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January 31, 2004

SADDAM'S CASH: More thoughts on who reportedly got money from Saddam, by Roger Simon and The Weekly Standard.

THE PROS AND CONS OF JOHN KERRY: An interesting debate at The New Republic, to which Mickey Kaus adds his own observations, including this one: "There's a palpable will to self-deceive among Democrats eager to rationalize away Kerry's flaws."

I could be interested in a Democrat if I thought he were (1) serious about the war on terror; and (2) not too bad in other ways that matter to me. But who would that be? Kerry fails both tests: he's lame on terrorism -- enough to undermine confidence pretty thoroughly. Beside that, my sense is that he hasn't changed much since Doonesbury was parodying him in 1971. (I was put off when, on ABC just after the State of the Union, he described his own vote on the Defense of Marriage Act as "an act of courage.")

Clark seems like a self-centered phony, the kind of officer the troops don't trust and don't like -- and by many accounts, that's what he was. Dean -- well, I actually like him the best, somehow, even though I suspect he'd probably be a disaster if actually elected. (Though Dean is suddenly getting Strange New Respect now that his lead has crumbled). But at least there's a there there. I like Lieberman, but his chance of getting the nomination is about as good as mine. That leaves Edwards, who I'd like to like, but who has been sufficiently fuzzy on many issues that it's hard to tell what he thinks.

I'd like for it to be a tough decision between the Democratic candidate and Bush, and I think it would be better for the country if it turned out that way. But I don't see where that will come from in this field.

Meanwhile, Stephen Green notes Bush's problems, and also notes here, and in a followup here, what's wrong with old-school Libertarians on the war.

DATING TIPS for the single geek guy: Looks like some useful advice.

STYLISH AND PRACTICAL: Here's the InstaWife modeling her Ken Layne and the Corvids t-shirt, which I like almost as much as I like their album.

There's no picture of me; I got a t-shirt too, but I think the women's t-shirt is cuter. Er, and so is she.

I MADE THE LOCAL PAPER today, in a story that also links to the Rocky Top Brigade. The picture isn't bad, for a change!

KHATAMI HOSPITALIZED:

President Mohammad Khatami was admitted to the hospital Saturday with severe back pain, forcing the postponement of an emergency Cabinet meeting to discuss the crisis over parliamentary elections, a senior official in his office reported.

Reader S.E. Brenner, who sends the link, wonders if the back pain was caused by a knife. . . .

CATS AND DOGS, LIVING TOGETHER: Tom Maguire notes that The New York Times' Nick Kristof, and the San Francisco Chronicle, are praising Bush and evangelical Christians. No, really!

THIS SEEMS LIKE NEWS:

Congressional and CIA investigations into the prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons and links to terrorism have found no evidence that CIA analysts colored their judgment because of perceived or actual political pressure from White House officials, according to intelligence officials and congressional officials from both parties.

I wonder if it'll silence the "Bush Lied" claims? Probably not, as they're fundamentally religious in nature. It's true, of course, that there appears to have been some sort of intelligence failure with regard to Iraq's WMD -- at best, the intelligence community missed how well it was hidden, at worst, it was vaporware all along (er, except for those tons of anthrax UN inspectors found, etc.). But that's not such a shock: the CIA missed the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the Pakistani nuclear bomb, after all. And, by all accounts, was in the dark about just how far along Libya's program was before Qaddafi decided to give it up.

Ed Morissey has more thoughts on what this means for intelligence policy, and some suggestions for the Democrats.

UPDATE: More here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Wixted emails:

The implicit assumption here is that anytime an intelligence assessment is wrong, it must be flawed. People need to think through that assumption. It's flawed if the error is a false negative (e.g., we conclude that WMDs are not there even though they are, or we conclude that the Soviet missiles are not in Cuba even though they are). It's not necessarily flawed if it's a false positive.

We are going to make errors in the future. Everyone already agrees that we should try to minimize those errors. But given that errors are going to made, you have to decide which kind of error is the one to be avoided. It's a tradeoff: as false positive go up, false negatives go down. My fear is that all of this post-war intelligence hand-wringing will cause us to shift the criterion (causing false negatives to increase for fear of another false positive) without ever stopping to consider the possibility that the available evidence might be as good as we could have hoped for and that the conclusions drawn in light of the available evidence were the right ones.

Good point.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tacitus has some thoughts about imminence.

NOW THIS IS TROUBLING:

NOONDAY, Texas - William Krar and Judith Bruey assembled a frightening arsenal in three rented storage units in this East Texas town, and federal authorities are trying to figure out why.

A raid in April found nearly two pounds of a cyanide compound and other chemicals that could create enough poisonous gas to kill everyone inside a space as large as a big-chain bookstore or a small-town civic center.

Authorities also discovered nearly half a million rounds of ammunition, more than 60 pipe bombs, machine guns, silencers and remote-controlled bombs disguised as briefcases, plus pamphlets on how to make chemical weapons, and anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-government books.

What's not clear from the investigation is what, exactly, they planned to do with this stuff. One thing that's troubling is the potential for cooperation between Arab terrorists and domestic extremists. There remain questions about Oklahoma City in that regard, and -- as was noted here on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 -- there were certainly domestic wackos who were quite pleased with those attacks.

UPDATE: Jay Cantor emails:

To me, the most disturbing thing about the discovery of Krar's arsenal, though, is that is was uncovered purely by chance. Now terrorists often trip themselves through luck, or stupidity (a la the 1993 WTC bombers), but it is scarcely
reassuring to know that someone possibly escaped being shot, poisoned, or blown up by a terrorist crackpot solely due to a misdirected mail package!

Yes. Though domestic extremists are a different breed, and often seem to view the accretion of huge arsenals as an end in itself -- they're waiting for some future date when war breaks out against the "Zionist Occupation Government." That provides only limited comfort, however, as one can never be sure when they'll decide that the time has arrived.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Katz has more worries.

EARLIER THIS WEEK AT GLENNREYNOLDS.COM, I wrote about American competitiveness, and the way that public schools don't seem to be meeting the challenge.

Now here's a report that the Georgia schools are considering replacing "evolution" with the PC term "biological changes over time."

Doesn't work for me. "Biological changes over time" is when John Kerry discovers he needs Botox. Evolution is something rather different. John Scalzi has much more on this, and he is not amused.

VIRGINIA POSTREL'S RIGHT: Aesthetics do matter.

SEXUAL HEALING? I'm rather skeptical of the claim that 72 hours of sex will cure cancer. On the other hand, the side effects are better than chemotherapy, and it's cheaper than most quack treatments. . . .

January 30, 2004

THE LAW SCHOOL HONORS BANQUET was tonight. Because we have an alumnus who believes very strongly in writing skills, we have what I'm told is the largest cash prize for law student writing in America, the Cunningham Prize. (It's $5000). To my delight, it was won this year by one of my students, for a paper -- forthcoming soon in the Berkeley Journal of International Law -- on whether nanotechnology-based weapons would fall under the chemical and biological warfare conventions. I thought the paper was excellent, important, and very clear -- and so, obviously, did the selection committee, which was composed entirely of non-nanotechnology-familiar people, which means that the "clear" part was especially true, I guess. It's not out yet, but here's another piece by the same student, Robert Pinson, from the Environmental Law Reporter, on ethical considerations in terraforming Mars.

UPDATE: Well, I meant "law school prize," but I didn't say that, and a reader notes that the Pacific Legal Foundation has some whopping student writing prizes.

IT KEEPS GETTING WORSE:

A court has found former French Prime Minister Alain Juppe guilty of involvement in a party funding scam in Paris in the 1980s and early 1990s. Juppe, one of President Jacques Chirac's closest allies, immediately appealed against the conviction.

"You can imagine the political earthquake this is going to cause," said Anita Hauser, political commentator for the private LCI television channel.

"It's a hammer blow for Jacques Chirac, who thus loses his closest adviser and his designated successor, for whom he had real affection," she said.

Juppe was prime minister between 1995 and 1997, when he lost an election amid industrial unrest caused by his attempts to push through social and economic reforms.

France certainly needs those.

YES, those are Henry Copeland's BlogAds over there on the left. Credit (or blame) Matt Welch, whose post persuaded me to get off the dime. Don't take an ad as an endorsement -- I won't run ads that I think suck, but that's the limit of my policy, such as it is. This is an experiment, so let me know what you think.

UPDATE: So far, most people don't seem to care. A few say go for it, a few say that it takes away from the amateurism of InstaPundit. (But all the other cool bloggers are doing it!) One reader is unhappy with the ad for Chandler for Congress: "Too bad you advertise for the left. Next the BBC maybe?" Hey, he's a Democrat, but he's got an "A" rating from the NRA. . . .

