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December 20, 2003


YEAH, blogging started late today. It snowed last night (we nearly got stuck at the Metro Pulse Christmas party downtown, where the snow melted then refroze, producing major slickness -- to the right you can see an intrepid partygoer making snowangels outside the club) and we went sledding this morning -- then to the mall. Back later.

NEW YORK TIMES: "BUSH WAS RIGHT!"

Over the past five years, by turning over two suspects for trial, acknowledging its complicity in the Lockerbie bombing and paying compensation to victims' families, Libya finally managed to persuade the United Nations Security Council to lift the international sanctions that had shadowed its economy and its international reputation for more than a decade. Those sanctions were lifted in September. This page recommended lifting American sanctions as well, but President Bush left them in place pending further steps, most notably Libya's decision to end its unconventional weapons programs. It is now clear that he was right to do so. The added American pressure worked just as intended.

It's another Festivus miracle!

Meanwhile Winds of Change looks at the contrasts between Bush and Dean on foreign policy.

And, though not really related, don't miss their roundup of China news, either. And don't miss Tim Blair's roundup of gullible, plastic-turkey-swallowing journalists. Gobble, gobble.

UPDATE: Wow, here's an Iranian connection to the Libyan WMD program -- did I hear someone say "axis of evil?"

The team was made up of North Korean scientists, engineers and technicians, as well as some Iranian and Libyan nuclear scientists.

North Korea and Iran, originally dubbed by Bush as the axis of evil along with Iraq, avoided detection by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) inspectors by each member farming out vital sections of its projects to its fellow members.

Iran, which is now in the final stages of uranium enrichment for its program, is badly hit, having counted on fitting into place key parts of its WMD project made in Libya. North Korea may also be forced to scale back the production of nuclear devices as well as counting the loss of a lucrative source of income for its Scuds and nuclear technology.

Yeah, I thought so. And this seems to be quite the military/diplomatic success for the Administration, proving once again that you get more with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone.

More on Libya here and here: "I guess a 'spider hole' didn't sound all that good to Mr. Gadhafi."

ANOTHER UPDATE: And here's more:

Libya's promise to surrender its weapons of mass destruction was forced by Britain and America's seizure of physical evidence of Col Muammar Gaddafi's illegal weapons programme, the Telegraph can reveal.

United States officials say that America's hand was strengthened in negotiations with Col Gaddafi after a successful operation, previously undisclosed, to intercept transport suspected of carrying banned weapons. . . .

One Cabinet minister said: "It demonstrates that change can be brought about by standing tough. There is no question that this change of heart by Gaddafi was brought about by the fact that the US and Britain were seen to be standing up to and called Saddam Hussein's bluff."

Indeed.

UPDATE: Charles Paul Freund observes:

In that context, it may be worth recalling this story from earlier this year. It appeared in Britain's Telegraph on April 9 (which, according to the reported timeline, is shortly after Gaddafi approached Britain) and quotes an Italian official on the Libyan leader's response to the Iraq war.

"A spokesman for Mr Berlusconi said the prime minister had been telephoned recently by Col Gaddafi of Libya, who said: 'I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid.'"

Indeed, again. Meanwhile this is interesting:

Saddam Hussein was personally directing the post-war insurgency inside Iraq, playing a far more active role than previously thought, American intelligence officers have concluded since his capture.

Despite the bewildered appearance of the deposed dictator when he was hauled from his hiding-hole last weekend, he is believed to have been issuing regular instructions on targets and tactics through five trusted lieutenants.

This conclusion could have serious implications for his status in United States custody. American officials have made clear that he will lose his rights as a prisoner of war if he was involved in the post-war violence.

Hmm. Stay tuned.

MORE: Colby Cosh has some observations, including this one: "Saddam is dragged out of a living grave and told that the president sends his regards, and within a week, Gadhafi, one of the most comparable figures in the World Atlas of Thuggery, is voluntarily installing red carpet for a weapons inspectorate. Talk about a wacky coincidence, eh?"

IRAQI BLOGGERS REPORT FROM BASRA, here and here. Both are worth reading.

(Via Jeff Jarvis).

THE VATICAN IS DISTANCING ITSELF FROM CARDINAL RENATO MARTINO'S DUMB COMMENTS. As well it might.

Of course, the Vatican shouldn't have opposed the war to begin with, and it still has a lot to apologize for.

MORE ON LIBYA: Roger Simon observes that Libya got missiles from North Korea (hey, it's almost like it's part of an axis of evil or something), but that nobody's saying where it got its centrifuges from. Meanwhile Prof. Bainbridge writes: "I've been a skeptic of the Iraq war on prudential grounds, but in light of the developments with Libya I have to admit that the war's supporters were right to claim that attacking Iraq would deter other rogue states from pursuing WMDs."

Heh. Indeed.

December 19, 2003

IN THE PAST, I've compared the blogosphere to the network of European coffeehouses in the 17th and 18th centuries. Here's an article from The Economist that does more or less the same thing with far more erudition. (Via Dave Winer).

AUSTIN BAY EMAILS that the Libya WMD announcement is more proof of the "cascading effects" of Saddam's capture:

Qadaffi turns in his WMD -- it's a cascading effect of knocking off the Baath dictatorship, demonstrating terrorism doesn't pay, and capturing Saddam. You linked to the cascading effects column. Knocking the strong man myth is a huge dividend. FWIW, I had a commentary on NPR this morning discussing how the "tongue depressor video" is an Oscar winner for video short promoting justice and the rule of law.

Here's a link to Bay's NPR piece. And here's a link to the cascading effects piece that I mentioned earlier, in case you missed it.

VIRGINIA POSTREL WRITES on what Christmas lights tell us about the economy.

WIDENING RIPPLES:

Libya’s leader Colonel Gaddafi has tonight promised to dismantle his country’s secret weapons of mass destruction programme, British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced.

I guess that whole "war will destabilize the region" stuff was, er, right. And a good thing, too!

UPDATE: More here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Rick Horvath emails:

Have you noticed that Libya took its first steps nine months ago? That would place Qhadafi's move around our initial attack on Iraq. Thus, it would seem like this is a victory for unilateralism. You think the Bush critics will acknowledge that?

Not likely.

Reportedly, the BBC is playing it as a victory for multilateral internationalism.

IF YOU SCREW UP, THEY WILL BYPASS YOU:

News executives of most Boston television stations are decidedly unenthusiastic about a Bush administration plan to transmit news footage from Iraq for local TV outlets in an attempt to supplement media coverage from that war-torn country.

The satellite link, dubbed "C-SPAN Baghdad," is designed to put a more positive spin on events and circumvent the major networks by making it possible for press conferences, interviews with troops and dignitaries, and even footage from the field to be transmitted from Iraq for use by regional and local media outlets, according to news accounts.

"I'm kind of appalled by it. I think it's very troubling," said Charles Kravetz, vice president of news at the regional cable news outlet NECN. "I think the government has no business being in the news business."

Tell it to the folks at NPR and PBS -- and the BBC-- Chuck! But, really, I'd be happy if the news business were in the news business, instead of letting itself be embarrassingly scooped by Iraqi dentists with digicams and blogs. After dropping that ball, it takes a lot of chutzpah to complain.

Reader Ian Sollars thinks the problem with the Pentagon's approach is that it's not going far enough:

The Pentagon should REALLY make this (a) available streamed live over the 'Net (Quicktime for preference) and (b) archived on the Web (DivX or MPEG2, and they might as well use BitTorrent while they're at it). Take the disintermediation the whole way. There are bloggers left and right who will troll the feeds for news and scoop big media time after time.

Sounds like a terrific idea to me. I wonder if that's what Kravetz is worried about? (More here.) Hey, here's another reason why this war isn't Vietnam -- this time around, it's the news media who don't want the real story to get out. . . .

UPDATE: Hey, just got this email from Daniel Okrent:

I've been in touch with the Times's Baghdad bureau and the paper's foreign desk, who attribute the failure to cover the story in detail (a three-column picture did appear in the paper) to two things: The organizers of the demonstration failed to alert the Times in advance. And, more crucially, the responsible parties at the Times dropped the ball. As you might imagine, life can be difficult and work terribly complicated for journalists in a war zone. Still, the story should have received more thorough coverage.

I am sending a copy of this explanation to newsroom management.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Okrent
Public Editor

Nice. Hope it'll make Okrent's column. I didn't see the picture -- I guess it was only in the print edition, which interestingly now has fewer readers than the Times on the Web.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I'm quite happy with Okrent's letter, and agree with a reader who emails "maybe this paper can be saved after all." On the other hand, reader Julie Berry is less impressed:

The Baghdad bureau of the New York Times didn't know the demonstration was scheduled? I'm a suburban housewife sitting in Washington State, and I knew the demonstration was scheduled.

My eleven year-old comes up with *much* better excuses than that for failing to do his homework. Dropped the ball, indeed.

Well, a couple of times I've found out about events on my own campus from reading West Coast blogs. On the other hand, nobody's, you know, paying me to cover the University of Tennessee. . . . Heather MacFarlane emails:

I live in the Yukon Canada, way up in Northern Canada, and I don't work for a newspaper and I do not have broadband, etc., etc., AND I KNEW THERE WAS GOING TO BE A DEMONSTRATION IN BAGHDAD ON THE 10TH OF DECEMBER. Really. Those 'reporters' in Baghdad are losers.

Perhaps the Times should send them to the Yukon. . . .

MORE: Reader email is skeptical of the Baghdad Bureau's story. John Schedler writes:

I'm just a poor country lawyer in semi-rural Washington State -- and I saw it coming. I think the Baghdad bureau is putting a con-job on Okrent. Okrent buys this kind of garbage/spin? Is he that credulous?

Tom Brosz emails:

The demonstrations on the 10th had been telegraphed by bloggers from Iraq almost three weeks ahead of time, and had been discussed across the internet. Zeyad said there were "reporters from every station in the world" there.

This story was well and truly spiked by editors who thought we didn't really need to know this, and they aren't kidding anybody.

And Prof. Cori Dauber emails:

I notice the nyt public editor is still using the argument "but we published a photo of them." aside from the fact that if they got someone there to take the picture, then they clearly had enough advance warning to, you know, GET PEOPLE THERE there's a bit of difficulty with their hiding behind the argument that the picture provided adequate coverage.

