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July 10, 2004

THE HARDY / CLARKE BOOK ON MICHAEL MOORE is at number nine on the NYT bestseller list.

INSTAPUNDIT'S AFGHANISTAN PHOTO-CORRESPONDENT, Major John Tammes, sends this:

Some of our CERP funds were used to dig a deep irrigation well at the village of Qara Bagh. I was invited to the dedication and opening of the well. All the area leaders and the elders of the community were present. After a prayer of dedication, they fired up the pump and when the water started, they all cheered and clapped and started thanking us in English and Dari. One of the older gentlemen, a teacher, came up to me and said "Thank you. Last year, no water, now...(he glanced over at the gushing water)...thank you, thank you." This country has a way of really giving you a serious perspective check . . .

Indeed.

AFTER READING ARNOLD KLING'S ARTICLE that mentioned it, I ordered Robert Fogel's new book, The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, about changes in the human condition since 1700. I finished it last night -- it is, as Arnold says, short but information-packed -- and found it very interesting. It fits nicely into a project I'm working on, and supports the thesis in this piece that we've already had a chance to see how extending lives dramatically would effect society. Fogel even notes that many chronic illnesses associated with aging (such as arthritis) now strike much later than they used to, meaning that, in a way, we can be said to have slowed the aging process already via better nutrition and living conditions.

JOE WILSON LIED, REPUTATIONS DIED:

WASHINGTON - A Senate report criticizing false CIA claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction at the same time provides support for an assertion the White House repudiated: that Iraq sought to buy uranium in Africa.

A Friday report from the Senate Intelligence Committee offers new details supporting the claim.

French and British intelligence separately told the United States about possible Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in the African nation of Niger, the report said. The report from France is significant not only because Paris opposed the Iraq war but also because Niger is a former French colony and French companies control uranium production there.

Joseph Wilson, a retired U.S. diplomat the CIA sent to investigate the Niger story, also found evidence of Iraqi contacts with Nigerien officials, the report said.

Hmm. That's not what his Times oped said, is it? But wait, there's more:

Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, dispatched by the CIA in February 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq sought to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program with uranium from Africa, was specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly.

Read the whole thing, which also notes that Wilson's public statements about what he found don't match the record. Josh Marshall, you got some 'splainin' to do. At the very least, I think it's time to answer Greg Djerejian's challenge. Isn't it?

I'LL BE ON TRAVEL for the next few days. Blogging is likely to be lighter than usual. Email response is likely to be worse than usual.

THE WESTERN ROOTS OF ISLAMISM: Which may also explain why it has so surprisingly many Western supporters.

DENNIS MILLER is apparently angling for a slot as California Attorney General.

That's not a compliment.

PAUL KRUGMAN gets spanked by Simone Ledeen.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH has a post on the Presidential candidates and Iran.

AS WITH SO MANY GOVERNMENT ACTIONS, this one was all about the pork barrel.

July 09, 2004

WINDS OF CHANGE has an interesting item on military and intelligence transformations. It's time.


HERE'S THIS WEEK'S FRIDAY-NIGHT CATBLOG, in homage to the no-longer-catblogging Kevin Drum.

This is Nicholas, on the guest bed. A damn fine cat.

BARRY BONDS VS. BARRY MANILOW: An interesting piece on divisions among baby boomers. It rings true to me. I marched in civil rights protests -- but I was 4. (Via Virginia Postrel).

THE LEFTY MELTDOWN CONTINUES, with this Death4Bush site. (Via LT Smash).

UPDATE: The surprising Michael Moore / Doug Feith alignment. Maybe Moore really is a Karl Rove mole, preparing America for the next war while pretending to criticize the last!

INDEED: "Well, so far the score is unhappy children from gay marriages: 1, unhappy children from traditional marriages 8 billion." I also admire the use of the term "pertrousorating," which is employed far less often than circumstances justify.

LOTS MORE NEWS on the Darfur genocide at Passion of the Present. It looks as if French support is encouraging the Khartoum government to resist efforts to stop the killing.

IF YOU'RE AN EDITOR, you should hire Howard Lovy. He's an excellent, honest, and careful reporter and writer. It's not like there's a surplus of those!

MY EARLIER POST on sending digital cameras to Iraq impressed some people with just how cheap this camera has gotten, at under $100. Yep. And I've got one -- it's taken most of the pictures you see here, more than the Toshiba and the Nikon combined, because it fits in my pocket -- and I paid something like $249 for it about 18 months ago.

As somebody wrote a while back, the real news in digital cameras isn't what you can get at the top end -- it's how much you can get at the bottom end.

DITKAMANIA!

WE'VE BEEN FIGHTING THIS SO-CALLED "WAR ON TERROR" for years, and yet Frank J. is mocking us by celebrating his second blogiversary. Bush has obviously dropped the ball. I'm voting for Kerry!

THE OPTIMISM MEME: Dave Shearon comments.

TERRY TEACHOUT -- investigated by the FBI!

FIRST KIRK AND SPOCK, NOW THIS: Not one, but two "slash" videos involving Kerry and Edwards.

I say it's part of the "flowering of modern folk culture." Not that there's anything wrong with that!

UPDATE: Here's another. And, even more bizarrely, there's a Kerry/Edwards slash fantasy community on LiveJournal, by people who appear to be sincerely crushing on the presidential pair. This is surely a campaign first. Let a hundred flowers of folk culture bloom!

CAN YOU BE AGAINST THE WAR, BUT STILL SUPPORT THE TROOPS? Yeah, but these people sure aren't:

Jason Gilson, a 23-year-old military veteran who served in Iraq, marched in the local event. He wore his medals with pride and carried a sign that said "Veterans for Bush."

Walking the parade route with his mom, younger siblings and politically conservative friends, Jason heard words from the crowd that felt like a thousand daggers to the heart.

"Baby killer!"

"Murderer!"

"Boooo!"

To understand why the reaction of strangers hurt so much, you must read what the young man had written in a letter from Iraq before he was disabled in an ambush.

Sigh. Maybe it really is 1968 all over again.

UPDATE: More thoughts from Scott Koenig.

IS MICHAEL MOORE DEFLATING? "Moore's moral universe is in large part an illusion. . . . This self-serving distortion is a metaphor for the man. It follows a well-worn pattern of convenient distortion in his work." This from the predictably anti-Bush Sydney Morning Herald. I imagine that the Kerry campaign won't be happy being associated with this poster.

UPDATE: Steven Den Beste thinks that Moore may be the American Left's Moqtada Al-Sadr. [Isn't it inflammatory to compare Moore to a murderous anti-American cleric? --Ed. Not after Moore's "Minutemen" comparison!]

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Paul Noonan thinks that the flag-burning poster linked to above is being misunderstood:

After looking at the flag burning cover that you link to, I find myself in the position of having to defend Moore. I recall that the cover of Fahrenheit 451 in my high school library featured a picture of books burning. Fahrenheit 451 does not advocate the burning of books. Therefore, I believe that Moore's point is that the administration is responsible for the destruction of what the flag stands for, and is accusing them of "burning the flag." He is in effect advocating NOT burning the flag.

Actually, I think he's probably trying to have it both ways, showing a burning flag while maintaining plausible deniability. That would be in character. When a provocateur uses a provocative image, the likely reason is to provoke. But the point is worth noting.

MORE: Reader Shane Nichols isn't buying the Moore defense above:

Okay, that was a valiant, but vain, attempt to defend another of Michael Moore's indefensible acts. Bradbury's book was a cautionary tale of the future in which the government's control of information had gone unbridled and reached the point of book burning. U.S. flag burning, on the other hand, is an act that is most commonly engaged in by the target audience of Michael Moore's movie. This poster, conspicuously depicting an American flag burning, was apparently directed to moviegoers in the Benelux countries. Does your reader really suggest that this poster is meant to strike fear in the heart of the average citizen of a Benelux country that U.S. flags will be burned -- as the book burning in F451 was intended to do with respect to books? That is ridiculous. The purpose of the burning flag on the poster is to do what everyone who looks at it thinks it is supposed to do: inspire or fan hatred for the U.S. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck . . .

I think that Moore's main goal was to get people talking about him, and he's succeeded. That's good for Moore. I'm not so sure it's good for the Democrats. As reader Tom Fojtik emails:

I just read Steve Den Beste's piece on al Sadr and Moore and am wondering if Moore is serving as the domestic equivalent of the "flypaper" theory some have used to describe our strategy in Iraq. All the folks that worship Moore are now out in public for everyone to see. Does Moore work for Karl Rove?

Moore an agent provocateur for Rove? I'm sure I could produce evidence that would compelling by Fahrenheit 9/11 standards!

STILL MORE: Thoughts on Tom Daschle and Michael Moore, from Daschle v. Thune, which says that Daschle missed a Joseph Welch moment.