EUGENE VOLOKH POINTS OUT that the Framers were quite aware of the danger of foreign bribery in American politics.

JEFF JARVIS TO ANDREW GILLIGAN: "Good riddance!"

THREE WEEKS AGO, I LINKED to an account by Iraqi blogger Zeyad regarding a report of serious misconduct on the part of American troops. I updated it here two weeks ago. Slate, meanwhile, has a rather long item here. It was posted Wednesday, but I just noticed it. It's still unclear what's going on, but there's certainly no danger of the incident being ignored.

EXPELLED SAUDI DIPLOMATS: More here -- and Kevin Maguire thinks I missed the most important passage from the article I mentioned earlier:

The agency said Saudi ambassador Prince Bandar Bin Sultan has refused to take responsibility for the Saudi embassy in Washington. The agency cited a source as saying he hasn't entered the embassy in years.

Hmm. What's going on there that Bandar doesn't want to "take responsibility" for?

UPDATE: More thoughts here.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We’re really looking hard at female replacements,” Martin said. “If only because they can masturbate and hide it so well.”

I'm pretty sure this is a spoof, although nowadays, who can tell?

BBC REPORTER ANDREW GILLIGAN has resigned in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry's finding that he "sexed up" reports on British intelligence and WMDs.

RANDY BARNETT IS THE CONSTITUTIONAL-LAW EQUIVALENT OF A ROCK STAR, and now he's going on a nationwide tour to promote his new book, Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty. Coming next: Groupies?

PORPHYROGENITUS looks at the fallout from the WMD issue in Britain and notes that, despite Tony Blair's triumph over the BBC, the news is not all good.

BRIAN MARTIN IS RANTING SENSIBLY about something that has been bugging me -- useless "security responses" from antivirus systems that catch viral email spoofing my address. Whenever one of these email-spoofing viruses is spreading, my inbox fills up with messages reading "Norton AntiVirus has spotted a virus in an email from your address." Except, of course, that it never came from me.

Email spoofing has been around for years. This "feature" in antivirus programs should have been off the table for nearly as long.

SONIA ARRISON looks at tech's future, and what they're worrying about in Silicon Valley.

ORKUT appears to be inspiring hatred despite its meaning "orgasm" in Finnish. (Via Joi Ito).

THANKS to the folks who donated via Amazon or PayPal this month! Thank-you emails will be forthcoming shortly.

THIS SEEMS PROMISING:

The United States has ordered the expulsion of dozens of Saudi diplomats suspected of helping promulgate Al Qaida ideology, diplomatic sources said. The State Dept. has refused to either confirm or deny the action..

The State Department revoked the diplomatic credentials of the Saudi diplomats in Washington over the last month in an effort to crack down on Saudi efforts to promote Al Qaida interests in the United States.

The diplomatic sources said about 70 diplomats and embassy staffers were expelled in late 2003 and dozens of others were ordered to leave the United States by mid-February. Many of those expelled were said to have worked in the office of the Saudi defense attache.

Remember -- Iraq was just one phase of the war.

SCORE ANOTHER ONE for sophisticated European diplomacy.

BRUCE SCHNEIER writes that we're slouching toward Big Brother.

I'm not as gloomy as he is, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't read his piece. I could be wrong, you know! I do think, though, that the most important thing in preserving civil liberties is to maintain a firewall between the treatment of noncitizens and citizens. Mistreatment or surveillance of noncitizens may be bad, but it doesn't offer the temptation toward political abuse that such conduct offers where citizens are concerned.

A NEW BLOGOSPHERE SPORT: Googling the reported recipients of Saddam's oil-bribe money! Stephen Green has gotten started. Salon's Wagner James Au emailed with this suggestion, too, and thinks it'll be interesting to see whether their public statements prior to Saddam's fall indicate any special solicitousness toward Saddam's interests.

MICKEY KAUS: "Next: Kerry claims to have secretly ghostwritten Joe Klein's novels!"

Meanwhile David Adesnik says the debate's real loser was Tom Brokaw.

UPDATE: But Wonkette pronounces Brokaw the winner -- though on grounds Adesnik may not share.

January 29, 2004

WHY DOES PRINCE CHARLES WANT TO HURT POOR PEOPLE?

A report published today on the Institute of Physics website Nanotechweb.org will say that Prince Charles' claims about nanotechnology could widen the chasm between have and have-not countries and damage the emerging nanotechnology industry in the developing world. This new analysis comes from a leading bioethics think-tank, the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics and is the first-ever survey of nanotechnology research in developing countries.

Dr Peter Singer, Director of the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics and Dr Erin Court, the lead author of this report, argue that concerns over the legitimate risks of nanotechnology should be addressed through a new international process and not by resorting to a moratorium on research that promises vast improvement in the lives of five billion people in developing countries.

Dr Singer said: "Opposition from Prince Charles and pressure groups around the world should not be permitted to diminish the health, environmental and economic opportunities of the poor in Africa, Latin America and Asia."

This report outlines for the first time the health, environmental and economic benefits for developing countries of nanotechnology (NT).

The report is here. Note that this is not the animal-rights Peter Singer. It's the one who cares about human beings. . . .

COMCAST: You've overused your "unlimited" service! But we won't tell you what the limits are. . . .

This is miserably, pathetically, lame.

DENIAL ISN'T A RIVER IN EGYPT: It's a walkout in London.

AMIR TAHERI WRITES that Iraq is becoming a normal society. Let's hope.

HERE'S A SOUTH CAROLINA DEBATE ROUNDUP from Jeff Quinton.

I DON'T FEEL SORRY FOR JOE TRIPPI ANYMORE: Taegan Goddard finds a report that Trippi got up to a 15% commission on Dean's ad buys. Can this be right? I'm in the wrong business -- I could lose two states, spend $40 million, and walk away a millionaire as well as anybody else! Sheesh.

UPDATE: Steve Verdon has a trenchant observation on Dean's web-based donation program.

ANOTHER UPDATE: D'oh! It's not Steve, above. It's Dave. The SteveVerdon.com address always lulls me into forgetting that it's a group blog now.

SPELLBOUND, OUTBOUND, AND SCHOOLBOUND: As I promised yesterday, today's GlennReynolds.com post ties together the movie Spellbound with the question of outsourcing.

UPDATE: More on outsourcing here and here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Virginia Postrel continues to call me "coy" on the outsourcing issue. I'm still confused as to why. Here's what I wrote in the original column on this topic, which I've linked in most of my posts since:

With all sympathy to Mr. Paris, people usually conclude that foreign competition has "gone too far" when it threatens their job. (And if we could import foreign politicians to compete with domestic ones, you'd see tariffs and protectionism that would make Napoleon's Continental System look like free trade.) Nonetheless, this sort of competition can certainly cause dislocations, both political and economic. (For more, here's a report that outsourcing to India increased by 25% last year, and a somewhat sunnier view of the situation from the Hindustan Times.)

But it also causes moral dislocations, and in various parts of the political spectrum. Bray's story reports on an "alliance of liberal activist groups and labor unions" that is opposing the outsourcing of jobs. And while it's easy to see why labor unions might oppose this sort of thing, it's hard for me to see it as a liberal issue, really. After all, aren't liberals supposed to be for the redistribution of wealth from the better-off to the less-well-off? These jobs don't disappear, after all: they go overseas, to people who probably need them more. Isn't that a good thing? Or, at least, to me it's not obviously worse than, say, taxing corporations in a way that causes them to cut jobs, and then using the money to pay for foreign aid.

I wrote something similar over at GlennReynolds.com, but it vanished in the MSNBC non-archive black hole. But it should be obvious: I'm against bans on outsourcing, and I think that the moral case for them is as weak as the economic one.

But -- and maybe this is what Virginia is picking up on -- I do have a certain degree of ambivalence. Arthur Leff, in a review of Posner's Economic Analysis of Law, famously worried about how many lives would be lashed to ribbons as the supply and demand curves flailed around, "desperately seeking equilibrium." On policy grounds, it probably is better to be coldhearted where this sort of thing is concerned. But I see how hard this has hit parts of the IT sector, and I think that in many cases it's more of a management fad than it is a source of real economic efficiency. If Virginia thinks that I'm the one ginning up controversy in this area, then she's very much out of touch with what tech people are talking about, because the subject has been all over Slashdot (look here and here, for example, and note the number of comments) and the various tech publications for a while -- and you hear a lot of it from IT people whose interest in the subject didn't come from InstaPundit. I'm just passing it along.

TOM MAGUIRE has a good observation on why we should be suspicious of the Saddam oil-bribe reports. The documents may be genuine, but the people who created them may have been lying to Saddam and pocketing the proceeds. As I said before, we should wait to see if this pans out. Just because it's plausible doesn't mean it's true.

