deal of slack: Marsh said the problems caused by the Iraq dossier story were "in many ways a result of the loose and in some ways distant relationship he's been allowed to have with Today".

Hmm. Read the whole thing.

MAUREEN DOWD IS READING BLOGS, but not, alas, learning from them.

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs is running a reader contest, asking people to Dowdify Dowd! Examples:

"Blogs ... overrun ... the establishment."

"James Joyce ... Now there's a man with a future in blogging."

Of course, if it were actually Dowd, the ellipses would be omitted.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon says that Dowd is right -- the politicians' blogs she writes about stink. Well, yeah. But sadly, most of Dowd's criticisms also apply to her own, increasingly stale and formulaic, columns -- something that lots of other blogs have been pointing out for quite a while.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Daniel Drezner points out:

What's most significant about this essay is Dowd's revealed preferences about the world. What matters to her is not whether a phenomenon is important, but whether it's trendy. In the world of pop culture, this sort of distinction makes a kind of sense. In the world of politics or international relations, it doesn't.

True.

CRAZY FROM THE HEAT: InstaPundit Paris Correspondent Claire Berlinski emails:

I feel that I should say something insightful about the heat wave, but really, there is just no way to blame Jose Bove for this one. Besides, I just walked out to get a sandwich and nearly perished of heat prostration, so I don't have the energy. You know those guys at Alcor who pickle human heads in liquid nitrogen? I used to think they were just completely nuts, but now I'm now wondering if I can afford it. If your readers buy a few more of my books, maybe I too can be cryogenically frozen: Berlinski.com. It would be a mitzvah, gentle Instapundit readers. Yesterday it reached -- literally, I am not at all exaggerating -- 114 degrees in my apartment, which is on the top floor of my building and facing due south. When the Pope called upon the world's Catholics to pray for rain, I swore that if it worked, I would convert. We had a pathetic excuse for a thunderstorm the other morning, and it is still just as hot, and now humid as well. Do your readers think I'm obliged to convert, or might I get off on a technicality, seeing that the Lord Jesus clearly replied only to the letter but not the spirit of my prayers? This is one for the Cardinals to decide, I suppose. Oh, and in other news, my pet bonsai Toshiro expired, another casualty of the weather. I did everything I could to save him. It was to no avail. He was meant for more temperate climes.

A haiku in loving memory of Toshiro:

Once you were florid
My floor is strewn with your leaves
You were a swell plant.

Perhaps it's not too late to have Toshiro frozen.

August 12, 2003

MOUNT RAINIER: A "monumental threat." And how. If it -- or a few other western volcanoes -- ever lets go, the results will be catastrophic. And, sooner or later, they will.

I WAS ON THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW a little while ago, but he didn't ask the questions I most feared: "Is the recall good? Is it good that Arnold Schwarzenegger is running?"

As to the first, well, I have to disagree with George Will, who disapproves of the recall's "plebiscitary cynicism," and says that real conservatives will vote against recalling Davis. That seems wrong to me. California's voters put the recall into the state constitution and kept it there. Presumably, they like it. It may or may not be a good idea, but it seems a bit odd to say that the time for the voters to act against the recall petition is once it's triggered. And if the California Constitution is to be recast in less plebiscitary terms -- which wouldn't be a bad thing, overall -- what better way to bring the political class onboard with the project than by ejecting the epitome of the political class, Gray Davis?

At any rate, as I wrote in a law review article called Is Democracy Like Sex? (which inspired a column by Will back in 1995 when it came out), voting doesn't have to make sense to benefit the body politic. In the article, I used a biological metaphor: Many evolutionary biologists believe that sex evolved, despite its cumbersome and expensive characteristics, because it jumbled up genes in a way that made their holders more resistant to parasites over time. (Read the article for a more elegant explanation).

If one looks at special interest groups as parasites on the body politic -- as, I think, we probably should -- then electoral politics has the effect of shaking up the cozy relationships between politicians and clients, and keeping society more open. (And under Davis, those relationships have been extra-cozy). This disruption of what economist Mancur Olson called the "web of special interests" may be very important way of keeping societies from ossifying. What's more, it works even if (perhaps especially if) the voters occasionally act irrationally or unpredictably.

Is this what's going on in California? It looks that way from here. So is the recall a good thing? Probably so.

What about Arnold? Well, he's bound to be a better Governor than Davis if he gets the chance. Would he be better than, say, Bill Simon or Dick Riordan -- or, hell, Cruz Bustamante? I don't know. He will, however, bring a lot of voters to the polls who don't usually vote, which I suspect will tend to amplify the anti-special-interest effects I mention above. So whether he ought to be Governor, I think it's probably a good thing that he's a candidate.

In his column about my article, George Will wrote: "Is democracy like sex? Surely not. If it were, more people would vote." Democracy may not be like sex. But Schwarzenegger's candidacy is making it sexy. And perhaps that's close enough.