MORE STILL: Hugh Hewitt says the Democratic party needs "electoral shock therapy." But it's had that before, repeatedly, since 1972 and it didn't seem to help.

TIME OUT? Roger Simon responds to Mickey Kaus's "time out" theory on the war, and this response to the original Peggy Noonan column, by John Rosenberg, is worth reading too.

UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

PROTESTS IN IRAN: Pejman Yousefzadeh is rounding up the news.

INTERESTING FCC DEVELOPMENTS, via the Political Diary email:

Did Nextel just get back from the federal government in spades whatever it spent last year to plaster its name all over the Nascar racing series, the cynosure of legions of red-state voters?

FCC Chairman Michael Powell threw his weight yesterday behind a deal to let the company trade its current cellphone spectrum for new spectrum that would interfere less with police and fire traffic. Mr. Powell, son of Secretary of State Colin Powell and once an emerging GOP star, said the battle produced "some of the most ruthless lobbying I have ever encountered." Verizon, a Washington force with former Republican Attorney General Bill Barr as its chief counsel, pulled out the stops against what it called a multibillion-dollar giveaway. Jim Nussle, GOP House Budget chairman, wanted the new spectrum put up for auction. (Verizon offered a starting bid of $5 billion, which is well over twice the amount Nextel likely will end up paying.)

Of course, what Nextel will end up paying is not easy to figure out. The company will bear a cost to relocate its own operations on the spectrum, plus will contribute to upgrading those of the emergency agencies. But there's a reason to suspect the deal wasn't a value maximizer for the taxpayer. The Bushies were eager to finalize a plan that would please police and fire chiefs in an election year. In fact, you have to hand it to Nextel, which managed to drape its "public safety" argument in post-9/11 patriotism.

And Mr. Powell? Rumors abound that he'll be leaving the FCC. Two years ago, his next stop would have been a Senate race in Virginia. Now he's likely to disappear into grateful anonymity at some investment bank or advisory firm. His stormy tenure embroiled him in one issue after another that seemed to be peculiarly inflaming to the left, right and center: Media ownership rules. Broadcast indecency. The "F word" as verb, adjective and noun. . . .

Mr. Powell burned his fingers on too many hot buttons, all ripe to be thrown back in his face in whatever primary or general election contest he entered, regardless of opponent. Even the Bushies will be glad to see him go. Too bad, because he had the right agenda for the country and was a tireless and good-natured proponent of the Internet cornucopia.

I don't think he was quite that tireless.

THIS COLUMN BY MARK STEYN would seem to offer an answer to Mickey Kaus's "time out" theory:

So we're living through a period of extraordinarily rapid demographic and cultural change that broadly favors the Islamists' stated objectives, a period of rapid technological advance that greatly facilitates the Islamists' objectives, and a period of rapid nuclear dissemination that will add serious heft to the realization of their objectives. If the West – and I use the term in the widest sense to mean not just swaggering Texas cowboys but sensitive left-wing feminists in favor of gay marriage – is to survive, it will only be after a long struggle lasting many decades.

Now go back to watching Fahrenheit 9/11 and kid yourself that this will all go away if Bush, Cheney, and Rummy are thrown out this November.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Jacob T. Levy responds to critics:

It takes a different set of skills and virtues to break something than to build something. The war-on-terror argument for the war in Iraq was that the status quo in the Middle East needed to be broken. The Afghan state that was hopelessly entangled with al Qaeda had earlier needed to be broken. It might be that a Democratic President 2000-04 would not have done either. But reconstruction of both Iraq and Afghanistan is also crucial-- crucial for, as Paul Wolfowitz and others always said, beginning any kind of political-cultural shift that weakens Islamism and moves the Muslim and Arab worlds toward civil society and democracy. And the Bush Administration has not shown any ability to manage those reconstructions successfully. This is not a call to hide from the war on terror for four years and hope it goes away. It's a call to understand that overthrowing states is not the crucial skill oif the current phase of the war on terror; and that that's the only skill the Bush Administration has convincingly shown that it has.

I don't agree that the reconstruction of Iraq has been a failure -- but even if you buy this argument, the missing part of Levy's position, and Kaus's, is an affirmative demonstration that a Kerry administration would do the job better.

Where's the evidence for that?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Nolan Clinard emails:

I have a sneaking suspicion that if the Kerry prevails this fall that it will be because voters wanted him to tell them that there are no monsters under the bed, that everything will be OK. Sorry, but I just find it very difficult to believe it will be because they feel he will prosecute the WOT more effectively.

I certainly hope that, if Kerry is elected, he does a good job. But so far I've seen nothing to indicate that it's likely.

MORE: Reader Jody Leavell writes:

I have to add something to the character of Mark Steyn's column concerning the need for better "construction" efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. To borrow from someone dear to Democrats Mark should be asking Americans "what have they done to help the President succeed?", and he should ask himself the question, too. I think too many people, journalists included, are hiding behind a superficial veil of morality when criticizing the President. After all, if Mark agrees that construction is the right thing to do why hasn't he bent over backwards in his columns to help achieve that. Is the only legitimate reporting
negative and non-constructive criticism?

This applies to so much of the media coverage surrounding the President and his efforts to secure the country. So many see their job as de-constructing the Administration, especially in time of war, to provide that extra check on power that only the fourth branch of government can provide. But they forget that democracy is a team venture and that the President has been elected by that team to lead them to victory. Moving to a football analogy, they have elected to be on the team and he has been designated the quarterback. When will they stop blaming him for dropping the ball and when will they start blocking in
support?

I agree with the general point, although I think a review of Mark Steyn's columns will indicate that he has, in fact, been quite constructive.

UPDATE: Jody Leavell sends this correction:

I have to make a correction in a letter I submitted to you July 9, 2004. My letter was a retort to a column clipping of Jacob T. Levy, not Mark Steyn, and was, frankly, a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. As you noted about my letter, the general point was pertinent, but I made a "cut and paste" error when composing the message. I can only give myself credit for being consistent in the error and using Mark's first name after that initial blunder. You were right to point out that Mark Steyn has been a very constructive critic and supporter of the President and the nation. If you replace Jacob's name for Mark's then you can see the correct target of my irritation.

I kind of thought that was what was going on.

KERRY: Too busy for terror briefings, -- but not too busy to listen to Whoopi Goldberg make dirty jokes about Bush.

Like I say, he's not serious. I wish he were, but he's not.

UPDATE: On the other hand, the pre-election Edwards sounds positively Bushlike:

But I do think that the more serious question going forward is, what are we going to do? I mean, we have three different countries that, while they all present serious problems for the United States -- they're dictatorships, they're involved in the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction -- you know, the most imminent, clear and present threat to our country is not the same from those three countries. I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to our country.

And I think they -- as a result, we have to, as we go forward and as we develop policies about how we're going to deal with each of these countries and what action, if any, we're going to take with respect to them, I think each of them have to be dealt with on their own merits.

And they do, in my judgment, present different threats. And I think Iraq and Saddam Hussein present the most serious and most imminent threat.

A lot of people were saying that then.

HUGH HEWITT: "The influence of blogging on politics is nowhere more obvious than in South Dakota."

THE INCREASINGLY-BIZARRE BASE: Victor Davis Hanson writes that the Michael Moore vote won't do it:

Only belatedly has John Kerry grasped that his shrill supporters are often not just trivial but stark-raving mad. If he doesn't quickly jump into some Levis, shoot off a shotgun, and start hanging out in Ohio, he will lose this election and do so badly. . . .

Kerry is only now starting to grasp that a year from now Iraq more likely will not be Vietnam, but maybe the most radical development of our time — and that all the Left's harping is becoming more and more irrelevant. Witness his talk of security and his newfound embrace of the post-9/11 effort as a war rather than a DA's indictment. It is not a good idea to plan on winning in November by expecting us to lose now in Iraq.

There is a great divide unfolding between the engine of history and the dumbfounded spectators who are apparently furious at what is going on before their eyes.

Read the whole thing.

EDUWONK LISTS five highly important and under-reported education stories.

JEFF JARVIS SAYS THAT THE DNC IS BLOWING IT WITH BLOGGERS: "Big time." John Tabin has more, though with a suggestion at the end that they're trying to fix things.

I expect teething problems, so I'm not going to be too hard on them. There's still time for them to get it right.

RAJAN RISHYAKARAN POSTS A LINK-FILLED SUDAN GENOCIDE ROUNDUP, noting more about the involvement of French and Chinese oil concessions. And in response to an earlier Darfur post mentioning this, reader Ryan Jordan emails:

Looking at the map linked to in the reader email of Sudanese concessions, I note that there are a few companies from countries we would expect to support that sort of thing (China, the Sudan of course, and Qatar) but there are also concessions to companies from Canada, Austria, and Sweden, besides TotalFinaElf from France. Perhaps a boycott or some massive negative publicity is called for?

