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March 17, 2004

I'M ON TRAVEL FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS and unlikely to be blogging unless something really big (e.g., alien invasion, atomic bombings, etc.) happens. Be sure to visit the many fine bloggers listed to the left in my absence. I'm taking with me an advance copy of Michael Barone's forthcoming-in-May book, Hard America, Soft America, which looks to be very interesting.

This also means I won't be checking email, so think long and hard before sending any while I'm gone -- it probably won't be read.

I'll have a column up at TechCentralStation this morning. And Chris Muir's Day by Day -- which really deserves a big syndication deal -- will have fresh cartoons. Enjoy, and see you soon!

March 16, 2004

WOOHOO! My brother's book, Africa in World History, is reportedly selling like hotcakes on the textbook market.

MORE ON EVENTS IN SYRIA AND IRAN, from Eye on the World. (Via Oxblog, which as usual has lots of interesting stuff).

UPDATE: Photos and reports here.

HERE'S A REPORT that the Socialists in Spain were ahead even before the 3/11 attacks. Hmm. I'd like to believe that.

THE ECONOMIST: "Anxiety is turning to paranoia about jobs. Take a deep breath: most Americans have rarely had it better."

UPDATE: Read this, too.

MY EARLIER POST about lawnmowers made me think about how I've underestimated Amazon. I loved them as a bookseller, but when they branched out into cookware, electronics, and even things like clothing and lawn furniture, I was deeply skeptical. But it's obvious that they're pulling this off. I'm not sure I'd actually buy a lawnmower from Amazon -- though I might -- but obviously people do. I guess this is why I'm not a dot-com gazillionaire.

UPDATE: James Lileks:

Our Hero Insty has been singing the praises of Amazonís non book/CD/DVD aspects, and I have to agree. My wife and I came upon a toaster whose aspect and features pleased us greatly, but yea it was somewhat pricy for a bread-burner. I looked it up on Amazon the other day: two-thirds the price. I bought it. This is like going to the bookstore to buy a hammer. But hey: if itís a good hammer, and itís cheap, why not?

I thought he was joking when he mentioned milk -- but I looked and, well, there it is!

HERE'S MORE ON THE KASS COUNCIL and its personnel changes. There's also more background here, here, here, here, and here.

The big news, however, is this piece in the New England Journal of Medicine by former Kass Council member Elizabeth Blackburn, entitled Bioethics and the Political Distortion of Biomedical Science. Nothing new here, but Blackburn casts the council in a rather unfavorable light. So far, I have to say, Kass's response to his critics has been unimpressive. More on that here.

I could be wrong, but this seems like a serious liability for the Bush Administration. I suspect that the damage would be worse if the terrorism and election news of the last couple of weeks hadn't kept it off center stage.

JEFFERSON MORLEY SURVEYS THE EUROPEAN PRESS for the Washington Post and discovers that some realism is beginning to appear:

"Only a dreamer would believe that Germany will not be attacked," say the editors of Bild, Germany's best-selling tabloid. "Islamic terrorists are waging a war against the West, not just against individual countries."

Sociologist Emilio Lamo de Espinosa says Europeans have been dreaming. Writing in Le Monde (in French), Lamo says Europeans have thought they would be spared because they haven't supported the Bush administration's policies.

"When the Americans declared war on terrorism, many of us thought they exaggerated. Many thought terrorism was not likely to occur on our premises, [inhabited by] peaceful and civilized Europeans who speak no evil of anybody, who dialogue, who are the first [to] send assistance and offer cooperation. We are pacifists, they are warmongers. . . . . Don't we defend the Palestinians? Are we not pro-Arab and anti-Israeli?"

"Can we dialogue with those who desire only our death and nothing but our death?" Lamo asks. "Dialogue about what? The manner in which we will be assassinated?"

Yes. Like Auric Goldfinger, they don't want us to talk. They want us to die:

Hussein Massawi, former leader of Hezbollah, summed it up very pithily: "We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you."

You have to give them this much: they're not hiding the ball here. It's nice to see that some people are starting to catch on. Morley wonders whether Al Qaeda will try to influence the American elections with an attack. I don't think such an attack would have the same result as the Madrid blasts. Neither does Virginia Postrel, but she notes that many Europeans think that a pre-election attack would lead to a Bush defeat.

Europeans don't understand America very well, I guess. Unfortunately, neither does Al Qaeda, by all appearances -- though apparently it does understand Europeans.

UPDATE: This article by Fareed Zakaria is worth reading, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis has thoughts.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The CJR campaign blog notes a misleading story about terror and the election. Guess who it makes look bad. . .?

MORE: Hook, line, and sinker. Plus: War, dishonor, or both?

And read this, too.

MORE STILL: Richard Brookhiser: "Death and destruction pose the question "Whither Europe?" so much more forcefully than gray arguments over the European Union constitution, or even lively arguments over Franco/Anglo/American jockeying in the Security Council."

He also observes:

The United States cannot do everything. Even things we could do, we might not do for the sake of prudence. But too many lives are at stake. Our goal should be to transform one malignant regimeóby pushing it over, if necessaryóevery two years.

Who's next?

MILITARY BLOGGER BOB ZANGAS was killed in Iraq last week. Here's his final entry, with photos. I won't excerpt it. You can leave your condolences here, as many others have already.

Why don't I say more? Because his blog entry, and the condolence messages, say more than I ever could, and it would be presumptuous of me to try.