UPDATE: Maguire has updated, and ABC has picked up the story now, too. And the Chirac connection may be closer than I indicated below. Still to early to say for sure, but it's certainly interesting. Stay tuned.

MY FRIEND AND SOMETIME COAUTHOR ROB MERGES has a new paper on compulsory licensing and digital media out. I'm somewhat more friendly to the notion of compulsory licensing than Rob is, but since he's smarter than me, you should probably listen to him. However, I will note that -- as I wrote here a while back -- the "hassle factor" involved in non-compulsory schemes, and the burden on creative endeavors that it represents, shouldn't be underestimated.

JAM YESTERDAY AND JAM TOMORROW: Joe Katzman notices that for some people, the time is never right.

UPDATE: Reader Richard Andrews emails:

Obviously, professor, our policy should be JDAM'd if you do, JDAM'd if you don't...

Indeed. Justin Katz has some further thoughts on this subject that are worth reading.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: This time at Illinois State.

POWERS OF TEN: This is pretty cool.

ROGER SIMON CONNECTS THE DOTS:

The BBC is unmasked as political liars while French and other diplomats are under accusation for taking oil bribes from Saddam. Meanwhile, another suicide bomb goes off in Jerusalem, while the Europe-dominated World Court in the Hague moves to put the Israelis in the dock for doing the one thing any of them would have done eons ago—build a wall to keep the terror out.

Read the whole thing.

HEADS ARE STILL ROLLING:

BBC director general Greg Dyke today dramatically resigned as the corporation struggles to deal with the biggest crisis in its 82-year history.

He is the second senior figure at the corporation to quit in the past 24 hours in the wake of Lord Hutton's devastating critique of the way the corporation handled the Kelly affair.

And in a dramatic sequence of events, the acting chairman Lord Ryder issued an "unreserved apology" for the "errors" of the past six months.

But will Andrew Gilligan keep his job?

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis comments on Dyke's resignation, and takes no prisoners:

This is the same sanctimonious prig who lectured U.S. media: "For any news organisation to act as a cheerleader for government is to undermine your credibility. They should be... balancing their coverage, not banging the drum for one side or the other." Mr. Dykes, for any news organization to act as a cheerleader against governent is to undermine your credibility, wouldn't you say?

Next: Bring us the head of Andrew Gilligan.

Note to self: Never get Jeff angry at me.

WHICH CORRUPTION SCANDAL? Take your pick. Jeremy Slater has a look at the Parmalat scandal, often called "Europe's Enron," and notes that it has punctured a lot of Euro-smugness of the "it can't happen here" variety. Then there's the French frigate scandal:

Illegal payments linked to a French defense deal with Taiwan signed in 1991 have placed the French government at risk of being ordered to repay up to $600 million in murky commissions, according to a report published on Wednesday.
.
The deal, involving the sale of six high-tech French frigates to Taiwan, has already linked senior statesmen in both countries with a still-unraveling tale of corruption.

Here's more from (ironically, these days) the BBC, which observes:

It has been one of France's biggest political and financial scandals of the last generation.

It has left a trail of eight unexplained deaths, nearly half a billion dollars in missing cash and troubling allegations of government complicity. . . .

A government order banning judicial access to key documents for reasons of state security has twice been renewed, most recently in June last year.

As a result, a criminal inquiry launched in 1997 remains stalled.

But the suspicions continue to grow: who has what to fear from the truth? Why, when the Taiwanese Government is doing all it can to uncover what happened, does France stubbornly refuse to do the same?

I can't imagine. Of course, all of this is peanuts compared to the reports that Saddam bribed Chirac.

UPDATE: On the Chirac story, reader Augustin Naepels sends this cautionary observation:

As a French citizen with a very critical view of my country's current policies, my sympathy towards Chirac is very limited. However, I have to point that the recent reports about politicans bribed by the former Iraqi regime do not in fact incrimate Chirac (a translation of the original Iraqi article is available here: Link)

Charles Pasqua, the French politician named as a recipient of the bribes in the article, used to be close to Chirac until he endorsed his opponent during the 1995 presidential campaign. Since then, Pasqua has left Chirac's political party. To sum up, Chirac isn't really tainted by these accusations.

I think the Washington Times [UPI] article you linked to had a misleading title, since the original source never mentions Chirac.

Just my two cents..and thanks for your blog that I read with great pleasure every day.

Interesting. Well, as I said before, we'll have to wait and see how this pans out.

GIZMODO notes that Nikon's new budget digital SLR, the D70, has been unveiled. I'm in the market for something along these lines, but I'm in no rush. And it's overkill for web photography anyway, where size, battery capacity, etc., are more important.

HOWARD KURTZ: "The man who pioneered Dean's Internet strategy is tossed out like the manager of a losing baseball team? Was it Trippi who suggested that Dean start yelling during his Iowa concession speech?"

DAVID BERNSTEIN wonders why liberals hate Bush, when he's busy enacting all of their policies. Beats me. But then, they hated Nixon, too, and he did the same thing. Bernstein's probably right about this: "[C]ultural cues are more important than policy and ideology. W just represents lots of things that coastal liberals dislike, and they will continue to dislike him regardless of how he governs policy."

Bush should worry, though, because his policies are alienating the base. Some of the right-wing mailing lists that I get are turning nearly as anti-Bush as they used to be anti-Clinton. Here's an example, from one of 'em:

Bush Spending budget breaking for NEA. Another bottle of urine.

One expects this kind of stuff from those FAR LEFT DEMOCRATS but when a supposed *conservative* sits in office and spends more than the known liberals - well, you really have to ask yourself what is going on. You have to realize that you have elected a PRETENDER to the THRONE.

You didn't elect a conservative - you elected a fraud who pretended to be conservative in order to get your vote so he could do far worse than Bill Clinton -Al Gore - Jimmy Carter - could do as the *conservative element would scream them out of office if they did what George W. Bush is doing and getting away with.

I've followed this list (it's basically a gun-rights list) for a while. It's a pretty good weathervane for the sentiments of a chunk of the right, and it has shifted notably against Bush over the past few months. I expect that Karl Rove thinks he can hang on to these people, and maybe he will. But from here, it looks like he's got serious problems with the base.

UPDATE: There's an interesting discussion on this topic over at The Corner. Start here and scroll up.

ANOTHER UPDATE: David Bernstein has further thoughts, and Dodd Harris is defending Bush:

I've certainly taken issue with Bush's participation in runaway spending - among other deviations from conservative principle - plenty of times. But the fact of the matter is that Bush never pretended to be the kind of conservative these critics expected him to be. In fact, it was always quite clear to anyone who paid attention that Bush was anything but. Everything about "compassionate conservatism" was a pretty obvious announcement that he had no problem with Big Government except its priorities. . . .

I'm all for criticizing him from the right - if no-one does it, he'll have every reason to assume his base is safely in his pocket. But calling him a fraud is too much. He told us what he would do and we voted him in, thereby endorsing those plans. If one paid attention to what he said, the best one would have hoped for was that he would turn the Leviathan a bit to the right.

Read the whole thing. But I still think that Bush has a problem with the base. Maybe they heard what they wanted to hear in 2000 -- but they don't like what they're hearing in 2004.

KAUS is on a roll.

AN IRAQI BLOGGER WRITES AN OPEN LETTER TO HOWARD DEAN: He's responding to Dean's claim that Iraqis' standard of living is "a whole lot worse now" than before the war, and his response is quite tart. It's a must-read.

GREG DJEREJIAN reports that the BBC's defenders are unrepentant, and continue to blame Blair. I agree with Jeff Jarvis's assessment: "pathetic."

THE MARKET AND ITS ENEMIES: Virginia Postrel has some thoughts, and a question for Charles Schumer.

She also accuses me of "coyly feeding" the outsourcing frenzy. Um, is that what I'm doing? Virginia doesn't link to any posts, so it's hard to be sure what she objects to in particular, but I thought I was just pointing to a phenomenon with major political ramifications, one that -- at least until recently - wasn't getting the attention it deserved. Surely Virginia isn't suggesting that I shouldn't do that, simply because the issue might be misused by "demagogic politicians." If I only wrote about subjects that were not subject to such misuse, I'd have nothing but posts about techno. (And even that might not be safe.) And I don't think that my views on the subject differ much from Dan Pink's, whose article she praises. But if a reader as generally careful as Virginia thinks otherwise, perhaps I should repeat what I've said before: I don't think that a legislative or political response to outsourcing as such is a good idea.

However, I do think that it's likely to be a political issue, and I thought that I was doing something useful by pointing that out, and talking a bit about the ramifications. I'm a bit surprised that Virginia thinks otherwise.