Sounds good to me.

UPDATE: Reader Patrick Hall notes this map from the Chinese -- "the graphic pretty much tells the whole story."

Nothing wrong with drilling for oil, of course -- but if the Chinese join the French in trying to block action against the genocide there, we'll have a pretty good idea of why.

MICHAEL TOTTEN IS BLOGGING from an oasis in the Sahara desert.

JOHN EDWARDS ON TRADE: Robert Tagorda says that libertarian hawks are fooling themselves if they think he's much better on this issue than Gephardt. "Nobody believes that Edwards adds to the Democratic Party's national-security profile, right? He brings excitement, charisma, and message -- the 'Two Americas,' of which a skeptical attitude toward free trade is a part."

Meanwhile, Virginia Postrel, following up on her post yesterday, observes: "Vote for Kerry if you must, folks. But don't pretend you're doing it because Bush's economic policies are insufficiently free market or fiscally responsible."

Well, they are, actually -- but Kerry's very likely to be worse, not better.

BUSH VS. KERRY: Sean Hackbarth tries to resolve a burning question.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JUDAS? Yep.

KERRY LIED! Apparently, his claims of "better hair" are not borne out by survey evidence.

May the best candidate win, but when it comes to the best presidential hair, George W. Bush has America's vote, according to Wahl Clipper Corporation's 2004 Grooming Survey and First Ever "Index" on men's grooming habits.

Despite John Kerry's recent claim that the Kerry-Edwards ticket has the best hair, Wahl's survey found that the majority of Americans overwhelmingly voted for Bush's hair over Kerry's (Bush -- 51 percent; Kerry -- 30 percent; neither -- 10 percent; don't know -- 9 percent.)

Hmm. Bush may beat Kerry, but I suspect that the composite hair score for Kerry/Edwards beats the composite for Bush/Cheney. (Edwards had better hope so!) I eagerly await more data.

July 08, 2004

I SENT AUSTIN BAY A DIGITAL CAMERA before he set out for Iraq, and he's started sending me pictures. (Your donations at work!) Here's one -- I'm setting up a gallery over at Exposure Manager soon, but not tonight.

UPDATE: What camera? It was one of these -- cheap, rugged, and good. I sent this fancier one with my secretary, but he's still at Camp Pendleton. I'm hoping to get some video from him, bandwidth permitting.

DARFUR UPDATE: Here's a page from Human Rights Watch, saying that France -- last seen trying to block U.S.-initiated sanctions against the genocidal Sudanese government -- holds perhaps the largest oil concession in Sudan: "the concession, by far the largest in the south at 120,000 square kilometers, is owned by the oil multinational TotalFinaElf, and encompasses Central Upper Nile and beyond." Screw 'em -- I say no blood for oil!

UPDATE: Reader John Cunningham emails with a map (click "more" to read it)

Read More ?


LOOKING FOR SOME NEW BLOGS TO READ? Check out the new blog showcase, which, er, showcases new blogs.

MICKEY KAUS is chiding the Los Angeles Times, calling the Bremer/Alissa Rubin correction "defensive and un-mensch-like."

And I'm going to twist the knife a bit more by quoting Iraqi blogger Omar on this:

It seems that some people in the major media still think they’re the only ones who have eyes and ears and cameras and that ordinary people cannot have access to the information except from the major media outlets. They underestimated the prevalence and the effect of the internet in connecting people to each other and making the readers in direct contact with real eyewitnesses at the scene of events. I hope this will serve to make them more careful in the future on what to report, or make sure that they report from a place in which there are no bloggers.

Heh. Of course, it's worse than that -- as it turns out that part of the speech was actually broadcast on CNN

The new Iraqi government which took office today will shepherd the country to elections by January 31, 2005. Ambassador Paul Bremer formally ended the U.S.-led occupation by turning over sovereignty to Iraqi leadership today, two days ahead of schedule. Bremer then left the country. But before he did, he had a farewell message for the people of Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

L. PAUL BREMER, FRM. IRAQI CIVIL ADMINISTRATOR: The future of Iraq belongs to you, the Iraqi people. We and your other friends will help, but we can only help. You must do the real work.

The Iraq your children and their children inherit will depend on your actions in the months and years ahead. You Iraqis must now take responsibility for your future of hope. You can create that future of hope by standing fast against those who kill your police and soldiers, who kill your women and children, who wreck Iraq's pipelines and power lines, and then claim to be your champions.

You can create that future of hope by supporting your government and the elections they are pledged to bring you. You can create that future of hope in a thousand different ways by sharing through your words and deeds a personal commitment to a stable and peaceful Iraq.

You, Iraq's Kurds and Arabs, Shi'a and Sunni, Turkomen and Christian, you are more like each other than you are different from one another. You have a shared vision of how a united Iraq can, again, be a beacon of hope to the region. You have a shared hatred of the violence inflicted on you by those who abhor your vision. And you have a shared love of this wonderful, rich land.

Let no one pit you against each other. For when Iraqis fight Iraqis, only Iraqis suffer.

I leave Iraq gladdened by what has been accomplished and confident that your future is full of hope. A piece of my heart will always remain here in the beautiful land between the two rivers with its fertile valleys, it's majestic mountains and its wonderful people. ' (END VIDEO CLIP)

(Via Free Will Blog.) So they didn't just fail to notice something that was on Iraqi TV -- and snark about it in an uninformed but nasty "news analysis" piece that accused Bremer of leaving without making a speech, and said he was afraid to look Iraqis in the eye -- they missed something that was on CNN. Why do we listen to these guys?

Increasingly, of course we don't. And judging by the L.A. Times' "defensive and un-mensch-like correction," they're afraid to look us in the eye. And they should be.

UPDATE: In a related matter, Powerline features an email from the Washington Post's Baghdad bureau chief, giving his side of the story. "The bottom line here is that I did not know anything about the taped remarks when I wrote that Bremer did not deliver a farewell address. Knowing what I now do, thanks in part to media watchdog bloggers, The Post has corrected the record. It's too bad, though, that the CPA did not do a better job in informing the Western and Arab press about the broadcast."

VIRGINIA POSTREL writes on "growing anti-Bush sentiment among some libertarian hawks." These people are kidding themselves, she says.

Sadly, I think she's right. I'd actually love to think that I could trust Kerry on national security. But the only way I could do that, at this point, would be via self-delusion.

UPDATE: Reader Karl Bade has more thoughts here. Click "more" to read them.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Matt Welch isn't persuaded. Bill Quick is, but he doesn't like it.

Read More ?


JAMES MOORE writes on why we should call Darfur a genocide before it's done being one:

President Bush will take a truly historic step of world leadership if the US government labels Darfur a genocide. Human Rights enforcement will never be the same. A new Bush Doctrine, of prevention of crimes against humanity, will stand alongside the doctrine of prevention of terrorism.

I'm all for pre-emption.

EVERYONE KEEPS EMAILING THAT I SHOULD LINK TO JAMES LILEKS' PIECE ON MICHAEL MOORE TODAY: And they're right. I should just write a script that will make the first post of every day a link to Lileks.

But here's a bit: "He wants the flag to stand for clean water. This from a man who waddles up to the deep well of American freedom, fumbles with his zipper, and" -- you'll have to follow the link to find out how the rest of it goes.

WIRED NEWS reports on blogging burnout. Howard Owens, an ex-blogger who sent the article, emails:

Though burnout isn't exactly why I quit. It has more to do with the demands of a promotion, but talking with other bloggers who have quit for reasons having nothing to do with burnout or frustrations with certain segments of the audience, [they] feel a sense of relief after they get over the withdrawal. That's certainly been my experience.

It's a major effort. For me, it's still a fun effort, but it's nonetheless a lot of work.

UPDATE: Reader Benjamin Skott emails:

Before the war in Iraq, I would imagine you were usually considered a centrist. Now, whenever I see you mentioned in the media, it's "Conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds." I thought the media was supposed to be "nuanced" and not black and white like the good versus evil attitude they always accuse the right wing of having. Now, however, if you are for the war, no matter how liberal your other beliefs are, you are conservative. If you are against the war, you are normal. What gives?

I've pretty much given up fighting it, because yes, that seems to be the definition. Pro-gay-marriage, pro-choice, pro-drug-legalization, but pro-war? You're a "conservative."

But I guess that makes fair to call Pat Buchanan a "liberal." Heck, he's getting along pretty well with Ralph Nader these days. . . .

THE COACHINATOR: Could Mike Ditka be the Arnold Schwarzenegger of Illinois?