UPDATE: Howard Owens says that George Will is right, and I'm wrong. He adds: "Glenn's point about California voters long ago approving the recall, never doing away with the recall, and approving the recall does not address the principle argument that the recall is against conservative doctrine." Hmm. Well, I'm not a conservative, of course, but what about all that respect-for-long-established-traditions-even-if-they-seem-a-bit-irrational-now stuff? I thought that was part of conservatism.

HIT MY TIPJAR! Or who knows what I might be forced to do.

Hell, it's honest work.

HERE'S ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER'S CAMPAIGN WEBSITE. But where's the campaign blog? They're de rigeur nowadays. On the other hand, he's already got an online contribution button, so he's halfway there. . . .

LARISA isn't persuaded that servants make good cultural ambassadors.

I always felt that girlfriends did better at that. But of course, that was when I was single.

IT'S BLOGCRITICS' FIRST ANNIVERSARY. I have to say, it's done better than I ever expected, and become a rather respected source of Web reviews. Bravo!

GIVE HOMELAND SECURITY SOME CREDIT for this one, assuming it pans out as reported:

A British national was arrested this morning on suspicion of being involved in a plot to smuggle surface-to-air missiles into the United States, ABCNEWS has learned. . . .

Sources said the man, possibly of Indian descent, thought he was dealing with terrorists in the United States who wanted to shoot down a passenger jet.

The man was arrested in Newark, N.J., as part of an international sting conducted by the FBI, British and Russian authorities. The sting began five months ago in Moscow.

Hmm. According to this BBC report, this was a pure sting, with no actual terrorists involved. If all is as reported, it can hardly be called entrapment. It should, of course, have the effect of making other people less willing to deal with terrorists, real or otherwise, under these circumstances, which is the point.

PHIL CARTER WRITES that Paul Krugman is paying too much attention to David Hackworth.

UPDATE: Here's more.

THE OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS AT THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION is making clear that civil rights laws don't support speech codes on campus:

Some colleges and universities have interpreted OCR's prohibition of "harassment" as encompassing all offensive speech regarding sex, disability, race or other classifications. Harassment, however, to be prohibited by the statutes within OCR's jurisdiction, must include something beyond the mere expression of views, words, symbols or thoughts that some person finds offensive. Under OCR's standard, the conduct must also be considered sufficiently serious to deny or limit a student's ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program. Thus, OCR's standards require that the conduct be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in the alleged victim's position, considering all the circumstances, including the alleged victim's age.

There has been some confusion arising from the fact that OCR's regulations are enforced against private institutions that receive federal-funds. Because the First Amendment normally does not bind private institutions, some have erroneously assumed that OCR's regulations apply to private federal-funds recipients without the constitutional limitations imposed on public institutions. OCR's regulations should not be interpreted in ways that would lead to the suppression of protected speech on public or private campuses.

This should be obvious, but it's nice to have them on the record this way. (Via F.I.R.E. -- and note that the author of the OCR memo, Gerald Reynolds, is no relation.) F.I.R.E.'s press release is here.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh says the letter isn't as good as it looks. I defer to his superior knowledge of this subject.

I AGREE WITH JEFF JARVIS: FoxNews' suit against Al Franken is asinine.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh adds: "it seems to me like a really silly move on Fox's part, since it looks like a heavy-handed and legally ill-founded attempt to suppress criticism."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Alex Knapp says Fox is right. Well, sort of. I don't think so, on these facts. But I'm not a trademark lawyer.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Ralph Luker:

I do think someone should sue Franken for posing as a comedian. They haven't pronounced on that issue. Where's the outrage?

Now there's a slam-dunk case. He hasn't been funny since the "Al Franken decade," -- which was rather a long time ago.

STILL MORE: Kim du Toit:

[What] the Fox lawyers should be doing is looking for loopholes in Geraldo Rivera's employment contract, instead of giving alleged humorist Stuart Little Al Franken free publicity.

Geraldo who?

FACTOID OF THE DAY: Bill Quick looks at the death toll from the Paris heat wave and remarks: "Why, that's almost twice as many as the number of US troops killed in Iraq. Send in the UN!"

It's the "brutal Parisian summer." Did Robert Fisk warn us about that?

UPDATE: A couple of readers seem to think I'm gloating at the fact that people in Paris are dying from the heat. No. I just think it brings a little perspective to the -- genuine -- gloating we're seeing from some antiwar folks about "massive" U.S. casualties.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The "peace" movement chides me for incivility:

No, it's all about *your* gloating.

And the fact that an asshole like yourself could give a shit about how many Americans get their brains blown out as long as you can sit at home in front of your computer and disseminate the chickenhawk spin.

Piss off, moronic brownshirt fuck.

Quite sincerely,

Dave Abston

Typical.

I'M NOT SURE, but Adam at Throwing Things might just be the first blogger to receive press credentials at a Presidential campaign event solely on the basis of having a blog.

UPDATE: Nope. Dave Roberts emails: "Daily Kos and My DD both got press passes to the California Democratic Party annual meeting where the presidential candidates gave their speeches in mid March." Here's a link to the Kos account.