She has more on her blog, where she observes:

How could I have missed a picture of the demonstrations?

I had to page through the paper twice to find it. There's a picture alright (I don't have the capacity to scan from hardcopy, so you will have to settle for my description.) There's a reason I missed it. It's a beautiful picture, very "arty," but it hardly works to convey the information needed. . . .

This image could not be better crafted to not attract the eye, and it could not be better crafted to not tell the narrative story of a demonstration involving thousands of people.

But at least they're responding. Maybe next we'll hear something in response to reports of thuggish behavior by the security forces of the Times' Baghdad bureau.

Finally, Jeff Jarvis comments:

Loveya, Dan, but I don't buy it. And though I think your response is direct and candid, I also don't buy that this is necessarily an ombudsman issue. It is an executive-editor issue of bad news judgment.

This is also an issue of the future vs. the past of journalism. . . .

I do not think it's an issue of principles or bias. It's simply an issue of competence. The Times muffed the story. Plain and simple

Read the whole thing. And read Roger Simon's comments, too: "Okrent is doing his job, but the Times people in Baghdad have not given a satisfactory answer, certainly not remotely like one they would accept from a government spokesmen or politician without follow up."

EUGENE VOLOKH IS UNIMPRESSED with Stephen Reinhardt's opinion on the Guantanamo detainees: "What Judge Reinhardt is describing and condemning in the last sentence is the standard way that enemy detainees are treated. . . . Ah, Reinhardt says, but at least we acknowledged that they're prisoners of war. But 'prisoner of war' status is given only to those enemy detainees who were fighting in accordance to the laws of war."

I stand by my earlier statement that Reinhardt's gasbaggery here will do more to undermine the positions he supports than John Ashcroft will.

BAGHDAD-BLOGGING RICH GALEN has another post up.

BIG LOSS FOR THE RIAA in the Verizon case, as the D.C. Circuit rules that ISPs don't have to turn over subscriber information. Dodd Harris has comments. Here's a link to the opinion, which is a svelte 16 pages long, perhaps because the Court characterizes the RIAA's arguments as bordering on silly.

TYLER COWEN HAS APPARENTLY DIED AND GONE TO HELL: "I've been spending my last four days locked in a UNESCO room debating cultural diversity with a French diplomat and a Quebecois lawyer."

But it's not all bad: "Everyone has been very polite and the Frenchman gave me a useful book on the great number of French cheeses and how to recognize them."

WELL, THIS KIND OF KILLS YESTERDAY'S STORY on the 9/11 Commission:

WASHINGTON Dec. 18 — The chairman of a federal commission looking into the Sept. 11 attacks said Thursday that mistakes over many years left the United States vulnerable to such an attack, but he resisted pinning blame on either of the last two presidential teams.

"We have no evidence that anybody high in the Clinton administration or the Bush administration did anything wrong," chairman Thomas Kean said in an interview with ABC's "Nightline" taped for airing Thursday night.

I still think that some people should have been fired, though.

In related news, authorities are reportedly looking for suicide bombers in New York City, and other major metropolitan areas. I hope that people will keep their eyes open, and not get complacent.

GOSH, IT'S LIKE THEY'RE PART OF SOME, I DON'T KNOW, AXIS OF EVIL or something:

Former FBI director Louis Freeh testified yesterday that he believed there was "overwhelming evidence" that senior Iranian government officials financed and directed the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.

Go figure.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT, only this time it's in Terry McAuliffe's America, not John Ashcroft's. . . .

FREDERICK TURNER writes on Bush-hatred, and change:

At this time in the world's history a great turning point is imminent. And here we begin to see why there is this strange and unholy alliance between idealistic liberalism, the vestiges of the old socialist left, traditional third world authoritarians, and the unrelenting forces of Islamic totalitarianism, theocracy, and terror. However various their ideas of what is the good, all are united in their desire for an enforced law of the good. Even elements of the human rights movement, much of the anti-globalist community, and a large swatch of the philanthropic world -- the so-called NGOs -- still yearn for a government that, through sumptuary laws, high taxation, political correctness, and entitlements, would force to happen what people ought to, but do not make happen of their own free will. Much philanthropy has the stated goal of eliminating itself when through its advocacy and lobbying it has given government the power to compel what was once freely given; at which time the employees of the Foundations would presumably take over the powerful role of government civil servants. If the law of right is to become the only enforceable law of the human race, all these constituencies will have suffered what will feel to them to be a mortal setback. . . .

So when the protesters in London tore down Bush's effigy they were, unconsciously, expressing not only the opposite of the destruction of Saddam's statue -- that is, a desire to reinstate him -- but also the motivations behind the smashing of the statue of liberty erected by the students in Tiananmen Square. The symbolism of the Bush fragging was not, as many commentators believed, semiotically incompetent, but strikingly accurate. And the good, pacifist destroyers of the Bush statue were unconsciously leaguing themselves with the army tanks that massacred the Chinese students and trampled their poor plaster version of Lady Liberty -- and declaring war on the students themselves. Like their colleagues on this side of the Atlantic, the anti-American protesters stood in solidarity with the Confucian enforcers of the good that gave the order to clear the square of Heavenly Peace, and with seekers after the role of moral enforcer everywhere.

Read the whole thing.

MATT RUSTLER has comments on the Democrats' Second Amendment strategy, and a copy of what he says is a Democratic memo on the subject. I can't vouch for its authenticity, but perhaps someone else will know if it's genuine.

EUGENE VOLOKH COMMENTS on Padilla v. Rumsfeld. He expects a reversal.

AUSTIN BAY WRITES about the "cascade effects" stemming from Saddam's capture.

Meanwhile, here's an email from someone who participated.

December 18, 2003

SUCCESS HAS A THOUSAND FATHERS: But who would have guessed that one of them was Robert Fisk?

It's easy, looking at these images of Saddam's sadism, to have expected Iraqis to be grateful to us this week. We have captured Saddam. We have destroyed the beast. The nightmare years are over.

What's this "we" sh*t, white man? (Emphasis added.)

Here's a slightly different take.

UPDATE: And here's something on Fisk's fellow-travelers at the CBC.

QUESTION: If Jose Padilla were still known as Abdullah al-Muhajir, the name he was using when he was arrested, would the decision have come out the same way?

And if it had, would it be playing the same way in the press?

And who decided which name to use in the media coverage, anyway?

PEOPLE KEEP SENDING ME THE TARGET EMAIL that says they're anti-veteran. It's not true. Just so you know.

I'VE BEEN TRYING TO TAKE IT A BIT EASY, as exhaustion was setting in, and in the spare time I've opened up I've been reading a complete collection of Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy mysteries, compled and edited by Eric Flint.

I'm a fairly big fan of Flint as a science fiction writer, but he's also done quite a service by lending his name and efforts to bringing back new editions of classic science fiction and fantasy. He's also put together new releases of works by Murray Leinster, James Schmitz, and Keith Laumer. For an up-and-coming new writer like Flint to spend time bringing out this sort of thing seems to me like a real service, and I appreciate it.

The Lord Darcy stories -- mysteries set in a world where the Plantagenets still rule Britain, and where magic works but electric lighting is a closely guarded state secret -- are classics, and work quite well on many levels. If you're into this sort of thing, and haven't read them, you might want to check them out.

UPDATE: Reader Greg Dougherty emails:

If you're going to include links to the books, you might want to also include links to Webscriptions, where you can get non-encrypted, non-copy-protected electronic versions of the books for at most $5 / book.

www.webscription.net/

Sounds like a pretty good deal to me, though if you print them out instead of reading them on the computer, it might be cheaper just to buy the book.

PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE isn't impressed with the Ninth Circuit's opinion on Guantanamo prisoners.

Here's a link to the 79-page Reinhardt opinion, which I have not read. Here, via Howard Bashman, is a link to a news story on the decision, which contains this unpromising bit:

The San Francisco appeals court, ruling Thursday on a petition from a relative of a Libyan the U.S. military captured in Afghanistan, said the Bush administration's indefinite detention of the men runs contrary to American ideals.

"Even in times of national emergency - indeed, particularly in such times - it is the obligation of the Judicial Branch to ensure the preservation of our constitutional values and to prevent the Executive Branch from running roughshod over the rights of citizens and aliens alike," Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote for the majority.

I don't necessarily disagree with the holding -- I think the government has been slippery with regard to jurisdictional issues here -- but Reinhardt, is, to put it bluntly, a gasbag whose posturing hurts his cause far more than it helps it, and this certainly suggests that the opinion will be in line with his past history.

BLOGGER BABY PICS: Dawn Olsen has posted some.

THE 9/11 COMMISSION says that the attacks were preventable. Well, yes. In fact, they might have been prevented, had dropped balls at the FBI (which led to morbid speculation by field agents that Osama had a mole at headquarters) not frustrated the Moussaoui investigation. Note that no one was fired for that. Of course, had all the 9/11 terrorists been rounded up on 9/10, many of Bush's critics would have argued that it was a racist effort to distract people from the economy, or some such. And worries about such charges -- particularly the racism part -- clearly got in the way. I wonder if the Commission will look at that.

For that matter, the attacks might have been prevented if the Clinton missile attacks on Osama, delayed just a bit too long because of Clinton's fears of causing civilian casualties, had proceeded on time.

The story linked above is right to heap scorn on Condi Rice's statement that the attacks were unimaginable before they happened. There was plenty of reason to imagine them before they happened. That in itself doesn't mean that they could have, or even should have, been prevented -- I can imagine a lot of things that I couldn't prevent -- but Rice's statement has always struck me as absurd to the point of being insulting.

UPDATE: Quite a few readers think this is unfair to Condi Rice. Here's what Dennis Beezley emails:

CBS wants to make it seem that Rice claimed no one thought of planes as missiles. That is not what she said. She said no one anticipated hijacked planes as guided missiles.

These people (government people) don't think outside the box, they're not paid to. The thinking was that planes would be loaded with explosives, so the planes would either have to be planes controlled by AQ, like an old jet, or little planes like the one the kid flew into a building in Florida. And I assume measures were taken to prevent such an occurrence.

I also assume the reason we didn't fear a hijacked plane being used to just smack a building is that we didn't think anybody could get control of an airliner without a gun, which we work hard to prevent. But they did, three anyway. And they used the jet fuel as a bomb.

