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August 07, 2004

STARTING LAW SCHOOL IN THE FALL? Blawg Wisdom has collected all sorts of links and helpful advice.

IS KERRY ALREADY PLANNING TO CUT AND RUN from Iraq? Tacitus has been mining interviews and statements and says "yes."

Perhaps Kerry should read this post from The Belmont Club first.

JOURNALISTS: Cheering and jeering are off limits.

STRATEGYPAGE REPORTS:

IRAQ: Sadr Calls for His Army to Rise Up and Ask for a Ceasefire

August 7, 2004: Muqtada al Sadr's Shia radical militia has lost over 400 dead in the last few days, and the government has given Sadr 24 hours to disband his militias. Sadr was unable to get a ceasefire, and is now denouncing the United States as the enemy of Iraq and Islam. The problem with this is that the majority of Iraqi Shia don't like Sadr or his gunmen.

Zeyad has considerably more background, including this observation: "One also can't help but wonder about the timing of Sistani's departure from Najaf to London for treatment. The man is known for his subtle messages, could this be a sign for his tacit approval to finish Sadr and his militia once and for all?"

All of this stuff has been overshadowed to some degree by campaign news, which I suspect is how the White House likes it.

UPDATE: Alex Bensky emails: "It's worth remembering that these are the sort of people Michael Moore compares to the Minutemen and to whom he lends his support."

Didn't I see him sitting with Jimmy Carter at the Democratic Convention?

TOM MAGUIRE says that The Boston Globe's Mike Kranish, author of the exploded Kerry retraction story -- and, it seems, subject of some conflict-of-interest problems -- is "cooked." ("Kranish wrote a wildly deceptive and misleading story.") Meanwhile Beldar shares some personal experience.

(Via Roger Simon, who has further thoughts.)

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt says that claims on Drudge yesterday that Kranish was author of the official campaign biography are wrong -- though apparently the Amazon page for the book said so until some time last night. (That's what readers have emailed me -- but now it just says Kerry & Edwards are the authors). [LATER: Actually, it still says Kranish, sometimes, I guess due to cacheing issues -- and I've saved a screenshot since this issue seems to be of some public importance.] If I understand the constantly-shifting aspects of this story, Kranish was supposed to write the foreword, but backed out -- and I guess the Amazon page wasn't updated to reflect the change until this became a big story.

None of this, however, answers Maguire's criticisms about inaccurate and deceptive reporting. And the whole thing still seems kind of dodgy.

But scroll up from the Hugh Hewitt link -- or just click here -- for more questions about the Christmas-in-Cambodia bit, which seems beyond dodgy. As Hewitt observes: "The venom directed at Kerry's critics among the swift boat veterans, including Ann Lewis and Donna Brazille on Crossfire today calling these men 'liars'-- tells me that the Kerry campaign is deeply worried about this attack on the central theme of Kerry's campaign. Well, if he lied about being sent to Cambodia, Kerry's narrative is in trouble."

"In trouble" is putting it mildly. They're certainly acting desperate.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Kranish / Kerry book thing is a side issue -- though an embarrassing one for the Globe -- but here's the BarnesandNoble.com page, which says more about Kranish's role in the book. Key bit: "Can the Kerry/Edwards 'Real Deal' succeed? In his introduction, the Boston Globe's Michael Kranish provides keen insight into what a Kerry/Edwards administration could mean for America's future."

In fact, however, the Kerry campaign has put the book up in PDF form and the introduction is now signed by Kerry and Edwards.

Does this make Kranish a more (or less) reliable source? Given Maguire's dissection of his actual reporting, I don't think it matters much. But the whole thing still strikes me as dodgy. More background here, though I'm not sure how well it fits with the Globe version here. More interesting stuff in the comments here. And note this. [LATER: The cache in the previous link has been cleared and a new, Kranish-free version substituted.]

More here.

TERROR ALERTS: A political minus for Bush, it would appear.

UPDATE: The Time folks email their latest poll results: "While a majority, 54%, believes that the Bush administration would not 'use a terrorism alert for political reasons,' 38% think that the alerts might be used for political reasons, with 7% undecided."

August 06, 2004

She loves to sleep in this baby carriage.

I'LL BE OFF at a premiere party for the InstaWife's new show. If you're a Nielsen family, be sure to watch it, and invite all your neighbors to watch it with you. Others may also want to watch Dennis Miller tonight, where I hear he'll have a surprise guest.

And for the rest -- more catblogging! Back later.

YEAH, I guess this would do it. Heh.

ANOTHER FLIP-FLOP: It's hard to stay on message from one week to the next, I guess.

BILL HOBBS rounds up some items on newspaper websites and registration. I'll add another point: the registration schemes suck.

The Insta-Wife got interviewed today by someone from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who bragged that the paper had over 300,000 registered users. "Yeah," I responded. "I'm five or six of them." That's because their site, like a lot of others, doesn't remember me, and often won't accept my username/password. I had assumed that was technical ineptitude, but maybe it's a clever scheme for inflating readership stats. . . .

More thoughts on this stuff in this column.