DON'T ASK DON'T TELL: LT Smash comes out of the closet.

January 28, 2004

YOU'VE HEARD THIS in the Blogosphere before, but apparently the idea is going mainstream:

The Nobel Peace laureate and Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble called human rights organisations a "great curse" yesterday and accused them of complicity in terrorist killings.

"One of the great curses of this world is the human rights industry," he told the Associated Press news agency at an international conference of terrorism victims in Madrid.

"They justify terrorist acts and end up being complicit in the murder of innocent victims."

His words drew an angry reaction from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, two of the world's biggest human rights groups, with about 200,000 members in Britain and more than a million worldwide.

Steve Crawshaw, director of the London office of Human Rights Watch, said:"It is extraordinarily regrettable and disappointing that, above all, a man like that says something like this."

What's really regrettable and disappointing is that he has to say something like this. The good news is that he had some impact:

The Madrid conference ended with a declaration which went some way to supporting Mr Trimble.

It said: "We call on NGOs and other civil organisations that stand for the defence of human rights to make a commitment to defend victims of terrorism and to identify terrorist acts for what they are, regardless of their cause or pretext and without striking balances or blurring the distinction between victims and executioners."

That would be nice.

MORE ON THE EURO-SCANDALS:

The European Commission has overseen an "intolerable" breakdown of EU financial control while subjecting whistleblowers to vindictive treatment, Euro-MPs said yesterday.

The European Parliament's annual report on the EU's £70 billion budget expressed "extreme alarm" over failures in the commission's accounting system, finding that the books did not add up and large sums of money could not be traced.

As they say, "which corruption scandal?"

PLAME UPDATE: Well, it's more of a further thought than an update. But the weakest part of the Plame "scandal" has always been the idea that someone in the White House, like, say, Karl Rove, would try to get back at Joseph Wilson by outing his wife as an intelligence agent. Even if they knew that she was a covert agent (and if she were really secret, they shouldn't have), deliberately outing a spy for trivial political payback purposes would just be too unimaginably stupid.

But, then, this is unimaginably stupid, too. So who knows?

JOHN STOSSEL'S NEW BOOK arrived from Amazon. The Insta-Wife promptly took custody (yes, this happens a lot). She keeps laughing out loud as she reads it, which I'm pretty sure is a good sign. She did report that Eugene Volokh is mentioned.

"IRAQI GOVT. PAPERS: SADDAM BRIBED CHIRAC" -- Hmm. First the BBC, now this:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Documents from Saddam Hussein's oil ministry reveal he used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.. . . .

Such evidence would undermine the French position before the war when President Jacques Chirac sought to couch his opposition to the invasion on a moral high ground.

Gee, do you think?

UPDATE: More here. Can this be true? We'll have to wait and see.

Gustave La Joie: "Corruption scandal? Which corruption scandal?"

HOWARD DEAN HAS REPLACED JOE TRIPPI, the genius behind his Internet strategy, with Roy Neel. I know Roy Neel from back when I worked on Gore's campaign in 1988. He's a good guy, but this kind of shakeup suggests that Josh Marshall was right yesterday when he called the Dean campaign "desperate."

UPDATE: The Scrum reports that the Neel selection isn't going over very well. And Wonkette opines:

Dean is replacing him with Gore's advisors. Because, uhm, yeah, they did such a great job for Gore. To review: Joe Trippi helped bring Dean from being an obscure governor of a tiny state to a national front-runner. Al Gore's advisers managed to fumble one of the surest bets in campaign history.

Okay, so it's not exactly "a tradition of victory."

MORE: Mickey Kaus: "There is less of a reformist impulse in the current Democratic campaign than at any time in the modern history of the country! "

STILL MORE: Dave Weinberger: "For all we know, Dean would still be in single digits as the ex-Governor of the Maple Sugar state if the online connection hadn't happened."

James Lileks: "It's not the e-mail. It's not the blog. It's not the Web sites. It's the computers, and the people behind them, connected like never before. They won't control the buzz this year. But in 2008? Count on it."

Josh Marshall: (Blogging from the train) "This has to be one of the most bizarre turns of events I've seen in Dem politics in a very long time."

This turn of events suggests, yet again, that Dean's big problem isn't the Internet. It's Dean.

ONE MORE: Best headline so far, from Jeff Taylor: "Dean Swaps Broadband for Dial-Up."

BETTY ONG, American hero.

BRANCH OUT IN YOUR BLOG READING with the Carnival of the Vanities, a collection of posts from all sorts of different blogs.

HAMMORABI, the Iraqi blog, seems to have some interesting posts on the Saddam oil-bribery issue. If his information is correct (about which we'll just have to wait and see), Saddam had people around the world on his political payroll. Which would explain a lot. Perhaps some intrepid reporters in Baghdad will look into this further -- surely they don't want to be scooped by an Iraqi blogger again. Note that what he calls a "milliard" is a billion in American usage -- which is enough to tell you the scale involved. . . .

EUGENE VOLOKH ADMINISTERS A RIGHTEOUS FISKING to Paul Craig Roberts, whose views are, well, in need of just that.

JONAH GOLDBERG:

The emphasis on WMDs was largely the result of lawyers at the State Dept. thinking that was the only "legal" reason we could go to war. Perle didn't reference it directly, but remember the whole kerfuffle about Paul Wolfowitz's interview with Sam Tanenhaus in which he divulged that the emphasis on WMD above all else was largely due to "bureaucratic" pressures from inside the US government. This, predictably, was distorted into proof that neocon ideologues were lying about the real reasons for the war. But that wasn't what he was saying at all.

Anyway, my point is this: to the extent the post-Iraq failure to find WMDs is a disaster for the United States in terms of its credibility, its relationships with allies etc. one could argue that the fault lies in the fact that George W. Bush listened too much to Colin Powell and the State Department instead of the hawks, since it was the Wolfowitz crowd which wanted to emphasize freedom, democracy, stability and the war on terror. Now that no WMDs have been found that rhetoric seems self-serving when in fact those were co-equal priorities all along. If George Bush had talked before the war about bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq as eloquently as he did afterwards, he would be in a lot better shape politically and in the history books.

The irony is that Bush -- who's been hammered for paying too little attention to the U.N. -- is, in this view, in trouble for paying too much attention to the U.N.

BREWING REBELLION in Saudi Arabia? Maybe.

BBC CHAIRMAN GAVYN DAVIES TO RESIGN: That's the story on the wires, though I can't find it on the web just yet. (Thanks to the journalist readers who sent it!). I told you they should have listened to the bloggers. . . .

UPDATE: Here's a link to the BBC's report. And here are what appear to be real-time reactions from BBC reporters via the BBC's own reporter blog. Excerpt: "I don't think anyone expected this report to be quite this damning."

Another: "It will be interesting to see if the BBC brand can recover from this." Maybe not. As I suggested a while back, the BBC's political tin ear has caught up with it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan: "[A]n absolute vindication for Tony Blair and a catastrophe for the BBC."

Tim Blair: "Some people predicted this outcome as far back as last July. Advantage: Jarvis. Also, advantage Chavetz."

And here, via Tim, is a link to the full text of the report, now available on the Web.

OVER AT MY MSNBC SITE, GlennReynolds.com, I've got a post on the Spelling Bee documentary Spellbound. In the next installment, I'll tie it to the outsourcing debate. No, really!

WYETH RUTHVEN and Jeff Quinton offer South Carolina primary roundups. New Hampshire? That's so yesterday.

HERE'S A ROUNDUP OF BAD PRESS FOR THE BBC, whose management is described as "almost in meltdown." They could have saved themselves a lot of grief by listening to bloggers!

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis has multiple posts on this. And here, via Jarvis, is a link to Tony Blair's statement on the issue, which is dignified, but very much of a put-down to his critics:

The allegation that I or anyone else lied to this House or deliberately misled the country by falsifying intelligence on WMD is itself the real lie. And I simply ask that those that made it and those who have repeated it over all these months, now withdraw it, fully, openly and clearly.

Will that happen?

A SPRING OFFENSIVE -- in Pakistan?

UPDATE: Blackfive thinks that if this is true, the Chicago Tribune shouldn't be reporting it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Darren Kaplan has more on this. If it's right, then Blackfive is right, too.


A GROWING -- AND SURPRISING -- BATTLE OVER NANOTECHNOLOGY: My TechCentralStation column is up.

UPDATE: Mark Modzelewski of the NanoBusiness Alliance, responding to an earlier post on this topic here at InstaPundit, puts down "bloggers, Drexlerians, pseudo-pundits, panderers and other denizens of their mom’s basements."

