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 . . .
posted at 07:13 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
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?
posted at 07:07 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
posted at 07:19 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
posted at 06:57 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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!
posted at 06:43 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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!
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.
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.
posted at 02:21 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
posted at 10:30 AM by Glenn Reynolds
HUGH HEWITT: "The influence of blogging on politics is nowhere more obvious than in South Dakota."
posted at 10:27 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
posted at 08:40 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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?
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.
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.
posted at 08:04 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
posted at 11:22 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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)
As regards oil in the Sudan, a little Google work will show that Southern Sudan, the area of the ethnic cleansing campaign by the Sudanese government, is the site of a number of promising oil fields. Here's map of the current oil concessions in the area:
Please note that petroleum industry reports place the *known* oil reserves in Southern Sudan at over 1 Billion barrels -- and French company Total has the most lucrative drilling rights to that oil. It is blindingly clear that the Sudanese government is using the so-called "Janjaweed" militias to wage war upon the ethnic black Christian and Animists in the South, to push them from the oil lands and to keep them under heel. This is not new -- only newly "discovered" by the Western press. This war has been going on for over a decade, and hundreds of thousands have already died -- all under the watchful eye of France and other European nations more concerned with oil than human lives, unconcerned that the government in Khartoum has brought chattel slavery back into fashion in Africa. Check out i-Abolish.org for more info on this.
Actually, southern Sudan is the site of a different genocidal war, now (perhaps) resolved as the result of a recent U.S. diplomatic initiative recently praised by Nick Kristof. But the French fear, I think, that doing anything about Darfur (to the northwest, near Chad) will imperil their operations in the South now that things are quieting down there.
LOOKING FOR SOME NEW BLOGS TO READ? Check out the new blog showcase, which, er, showcases new blogs.
posted at 10:29 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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."
posted at 09:16 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
Growing anti-Bush self-delusion in the blogosphere... and not just among libertarian hawks. Sullivan calls himself conservative, but he's not a social conservative, so he's with Kerry. And with all due respect to Virginia Postrel it's the FMA that's the deal-breaker with Sullivan. Ironically, Sullivan writes today that it is those who think the FMA is doomed that are delusional, though the polling on the FMA shows nowhere near the level of popular support necessary to pass it: http://www.pollingreport.com/civil.htm
Mickey Kaus, a non-libertarian and Kerry critic, has officially bought into the "gold watch" argument recently described by Peggy Noonan (but which Sullivan sketched first in February). Kaus wrote that we need to take a "time out" in the war, a proposition so laughable that he's had to edit the post and explain that he really meant that we need to consolidate and have less swagger.
The belief that Kerry will adequately prosecute the War can be shown to be self-delusion from Kerry's performance in the Feb. 15, 2004 Democratic Primary Debate:
GILBERT: Senator Kerry, President Bush a week ago on "Meet the Press" described himself as a war president. He said he's got war on his mind as he considers these policies and decisions he has to make. If you were elected, would you see yourself as a war president?
KERRY: I'd see myself first of all as a jobs president, as a health care president, as an education president and also an environmental president. And add them all together, you can't be safe at home today unless you are also safe
abroad. So I would see myself as a very different kind of global leader than George Bush. Let me be precise.
He has ignored North Korea for almost two years. I would never have cut off the negotiations of bilateral discussion with North Korea. I think he's made the world less safe because of it.
He has ignored AIDS on a global basis until finally, this year, for political reasons, they're starting to move. They still haven't adopted the bill that we wrote three years which could've done something. He's ignored the cooperative threat reduction that Howard just referred to. We didn't buy up the nuclear material we could have to make the world safer.
He walked away from the global warming treaty. He abandoned the work of 160 nations that worked for 10 years to try to make the world safer. He didn't continue the efforts in the Middle East with an envoy who stayed there and helped to push that process forward.
I think there is an enormous agenda for us in fighting an effective war on terror. And part of it is by building a stronger intelligence organization, law enforcement, but most importantly, the war on terror is not going to be completely won until we have the greatest level of cooperation we've ever had globally.