STUART BUCK looks at Judge Charles Pickering's first desegregation opinion.

TOM MAGUIRE IS PARSING SWIFTBOAT STORIES and (with help from Spinsanity) looking at Kerry's military service in general.

Yeah, I agree with Lileks that Vietnam is old news. But I'm not the one who made it a centerpiece of this campaign.

UPDATE: More here!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Polipundit says he's changed his mind about the SwiftVets ad.

JOHN FUND:

If anyone needed evidence that the explosive growth of so-called 527 independent expenditure groups is a blight on our politics, it's obvious in the form of the controversial new ad attacking John Kerry's Vietnam War service. . . . If good government types really want to clean up politics, they should explain how campaign reforms such as McCain-Feingold -- which made the creation of more 527 groups unavoidable -- are helping to do that.

So far, I'm unimpressed with campaign finance "reform."

EARLIER, I noted a story saying that one of the Swift Boat Veterans against Kerry had recanted his story. But now he's saying that he stands by his story, and that the earlier report misquoted him. And the author of the earlier report, a Boston Globe reporter, turns out to also be the author of what seems to be the official Kerry campaign biography. Sounds fishy.

UPDATE: More on this story and the background of Kerry's service here. Lots of links and information.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Interesting connection between conflicts of interest at the Globe and campaign finance reform: "What we have here is an unpaid, ongoing, every day commercial for the Kerry campaign on behalf of the Boston Globe. The Boston Globe is nothing more than a Kerry campaign house organ when this guy Kranish writes the stories, and nothing about campaign finance reform can stop it. In fact campaign finance reform has empowered the media."

The whole thing seems kind of fishy to me, and I'm not convinced we know the whole story. I wish we could count on media watchdogs like Romenesko to get to the bottom of stuff like this, but his coverage of news that impacts badly on Kerry's campaign has been rather thin.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More on Kranish here.

THIS IS INTERESTING:

In a Cali Today poll, 90 percent of Vietnamese Americans said they would vote for Bush, and only 10 percent said they would vote for Kerry.

Vietnamese living in Vietnam, on the other hand, favored Kerry over Bush. (Via SOTW).

DOES VIETNAM MATTER? Some perspective:

Vietnam doesn't matter. Vietnam was almost 40 years ago. Some will argue that if what the Swiftboat Vets say is true, then that reflects poorly on Kerry's character. Personally, I can't hold something from that long ago when he was a young man in difficult times against him. It says a lot more about his character to me that he made such an issue of his service in the first place. What really matters, though, is that the war on terror is right here and now. I don't care if Bush was a slacker national guardsman or if Kerry was a war hero (or not). I care about how we are going to fight this current war.

Indeed.

NEW ZEALAND AND ANTISEMITISM: ANOTHER EXAMPLE of why bloggers should try to always have a digital camera handy. (Did Helen Clark establish the climate that makes this sort of thing more likely?)

These sorts of images don't often make the mainstream media, and somebody should be out there capturing and publicizing them. You can't do that if you don't have a camera with you. And they're cheap and easy-to-use now.

UPDATE: Apparently, some newspapers have picked these pictures up, which is more evidence of the power of the blogosphere. And some people want to know how to contact the New Zealand embassy to express their concerns. Here's the contact page. Be polite.

And this story suggests that Helen Clark's behavior may have encouraged this sort of thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader suggests contacting the New Zealand tourism industry. There's an email link here. Again, politeness pays.

TOM W. BELL offers a lesson for Arnold Schwarzenegger, drawn from the short reign of the Emperor Pertinax.

DARFUR UPDATE: It looks as if "cheat and retreat" is the order of the day. And read this post, too.

JEFF JARVIS has some useful thoughts on the blogosphere and freedom around the world.

MORE BABIES AND BATHWATER: Daniel Drezner has a very useful roundup on intelligence reform. "The more I think about it, the more I believe that the Commission has put forward a serious proposal -- but there should not be an a priori assumption that it's the best proposal."

INSTAPUNDIT READERS will recall that I'm something of a Gary Hart fan. He's back, with a new book coming out, and an oped in the Los Angeles Times, and -- most significantly -- big blog posts on his foreign policy thoughts from David Adesnik, Phil Carter, and Robert Tagorda.

UPDATE: Related thoughts here and here.

JAMES LILEKS:

Revisiting Vietnam in 2004 seems about as useful as debating the Phillippines war while the troop ships are sending Doughboys to the trenches in France. We have more pressing issues, I think. The news today noted that the men arrested at the Albany mosque were fingered by some documents found at Al-Ansar sites in Iraq, of all places. Iraq! Imagine that. I would sleep better if I could snort sure, it’s a plant and tell myself that it’s all made up, it’s all a joke, a phony show designed to make us look the other way while a cackling cabal of Masons and Zionists figure out how much arsenic they can put in the water next year. (Arsenic: the fluoride of the left.) But no. I am one of those sad little pinheads who think it’s really one war, one foe, with a thousand fronts. And I want us to win.

If you bridle at the terms “us” and “win” you really are reading the wrong website.