NO POLITICAL PRESSURE ON INTELLIGENCE? That's what the New York Times is reporting, and Tom Maguire has an observation:

More than 200 witnesses, any of whom would have been given a career-long shoulder ride by the Democrats simply for uttering the magic words, and no one admitted to being pressured to produce cooked intelligence? That will come as a shock to some, and we are sure the Times will want to highlight this information.

Is it just me, or is the "Bush lied" case in the process of collapsing? Via the on-a-roll Greg Djerejian, who notes that the Times isn't exactly giving the story front page treatment, and observes:

This, er, little piece of news is buried in Graf 5 of this Douglas Jehl NYT piece.

Imagine, God forbid, if it had gone the other way!

Say, for kicks, just one of the two hundred analysts said Doug Feith bullied him to death on his analysis of the intel.

What would the lede be then?

And where would the Times place the story?

Yeah, those are rhetorical Qs.

They sure are.

UPDATE: Check out this editorial cartoon about the NYT from Marty Two Bulls of Indian Country Today.

"WE'VE GOT BETTER HAIR:" I'm not sure that this is a good slogan for the Kerry Campaign, though it's the most amusing thing I've ever heard from Kerry's lips. And it beats Kaus's alternative!

Surprisingly, the Edwards pick hasn't boosted Kerry much in the polls, despite the overwhelmingly positive reaction from the press and punditry.

UPDATE: Reader John Platner emails:

Something tells me that the Bush campaign will use the "we've got better hair" Kerry quote as much as they used the "I voted for it and then against it" quote, and very soon.

Yes, the commercial pretty much writes itself.

DARFUR UPDATE: Has France ever met a murderous regime it didn't like?

France says it does not support US plans for international sanctions on Sudan if violence continues in Darfur.

The UN Security Council is due to discuss a US draft resolution imposing sanctions on militias accused of "ethnic cleansing" against non-Arabs. . . .

"In Darfur, it would be better to help the Sudanese get over the crisis so their country is pacified rather than sanctions which would push them back to their misdeeds of old," junior Foreign Minister Renaud Muselier told French radio.

But wait -- read on and you'll see the claim that the U.S. intervention is all about OOOIIIILLLL! Where have we heard that before? It's certainly not what these people are saying.

UPDATE: Reader David Lowe says I've got the oil bit wrong:

If you take another look at the BBC article about French opposition to
sanctions in Sudan, I think you'll find the story is noting French oil
interests there, not American ones.

France led opposition to US moves at the UN over Iraq, and as in Iraq also
has significant oil interests in Sudan.

Certainly the USAID summary of foreign oil and natural gas concessions in
the Sudan shows no US oil/gas interests there, while the French have a
concession in something known as Block 5: to TotalElFina, of course.

Link

It's nice to see the BBC acknowledge, even in passing, that France has a
financial interest in defending murderers and ethnic cleansers in the Muslim
world.

I looked at the story again and I think the language has changed, as often happens with BBC stories. It's possible that I misread it originally, but I don't think so. Either way, I'm certainly glad to make this point clear -- the oil interests are French, and the French are once again running interference for mass murder.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Unfortunately, Peter Beinart, unlike the BBC (at least now) appears to be peddling that old, tired line: "Africa is a Bush priority for one reason: oil." While there certainly is oil diplomacy regarding Africa (especially around Sao Tome, though that's slipped beneath the radar for the most part), and no doubt TNR would fault Bush if there weren't, this particular statement is so absurdly reductionist that I wonder if he's getting that line from the same TNR researcher who told us that Suriname is a majority-Muslim country?

MORE: Reader Randy Beck emails that the Beeb did change the story:

For what it’s worth, the BBC did change their story. I have a copy:

It’s now: “France led opposition to US moves at the UN over Iraq. As was the case in Iraq, it also has significant oil interests in Sudan.”

It was: “France led opposition to US moves at the UN over Iraq, and as in Iraq the US also has significant oil interests in Sudan.”

Yeah, that's how I remembered it. Thanks! And it wasn't an accident, as another reader writes:

Just wanted to let you know, and all your readers know, that pressure on the BBC works. I wrote them complaining about the oooiiiilllll reference concerning France's attitude toward sanctions on Sudan, and they just wrote to tell me they had corrected the story. The reference to the US was 'accidental.' So, keep on pointing out that we can make a difference; and if mainstream media want to remain meaningful, they had better clean up their act.

Good work! And -- I'm reprinting this just as evidence that nobody can get away with anything anymore -- there's this from reader M. Ajay Chandra in Edinburgh:

You didn't misread the BBC story earlier. I have a printout of the story after following your link, where the text is: "France led opposition to the US moves at the UN over Iraq, and as in Iraq the US also has significant oil interests in Sudan." According to my university printer account, I printed the story at 16:02:05 GMT.

Well, there you are.

STILL MORE: Beinart's remarks generated this comment from Howard Owens:

Given the world economy's dependence on oil, shouldn't oil play a significant
part in our foreign policy decisions?

I'm just sayin' ....

And Daniel Moore emails:

Regarding Peter Beinart saying "Africa is a Bush priority for one
reason: oil" makes me think of this retort -

So let me get this straight : just because there is oil somewhere, does that mean that the U.S. shouldn't go in there? That makes even less sense than going only to places where we do have oil interests. One has to wonder how Beinart is trying to have it. People in oil laden countries deserve to eat also - and not get killed by militias. Isn't this a basic (classical) liberal sensibility?

Yes, but sniping from the sidelines is a contemporary one.

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES HAS ISSUED A CORRECTION of its egregious error regarding Paul Bremer's farewell speech. No apology, however, for the story's snarky language:

L. Paul Bremer III, the civilian administrator for Iraq, left without even giving a final speech to the country — almost as if he were afraid to look in the eye the people he had ruled for more than a year.

If you're going to write stuff like that in a major newspaper, you'd better be, you know, right. Otherwise you just look like an idiot. And not a very nice idiot, either. . . .

Will the Washington Post -- which made the same error, if a bit less snarkily, in this story -- issue a correction?

And people wonder why we trust Iraqi bloggers more than Big Media. Patterico has it right:

I'm pleased that the paper has acknowledged its error. However, it is not an excuse that the speech was "not publicized to the Western news media." Bremer's farewell address had been common knowledge among readers of internet blogs since at least June 30, when I wrote about Tim Blair's criticism of the Washington Post for making the same exact error. Yet the front-page L.A. Times news analysis appeared on July 4 -- 4 days later.

Moral: someone at every major paper should be reading blogs. If they did, the papers might learn different points of view. They might pick up stories that are "not publicized to the Western news media."

And they might make fewer errors on their front pages.

Indeed.

UPDATE: You know, I think that Tim Rutten is right: "If the American news media are lucky, 2004 will be remembered as the year of living dangerously. If not, then this election cycle may be recalled as the point at which journalism's slide back into partisanship became a kind of free fall." Too bad some of his LAT colleagues have already shouted "Geronimo!" (More on Rutten here: "Rutten's column is actually quite dishonest.")

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Barry Dauphin notes that this reflects poorly on the Los Angeles Times' newsgathering:

It also means that no one at the LA Times is watching Iraqi TV. Nonetheless the editors of the paper apparently feel smugly certain that they are doing a thorough enough job covering Iraq to allow a "news analysis" piece of such low caliber into the paper.

Indeed. Meanwhile Tim Blair observes: "Still afraid to look anybody in the eye is the Washington Post, which is yet to apologise for its own no-speech claim. "

MORE: Ken Wheaton emails:

Two things:

1)About Bremer's speech "not publicized to the Western news media."

Call me crazy, but isn't it a REPORTER'S job to publicize these things? Isn't that what they're there for? Or is the LA Times basically admitting that it stole the news from elsewhere (namely the Washington Post) but because the NY Times didn't say any different, how could the LA Times have known?

2) Romenesko seems to have plenty to say about the NY Post fiasco, but still NOTHING on the LA Times bit.

Yeah, go figure.

GREG DJEREJIAN IS CALLING PEOPLE OUT:

Who will be the first prominent commentator on the left to finally step up to bat and say that the Niger/uranium story may have had real legs?

I know it won't be Paul Krugman or Maureen Dowd, Atrios or Daily Kos, of course.

And TPM is still, it appears, working on a Big Story.

But can't someone with integrity on the Left at least entertain the fact that there is more to this story than Joe Wilson's all clear?

We'll see.

UPDATE: More thoughts from Edward Boyd. I certainly don't know the whole story here -- but it seems pretty clear that what has been peddled as "the whole story" isn't.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Djerejian is also harshly critical of The New Republic's "July surprise" story, and that post is worth reading too. "I'm surprised they didn't instruct Musharraf and Co. to spring UBL the day Kerry picked Edwards! Can anyone seriously, without blushing, buy this stuff?"

They're not buying. They're selling.

