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April 24, 2004

HERE'S MORE ON AL JAZEERA AND TERROR LINKS, from the military blogger I linked earlier here. Here's his original post.

THE NEW YORK TIMES has a lengthy analysis of Kerry's antiwar days, but Tom Maguire notes that once again the dates of Kerry's military service are wrong:

Does it change the story to say that Mr. Kerry, while still in the Naval Reserve, ran in an anti-war caucus?

Does it change the story to say that Mr. Kerry, the 26 year old Navy Lieutenant, had arranged a private meeting with North Vietnamese and Vietcong emissaries to the peace talks?

Maybe not much. But one might hope that both the Kerry campaign and the "All the News" folks would be able to report accurately the basic facts of Kerry's military service.

And we wonder why this confusion persists - we seem to be back to "Kerry never said he was Irish" with this one.

Well, it's better than the Klan mistake, anyway.

UPDATE: More here from Capt. Ed Morrissey.

ANOTHER REASON TO HATE THE DRUG WAR, as if we needed one.

"BLOGAGANDA" -- deconstructed by Roger Simon.

POWELL AND COPPS: Communist sympathizers?

Among all the absurd, meddling, and stupid rulings from the FCC lately, this one really takes the Twinkie: The FCC fined a station for making a phony phone call to the real Fidel Castro -- and getting him on the line -- but not following commission rules about getting permission to put the person on the air.

More like rule-bound idiots, I'd say. There should be an exception for making fun of dictators.

April 23, 2004

BY POPULAR DEMAND, here is another cat picture.

You know, I really don't want to make Friday catblogging a regular event here, notwithstanding its popularity among some readers.

I suggest that you email Kevin Drum and ask him to pick up the slack, so that I don't have to.

NOAM CHOMSKY: The Jeff Goldstein interview. One word: Heh.

EARLIER, I MENTIONED JIM DUNNIGAN'S PIECE on myths about Iraq. I should have also mentioned this piece by Victor Davis Hanson on the same topic.

I MENTIONED PAT TILLMAN'S DEATH BELOW, with some comments in tribute emailed from one of his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan. I don't really have much to add to those. But here's a comment worth repeating:

"In sports we have a tendency to overuse terms like courage and bravery and heroes," said Cardinals vice president Michael Bidwill, son of the team's owner Bill Bidwill, "and then someone like Pat Tillman comes along and reminds us what those terms really mean."

Indeed. Mason Wilson has some further thoughts.

UPDATE: "Pat Tillman stadium?" Sounds like a nice idea.

I'VE UPLOADED SOME MORE PHOTOS to the Exposure Manager gallery for anyone who's interested. They're from Wednesday's swing through the Cherokee National Forest, and return up US 11 past various small towns.

Sorry, but there are no cat pictures.

I actually enjoy driving through, and photographing, the small towns on the little highways (and US 11 isn't one of the really little highways) as much as I enjoy the comparatively pristine nature. I like the hand-painted signs, and the impromptu still life settings, that you find as you pass through small town business districts. That was something that Walker Evans, one of my photographic heroes, had an incredible eye for. I'm not in his league, but then, hardly anyone is.

HOW LAME IS THIS?

Thursday's New York Times misidentified GOP Senate candidate Pete Coors as a Ku Klux Klan member who murdered a black sharecropper. . . .

The Times story concerned a federal court decision upholding Louisiana resident Ernest Avants' 2003 conviction in the slaying.

The story indicated the accompanying photo was of Avants. But the picture actually was of Coors on the day the Golden beer baron announced he was running in Colorado's open Senate race.

In related news, over 200 million Americans were misidentified as people who trust the New York Times. [Above quote expanded from original post to make the nature of the misidentification clear.]

UPDATE: Ryne McLaren comments: "Funny how the media seldom makes these sorts of mistakes with Democrats."

ANOTHER UPDATE: But wait, there's more:

NOTE TO EDITORS : n04-059


Columbia Crew Mistakenly Identified As Iraqi War Casualties

Many news organizations across the country are mistakenly identifying the flag-draped caskets of the Space Shuttle Columbia's crew as those of war casualties from Iraq.

Editors are being asked to confirm that the images used in news reports are in fact those of American casualties and not those of the NASA astronauts who were killed Feb.1, 2003, in the Columbia tragedy.

An initial review of the images featured on the Internet site www.thememoryhole.org shows that more than 18 rows of images from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware are actually photographs of honors rendered to Columbia's seven astronauts.

News organizations across the world have been publishing and distributing images featured on the web site.

Sheesh. And these guys are dissing weblogs for inaccuracy?

MUST READING: Jim Dunnigan writes about Myths of Iraq over at StrategyPage. Read the whole thing.

"THAT IS NOT MY CAR. IT IS ONLY PASSING THROUGH ME." Heh.

JOHN KEKES WRITES on the professoriate and the truth.

UPDATE: This OxBlog post goes interestingly with the above.

READER ARIEL PORATH EMAILS:

What are the odds that Iran is participating in UNSCAM-like activities?

Oh, somewhere around 100%, I'd say.

THIS SEEMS EMBARRASSING:

WASHINGTON -- Vietnam combat records posted on John F. Kerry's campaign website for the month of January 1969 as evidence of his service aboard swift boat No. 94 describe action that occurred before Kerry was skipper of that craft, according to the officer who said he commanded the boat at the time.