Hmm. I'm going to nominate Modzelewski for the newly-created Purpuro Award for needless put-downs to potentially valuable constituencies. It's not as if I'm not a nanotech booster, and I actually thought that the post he's complaining about was pretty mild, under the circumstances. . . . But this just underscores the point in my TCS column: For shortsighted political reasons, the nanotech business community is going out of its way to try to marginalize people it will surely need as allies later. That's just dumb.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Day by Day cartoonist Chris Muir, who did the Purpuro cartoon linked below, was so taken by the idea of a "Purpuro Award" that he sent the graphic now adorning the right side of this post. Thanks, Chris! It'll probably see regular use. . . .

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Modzelewski sends this, which I find rather astonishing:

Clearly being educated man, I can hardly even fathom how you take Drexler's fantasies and turn them into reality in your head. As far as our "pr strategy" as you call it-its not so much pr strategy as a "reality strategy." I don't promote nor spend much time worrying about science fiction and frankly don't even view the zettatechnology/molecular manufacturing/Foresight folks thinking as on the table in the environmental debate. I am clearly not between two poles, as your misguided views on the subject frankly don't constitute a pole in the landscape as far as I see it. I would say my skills as a long time political damage control specialist leave me -all ego aside - a little better skilled then Howard Lovy or yourself at these type of things. So just the same, I will actually be the one with a degree of sympathy here.

Keep fighting the -strange-if not good fight for your lost cause.

I'm not sure what he means by "lost cause." (For that matter, I'm not sure what "zettatechnology" is). I've been calling -- as have quite a few others -- for serious discussion of nanotechnology's implications, so as to prevent the nanotechnology industry from facing the sort of problems that have crippled the GMO food industry. (Here's my about-to-be-published Harvard Journal of Law and Technology article on that, and here's a more recent column from TechCentralStation. Here's another TCS column on the subject.) I certainly hope that cause isn't lost, and -- speaking as someone who's quite thorougly pro-nanotechnology -- I don't see why Modzelewski would want it to be.

I don't think that Modzelewski's public name-calling, or his email, is evidence of good political damage-control, either. But then, I'm not a professional damage-control expert, though I don't live in my mom's basement, either. . . .

DAN PINK has a lengthy piece on outsourcing that's worth reading. He comments via email that:

my inbox has been filling for the last 24 hours but, perhaps surprisingly, I'm getting slightly more positive mail than angry screeds --- though one fellow did accuse me of hosting an "asshat convention."

I do think that this will be an election issue.

OH, THAT LIBERAL MEDIA: Colby Cosh is exploring contrasts in coverage.

THE GUARDIAN has a summary of the Hutton report: Bottom line: Blair exonerated, the BBC looking dreadful.

Will heads roll at the BBC? They should.

UPDATE: More here. And Josh Chafetz says "I told you so."

And, in a related matter, read this.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Is there any profession that's worse at admitting mistakes and taking criticism than the journalistic profession? I don't know, but UK journalists are responding to the Hutton Inquiry by threatening to strike if disciplinary action is taken against the feckless Andrew Gilligan, who got the story so dreadfully wrong and whose errors may have contributed to David Kelly's suicide. Of course, to some people, this isn't a threat but a promise -- the reader who sent the link observes: "Oh God! A journalists' strike, how will we ever notice cope?"

MORE: Craig Henry has thoughts on journalism and mistakes.

JOHN PODHORETZ: "The results last night in New Hampshire represent a humiliating disaster for the mainstream media. The political reporters and editors who have been judging this race for a year have made utter fools of themselves."

UPDATE: RealClearPolitics is scoring the pollsters -- and scroll up for an interesting assessment of what's next. And David Adesnik is unimpressed with Robert Kaiser's answer to this question: "Mr. Kaiser, as the fourth arm of government, how would you rate the performance of the media during this primary season?"

UBIQUITOUS WEB JOURNALISM just keeps getting easier. Here's a 4 megapixel digital camera for under $400 that records video with sound in .avi format and that is small enough to fit in an Altoids tin.

FRANCE IS LOSING INFLUENCE TO AMERICA in Francophone Africa. Hmm. Sounds like the strategy is working. . . .

January 27, 2004

WINDS OF CHANGE has a truly gigantic summary of what's going in in Central Asia.

DANIEL DREZNER has more on outsourcing.

WOW, THAT DIDN'T TAKE LONG: Wonkette has so infuriated the Rittenhouse Review that it's adopting a "choose me or choose her!" approach. ("If you link to 'Wonkette' through your blogroll you cannot and will not enjoy, for what that might be worth, a link from The Rittenhouse Review.") Is that wise?

UPDATE: Will we see more things like this? Or this? Could be.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Aaron Cutler emails:

Not only does Rittenhouse make linking threats about Wonkette, they call her an Andy-Grove-esque gossip. Uh, I think they mean Lloyd Grove.

I wondered about that. If Andy Grove has a reputation for gossip, I'm unaware of it. Meanwhile Porphyrogenitus challenges me to blogroll Wonkette, and risk the Wrath of Capozzola. Do I look that brave?

MORE: Hmm. Now he's taking it back, in an update dated January 26, which wasn't there last night. I guess if you can confuse the Groves, you can confuse the date, too.

LOOKS LIKE KERRY, followed by Dean, with Edwards third and Clark fourth. This would seem to bode poorly for Clark's prospects; Dean and Edwards can try to pull a first-place in South Carolina, but where's Clark? Ahead of Lieberman. (LATER: Now the word is that he's ahead of Edwards, after all).

But there's only one candidate that Al Franken is afraid of!

Lots more news at the Command Post election page.

UPDATE: (NOTE that comments are open on this post, at least until they fill up with trolls or penis spam. I know it's nothing important, like cookware, but if you've got anything to add, here's your chance.)

The Jeff Jarvis summary: "Kerry is winning. Dean's 'temperament' is hurting him. Dean and Edwards are running in the others' tails. Lieberman is off-camera. Clark keeps the oxygen tent, running head-to-head with Edwards."

Matthew Yglesias: "It's interesting how much in the dubious 'momentum' sweepstakes hangs on whether John Edwards finishes third or fourth even though we know for sure that neither he nor Clark will win any delegates either way."

Will Saletan: "[M]aybe Democrats should ask what they're getting in Kerry. After watching him for a year and seeing him work New Hampshire, here's my warning: You're getting a guy who has plenty of selling points but can't make the sale himself."

Jacob T. Levy: "But the odd truth about the New Hampshire primary is that it doesn't pick Presidents anymore. It doesn't even pick nominees. What it does is put a good scare into the eventual nominee."

David Adesnik: "My guess is that the subtleties of the Edwards-Clark finish won't matter much, since both are depending on a strong showing in the South."

Chip Griffin: "The Kerry team really has beautifully orchestrated this. The Curtain Cam shot on CNN all this time, waiting for Kerry, is priceless."

Hugh Hewitt: "Dr. Dean is welcome to be my co-host any or all days from now until the 2nd." I'd take that offer!

Kos: "Dean has enough money to limp on, but by all indications, he's through. . . . Watch the establishment rally around Kerry to end this thing as quickly as possible. "

Jack O'Toole: "It's been almost half a century since the Democratic party has elected a president without a Southern accent. Is that just an electoral fluke? Or does it tell us something important about what it takes for Democrats to win national elections?"

Dave Cullen: "A sizeable plurality would love to have Howard Dean as their president, but they're convinced that they're alone, so they have to vote for someone else that they think will appeal to other people."

Wonkette: "This is our punishment for publishing exit polls. Kerry by double digits! And still Dean's grimacing that spooky rictus. How much would Dean have to lose by for him to call it a loss?"

Donna Brazile: "I think Edwards is the sleeper. . . . More and more, people are looking at him now as the alternative to Kerry."

Atrios: "I think people who are writing Dean's obituary yet again are dead wrong. . . . How long before Clinton won his first primary in 1992? Who was the presumed nominee at this point? A certain Senator from Mass. if I remember correctly."

Roger Simon: "It's still bad news for those of us who wanted to see Edwards get a shot, but at least Kerry won't have to pretend he's Dean."

John Ellis: "Back to Sunday's script! Where did they leave that? Probably at the hotel!"

Armed Liberal: "I'm impressed that Dean could mount such a strong comeback ... but then he gets up and makes his speech."

Andrew Sullivan: "Dean gave arguments. Kerry spoke in packaged Shrumisms. Dean has a vision. Kerry has ambition. If I were a Democrat, I'd vote for Dean over Kerry in a heartbeat."

Donald Sensing: "Among 'military households' (not further defined), Kerry got 35 percent, Dean 26, Clark 15 and Edwards 13 percent. So Kerry the lieutenant pulls more than twice the vote of Clark the general. General, you've just been further demoted."