ARNOLD KLING notes the ongoing productivity boom, and talks about its economic consequences -- and why such a dramatic phenomenon is getting so little attention. ("The 17 percent productivity growth from the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter of 2004 stands head and shoulders above the growth rate for any comparable period. In fact, it is better than any eight-year period since 1976.")

NEURO-COPS PATROLLING YOUR BRAIN?

The report ends with the following paragraph:

Sixty years ago the United States Supreme Court opined, "Freedom to think is absolute of its own nature; the most tyrannical government is powerless to control the inward workings of the mind." Jones v. Opelika, 316 U.S. 548, 618 (1942). No Longer. Pharmacotherapy drugs now give the government that power.

Read the whole thing.

MICKEY KAUS: Proud Kerry supporter -- and donor! (And coiner of this stirring slogan: "we survived Carter and we'd survive Kerry.")

KERRY & EDWARDS & FOREIGN POLICY: Some thoughts over at GlennReynolds.com.

July 07, 2004

SOMEWHAT TO MY SURPRISE, Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne is ready for a try at the X-Prize.

GREG DJEREJIAN says that Josh Marshall and David Ignatius "got fooled."

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner has comments on Marshall, and links to more.

BLACKFIVE HAS MORE on military ignorance on the part of the media.

STUART BUCK NOTES historical revisionism at The New York Times where welfare reform is concerned.

BUSH LIED TOLD THE TRUTH!

A UK government inquiry into the intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq is expected to conclude that Britain's spies were correct to say that Saddam Hussein's regime sought to buy uranium from Niger.

The inquiry by Lord Butler, which was delivered to the printers on Wednesday and is expected to be released on July 14, has examined the intelligence that underpinned the UK government's claims about the threat from Iraq. . . .

The Financial Times revealed last week that a key part of the UK's intelligence on the uranium came from a European intelligence service that undertook a three-year surveillance of an alleged clandestine uranium-smuggling operation of which Iraq was a part.

Intelligence officials have now confirmed that the results of this operation formed an important part of the conclusions of British intelligence. The same information was passed to the US but US officials did not incorporate it in their assessment.

Jon Henke writes: "I plan to spend the rest of this evening enjoying the vindication."

Enjoy it all you want, as it's unlikely to make the front page of the New York Times tomorrow.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt has more thoughts.

ANOTHER UPDATE: It's interesting to see how Reuters is spinning the story: "Inquiry Report to Drag Blair Back Into Iraq Mire." That's what'll happen if Reuters has anything to say about it. . . .

LONGER LIVES may have led to civilization:

HUMAN lifespan took a sudden leap about 32,000 years ago, allowing people to grow older and wiser, scientists revealed yesterday.

The five-fold jump in longevity may have been the key factor that shaped modern civilisation. . . .

The American scientists believe there had to be a distinct evolutionary advantage to large numbers of people growing older.

On the one hand, it would have led to more disease and disability. On the other, it would have not only encouraged social relationships and kinship bonds, but also the passing of information from old and experienced individuals to younger generations.

Makes sense to me. You can't build a civilization out of teenagers.

UPDATE: More here, including this observation: "Of course, 'older' in this context means making it to 30. Romanticized notions of prehistory obscure the fact that life back then was nasty, brutish and short."

THE WSJ POLITICAL DIARY FOLKS are emailing me free versions. They say I can quote it freely, too (which I'm normally loath to do with pay-subscription sites) so long as I provide a link to their main page. Other advertisers are encouraged to send free samples, too. Any Caribbean resort owners out there? Porsche dealers? Guinness distributors?

HUGH HEWITT doesn't like John Edwards as much as I do.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Charles Paul Freund observes:

Edwards is a smart and skilled politician who enjoys the good will of many independents and swing voters; the question is whether he can apply the attributes that gained him that good will in a campaign where he must play a more negative role, and where he will be the object of far greater scrutiny. Indeed, there were probably more serious questions raised about Edwards in the 24 hours after he became Kerry's running mate than there were in the course of the winter primaries. Edwards' media bubble is bursting, and we're about to see whether that is bad news for him, or good.

Indeed.

HERE'S A YOUNG PERSON who's striking back against cloying suburban conformity with a radical new website. Fight the power!

I WISH THEM SUCCESS:

As July 8 approaches, Iranians all over the world are preparing to display — as they do each year during this week — their hatred for the mullahs dominating Iran. This year, the annual demonstrations mark the fifth anniversary of the brutal university massacres of 1999. That was the year President Khatami showed his true colors, abandoning both his promised reforms and the people who voted for him. What started out as a reaction to the utter brutality of the fossilized establishment by young Iranian students has turned into a freedom movement the world should acknowledge and encourage. And yet, no Western politico has embraced the annual protest, a sign of a people's love for freedom, human rights, and democracy, within the confines of a tyrannical, dangerous regime.

Maybe not, but I'm embracing it. I wish them success, until the mullarchy is ended. May it be soon.

A COMBINATION OF IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS, and insufficient interest by Americans, are threatening American science. according to this report.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

My God.you mean market forces work? What a shock.

I mean, this looks like a great recruiting strategy:

Offer a bunch of intelligent people a career path that requires 10 years of hard work to get the right to land a $30,000/year job with no job security. Oh.and you have to move every two years for an indeterminate time period.

Let them get a good look at a bunch of demoralized 30-somethings who are trying to compete for limited jobs and funds against an entire world's worth of scientific talent (over 50% of the hiring pool in the US is made up of non-citizens). Make sure that the non-citizens are seriously motivated to work insanely hard, because if they're not employed in a visa-permitted category, they have to go home.*

(*And why are they here? Usually because there aren't even any post-doc positions in their home countries.)

Demolish the tenure system to the point that the ability to get multiple grants with an average acceptance rate of 10%) is a requisite for keeping your job, once you do actually manage to find one.

Yeah, sign me up.

Now sure, the truly brilliant people are OK in this system-but there's no room for what a friend (a Ph.D in chemistry who "defected" into the computer industry) calls the "utility infielders". And established scientists are amazed that students don't like those odds?

Unfortunately, research is a hell of a lot of fun, which is why I keep banging my head against a brick wall. But if I knew at 18 what I know now, I wouldn't be doing this for a living.

Sign me, anonymously please, as

A cynical but still fighting American-born post-doc

Perhaps reports like this one will encourage some rethinking of these incentive structures.

LET AMERICA BE AMERICA: "Guys, you gotta vet the poets you quote."

Not if you're reasonably confident the press won't call you on 'em..

UPDATE: Reader Jared Walczak emails:

The telling part of this whole episode, in my opinion, is that John Kerry is quite familiar with the Marxist leanings of Mr. Hughes. In fact, a new compilation of Langston Hughes poems will be coming off the presses in a little more than a month and features a preface penned by none other than Senator John Kerry.

Sources:

Link

Link

(And a Google News search turns up many more, although most seem to be based on the same AP report.)

Langston Hughes has been vetted, and Kerry likes what he sees. The rest of us are simply left to wonder what it all means.

Someone should ask him. One might admire his poetry on purely artistic grounds, of course, but using an expressly pro-Stalin poet as the source of a campaign theme seems to go beyond mere artistic admiration. At the very least it demonstrates -- yet again -- that the Kerry campaign still isn't ready for primetime.

RINGO'S QUESTION, answered. I was sad to hear about Vera, Chuck, and Dave.

ADVICE ON CIVILITY, from George Washington.

And more advice from LT Smash.

IMPORTANT observations on Iran from Patrick Belton.

But now the Mullarchy has reason to tremble.

TAXPROF notes that today is cost of government day.

AM I A HEALTHY-LIVING GUY, OR WHAT? First Guinness, and now coffee turns out to be good for you.

WEBLOG GROWTH continues to skyrocket. Cool.

A BUNCH OF SEIZED IRAQI NUCLEAR MATERIAL is apparently just a few miles from my house, at the "famously ill-defended Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee."

Hey, why did my vacation pictures come out foggy. . . ?

UPDATE: Heh.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Why, yes, it is funny that this isn't getting a lot of media attention. But not surprising.

RICH, BLOGGY GOODNESS: This week's Carnival of the Vanities is up, with blog posts from a wide variety of interesting bloggers. Hey, you may find blogs you like better than this one. It could happen!

Also, don't miss Arthur Chrenkoff's long, link-filled roundup of good news from Iraq, and don't miss this interesting firsthand report from Afghanistan over at Oxblog. Both good and bad news, but all of it stuff you're not likely to hear elsewhere.

ONCE AGAIN, Scrappleface anticipates real life.

MICHAEL YOUNG ON AL JAZEERA:

The second comes from a very well informed Lebanese journalist, who tells me that Al-Jazeera has recently fallen under the editorial control of those in the Qatari royal family close to the Muslim Brotherhood, hence its harsh anti-American line. He also added, as an exotic twist, that the station has "received advertising revenues from the former occupation authority in Iraq, despite the protests of the former Iraqi Governing Council."