On the site, the Massachusetts senator is described as the skipper of Navy boat No. 94 during several actions in late January 1969.

However, Edward Peck, who was the skipper of the 94 before Kerry took over, said combat reports posted by the campaign for January 1969 involve action when he was the skipper, not Kerry. Peck, who was seriously wounded in fighting that took place on Jan. 29, 1969, said he believes Kerry campaign aides made a mistake in claiming Kerry as skipper of the 94 at that time.

The Globe has more -- just follow the link.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire observes:

At a minimum, the campaign is confused about his dates of service, which seems odd, since Kerry's Vietnam experience has been the foundation of his campaign (not to say his political life).

Yes, this makes me wonder if his campaign is ready for primetime.

NKZONE has loads of stuff on that North Korean explosion yesterday. Just keep scrolling.

SYRIA IS SENDING TERRORISTS TO IRAQ: "The sources said the reporting has not been clear on whether hard-line Syrian President Bashar Assad is involved directly in ordering the aid. But they say he has much to lose if Iraq becomes a pro-U.S. democratic country." No kidding. And he's not the only one.

Syria and Iran fear that they're next. They're trying to keep us busy until we get tired and go home. They'll keep it up until either we make them stop, or it appears that it's not working.

JOHN FARRELL says that the movie industry is committing slow-motion suicide.

MICKEY KAUS points to a potential screwup in the planned trial of Saddam. Can this be right?

Kaus: "Did 'Brandini' know about this? Does he approve?"

WOW: My brother just updated his band's homepage and it's pretty slick.

LT SMASH is offering premiums to people who donate to Spirit of America. And these guys are giving away free blogs! With hosting!

UPDATE: Then there's this!

INSTAPUNDIT'S AFGHANISTAN PHOTO-CORRESPONDENT, Major John Tammes of the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps, sends this from Bagram, Afghanistan. It seems that the Ordnance Corps has taken a back-to-the-future approach to transport. . . .

My secretary once rode a camel across much of Mali, and has retained a deep hatred for camels ever since. As has just about everyone I know who has ever had much to do with camels.

UPDATE: On a less cheerful note, Major Tammes sends this followup:

I suppose the story has reached you by now about Pat Tillman being KIA. I guess when I said it was still dangerous here - I didn't hope to be proved correct so soon in such a sad and public way.

I admired him for what he did. He was a rare person to cast aside fame and fortune to go defend the society that would have been happy to continue to glamorize him as an NFL player. He was a man dedicated to duty, honor, country in every respect.

Indeed. Story here.

UPDATE: More thoughts here.

YESTERDAY, I MENTIONED THAT RANDALL BECK, editor of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, had a hissy fit concerning blogs. Here's an analysis of what this reveals about the South Dakota political scene.

IRAQ AND SOUTH AFRICA: Interesting observation from one of Andrew Sullivan's readers.

UNSCAM: IS EVERYONE ON THE TAKE?

A former French ambassador to the United Nations, Jean-Bernard Merimee, is listed as receiving vouchers totaling 11 million barrels. Also on the list is a vocal friend of Iraq, Gilles Munier of the Franco-Iraqi Friendship Association.

At the Vatican, the Rev. Jean Marie Benjamin a French priest who is reported to have arranged a meeting between the pope and Tariq Aziz, the former deputy prime minister of Iraq is listed as receiving the rights to sell 4.5 million barrels.

The list is dominated by Russian citizens and organizations. In addition to Mr. Zhirinovsky, the list names the former Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov, the Russian Orthodox Church, the "office of the Russian president," President Vladimir Putin's Peace and Unity Party, and companies linked to the Communist Party.

In Indonesia, the list is headed by Mrs. Megawati, whose spokesman has said she is "aware of the allegations."

The files purportedly show vouchers being handed to socialist, communist and nationalist political parties in Ukraine, Belarus, the former Yugoslavia, Romania, and Slovakia.

There are also vouchers for the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

A prominent British member of Parliament is listed, along with his Jordanian business partner.

Obviously, United States foreign policy needs to place a heavier emphasis on covert bribery of foreign officials. It seems to work!

UPDATE: More here from the BBC. And here's a roundup of today's British coverage. One headline says it best: "Sick children sacrificed for profit and propaganda."

JAMES LILEKS is suffering from blog burnout, and needs a vacation. It happens to the best from time to time.

April 22, 2004

RYAN BOOTS has posted his Iraqi blogger roundup for this week. Don't miss it.

ERIC DREXLER has set up a new website full of technical information on nanotechnology.

WEISBERGISM OF THE DAY: Eugene Volokh wields a very sharp knife.

A FAVORABLE REVIEW for Randy Barnett's book, Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty.

INDCJOURNAL POSTS AN AMUSING PHOTO-REPORT from yesterday's protests in front of the Supreme Court. If you watched the TV coverage, you'll find this behind-the-scenes look amusing. If you provided the TV coverage, you'd better hope your friends don't see this post. . . .

Fans of the '80s metal band "Krokus," on the other hand, will be scratching their heads.

KERRY'S MILITARY RECORDS ARE (PARTIALLY) OUT, and Tom Maguire is looking at them, which is more than some people opining on them have done, apparently. Here's the Boston Globe story.

PATRICK MOORE AND NICK SCHULZ have thoughts on where the environmental movement is heading.

SALON HAS AN EXTENSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NEAL STEPHENSON up -- you'll have to sit through an ad first, but I think it's worth it.