Oliver Willis: "Huge win for Kerry. Dean's only around still because he has money, but he may push things down to the wire. Edwards may suddenly be vulnerable in South Carolina. Dead: Clark (had NH to himself and has squat to show for it), Lieberman, Kucinich, Sharpton (all three DOA)."

Kevin Drum: "Presumably Lieberman will now drop out, and for Clark and Edwards the next two weeks in the South and Midwest are make or break."

Josh Marshall: "Dean said that New Hampshire had 'allowed our camp to regain its momentum' and that 'we did what we needed to do tonight.' And I think that’s right. But just barely. I think they're in desperate shape. And I think they know it."

NOTE: Some people say the comments aren't working for them. I closed 'em and reopened 'em in the hopes it would help. I had a server outage earlier, and things are still a bit slow on my end, so that may be the problem; beats me. I hope they work now. They're obviously working for some people.

MORE: People want to know what I think. I pretty much agree with Atrios, actually, at least on how hard this stuff is to predict -- at this point in 1992 I thought Clinton was toast. That shows what my predictive ability is like.

With that said, here's one more: People are still talking (see the comments, and this Jeff Jarvis post) about a "brokered convention." Although it would be a political junkie's dream, it won't happen. This'll be settled in not much more than a month. And probably sooner.

Meanwhile, if you're already looking ahead to South Carolina, I've got some useful links over at GlennReynolds.com.

And comments are closed now. Sorry -- otherwise I'll forget and they'll fill up with crap when I'm not paying attention. Very interesting stuff, though! Sorry to those who had problems posting.

ERIC SCHEIE is still wondering about various reports of an Iraq / Al Qaeda connection.

LE MONDE IS NAMING NAMES (article here, Google translation here) of politicians who were paid off by Saddam. And it sounds as if the Iraqis may prosecute some of them. That could get interesting.

UPDATE: Here's a BBC story.

WONKETTE CLARIFIES her position regarding the credibility of MediaWhoresOnline:

Somewhere below Drudge and above a Ouija board. More politically motivated than either.

Ouch.

UPDATE: But hey, MWO has its defenders, too!

VIRGINIA POSTREL looks at the role of economics at the FDA. In the process, she argues a better argument for voting Republican than any the Republicans have advanced. . . .

MICKEY KAUS is busy with the New Hampshire primary now, and he's likely to stay busy with the followup tomorrow. (Prediction: One way or another, Chris Lehane will come off badly!)

But once that settles down, I hope he'll look at this story reporting that "The teen birth rate in Massachusetts has reached an all-time low." Could welfare reform be the reason? [Will John Kerry take credit? -- Ed. Shouldn't you be helping out Mickey? It's cold in New Hampshire! -- Ed.]

DAVE KOPEL points to some important legislation protecting privacy and civil rights that just passed without fanfare.

EVERYBODY IS PAYING ATTENTION TO POLITICS, but the bird flu epidemic is looking worrisome.

THE CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE LIED: People died.

An August 2002 report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said Iraq "almost certainly does have large numbers of chemical weapons and some biological weapons."

Okay, not many died, and far fewer than would have died if Saddam had stayed in power, but. . . .

So why is the CEIP changing its tune now?

THE WIRED PROFILE I mentioned earlier is now online here. I don't know why they made me a cartoon -- they sent a photographer to Knoxville who took pictures that, judging from the Polaroids, were very good. But heck, I've never been a cartoon before, though I'm not especially crazy about this one.

UPDATE: Reader Karl Bade emails:

I wouldn't consider it a cartoon, or even a caricature. More like a vectorized portrait. Very hip, very now. I can almost see you with an I-pod around your neck.

As long as it's not playing Ian Van Dahl.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING REPORT ON EMPLOYMENT, from the Joint Economic Committee. Some highlights:

* Job markets are strengthening. Initial claims have fallen
repeatedly and substantially over the last eight months to levels not
seen since before the recession.

* The terrorist attacks of 9/11 had a significant impact on
employment. Initial jobless claims spiked up to almost 500,000 in the
aftermath of the attacks.

* Labor markets began to weaken in 2000; initial claims began to
increase early in the year, growing from below 300,000 to around 350,000
per week.

Sounds like good news.

MATT WELCH challenges non-lefty bloggers to bring some balance to BlogAds. Hey, maybe I'll give it a try.

UPDATE: Frank J. emails: "Come on! Give in to peer pressure and add Blog Ads. I, your favorite political humorist, have Blog Ads, and I spend all the money on beer. It's great!"

Hmm. They must pay for a lot of beer, then. . . .

NICK SCHULZ has a new blog on sports and technology. Interestingly, there's a lot more overlap between those subjects than there used to be.

WIRED NEWS has a very nice profile on teen political blogger Stephen Yellin.

A TECHNO INTRODUCTION: A few days ago, a colleague asked me to recommend the five or so CDs he should buy to introduce him to techno. That's a surprisingly tough choice, but I'm ducking the question somewhat with this post, which will include more than five, coupled with some advice based on general preferences.

For classic "true" techno as opposed to the more diverse "electronica," you can't go wrong with Pieter K's Everything All the Time, which I just like a lot. Or -- for the truly classic -- my major fave Juan Atkins. (I like this Wax Trax Master Mix Collection a lot -- it not only has Atkins classics, but some other cool stuff, and it's probably a bit more accessible than this album.) I'm also a big fan of Juno Reactor: This collection is probably your best guide. Some people think that my Mobius Dick stuff sounds like Juno Reactor -- they're sort of right, I guess.

There's a lot of cool stuff in the "Chill" department. One of my absolute favorites here is Thievery Corporation's The Mirror Conspiracy, though you can't go wrong with their The Richest Man in Babylon either. (They even offer a couple of songs for free download at these links). The Supreme Beings of Leisure rule, too. Their eponymous first album is still my favorite, though the second, Divine Operating System is also good (and it comes with a free DVD!). At the moment, I'm also enjoying Blue Six's Beautiful Tomorrow (part of the excellent Naked Music collection from Astralwerks). Some people might find it a bit too mellow, though.

It's not supposed to be cool to like The Crystal Method, but I do, and especially for people used to listening to rock and roll, it's a good place to start. My favorite album of theirs is probably Vegas, though Tweekend is also great, and is worth the whole album for the very cool faux-Hammond organ part, recorded by Byron Wong on a Native Instruments B4 software synth that has somehow been gated to sound like a Hammond B3 with a loose cord that always crackles at just the perfect moments. (I don't own a B4, but I do own this cool emulation of the Prophet 5.)

If you're a longtime InstaPundit reader, you know that I like BT a lot, and his Movement in Still Life is probably at the top of the "albums I'd give people to get them interested" category. His Emotional Technology is just as good, really, but the absence of Kirsty Hawkshaw has to be a mark against it.

In the DVD world, I highly recommend the excellent techno-rave documentary Better Living Through Circuitry, which rules. And Underworld's live-concert video, Everything, Everything is probably the best of the genre where techno/electronica is concerned. (You can stream some of the tunes here).

Okay, this is somewhat non-responsive, as it's more than 5 CDs. But all the links go to pages where you can stream samples (or, in some cases, download whole songs) meaning that you can make up your own mind. And that's what it's all about, right?

DO PEOPLE STILL CARE ABOUT SPACE? Here's some evidence that they do:

Since the rover Spirit landed on Mars three weeks ago, 32 million people have visited the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Web site.

That's more than all the candidate websites put together, I'll bet.

CLAY RISEN writes in The New Republic that fears of outsourcing are "mostly baseless."

ISN'T THIS STORY going to make things a bit, er, embarrassing for Howard Dean if he tries to make an issue of the deficit?

TOM MAGUIRE WRITES that Kerry's South Carolina gaffe is nothing new.

NETWORKING NATION-STATES: Jim Bennett has an interesting article in The National Interest.

THE DAY BY DAY CARTOON below makes fun of GOP E-Strategist Larry Purpuro, for dissing weblogs. Purpuro's comments seem pretty out of touch to me, and about as strategically sound (though in a smaller setting) as Kerry's dissing of the South.

Kevin Aylward, however, thinks that there's method in Purpuro's madness: He's a media consultant, and blogs are competition.

UPDATE: Perhaps the GOP should hire Pejman Yousefzadeh, who actually has some useful thoughts on the subject of blogs and politics.

UP ALL NIGHT WITH A SICK KID. I'm staying home with her today, which means that blogging will continue if she doesn't get sicker. It may, however, show the results of sleep-deprivation, so keep that in mind as you read. . . .

January 26, 2004

SPEECHCODES.ORG is a website that tracks freedom of speech -- or the lack of it -- at colleges and universities around America. If you or your offspring are applying to colleges, it's a good resource to check before sending in an application -- or an acceptance.