Now it seems pretty easy for us to think they should have thought of this. I have some friends who perished because they didn't. But because Rice should have thought of it, or nurtured an environment where someone else should have, doesn't mean her statement is incredible.

Well, as I said, I don't think that imagining it is the same as preventing it. But the statement is rather bizarre, when we had blocked a plot (via the Philippines) to hijack and crash planes, when the Columbine kids actually planned to crash planes into Manhattan, and when Tom Clancy wrote a novel on this theme. You might say that it wasn't high on the threat ladder, for whatever reason. But that's not what Condi said, and although I'm a big fan of hers in general, that statement has always grated on me.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Boy, a lot of people think I'm too hard on Condi Rice above. But on the other hand, a couple sent links to this page noting that the specific hijack-an-airplane-and-crash-it-into-a-target scenario had already been attempted: "On April 7, 1994, we came dangerously close to finding out what a DC-10 full of jet fuel and a man with nothing to lose could do to a corporate campus in Memphis. That's the day a disgruntled employee attacked the crew of FedEx Flight 705 with the intention of crashing the airplane into company headquarters."

MORE: Reader Kenton Bennett emails:

Regarding the Condi Rice and 9-11 Commission statements and conclusions..I would like to remind people that the terrorist leaders imagined it...the Algerian terrorists who hijacked a French Airliner in the mid nineties and attempted to fly it (by forcing the pilot) into the Eiffel Tower imagined it.....a computer programmer for Microsoft imagined it as my eight year old grandson was flying airliners into the twin towers well before 9-11 using one of there across the counter flight simulator games. Of course Al Gore didn't Imagine it with his committee to promote airline safety ( but of course he now has all the answers)....The problem is..... No one in the high levels of government has imagination and anyone at a lower level is ignored through a sea of jealousy and bureaucracy!!!....Read the book about Pearl Harbor by G.W. Prange and you will see the disastrous similarity of attitude and politics that are shared between these two momentous events.

Reader Catherine Johnson sends this link to an article from The New Yorker:

Bodansky and others have said that U.S. intelligence has long known that countries such as Iran and independent groups have made plans for "super-terrorism" and have trained people to carry out terrorist acts..

"We've known since the mid-eighties, for example, that Iran was training people to fly as kamikazes on commercial planes, as bombs, into civilian targets," Bodansky said. "The question was whether the political leaders of the sponsoring states would give the order to actually do it. From the moment a country starts risking the wrath of the civilized world to start such a training program, it must be serious about it." Bodansky explained that Iran's principal "school" is in Wakilabad, in the northeast part of the country, and is an entity of Iranian intelligence and the Revolutionary Guard. The school, he said, has American-made commercial jets for training its students in techniques of hijacking, sabotage, and flying into civilian targets.

Not unimaginable at all.

ARNOLD KLING ARGUES that efforts to regulate biotechnology as Leon Kass desires would necessarily lead to a worldwide totalitarian dictatorship that would be far more dystopian than the future created by not engaging in such regulation.

So far, bad philosophy has killed a lot more people than biotechnology. Perhaps we should regulate it. . . .

I GUESS IT'S NOT 1984 YET: The Second Circuit has ordered the release of Jose Padilla. Here's a link to the opinion, but I can't get it to open -- the server seems to be saturated at the moment. Judging by the Reuters story, the court put emphasis on Padilla's American citizenship, and on the fact that he was on American soil -- both appropriate considerations in my opinion.

UPDATE: Okay, it's opening now. Those do appear to be the considerations, based largely on lack of Congressional authorization for detention of Americans as enemy combatants on American soil. The court goes out of its way to emphasize that the government has "ample cause" to believe that Padilla was implicated in a "terrorist plot," making clear that this decision is about the law, not the facts.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, I've skimmed the opinion very quickly. Based on both Constitutional analysis (the Third Amendment is even cited, a rarity) and on statute (the Non-Detention Act, 18 U.S.C. sec. 4001(a)), the President lacks inherent authority to detain American citizens as enemy combatants when seized on American soil outside a zone of actual combat. For those of you studying for Con. Law exams, the President is placed thoroughly in Jackson Category Three. The Quirin case, involving Nazi saboteurs, is distinguished.

This seems right to me, based on my rather quick read of the opinion. I think that the real danger in Presidential authority to detain terrorists comes when it's applied to American citizens in America, since that's where the risk of politically motivated abuse is highest. Whether Congress has the power to authorize such detention isn't addressed in the opinion, but I would incline toward the position that it does not.

Meanwhile, here's a link to the dissent, which argues that the President does have such inherent authority, and that it is not defeated by the Non-Detention Act.

And, by the way, they don't have to let Padilla go -- just release him from military custody. They can transfer him to civilian custody for further prosecution, and the majority, in the conclusion to the opinion also notes that he can be held as a material witness in connection with other civilian prosecutions.

MICHAEL SILENCE has an article on Iraqi bloggers that's worth reading.

ROGER SIMON IS BACK FROM PARIS and blogging again:

[P]erhaps it was because I was there in the midst of the capture of Saddam… but the storied anti-Americanism now seemed almost the pathetic gesture of a failed state. To see the downcast newscaster on TV3 searching for something reassuringly cynical to say about the arrest of the Iraqi mass murderer was comical (she implied Saddam had been—unfairly?—impoverished and his capture didn’t mean much because he “only” had $750,000 in cash in the hole with him).

Bloggers Merde in France and the Dissident Frogman are correct (Yes, I met them and they are real—great guys!). France is in bad shape. Strange as this sounds, it reminded me in a way of some of my visits to the Soviet Union in the late eighties.

Read the whole thing.

"WITHOUT THEM, I WOULDN'T BE ALIVE:" Another pack-not-a-herd moment:

Debbie Shultz's class had just finished a Spanish II final exam Wednesday morning when the door to their trailer burst open with a bang.

Shultz's estranged husband stood wild-eyed in the doorway, teeth gritted, pausing almost for dramatic effect, she recalled. Then he rushed toward her, she said, raising a large knife toward her chest.

That's when Shultz's students, 16- and 17-year-old kids, went to her rescue. Several of the youngsters tackled the man, pinning him to the floor and wresting the knife from his hand.

Bravo. "Leaving it to the professionals" wouldn't have been an option here, as it often isn't. And here's the right attitude:

Nimesh Patel, 17, was taking a nap after finishing his final when he heard screaming and the scampering of fleeing students. He saw his teacher trying to fend off her assailant.

"I froze there for a second. Me and a couple of other guys grabbed him and threw him to the ground and basically sat on him until the cops came," he said.

Several other students helped Patel subdue the attacker. They included Austin Hutchinson, 16; John Bailey, 16; Andy Anderson, 17; Matt Battaglia, 17; and Scott Wigington, 17.

As Hutchinson saw the man pull the knife, "I thought I could run like the rest of the people or I could help," the student said. "It's just not right leaving her there."

Again, bravo.

UPDATE: Reader Richard Aubrey emails:

The kids are okay, as we used to say, when it meant The Kids (aka SDS). Our current educational system--without much in the way of a reasonable alternative--keeps kids in a state of extended adolescence, which doesn't mean they aren't capable of being adult when the time comes.

This also happened in Washington, at Thurston High School, when that kid came in and started shooting. Some folks theorized that the heroes of that incident got short media shrift after it was disclosed that several of them were NRA members.

I don't know, myself, but the view of the elites that the rest of us are and should remain victims isn't exactly hidden.

I hadn't heard that last, but I can't say it would surprise me.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Correction -- Aubrey was talking about the Springfield, Oregon school shooting, by Kip Kinkel. I didn't catch that because he said Washington, and I didn't recognize the name of the high school. Reader David Radulski sends a link to this story about the heroic actions of Jake Ryker, who stopped Kinkel. Key passage:

Ryker sprang into action - after being shot through the chest - and emerged a local hero in a tragedy that has captured national attention.

Seconds after the shooting started, Ryker and three other boys - altogether, two sets of brothers - tackled the suspect, Kipland Phillip Kinkel, knocked the rifle out of his hands, kept him from using two pistols and held him on the floor until teachers arrived. . . .

Officials said the boys' courageous action kept Kinkel from reloading his rifle and probably saved many lives.

"That's important to understand, that this shooter was under control by the time the emergency personnel began arriving at the scene," Springfield Fire Chief Dennis Murphy said.

Given the deeply unimpressive performance of the emergency personnel at Columbine, that may be just as well. At any rate, in situations like these the police will likely arrive too late. And the NRA angle appears to be true.

LEE HARRIS OFFERS thoughts on compassion and war.

MIXED FEELINGS: The Insta-Wife's book on violent kids is out of print, but a used copy is selling on Amazon for $99.95. She's both pleased and appalled.

JAMES LILEKS ON HOWARD DEAN:

Dean, talking to Diane Rehm -- the Mother Teresa of Beltway radio -- excoriated Bush for undue privacy in the Sept. 11 investigation. It produced some "interesting" theories, Dean said, such as the idea that the Saudis warned Bush of the imminent attack. Very clever, this; it allowed Dean to move the charge from the fever swamps of Internet forums to the national spotlight. Did he believe it? Oh, no -- but it's interesting, he said, and can't be disproved. OK, then: Dr. Dean sealed his gubernatorial records, and this makes some suspect he was an abortionist who sold the sundered remains to Satanists for Black Mass rituals. Hey, it's an interesting theory. Until we see the records, who knows?

Ouch. But it's not just Lileks on the case now: Howard Dean is starting to suffer damage from several of his rather improvident remarks, and according to this article from the Washington Post people are starting to question his viability. I guess the Teflon is, er, flaking.

That could lead to Bush facing the candidate he fears the most in November. . . .

UPDATE: SpinSanity has more on Howard Dean and what it calls his "not-so-straight talk on Bush and the war."

VIRGINIA POSTREL has sensible thoughts on the morning-after pill, and on birth control in general.

ANOTHER "UGLY, JAYSON BLAIR-LIKE SCANDAL" for The New York Times, according to Michelle Malkin. Another Howell Raines protege is involved, too. Malkin asks, "how many other Jayson Blairs remain nestled in the Gray Lady's bosom?"

December 17, 2003

NEWSWEEK: "A widely publicized Iraqi document that purports to show that September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta visited Baghdad in the summer of 2001 is probably a fabrication." Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus, who I scooped by over a minute on this story, has more.