No shocker, there. He adds: "For the record, too, a number of Al-Jazeera employees are seriously considering joining the new BBC Arabic-language television station."

They'll fit right in.

INTERESTING STUFF on author and Knoxvillian Frances Hodgson Burnett, who wrote The Secret Garden, which lots of people have read, and Little Lord Fauntleroy, which hardly anyone has read but which everyone has heard of.

I had always heard that the garden that formed the basis for The Secret Garden was here -- there's one in North Knoxville where they give tours occasionally -- but apparently that's (probably) a local myth.

EUGENE VOLOKH writes on treasonous speech, and links to an interesting draft article by Tom Bell. I'm not sure whether I agree with Bell's analysis either, but his article certainly illustrates a point I've made before -- that for all the talk we've heard about crushing of dissent, anti-war and anti-government speech is in fact far freer than in almost any previous war.

Meanwhile the real threat to free speech gets less attention than it deserves.

UPDATE: Volokh has a later post on sedition, too!

VIRGINIA POSTREL: "John Edwards won't carry the South, or even North Carolina, for John Kerry, but he may cost the Republicans some votes, as they misunderestimate him--and wildly overestimate the unpopularity of his profession."

I agree. An influential segment of the Republican Party hates trial lawyers -- but not all Republicans, much less swing voters, feel the same way. Republicans who think that just calling someone a trial lawyer will swing voters against them are out of touch.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse agrees.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg agrees, too -- but scroll up for other perspectives.

MORE: Bryan Preston says that I'm wrong. So does Will Collier.

Meanwhile Stephen Bainbridge acknowledges that dissing trial lawyers isn't a big vote-getter per se, but notes that it energizes the Republican base. That, I agree with.

And while this post is only sort of on-topic, it's kind of funny.

MORE STILL: Here's Holman Jenkins from the WSJ Political Diary service (pay-only, but they don't mind me quoting if I provide a link):

GOPers have struck fund-raising gold in John Edwards' history as a trial lawyer. But have they struck campaigning gold?

Republicans would be smart to tread carefully around Mr. Edwards career as a trial lawyer. He took strong cases with sympathetic plaintiffs. The problem for the nation isn't that trial lawyers are evil and all lawsuits are bad, but that the lawsuit industry has become so powerful that it's distorted the legal process and blocked reform. Even Mr. Edwards has implicitly admitted that there's problem. His bread and butter was medical malpractice, yet he's tried to inoculate himself from the obvious abuses by proposing an overhaul that would employ a panel of experts to screen out frivolous and unjustified cases before they get to a courtroom.

Tort reform can be a decent (not great) issue against the Democratic ticket if GOPers play it as a matter of special interests standing in the way of goo-goo reform that even Mr. Edwards has endorsed. The case to make is that he and his running mate are beholden to a lawsuit lobby that has gotten too big for its britches.

That seems right. That Edwards is a trial lawyer may give them some issues, and energize part of the base. But it's not worth much as a slogan, all by itself, which is how I see a lot of people trying to use it.

MICKEY KAUS is all over the L.A. Times for serial journalistic failures. Maybe they need more layoffs! If their coverage continues to deteriorate, they'll have them. . . .

ED MORRISSEY says that big media are AWOL on the Iranian-carbomb-in-Baghdad story. Killer kangaroos in Australia are getting more attention.

POLITICS AND VIDEOGAME VIOLENCE: My TechCentralStation column is up.

UPDATE: Cool related story here.

JAMES LILEKS:

About the John Edwards choice I have nothing to say that hasn’t been said elsewhere, but I do find it amusing that these guys are all so steeeenking rich. You have a guy whose wife is worth a cool billion and another guy with several dozen million running on a platform of hiking taxes on people who make 200K. Class warfare, man!

Indeed. (But they're backed by the little guy!) Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft, meanwhile, is horrified at the thought that Bush might replace Cheney, especially if the replacement is Rudy Giuliani: "Rudy? Our worst nightmare." As a guy with gay roommates, though, I don't think he really qualifies as "Ashcroft times ten."

July 06, 2004

DANIEL DREZNER has thoughts on civility and comments in the blogosphere -- and note in particular this troubling (though civil!) comment: "And if you buy that blogs (especially those with high readership levels) are points of collection for opinion leaders … well, it may be we’re seeing a leading indicator of less civil debate in our classrooms, breakrooms, and political conventions. As I Michele and I said to each other on the phone just this evening: we may be in for another summer of 1968."

I certainly hope not.

MEGAN MCARDLE has a fine rant.

KERRY, EDWARDS, AND IRAQ: Some thoughts over at GlennReynolds.com.

THIS IS A MAJOR DEVELOPMENT:

American and Iraqi joint patrols, along with U.S. Special Operations (search) teams, captured two men with explosives in Baghdad on Monday who identified themselves as Iranian intelligence officers, FOX News has confirmed.

Senior officials said it was previously believed that Iran had officers inside Iraq stirring up violence, but this is the first time that self-proclaimed Iranian intelligence agents have been captured within the country.

The Defense officials also confirmed to FOX News that in recent days there has been significant success in tracking down "known bad guys" based on information from local citizens.

Iran caught in an act of war against Iraq? Hmm. What could that lead to? As Ed Morrissey points out:

Combined with their instransigence on their nuclear programs and their capture of British sailors just days ago, the Iranians have exhausted the patience of everyone involved. These explosives would have been used against American personnel in Iraq -- in fact, some or most of the attacks on Americans in Baghdad may have already been generated from Iranian intelligence.

One suspects that Bush will be happy for the leverage, and the cover, that this development provides, if this story pans out. I think it's also good news that Iraqis are cooperating more on tracking down bombers, something that's likely to increase if this is seen as an Iranian assault on Iraq.

ANDREW SULLIVAN, by the way, clambered out of his hammock long enough to post a lot of stuff. Check it out.

GREG DJEREJIAN notes some speeches where John Edwards sounds like Paul Wolfowitz. Funny, he doesn't look neoconish!

ANOTHER EMBARRASSING ERROR FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES? Bremer left Iraq without even giving a speech? ("almost as if he were afraid to look in the eye the people he had ruled for more than a year.")

Funny, according to the Iraqis he gave a rather eloquent and well-received speech. . . .

More on the L.A. Times' failures here and here.

UPDATE: Tim Blair has more (including links to other media accounts of the speech), and says that The Washington Post blew this too. Sheesh. It's bad enough to get stories about war wrong, but how do you miss a televised speech?

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here, and a longer commentary from recently-returned Marine Reservist Eric Johnson here.

And another news account of Bremer's speech is here:

Bremer, making his last public speech in Iraq, read the transfer document, which was inside a blue folder.

"As recognized in U.N. security council resolution 1546 ... (the CPA) will cease to exist on June 28," he said. "The Iraqi interim government will assume and exercise full ... sovereignty on behalf of the Iraqi people."

"We welcome Iraq's steps (to take) its rightful place," he continued, "among the free nations of the world."

With a laugh, he added: "signed sincerely L. Paul Bremer, ex-administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority."

After the ceremony al-Yawer expressed his thanks to the coalition. "There is no way to turn back now," al-Yawer said.

Bremer said that despite an ongoing insurgency, a series of car bombs and kidnappings countrywide, he was leaving Iraq "confident in its future."

"Anybody who has any doubts about whether Iraq is a better place today than it was 14 months ago, did not see the mass graves of Hillah ... or see any of the torture chambers, or rape rooms throughout this country," he said. "Iraq is a much better place absolutely."

(Emphasis added.) Doesn't sound like a guy who was afraid to look Iraqis in the eye, does it?

THE BITER, BIT:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — A group of armed, masked Iraqi men threatened Tuesday to kill Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi if he did not immediately leave the country, accusing him of murdering innocent Iraqis and defiling the Muslim religion.

Heh. Spencer Ackerman comments: "Normally I'm against militias. For Zarqawi, I'm happy to make an exception."

EDWARDS UPDATE: The New Republic is offering a roundtable discussion on the merits of the Edwards pick, featuring Jonathan Cohn, Jonathan Chait, Franklin Foer & Joe Trippi. Worth reading, and it's in the free area so you don't have to be a subscriber. If you're just dropping by, scroll down or go here for my roundup post on the subject.

UPDATE: This Washington Monthly item on Edwards not knowing who Yitzhak Rabin was will probably get considerable circulation among the punditry. I rather doubt that it will make much difference to voters, though.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A balanced ticket? Not according to some.

This Kerry quote, on the other hand, may come out.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: A roundup of Edwards strengths and weaknesses, from Larry Sabato. And TalkLeft is "ecstatic."