IN THE MAIL: Got the February issue of Wired today, which has a profile of yours truly. It's nice to be called an "Internet rock star" by Wired, but I don't think it's really true -- or, if it is true, it won't be for long. In fact, although InstaPundit's traffic continues to climb and although I have no intention of quitting, I think that InstaPundit will get steadily less important in the grand scheme of things as the blogosphere grows. My slice of the pie is getting steadily bigger, but the pie is getting bigger faster.

I'm okay on that -- in fact, I think it's a good thing. InstaPundit's nice, and I enjoy it, but the blogosphere is more important than any blog, and I'm happy to see it growing, flourishing, and expanding.

JUST RECEIVED what looks to be a very cool book: Constitutional Law Stories, edited by Michael Dorf. Each chapter provides interesting factual background on a famous constitutional law case, along with some additional perspective. Volokh Conspiracy blogger David Bernstein writes the chapter on Lochner, which makes sense, as he's written a rather well-received book on the subject of pre-New Deal labor law.

JACOB T. LEVY:

The "Dated Dean, Married Kerry" buttons don't fully communicate the dynamic, not without some tweaking. After dating a fiery, passionate guy who now seems a little nuts, these voters are lovelessly marrying the nearest single guy who seems basically grown-up and stable-- someone who is boringly familiar but at least a known quantity. Maybe that will be enough to carry Kerry to the nomination. But ultimately I think it's the path to Bob Dole's electoral fate.

Does Kerry talk about himself in the third person?

UPDATE: Powerline offers more problems for Kerry.

ANOTHER UPDATE: So which one of these guys is Kerry? Though in a way, they're all "boringly familiar."

MIRANDA is still good law. That's not so surprising -- but that the decision is 9-0, and in a drug case, is heartening.

KEVIN SITES has interesting reports, and photos, from Iraq. And Rich Galen has another good post up, too.

JUSTIN KATZ SAYS THAT EVERYONE'S MISSING THE STORY where David Kay is concerned, and notes this Kay statement that hasn't gotten much attention:

I must say, I actually think what we learned during the inspections made Iraq a more dangerous place potentially than in fact we thought it was even before the war.

Read the whole thing. And read this Roger Simon post, too.

UPDATE: Read this, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Paul Miller:

Now, it looks increasingly likely that Tenet’s agency failed America again with a poor strategy of intelligence gathering and analysis toward Iraq. Tenet had a year-and-a-half to restructure his agency to avoid the failures that led to 9/11, and while the Iraq situation is different - the WMD issue was always just one piece of the argument, and a “better safe than sorry” stance required action even with what has been found by Kay’s team - the failures in intelligence it exposes are precisely the same: Lack of human infiltration into the enemy’s leadership and planning; and a failure by analysts to gather all the pieces and connect the dots.

A prediction: Much of the illegal oil money Saddam thought he was spending on weapons production is sitting in Swiss, Syrian, Jordanian, Saudi and other banks under the pseudonyms of various generals, scientists and Baath Party members. Some of them may well be tapping into those accounts now to fight the insurgency. Others are kicking back on the east shore of the Red Sea, confident they duped both Saddam and the U.S. CIA.

Meanwhile, Tenet remains director at CIA. Why?

Why, indeed?

I WONDER IF THEY'LL ASK HIM ABOUT THIS in South Carolina:

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is discounting notions that any Democratic candidate would have to appeal to Southern voters in order to win the presidency, calling such thinking a "mistake" during a speech at Dartmouth College. . . .

"Everybody always makes the mistake of looking South," Kerry said, in response to a question about winning the region. "Al Gore proved he could have been president of the United States without winning one Southern state, including his own."

Um, no. Al Gore proved that he couldn't win the United States without carrying one Southern state, including his own. (South Carolina political blogger Wyeth Ruthven, a Kerry supporter, thinks this is "damaging," and suggests that people will continue to harp on it for quite a while.)

And for those who are already bored with New Hampshire, I have a collection of South Carolina political links over at GlennReynolds.com. I also note that you can't blame candidates quite as much for gaffes like this, when you consider how they're living.

UPDATE: Republican Ramesh Ponnuru says bring it on!

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT:

Deming, an associated professor of geology, says his troubles began in March 2000 when he published a letter to the editor criticizing a female colleague's claim that all gun owners are potential murderers. He wrote that if her assertion is true, then one could argue that her “possession of an unregistered sexual organ made her a potential prostitute.”

The colleague filed sexual harassment charges against him that were eventually dropped.

Since then, he has written letters to local papers that were determined to be showing "contempt and resentment" toward the school. The letters were included in his personnel file in a situation he describes as “analogous to a professor stapling a student's political letters to his or her examinations.”

More evidence of how bogus sexual harassment claims are used to silence unwelcome opinions -- and of how thin the academic commitment to open debate often is, when those unwelcome opinions surface.

GIVING NEW MEANING TO THE TERM "COVERING THE NEWS:"

Just 48 hours before Lord Hutton delivers his verdict on the controversy surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly, the BBC has begun an advertising experiment that involves buying up all internet search terms relating to the inquiry.

Despite being one of the main players in the drama, anyone searching for "Hutton inquiry" or "Hutton report" on the UK's most popular search engine Google is automatically directed to a paid-for link to BBC Online's own news coverage of the inquiry.

No other news broadcaster or any newspaper has paid Google for this facility, leaving the corporation's move even more conspicuous.

As one of the chief "interested parties" in the Hutton inquiry into the apparent suicide of Dr Kelly, the move will strike many as worthy of comment, not least because the BBC's online news pages will not be the most obvious place to go for the most comprehensive coverage, which is bound to include painful criticism of the corporation.

Lame.

UPDATE: Several readers email to say that if the Beeb is doing this, it isn't working. They seem to be right -- when I googled "hutton inquiry" the first story that came up was the Guardian item quoted above! Hmm. Either The Guardian is wrong (no!), or the Beeb's actions haven't taken effect yet, or the Beeb pulled back when the story broke. We'll see. Reader Grahame Young emails:

BTW: I don't see any of the typical Google sponsored links (either at the top or on the right side). Did BBC/Google change something after this story? Can you buy "rank" from Google in the normal search results? Is it only serving "sponsored links" to UK residents (e.g. Google knows I'm Canadian when I search for "low air fares")?

Any feedback from the UK?

Seems to be the same for UK searchers, based on a couple of emails, anyway.

BRYAN PRESTON looks at what David Kay is saying -- and how it's being treated by the media, and by John Kerry.

BOB NOVAK thinks that "Edwards may pull a rabbit out of N.H." I noticed something along those lines the other day, though I'm not sure the polls really support it. Then again, the polls could be wrong.

MATTHEW HOY HAS A QUESTION FOR KERRY:

Sen. John Kerry again repeated his mantra that the United States went to war in Iraq with an "illegitimate coalition." Kerry has also used the term "fraudulent" to describe the 34 nations that have sent troops to Iraq, including Great Britain, Australia and Poland.

Someone, anyone, please get Kerry on the record of what impact his description of Great Britain, Australia, Poland, et. al., will have on the relationship between the U.S. and these countries should he become president. . . .

Kerry should be forced to be specific about his comments. Kerry wanted France, at the least, Germany and Russia to be part of the coalition. Say that. Of course, it diminishes the impact of the charge (34 nations vs. three), and might cause it to disappear from the stump speech.

Good.

But why isn't anyone in the media asking this question?

Beats me. Do they think that the absence of France makes a coalition "fraudulent?"

FREE SATELLITE TV: "A hit in a freed Iraq." Hey, it would be a hit here, too.

ALPHECCA'S weekly survey of media bias concerning guns is up.

So is this week's Carnival of the Capitalists, a collection of business- and economics-related blog posts. Enjoy! [We've got guns and money -- all we need is lawyers! -- Ed. What am I, a potted plant? But okay, don't miss Howard Bashman's roundup of legal news from Sunday's papers.]

MORE FROM DAVID KAY:

The former leader of the U.S. hunt for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction said Sunday that intelligence agencies owe the president and the public an explanation for the failure to find large stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons after the U.S.-led war.

It was obvious after 9/11 that a lot of heads needed to roll, at the CIA and elsewhere. They didn't. They still need to. On the other hand, it seems clear that pretty much every intelligence agency in the world thought that Saddam had stockpiles of WMD. But aren't our guys supposed to be better?

JAMES KIRCHICK offers pictures and reporting from New Hampshire. And yes, Chris Matthews was having a bad hair day. . . .