JEFF JARVIS points to this New York Times story on the role of small, portable video cameras in letting the U.S. military bypass media operations to get its stories out. The story reads like a commercial for the Sony PD 150 camera, which is unfortunate for Sony as I think it's been discontinued.

I think that the trend it describes is likely to continue, and I hope that more bloggers use video for newsgathering. People keep writing and asking me for advice on this, and I'm not sure that I'm any great expert. But for web video, quality isn't an overriding concern. That's good, because cameras like the Canon GL-2 -- which I own, and which produces really beautiful video -- are expensive. (And I was just doing some side-by-side comparisions with my perfectly-respectable Sony Digital 8 camera, and the difference is quite astounding -- but then the Canon costs three times as much, and has a terrific fluorite lens).

But if I were doing web video, I'd prefer the Sony. It's smaller, and lighter, and cheaper -- which means less worry about it getting stolen or broken -- and it actually has a lot of web-useful features. It will, like most Sonys, record MPEG video to a memory stick, so you don't have to do fancy firewire video capture; you can just import it into a computer via USB. It also has rudimentary built-in editing and titling features. I've never used them, and probably never will, but if I were somewhere out of the way, I could edit a video down, save it to MPEG, and import it into pretty much any computer using USB, then upload it to the web without even compressing it further. Rough and ready, but it would work.

There are smaller video cameras, though you pay for their smallness. I think that this is the one Doc Searls uses, and it's a pretty good still camera, too. But it's harder to hold these small cameras steady, and at $1500 a pop it's kind of expensive.

I encourage people who are interested in mobile videoblogging for the web to just try to pick a digital still camera that does video with sound. The camera that Zeyad uses will do that. So will the Toshiba that I use. They only cost a few hundred bucks, and work fine for the web.

Within a year or so, of course, cellphones will do all of this stuff, and pretty well. The real business opportunity will be for someone who can knit all this stuff together and produce an interesting news operation that integrates video reportage from all sorts of distributed sources everywhere. I don't know who will pull that off, but I predict that they'll get a huge leg-up on their competitors.

In the meantime, if you're close to news, try to get some video. If it's good, I'll host it and save you the bandwidth charges. This stuff is just plain cool, and it's fun to be part of it. Here's an earlier post on the subject, too. I'm hoping that Zeyad will shoot some video interviews in Baghdad or Basra, and that we can make them available. Since the Big Media folks won't cover these things, we'll just have to do the best we can. And it's already working out pretty well.

And yes, I'm evangelizing here.

YESTERDAY I LINKED a column critical of FCC Chair Michael Powell. Now here's one by Arnold Kling defending him.

WRIGHT BROTHERS ANNIVERSARY: Rand Simberg has a trifecta, with columns here (TCS), here (NRO), and here (Fox). I was going to put up a post of my own, but I think I'll just send you to read these.

SO I SAW THE RETURN OF THE KING this afternoon. I don't want to spoil it, but I liked it a lot: more than The Two Towers, though perhaps not quite as much as The Fellowship of the Ring. As with The Two Towers, there were some plot liberties taken that didn't seem to advance the story, and if fictional characters could sue for libel, Denethor would have a case.

There were technical glitches, including some audio dubbing problems (minor, but I sure noticed), that surprised me. There were also way too many trailers including a commercial for a reality TV series featuring Donald Trump that looks, er, unpromising to me -- which probably means it will be a huge hit.

On the other hand, while Viggo Mortensen may be a twit in real life, he sure can act. And the trailer for his next film, Hidalgo, shows him playing a very different character very convincingly. (You can stream previews at the link above and see for yourself; the one I saw is "trailer two.").

The film was very long, but it didn't seem that way, it seemed too short. I suppose that's high enough praise right there.

UPDATE: Captain Ed loved it, while Occam's toothbrush says "get an editor." Lots more reviews at BlogCritics.

At THE MALL, I stopped in the Verizon store and test-drove a computer using this wireless service, which they called AirEdge. I got an honest 256Kbps, and pages seemed to load quite snappily. The price is reasonable, too.

Anybody out there have any experience with it? And does it coexist smoothly with wi-fi on the same computer?

RX-8 UPDATE: Reader Fraser Cutten sends this link to a review of the RX-8 from TopGear. (WMV video stream).

TERRY MCAULIFFE, ONE-MAN DISASTER:

PORTSMOUTH — Several city officials are furious over the Democratic National Committee chairman’s recent visit to Portsmouth High School, who they feel turned a social studies lesson into a one-sided bashing of President Bush. . . .

"He comes into the school and just says what he wants," City Councilor Bill St. Laurent said. "At what point does he stop his politicking to the point of scare tactics? Saying that the draft may come back, and kids can't find jobs, those are scare tactics. He is out trying to get votes. This is taxpayers money, excuse me, but this is my tax dollar and I don’t want to use my tax dollar for his pulpit."

Talk to some kids who mostly can't vote. Generate bad press for the Democrats nationwide among those who can. Brilliant. (Via Remove All Doubt).

UPDATE: Darren Kaplan writes: "Aside from the fact that scaring children for political gain is beyond the pale even for McAuliffe, he's lying through his teeth."

I'm amazed that the Dems have hung onto McAuliffe for so long.

THE BLOGS OF FREEDOM: Good story on Iraqi bloggers and the blogosphere in general, in the Seattle Times.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT IS BACKPEDALING from her dumb remark about Osama bin Laden and an "October surprise."

Even if you believe her claims, which witnesses contradict, that her remarks were tongue-in-cheek she just demonstrated -- again -- her utter unsuitability for diplomacy.

HURRAY FOR GIMLI! Yes, he gets it. Meanwhile, Viggo Mortensen is dismissed: "Poor guy. Cute, but dumb as a post."

UPDATE: Reader Keith Waldrop emails:

I just read the whole Rhys-Davies Interview. Neither you nor Sullivan give it the proper "read the whole thing" justice it deserves.

How in the world can the same industry/culture that created (insert inane Hollwood activist name here) create a man who says such grounded, worldly, and couragous things as John Rhys-Davies?

Hey Hollywood! I'll go see Return of the King twice just because it has Rhys-Davies in it.

You should.

TIM BLAIR: "Saddam’s only been in custody a few days, and already the French and Germans have become oddly compliant."

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs has more thoughts on this.

IT'S AN IMPROVEMENT OVER WHAT HAPPENED TO GALILEO, ANYWAY:

Six hundred years ago, the world was warm. Or maybe it wasn’t. What’s the truth? Beware. This question has recently been elevated from a mere scientific quandary to one of the hot (or cold) issues of modern politics. Argue in favor of the wrong answer and you risk being branded a liberal alarmist or a conservative Neanderthal. Or you might lose your job.

Six editors recently resigned from the journal Climate Research because of this issue. Their crime: publishing the article "Proxy Climatic and Environmental Changes of the Past 1,000 Years," by W. Soon and S. Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Without passing judgment on this particular paper, I can still point out that our journals are full of poor papers. If editors were dismissed every time they published one, they would all be out of work within a month or two. What made the Soon and Baliunas situation different is that their paper attracted enormous attention. And that’s because it threw doubt on the hockey stick.

Read the whole thing.

In a related development, Bjorn Lomborg has been vindicated by the Danish Ministry of Science, after what Ron Bailey calls a "smear campaign" against him.

UPDATE: Iain Murray has more on Lomborg.

PREEMPTIVE EXPLAINING-AWAY: Janet Daley advises anti-war folks on how to respond to success in the future.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn has related observations.

EUGENE VOLOKH OFFERS ADVICE TO FOREIGN WRITERS -- and works in a subtle reference to The Fearless Vampire Killers too:

Oy, have you got the wrong Wolverine. . . . We realize that the complexities of America's multi-layered semiotics (especially at the polyvalent intersectionality of military modalities and civilian cinematic / graphic novelistic signifiers) may be difficult to grasp for people who come from, shall we say, less sophisticated cultural traditions -- but if you only acknowledge our superiority, I see no reason why such minor embarrassments should interfere with our amicable cross-Atlantic relationship.

Heh.

TACITUS offers a rather devastating critique of those opposing an Iraqi trial for Saddam Hussein. "It's a meme meant to snatch the judgment of Saddam Hussein from his victims and hand it over to those same institutions whose counsel would have left him in power today."

I think that the UN, and the human rights community, are guilty of neocolonialism here. And the groups who propped up Saddam have more of a conflict of interest -- and certainly a far more culpable one -- than do his victims.

I also think that the end result of all of this will be a free Iraq that is close to the United States, and deeply suspicious of the United Nations, the human rights community, and the European Union. Once again, Bush's enemies are playing into his hands.

MICHAEL NOVAK has more on Cardinal Martino, whose excessive sympathy for Saddam garnered so much criticism here and elsewhere:

When I was in Rome last February, Cardinal Martino was already under heavy fire for his intemperate and irrepressible anti- Americanism. Even those who before the war leaned more to the French/German position than to the American were dismayed by his uncalled-for comments. . . .

The immense relief experienced by the Catholic community in Iraq since the fall of Saddam has not gone unappreciated at the Vatican. In general, now that the American-led coalition has acted firmly and with far better results than predicted last February by various spokesmen in the Vatican (they did not all speak with one voice), the Vatican has tried to help with the transition to a more just, peaceful, tolerant, and democratic Iraq.

As someone said earlier, victory is the best propaganda. But as Novak continues:

As for Cardinal Martino, he has made clear on many occasions how bitterly he feels toward the United States on many fronts, not only in the case of Iraq.

It's true, of course, that the Church is made of human beings, as Novak also notes. It's just unfortunate that so many of the ones we hear from seem to resemble Cardinal Martino, and the Church -- like any other institution made up of human beings -- will pay a price for filling its ranks with the bitter, the self-important, and the morally obtuse. It is paying such a price now. And what's more, it deserves to.

UPDATE: Stephen Bainbridge responds and draws a distinction between matters secular and spiritual.

I certainly agree that Cardinal Martino's idiocy has no particular theological ramifications. Having been raised Protestant, I'm always slightly bemused by how strenuously many Catholics feel they have to make this point, which seems obvious to me. Martino's idiocy isn't a reason to abandon your faith. It is, I think, the latest of many demonstrations that the Church has no particular ability to recruit people who are better, or even more morally discerning, than the run of humanity, and that the opinions of Church leaders on these sorts of matters are not only not worthy of any special respect, but are -- when weighed against the track record -- worthy of more than usual skepticism.