UPDATE: Here's a new military blogger in Iraq, and his reactions.

"FBI ADDS TO WIRETAP WISHLIST:" Like pretty much the whole "homeland security" operation, this has more to do with bureaucratic wishlists than actual security. The big tipoff is that the DEA is behind this.

ANTI-WAR FOR OIL: Kenneth Timmerman reports:

MANY Americans are convinced even today that the war in Iraq was all about oil. And they're right - but oil was the key for French President Jacques Chirac, not for the United States.

In documents I obtained during an investigation of the French relationship to Saddam Hussein, the French interest in maintaining Saddam Hussein in power was spelled out in excruciating detail. The price tag: close to $100 billion. That was what French oil companies stood to profit in the first seven years of their exclusive oil arrangements - had Saddam remained in power.

Saddam's defenders: A coalition of the bribed and the bitter? (Via Stephen Green).

MORE REPORTS OF UNREST FROM IRAN:

I am listening to KRSI (Radio Sedaye Iran) right now. There are many Iranians calling (from Tehran, and Gorgan, etc.).

All reports indicate that almost every neighborhood in Tehran is on fire. People are throwing home-made bombs, Molotov cocktails, etc. into the homes of mullahs, and burning pictures of Khamenei in complete defiance of his recent edict to mourn during the month of Muharram.

Let's hope it's true. May the mullahs' fall be fast and hard.

UPDATE: On the other hand, things look pretty quiet through these Tehran webcams for whatever that's worth. Tehran's a big place. (And for all I know these are images of last week, though I doubt it).

I DON'T THINK THAT HORSERACE POLLS MEAN A LOT this time of year, but Mickey Kaus notes some spin that's more interesting than the underlying numbers. Captain Ed has more comments.

I think that the crucial swing voters are nowhere near making up their minds, making polls unimportant -- but how they're played in the press certainly shows who has made up their minds. . . .

DANIEL DREZNER ROUNDS UP commentary on the Spanish elections. Read this useful observation, too.

VIA ROMENESKO WE LEARN: "Democrats want TV network execs to immediately warn stations not to use the Bush administration's mock news videos featuring actors posing as journalists praising the benefits of the new Medicare law."

I guess if actual journalists stuck to journalism, and didn't "praise the benefits" of laws on a regular basis, these ads wouldn't work. The real problem isn't that people issue video news releases, it's that it's hard to tell the real news from a video news release. But when the networks have been using "actors posing as journalists" for years, it's hard to get much traction with complaints like this one.

SOME GENERALLY POSITIVE NEWS about the Iraqi economy. One good thing about Saddam's policy of inept kleptocracy is that it makes it easy to improve!

INTERESTING GOINGS-ON IN IRAN: I wish there were more information available, from more sources. Here's what I can find, though it's pretty low-profile:

A report from Radio Free Europe on Kurdish uprisings in Syria and Iran:

Recent Kurdish riots in Syria and demonstrations in Iran are raising concerns that Kurdish minorities could follow the lead of Iraqi Kurds in pursuing greater independence and recognition.

My only concern is that it won't succeed. I hope we're supporting them. Syria and Iran have been sending weapons, money and fighters into Iraq, so we ought to return the favor in spades. Then there's this:

TEHRAN, Mar 15 (Reuters) Three days of unrest sparked by the revision of results in February's parliamentary elections have left dozens of people injured in a town on Iran's Caspian coast, local media reported today.

The Etemad daily newspaper said 68 people had been hurt, six seriously, during clashes with police.

Protests began in the town of Fereydounkenar on Friday after the hardline Guardian Council, an oversight body with sweeping powers, annulled the votes cast in three ballot boxes, handing victory to the incumbent conservative member of parliament.

Protesters set fire to cars and attacked buildings including the home of the town's Friday Prayer leader, the ISNA students' news agency said.

I suspect that these stories are sanitized. On the other hand, the Syrian and Iranian exile websites may be taking an overly hopeful view of how extensive the unrest is. It's just really hard to know.

UPDATE: More here.

MORAL NIHILISM: Andrew Sullivan is Fisking a Guardian editorial on the Spanish elections, and observes:

In Europe, there are no bad guys, even those who deliberately murdered almost 200 innocents and threaten to murder countless more. Ask yourself: If the Guardian cannot call these people "bad guys," then who qualifies? And if the leaders of democratic societies cannot qualify in this context as "good guys," then who qualifies? What we have here is complete moral nihilism in the face of unspeakable violence.

It's not complete moral nihilism, alas. It's not as if they show the same unwillingness to pass judgment where American actions are concerned.

SPINSANITY NOTES MORE BOGUS CLAIMS about the White House's position on whether Saddam posed an "imminent threat."

Bush administration statements from before the Iraq war continue to be misconstrued by journalists and liberal critics attempting to make it appear that the White House portrayed Iraq as an "imminent" threat.

Yes.

UPDATE: Reader Joseph Hrutka emails:

Its amazing how far the Iraq debate has been shaped by a press that seems unwilling to give any positive spin to the whole project. If I recall correctly, the administration had 3 main reasons for going into Iraq. The WMD angle was put into play because Iraq was not cooperating with UN inspectors and refused to give full disclosure. As a result, America had no choice but to asssume that something was wrong. This has been spun into the idea that Bush based the war on actual knowledge of WMDs. Whose fault is this, the press for trying to spin negative or Bush for failing to push back?