Indeed. But don't miss the G.W. Bush corn photo. And if you are interested in the Philippines war, read this.

HOWARD KURTZ writes that Kerry is experiencing a "reverse media bounce:"

Four years ago, the pundits trashed Al Gore's convention speech. He sounded like a "vice president on speed," Sam Donaldson said.

But then a funny thing happened. Gore shot up, by as much as 17 points, in Newsweek, USA Today and Washington Post polls. And the tone of the coverage was dramatically altered. The previous blather was inoperative -- the convention was a smashing success!

Who ya gonna believe, journalists seemed to be telling themselves, your own eyes or the polls?

Now the opposite seems to be happening. Kerry's tightly scripted convention drew lots of favorable coverage, especially his address ("I've never seen the man speak so well"--Joe Klein), and yet the Boston bash didn't move the polling meter. Kerry may even have dropped a couple of points. So now the media -- who ya gonna believe? -- are in full reassessment mode.

Maybe it was a lousy convention after all!

They should have been reading more blogs.

STEPHEN BAINBRIDGE writes on California's business climate and being nibbled to death by ducks.

MICHELLE MALKIN has posted a long and detailed set of responses to criticisms of her new book.

DESPITE YEARS OF EFFORT, journalism still has a diversity problem.

ONE OF THE SWIFTBOAT VETERANS is retracting his statement about John Kerry.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, here's what looks like some good advice for Bush on how to handle this.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts here.

MORE: Apparently, the retraction story isn't true.

RICHARD NIXON: Not the President, in Christmas of 1968. Er, wouldn't John Kerry know that?

August 05, 2004

IN RESPONSE TO A LINK TO A CNN TRANSCRIPT I POST BELOW, reader Carter Wood emails: "Perhaps folks should laud CNN just now and then for posting all their transcripts. It's a real service."

Yes, it is. Thanks to CNN, and all the other outfits that make things like that readily available. It's a major contribution to informed discourse.

JOHN HAWKINS ASKS: "how do people this hypersensitive make it through the day?"

Angrily. But amusingly! Related thoughts here. I never expected my second career as a male model to get so much attention. No doubt Calvin Klein will be calling any day now. . . .

UPDATE: Heh.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: It seems that the Democratic National Committee and the Kerry Campaign are making a habit of trying to use lawyers' threats to keep critical ads off the air.

Somehow, I think this would be getting more attention if Republicans were doing it. It's rather thuggish -- and it carries more than a whiff of desperation.

HEY, MAYBE THIS TERROR STUFF REALLY IS ALL CONNECTED:

ALBANY, N.Y. — Information found in Iraq led federal investigators to become suspicious of an Albany, N.Y., mosque leader, FOX News has learned.

Yassin Muhhiddin Aref's name, telephone number and address were found by U.S. troops last summer in an address book left behind in a vacated terrorist training camp, a U.S. official told FOX News. The book also contained the title given to Aref by Ansar al-Islam, the terrorist group running the camp: "the commander."

Aref, 34, is the Imam of the Masjid As-Salam mosque in Albany, N.Y. He and one other mosque leader were arrested Thursday and charged with helping an undercover informant posing as a weapons dealer who was plotting to buy a shoulder-launched missile that would be used to kill the Pakistani ambassador in New York City.

Go figure.

UPDATE: Link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry.

IT'S NOT W.B. YEATS, but I like it.

THE FBI is continuing to investigate the Anthrax cases, and it appears that their attention isn't directed at Steven Hatfill any more.

UPDATE: Another anthrax-related observation.

HOW SMART IS JOHN KERRY? Ann Althouse weighs in on this vital question, and SoxBlog has another post on the subject. Meanwhile the ever-lovely Lily Malcolm emails to note that she first raised these questions back in March. (She has followup posts here and here.)

And while I understand the table-turning fascination that this question has for some people, I think I'll echo Lily: "I'm not convinced this is territory into which Bush supporters should wander." And I think she's also right to add "I'm not sure any of it says much about their fitness for the presidency."

Our smartest (modern) presidents, after all, were probably Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.

UPDATE: David Levy emails:

Haven't you forgotten Richard Nixon? One of my teachers, George J Stigler, thought he was off the scale. And George was a very good judge of such things.

From which one concludes many things ...

As Jurgen learned in the end, cleverness is not on top, and never has been.

ERIC MULLER HAS POSTED another item critiquing Michelle Malkin's new book, and it seems to me that Muller makes a pretty strong case that the conventional wisdom is right, notwithstanding Malkin's audacious critique. Perhaps Michelle will respond, when she's done dealing with sick kids.

Unfortunately, though, the fear that I expressed earlier has come true, and most of the discussion has to do with things that happened 60 years ago, as opposed to what we ought to do now. I'd really like to hear some thoughts on that.

DANIEL DREZNER rounds up some interesting stuff on what's going on in Saudi Arabia.

ANOTHER X-PRIZE CONTESTANT:

TORONTO (Reuters) - A Canadian team of aspiring astronauts has set an Oct. 2 launch date for the country's first manned spaceship, as it tries to win a $10 million prize set up to spur commercial space travel. . . .