And because many churchmen attempt to blur the line, infusing their frequently idiotic statements on matters secular with a wholly undeserved patina of moral seriousness, it's important to point that out.

UPDATE: Reader Julie Carlson emails:

At church this Sunday, right before Mass started, a parishioner walked up to our priest and said something to the effect of wasn't this good news that we had gotten Saddam. His response? "No, not really, because this war was never about Saddam Hussein. It was about imposing our will on the Iraqi people." Later, during Mass, the other priest started talking about Father Bill O'Donnell's death, quoted Martin Sheen, and joked that the people who always had the most reason to be concerned about Father Bill were those who worked at Lawrence Livermore Labs.

I live in the Bay Area, but this is ridiculous. My church is led by two guys who still think it's the 1960s.

Yes, it is ridiculous.

FROM NEMO TO NANO: My TechCentralStation column, reporting from the EPA Science Advisory Board meeting last week, is up.

MORE TROOPS? Jim Dunnigan says it's an election-year gesture that will probably hurt actual readiness.

JUST THINK -- if Saddam hadn't been watching the BBC he might have given up months ago:

Saddam Hussein is being shown videotapes of anti-Saddam protests in Iraq . . . two U.S. officials who are receiving reports on his interrogation said Tuesday.

Or maybe he was reading the New York Times.

ALL DAY YESTERDAY, people kept sending me links to a rather dodgy secondhand report that Saddam's No. 2, Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri, had been caught. I was rather skeptical, given the sourcing and given that we'd heard that story before, only to have it turn out to be wrong. But now here's another report. Let's hope it's true.

IMPRISONED IRANIAN BLOGGER SINA MOTALLEBI is is now free, has escaped Iran, and is in Europe with his wife and child. And he's blogging again!

MICKEY KAUS is speculating on a Howard Dean third-party run, should Dean not get the nomination. I can easily imagine Dean doing something like that.

Meanwhile Jay Rosen offers nine new storylines for covering the campaign, to replace the tired and outdated ones that the press generally uses. Very much worth reading. One of them is "donated talent," and I want to repeat the prediction that I made at Bloggercon, that the 21st century will belong to whoever is best at getting people to volunteer their efforts.

December 16, 2003

THE POLITBURO finds Tim Noah silly.

ANOTHER VICTORY FOR GOOD SENSE, THE CONSTITUTION, AND LIMITED GOVERNMENT: Randy Barnett has won his medical cannabis case, and on Commerce Clause grounds. "It is supremely ironic that the Ninth Circuit is the court of appeals that is taking the Supreme Court's new Commerce Clause jurisprudence the most seriously."

He has a link to the opinion, which I -- just home from the elementary school Christmas program -- haven't read yet.

CNN IS BUSTED for differential coverage of demonstrations in Iraq. Tom Perry has proof.

Meanwhile, Jeff Jarvis posts excerpts from Iraqi bloggers' critiques of Western media.

PUNCH THE BAG notes an odd defense of Saddam.

"IRAQI MINISTER TELLS U.N. TO STOP SNIPING, START HELPING:" Indeed.

UPDATE: Reader Julie Meehan notes that the same story plays rather differently at the BBC:

It's titled "UN Chief demands clear role for Iraq"

The BBC story makes no mention whatsoever of the Iraqi foreign minister's comments that the UN "failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny that lasted over 35 years" or that "One year ago, the Security Council was divided between those who wanted to appease Saddam Hussein and those who wanted to hold him accountable".

It's a horrible piece of reporting by an increasingly horrible media service. Thank god we've got you! :-)

And no license fee required! Meanwhile, though the New York Times must not have gotten the BBC's memo, as its coverage does not omit the criticism of the UN, and adds some additional material that seems to contradict the BBC's Kofi-boosting coverage:

Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, accused the United Nations Security Council today of having failed to help rescue his country from Saddam Hussein, and he chided member states for bickering over his beleaguered country's future. . . .

Taking a harsh view of the inability of quarreling members of the Security Council to endorse military action in Iraq, Mr. Zebari said, "One year ago, the Security Council was divided between those who wanted to appease Saddam Hussein and those who wanted to hold him accountable.

"The United Nations as an organization failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny that lasted over 35 years, and today we are unearthing thousands of victims in horrifying testament to that failure."

He declared, "The U.N. must not fail the Iraqi people again."

It was not immediately clear how the accusatory tone of Mr. Zebari's speech affected the closed-door discussion over the United Nations' role in Iraq that followed, but Secretary General Kofi Annan, the first to emerge from the hall, appeared taken aback.

"Now is not the time to pin blame and point fingers," he told reporters.

By which he meant, Now is not the time to pin blame on me! The BBC's characterization of this meeting seems quite at odds with the other two stories, and will only serve to confirm the BBC's image as increasingly shoddy, biased and out of touch. And, apparently, still unaware just how easy it is to notice this sort of thing, thanks to that newfangled Internet.

A "JACQUES RUBY INCIDENT" FOR SADDAM? Read this by Damian Penny in The Globe and Mail.

ORSON SCOTT CARD is savaging his fellow Democrats on the war.

MULTICULTURALISM FINDS ITS LIMITS. I should have guessed this would do the trick.

STUART BENJAMIN ON STROM THURMOND:

Which one was he -- hypocrite or liar?

I think the answer is actually "both."

MORE LACK OF MORAL SERIOUSNESS FROM THE VATICAN: Robert Tagorda is more respectful of this stuff than I would be. I'll just note that they're showing more concern for Saddam Hussein than they probably would for Joanne Webb.

UPDATE: The World Wide Rant is also unimpressed with the Vatican's take on this issue.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Outright -- and dead-on-target -- mockery here.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Professor Bainbridge calls this pretty appalling, and Justin Katz observes:

The world is not all dignity and affronts to dignity. There are sin and repercussions, too.

Unfortunately, for some people, the world is all about dignity and its affronts. By all appearances, Cardinal Martino is one of those people.

I thought that Lauryn Hill's remarks were grandstanding when she made them. But now I think she can claim a bit of vindication.

MORE: Damian Penny: "I should apologize to my Catholic readers for saying this, but compared to the way the Vatican has coddled the criminals within its ranks, then yes, I must admit Saddam is being treated pretty roughly."

STILL MORE: Reader Bill Reece emails:

As a Catholic who is rather disenchanted with the Church, I am probably not the most "objective" person to comment on the good Cardinal's statements, but I am truly appalled by his solicitous concerns for a monster like Hussein. Perhaps if the Church were as acutely aware of the affront to dignity that many of its priests have inflicted on the innocent young children who are under its care, then the good Cardinal's comments might be taken a little more seriously. Sadly, the Church is far more solicitous in its concerns for the likes of Saddam Hussein (and for that matter, Francis Geoghann) than it is for innocent children.

It does seem that way at times, doesn't it?

APPARENTLY, THERE'S A SHORTAGE OF ACTUAL CRIMINALS IN CLEBURNE, TEXAS:

A Texas housewife is in big trouble with the law for selling a vibrator to a pair of undercover cops. . . . Joanne Webb, a former fifth-grade teacher and mother of three, was in a county court in Cleburne, Texas, on Monday to answer obscenity charges for selling the vibrator to undercover narcotics officers posing as a dysfunctional married couple in search of a sex aid.

I recommend laying off half the police force, and three-fourths of the prosecuting attorneys. The good people of Cleburne are obviously overtaxed, and overpoliced.

UPDATE: Andrew Lloyd emails: "I see that Texas finally has smaller government. So small, in fact, that it will fit inside your bedroom."

ANOTHER UPDATE: A Texas reader sends this extract from a Texas judicial opinion of some years back:

CURTISS BROWN, Justice, concurring.
Here we go raising the price of dildos again. Since this appears to be the law in Texas I must concur.

Regalado v. State, 872 S.W.2d 7 (1994). Meanwhile, reader David Radulski emails:

After a first cut analysis, your hypothesis that the City of Cleburne may be overpoliced appears correct.

City of Cleburne Police Department website says their police department has 47 officers and 16 civilian employees. Link

Given Cleburne’s population of 25,356, that equals 2.5 law enforcement employees per 1,000 population.

The FBI’s 2002 ‘Uniform Crime Reports: Law Enforcement Personnel’ (Link) state that Cleburne had 60 full time law enforcement employees in 2002. Perhaps Cleburne has hired 3 more people since then or some of the 63 mentioned on the City of Cleburne Police Department web site are part-time employees. Using the FBI’s more conservative number, it means that Cleburne has 2.4 law enforcement employees per 1,000 population.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports further state that cities comparable to Cleburne (Group IV cities in the West with populations between 25,000 and 49,999) average 2.0 law enforcement employees per 1,000 population. That extra 0.4 law enforcement employees per 1,000 population suggests that Cleburne has ten more law enforcement employees than other cities of its size.

Sounds like a round of layoffs is in order.

MORE: Eugene Volokh asks:

Seriously, folks, isn't it kind of silly not just to have such a law on the books, but to actually spend money, time, and effort enforcing it?

Why yes, it is.

STILL MORE: Long after this item was posted, I received this email:

Dear Mr. Reynolds,

I am a Police Officer for the City of Cleburne and I recently reviewed your article dated December 16th, regarding the incident about the young lady arrested for having too many sexual toys. If I may correct you, this incident did not happen in Cleburne, it actually happened in Burleson, Texas, which is about 10 miles north of Cleburne, and the Burleson Police, in connection with our Drug Task Force, arrested and charged the lady for possession too many sexual devices. I would also like to correct you on your point of view that the city of Cleburne has too many officers. We currently have an unofficial poputlion of about 35,000 poeple, counting the illegal aliens who have overwhlemed our small town. Our department is too overwhelmed with calls for help to even worry about sexual toys being sold. Although, possessing too many sexual devices is still against the law in the state of Texas and the Burleson Police Department has every right to enforce that law, should it deem necessary. Thank you for your time and please correct the article in regards to the Cleburne Police Department.

Brandon Arriola

Why, exactly, it makes Cleburne look better is beyond me. What was the Cleburne Drug Task Force doing staging "stings" over sex toys ten miles from Cleburne? Especially when the department is "overwhelmed" with calls at home? Sorry, but this looks like a case of bad priorities no matter how you spin it.