Both. It's also interesting that before the war people were complaining that Bush was attacking too soon, when even he admitted that an attack wasn't imminent -- but now the same people are complaining that "Bush fooled us into thinking it was imminent!"

I think that people -- like, say, Kerry -- who supported the war last year but want to criticize Bush on it now have to claim that they were fooled.

Of course, that translates into: "Support me -- I'm gullible!" Which doesn't sound like much of a slogan.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here, charging the Kerry Campaign Blog with doctoring quotes to misrepresent the Bush Administration's positions.

IT'S TURNING INTO A LOVELY SPRING DAY, but I'm busy enough today that I'm not likely to see any more than can be seen out my office window, alas. So in lieu of fresh pics from today, here's one from about this time last year. That's looking at the patio in front of the Law School from the sidewalk. (Here, also from the archives, is another angle on the same location).

If it's nice where you are, don't follow my example -- try to get out and enjoy it. Life's short.

TIM ROBBINS AND LYNDON LAROUCHE: Terry Teachout notices a connection.

IS JOHN KERRY being too defensive?

OF COURSE, IT WAS AN HONOR JUST TO BE NOMINATED, but InstaPundit has won the 2004 "Bloggie" Award in the category of "Best Weblog About Politics." Thanks!

DAVID BERNSTEIN on the Kerry "foreign leaders" flap: "Even if the Globe reporter's correction is on the money, it's no wonder Kerry never denied the foreign leaders quote--it's exactly what he meant. " Yes, that seems plain from context. As Michael Demmons points out, "Why would Kerry be talking about 'Americans Abroad' if he wasn't in fact, talking about his 'endorsements' from Foreign Leaders?"

It's impossible to read that passage any other way. But the backtracking on this illustrates how far the press is willing to go to save Kerry from himself. Scroll down or click here for more.

UPDATE: Heh.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here: "Kerry knows the original story was false, and can be shown to be false."

RICH, BLOGGY GOODNESS: This week's Carnival of the Vanities is up, full of posts from all sorts of bloggers you may not have visited before. Check them out -- you may find someone you'd like to visit again!

CHEAP BEER, EXPENSIVE BOTTLES: Jeff Jarvis has some thoughts in response to my MSNBC item on the media. He's right, to a degree -- though I believe that the cost-and-quality cuts started before the competition from new media really kicked in.

MICKEY KAUS: "Who needs a VNR when you've got the NYT?"

HERE'S AN INTERESTING ABC POLL OF IRAQIS:

A year after the bombs began to fall, Iraqis express ambivalence about the U.S.-led invasion of their country, but not about its effect: Most say their lives are going well and have improved since before the war, and expectations for the future are very high.

Worries exist ó locally about joblessness, nationally about security ó boosting desires for a "single strong leader," at least in the short term. Yet the first media-sponsored national public opinion poll in Iraq also finds a strikingly optimistic people, expressing growing interest in politics, broad rejection of political violence, rising trust in the Iraqi police and army and preference for an inclusive and democratic government. . . .

On a personal level, seven in 10 Iraqis say things overall are going well for them ó a result that might surprise outsiders imagining the worst of life in Iraq today. Fifty-six percent say their lives are better now than before the war, compared with 19 percent who say things are worse (23 percent, the same). And the level of personal optimism is extraordinary: Seventy-one percent expect their lives to improve over the next year. . . .

Iraqis divide in their rating of the local security situation now, but strikingly, 54 percent say security where they live is better now than it was before the war.

Read the whole thing. Doesn't sound like the "huge disaster" that Spain's new Socialist Prime Minister, Jose Zapatero, calls it.

Begging to Differ has more thoughts, and points out, correctly, that it's not all good news. No, it's just a lot better news than you'd think based on, er, the news.

UPDATE: More here. And Jeff Jarvis has some observations.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This Michael Barone column is worth reading, too.

March 15, 2004

THE MOST INFLUENTIAL REPORTERS AND BLOGGERS ON THE WEB? I'm skeptical, but what the hell.

WHY THE NEWS MEDIA ARE LIKE CHEAP BEER: All is explained, over at GlennReynolds.com.

UPDATE: Er, you should bear in mind that I like cheap beer. As long as it's good cheap beer.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails: "I guess that makes blogs the micro-breweries of the media biz." I like that -- idiosyncratic, yet flavorful!

I DON'T BELIEVE THIS BACKTRACK by Boston Globe reporter Patrick Healy on the Kerry "Foreign Leaders" story:

"Listening to the audio recorder now, in the quiet of my house, I hear 'more leaders' and I am certain that 'more leaders' is what Senator Kerry said."

But if that's true, how do you explain this Kerry statement:

Kerry declined to name any leaders who have voiced support for his candidacy, but said it's clear to even casual observers of foreign policy issues that this country's standing has sagged internationally.

"I'm not going to betray a private conversation with anybody," he said Sunday. "I have heard from people, foreign leaders elsewhere in the world who don't appreciate the Bush administration and would love to see a change in the leadership of the United States."

Pressed on the campaign trail and by reporters to name the leaders, Kerry declined, although he said they were U.S. allies.

"I'm talking about people who were our friends nine months ago," said Kerry. "I'm talking about people who ought to be on our side in Iraq (news - web sites) and aren't because this administration has pushed them away."