Unveiling an unfinished version of their rocket, the Wild Fire, at a former air force base in Toronto on Thursday, the da Vinci Project said the craft will launch from the small town of Kindersley in the western province of Saskatchewan. . . .

More than 20 teams are competing for the Ansari X Prize established in 1996. The prize will go to the first team that sends three people, or an equivalent weight, into space, safely returns them, and repeats the entire venture within two weeks.

This is excellent news.

CNN'S JUDY WOODRUFF interviewed one of the Swift Boat Veterans in the ad that's got the Kerry campaign spooked, along with another veteran who's a Kerry supporter. Here's the transcript.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: Kerry's campaign is threatening to sue stations that air the Swiftboat Vets ad. They're claiming that the people pictured aren't who they say they are.

I hope that the media will investigate this story, and get to the bottom of things.

UPDATE: Reader Mike McLoud isn't impressed:

The letter from Kerry's lawyers is disingenuous. It calls the Swift Boat vets frauds because none of them were "crewmates" of Kerry's. The vets claim is to have "served with" John Kerry. They actually commanded boats in the same unit. The doctor is called a fraud because he didn't do the paperwork on Kerry's first Purple Heart injury.

In the vets book, and in interviews, he says he treated the wound and a corpsman filled out the reports. I'm not a lawyer, but the letter seems to play fast and loose with facts. Are the Swift Boat vets that big a threat to Kerry? Is this desperation?

Similar observation here. ("At least one of their points in the letter is an obvious lie.")

Well, if Bush had threatened legal action to block Michael Moore's film from showing, I know what people would say. As to the underlying facts -- I feel sure that we'll know the truth by the time of the election, regardless. Reader Rick Vogel isn't impressed with the letter, either:

If you take a look at the letter the Kerry campaign sent, they complain

"Not a single one of them served on either of Senator Kerry's two Swift Boats. Further more the doctor was not a crewmate of Senator Kerry"

"The statements of the phony "crewmates" and "doctor" in the advertisement are totally, demostratably, unequivocally false, and libelous"

Well, I saw the ad and it did not say they were crewmates. It said they served with him and the picture on their site makes it clear that they were "brother" officers. Creating such an easily dispelled strawman as part of your defense does not bode well for the rest of Kerry's case.

I'm pretty sure that the Kerry Campaign wouldn't want to go to trial on this, with sworn testimony and discovery on all sides, before the election. But hey, I could be wrong. Reader David Brenna thinks this is a mistake on Kerry's part: "Kerry does appear desperate, but I think he'll just cause a media feeding frenzy. The DNC is blowing it!"

After the bogus "dirty tricks" claim regarding the bunny-suit photo, I'm inclined to agree. But we'll find out.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Alan McAnn thinks it's a mistake, too:

If Kerrry had proof that this ad was a fraud, wouldn't he be better served to respond to it publicly - either himself or others in the party (Edwards?).

This letter makes them look like they have something to hide because they are not doing this publicly. Instead, they are trying to create a legal chill behind closed doors.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays. I think Kerry would have been better off confronting this himself, rather than sending lawyers to make threats. But what do I know? Finally, reader Greg Roberts thinks Kerry's being hypocritical here:

I hope someone points out any hypocrisy between Kerry's complaints about the Swiftboat Vets and Kerry's implied support of Michael Moore at the DNC. Assuming that Kerry is being honest and that this group is falsely attacking him, it would be fine if Kerry asked the Bush folks to publicly reject the Swiftboat Vets ad. However, Kerry didn't seem to have much of a problem tacitly supporting the world's biggest discredited Bush basher, Michael Moore, where he was repeatedly shown sitting next to Jimmy Carter in the DNC's VIP box. Will Kerry be hypocritical enough to complain about vicious Republican attacks from the Swiftboat Vets, even though he didn't have the decency to reject Moore's lies about Bush? Mmmm, probably...

Indeed. I have to note that "campaign finance reform" doesn't seem to have produced more mannerly elections.

And for a contrarian view, the futures market seems to think this is actually bad for Bush.

And Kevin Greene thinks it's all about giving biased media an excuse not to run the ad:

The real reason for the threatening letter is to give already biased media outlets a "legitimate" reason NOT TO RUN THE AD.

Your readers are correct in their reading of this letter. There are more red herrings in it to feed all of the people in the Bible. But the effort, at its core, is to provide POLITICAL COVER to stations so that they CAN REASONABLY REFUSE to run it.

"Hey, we were told it was false. We don't know if it's true, therefore, we can't run it."

End of ad

This will backfire, and is surely why the Internet is the medium of our time. More people, I suspect, will see this ad because of the controversy over the attempt by the Kerry camp to keep it under wraps.

We'll see, won't we?

There may be blowback already: Reader Pat Kim emails:

Kerry's lawyer says that SwiftVets.com is funded by "a Houston homebuilder". I'm a Houston home-seeker. Who's the builder they're talking about so I can call him about a house?

Heh.