IF YOU LOOK UP "SOUTH PARK REPUBLICAN" IN THE DICTIONARY, you'll probably see a picture of Dennis Miller, who observes:

I'm left on a lot of things. If two gay guys want to get married, I could care less. If a nut case from overseas wants to blow up their wedding, that's when I'm right. (Sept. 11) was a big thing for me. I was saying to liberal America, "Well, what are you offering?" And they said, "Well, we're not going to protect you, and we want some more money." That didn't interest me.

Indeed.

A WHILE BACK, I challenged FCC Chair Michael Powell to get the FCC to stand up for a free and open Internet. Judging by this piece by FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps, it's not happening:

This Internet may be dying. At the behest of powerful interests, the FCC is buying into a warped vision that open networks should be replaced by closed networks and that the FCC should excuse broadband providers from longstanding non-discrimination requirements. . . .

The FCC is rushing toward breathtaking change in regulatory policy. Whether it's the giant media companies or telecom's gatekeepers, we are closing networks, undermining competition, stifling entrepreneurship and threatening consumer choice. At this rate, it won't be long until we look back, shake our heads and wonder whatever happened to that open and dynamic high speed Internet that might have been.

Well, that will suit some people just fine.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING INTERVIEW with Iranian blog-guru Hossein Derakshan.

FOR SOME REASON, a bunch of the thank-you emails I sent to people who donated have bounced. I'll try to figure out what the problem was, but for those who donated, please accept my thanks this way in the meantime.

THE MOST INCRIMINATING SADDAM PHOTO YET. He'll never get a fair trial now.

RACHEL CUNLIFFE has a blog design showcase up. She's soliciting further nominations.

GEORGE MONBIOT: Homicidal maniac?

WOW. Just looked at the counter and saw that InstaPundit had over 180,000 pageviews yesterday. That's rather a lot.

JOHN HAWKINS ON THE LIES ABOUT WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION: He says that there are lies, all right, but that they come from Bush's critics:

So we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hussein once had and used weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, at the time of the invasion, Saddam either had WMD or planned to acquire them. So all this quibbling over WMD is in a very important sense, irrelevant. Worst case scenario, it's like we stopped a serial killer before he could kill again as opposed to actually catching him with a body in the basement. In any case, sensible people who are concerned about what an anti-American tyrant like Saddam might have done with his WMD should be happy that the Butcher of Baghdad is now permanently out of business.

And we are!

JOSH CHAFETZ rounds up links to reviews of The Return of the King. It's supposed to be good!

"HE FELT SAFER WITH THE AMERICANS." Amazing quote about Saddam

ORDERED THE INSTA-DAUGHTER the Digital Blue kids' video camera. Frankly, I would rather have spent more and gotten her a real one, but this is what she's been on about for weeks. The good news is that it's not terribly expensive (by the standards of today's kids' toys) so when she outgrows it it won't be a total loss.

It's a far cry from this kids' toy from an earlier age, isn't it? But the Johnny Astro was a great toy, actually. (Three cheers for the Bernoulli effect!) Er, and a lot cheaper, even allowing for inflation.

I MEANT TO LINK TO THIS MICHAEL CRICHTON SPEECH on the environment over the weekend but was distracted by events. Derek Lowe emailed me the link again (I'm absent-minded, but there are lots of people to prod me!) and it's well worth reading.

MICKEY KAUS takes a sharp look at Howard Dean's foreign policy positions, and also observes: "The better things are going in Iraq, the more air leaks out of Dean's balloon."

UPDATE: Reader Ali Karim Bey sends this rather critical account of a Howard Dean fundraiser from which the TV cameras were barred, while profanity and ethnic slurs flew.

Somebody smuggle in a miniature videocam, next time!

December 15, 2003

I MENTIONED HEROMILES.ORG earlier, but I thought I'd mention it again. I donated my Delta miles -- not the stash that I once had, since I don't fly nearly as much as I used to, but the recipients will get more good out of them than I will.

UPDATE: Reader Stephen Hill of Delta emails:

I was reading your post about Operation Hero Miles, and wanted to thank you for donating. Delta SkyMiles customers have donated almost half of all donated miles to date (100 millions of 220 million donated). Thought you'd be interested to know. Thanks for your business, and your generosity.

And thanks to Delta.

RX-8 UPDATE: Several readers -- including one who says he's a product analyst at Mazda -- have emailed recently to ask for a longer-term evaluation of the RX-8. So here it is.

The short answer is that I continue to love the car, and in fact appreciate it more as time goes on. It has a wonderfully balanced feel. It's a car that you wear as much as drive. It's not the fastest car I've ever driven, though it's quite fast, but it's definitely the most fun to drive. Pushing down on the accelerator going into a curve causes it to plant itself even more solidly on the road and just zip through. (The only problem is that you can wind up going a lot faster than you realize; fine as long as you stay on the road, but as Tim Blair noted, if you get in trouble at that speed, you're really in trouble. . . ). The feeling is extremely secure and taut.

The gearshift is a joy: smooth and positive. Unlike the shift in the 350Z or the Infiniti G35 coupe, it's very slick and not at all notchy. As with the steering, you think it, you don't think about it. Braking is just terrific, and although the ride is fairly taut, it's not uncomfortable. The seats are very comfortable -- to my surprise, they're some of the most comfortable seats I've ridden in, even over some distance. Trunk space, while nothing to write home about, isn't bad for a car this small (though the trunk opening is narrow), and you honestly can put grownups in the back seats. You wouldn't want to ride back there for a cross-country trip, but for normal-sized adults it's fine for a cross-town ride. There are plenty of cupholders (4) and storage compartments in the cabin, and the sound system is great.

Reliability so far has been fine -- no problems at all. The only complaint I have is that the oil dipstick is hard to reach -- buried down deep amid hoses and pipes. It looks as if they could have made the dipstick longer; I don't know why they didn't. That's a pretty minor flaw, though. Except for the fact that the passenger door can't be opened with a key from the drivers' side (you have to use the wireless clicker, or hit the unlock button inside the car) that's my only real complaint. The "night" setting on the control panel could be a bit brighter, as it washes out a bit even on maximum brightness if you have the headlights on during the day, but you can override that by selecting the "day" setting easily enough.

I've enjoyed the car very much, and I'd certainly buy it again. Here's my earlier post.

SAVE SOME SOLDIERS: Something Awful is having a fundraiser for the troops. "We do not want our soldiers and especially not our valued readers getting shot and killed because they don't have the trauma inserts they need!"

I DON'T KNOW WHETHER THERE'S ANYTHING to this report of a fundraising scandal involving MoveOn.org, but if it does turn out to be true it could be a big deal.

UPDATE: Not much to this story beyond embarrassment, judging by this post from PoliPundit.

TYLER COWEN reports from Paris that the mood is "subdued" and adds:

The Parisians, however, have never been nicer to me. I find not a trace of snobbery or hostility. Everyone is quite willing to speak English once they hear my miserable French.

I use the same technique to ensure linguistic submission. It works every time, but now I can't go back, as the Academie Francaise has a warrant out on me for the murder of the French language.

It's a fair cop.

IT'S A RATHER RACY VERSION of the Carnival of the Capitalists this week.

I MISSED DEAN'S SPEECH, but here are some comments from LateFinal.

UPDATE: More here, from Jeff Jarvis, who says that Dean hasn't been paying attention.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oh, if you missed it on Friday you might want to read Lee Harris's take on Dean's foreign policy approach.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Daniel Drezner has more.

MORE: Kevin Holtsberry isn't impressed.

THE WAR IS THE FAULT OF COLIN POWELL'S PROSTATE? "I wonder if we went to war in part the way we did because Powell was too sick to mount a fight and did not have the courage to resign."

I don't think so. On the other hand, unlike the fictional plastic turkey invoked by Bush's critics, Colin Powell's prostate at least actually exists.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING ARTICLE ON IRAQI BLOGGERS, which among other things notes that Riverbend still hasn't commented on Saddam's capture. Just checked her blog and it's still true. How odd.

SORRY, but these words don't upset me at all.

THE RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE had, er, a high operational tempo this weekend.

HOWARD DEAN -- French-basher?

Though Dean has repeatedly criticized Bush for failing to win international support for the Iraq war, for instance, in June 1998 he defended Clinton's bombing of Iraq by arguing on the Canadian program, "I don't think we could have built an international coalition to invade or have a substantial bombing of Saddam."

During another 1998 appearance on the show, "The Editors," Dean said it was not worth trying to woo French support on foreign policy initiatives. "The French will always do exactly the opposite on what the United States wants regardless of what happens, so we're never going to have a consistent policy," he said.

Asked about the comment, Dean said he now thinks that because the French "have seen how bad things can get with the United States, they might respond to a new president who's willing to offer them respect again."

No flipflops there. Just an acknowledgment that Bush's policies have left the French chastened, and malleable!

UPDATE: This, on the other hand, is more than just a flipflop.

IT'S ANOTHER PLEDGE DRIVE, over at Tacitus.

These things seem to be all the rage. Maybe I should have one.

"DON'T GET COCKY!" Han Solo's advice is worth remembering in the wake of Saddam's capture, especially in light of this report from U.S. News on the Pentagon's turf wars and how they're slowing intelligence and counterterrorism efforts. Excerpt:

"It's not that al Qaeda has ways of hitting us we can't understand. It's that they operate in ways we weren't structured to deal with," says Robert Andrews, the Pentagon's top civilian in charge of special operations until July 2002. "Their decision loop is a lot smaller than ours."

That means that ours needs to be smaller, doesn't it?

THE FALL OF THE DICTATORSHIP -- and I'm not talking about Saddam. It's over at the newly-redesigned GlennReynolds.com site on MSNBC.

SADDAM'S CAPTURE is already yielding benefits:

``We've already gleaned intelligence value from his capture,'' Hertling said. ``We've already been able to capture a couple of key individuals here in Baghdad. We've completely confirmed one of the cells. It's putting the pieces together and it's connecting the dots. It has already helped us significantly in Baghdad.''

The intelligence has also given the U.S. military a far clearer picture of the guerrillas' command and control network in the city, and has confirmed the existence of rebel cells whose existence was previously only suspected, Hertling said.