GIZMODO observes:

With Terminator 3 having just come out a few weeks ago, maybe it wasn't the best time for the Defense Department to unveil Project Alpha, which is charged with figuring out how the US military can develop armies of autonomous robots by the year 2025.

Advice to the Pentagon: If you want to make war robots look good, encourage someone to make a movie based on Keith Laumer's Bolo stories. His warbots seem more human than Arnold does when he's not playing a Terminator.

BILL HOBBS NOTES that some people are proposing Al Gore as a candidate for President -- of the University of Tennessee. He wonders what I think. Actually, this is a subject that I weighed in on almost exactly two years ago.

MICHAEL BARONE HAS SOME THOUGHTS on what a Schwarzenegger victory would mean for the political scene in California -- and elsewhere.

AFRICA DOESN'T GET ENOUGH ATTENTION, but this regional briefing by AfricaPundit over at Winds of Change has a lot of stories you probably missed.

UPDATE: Here's a blog focused on Zimbabwe and Southern Africa. I haven't looked at it very closely, but it appears to have a lot of useful links.

STEVEN DEN BESTE has some interesting thoughts on hard vs. soft power. Of course, to a degree the two go together.

THE SPLIT ON THE SIXTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS has made the New York Times. I can't vouch for the details, but the rift was widening when I clerked there in the 1980s, and I think it's grown steadily wider ever since. Nothing on this yet from the Sixth Circuit Blog, but I'll be looking forward to his analysis.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST ON THE 9/11 COMMISSION: Tom Maguire looks at the timeline, and concludes that Jamie Gorelick's position is even worse than he thought initially:

And I am not quite sure why we are connecting the dots just now, but here we are: WCP is retained by a prominent Saudi to help with his 9/11 problem, as reported in April; in May, WCP hires a member of the 9/11 Commission.

Did Ms. Gorelick know about her new firm's Saudi client? If she did know, did she get back with the Congressional Democrats who appointed her, and run this by them?

Or did she not know, in which case her confidence in her new partners, not to mention our credulity, may be a bit strained.

This is outrageous, and deserves more attention than it's getting. Republicans won't raise it, because it makes Bush look bad by playing up the Saudi connection. Democrats won't raise it because Gorelick is a Democrat.

But that's okay -- we have an independent press so that this stuff will get attention even when it's not a talking-point for either major party, right?

UPDATE: Reader Richard Riley emails:

Wait a minute. You properly chastise the press and others for chasing bogus "conflicts of interest" and, worse, "appearances" of conflicts of interest - in fact you wrote a good book about it. How is the Gorelick situation any different? Citing chapter and verse on partners technically being agents for all other partners in a partnership etc etc really won't do the trick here. Obviously, Gorelick's compensation at a big profitable place like Wilmer isn't going to be noticeably affected one way or the other whether the firm does or doesn't have the Prince as a client, so where's the REAL conflict, not just the technical "conflict" (if it's even that)? Fair's fair.

Well, no. Actually, in the ethics book (now available in paperback! Cheap!) we argue that appearance ethics are proper for people in judicial-style roles, but shouldn't be applied in political-style settings. So the question is, is the 9/11 inquiry commission essentially judicial (supposed to be independent, focused on facts, non-political) or is it political (involving accommodations between interest groups). It seems to me that it ought to be the former. Sounds like it's shaping up to be the latter.

JOANNE JACOBS HAS THE LATEST on the crushing of dissent by Cal Poly's racist administration.

Sounds like an election issue to me. And where's the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division?

MORE TALK OF EXPLOITATION, but hypocritical as usual:

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Weapon sales by rich countries were responsible for the proliferation of wars, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. . . . Mahathir, a fierce critic of the U.S.-led war against Iraq, accused "high pressure arms salesmen" of forcing poor nations to buy weapons.

Well, gee, those guys must be good, because in the same story we learn:

Although no specific data was immediately available, Malaysia has boosted defense spending in recent years, allotting billions of dollars on new U.S. and Russian jet fighters, submarines and Polish tanks among others.

Last Tuesday Malaysia signed a $900 million deal to buy 18 Sukhoi Su-30MKs from Russia.

Those damned smooth-talking Russians, with their vodka and promises!

READER DYLAN MORRIS WRITES: "More about the RX8 please! Throw in a pic or two if you get a chance."

Okay.

In general, my driving impressions match the ones from the test drive that I blogged earlier. Overall, the ambiance and feel is simultaneously that of a much more expensive car, and also evocative of the original, first-generation RX-7. I owned a 1980 model and loved it, though it had some rough edges.

This car doesn't have the rough edges. It's far more stable -- especially on wet roads, of which we've had a lot around here lately -- than the tailhappy first-generation RX-7. The response to the steering is very quick: think it, and it happens. I haven't broken the tail loose much, partly because of that. (The other part is that I'm carefully observing the break-in period, and I'm noticeably out of practice driving a fast rear-drive car. I haven't gone past about 7/10, though honestly on the twisty roads around here, much more than that would probably be suicidal because of the speed required versus the likelihood of finding something in the way). But the car corners like it's on rails, and when you're not pushing it you tend to wind up going a lot faster than you intended to because everything is so smooth, and so solid, that you don't quite realize just how fast you're actually going. The brakes are terrific.