(Emphasis added.) But Kerry wasn't talking about foreign leaders? Something sure sounds funny here.

UPDATE: Then there's this story, courtesy of Henry Hanks:

The Bush administration cast doubts on John Kerry's credibility Monday, strongly suggesting that the presumptive Democratic nominee lied when he said some foreign leaders privately backed his presidential bid. Kerry denied the White House's assertion, saying "I stand by my statement."

"I'm not making anything up at all," Kerry told The Associated Press. "They're just trying to change the subject.

(Emphasis added.) Looks like he's talking about foreign leaders to me. What's Healy about here?

MORE: Fritz Schranck is reminded of 1968.

And here's more:

"If Senator Kerry is going to say he has support from foreign leaders, then he needs to be straightforward with the American people and say who it is that he has spoken with and who it is that supports him," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters on Monday.

If not, the spokesman added, "Then the only alternative is that he is making it up to attack the president of the United States."

Kerry refused on Sunday to name names. "No leader would obviously share a conversation if I started listing them," Kerry told reporters.

If Kerry hadn't said "foreign leaders," wouldn't he just be saying "Er, I said 'more leaders,' you know, not 'foreign leaders'?" I find Healy's claim very hard to understand.

Hugh Hewitt has some thoughts on why this issue is so damaging for Kerry.

FRANCE IS JOINING WITH CHINA in an effort to intimidate Taiwan:

China and France will hold rare joint naval exercises off the mainland's eastern coast on Tuesday, just four days before Beijing's rival, Taiwan, holds presidential elections.

China's official Xinhua news agency made no link between the exercises off Qingdao -- about 780 miles from Taiwan's northernmost point -- and the election.

But the show of military strength and solidarity signaled China's desire to isolate the self-governing island before the vote and its first-ever referendum, which Beijing views as a provocative step toward independence.

Don McArthur observes: "Either the world is insane, the French are insane, or I've gone insane . . . the French are joining the Chinese Communists in an attempt to intimidate a Democracy?!?!"

There's apparently no limit to what the French are willing to do in order to feel important on the world stage. That's a form of insanity, I guess, though I suppose it's possible that these exercises were entered into without thought of the Taiwanese elections, at least on the part of the French.

Of course, it's unclear how intimidated the Taiwanese will be by the French navy. I wonder if the Charles De Gaulle will be there. . . . Heh.

UPDATE: Reader Kelion Kasler emails:

Don't the French-Chinese Naval Exercises once and for all put the lie to John Kerry's implicit assertion that the French are "people who were our friends nine months ago" and are "people who ought to be on our side in Iraq and aren't because this administration has pushed them away"? This is getting ridiculous.

Indeed it is.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.

THE NATIONAL DEBATE has won its battle with The New York Times. The announcement appears on Public Editor Daniel Okrent's page; I don't know if he had a hand in it (though I suspect he may have) but I'm very happy to see the Times do the right thing.

The Times' lawyers are now happy with a disclaimer on the parody page. That's as it should be, and the example to other lawyers who have issues with bloggers (and most other folks) is that it's better to start with a reasonable request than to proceed with threats and bluster from the get-go. Those almost inevitably make you look bad when they're published.

MARK STEYN WRITES that the death of Europe is getting closer. I hope he's wrong, but I was pessimistic about Europe before 9/11, and subsequent events haven't done a whole lot to inspire confidence.

"ANOTHER HAMA" in Syria?

EARLIER, I mentioned Colin Powell's spanking of John Kerry for his refusal to name the unnamed foreign leaders who support him. But I missed this spanking over Libya:

WALLACE: Senator Kerry has also suggested that the Bush administration held up the agreement with Libya for it to give up its nuclear weapons program to help in the president's reelection.

This is what Senator Kerry had to say, and you can see it on the screen: "Gadhafi's been trying to get back into the mainstream for several years now. There's evidence that we could've had that deal some time ago."

POWELL: It's absurd. I don't know what Senator Kerry's talking about. It's just absurd. That took time to bring that deal together. And I've been following it very, very closely for a number of months. And when finally the United States and the United Kingdom negotiators got a deal with Libya, we acted on that deal and we announced that deal. It was not held up for any campaign or political purpose.

WALLACE: You seem offended by it.

POWELL: Well, it is offensive because it's a political charge in a political year. And I expect that we will be hearing and seeing many more charges and many more such video clips. But I don't know what basis Senator Kerry is using to make such a statement. I mean, what is his evidence for this, other than an assertion on his part? It's not accurate.

Ouch.

"MORE THAN SIXTY PEOPLE" protested the war, and to CNN that's news. (It's currently at the top of their main page.)

I wonder how many people would have to march in favor of the war to get this kind of notice? 60,000? Apparently 4,000 wasn't enough.

UPDATE: Roger Simon notes that while CNN is reporting that protest, it's missing these. Eason Jordan, call your office! Oh, wait. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Darren Brewer emails: "The CNN headline now says 'more than 100 people.' Of course. that makes ALL the difference."

So, um, where'd the extra ones come from?

MORE: "Countless Dozens Protest CNN Coverage of Iraq." Heh. Where are the cameras?

STILL MORE: Tim Blair: "The report, incidentally, contains around six times as many words as there were protesters."

CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL LOCKYER: Ventriloquist dummy for the MPAA? Sure looks that way:

"We do not wish to make any comment at this time on any document that the office of the attorney general may or may not be developing," said Tom Dressler, spokesperson for Bill Lockyer in Sacramento. "But we remain concerned about the potential dangers posed to the public by peer-to-peer file-sharing technology."

However, the metadata associated with the Microsoft Word document indicates it was either drafted or reviewed by a senior vice president of the Motion Picture Association of America. According to this metadata (automatically generated by the Word application), the document's author or editor is "stevensonv." (The metadata of a document is viewable through the File menu under Properties.)

Sources tell Wired News that the draft letter's authorship is attributed to Vans Stevenson, the MPAA's senior vice president for state legislative affairs.

Maybe Lockyer's just distributing a pirated copy. . . .

THE PARTY OF YOUTH? According to this ABC poll, 12-17 year olds favor Bush over Kerry 47-31. (Via BoiFromTroy). More support for the notion that the Left is losing its teen spirit, I guess.

UPDATE: Reader Erik Fortune points out this NPR commentary on the staleness of Vietnam and the importance of the war on terror. It's worth a listen.

LOTS OF BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS BLOGGING, over at this week's Carnival of the Capitalists.

IS OUTSOURCING REALLY A NON-ISSUE? Daniel Drezner gathers the evidence.

MY COLLEAGUE JOAN HEMINWAY, whose exquisitely timed law review article entitled Save Martha Stewart? was mentioned here earlier, has been getting a lot of attention. Here she is in the Boston Globe, (and again here) and she's been on the radio, etc., a lot too. She's even been quoted alongside Stephen Bainbridge, and you can't get much more famous than that. At least, not without a blog of your own.

JACOB T. LEVY says that the negative take on the Spanish elections is all wrong: "[W]ithdrawing peacekeeping troops from Iraq just isn't such an out-of-bounds policy. A party that proposed to withdraw from Andalusia and hand it over to bin Laden for the restoration of the Caliphate would be something else entirely; that's nothing at all like what's going on in the real world."

UPDATE: Bryan Preston says that Levy is missing the context here. See also Steven Den Beste's uncharacteristically terse comment.

ROBERT POLLOCK:

A year ago John Kerry described the nations that would liberate Iraq as a "coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted." It turns out that may be a better description of his own antiwar camp. From Jacques Chirac's and Vladimir Putin's political cronies to Tony Blair's own Labour Party, many of the most vocal opponents of enforcing U.N. resolutions turn out to have been on the take.

Read the whole thing.

MORE BLOG BLOWBACK FOR THE TIMES -- Robert Cox of The National Debate emails that he will be on Tony Snow's radio show talking about their efforts in a few minutes. You can listen online here.

UPDATE: It's on now -- Snow just welcomed InstaPundit readers, suggesting that someone in his office reads blogs -- and he and Robert Cox are happily repeating New York Times quotes about the importance of press freedom and suggesting that they "get the legal department together with the editorial board." They're also noting that the page is being mirrored all over the place, and likening efforts to pick on bloggers to trying to squash a handful of mercury.

IT'S NOT JUST PEOPLE AT TOWN MEETINGS WHO ARE CHALLENGING KERRY TO BACK UP HIS CLAIM about foreign leaders preferring him to Bush:

BETHLEHEM, Pa., March 14 -- Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) ran into some tough questioning Sunday -- from, among others, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell -- about his assertion last week that he had met with foreign leaders who support his candidacy over President Bush.

Powell, who rarely makes overtly partisan comments, challenged Kerry to name one such official.

"I don't know what foreign leaders Senator Kerry is talking about," Powell said on "Fox News Sunday." "It's an easy charge, an easy assertion to make. But if he feels it is that important an assertion to make, he ought to list some names. If he can't list names, then perhaps he should find something else to talk about."

The story seems to have legs. Here's an interesting tidbit from the Los Angeles Times report:

"Were they people like the president of North Korea?" Cedric Brown, 52, shouted at Kerry during an eight-minute exchange Sunday afternoon. "I need to know that."

Ouch. If Kerry doesn't want to talk about this, why did he bring it up in the first place? I've got more thoughts on Kerry's temperament over at GlennReynolds.com.

WINDS OF CHANGE has its regular war news roundup posted.

UPDATE: Rich Galen has posted another report from Iraq, too.

NICE ARTICLE ON BLOGADS in The Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, it's pay-only. Jeff Jarvis has an excerpt. But here's my favorite quote, from a guy who sold a lot of CDs via blogads:

"I don't think the bloggers realized how much these ads are worth," he says. "Next year it will be much more expensive."

Let's hope!

REVOLT IN SYRIA? The Free Arab Forum has interesting pictures of an what was being called a "soccer riot" earlier but is now being termed an uprising. (An emailer from the Free Arab Forum says, "sources tell us nearly 250 are dead and 10,000 Syrian soldiers moved from Damascus. This is big.") Strangely, the UN human rights committee has yet to condemn the massacres.

JEFF JACOBY ON EUROPE:

What the world should already know but so often forgets is that Jews are the canary in the coal mine of civilization. Anti-Semitism is like cancer; unchecked, it can metastasize and sicken the entire body. When civilized nations fail to rise up against the Jew-haters in their midst, it is often just a matter of time before the Jew-haters in their midst rise up against them.

Read the whole thing. (Via Volokh, where Randy Barnett has further thoughts.)