You can read this Stephenson interview, by me, without the ad. But it's not nearly as extensive.

ANOTHER JOURNALIST WHO CAN'T TAKE CRITICISM is lashing out at the blogosphere.

When I see some editor lose it this way, it doesn't fill me with confidence in traditional media.

More here.

UPDATE: And here.

THE "UNSCAM" OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL hit the British media in today with a splash. Here's a roundup of the coverage there. (Via the "Friends of Saddam" UNScam blog -- which has lots more on this scandal.)

UPDATE: More here.

HERE'S A PICTURE OF BALD RIVER FALLS from my expedition yesterday. I plan to spend a lot more time in the Cherokee National Forest and areas around there. For whatever reason, I tend to go north rather than south on my photo expeditions, but that's caused me to overlook all sorts of places that I should pay more attention to.

Because the big pictures seem to cause excessive page-load times for some of my foreign readers (who have not just dial-up, but 24K dialup) I've compressed this image rather savagely. I'll have some higher quality stuff posted over at the Exposure Manager site later, but I haven't had time to deal with that. I got my exams written early this year, which let me take yesterday off, but there's still a lot of end-of-the-semester cleanup to be dealt with.

At any rate, my photography is a pale shadow of the stuff that Fletch does over at A Smoky Mountain Journal. But that's the beauty of amateurism: I can do it anyway!

ANDREW SULLIVAN POSTS A LETTER FROM FALLUJAH that's a must-read.

MERYL YOURISH has a concise but interesting blogosphere roundup.

THIS SOUNDS SUSPICIOUS AS WELL AS DREADFUL:

SEOUL (Reuters) - Up to 3,000 people have been killed or injured in a huge explosion after two goods trains collided in a North Korean station hours after leader Kim Jong-il had passed through, South Korea's YTN television station says.

Hmm.

UPDATE: Here's an interesting Korea-related story:

According to the Jo Gap-je, the chief editor of the Chosun Ilbo's Monthly Chosun Magazine, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney apparently laid down the law to the Chinese during his visit to Beijing. More specifically, he is said to have told Chinese leaders, "If China cannot prevent North Korea from arming itself with nuclear weapons, the United States, too, cannot prevent Taiwan and Japan from arming themselves with nuclear weapons."

Very interesting, if true.

CHECK OUT THE SPIRIT OF AMERICA BLOGGER CHALLENGE: It's in a good cause.

MY LOCAL MALL HAS SEVEN -- YES, SEVEN -- JEWELRY STORES, and I've never been able to understand how they can all stay in business, though I assume that colossal markups have something to do with it. My guess is that it'll be a lot harder for them now that Amazon is selling jewelry online at a discount. It'll be interesting to see what comes of this.

UPDATE: Reader Steve Clayton emails:

Like a lot of purchases that are very "personal", buying jewelry for most people is what I call a "squeeze the merchandise" business.

If you're buying a standardized commodity -- CD, DVD, book, etc. -- e-tailing is a delivery channel, though many people still go to Borders or Barnes & Noble for the "experience".

There are some things that we just have to "see it/touch it" before we buy it. Jewelry is one of them.

Only not everyone feels that way, as reader Jeff Miller emails:

If you think Amazon selling online jewelry is a big deal, check out Seattle-based Blue Nile, which sells diamonds and jewelry over the Net.

They're set to go public and, according their S-1, last year they brought in $128.9 million in revenue and made a whopping $27 million in profits. That's a nice little profit margin.

News to me, but apparently there's a market. And, it turns out, one of the companies is headquartered in Knoxville, which was also news to me. Reader Andrew Coloctronis emails:

You may be interested to know that Knoxville is the home to a TV and Internet Jewelry sales company, Jewelry Television (formally ACN TV). With over 1,000 employees located at a facility on Kingston Pike, Jewelry Television conducts all its production, shipping, broadcasting and web hosting locally.

I knew we had several cable-sales channels here, but I didn't know about this one. Apparently, plenty of people are willing to buy without touching.

THE "UNSCAM" OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL is getting more attention:

It worked like this: Iraq would export under-priced oil, import over-priced goods, and cash in the difference through friendly middle-men. This occurred in plain daylight, right under the U.N.'s nose, with the complicity of hundreds of international companies, and possibly, the knowledge of many governments that had seats on the U.N. Security Council.

Beyond the kickbacks, Saddam was able to smuggle an estimated $5.7 billion worth of oil and fuel out of the country in total violation of the sanctions. Hundreds of trucks would enter Iraq from Turkey filled with goods bought under Oil-for-Food - then drive off again with fuel destined for sale on the black market. Other smuggling routes included a pipeline through Syria, and ships sailing Iranian territorial waters.

This sanctions-busting trade provided no benefit to Iraq's civilian population. In fact, it created drastic fuel shortages inside Iraq. And again, it could not have occurred without the knowledge, and participation, of Iraq's neighbors.

Kofi Annan made an excellent choice in appointing former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to head the independent panel. But let there be no illusions. Despite yesterday's Security Council vote in support of the Volcker probe, his inquiry will be as popular with the governments of Security Council members as Hercule Poirot's investigation was on the Orient Express.

Read the whole thing. More background and links here.

UPDATE: Jan Haugland has comments on the Russians' reluctance to be investigated.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stefan Sharkansky traces Oil-for-Food money to some American political campaigns. Both Democrats and Republicans are involved.