The worst thing this president does is his lack of cooperation with other countries.
So I will lead in a different way, and I will not just sit there and talk about the war. I'll talk about all of the issues and provide solutions for America.
To Kerry, the War on Terror is Job Five. To Kerry, Bush should not have cut off bilateral talks with N. Korea, but the worst thing Bush does is not cooperate with other countries. To Kerry, Bush somehow endangered national security by abandoning the Kyoto Treaty, which Clinton never submmitted to the Senate because there was literally no support for it there. To Kerry, the War is just one issue among many. To Kerry, terrorism is a law enforcement issue -- the very policy that brought us 9/11. To Kerry (and Edwards, for that matter), it is acceptable to cast a protest vote against funding the War, in order to pander to activists in the primaries.
To believe that Kerry' will be serious about the War, in the face of his very public lack of seriousness on the War, is self-delusion. To ignore that France's post-WWII foreign policy has been to attempt to constrain the United States and play footsie with our enemies is self-delusion. To ignore Kerry's voting record on national security issues is self-delusion. This self-delusion is spreading, and not just among libertarian hawks. Fortunately, you have steered clear of it. Keep it up.
Well, it's a comfortable delusion, allowing you to stop worrying about a lot of things it's unpleasant to worry about; I've felt its lure myself. And for many people, supporting a Texas Republican in a war creates quite a strain in terms of their self-image. And, as I say, if it weren't for the war, it'd be a closer call for me. But there is a war, you see, and we don't get to decide it's over when we're tired of it. That's not how wars of this sort work.
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.
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.
posted at 04:13 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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. . . .
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.")
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.
posted at 09:01 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MICKEY KAUS: Proud Kerry supporter -- and donor! (And coiner of this stirring slogan: "we survived Carter and we'd survive Kerry.")
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.
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."
posted at 07:13 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
posted at 05:35 PM by Glenn Reynolds
RINGO'S QUESTION, answered. I was sad to hear about Vera, Chuck, and Dave.
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."
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.
posted at 08:34 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
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.
posted at 08:14 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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. . . .
posted at 08:05 AM by Glenn Reynolds
ED MORRISSEY says that big media are AWOL on the Iranian-carbomb-in-Baghdad story. Killer kangaroos in Australia are getting more attention.
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."
posted at 07:51 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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."
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.
posted at 09:02 PM by Glenn Reynolds
ANDREW SULLIVAN, by the way, clambered out of his hammock long enough to post a lot of stuff. Check it out.
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?
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."
posted at 12:12 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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."
posted at 11:58 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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."
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.
UPDATE: Reader Jim Hoffman notes the contrast between the positive tone of the email above, and thisWashington Post story on the same thing. It says a lot that he clearly puts more stock in the email. . . .
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."
posted at 09:20 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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. . . .
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!
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."
For some time, I have suspected that Bush has been pulling a huge head fake about Cheney. I share your suspicions for the following reasons.
Kerry has basically chosen the safest choice available: John Edwards. It is not the intelligent pick that will help him broaden the Democratic Party. That would have been either Hillary Clinton or Evan Bayh. Either one of those candidates had a good record on the war that would have resonated well with moderate Republicans and Independents who would have lit up Roger L. Simon's website but good. I just don't see Edwards doing that. Neither Kerry nor Edwards voted for the 87 billion dollar appropriation, for instance. As I'm one who believes that the worm will turn Bush's way in Iraq, and soon, I suspect that these votes will come back to bite both men in the butt. However, as Edwards polled well in focus groups and was popular among national Democratic pols, Kerry went with the safe choice who won't overshadow him.
Now for the next three weeks, the media will do its best to create a hagiography about Kerry and Edwards and contrast them with Bush and Cheney. Kerry will be secure in the knowledge that his running mate will energize the Democratic base in ways that he cannot and appeal to independents. This is where it pays to be President. You always have ways of seizing the initiative. If, in the next two or three weeks, Bush can find a way to step all over Kerry's party with a veep announcement, he could throw a huge monkey wrench into the Democratic campaign and it will focus the Press back on the President. Kerry wants to use the Edwards announcement to create a steamroller effect that will culminate in a Boston coronation and the aura of inevitability that he lost to Bush in May. If Bush can break this up, he breaks up Kerry's momentum and puts the game back at 45-45-10 (Nader doesn't count-he got 1% in 2000, and he will get less now. Same goes for those goobers in the Constitution Party and the Libbietarians) going into HIS convention.