THE NATIONAL DEBATE to The New York Times: Bring it on!

His lawyer has responded to the Times and he's deploying powerful support. Just read this quote:

In an era when media conglomerates control the rights to vast amounts of intellectual property, routine elevation of copyright to a right of censorship could easily squelch active debate and criticism of important ideas.

And guess where it's from? . . .

ED CONE is thinking of running for Congress, and the idea already has momentum: Eric Muller has endorsed him!

ANOTHER REASON WHY AMAZON RULES: It's time to tune up the lawnmower for the spring, and -- having reorganized the garage recently -- I couldn't lay hands on the manual. But it's on the Amazon page for my mower. Amazon isn't just a place to buy stuff anymore -- it's a reference source.

WILLIAM SJOSTROM points to some good news from Europe. Not everyone, even on the left, is promoting appeasement.

DONALD SENSING has a fascinating column on gay marriage.

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

MALARIA IN AFRICA: Fiona Kobusingye-Boynes writes:

Malaria is a great enemy of development, as it makes young and energetic people sick and weak -- and even kills them. It strikes quickly, leaving people unable to work or go to school or take care of their families, within days after they get infected.

Fighting malaria is not only a humanitarian need. It is also economically important, both for the developing countries and for aid providers like the United States. Something most people don't realize is that the same African countries that are most infected by malaria are also the poorest ones on our continent. That is because the disease makes so many millions of people in those countries too sick and weak to earn a living or cultivate their fields.

I myself have suffered high fevers for days, vomited until I thought I had no stomach left. It has left me dehydrated, thirsty and weak, and sometimes I could not even tell day from night. It is a terrible disease. You just can't imagine.

People in the north, in the United States and Europe, always think of AIDS when they think of troubled Africa. They should remember that malaria is even more important for many tropical countries. It affects more people, kills more, and kills them more quickly. And it makes them sicker than AIDS does, until that disease is very advanced in their bodies.

Read the whole thing.

A TENTH PLANET? I suspect that there's a lot more stuff in this size range than we've discovered so far.

THIS CAN'T BE the posture that the Kerry Campaign wants to find itself in:

US SENATOR John Kerry last night fought off accusations he was a coward and had made strategic mistakes in battle during the Vietnam War.

The Democratic challenger for the White House was embroiled in fresh controversy after one of his former crew members accused him of being someone "who ran from the enemy".

It was reported last night that Steven Gardner, a gunnerís mate on the first patrol boat commanded by Kerry in the Mekong Delta, contradicts accounts of the senatorís military career that depict him as a brave and aggressive lieutenant who won three Purple Hearts, which are a key element of his campaign against George Bush.

He personally killed a Viet Cong fighter in one action and was wounded three times, though not seriously.

However, in an interview with the Boston Globe, which contacted him about the presidential candidate, Gardner claimed:

[Kerry] did not want to engage the enemy

"He [Kerry] absolutely did not want to engage the enemy when I was with him."

More here. This sort of thing would look like old news, of course, if Kerry hadn't spent so much time telling us how relevant his Vietnam experience is to his likely behavior as President.

March 14, 2004

IS THE BLOGOSPHERE HALF-EMPTY, OR HALF-FULL? Ed Driscoll looks at the numbers.

EUGENE VOLOKH points out that the Spanish election makes "multilateralism" even less appealing:

Those voters' position would be understandable -- perhaps not terribly sound in the long term, but understandable: The deaths were caused by Aznar's policies, since if he had not supported the Americans (over the opposition of most Spaniards, as I understand), the bombings probably wouldn't have happened; therefore, let's punish Aznar, and send politicians a message to prevent this from happening again.

But if that's so, then doesn't it show that we can't allow our foreign policy to be vetoed by other nations? After all, if we agree that we may not do what we think is right and necessary for our national security if any one of England, France, Russia, or China says "veto," then our enemies can paralyze us simply by influencing one foreign country. The influence might be exerted by bribes (more here), or by threat of terrorist violence. But one way or another, an enemy that couldn't break down our resolve could still stop us from doing what needs to be done by breaking down the resolve of one of the veto-owning countries. (The same applies if we just generally agree not to go ahead without the agreement of "our European allies" generally -- if the threat of terrorist retaliation cows several of those allies, that could be enough to stymie our plans.)

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: The Financial Times reports:

The Socialist party had been less tough on Eta but diplomats expected the new government to take a tough line on al-Qaeda.

The issue of counter-terrorism issues has been catapulted on to next week's summit agenda, instead of the June summit.

Diplomats said member states were in no mood to suggest that only those countries that supported the US-led war in Iraq were vulnerable. "Terrorism affects every country. Terrorist networks use countries in which to 'sleep'," said a senior EU diplomat.

Let's hope that the "tough line" expectation is met, in deeds, not just words. Zapatero is promising a tough line: ("'My most immediate priority is to beat all forms of terrorism,' said Zapatero, asking for a minute's silence in honour of the 200 people killed in the bombings on four packed commuter trains.") Let's hope.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mark Steyn offers a guide for the perplexed. And SWLIP says that Zapatero is engaging in doublespeak.

Andrew Sullivan has more. He also links to this assessment of how the overall war is going, which is worth reading, especially for those depressed about the Spanish elections.

MORE: Tacitus has a lengthy post on why appeasement won't work for Spain, which has been an Islamist target for some time.

REVOLT IN IRAN? More here.