More blowback, from Powerline: "The Swift Boat Vets don't have the money to secure broad distribution for their ad. Their strategy, obviously, is to try to make up in news coverage what they lack in cash. It seems to me that Kerry's strategy plays into the Vets' hands. The more time between now and November that is spent debating the truth of the Vets' charges, the worse for John Kerry."

GEORGIA HAS SECEDED from the "two Americas," according to this report. Unlike earlier secessions, this is a good thing.

FRANK J.: "I just want to say IT'S ALL COMPLETELY TRUE! I am Atrios."

It's plausible. Especially when you read the comments.

SPINSANITY REPORTS that Democrats are overstating Kerry's service record.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE LIBERATED, a weekly roundup of Iraqi blog posts, is up. The electricity problem remains serious, and somebody needs to pay more attention to it.

UPDATE: On the electricity, reader Tom Brosz emails:

The electrical problem in Iraq has two sources: Baghdad is no longer getting special treatment, and the demand from an economy growing at 60 percent a year is skyrocketing.

This DOD source shows that Iraq's production, around 6,000 MW, currently exceeds the prewar levels (about 4,400 MW) by a considerable amount. The chart at this site shows some of the numbers throughout the war. Note the change in portioning between Baghdad and the rest of the nation.

Interesting. I hope that things are this good, but even if so somebody needs to get the message to the Iraqis.

UPDATE: More on electricity here, supporting the notion that consumption is rising faster than generation. Nonetheless, to ordinary Iraqis things don't look good, and that's what matters.

BUSH'S CELEBRITY PROBLEM:

The announcement of a series of anti-Bush fund-raising concerts across nine swing states this fall serves as another reminder of the White House's celebrity problem. As John Kerry amasses ever greater support from the entertainment community, the Republican candidate must make do with whatever table scraps drop from Democratic plates.

How much does this matter? Beats me.

ANDY BOWERS notes a secret ban on SUVs. No, really!

JOE LIEBERMAN ON HOWARD DEAN:

Dean first made the charge that politics may have played a role in the alert level decision in an interview Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition."

Since then, a number of prominent Democrats, including presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, distanced themselves from those remarks.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut went so far as to say "nobody in their right mind" would believe that Bush would "scare people for political reasons."

Lieberman joins John Kerry, who has already repudiated Dean on this. And good for him.

UPDATE: Reader Chris Foster thinks I'm giving Kerry too much credit:

Dean's charges on the timing of the alert level seem pretty carefully orchestrated: let Howard make the allegation, have it dutifully reported as near-fact by the media. and then let Kerry & Co distance themselves from the comment.

What better way to distribute an unfounded claim without having to take any responsibility for it?

I suppose that's possible, but I doubt it. This dissing of Dean is causing trouble with the base, and I don't think the Kerry camp would do that as a strategy.

ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, reader Sean Starke agrees with Chris Foster: "This tactic is straight out of the Gore/Carville/Lehane/Begala playbook."

MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT KERRY'S CLAIMS OF HEROISM: I don't think this story has legs, though. . . .

CAMERABLOGGING: In response to my earlier photo post, reader Mark Casazza emails:

My favorite little camera is the Canon S500 (Link; B&H is only a few blocks from my apartment so I included that link rather than Amazon's). It is small enough to just ride around in my backpack and with the aluminum body it is durable enough to survive the experience. The S500 replaced my older S400 last month; there wasn't anything wrong with the S400 but my younger daughter (16) wanted a camera and I took the opportunity to upgrade.

Yes, I like B&H and have bought a fair amount of audio and video stuff from them over the years, although their website doesn't give as much consumer information as Amazon's. There must be a disturbance in the force, because I just bought this Sony DSC-P93 5 MP pocket camera, and am planning on passing the Olympus down to my daughter. The thing I like about the Sony, as opposed to the otherwise excellent Canon, is that you can use regular AA batteries in a pinch. As I've said before, I think that's a very useful feature. It also shoots pretty good video with sound.

Another reader wrote and asked for a recommendation concerning a high-quality digital camera that could be used for serious photography, for around $500-600. The only one I could come up with was the Sony DSC-F717 -- which I've actually seen discounted under $500 occasionally. (Though I don't know this seller).

But although this stuff interests me, and although -- partly for selfish reasons involving freelance amateur photojournalism -- I want as many readers as possible to own digital cameras, I'm not really the best source for these recommendations. I recommend DPreview.com and Steve's Digicams as a better place that sort of information (I always research stuff there before buying). And also always check the Amazon customer reviews, which often contain useful information that "pro" reviews don't.

UPDATE: DPreview link was busted before. Fixed now. Sorry.

DAHLIA LITHWICK has thoughts on the dumb Alabama anti-sex-toy law mentioned earlier.

DAVID ADESNIK wishes that someone would ask Bill Clinton this question:

John Kerry constantly insists that his military experience makes him uniquely qualified to be commander-in-chief. Would Hillary’s lack of military experience make her less effective as commander-in-chief?

Heh. Indeed. And here's another one.

CHATROOM REVOLUTIONARIES: Reason has an article on the Iranian freedom movement.