This is where Condoleezza Rice comes in. Her performance before the September 11th committee was pretty damn good, given the fact that the Democrats had come for a lynching. So I think she passed the pressure test to Bush's satisfaction, and to the satisfaction of most Americans. Only the Moore crowd dislikes her, and they dislike Bush anyway. I have a strong hunch that Bush knows how to keep a secret, and will announce Cheney's retirement (after the First Term is completed: no confirmation hearings to disrupt things) on the Thursday prior to the opening of Kerry's party. Indeed, if Bush decides to be a real prick, he'll do it on the Thursday of Kerry's acceptance speech, to drown out Kerry's face time with Condi Rice buzz.
Rice is a good pick for several reasons: seasoned foreign policy experience, sound conservative principles (especially on RKBA issues-gun people like me love her), and appears to be a centrist on abortion issues (she doesn't like it, and is personally pro-life, but doesn't want to try to repeal Roe, for instance). She's also black, female, and extremely telegenic.
Here's the problem with keeping Cheney: he doesn't reach out beyond the base demographic. Rice can do that. Republicans won't come close to winning black voters with Rice on the ticket, but if they score in the high teens, Kerry loses a bunch of battlegrounds that he needs. Rice can also make it a fifty-fifty game among women, and Kerry needs a sizable majority among women to win.
Cheney can't do this for Bush. I think Karl Rove knows this. I think it's now a question of timing (btw, I don't think it will be Rudy, as I think Rudy is to anti-RKBA for the base voters' comfort). Bush will wait until Kerry least expects it, and then will strike.
I find this scenario pretty plausible -- but then, I've been calling for Cheney to be replaced on the ticket, preferably by Condi, for quite a while. And given Edwards' record, it'll be hard to fault Rice for lack of experience, since her national-security credentials are a lot better than his.
I think that Cheney not only fails to bring votes to the ticket, but is an actual liability to Bush, and that if Bush keeps him it will probably cost him the election. I also think that there are a number of good picks out there -- not just Condi, but Rudy Giuliani (though I agree that the already-sullen gun-rights segment of the base wouldn't be overjoyed with him), John McCain, or Colin Powell, for example. We'll see.
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.
posted at 08:38 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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."
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.
posted at 10:43 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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."
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?"
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."
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.
posted at 01:57 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
posted at 12:41 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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!
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.
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."
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.
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.
posted at 09:17 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
A brief note on my 4th in your in box. I grew up in the rural South, where Independence Day was "The 4th" and barbecue meant pork. My family always had a big one, and I learned early the way we cooked our baby ribs: a concrete-block pit, 3' x 6' x 4', with a stainless steel grill; wet/green hickory fire with an oak starter base (keep flames sprayed down); a dip tub of several gallons of vinegar, equal amount of water, and 2-3 boxes of salt; a case or two of as fresh and as young swine ribs as my general-store-owner grandfather could get; ;15 minutes to a side, dip and flip, for 5 hours or so, until the ribs began to tear easily as they're forked to flip. (Shoulders and butts stayed on 8 hours or more.) The result was a "dry" rib, with little residual fat, which would be a tad tough to people who think a rib is the kind of parboiled and burned-on ketchup-sauce putrescence you get at a Chilli's, Friday's or even a Tony Roma's.If you wanted wet you put on a sweet/warmish and thin tomato-vinegar-brown sugar-lemon-mustard-cayenne sauce. 30 or so people ate ribs, tangy, meaty and smoky beyond any other in my experience. Empires could be built on meat like this. Sorry, I love it so I couldn't resist.