Startup has the familiar burbling sound, but it dies out in a few seconds instead of a few minutes, which presumably indicates better fuel/air management. The engine note is very similar to my original RX. It's an aircraft-like sound.

The six-speed shifter is very smooth, and very positive. When I test drove the Infiniti G35 coupe I found the shifting a bit iffy, and put it down to my being rusty at driving a stick shift sports car. Nope. It just has an iffy shift mechanism.

Everyone loves the interior, which a lot of people say has an Italian look. It's very clean and un-gimmicky, but pleasing and functional. Controls are where they should be, and the car is largely free of annoying buttons and menus, as a sports car (or any car) should be. The back seat is surprisingly functional considering that the car is only a couple of inches longer than a Porsche Boxster. (The smaller size of the rotary engine makes that possible). The InstaDaughter likes it a lot, and there's room for a full-sized adult, at least for about-town short trips. (I can actually fit there if the front seat is up a bit, but I wouldn't want to stay there for very long. The InstaWife fits fine.)

The exterior turns heads everywhere I go. When the car is parked, it tends to draw a crowd, and when I drove it to the insurance office, the women there saw it through the window and ran outside to take a look. Kaus emailed me that he wasn't crazy about the look of the car, but that seems to be a minority view. I even had one guy, driving a new 350Z that still had a temporary tag in the rear window, follow me into a parking lot to look at the car. He said he wished he'd bought one instead of the 350Z, which has got to worry a lot of folks at Nissan.

I'm very happy with the car. So far I only have one complaint: the oil dipstick is a bit inconvenient. You have to pop off a plastic engine cover, then reach down among some hoses to remove it. It's no big deal, but given the need to check oil regularly on a rotary, it seems less well thought out than it might be. So far, though, I've used no measurable oil in over 500 miles. Gas mileage, on the other hand, has been so-so, but then it is a 250hp rotary, and I haven't been driving for economy.

That's pretty much it. Here's a much more technical review, for those who are interested in apex-seal composition and the like.

BUSH ADMINISTRATION DIPLOMACY DISARMS A HOSTILE REGIME:

NEW YORK — The United Nations, under pressure from the Bush administration, has decided to move a stash of submachine guns out of the organization's New York City headquarters.

The MP5s, made by Heckler and Koch of Germany, are to be moved to U.N. peacekeeping operations overseas, State Department sources said.

The United Nations purchased the restricted weapons for the personal protection of Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his travels around the New York metropolitan area.

The weapons often were visible in the support van of Mr. Annan's motorcade as it moved throughout the city.

It was not clear why Mr. Annan's bodyguards needed such weapons, said sources within the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). . . .

Key factors were the U.N. security department's lack of formal status as a law-enforcement agency and the risk of non-U.S. citizens gaining access to the weapons, State Department sources said.

You're nobody if you don't have submachinegun-wielding guards.

August 11, 2003

WHY BUSH SHOULD BE GRATEFUL TO ARNOLD: Schwarzenegger may or may not secure a California governorship for the Republicans, which would surely be welcome at the White House. But regardless, he's done Bush a big favor just by entering the race.

With Arnold in it, the California election will suck up a huge share of media oxygen for the next couple of months. Together with the Kobe Bryant trial, it's likely to keep the press largely in Sept. 10th mode for quite a while.

That's a big deal for Bush because it will delay the "quagmire" talk -- or at least keep it from crossing a critical threshold in terms of volume -- well into the Fall. By then he's likely to be able to present useful WMD evidence and/or signs of progress in Iraq, that'll defuse the critics. (If anyone notices -- this White House release doing both got precious little attention). But in essence, Arnold is bridging the too-early-for-clear-progress-but-not-too-early-for-concentrated-media-bitching period. By the time the dust has settled from that, Bush should be in a better position to engage the issue, as he'll have to be by January anyway.

So that's the good news for Bush: The media may be dumb and negative, but at least they're easily distracted!

JEREMY LOTT HAS A NEW JOB. Wish him luck!

JONNA SPILLBOR WRITES ABOUT FALSE ACCUSATIONS OF RAPE:

The statistics on false rape reports in the U.S. are widely divergent, and often too outdated to be meaningful. Not surprisingly, the numbers also depend on whom you ask. Organizations that tout a feminist agenda claim the number of false rape reports to be nearly non-existent - about two percent. But other organizations, taking the side of men, claim that false reports are actually very common - citing numbers ranging from forty-one to sixty percent.

Amid the statistics, the truth is impossible to ascertain - but it's plain that false reports are indeed made, and that they can ruin the life of the accused, whether or not a conviction follows.

Falsely reporting any crime is shameful. Falsely reporting a rape is especially heinous. The liar who files the false claim dishonors - and makes life all the more difficult for - the many true victims who file genuine rape claims because they have been terribly violated, and seek justice for it. At the same time, and perhaps even more seriously, the false report begins to destroy the reputation, and sometimes the life, of the accused from the very moment it is made - a fact of which many accusers are keenly aware.