TOM MAGUIRE:

Shorter Times: What are people who think every word from BushCo is a lie supposed to do? And how can we be expected to live in a world where 2+2=4 even if Tom Ridge says it does?

Plus an unexpected Steve Martin appearance in the Joe Wilson affair! And Richard Shelby is experiencing accountability.

A TERROR STING in Albany, New York has resulted in a raid and arrests. The defendants were trying to buy shoulder-fired missiles, and had connections to the Iraqi Al-Qaeda offshoot Ansar Al-Islam, according to reports.

MORE EFFORTS TO CRUSH DISSENT: This wouldn't be happening if Bush weren't in office!

Well, it wouldn't.

August 04, 2004

MORE ON STEM CELLS: Here, and also here.

"IT WAS MY UNDERSTANDING that there would be no math."

LIFE IMITATES ALLAHPUNDIT: Again.

RON BAILEY offers thoughts on longevity, and its critics.

LORIE BYRD writes that this ad by "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" is "the most devastating political ad I have ever seen - bar none."

Yeah, I'd say that's right. And Kerry played right into this with all the stuff about Vietnam and medals.

UPDATE: More reflections from personal experience, here. And more thoughts here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Michael Duff urges caution. Well, there's plenty of time before the election to find out what's going on. I suppose that the criticism of Kerry's war record might turn out to be as bogus as the criticism of Bush's National Guard service.

Meanwhile, here's more on the subject from Collin Levey in the Seattle Times.

MORE: Skepticism about the ad here. And Polipundit thinks it's too harsh to be effective -- and he's soliciting your comments.

STILL MORE: John McCain is condemning the ad.

On the other hand, Hugh Hewitt (whose permalinks are busted again -- what's up with that?) wants parity, and sees a double standard:

This story deserves as much coverage as Bush's air guard service received.

The ad deserves as much coverage as the independent expenditure committee ads from the left receive.

The book should get as much attention as the flood of books from the left have received.

In fact, since Kerry made his Vietnam service the centerpiece of his acceptance speech --from "reporting for duty" through the close-- this story in all its ramifications deserves far more attention than has been paid to the Bush air guard story, the other ads, and those other books.

As they say, developing. . . .

FORGET CATBLOGGING: Now it's bratblogging!

PROF. BAINBRIDGE RESPONDS TO KERRY'S DEFENDERS on the "how liberal is John Kerry?" question.

Unlike (apparently) a lot of people, I don't think it's bad to be liberal. But I guess you'd expect me to say that, as a liberal blogger myself.

UPDATE: More here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Chris Lawrence weighs in with a discussion of liberal-ranking methodology. In his email, he calls it "drearily technical, but hopefully accessible." I don't think it's dreary, but then as a law professor my dreariness threshold may be higher than normal. Hey, let's rank me on that! [I think the blog does that already. -- Ed. Good point.]

More here, in a paper by three political scientists devoted to the question of whether Kerry really is the most liberal member of the Senate or not. (Short answer: Not really.)

BRIAN DOHERTY'S NEW BOOK, This is Burning Man, which I mentioned a while back, is now out. He's also set up a snazzy new website.

IT'S TIME FOR CONGRESS TO GET BACK TO WORK! Amen.

DANIEL DREZNER WONDERS "What the f#$% is going on at the FBI?"

Yeah, I've been wondering that for a while.

SOMEBODY PLEASE help Justin Katz get a job.

BETTER ALL THE TIME: Don't miss The Speculist's roundup of good news that you would otherwise almost certainly miss.

HERE'S AN ARTICLE from my local alt-weekly on Snapped, a new series on Oxygen that features the Insta-Wife as a regular. You can see a brief preview here, if you're interested.

UPDATE: In answer to some readers' questions: No, I haven't gotten to meet Laura San Giacomo yet. And yes, I'm disappointed about that.

ATRIOS HAS BEEN UNMASKED as Duncan Black. Now, I think, Duncan Black has been unmasked as Emily Litella. Wrong t-shirt? "Never mind!"

In truth, I have no particular position on pan-Africanism, though as someone with African relatives I'll note that most Americans who talk about that stuff have quite literally no idea what they're talking about. Perhaps one day I'll collect some amusing anecdotes on the topic. (And apologies to Tom Maguire for stepping on the punchline.)

UPDATE: More thoughts on diversity here. Though to "ROYGBIV" I'd have to say that "ROFLMAO" is a more appropriate response to Duncan's post.

Or maybe just "heh."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Steve Gifford emails:

I've just glanced at the comment thread re your t-shirt and it is one of the most hysterical, and at the same time disturbing, things I have ever read. I would hope that the claims that wearing such a shirt made you a white supremacist were intended as a satire on the insistence of the American left on labelling every act by a person, but I half think some of them are serious. Shouldn't someone be helping these people get the psychiatric help they need?

Actually, they've fallen victim to Karl Rove's insidiously clever "Blogpaper" strategy, in which vast reserves of potential activism are siphoned off into pointless hatred toward an obscure law professor who maintains a personal website. I think he has provocateurs over there keeping them stirred up.

At least, I hope so. That something like that could grow on its own is too disturbing to contemplate. . .