Anyway, we don't do so big so often now. Yesterday we had a quiet affair. Sitting at the "men's table" was my father, a brother, my 18-year-old son, and two of my family's long-time friends. We got around to how I had been slyly urging my son to follow his Iraq-bound 22-year-old cousin to USMC OCS when he goes to college next month. One of the men mentioned he had been a Marine in the Pacific in World War II. And that turned the conversation. I learned my own father had manned an Army 155 mm howitzer in the Pacific, becoming a 19-year-old three-striper (he joined at 17 to "get in before the war ended").. The other man had been and a soldier at Schofield Barracks at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and then a Sherman-tanker in the Army's Pacific island campaigns, The Marine had island-hopped in the Pacific, starting in 1942 at Guadalcanal.
I'd never heard these things, and I don't think these men had ever talked to each other about their service. Because everybody had done it, I guess. Their campaigns were not the high profile ones like Iwo Jima or Okinawa, but they could talk about "Guadal", Bougainville, Makin, Rabaul, Rendova, Kwajalein, the Philippines, Saipan. They talked very little of actual combat experiences: a still-amazed description of how Japanese troops swarmed wave after screaming wave at night across the Tenaru River until they were slaughtered a few feet away from entrenched Marines; the body of the 6' 4", 250 pound Japanese (they still called them "Japs") officer on Saipan, and how the U.S. troops there were full of talk of a tribe of Japanese giants from Hokkaido. Mostly they talked about related details: how good a rifle the 1903 30-06 bolt-action Springfield was for new Marines; the pitifully inadequate 37 mm "pack howitzer;" the equally poor "Grant" tank; how ecstatic one was to see a palm-covered Kwajalein Island he was to land on in a few hours reduced by pre-landing bombing and shelling to a smoking, treeless wasteland; the way infantrymen stuck like fleas to the tanks in a symbiotic relationship; how the morale of Pacific Theater troops went sky-high with news of the successful air ambush of Pearl Harbor mastermind Admiral Yamamoto; how the Seabees didn't have a military bone in their bodies, but could take jungle and turn in into a functioning airfield in a few hours; how poor National Guard divisions usually were; how the Marines took an island (and higher initialcasualties but shorter canmpaigns) by advancing indivdual units as quickly as each could move and ignoring unprotected flanks, but how the Army units slowly moved linked together in an unbroken line.
Their memories of occupation duty in Japan were delightful to them: a 2-cent haircut in Osaka, with neck-massage by fenale masseuse included; how the Army's rowdy 11th Airborne was confined to their base for weeks after they drunkenly destroyed a barracks; the 40-year-old Australian career-private who started out a friendly drunk but ended the night raging at my boy-soldier dad's rank; their (eventual) fondness for the Japanese people, and respect for their discipline. Each of these old men retained enough Japanese to converse with each other. In my youth I had heard my dad say only an occasional "arigato." They apparently did not trust themselves to breathe a word about the friends they lost or the bad dreams I know they sometimes still suffered, even 60 years later.
My father is in the early stages of Alzheimer's, and the other two were palsied or deaf. I know this probably sounds like contrived sentimental slop, but these men really did spring to life.They remembered the way an island smelled, or how a wind was always hot, the 30-minute thunderstorm every afternoon at 2:30, the consistency of a packed-coral airfield runway.. Each one of then could still rattle off his serial number, 8 digits I think. My dad today sometimes struggles to remember the telephone number he's had for 40 years. They even spent a few hours going over some of the Pacific-war volumes of an old Time-Life Books WWII series we have, each photo bringing a comment For the first time in my life I saw my father as a kid young enough to be my son. That my own son was hearing these things now was as if I had listened a generation ago to a World War I vet. I hope my boy understands what it was he saw and heard. When the men left to go home hours later, I hugged each for the first time in at least 40 years.
My grandfather owned a General Store, too. (A lot like this one). He served in Europe, and got shipped to the Pacific just in time to see the war end, and was quite relieved to miss out on Pacific action. I never heard many stories from him, but I remember my dad saying that the worst part of the war for him had been having to fight Hitler Youth in the final days of the war in Germany; he wasn't looking forward to repeating that in Japan.