She says that penalties for false accusations need to be stiffer, and more strictly enforced. (Via TalkLeft).

CHEMICAL WEAPONS FOUND -- at American University in Washington, DC!

Over the next few years, however, various types of historical documentation, including the aerial photos, suggested that the Army Corps had failed to search several areas of Spring Valley for pits where canisters of mustard, lewisite, and other poisonous agents might still be buried. Erik Olson, a senior attorney in the Washington, D.C., office of the Natural Resources Defense Council, found another key piece of evidence. After reading in the newspaper about the discovery of World War I chemical munitions in Spring Valley, he recalled hearing that his maternal grandfather, Sgt. C. W. Maurer, had buried chemical weapons when he was stationed at Camp AU in 1918.

In 1996, officials at the District of Columbia Department of Health expressed concern about the army’s investigation, noting that the aerial images and Sergeant Maurer’s photograph suggested that Spring Valley contained additional burial sites. The Army Corps of Engineers rejected most of the city’s arguments, but finally admitted in September 1997 that it had looked in the wrong place for the mustard burial pit. Although the 1927 aerial photograph had shown a ground scar in the vicinity of Glenbrook Road, the Corps’ 1993–1995 investigation had found no evidence of a disposal pit in the area. On reviewing the evidence, army engineers realized that because of a mapping error, they had missed the suspected pit by about 150 feet. The newly identified site was just across the American University property line, in the backyard of South Korean Amb. Hong-Koo Lee’s residence, an expanse of green lawn and ornamental gardens. . . .

Identifying potential chemical weapon burial sites involves an extensive review of historical documents, interviews with people who may have relevant information, and soil sampling. Currently, army officials estimate that the United States has 101 known or suspected chemical weapon burial sites in 38 states, the District of Columbia, and two territories (Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

And that's here. Sheesh. Thanks to reader Ryan Fitzpatrick for the pointer. Fitzpatrick adds:

The area that we're talking about isn't huge, AU is not a sprawling campus, and even with the residential areas that used to be part of the campus, we're only talking about maybe 1 to 1.5 square miles. But the chemical warheads had been sitting in the ground all that time, and they're still uncovering more of
them last I heard.

1.5 square miles, in the middle of the DC metro area, and we're just now recovering chemical weapons from World War I that we buried? And now everyone expects that we can waltz into Iraq and inside three months comb through the entire place with God-knows-how many square miles of empty, uninhabited ground these things could be buried in? I think I'll give the administration a little bit more time before coming to any conclusions.

Not me -- I'm putting them on a strict timetable, and giving them only half as much time as it took above!

UPDATE: Reader Gerald Hanner emails:

Yeah. A smallish project on my last active duty assignment at Offutt AFB NE involved trying to find where some toxic gunk from the manufacture of bombs (during WW II) was buried in the vicinity of Hastings NE. Seems that there was a big munitions plant at Hastings durin' the wah. When the place went out of business after WW II residue, by-products, and chemicals used in the manufacture of explosives were simply dumped into pits and covered.

Forty years later I was on a team that was supposed to figure out where the stuff was so that it could be dug up and properly disposed of. During the time I was working on the problem we failed to find where the stuff was actually buried -- even though we knew the general vicinity of its location. I even tried to get an SR-71 to scan the area with its sensors (I knew that some of their stuff could "see" stuff that was not completely on the surface.). When I retired it hadn't been done.

Obviously, someone lied about the stuff having been there!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Josh Heit points to the official website on the American University excavation. He also observes: "The McKinley Building has a plaque at its entrance describing the testing done at AU during WWI for chemical weaponry. It was grafffited with anti-war slogans this spring."

LT SMASH has an interesting roundup of posts from military bloggers in Iraq. Follow the links and you'll see some news that isn't getting reported in the Big Media.

DECLAN MCCULLAGH IS LESS CHARITABLE to the Greenpeace report on nanotechnology than I was:

Being an activist means always having to find something new to complain about.

Yeah, those guys do manage to crank out new "product" pretty steadily.

HERE'S A RATHER POSITIVE REPORT from Iraq. But there is some criticism:

Couvillon "loves to get too involved. He believes the people too much because he likes them," Muhammad said. "Things are too democratic here; the Marines should be ruling with a more iron hand. People come to him for help, saying they were abused when they just want a handout, and sometimes they get it."

I wonder what Robert Fisk would say?

SOME PEOPLE ARE PROCLAIMING an AP report by Charles Hanley as proof that the Bush Administration fudged facts on the war. But Bryan Preston says it's Hanley who can't be trusted.

WHENEVER I START TO WONDER if I'm being too hard on the Justice Department, there's a story like this:

California and other states that want to make marijuana available to sick or dying patients are flouting federal drug laws in much the same way that Southern states defied national civil rights laws, a senior Bush administration lawyer said.

Oh, yeah, it's exactly the same.

BRIAN CARNELL REPORTS that occupiers are exploiting inhabitants of Afghanistan in violation of international law.