From the initial batch of successes, Hertling said it was apparent that Saddam still played some role in leading the anti-U.S. insurgency.

``I'm sure he was giving some guidance to some key figures in this insurgency,'' Hertling said.

Meanwhile, Jim Geraghty looks at some questions about the hunt for Saddam.

SADDAM AND ME: LT Smash offers some personal reflections.

JAMES LILEKS has come back from vacation to comment on Saddam's capture:

Saddam’s failure isn’t his alone. The entire political construct he represents is a miserable man too tired to resist when it’s finally pushed against a wall. One hopes the point is made: when the US Army turns your way, your barber and your tailor are no help at all. When you’re a ragged hairy thug dragged from a bolt-hole who’s having his back teeth interrogated by a grim buff Murcan soljur who would really prefer to be home for Christmas, there’s a chance Paris and Berlin won't take your calls.

Read the whole thing.

NEARLY MISSED in all the Saddam-capture news was this story on Pervez Musharraf's near-assassination. However, this story suggests that Musharraf faked the attack to shore up U.S. support. I'm skeptical, but stranger things have happened.

MICHAEL TOTTEN has a gallery of Saddam-capture celebration photos from Iraq.

TIM BLAIR has a new poll on his site. I cast my vote for "inflatable Robert Fisk."

LANCE CPL. JOHN GUARDIANO has an oped in the Wall Street Journal on Saddam's capture. Excerpt:

Our comfort level with the Iraqi people grew considerably in the coming weeks and months as we assumed effective governing control of Al Hillah and the surrounding province. We came to realize that the gratitude and affection we experienced on that first day was far from fleeting and ephemeral. It was instead deeply rooted in the people's recent collective conscience. . . .

I was therefore not surprised to see ordinary Iraqis cheering Saddam's capture and firing rifles into the air. What has been surprising is the negative media coverage and the shameless exploitation of the war for partisan political purposes that I've seen since returning from Iraq in September.

"It's almost as if what we did over there never happened and doesn't matter," one of my staff sergeants told me. But what we did, and what the U.S. military is still doing, does matter, as the Iraqis whom I was privileged to know and befriend will tell you.

You keep hearing this sort of thing from returning soldiers and Marines.

COLIN POWELL has prostate cancer, according to my local talk-radio host, Hallerin Hill, who says he got the news from ABC. That's why he's been so low-profile recently. More when I hear more.

UPDATE: They just played an ABC bulletin saying that he's undergoing surgery now. Wish him well.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's the story from the Washington Post.

MARK STEYN:

What's at issue here is whether the American Defence Department should use American taxpayers' money to offer American government contracts in Iraq to companies from countries that actively obstructed and continue to obstruct American policy in Iraq. That's a legitimate national security interest, and no more "illegal" than, say, Belgium's refusal to sell Britain artillery shells during the Gulf War.

The snubbed Euro-weasels were not as pithy as Mr Bush. But the new Canadian Prime Minister, Paul Martin, is worth quoting. "This shouldn't be just about who gets contracts," he said. "It ought to be about what is the best thing for the people of Iraq."

Good point. The best thing for the people of Iraq was to get rid of Saddam, and back in the spring Mr Martin didn't want to be a part of that. The best thing for the people of Iraq, according to Mr Martin and Herr Schroder and M de Villepin, was that Saddam should be allowed to go on killing and torturing them for another decade or three.

Read the whole thing.

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BLOGGER: Andrew Sullivan's Pledge Week is over, but now it's Bill Quick's turn.

ANDREW SULLIVAN LISTS the nominees for his "Galloway award" for "the most strained and mealy-mouthed statements from the devastated press and anti-war politicians and activists following the capture of Saddam."

Similarly, Jeff Jarvis continues to track the pronouncements of the Coalition Of The Pissy.

MICHAEL NOVAK: "Ending torture and tyranny in Iraq was not a mistake. Supporting democracy in Iraq is not a mistake. Helping the long-suffering Muslims of Iraq who now seek to live democratically is not a mistake. In the long, long history of the Middle East, this breakthrough may one day be ranked as a dramatic turning point in regional history."

Victor Davis Hanson thinks it's a turning point too. "In the last two years our enemies have lacked not the will but the power to defeat us; we in contrast had more than enough power but not enough will. But all that is changing as we ever so slowly become angrier while they get weaker." And note in particular what he says about Syria and Iran.

IT'S A BUSY MORNING OVER AT WINDS OF CHANGE, where they've got their usual Monday roundups of Iraq news and war news, along with such other gems as a collection of advice for troops headed for Iraq and observations on military contracting and Halliburton.

EUROPE'S RED/GREEN ANTISEMITISM: Some thoughts from Jean-Christophe Mounicq.

UPDATE: Bad link before. Fixed now.

JOHN TABIN CRITIQUES media reactions to Saddam's capture.

THE ARMY SHOULD QUOTE THIS SADDAM STATEMENT LIBERALLY:

"Why didn't you fight?" one Governing Council member asked Hussein as their meeting ended. Hussein gestured toward the U.S. soldiers guarding him and asked his own question: "Would you fight them?"

Maybe the next dictator will ask himself that question before he winds up in a hole in the ground.

December 14, 2003

AUSTIN BAY has a column on the significance of Saddam's capture that's very much worth reading.

DON'T FORGET the troops in Afghanistan. Here's a suggestion on how to help them. They'd like DVDs -- in light of today's experience, I suggest sending them Red Dawn.

RICH GALEN HAS A REPORT FROM BAGHDAD on Saddam's capture and the Iraqi reaction:

The guy who stood and shouted for about thirty seconds might have been saying "death to Saddam." But some of the Arabists in the office think he was shouting - er - "[the f-word] Saddam," if you know what I mean and I think you do.

It works for me, either way. Galen also explains what caused the car explosion near the Palestine Hotel that CNN was covering rather heavily earlier today:

We got a report that a spent round had landed on the back of a car carrying four propane tanks.

Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom.

Four propane tanks and a car sent to celebratory fire heaven.

On this, I have to agree with Josh Chafetz: "Seriously, does it not occur to people that what goes up must come down?" Apparently not.

And Galen does look a lot cooler in this picture than in the other one.

JOE LIEBERMAN ON SADDAM'S CAPTURE:

Hallelujah, praise the Lord. This is something that I have been advocating and praying for for more than twelve years, since the Gulf War of 1991. Saddam Hussein was a homicidal maniac, a brutal dictator, who wanted to dominate the Arab world and was supporting terrorists.

He caused the death of more than a million people, including 460 Americans who went to overthrow him. This is a day of glory for the American military, a day of rejoicing for the Iraqi people, and a day of triumph and joy for anyone in the world who cares about freedom, human rights, and peace. . . .

This news also makes clear the choice the Democrats face next year. If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power today, not in prison, and the world would be a more dangerous place.

(Emphasis added.) The gloves are off.

CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON:

I find it savagely ironic that (1) people who claimed that Saddam Hussein was no threat to any other countries now think other countries should have a part in his trial, (2) people who want Iraqis to run their own affairs right now don't want them to run this trial and, (3) people actually think that the UN should try him for the crimes it consistently refused to do anything about.

Years ago I compared the international community's behavior to The Little Red Hen. It's a comparison that just keeps working.

SAVAGING THE PRESS: Josh Chafetz is merciless:

Brokaw on Saddam: "He was literally a rat trapped in a hole." No, he was figuratively a rat trapped in a hole. He was literally a former dictator trapped in a hole.

Which is actually worse, you know.

INTERESTING REPORT:

CNN reports the head of Palestinian Hamas has issued a statement expressing outrage that Saddam would encourage martrydom in others, yet personally go down without a fight. The impact of this should not be underestimated.

Indeed.

HERE'S A ROUNDUP of anti-war bloggers' reactions to the Saddam capture, which cover a wide range.

UPDATE: More here.

MICKEY KAUS: "Saddam's capture bumped Howard Dean off the cover of Newsweek. Some will find cheap symbolism in this."

But not our Mickey!

OKAY, THIS IS THE BEST photoshopped Saddam I've seen so far.

UPDATE: Well, now this is the best:

Only one word will do: Heh.

ANDREW SULLIVAN IS RUNNING A CONTEST: "Readers are invited to send in the most strained and mealy-mouthed statements from the devastated press and anti-war politicians and activists following the capture of Saddam."

ROGER SIMON EMAILS FROM PARIS:

I am here in Paris to research a new novel, celebrating the overthrow of Saddam with your one time Paris correspondent Nelson Ascher and journalist/novelist Nidra Poller and we would all like to say that atmosphere here tonight is that Chiraq is shaking in his boots and may be headed for Damascus to seek political asylum.

That might not be a good long-term solution. . . .

UPDATE: Everybody said that when Saddam started talking he'd implicate France. Well. . .

I told him, `You keep on saying that you are a brave man and a proud Arab.' I said, `When they arrested you why didn't you shoot one bullet? You are a coward.'

"And he started to use very colorful language. Basically, he used all his French."

Uh huh.

MARK STEYN:

A captured Saddam with a tongue depressor in his mouth. His tongue can't be half as depressed as the French, John Kerry, Howard Dean, The Guardian et al. They've all been saying for months that the Coalition needs to hand over more power and authority to Iraqis. Handing over Saddam to be tried in Baghdad is an excellent start.

Heh.

TIM BLAIR is on a roll today. Just keep scrolling.

UPDATE: Power Line has a lot of interesting posts, too.

A SADDAM LOOKALIKE has been spotted.

UPDATE: Reader Steve Hornbeck points to this key endorser and says that Dennis Kucinich has a lot of explaining to do.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More lookalikes here and here.

G-SCOBE: "One thing we can say with confidence: the French, Germans and Russians are sweating bullets."

REACTION FROM THE LEFT: "Just another plastic turkey moment."

Of course, the turkey wasn't ever plastic. Reports that it was genetically modified are unconfirmed.

LEE HARRIS ON SADDAM'S CAPTURE: "Thank God he's alive!"

The man who called upon his countrymen and fellow Muslims to sacrifice their own lives in suicide attacks, to blow themselves to bits in order to glorify his name, failed to follow his own instructions. He refused the grand opportunity of a martyr's death, or even that of the hardened Hollywood gangster, determined that the cops would never take him alive. Instead, Saddam Hussein surrendered meekly and was, according to the reports, even cooperative.