ROBERT ALT posts an interesting report from Baghdad.

UNDER THE RADAR?

Think the Republicans got lost somewhere in cyberspace? Think again. The GOP's underreported e-campaign may lack the media razzle-dazzle of the Deaniac phenomenon, but it promises to leave no less a mark on the annals of political campaign history.

It all comes down to a difference in style and strategy.

Interesting report. The Bush blog has certainly improved of late. It's also interesting to see Larry Purpuro saying some things about Internet campaigning that seem a lot more progressive than his famous dissing of the blogosphere.

UPDATE: Here, by the way, is a Washington Post story on BlogAds and candidates that I meant to link earlier but forgot to.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Bush blog's new Morning Reads feature seems to be quite well done.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER, I GUESS:

A U.N. fact-finding team is set to travel to Sudan's Darfur region to investigate claims of genocide by Arab militias against black African residents.

Violence in the country's oil-rich Darfur region has raged for more than a year, displacing as many as one million people inside Sudan and forcing over 110,000 into neighboring Chad, according to U. N. estimates.

Rebel groups accuse Sudan's government of arming Arab militia groups to carry out attacks.

Oxblog has more.

IT'S STEVEN DEN BESTE vs. a French reporter. You make the call.

LOTS OF INTERESTING DISCUSSION regarding illegal combatants and habeas corpus over at The Volokh Conspiracy. Just keep scrolling.

AMERICA'S MOST INFLUENTIAL LAW PROFESSORS? LawTV is taking nominations.

BOTH ZAPATERO AND MICHAEL MOORE appear to be mistaken. Related developments here. Meanwhile Iraqi blogger Mohammed has some birthday thoughts, including this one: "Why should I be strong while watching others run away; Spain, Honduras, Thailand, human organizations, the UN and all the others who want (and its their right I must say) to avoid the dangers. But why did they disappoint us? Why abandon us in this moment when we really need them? . . . Why do others get discouraged easily? Dont mistake me. Im upset but will NEVER run away like some people did."

April 21, 2004

THE "UNSCAM" OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL IS GETTING MORE COVERAGE:

Iraqi oil pumped under Sevan's direct supervision for seven full years was openly sold to whoever lined Saddam and Sevan's pockets. . . . The former Iraqi oil minister claims that the UN "was stealing money from the Iraqi people," alleging that as many as 300 UN bureaucrats were employed to administer the programme. "We were not pumping oil to feed Iraqis, but to feed (300) UN bureaucrats in New York."

Before Sevan's recent mysterious disappearance into the nether world, facilitated by boss Annan, who shrewdly packed him off on long leave before retirement, Sevan nonchalantly admitted, " that as much as 10 percent" of the programme's revenues may have been "ripped off," telling a TV channel: "Even if 10 percent of the revenue was stolen, 90 percent got to the people it was intended for. Why does nobody report that?" he asked peevishly.

More here:

In the 12 months since the fall of the Iraqi dictatorship, a clear picture has emerged of how Saddam Hussein abused the United Nations' Oil-for-Food program. The Iraqi Governing Council has begun to release critical information detailing how, in the words of The New York Times, "Saddam Hussein's government systematically extracted billions of dollars in kickbacks from companies doing business with Iraq, funneling most of the illicit funds through a network of foreign bank accounts in violation of United Nations sanctions." In effect the program was little more than "an open bazaar of payoffs, favoritism and kickbacks."

Read the whole thing. And there's new blog set up to follow the oil-for-food scandal that'll probably be a must-visit site over the coming months.

UPDATE: Here's a link to today's Congressional hearing testimony on UNSCAM, and here's a story on the U.N. Security Council probe going ahead. I suspect a certain amount of halfheartedness on the part of those UN bureaucrats, however.

Tom Magure has more, with many links. And there's more here.

REALITY ON THE GROUND: A report from Iraq.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn says that mideast instability is a good thing.

DANIEL DREZNER has advice for bloggers interested in reviewing books.

SLATE'S "EXPLAINER" has an interesting item on NASA Planetary Protection Officer John Rummel, whose job is to prevent cross-contamination between the Earth and other planets. I've met Rummel on one or two occasions and he seems quite sharp. Here's a column I wrote on related issues a while back.

IS AL JAZEERA CONNECTED WITH THE TERRORISTS? It seems likely. Quite some time ago I linked a military blogger's report of Al Jazeera reporters paying people to shoot at Coalition troops. Now Robert Alt writes: "While telling half of the story is bad enough, there is substantial evidence that outlets like Al Jazeera are in fact acting in concert with terrorists to generate overtly false and misleading news reports." Imagine that.

UPDATE: More evidence here.

WENT OFF DRIVING AROUND THE MOUNTAINS today -- down to the Cherohala Skyway and Bald River Falls. Back blogging later.

In the meantime Virginia Postrel has several interesting, and worrying, posts on malaria and DDT. Go read 'em.

ROGER SIMON on the "UNSCAM" oil-for-food scandal:

As a supporter of the United Nations (yes, I believe it necessary), I find this potentially immensely destructive to the organization. If the Oil-for-Food allegations are true, and it increasingly looks as if they are, without a deep and full bloodletting (probably including the resignation of Annan) the UN will never recover the confidence of the American people, nor should it. By not being on this with Watergate-style intensity, the media is aiding and abetting the downfall of the organization they wish to save.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Austin Bay -- also a UN fan -- has more thoughts on what this scandal means: "If the United States doesnt force the United Nations to come clean about the deeply corrupted Oil for Food program and account for billions of skimmed Iraqi oil dollars, then were not merely fools, were party to the further degradation of a vital international institution."

IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, JOIN 'EM: My TechCentralStation column looks at media and campaign finance.

LITIGATION AS A MILITARY TACTIC: Eugene Volokh has thoughts on habeas corpus for enemy combatants.

HERE'S SOME INTERESTING CAMPAIGN PHOTO-BLOGGING from a South Dakota Indian reservation.

THE PATH TO SUCCESS IN THE BLOGOSPHERE: Have the Rittenhouse Review issue an abortive delinking fatwa against you! Since that happened, Wonkette has been featured in the New York Times, on Slashdot, and countless other places, and seen her traffic soar. She's even on TV!

Who will be the next lucky blogger to receive a "Capozzolaunch?"

GEOFFREY NUNBERG HAS THOUGHTS on blogging, and Edward Boyd has thoughts on Nunberg.

"MERCENARIES AND SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE" working for the United Nations? Say it ain't so!

CHIEF WIGGLES HAS MOVED to a new, improved site.

April 20, 2004

UNSCAM UPDATE: ABC News has more on the unfolding U.N. oil-for-food scandal:

April 20 At least three senior United Nations officials are suspected of taking multi-million dollar bribes from the Saddam Hussein regime, U.S. and European intelligence sources tell ABCNEWS.

One year after his fall, U.S. officials say they have evidence, some in cash, that Saddam diverted to his personal bank accounts approximately $5 billion from the United Nations Oil-for-Food program.

In what has been described as the largest humanitarian aid effort ever undertaken, the U.N. Oil-for-Food program began in 1996 to help Iraqis who were suffering under sanctions imposed following the first Gulf War.

The program allowed Iraq to sell limited amounts of oil, under supposedly tight U.N. supervision, to finance the purchase of much-needed humanitarian goods.

Most prominent among those accused in the scandal is Benon Sevan, the Cyprus-born U.N. undersecretary general who ran the program for six years.

In an interview with ABCNEWS last year, Sevan denied any wrongdoing. . . .

But documents have surfaced in Baghdad, in the files of the former Iraqi Oil Ministry, allegedly linking Sevan to a pay-off scheme in which some 270 prominent foreign officials received the right to trade in Iraqi oil at cut-rate prices.

"It's almost like having coupons of bonds or shares. You can sell those coupons to other people who are normal oil traders," said Claude Hankes-Drielsma, a British adviser to the Iraq Governing Council.

Investigators say the smoking gun is a letter to former Iraqi oil minister Amer Mohammed Rasheed, obtained by ABCNEWS and not yet in the hands of the United Nations.

There's much more. Read the whole thing.

STUART BENJAMIN thinks that the FCC's efforts to regulate broadcast content more aggressively are likely to backfire.

ED MORRISSEY HAS A LENGTHY POST on the CPA memo mentioned in the Village Voice article discussed below, and subsequently made available on the web. Morrissey writes:

The subhead of the article, in fact, reads "A Coalition memo reveals that even true believers see the seeds of civil war in the occupation of Iraq".

However, in reading the actual memo, the author points not to an inevitable civil war but instead to the numerous opportunities surrounding the CPA to improve its performance and its position with the Iraqis, the vast majority of which want to see the US succeed. . . .

The Village Voice cherry-picked a bit to write its analysis, but give them credit for releasing a near-complete text of the memo for everyone to analyze on their own. In truth, people use bits and pieces of this memo to support a number of political stances. However, when one reads the memo in its entirety, the inescapable conclusion is not that the writer has given up on American efforts in Iraq, but that only American efforts will solve the problems.

Yes, the memo's insights won't be exactly shocking to blog readers. Read the whole thing.

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: DPreview has just posted reviews of five 8-Megapixel digital cameras.

SOME PEOPLE COMPLAINED about the Israeli body painting and Love Parade photos I linked not being work safe. So here's a beach picture gallery by the same photographer that should be work safe anywhere outside Saudi Arabia, and maybe the offices of certain FCC Commissioners. I think, however, that you'll find it worth your time.

THE MYSTERY LEG FROM OKLAHOMA CITY is bothering Eric Scheie.

EVAN COYNE MALONEY has added a blog to his site.

HERE'S AN ARTICLE ARGUING FOR THE PARTITION OF IRAQ: I still don't know what I think about this, but you can read it and see what you think.

UPDATE: Jonathan Gewirtz thinks it's a good idea.

CATHY SEIPP WRITES on junk science in the media. Breasts are involved.

UPDATE: Will Wright emails: "Two words to describe media: Anxiety pimps." Harsh, but not without some basis in fact.

ATTENTION homesick Knoxvillians and University of Tennessee alumni: I've uploaded a collection of photos from campus previously shown on InstaPundit into a handy gallery on Exposure Manager. Enjoy!

NEAL BOORTZ:

I know that many of you are fond of pinning the responsibility for the new, draconian FCC on George Bush and those evil Republicans. So ... this reminder. The FCC Commissioner who is pushing the hardest on all of this so-called "indecency" is Michael J. Copps. Copps is the former chief of staff to South Carolina's Democratic Senator Ernest Hollings, a Democrat. Hollings has never been known for his defense of first amendment rights for broadcasters. Copps is a Democrat, not a Republican.