KERRY PULLS A HOWARD DEAN:

The town meeting was contentious at times, with 52-year-old Cedric Brown repeatedly pressing the candidate to name the foreign leaders whom Kerry has said are backing his campaign.

"I'm not going to betray a private conversation with anybody," Kerry said. As the crowd of several hundred people began to mutter and boo, Kerry said, "That's none of your business."

Is Cedric Brown Kerry's Dale Ungerer? Probably not, but Kerry's signature arrogance isn't going to help him on the campaign trail.

TERRORISTS HAVE SUCCEEDED IN TOPPLING THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT. Jeff Jarvis observes: " In any case, it's a damned shame that terrorists can have an impact on the election and can help bring in the side they apparently wanted."

Eric Olsen has more thoughts on what is, I'm afraid, a bad day for the forces of civilization.

UPDATE: Roger Simon:

I walk out on my deck, looking across the Hollywood Hills at Runyon Canyon, but my mind is in Madrid, at its splendid Puerta del Sol where I have spent so many wonderful days and where sadly fascists have walked before and for too long. But this time they are not under the flag of Generalissimo Franco. This time, ironically, they rally behind the words of a man, Osama bin Laden, whom El Caudillo would have reviled. But of course the cry of both men is the same: Viva la muerte!

Indeed. Meanwhile Mark Aveyard notes a contradiction: "Remember being told by the left that Saddam's regime and Al Queda had no relationship, that they actually hated each other? Now they're saying that Al Queda attacked Spain because the US ousted Saddam!"

And Eric Kolchinsky emails: "Al Queda (or any other terror organization) will rightly perceive that they can influence elections through violence. This vote has greatly increased the probability of a pre-election attack -- here and in Europe." Yes. And it's reduced the likelihood of addressing this problem without major bloodshed. The Spanish electorate has made what seems to me to be a very shortsighted and cowardly decision, and the world may suffer as a result. As Will Allen emails:

To recall Churchill, the election in Spain indicates that many still hold to the belief that feeding the crocodile sufficiently will result in their being last on the menu. They would be proven wrong, of course, if it came to that. In this instance, it won't come to that, given that that this crocodile will be utterly annihilated if it bites hard enough. Unfortunately, such an act of utter annihilation will also entail the annihilation of many innocents. I fear that today's events have brought that grim scenario ever closer, and that what has taken place in Spain could be a harbinger of dangerous developments. I've never wanted to be wrong more than I do now.

I hope that Will is wrong, too. I fear that he's not. It's worth reading what Lee Harris wrote on Friday:

Perhaps this was a sheer coincidence, and the terrorists had no intention of causing people to change their minds about which candidates to vote for. But if it wasn't a coincidence, then this would compel us to recognize a potentially horrendous new development, namely, the use of catastrophic terror to "persuade" the Spanish people vote against the pro-America policy of Prime Minister Aznar's party.

If this is the case, then the Spanish election Sunday will carry a significance that will transcend the borders of Spain, and which could make it one of the most decisive elections in the short history of modern democracy. For if the Spanish people vote against Aznar's party, then it will appear to the terrorists that they have succeeded in manipulating the domestic policy of an independent nation through an act of catastrophic terror. They will have succeeded in making a nation change its mind about who is to lead them -- and that would be a setback from which our world might never recover.

Factually this may not be the case: the vote may conceivably go against Aznar's party for reasons having nothing to do with today's terror. But to the terrorists, such a doubt will not exist. If Aznar is defeated, they will be convinced that it was their act that produced this result; and, God forbid, they may well be right.

This conclusion is the last conclusion that anyone could possibly want the terrorists to draw, because if they believe that they can alter the outcome of an election in Spain, it will inevitably tempt them to try to alter the outcome of future elections in other nations of Europe by a similar use of catastrophic terror.

Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that they might not also be tempted to use catastrophic terror to affect the next national election in the United States. Indeed, it is all too easy to concoct nightmare scenarios in which a series of coordinated attacks immediately before the election created a climate of such fear and anxiety that a serious question might be raised about the validity of the national election itself.

There are answers to such an approach, but they are ugly ones. And Reader Barbara Skolaut observes: "I wonder if the Spanish people have thought of what message they've just sent to the Basque separatists, whom they've been fighting for many years: Wantonly kill enough of us and we'll appease you, too."

It never ends. Unless, that is, you stand up to it. And reader Paul Young observes:

I think what needs to be mentioned is the fact that Iraq could have recently been thrown into a civil war but instead its leaders and people understood the situation and did not let the terrorists succeed. So Iraq "gets it" but Spain does not. Why am I supposed to believe that only the U.N. can legitimize Iraq's new government? It seems that Iraq has more to teach Europe than vice versa.

Indeed. And Belmont Club observes: " A division of labor has been established in which the Left provides the paralyzing injection on Western society leaving the jihadis a clear field within which to operate."

On the other hand, reader Paul Harper emails that he thinks the real problem was that voters felt Aznar was playing politics with the bombing, blaming ETA when the evidence favored Al Qaeda. Perhaps so. I don't think, though, that the terrorists will take that message from these events.