ARNOLD LOOKS AS IF HE MIGHT HAVE A SHOT at the coveted Moxie endorsement.

BOBBY ALLISON-GALLIMORE offers advice for new law students.

DEFENSETECH REPORTS that a German firm is offering smart-bomb countermeasures. Thanks, guys.

TONY QUINN:

The recall is about much more than Gov. Davis. It is an assault on the whole political class in California by an electorate in a very bad mood. Voters have concluded that the electoral process has become a private affair of incumbents, their campaign consultants and the various interest groups that fund these endeavors, and now they have a chance to do something about it.

Sounds plausible.

UPDATE: Sgt. Stryker says more or less the same thing, in more colorful fashion:

Oooh, that'll really stick in the professionals' craw , eh? If real people put down the bong, go to the ballot box and exercise their right to vote, they'll screw up all kinds of shit for people who've spent an entire lifetime getting by on voter apathy.

I like the monkey bit, too.

THE AGITATOR is becoming a group blog. This should be interesting.

THE GUARDIAN is perpetuating the myth that African-Americans are "cannon fodder," something that wasn't true in Vietnam, and isn't true now. Ambit notes the error.

But if you don't like a war, it has to be racist somehow . . . .

IAIN MURRAY WRITES on privatizing the BBC. He seems to think the idea is gathering momentum:

The BBC would become the latest in a long line of British institutions that had their over-mighty political pretensions cut down by privatization or marginalization. . . . The great irony will be that this greatest and most-needed of all privatizations will probably be undertaken by a center-left government that shares Lord Reith's paternalist instincts. The people's government has decided that the people's broadcaster no longer represents the people. In that at least the Blairites are correct.

Interesting.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON WRITES that after-the-fact questions about 9/11 intelligence failures are to some degree beside the point. He also suggests that we still haven't learned the necessary lessons:

The 9/11 tragedy was not due simply to bureaucratic inertia or to some sort of oil conspiracy that overlooked criminal behavior of the sheiks of the petroleum states (though all that no doubt played a role), but was far more a dividend of political correctness. If Senator Graham is sincerely worried about our lethal oversights and mistakes, he should examine the orthodoxies and policies that have precluded the according of special scrutiny to radical Islamists in mosques and religious schools across America. Most operated with impunity for decades under the exemptions provided by the false gods of "diversity" and "multiculturalism."

Had Mr. Atta and his fellow killers been arrested on probable cause, their Islamic haunts raided, and assorted charities and fundraisers shut down on September 10, 2001 — cries of racism, profiling, and McCarthyism would have drowned out the purportedly farfetched excuses that such preemptory FBI raids had in fact saved thousands in Manhattan.

After a long shootout precipitated by American troops who tried to approach a private residence in Mosul, the sons of Saddam were killed in a deadly firefight. Several of our own troops were wounded. Almost immediately, columnists and congressmen — Mr. Rangel was especially visible in this regard — implied that we had engaged in targeted assassinations. Indeed, we had apparently not even made an attempt to provide due process!

Read the whole thing.

DONALD LUSKIN IS challenging the New York Times to correct Paul Krugman's errors:

When is the "newspaper of record" going to run a correction of Paul Krugman's egregious mathematical error in which he claimed, in his August 1 column, that growth in real per capita California state spending from $1,950 in 1990 to $2,211 in 2003 was "only 10%," when anyone with a pocket calculator can tell that it is really 13.4 percent? And when will it correct Krugman's flatly deceptive claim that this growth "was simply a matter of keeping up with the population and inflation," when calculations of real per capita growth, by definition, already take those factors into account?

I challenge the Times either to demonstrate that Krugman's calculation and his characterization are accurate, or to correct his errors. For a Princeton economics professor, this should be a simple matter to straighten out with the editors.

And when is the "newspaper of record" going to run a correction retracting the embarrassing quotation that Krugman attributed to the Bush administration's Treasury Department in his August 5 column, but which no one in the Bush administration or the Treasury Department ever actually said?

Right after they correct Maureen Dowd's egregious misquotes, I suspect. And maybe after they correct the serious error on federal sentencing that law professor Eric Muller pointed out.

UPDATE: An economist reader emails:

Luskin does a good public service by getting on Krugman. Krugman's column is an embarrassment to my profession. However, Luskin's latest does Krugman a disservice and I would hesitate to tout it.

Here is Krugman's relevant sentence.

As analysts at the nonpartisan California Budget Project point out, real state spending per capita was only 10 percent higher in 2002-03 than it was in 1989-90 — that is, most of the spending growth was simply a matter of keeping up with the population and inflation.

Now the 13% versus 10% correction is, of course, valid assuming Luskin's numbers are correct, but on the real per-capita business (and I hate to admit it) I'm with Krugman. The raw number of the budget increase is huge - something like 40%. The real per-capita increase is 10% (or, more correctly, 13%). That implies that "most of the spending growth was simply a matter of keeping up with the population and inflation" just as Krugman states. Krugman isn't stating that real per-capita spending didn't increase, but only that real per-capita increases make up a minority of the raw increase. That is, 10/40 (or 13/40) is less than 1/2.