Turning this into an anti-Bush move was a major mistake for opponents of the FCC push.

JEFF JARVIS IS PROPOSING a "Citizens' Media Association." Sounds good to me!

JOE GANDELMAN WRITES that John Kerry is sitting on a political time bomb by not releasing his military records.

I've certainly heard some talk-radio people making hay out of this issue already, and I suspect that -- like Howard Dean's sealed gubernatorial documents -- there's no upside for Kerry in keeping this stuff close to the vest.

UPDATE: Zach Barbera emails: "Maybe someone over at the DNC finally figured out that the rope-a-dope has worked very well for Bush and is now trying to play the same game with Kerry's military records."

Could be.

DAVE CULLEN has an interesting article on the Columbine killers up over at Slate.

A WHILE BACK, I reprinted an email from a reader about problems at the CPA in Iraq. Now the Village Voice has an article based on a purported CPA internal memo that suggests that the problems are quite severe indeed. I don't know how much credence to put in this, but it definitely deserves further inquiry ASAP, both from the press and from the Bush Administration's higher-ups.

UPDATE: Reader Michael Midura emails:

I read the article and it's pretty depressing. So what's the fallout? Well, it's a memo that's seems to have a bunch of well-thought out solutions to serious problems facing the CPA in Iraq. Therefore, the media will ignore it.

As long as the right people pay attention, that's okay.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Alexander Sudnik is skeptical:

Forgive me for being skeptical, but where's the full memo? Why doesn't the Voice print the whole thing, so we can see for ourselves what it says? Why do we have to take this reporter's characterization of what it says?

Any decent blog would link to the whole thing. We should expect no less from the Voice. Moreover, I see that the piece is "web only" - so it's not for a lack of space in the print version.

Good points. And it's true -- this memo may be bogus, or it may be wrong. But I want to ensure that things like this aren't ignored, or swept under the rug.

More comments here. Meanwhile a reader who prefers to remain anonymous emails: "I don't think the situation is an any way irretrievable, and I still think the invasion was a good idea - but if the Administration doesn't get its act together, then that could change fast."

UPDATE: By popular demand, they've put the memo on the Web in redacted form. This doesn't prove it's genuine, of course (not that I have any reason to doubt it), but it's helpful to have it. No smoking guns on a first read, really -- it's consistent with a lot of things we've been reading on American and Iraqi blogs. That tends to suggest it's authentic. I certainly hope, at any rate, that the Bush Administration is paying close attention.

AID AND COMFORT: Cox and Forkum slam Michael Moore for likening terrorists to Minutemen.

A PROPOSED VICTIMS' RIGHTS AMENDMENT is coming up for a vote in the Senate, and I agree with Bruce Fein that it's a bad idea:

To forgo the VRA is not to cherish victims' rights less, but to venerate the brevity and accessibility of the Constitution more. Amendments are appropriate only when flexible and adaptable statutes would be insufficient to achieve a compelling objective; or, to protect discrete and insular minorities from political oppression. Neither reason obtains for the VRA.

As Fein notes, Congress has the power to do what's necessary (if anything is necessary) by statute. This is just election-year grandstanding.

WINDS OF CHANGE has its Central Asia news summary posted.

HOWARD BASHMAN'S BLOG, "HOW APPEALING," is now being hosted by Legal Affairs magazine, a fine publication for which I have written on a couple of occasions. Another blogger has taken the Boeing! (More on the Boeing here.)

THE OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING TRIAL hasn't gotten much attention, but Clayton Cramer has been following it and he's noticing some disturbing developments.

UPDATE: More here, in a somewhat contrary vein.

THE TAXPROF BLOG has multiple posts on Bush, Cheney, and Kerry's tax returns. And driving in to work this morning I heard Neal Boortz talking about the Kerry Massachusetts tax issue mentioned here on Saturday and featured in the New York Post yesterday. Looks like another issue has leaped from the blogosphere to the mainstream.

THOUGH I'VE SAID IN THE PAST that the Republicans are lagging the Democrats in terms of campaign blogging, they seem to be catching up. The official Bush site is now posting morning reads: sort of their own version of The Note.

THIS IS INTERESTING:

Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, may have helped sub-Saharan African countries develop weapons in clandestine exchanges for the region's uranium, it emerged yesterday.

Dr Khan visited Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan between 1998 and 2002 in the wake of selling nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya in a black-market trade exposed this year.

The disgraced scientist toured Africa with an entourage of aides and nuclear experts, indicating the network was wider than previously thought, according to an Associated Press investigation published yesterday.

I have a feeling that there's more to this story than we've heard, so far.

WELL, EVERYONE ELSE THOUGHT THE SAME THING, AFTER ALL:

Denmark has declassified intelligence reports compiled before the Iraq war which show officials thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
In one report, Iraq was thought to have both chemical and biological weapons, as well as an active nuclear programme.

The extracts appear to contradict claims leaked to a newspaper that there was no evidence to back up the theory.

And the story's not over yet. The chemical weapons that Al Qaeda planned to use in Jordan reportedly came from Syria, but King Abdullah says they didn't come from Assad. So are the Debka reports of Iraqi stashes in the Bekaa Valley more credible now? Who knows?

WOW, I just noticed the new Ken Layne and the Corvids site. Ken looks so . . . rugged.

USING MRI's to evaluate political advertising? I'm skeptical -- but also a bit disturbed. . . .