Susanna Cornett, however, is not. Neither, apparently, are the Deaniacs. ("I'm sick about it. Once again the Kerry campaign is made to order for the ill informed, for pomp and no circumstance, for the pundits and not the people, for the camera and not my kids." Sounds like a future Nader voter to me.)

MORE: But Joe Trippi's onboard: "All in all, I do not think Kerry could have done much better. . . . Am I excited about Kerry-Edwards? Hell yes."

DON'T BLAME JOHN ASHCROFT: For quite a while, I've been running a blogad for Cordair Fine Art galleries, featuring a variety of images from their collections. Yesterday the ad featured this 7'1" bronze statue by Danielle Anjou -- a nude -- and a couple of readers actually wrote worrying that their companies might fire them for looking at a page containing that image, for fear that having such images on company computers might lead to a sexual harassment lawsuit.

You can complain about Ashcroft, or the FCC (and I have), but neither has done as much to censor speech in America as sexual harassment law. Eugene Volokh has made that point repeatedly, but the emails I got really brought it home. What's next? Banning The Birth of Venus?

UPDATE: David Bernstein, who knows a lot about this (he's written a book on the subject) has posted thoughts and links to more writings over at The Volokh Conspiracy. And he notes: "I think my piece may contain the only discussion from an academic book of the famous South Park 'Sexual Harassment Panda' episode."

CHECK OUT Jonathan Gewirtz's photoblog, which is really quite good.

IS NATO A "FRAUDULENT COALITION?"

Yet, even if the Europeans were more enthusiastic, they might have little to contribute. Germany, the largest country in the European Union, has 270,000 soldiers in its army -- yet its commanders maintain that no more than about 10,000 can be deployed at any one time. No matter the politics, the German Parliament is unlikely to authorize an increase in the current ceiling of 2,300 troops for Afghanistan. And Germany is the largest contributor to the NATO operation -- France, which has never liked the idea of NATO operations outside of Europe, has only 800 soldiers there.

For now, Bush's interest lies in glossing over this trouble. Kerry's pitch is that he can make it go away with a new, alliance-centered foreign policy. Both are, in effect, counting on the myth's staying alive -- at least until November.

Ouch. More background here. A military alliance with Europe is like going on a diet with Michael Moore: one of you will wind up doing most of the work.

In a related vein, Daniel Drezner has an interesting post on U.S. force structure.

STEVEN DEN BESTE: "I was tired of the November, 2004 election in November, 2003."

INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS on news that doesn't get covered, from Jessica's Well.

ECONO-BLOG-ARAMA: This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up. Don't miss it!

INTERESTING EMAIL from an embed with the Iraqi army.

UPDATE: Reader Jim Hoffman notes the contrast between the positive tone of the email above, and this Washington Post story on the same thing. It says a lot that he clearly puts more stock in the email. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Some perspective, here. And here.

AN ANTI-WAR RALLY FLOPS, and turns into a pro-America "victory vigil." There's a report, with pictures.

THE GAY MARRIAGE and Kerry farmboy flip-flop (or is it a straddle?) posts have been heavily updated, so if you didn't check in over the weekend you might want to take a look.

ARNOLD KLING says that the wonks have gotten it wrong on a lot of issues, and offers valuable correctives, all in the context of a discussion of Robert Fogel's new book, Escape from Hunger and Premature Death. Kling observes: "The problem with Wonkism is that it ignores mental transaction costs, if I may borrow a term coined by Clay Shirky in a different context."

IT'S A JOHN-JOHN TICKET: John Kerry has picked John Edwards as his running mate. Though I personally would have preferred Gephardt, who's stronger on the war, Edwards is a good choice for Kerry -- and it speaks well of Kerry that he didn't succumb to fears that the more-personable Edwards would overshadow him.

I suspect that the sunny Edwards fits into the return-to-normalcy Democratic theme that Mickey Kaus is pushing, too: "We need a break . . . to digest the history we've just made."

On the other hand, on the war front, the Kerry campaign seems to have managed to pull off some disinformation. . . .

But why is there still nothing about this on the Kerry campaign blog?

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg thinks Edwards is a good pick for Kerry, but is worried about Edwards' national security qualifications.

He also wonders if Edwards will be overshadowed by all the McCain talk that went on. For a while, I guess, but not for long.

My own prediction, by the way, is that at an opportune moment Cheney will drop off the GOP ticket for vague medical reasons and be replaced by someone whose selection will make a splash.

More on the disinformation bit here. And there's an interesting discussion on the topic at Daniel Drezner's. Sounds like the Edwards pick is a tribute to the power of Matthew Yglesias!

MORE: Hmm. www.kerrypicksedwards.com takes you here. Interestingly, so does www.kerrypicksgephardt.com. But www.kerrypicksmccain.com doesn't go anywhere. . . .

STILL MORE: Interestingly, Edwards was almost more pro-war than Kerry, to judge by these statements, though on the other hand he appears to have engaged in Kerry-like waffling over the funding for reconstruction. No doubt we'll be hearing a lot more on this soon.

And here's a post of Jim Miller's on Edwards' experience and qualifications. Many journalists and bloggers will be thanking Kerry for picking someone who ran in the primary, as it makes all those archived Edwards items useful again. It's a pro-recycling ticket!

MORE STILL: Pejman Yousefzadeh has a long, link-filled post on Edwards that's worth your time. It opens: "I really ought to stop betting on Dick Gephardt."

David Hogberg: "I still think Kerry’s best choice would have been Evan Bayh of Indiana. But maybe John Edwards is not a bad second choice. Maybe."

Jeff Jarvis: "Let the sniping begin!"

Howard Kurtz: "The press was collectively willing John Kerry to pick John Edwards, and got its wish when word leaked at 7:30 this morning. . . . The television chatter has been upbeat, in keeping with the media-industrial complex's conclusion that the North Carolina senator, the last man standing in the Democratic primaries, should get the nod."

Michael Ubaldi, meanwhile, has found something of a smoking gun regarding Edwards and the Iraq reconstruction money. Expect to hear more about this.

Meanwhile, I have to say that I think the Republicans' attacks on Edwards as a "sleazy trial lawyer" will misfire. That kind of thing appeals to the base, but most swing voters won't share that instinctive hostility -- and harping on it too much will just make the Republicans look like tools of Big Business.

Matthew Yglesias (who's modestly refraining from taking credit for the selection of Edwards over Gephardt): "As I see it, this is good for three reasons. One, it makes it more likely that starting in 2005, George W. Bush will no longer be in office. Two, VP nominees have a way of becoming presidential candidates down the road, and Edwards would be a better president than Dick Gephardt. Three, and most least importantly, I'd gone way out on a limb with the Gephardt-bashing and wasn't looking forward to needing to defend him after all once he got the nomination."

Josh Marshall: "I'd say this is a very solid pick on many counts."

TAPPED: "Rarely in American history has there been a groundswell of public support for a potential Vice Presidential nominee, as there has been for John Edwards."

Mr. Sun has pictures!

Finally, reader Chris Jefferson thinks that Bush is outmaneuvering Kerry. Click "more" to read his email.

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GOD BLESS AMERICA:

A somewhat belated 4th of July reminder of the difference between America and the USSR, and of the strength that caused us to win.

In the USSR, you had to wait in line for hours to buy rolls of toilet paper, and God help you if you dared raise a voice about the shortages.

In America, you can buy unlimited quantities of it imprinted with the President's face. Dissent that, if we really lived in a totalitarian state (as those at the Kerry booth I visited last night claim) would be brutally suppressed.

Indeed.

DARFUR UPDATE: I don't much like MoveOn.org -- they were started in response to the Clinton scandals, and given their name and origins it's sort of funny that they're still around. . . . Anyway, though, they deserve credit for mobilizing their members on the Darfur genocide

UPDATE: Tucker Goodrich emails:

I'd like to think they'e concerned.

I'm also willing to bet money that if Bush sent in the Marines, unilaterally, they'd oppose it.

So what's their concern really worth?

I think Kofi listens to them.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Karl Bade emails: "I'm always willing to credit a group doing the right thing, but isn't MoveOn due for a name change? After all, they've been unable to move on from anything since November 2000."

It's a branding thing.

July 05, 2004

CHIRAC'S ISOLATION:

Under the headline "Splendid isolation", France's Le Monde says the Iraq issue is confronting President Jacques Chirac with "a highly difficult diplomatic equation".

The president, it says, has to work out a way of "maintaining his opposition to the war without appearing to be shamefully nostalgic for Saddam Hussein".

His dilemma is "how not to oppose the reconstruction of a 'sovereign' Iraq without reneging on his original position".

As a result, at the Nato summit in Istanbul "France found itself isolated in its refusal to accede to America's requests and in its blunt criticism of George W. Bush's public pronouncements."