Perhaps Luskin will have a response.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Luskin emails:

It doesn't surprise me that an economist would have no problem with Krugman's statement about real per capita spending. When I first read the statement it didn't bother me either, because I easily knew what Krugman meant -- he was implicitly saying that population growth and inflation reduced what would otherwise seem to be even greater spending growth to "only 10%" (of course it's rally 13.4% according to Krugman's own source, but that's another matter). But then I started getting emails from readers, who are not economists. They were confused and misled by the way Krugman chose to express himself. I went back and read it again, and could see what they meant. Considering that Krugman has been browbeating the Treasury Department for the way it speaks about tax distribution statistics, he should set a high standard and say exactly what he means. The evidence of the emails I got is that people were misled -- and it's no coincidence that they were misled in the direction that flattered Krugman's point. While that element of Krugman's statement may not deserve a "correction" per se, he should certainly acknowledge its flaws (and hopefully not in his usual supercilious way of sighing, smiling ironically, and then going on about how he sometimes forgets that he's not writing for other trained economists, and space is so constrained, and so on and so on....).

There you are.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Luskin now has more on his blog.

BIG WMD DISCOVERY -- IN CHINA?

An accident in China involving chemical weapons allegedly left behind by Japanese troops in World War II has left at least 36 people ill. Metal drums containing what is thought to be mustard gas were found on a construction site in the city of Qiqihar in Heilongjiang province.

Most of the injured are construction workers and people who came into contact with the drums after they had been unwittingly opened.

Obviously the Chinese don't have enough people on the ground. . . Reader Rob Hinkley emails:

The lessons?

[1] Things can stay hidden for a long long time.
[2] Just because a chemical weapons program may have closed down years ago doesn't mean that barrels of product weren't stashed away for use.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Bryan Preston has more thoughts.

THREATENING VIOLENCE AGAINST SCHWARZENEGGER?

California Democratic Party Spokesman Bob Mulholland this weekend warned Arnold Schwarzenegger that "real bullets" will be coming his way during his campaign to be governor!

"Schwarzenegger is going to find out, that unlike a Hollywood movie set, the bullets coming at him in this campaign are going to be real bullets and he is going to have to respond to them," warned Mulholland in an interview with a camera crew from ABC NEWS.

Hmm. Threatening a candidate with "real bullets?" Somehow I think that if a Republican had said this about a member of the Kennedy clan (which, of course, Arnold is), it would be getting more play. . . .

Of course, Mulholland ought to be keelhauled by the Society For Preserving The Distinction Between The Real and The Metaphorical for using "real bullets" to mean "nasty words," anyway.

Literally keelhauled or metaphorically keelhauled? I'm still trying to decide. Meanwhile let's just say that Mulholland's attack has "misfired."

UPDATE: And maybe Mulholland should be "terminated." Ralph Luker observes:

This is the sort of thing that gives Davis his reputation as the state's greatest champion of intimidation and smear since Richard Nixon. Firing Mulholland now might improve Davis's chance of surviving the recall campaign. It's never too late to try to create the appearance of decency.

I rather doubt that a smear campaign against Arnold can work, and I suspect that it will simply drag down everyone associated with Davis and reconfirm voters' suspicion that the gang in charge will do anything to preserve its own power. But California politics is not my strong suit.

UPDATE: Hey, maybe it wasn't metaphorical after all. . . .

IT'S NOT JUST FOR CELLPHONES ANYMORE -- and it never was! Ralph Kinney Bennett has an interesting piece on the history of driver distractions.

DONALD SENSING HAS VIDEO of the Braves' unassisted triple play on his site.

LIMBAUGH VS. THE BLOGOSPHERE: The latest round is over at Spoons' place.

UPDATE: Here's more from blogger and Limbaugh subscriber Susanna Cornett.

August 10, 2003

AMERICAN TOURISM TO FRANCE has fallen off massively, and the French are unhappy. Steven Den Beste has a link-rich essay on the subject: "Americans are holding an ongoing plebiscite on the question of French friendship, and they are voting with dollars."

MORE BLOG MOVIE BLURBS:

I guess it's partly my fault that unoriginal movies are successful because I see an awful lot of them. . . . Hollywood can keep blowing things up, I'll be there! -- Up for Anything

Slap that one on the posters and watch the crowds pour in!

ANOTHER FIRSTHAND REPORT FROM IRAQ. One thing this suggests is that the Pentagon is learning from blogs.

THE CALIFORNIA RECALL AND IMMIGRATION: Mickey Kaus has been saying that it would be an issue, and Matt Welch writes in the Los Angeles Daily News on what's happening so far.

UPDATE: CalBlog has more on this. And in a not-entirely-related development, Mark Steyn reflects on Schwarzenegger as Hamlet. Er, sort of. Best bit:

Okay, Arnold's not a Nazi. He was born in the Austrian town of Thal, but not until 1947, and thus was technically unable to join the Nazi Party no matter how much he may have wanted to. But he certainly has family ties to the Nazis. His wife's grandfather, Joe Kennedy, was one of America's most prominent Nazi sympathisers.