CATHY SEIPP'S monthly Maureen Dowd dissection is up. "I actually found 'The Argyle General' her least objectionable column in months. Wesley Clark’s plaids, Jimmy Carter’s cardigans, Michael Dukakis’s brown suede jacket...if Dowd wants to take us on a tour of candidates’ closets past and present, fine. At least she’s not being silly about Iraq." Ouch.

JOHN KERRY IN 1971, courtesy of Doonesbury.

JOHN HAWKINS has an interview with David Frum posted. Excerpt:

The last thing America is, is an empire. My counter example is; we very badly needed and expected to have Turkish support in the war on Iraq. The Turks didn't give it and that put a spanner in some of our planning. Now, imagine if this were the Romans. Imagine if the emperor Trajan were planning an operation in Mesopotamia and the Cappadocians told him he couldn't use their territory. He would have lined the highways with crucified Cappadocians. That's what empires do, they do not say, "Oh, we'll respect what your parliament says and come from another direction".

Indeed.

January 25, 2004

USA TODAY: "Clark's Democratic presidential bid could be in serious trouble."

DOH! I meant to post on this earlier, but you can listen to the Blogging of the President radio show live right now at that link. At the moment, Ed Cone is comparing Howard Dean to WebVan. Meanwhile, on John Edwards, Cone observes: "If you meet him in person, you want to go home with him."

Er, I like Edwards, but not, you know, that way.

UPDATE: Listened to the whole (remaining) thing, as I tried to finish up an article with a Tuesday deadline. Not bad, with a number of useful insights and some amusing fencing between Sullivan and Atrios (Sullivan asked Atrios when he'd last criticized someone on the Left; Atrios couldn't remember). Frank Rich was engaging, and said he reads a lot of blogs. Jeff Jarvis offered a lot of first-class commentary. Chris Lydon did an excellent job hosting, though his insistence (which was also present in an interview he did with me a while back) that the New York Times was staunchly pro-war was as incomprehensible to me this time around as it was before. Still, quite a good program.

Daniel Drezner listened, and has more comments.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Sullivan is asking Atrios for examples, now.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's someone who noticed Lydon's earlier comment on the NYT's alleged pro-war bias.

COOL PICTURES FROM MARS, via the Opportunity rover.

MORE EVIDENCE that the British public is taking a tougher line on crime than the British government.

JACK BALKIN has two interesting posts: One on "What I learned about blogging in a year," and one on why the New York Times is wrong about the effect of the Internet on politics. Read 'em both.

THE DETROIT NEWS is advertising for bloggers.

IT'S WORKING:

Joyful Iraqi pilgrims arriving in Saudi Arabia on Sunday said they would thank God for ending the rule of Saddam Hussein in prayers during haj pilgrimage but other Arabs were thinking of the U.S. occupation. . . .

"I and many people are thankful toward the United States because they were able to release us and we will definitely never forget. I don't think any Muslim can forget this," he said, standing by Kurdish and Iraqi flags beside the Iraqi pilgrims.

Somebody tell Howard Dean.

I'VE BEEN SAYING FOR A LONG TIME that Bush is vulnerable in 2004, regardless of how confident the GOP seems to feel. (Here's an old post on that, but just enter the words bush and vulnerable in the search window to see a lot more). Now Tacitus is weighing in. Even this, rather optimistic charting shows Bush trending downward. I think that's because the big-spending, "compassionate conservative" stuff is alienating more conservatives and libertarians than it is winning over undecideds.

Projecting the 2004 elections based on today's polls is a fool's game -- you'd think that Iowa would have taught people how volatile polls are -- but that doesn't mean that Bush's people should be overly confident. And as for those Bush/Churchill analogies, remember what happened to Churchill the minute people felt safe.

UPDATE: Reader Carole Newton sends this, which is typical of quite a few emails that I got in response to this post:

Bush, Rove et al thought that to keep the GOP conservatives happy, all they had to do was cut taxes and support and pass a bill against "partial-birth" abortions. Wrong. With the outlandish spending by a GOP-controlled Congress, the stupid and costly prescription drug bill, the over-reaching No Child Left Behind Education Act and the immigration proposal (no matter how they try to spin it, their proposal is amnesty for illegal aliens), they have lost a very considerable number of Republican voters like me.

I have voted Republican all my voting life (I am 60 years old) and I can tell you emphatically that I will not be voting at all for the first time. I certainly will never vote for a Democrat and Bush has morphed into a Democrat as far as I am concerned. The Powers-That-Be in the Republican Party know this about their "base" but are ignoring it, much to the peril of George W. Bush in November 2004.

A non-trivial number of people are saying this. Most of 'em will probably wind up holding their nose and voting for Bush in November. But not all.

MORE: Another reader writes:

As a Republican, I welcome all hard core conservatives who are so disgustedto not vote for Bush. And if he loses, I also welcome them to recuse themselves TOTALLY from the political discussion over the next 4 years, especially when Pres. Kerry gets to nominate 1 or more members of the SCOTUS. Because if that happens, they have themselves to blame, nobody else.

They better learn the lesson that the Nader Democrats learned last election-half a loaf is better than none. Time for them to get their priorities straight. The potential SCOTUS openings should trump all other considerations for them. If they want to mount pressure, they're best off doing it in the Senate, where a key vote can make a crucial difference...

I expect we'll hear this debate for several months.

STILL MORE: Reader Roscoe Shrewsbury emails: "You should have written, 'It's the immigration, stupid'."

Hmm. Well, maybe. That's not what my email suggests, but I'm sure it's not a scientific sampling. I haven't seen any polls on that. Has anyone?

MORE YET: Bill Peschel sends this link to a poll suggesting that immigration isn't a big issue with very many voters.

MUSHARRAF AT DAVOS: Some interesting observations.

UPDATE: Speaking of Davos, all I can say is bravo for Bill Clinton, for reminding people there that the war on terror isn't some sort of Bush fantasy, much as they might like to believe that:

And you may be interested to know that any time he referred to the Bush administration, or alluded to it, it was in a complimentary way. He told this crowd — again, a crowd that could use hearing it, especially from this source — that much of what we're doing, successfully, in the War on Terror never makes the newspapers. For example, "cells are rolled up," which you never hear about. The administration has achieved "cooperation with other governments" that is not "inherently sensational" but "has saved a lot of people's lives." You never hear about this bomb found in this container on this cargo ship destined for this port — and "I could give you 50 other examples."

Good for him. Add this to his earlier comments on WMD, and it's a major blow to the loonier sections of the anti-war crowd.

DOH! The Clinton link above was broken. Sorry. Fixed now.

MICKEY KAUS explains why he can't stand John Kerry.

DONALD SENSING weighs in on the Wesley Clark / Michael Moore claims that Bush was a "deserter" and has some very harsh words:

Three observations here. First, Jennings was quite correct to point out that the accusation of George W. Bush's presumed absences is "a reckless charge not supported by the facts."

Second, Clark, a retired four-star general, admits he is entirely unconcerned that an ideologue celebrity has made this most serious, unfounded charge against the commander in chief. . . .

Third, practically no civilian actually knows what desertion really is.

He's pretty hard on Mark Kleiman, too.

UPDATE: Bad link before. Fixed now. Sorry.

HERE'S SOMETHING FROM DAVID KAY that hasn't gotten as much attention as other things he's said:

David Kay, the former head of the coalition's hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, yesterday claimed that part of Saddam Hussein's secret weapons programme was hidden in Syria.

In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Dr Kay, who last week resigned as head of the Iraq Survey Group, said that he had uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year's war to overthrow Saddam.

"We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons," he said. "But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved."

Dr Kay's comments will intensify pressure on President Bashar Assad to clarify the extent of his co-operation with Saddam's regime and details of Syria's WMD programme. Mr Assad has said that Syria was entitled to defend itself by acquiring its own biological and chemical weapons arsenal.

Hmm. We've been hearing those reports from various sources of uncertain reliability (like Debka) since the war. But this is a bit more significant. Is Syria next?

UPDATE: Michael Ubaldi emails: "You know, when I read the Kay report it was a brief in Reuters and the first thought I had was, 'Okay, what did Kay say that they didn't report?' Trouble is, the abbreviated version has had two days to sink in." Yeah, you'd almost think somebody wants it that way.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More on this here, from Blaster's Blog.

I WONDER WHAT THIS was all about?

A security guard at a BASF Corp. chemical plant was shot in the shoulder after he approached a suspicious truck and talked to a man who said he had been taking pictures, authorities said.

The guard's name was not released, but Freeport police said he was doing well at a Brazosport hospital following the Friday night shooting.

The guard told police the gunman was a man of Middle Eastern descent with bushy hair and a mustache. The man was driving a white pickup with tinted windows and a black stripe.

Probably not terrorist-related, but . . . .

SAMIZDATA has received an upgrade.