I don't which is more embarrassing for Black, here -- the comments of his critics, or the comments of his supporters? Make up your own mind.

But hey, anybody can write a blog post that doesn't work out. It's no big deal.

Though I do wonder what Black meant about "blaming the victims of genocide." But since he doesn't provide a link, it beats me. Could he be talking about this piece? That would be absurd -- which, I suppose, would fit the rest of his post. . . .

MORE: Well, I'm embarrassed that I didn't figure this out for myself. It all makes sense, now . . .

KERRY THE "MOST LIBERAL SENATOR?" Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler thinks that the press is giving Republicans a free ride on this issue. He's probably right about that -- though he'd be more persuasive if he'd provide a list of senators that he thinks are to the left of Kerry.

UPDATE: A different take on the just how liberal is John Kerry question, from Stephen Bainbridge, who compares Kerry's record with Paul Wellstone's. "So if Kerry and Wellstone were so close in score, did that make Kerry a 'Wellstone liberal' or Wellstone a 'Kerry liberal'? Either way, they were both pretty far out of the mainstream."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Kastellec rises to the challenge, sending this:

I'm taking up your challenge to see how many senators are more liberal than Kerry. The following are NOMINATE ratings compiled by Professor Keith Poole (available at Link, along with a description of how they are calculated). While the method use to calculate them is complicated, they are basically measures of liberalism-conservatism based on a Congressman's entire career, not just on one Congress as the flawed National Journal ratings are. Because they incorporate all nonunaminous vote and are not biased by absention, NOMINATE scores are considered far superior to interest group ratings.

The scores range from -1 (most liberal) to 1 (most liberal). Below are ratings for all the senators of the 107th Congress (sorry for the poor formating), ranking from most liberal to most conservative. You can see that 15 Democrats are to the left of Kerry, which means that while he is by no means a conservative Democrat, he is not on the fringe of the party, and is clearly not the most liberal senator. Edwards, meannwhile, is well toward the moderate wing of the party, belying claims of his liberal extremism.

Click "more" for, er, more.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oliver Willis -- earning his pay from David Brock -- sends this link, and this one, too. Gosh, you'd think that being "liberal" was bad or something!

And I still think Oliver belongs on TV.

Read More ?


THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES is up. It's bloggerific!

TERROR-WARNING UPDATE: Greg Djerejian says it's not just a "rowback," it's a "walkback" at the New York Times and Washington Post regarding their coverage of the terror warning data:

Again, why is Bush being assailed, almost daily, as a scurrilous purveyor of half-truths and/or Big Lies? Because that's a judicious read on the merits--or because the Democrats are now increasingly playing politics with the terror alert issue?

They should be very careful here (as Kerry, sensing this, has been of late). It's a strategy (most recently floated by Dean on Wolf's Blitzer show) that will back-fire on them in a big way. After all, it reinforces the image that the Democrats don't take national (or homeland) security seriously enough. And, believe me, that's not an image the Dems wanna stoke.

No, it's not.

VIRGINIA POSTREL: "People support abortion rights out of fear. They support gay marriage out of love."

NANODYNAMISM AND NANOTIMIDITY: My TechCentralStation column is up.

ERIC MULLER is guest-blogging over at The Volokh Conspiracy, where he's promised to post serial criticism of Michelle Malkin's new book. Muller knows much more about the historical aspects of the book than I do, though what really interests me is today's dysfunctional immigration system -- which, as I mentioned below, seems mostly to inconvenience honest people while remaining porous to terrorists and criminals.

There's a connection, of course -- I think that Malkin's right to say that reaction to the wrongs (well, I think they were wrongs) of the Japanese internment of World War Two is limiting our ability to do the rather mild things that we need to do now. (A couple of readers hysterically emailed wondering if Malkin, was advocating "interning all Muslims," or even if I was. Uh, no. But fingerprinting people at the border hardly counts as internment, despite what people sometimes say.) Still, I'm afraid that the historical argument about the rights and wrongs of what happened over 60 years ago will hijack the discussion of what to do today. That could turn out to be expensive.

UPDATE: Malkin's talking about the present day in this piece, in which she praises anti-terror efforts by Charles Schumer. And she responds to some criticism by Muller here. I hope we'll see a fruitful dialogue, though again I'm far more interested in what we should be doing now than in revisiting the past, worthy as such efforts might be.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader David Kern emails:

Regarding your comment that you are much more interested in a debate about present day protection than rehashing Japanese internment:

While they may be competely separate issues, they have become inseparably connected in the political conscience. As a student at Columbia Law, every single argument I hear against profiling starts with condemning the Japanese internment as both an unnecessary and unbalanced response to a non-existent threat. It doesn't take a lot of additional preprogramming to eliminate profiling as an acceptable action under any circumstances.

No discussion of our current options exists because the present historical understanding of internment is a silver bullet for the enemies of profiling. In political terms, it simply plays great and makes the issue untouchable for realists requiring a moderate appeal. Without something to address these arguments, little headway in the current, more important discussion is possible. A reasoned argument that adds interpretation of these past events could open discussions about what kind of trade-offs we currently face and how, if at all, we can effectively target high-risk groups while dispersing the costs of security to the general population. Regardless of the final answers, this seems a project very worthy of attention.