Oh, wait. That's not the Nazi family ties the Dems had in mind?

The recall thing will be worth it just for the deliciously nasty Steyn columns it will produce.

Finally, Tony Adragna is comparing California to France.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Colby Cosh:

Anyway, what could they really bushwhack him with, exactly? The immigration issue? You ask Arnold about immigration, he's going to give you his speech about how an Austrian farm boy can come to the U.S.A. with two and a half pfennigs in his pocket and become the biggest box-office star in the world and blah blah blah... he's never, ever going to have to get around to actually answering a question on that subject.

D'ya think?

ATTACKS ON U.S. TROOPS IN IRAQ: Directed by a Saudi? Who'd have thought that possible?

LAW-PROFESSOR BLOGGER ERIC MULLER points out a serious factual error in a New York Times editorial on Ashcroft and federal sentencing:

I said it before, but now that it's in the Times I'll say it again: this is a factually false depiction of the federal appellate system. And it's not just a little detail; it goes to the heart of the criticism the Times is making of Ashcroft's plan.

Right now, individual prosecutors do not decide when to appeal a judge's sentence. The Solicitor General of the United States does, after multiple rounds of independent evaluations and recommendations by attorneys in the Appellate Section of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and by at least one attorney in the Solicitor General's Office (in addition to the Solicitor General himself). No local prosecutor has the power to file an appeal without review and explicit approval from Washington. The most that this plan does is to get information about sentencing leniency to Washington more quickly, so that (in theory at least) lawyers in the Appellate Section of the Criminal Division could order a local office to appeal a sentence that the local office was not inclined to appeal, or perhaps (though this would tax the Appellate Section's manpower beyond the breaking point) so that the Appellate Section lawyers could take the appeal themselves.

So yes, Mr. Ashcroft does "seem to want [the sentencing appeal] decision to be made after a review from Washington." But that's the way the decision has always been made.

It is surprising to see this sort of factually erroneous assertion on the Editorial Page of the New York Times. They should correct it, and temper their criticism accordingly.

I wonder if a correction will be forthcoming?

UPDATE: And here's another claim of a monumental, uncorrected Times error.

MOST PEOPLE (INCLUDING NICK) would regard Nick Denton as well to my left, to the extent that such terms still have meaning. But his advice to the Democrats sounds a lot like mine:

All this is standard practice in American presidential elections: win the primaries on the flank, and come back to the center for the main contest. But it leaves one feeling like a kibitzer at a chess game: the lethal move is so obvious, but your guy just can't see it. The Democratic candidate for president should appropriate the traditional Republican values of limited government, individual liberty, and fiscal responsibility.

Yep. Unfortunately, Nick's right about this part, too:

I am convinced that a candidate running against Bush on this platform could win the coasts, a large slice of the American West, and maybe even some of the New South. There's only one problem: he would not survive the Democratic primary.

And that goes to institutional problems that the Democrats haven't even addressed, much less solved. And, of course, the Republicans have similar institutional problems, which is why they've drifted from that traditional message. For both parties, the question is why uphold values that, whatever their virtue, don't produce much in the way of graft, if there's not a competitor who will make you do so.

CHRIS SUELLENTROP:

Perhaps most worrisome, Nigeria combines several aspects that are familiar from countries in the Middle East: an abundance of oil, a young population, economic stagnation, a corrupt elite, a legacy of colonialism, a vision of itself as a superpower that is in decline, and a rise in Islamic radicalism.

Yes. Of course, many of Nigeria's characteristics -- including a prior tradition of much mellower Islam, which has not vanished -- mean that it could be a very valuable ally. Which is another reason why it matters.

ED CONE WRITES: "Money talks, which is why every presidential aspirant is suddenly listening to weblogs."

LONEWACKO HAS A FIRSTHAND REPORT OF LAST-MINUTE FILINGS in the California governor's race. He's got pictures, too!

SEXISM IN THE Cités:

An unnamed 15-year-old girl is assaulted by 18 boys, most of them not much older than she is. Sonia, also 15, is raped by seven of her supposed friends in the basement of her apartment building. Sheherezade, 11, is beaten and raped repeatedly over the course of a year by 12 different boys.

GRIM AS SUCH crimes may be, they’re becoming commonplace in the police ledgers of Paris, Lyons or Toulouse. The scene is almost always the same: the housing projects called cites on the outskirts of France’s major cities. Built by socially progressive governments in the 1960s, they’ve since been taken over by a generation of mostly Arab immigrants—impoverished, cut off from their native lands and culture, ghettoized. Here, young men try to rule their families and neighbors under a macho code drawn partly from Muslim tradition, partly from the violence and porn in the media. Women submit to men, they say. Good girls, good sisters, cover themselves and stay home. Otherwise they are putes, whores, who can be used and abused even if they say no.

Such stories, then, are not just about urban crime and rough neighborhoods. They reflect a core issue of Muslim integration in Europe.

And, unfortunately, dumb ideas about multiculturalism make such integration much harder than it should be.