I've noticed this myself on occasion. But then, InstaPundit and Le Monde are soulmates. (First link via Judith Klinghoffer).

UPDATE: But don't worry, Europe -- France is offering its nuclear umbrella! Now that is sure to be a comfort. Or maybe Chirac has been reading Ken MacLeod novels.

DARFUR UPDATE: "This being the U.N., the resolution was toothless. Permanent members China and France are worried about jeopardizing their business interests in Sudan. Pakistan and Algeria, which hold temporary seats, refuse to impose sanctions on a fellow Muslim nation even as it is engaged in the mass killing of Muslims. Rather, the event that finally caught the attention of the government in Khartoum was the Bush Administration's threat last month to impose serious sanctions on Sudan and refuse visas to Sudanese officials. . . . It is fashionable these days to express distaste for American 'unilateralism' and 'hegemony.' The unfolding catastrophe in Darfur offers a chilling view of what the alternative really looks like."

ANN ALTHOUSE has thoughts on political ads, new and old.

UNSCAM UPDATE: An oil-for-food investigator killed by a carbomb in Iraq. As reader Tom Brosz notes, "As an analogy, imagine if the Mafia had killed a major investigator into the Watergate break-in years ago. What conclusions would the media have drawn from that?"

And there's this significant bit:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The Iraqi official in charge of investigating allegations against the U.N. oil-for-food program was the target of the bomb that killed him, according to the interior ministry.

Somebody should ask Kofi what he thinks about this. More thoughts here.

E.U. REFERENDUM is, you guessed it, a blog devoted to European Union doings.

ROBERT TAGORDA says Kerry is moving the goalposts.

TOM MAGUIRE has questions about a media bias story I linked earlier.

UPDATE: Interesting stuff in Tom's comments, too -- just keep scrolling.

MORE NEWS FROM CHINA:

Chinese military and security officials are forcing the elderly physician who exposed the government's coverup of the SARS epidemic to attend intense indoctrination classes and are interrogating him about a letter he wrote in February denouncing the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, according to sources familiar with the situation. . . .

The officials have detained Jiang Yanyong, 72, a semi-retired surgeon in the People's Liberation Army, in a room under 24-hour supervision, and they have threatened to keep him until he "changes his thinking" and "raises his level of understanding" about the Tiananmen crackdown, said one of the sources, who described the classes as "brainwashing sessions."

Someone certainly needs their thinking changed.

MICHAEL JENNINGS notes that Whit Stillman's film Barcelona "appears wiser by the day."

On the other hand, here's an account that anti-Americanism in Europe is "fading."

NASA'S MILT HEFLIN corrects a reporter:

This was not a "mishmashed oil change"... rather, it was an illustration of that part of our culture that does not fear solving problems and accomplishing great things.

Ouch.

THE LIST OF LAST TABOOS at The Guardian seems rather long. Who knew they were so uptight?

And Nigella Lawson is welcome to contaminate my kitchen any time.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Larry Lessig has a piece in Wired that makes some observations on nanotechnology and politics:

Suddenly, nanotech replaced Y2K as the nightmare du jour. And this in turn inspired some scientists, hoping for funding, to push a very different approach - not the bottom-up vision of molecules manufacturing things, but a top-down system of human-controlled machines making ever smaller stuff. There was lots that could be done without nanobots. Buckyballs, nano-building blocks, had already been discovered; nanoscale computer chips were just on the horizon. The billions that Clinton had offered could be put to good use, scientists promised. There was really no need for scientists "to scare our children," Nobel Prize-winning chemist Richard Smalley scolded, with talk about self-replicating monsters.

Then things turned really ugly. For it wasn't enough for some to argue against building tiny assemblers. The world of federal funding would only be safe, critics believed, if the idea of bottom-up nanotech could be erased. Molecular manufacturing, Smalley asserted, was "just a dream," and "simple facts of nature [would] prevent it from ever becoming a reality." In an ideal world, such scientific controversy would be settled by science. But not this time: Without public debate, funding for such "fantasy" was cut from the NNI-authorizing statute. Thanks to Senator John McCain, not a single research proposal for molecular manufacturing is eligible for federal dollars. . . .

Given the politics of science, this strategy is understandable. Yet it is a strategy inspired not by the laws of nature but by the perverse nature of how we make laws. We are cowards in the face of Bill Joy's nightmare. We dissemble rather than reason, because we can't imagine rational government policy addressing these reasonable fears.

It is this that we should fear more than any nightmare Bill Joy might imagine.

Indeed. (Via Howard Lovy).

It's also a strategy that has already backfired, though there's reason to hope that things are improving.

UPDATE: More thoughts here: "bemoan it all you want but this is the political process we have."

SOME OF US ALREADY KNEW THIS, OF COURSE:

A significant number of BBC news reports are untrustworthy and littered with errors because the corporation's journalists fail to check their facts, according to e-mails sent by one of the BBC's most senior news managers. His messages reveal that the credibility of the news service is "on the line" because of a climate of sloppiness.

If only "sloppiness" were the biggest problem.

UPDATE: Maybe the BBC folks should just read this!

DARFUR UPDATE: I SYMPATHIZE WITH THESE SENTIMENTS but it won't work:

If the Sudanese government can't or won't act, and the threat of international sanctions (the U.S. already has sanctions in place) doesn't work, then troops it must be. The ideal solution would be to use troops drawn from the region, but they don't seem to have sufficient numbers and training. Thus, once again, the world will be standing around, waiting to see what the United States does.

However, we already have two foreign military projects — Iraq and Afghanistan — that really ought to be finished up before we take on anything new. But there are major nations fresh and rested from sitting on the sidelines that can and should take the lead.

How about it, France and Germany? The criteria you said you'd need to justify intervention — a clear humanitarian crisis and a U.N. resolution — are there. We'll hold your coats.

If only.

AL GORE REMINISCED ABOUT PULLING TOBACCO, and John Kerry has fond memories of his farmboy youth:

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee told about 100 gathered at a western Wisconsin dairy farm that he empathized with the plight of rural residents because he, too, had not only farmed as a child, but he had lived, and had learned to cuss, in that earthy environment. . . .

''Let me tell you something: When I was a kid, this 'kid from the East' had an aunt and uncle who had a dairy farm, and one of my greatest joys in life -- in fact, I lived on a farm as a young kid. My parents, when we lived in Massachusetts, we lived on a farm, and I learned my first cuss word sitting on a tractor with the guy who was driving it," Kerry said as he stood, wearing jeans and new Timberland hiking boots, in the tractor shed at the Dejno family farm.

The use of the word "cuss" by a Massachussetts Senator, and by the Boston Globe, is surely evidence of creeping Southernism, but the real news in the story is this bit:

Kerry also said he would no longer favor the Northeast Dairy Compact, which expired in 2001, because it had been superseded by regional agricultural agreements in the 2002 Farm Bill.

I was for the Dairy Compact before I was against it! Mickey Kaus is calling it "Milkflop." And it is big political news, though I was more struck by the passage later in which a Kerry spokesperson clarifies the nature of Kerry's "farm experiences."

UPDATE: It's not just milk -- Ed Morrissey reports that Kerry is flip-flopping on abortion. Well, the nomination's sewed up.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The country-boy image isn't working.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails that Kerry isn't "flip-flopping" on abortion. Hmm. Well, I suppose you could argue, as Mickey Kaus has on other subjects, that what Kerry's doing is more properly called a "straddle" than a flip-flop: trying to please both sides by telling each the part of his position that's most palatable, rather than actually reversing position. Which is it? I'll leave the resolution of this burning question as an exercise for the reader. Which is worse? I'll leave that to the reader too, but quote this observation by Kaus: "Flip-flopping reflects indecision. Dissembling and straddling reflects a calculated , dishonest opportunism that isn't even smart in the long run." Your call!

Meanwhile, Tom Maguire has further analysis of Kerry on abortion, which readers may find helpful in making that determination.

MORE: Tim Blair looks at other Kerry memories.

STILL MORE: In the abortion story, Soxblog notes that Kerry gets four strikes.

Four strikes? Four strikes? Look, I’m no baseball genius like Terry Francona or Grady Little, but I thought after three strikes you were out. Is this what we can expect from a President Kerry? A shameless bending of the rules to seek his own ends? A smug sense that the rules that apply to others don't apply to him?

That would be so unlike the Senator we've gotten to know.

Indeed.

WE HAD A LOVELY FOURTH, with barbecue (but not a whole pig,) a 90th birthday party for my grandmother, and various other enjoyable activities. And there were lots of fireworks.

I hope that you had a good weekend, too.

UPDATE: An Independence Day reminiscence from reader John Earnest follows. Click "more" to read it.

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July 04, 2004

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!