We took Saddam Hussein alive, and, in doing this, we have done a great deal more than simply knock down a statue of a dictator -- we have vanquished a collective nightmare. We have turned the light on a bogey-man, and revealed him to be a broken old man, hiding fearfully in a six by eight hole.

Read the whole thing.

DID TOLKIEN PREDICT the manner of Saddam's capture?

Well, no. But this is pretty amusing.

SOMEBODY DO A BED CHECK ON CHARLES MANSON! As a reader points out, we've never seen him and Saddam photographed together.

Of course, Saddam pretty much lived out Manson's dream.

MEGAN MCARDLE wonders how much useful intelligence Saddam will provide.

It depends, of course, on the subject. Countries that supported him covertly must be worried. Are they worried enough to try to cause an "accident" that would both keep him quiet and embarrass the United States?

I don't know, but I imagine that's been taken into account by the people holding him.

WOW, THAT WAS FAST: Mack Owens already has a column on Saddam's capture up over at National Review Online.

BRYAN PRESTON: "Jacques Chirac is probably worried sick over what Saddam will say if he decides to talk."

I FORGET WHICH TALKING HEAD IT WAS who I heard saying that we'd have to have an international tribunal for Saddam or we wouldn't be able to "maintain credibility," but I just had to laugh.

What international tribunal? One staffed by Europeans who supported Saddam?

The "international community" and the "human rights community" lack the moral standing to try Saddam. Let the Iraqi people do it. Unlike the dictator-coddling Euros, they've suffered enough to have earned the right.

That won't stop the Coalition Of The Pissy from whining, of course. But as has been made increasingly clear, that's of limited significance.

UPDATE: Reader James Van Zyl emails:

I was watching the CBC newscast here in Canada regarding the capture of Saddam Hussein and the issue of where the trial should take place, came up. They were interviewing an Iraqi expat (I believe she was from an organisation called Free Women of Iraq). The reporter in typical holier-than-thou fashion asked her if she thinks Saddam will get a fair trial in Iraq, and if it wouldn't therefore be better to put him on trial in the Hague. The womens answer took the reporter by complete surprise because it was so simple and yet in one sentence clearly conveyed exactly how many Iraqis feel about Saddam Hussein, and their distrust of the UN. Her answer was :

"Actually, I don't think he will get a 'fair' trial in the Hague".

Indeed.

THE LESSON: Saddam's capture also shows the importance of patience, and of ignoring the kvetching of the Coalition Of The Pissy. While people bitched, the military just kept gathering intelligence and keeping Saddam on the run until he slipped and they caught him. And looking at the TV images, he seems docile, exhausted, and ready to be caught. That's the fruit not just of a single lucky break, but of the sustained campaign of keeping him moving.

Those who, frankly, would just as soon see the entire war as a failure, are ready to call anything short of perfection a failure. But persistence pays off. It's worth keeping in mind on other subjects.

Interestingly, the American public seems to have gotten that all along, as a pre-capture Gallup poll showing support for the war was already actually climbing in recent months makes clear.

UPDATE: More lessons here.

A REVEALING POST from the BBC reporters' blog:

The prime minister has just delivered a speech which he's wanted to give for a long time. Tony Blair is pleased not just with what's happened-Saddam's capture-but also how. We all imagined that if the Americans got a tip off they would just bomb somewhere off the face of the earth.

But he was captured without a shot being fired. He's looking healthy, he's not been tortured, he's being handed over to Iraqi justice.

(Emphasis added.) Not tortured! And no mindless bombing! Imagine that!

Revealing, as I say. Read the whole blog, though, which has a lot of useful information about Iraq, as well as revealing evidence of the BBC worldview.

UPDATE: Major Sean Bannion emails from Baghdad:

Being no friend of the media I can confirm what some of your readers have already told you when they say "you can hear the dejection in their voices" from the media.

In the case of the CPA press conference you could see the disappointment on their faces and in their mien even if they asked a reasonable question. They were at least polite enough not to openly pooh-pooh Ambassador Bremer, LTG Sanchez and Dr. Pachachi.

But you can REALLY get a sense of the media's tone when you read Reuters' cutline from the photo of a captured Saddam:

"A photo of Saddam Hussein after his capture is shown during a press conference in Baghdad, December 14, 2003. U.S. troops captured Saddam Hussein near his home town of Tikrit announced U.S. administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer on Sunday, in a major coup for Washington's beleaguered occupation force in Iraq. Photo by Reuters"

I'm actually HERE and I don't consider ANY of us "beleaguered."

No, Major, but they'd like for you to be.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Merde In France reports: "Baghdad Celebrates, Paris Frowns."

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Jay Rosen emails that we shouldn't put credence in reports of reporters being dejected about Saddam's capture.

Well, I'm just relaying others' reports, but I have no reason to doubt their sincerity.

Possibly they're misinterpreting the nature of the response, of course -- but if I were one of those reporters, I'd wonder what I was doing to make such misinterpretations so widespread. Here's a longish blog essay on the subject.

MORE: Rosen emails back: "Journalists are as happy as other Americans. Their problem is that they don't quite know how to express that."

THE CORNER has a lot of posts on the Saddam capture, including a lot of reader comments on how disappointed the media folks look. But Joe Biden is hitting a different note:

On with Dan Rather a few minutes ago, Joe Biden said (when asked about how this affects the Dem race)that if we can capture Osama and Mullah Omar and stabilize Iraq and the president gets re-elected, that's just fine with him, and best for the country.

The BBC, on the other hand, seems worried that Saddam was "humiliated" by his capture. Expect this meme to spread throughout the Coalition Of The Pissy. That's not a bug -- it's a feature!

Er, depending, of course, on whose side you're on.

UPDATE: Tim Blair has found some more people who aren't that happy about Saddam's capture.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus has numerous observations -- just keep scrolling.

THE COMMAND POST is all over the Saddam-capture story, and is probably your single best place to go for links and developments.

Meanwhile Eric Scheie ties together the Saddam capture and the Atta story with an interesting observation.

WELL, THIS IS EVEN BIGGER NEWS, and it seems to be confirmed:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein without firing a shot after learning he was hiding at a farm house near Tikrit, Iraq, officials said.

Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said members of the Fourth Infantry Division found Saddam hiding in a "spider hole" about six to eight feet deep. Troops also recovered various small arms, a taxicab nearby and $750,000 in cash, just south of Tikrit.

There were no injuries, and Sanchez described Saddam as "talkative and cooperative."

Hmm. Let's ask him about the Atta thing, and see how cooperative he really is.

UPDATE: So, on the one hand, he's caught (I assume by now it's clearly not one of those doubles), and that's likely to be a rather major blow to the "insurgents" -- though I rather suspect that some of that has been supported by Syria, Iran, and Saudi elements in the hopes of keeping the United States busy. With Saddam gone, though, it'll be harder for them to escape responsibility, which is likely to cause them to reduce their exposure in this area. That's unalloyed good news, unless we're looking for an excuse to invade Syria.

On the other hand, we're confronted with the question of what to do with Saddam. I've thought about this before, and the options seemed to break down this way: (1) Shoot him out of hand. Appealing for a variety of reasons, but not really our style, and obviously we decided against it. (2) Try him for war crimes ourselves. Potentially messy, and perhaps looking a bit imperialistic to some. (3) Turn him over to the Iraqis and let them try him.

The last is the most appealing for a variety of reasons, as long as we make sure that the process isn't in the hands of covert Saddam loyalists, which shouldn't be hard. On the other hand, he's likely to have some value in terms of information and cooperation, which might encourage people to want to cut a deal with him. That's tricky: He's a dreadful guy who deserves to be executed, probably via a plastic-shredder or some similar method, in light of his crimes. (A Mussolini-style ending probably would have been best, in my opinion). But he may offer enough to make his cooperation worthwhile, though letting him live, or go into exile (where would he go?) seems troublesome too, and offers him the possibility for future mischief.

I imagine that this has been given a lot of thought at the highest levels. It'll be interesting to see what they do.

Meanwhile, Josh Chafetz predicts: "Guerilla attacks will intensify for about a month before they start melting away." That's probably right. Oxblog also links to video clips of Iraqi reactions, which are along the "Death to Saddam!" line.

Jeff Jarvis has a roundup of Iraqi bloggers' reactions, and lots of other information. Human Rights Watch wants an "international tribunal," which is reason enough to seriously consider turning Saddam over to the Iraqis. Jarvis also Fisks the "coalition of the pissy" that is already spinning this negatively.

Pejman Yousefzadeh has much more including a not-to-be-missed set of "before" and "after" shots that should be circulated around the Arab world. Tacitus has comments, too. N.Z. Bear is rounding up reaction from a lot of blogs.

And several readers have emailed to say that "you can hear the dejection in their voices" at the BBC and NPR. I wish I could discount this, but I can't.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's another roundup of blog reactions. And Winds of Change has a post up on this.

Tim Blair has more, including more reaction from the Coalition Of The Pissy. It appears that George Galloway is remaining loyal to Saddam, to the bitter end. Hey, at least he's capable of loyalty!

STILL MORE: Just read the entire Atrios post that Jeff Jarvis Fisks above. How very lame. But here's the part, not included in Jarvis's post, that I found most pathetic -- and revealing: "And, cynical me just has to ask - who's the enemy now? The base needs one. Did they really call it 'operation Red Dawn?' oy."

Oy, indeed.

WELL THIS IS BIG NEWS if it pans out:

Iraq's coalition government claims that it has uncovered documentary proof that Mohammed Atta, the al-Qaeda mastermind of the September 11 attacks against the US, was trained in Baghdad by Abu Nidal, the notorious Palestinian terrorist.

Details of Atta's visit to the Iraqi capital in the summer of 2001, just weeks before he launched the most devastating terrorist attack in US history, are contained in a top secret memo written to Saddam Hussein, the then Iraqi president, by Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, the former head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service.

The handwritten memo, a copy of which has been obtained exclusively by the Telegraph, is dated July 1, 2001 and provides a short resume of a three-day "work programme" Atta had undertaken at Abu Nidal's base in Baghdad.

In the memo, Habbush reports that Atta "displayed extraordinary effort" and demonstrated his ability to lead the team that would be "responsible for attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy".

Interesting. Stay tuned.