A SAUDI BLOGGER with an interesting perspective, via Jeff Jarvis.

FIRE GEORGE TENET: That's what Andrew Sullivan says in response to a passage from Bob Woodward's new book, Plan of Attack, that portrays Tenet telling a skeptical President Bush that the case for Iraqi WMD is a "slam dunk."

I haven't read Woodward's book, and I'm never sure how much credence to give some of his unsourced accounts, but I haven't had any great confidence in Tenet anyway and this certainly doesn't help. On the other hand, the person in the best position to judge Tenet's work, it would seem to me, is George W. Bush, and he hasn't shown any signs of wanting to fire him. If this story were true, wouldn't he?

UPDATE: Reader Julia Gordon emails:

I don't think we can infer anything about Tenet's performance from the fact that Bush doesn't seem to want to fire him. Bush hasn't fired Norman Mineta either.

Here's an idea: Bush should bring Donald Trump on board as Director of Firing. After The Donald handles Tenet and Mineta, we'll give him the State Department phone directory--he can start with the Saudi desk...

Good idea.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH has a column assessing the Bush Administration's new stance on Israel and the Palestinians.

VIRGINIA POSTREL:

Two million people a year, most of them little kids, are dying because of the West's anti-DDT superstition. Two...million...people...a...year.

Read the whole thing. More on this subject here.

April 19, 2004

ERIC MULLER has a memorial post that's worth reading.

THIRTY-FIVE YEARS WITH JENNIFER: A superficially ordinary, but hence quite moving, photo gallery.

WONKETTE MAKES SLASHDOT: Maybe they'll develop a Natalie-Portman-like obsession with her.

CITIZEN-POWERED NEWS: This is really interesting.

GARY FARBER NOTES that Rush Limbaugh appears to be peddling paranoia and conspiratorial lunacy. Shame on him.

Of course, David Shaw of the L.A. Times observes:

[P]aranoia and conspiratorial idiocy would be a big improvement on what Air America has been broadcasting. . . .

In fact, I think what ultimately annoyed and disappointed me the most about Air America was all the false, aren't-we-funny, aren't-we-smart laughter that virtually all the hosts gave each other. Four of Air America's six weekday programs have co-hosts and two have three co-hosts apiece, liberal collectives that stand in stark contrast to the individual, every-man-for-himself approach of the conservatives. Maybe that's one reason they don't work as well as, say, Limbaugh's solo effort.

It shouldn't take a village to raise a radio program.

Ouch.

UPDATE: About a million emailers say that Farber is taking Limbaugh out of context, and that Limbaugh was obviously joking. None, however, dispute Shaw's characterization of Air America.

JOURNALISTS IN BED WITH THEIR SUBJECTS: Another interesting discovery in South Dakota.

OIL-FOR-TERROR:

It's time to talk about Oil-for-Terror.

Especially with the U.N.'s own investigation into Oil-for-Food now taking shape, and more congressional hearings in the works, it is high time to focus on the likelihood that Saddam may have fiddled Oil-for-Food contracts not only to pad his own pockets, buy pals, and acquire clandestine arms but also to fund terrorist groups, quite possibly including al Qaeda.

There are at least two links documented already. Both involve oil buyers picked by Saddam and approved by the U.N. One was a firm with close ties to a Liechtenstein trust that has since been designated by the U.N. itself as "belonging to or affiliated with Al Qaeda." The other was a Swiss-registered subsidiary of a Saudi oil firm that had close dealings with the Taliban during Osama bin Laden's 1990's heyday in Afghanistan. . . .

As it now appears, Oil-for-Food pretty much evolved into a BCCI with a U.N. label. The stated aim of the program, which ran from 1996-2003, was to reduce the squeeze of sanctions on ordinary Iraqis by allowing Saddam to sell oil strictly to buy food and other relief supplies. As Oil-for-Food worked in practice, however, the program gave Saddam rich opportunity not only to pad his own pockets, but to fund almost anything and anyone else he chose, while the U.N. assured the world that all was well.

Read the whole thing.

LT SMASH is back and comparing Zapatero and Zapata. Socialism ain't what it used to be.

THIS MORNING I NOTED THE UNSAVORY HISTORY of gun control, as described by two law professors, Bob Cottrol and Ray Diamond.. Now a reader sends this unsavory history of drug prohibition, by law professor Charles Whitebread.

I'm against both, of course.

UPDATE: Michael Melton emails:

You've said you are in favor of legalizing drugs. Does your position extend to permitting over the counter sales of drugs which now require a prescription? It doesn't make much sense to sell heroin and cocaine over the counter, but require a prescription for eye drops and skin cream.

Hmm. I'm sure the Drug War is a mistake; I'm not so sure exactly how to replace current drug policy. But I'm inclined to think that antibiotics ought to be more strictly controlled -- since their overuse or misuse can breed resistant strains that endanger large numbers of people -- than "recreational" drugs, whose users primarily endanger themselves.

BUSINESS-BLOGGING AND ECONO-BLOGGING GALORE: This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up. Enjoy!

MORE ON KERRY, over at GlennReynolds.com.

DAVID BERNSTEIN praises John Ashcroft for protecting accused terrorists' civil rights. No, really.

MORE CALLS FOR A GORELICK RECUSAL are appearing -- inspired in part by Gorelick's own efforts to defend herself.

I WONDER HOW MUCH ATTENTION THIS PHOTO will get from Big Media outlets?