I'm deeply disappointed with the Spanish decision, and so are a lot of other folks, obviously. But it's worth noting that democracies make bad decisions sometimes -- just like every other form of government -- and that this decision, though deeply wrong in my estimation, is only one decision among many, by many nations, and that it's subject to revision later. (And hey, I could be wrong about its negative impact. I certainly hope that I am.) So don't plunge into despair. It's disappointing, and it's certainly not a good thing, but it's not the end. And as events develop, the Socialists may very well find themselves adopting a less conciliatory approach than they currently anticipate.

MORE: Dave Ross, on the other hand, thinks Aznar doomed himself:

But on the short term, remember this: Mr Anzar loudly leapt to the conclusion it was ETA, at the very onset of the investigation. Evidence soon mounted that this was done by al-Qaida sympathisers. Aznar is guilty of manipulating a tragedy for political advantage. And if I may say so, he did it in the most clumsy manner I have seen in years.

Worse, by going off on that tangent, Aznar impeded the investigation. That means: even from a pro-War perspective, he was ineffective at prosecuting the European front of it. That is unforgivable.

The voters punished him for his sins. Justly. "Capitulation" doesn't even come into it. Yes there were some terrorist appeasers and sympathisers voting for the Socialists, but I bet the majority of anti-Aznarites feel as I do.

I suppose we'll find out. Iberian Notes isn't very happy.

Meryl Yourish isn't happy either -- but she has some optimistic observations that are worth reading.

KERRY GETS IT RIGHT ON CASTRO, BUT THEN BLOWS IT:

''I'm pretty tough on Castro, because I think he's running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world,'' Kerry told WPLG-ABC 10 reporter Michael Putney in an interview to be aired at 11:30 this morning.

Then, reaching back eight years to one of the more significant efforts to toughen sanctions on the communist island, Kerry volunteered: ``And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him.''

It seemed the correct answer in a year in which Democratic strategists think they can make a play for at least a portion of the important Cuban-American vote -- as they did in 1996 when more than three in 10 backed President Clinton's reelection after he signed the sanctions measure written by Sen. Jesse Helms and Rep. Dan Burton.

There is only one problem: Kerry voted against it.

D'oh! Too "nuanced" for me, Senator. Mickey Kaus also notes an Elian Gonzalez straddle.

ERIC ALTERMAN DOESN'T LIKE IT, but Andrew Breitbart's and Mark Ebner's book, Hollywood, Interrupted -- a devastating report of just how crazy, mean, and crooked the folks at the top of the celebrity heap are -- has broken into the New York Times hardcover bestseller list at number 15. I think it's the InstaPundit cover blurb that did the trick. . .

CHALK ONE UP FOR INTERNET HOAXES:

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (AP) - City officials were so concerned about the potentially dangerous properties of dihydrogen monoxide that they considered banning foam cups after they learned the chemical was used in their production. Then they learned that dihydrogen monoxide - H2O for short - is the scientific term for water.

(Via Blogosferics). Read more about the deadly threat of DHMO here and here.

RALPH LUKER has more on what appears to be a debacle at the University of Southern Mississippi.

It's hard enough doing faculty recruiting for a school with a good reputation. I can't imagine what it's going to be like for the University of Southern Mississippi after this.

KEVIN DRUM on the New York Times' effort to shut down The National Debate:

This goes beyond mere bullying and descends into paranoid ó and hypocritical ó lunacy. The Times certainly has the right to protect its copyright, but at the same time you'd think the publisher of the Pentagon Papers would show a little more respect for free speech and a little more tolerance for criticism.

They should be ashamed of themselves.

Indeed they should.

Robert Tagorda adds: " Through its lame threat, the Times makes itself look not only petty but also unresponsive. It misses an opportunity to reexamine its policies, improve its product, and strengthen relations with customers. That's bad business. It'll suffer accordingly."

UPDATE: A different kind of Times correction problem is discussed here. Congratulations to Daniel Okrent for addressing it.

PHILIP BOBBITT has an interesting essay in the Financial Times on charges of U.S. imperialism:

It is not simply that current international law and the institutions it has created cannot assure international security, it is that they are a positive barrier to such security because they are used to hamstring the one state with the power and willingness to intervene on behalf of world order. The reason imperialist Othellos are drawn to hegemonical daydreaming is not that they actually want to take up imperial responsibilities for economic development and governance, nor because they relish sending American youths to hostile and unpacifiable provinces, but because they know that international institutions are currently incapable of maintaining, much less achieving, stable security environments. The reason the imperialist has faith in unilateralism is because he has no faith in multilateralism and, after Bosnia, Lebanon and Palestine, who can blame him?

Read the whole thing.

JEFF JARVIS:

I want to see defense and homeland security as issues in this campaign. But when I go to Kerry's site, and look at the box on the upper-right of the page, listing big issues -- Economy & Jobs, Education, Health Care... -- defense isn't even listed.

Homeland Security is listed but going there gives you ideas about expanding Americorps and its role in Homeland Security but nothing about defense.

In other words, there's nothing about going to get the bad guys where they fester. . . .

I want to hear the guy say he will not rest until he gets the bad guys. I want to hear the guy say he will spare nothing to defend us. As [Josh] Marshall says, I want to see him talk defense. Now. But the talk is spare and hidden. . . .

Kerry is still acting as if he's up against Howard Dean, scared of his own military shadow.

Jeff agrees with Josh Marshall that Kerry's got to do more on defense.

UPDATE: Kerry may want to unsay some things about Spain, one of the countires he called "window dressing."

Meanwhile Matt Stoller says that this should be a liberal war. I agree.