UPDATE: Well, it took a little while, but it actually got a lot.

HERE'S A COLUMN on the Kerry state income tax issue mentioned here earlier:

On the issue of affluent Americans paying more income taxes, John Kerry is, as always, consistent in his inconsistency.

On the campaign trail, he's in favor of raising taxes on everybody who makes over $200,000 a year. Unless, of course, he's the one being asked to pay more, in which case, forget about it.

We know this because of a little whoopee cushion recently inserted into the income tax forms of his home state of Massachusetts.

Weary of liberals always clamoring for higher taxes on other people, an anti-tax group managed to place a line on the tax form giving Bay Staters the option of paying at the old, since-repealed 5.85 percent rate, rather than at the current 5.3 percent rate.

For two years now, John Kerry has had the opportunity to pay his "fair share." But like some Benedict Arnold CEO, the Democratic Party candidate for president has taken the money and ran.

"Why do you even call asking about this?" his spokesman, Michael Meehan, said Saturday morning. "He has made the same decision as 99.9 percent of his fellow Massachusetts residents."

Read the whole thing.

LOTS OF INTERESTING POSTS over at VodkaPundit. Just keep scrolling.

JAMES LILEKS disagrees with Andrew Sullivan about the desirability of a gas tax.

ROGER SIMON has an update on the oil-for-food scandal (the UN's internal investigation is being stonewalled), what Iran is up to (using American antiwar sentiment to force us out of Iraq) and links to multiple analyses of what's going on in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Daniel Drezner has interesting posts on outsourcing and other topics.

NEAL BOORTZ: "Instead of defending his patriotism, Kerry needs to defend his positions."

Interestingly, many on the left agree.

JUST NOTICED THIS NICK DENTON POST from March 31 of last year, on partitioning Iraq:

Let's remind ourselves why the US intended to preserve the integrity of Iraq. Turkey was fearful of an independent Kurdistan, and Saudi Arabia hostile to the empowerment of the Shiites. And the US did not want to alienate the Sunni Arabs who dominate Iraq. Well, Turkey betrayed the US, and has forfeited its privileges; anything that makes the Saudis fearful is fine by me; and the Sunni Arab establishment failed to turn against Saddam. So screw them all.

Read the whole thing. Via email, Nick suggests that this is still a good idea. I'm not sure what I think about this -- it seems to me that the notion that old colonial borders are sacrosanct has caused enormous trouble throughout the world, and dividing Iraq would certainly send a long-term lesson about what happens to countries that resist the United States. But neither of those, by itself, makes it the thing to do. It's worth thinking about, though. (It's also worth noting the rather gloomy tone of this post -- the war's going badly, we need to rethink, the regime isn't collapsing like the Administration thought -- all from just before we utterly routed Saddam. Ups and downs are normal in wartime, and it's a mistake to let either the depression or the elation of the moment get the upper hand.)

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan (in his London Times column) and Joel Mowbray have more upbeat assessments.

THE RACIST ROOTS OF GUN CONTROL: If you're interested in these topics, you should read this article by Robert Cottrol and Ray Diamond. Here's the opening quote, on a Florida gun control statute, from a Florida Supreme Court justice in 1941:

I know something of the history of this legislation. The original Act of 1893 was passed when there was a great influx of negro laborers in this State drawn here for the purpose of working in turpentine and lumber camps.... [T]he Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers and to thereby reduce the unlawful homicides that were prevalent in turpentine and saw-mill camps and to give the white citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security. The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population.... [I]t is a safe guess to assume that more than 80% of the white men living in the rural sections of Florida have violated this statute.... [T]here has never been, within my knowledge, any effort to enforce the provisions of this statute as to white people, because it has been generally conceded to be in contravention of the Constitution and non-enforceable if contested.

Read the whole thing. You might also be interested in another article by the same authors: The Second Amendment: Toward an Afro-Americanist Reconsideration, from the Georgetown Law Journal.

PHOTOBLOG UPDATE: Here's a gallery of Israeli body painting photos.

No wonder fundamentalist Islam hates them. It's jealousy!

(Safe for work? Not too raunchy, but it depends on where you work. The ones from the Tel Aviv Love Parade are racier, though.)

April 18, 2004

SICK TODAY: Cancelled a trip for a pro bono project I'm working on. I doubt I'll be blogging much. I'm going to try to do the meeting via speakerphone, but the rest of the time I'll be reading the new Neal Stephenson book. See you tomorrow! I'll leave you with a picture of a lovely day, taken yesterday as I did my circuit of Lakeshore Park.

I hope you enjoy your day, wherever you are. Get away from that computer and get some sunshine! Life is short.

UPDATE: No, I'm not dying or anything -- just a cold that went from mildly annoying to quite nasty overnight. Blogging may remain lighter than usual throughout the week, as I husband my energies.

WINDS OF CHANGE has a bunch of links to ways to support the troops.

CARROLL MORSE: "The outcome in Venezuela will reveal much about whether the existing international system helps or hinders organizing in the name of freedom."

WHILE JOHN KERRY IS CALLING FOR MULTILATERALISM IN IRAQ, we're seeing firefights among U.N. peacekeepers in that multilateral non-paradise, Kosovo. "It is not known whether Mr. Kerry was aware of events in Kosovo at the time he recorded his demands. He may choose today to change his position."

UPDATE: More problems with multilateralism here.