Yeah. I agree. I'm not at all convinced that ethnic profiling is the way to go -- and I seem to recall Bruce Schneier making some cogent arguments along that line a while back -- but I definitely agree that the history regarding internment is often used as a way of shutting off debate. And Eric Muller thinks so, too:

I'll note a part of the book where I think Michelle is quite right. In her introduction (pages xiii to xxxv), or at least in certain parts of it, she makes the case that the civil liberties Left and representatives of the Japanese American community have not helped anyone think clearly about the Roosevelt Adminisration's policies by attacking each step of the Bush Administration's domestic antiterrorism policy since 9/11 as a reprise of the worst mistakes of WWII. This was one of the two main points I made in my article "Inference or Impact? Racial Profiling and the Internment's True Legacy," which Michelle graciously cites in her book.

A big part of what drove Michelle to write this book was her disgust with people on the left who have never met an antiterrorism policy they like, and who have trotted out the scary specter of the incarceration of Japanese Americans at every opportunity. In "Inference or Impact," I worried about the Chicken Little effect of repeatedly claiming a replay of the WWII experience of Japanese Americans--that it might lead people to minimize the reality of that experience. Michelle is doing that in this book, and in at least a small way, I think the civil liberties left has some of its own rhetoric to blame. David Cole didn't force Michelle Malkin to write this book, mind you. But maybe some of David's rhetoric helped her build her head of steam.

He's still not a fan, but this is an important point. (And I should note that I think well of David Cole, too, with whom I've worked in the past on some of these issues, though I do think he's been somewhat alarmist). It's been very difficult to have any kind of reasonable discussion of these issues in the nearly three years since September 11, and I think that has cost us dearly in terms of security. I'm also afraid that if we have another major terror attack, we won't have that debate then, either.

MORE: These scurrilous photoshops of Malkin -- one showing her in front of a bunch of concentration-camp inmates, quite a few others frankly racist (is Ed Cone endorsing these? Surely not) -- prove Malkin's, and Muller's, and Kern's, points about the Left's desire to shut off debate here and about its willingness to call names rather than engage in argument. That's a loser's strategy, in more than one way.

The one about my hair, on the other hand, is kind of funny -- though dollars to donuts the guy who did it is bald. . . .

STILL MORE: Muller has another post that seems to make Malkin's thesis regarding MAGIC intercepts as the basis for federal action look shaky -- though it doesn't make FDR look very good, either:

In particular, there is no evidence that President Roosevelt ever saw or was briefed on the MAGIC excerpts the author mentions, let alone that he was decisively influenced by them. As I detail at great length in my book "By Order of the President," throughout the 1930s Roosevelt expressed suspicions of Japanese Americans, irrespective of citizenship, and sought to keep the community under surveillance. As early as 1936, he already approved plans to arrest suspicious Japanese Americans in Hawaii if war broke out. As of early 1941, before FDR could have received any MAGIC excerpts, the Justice Department and the military had already put together lists of aliens to be taken into custody (the so-called ABC lists). These were not based on suspicion of individual activities, but of the suspected individuals' position in Japanese communities. Roosevelt continued to believe in a threat despite receiving reports of overwhelming community loyalty from the FBI and his own agents, reports he called "nothing much new."

More politicized intelligence, in an Administration dead-set on a pre-determined policy!

MORE THAN JUST A GEEK: Ed Morrissey thinks that the press has dropped the ball in reporting on the capture of Al Qaeda operative Naeem Noor Khan.

BLOGS IN HIGH PLACES: Heh.

MARK STEYN:

I scoffed at Edwards's "two Americas" riff when he was peddling it in New Hampshire, because its notion that there's the toffs in their mansions and the great unwashed in their Dickensian workhouses and ne'er the twain shall meet seemed complete bunk.

On reflection, I now see there might indeed be something to the idea of a remote privileged class hermetically sealed off from the masses. Unfortunately, John Kerry seems to be the best living exemplar of it. . . .

The tonal disconnect is only going to get worse between now and November.

I disagree. All that Kerry needs to do to stay in the race is to offer straight, credible talk on the war. More on that here.

August 03, 2004

FRITZ SCHRANCK saw Burning Annie recently, and liked it as much as I did.

Check out the trailers, here.

HERE'S WHAT THEY SAID about Dale Earnhardt:

When it came to going fast and turning left, no one could call Dale Earnhardt a chicken. Simply, he was The Intimidator.

Now it looks as if he might become a role model for Democrats:

They Report, We Intimidate

The Boston Democratic convention featured a rich side menu of interesting seminars. One of the most controversial was a workshop for new Democratic campaign press secretaries that sounded like a call to arms in its advice on how to deal with the new media universe.

Lecturers urged press secretaries to confront what one warned was "media that are no longer tilted in your direction." Bullying was openly encouraged. "When it comes to the media," suggested Democratic strategist James Carville, "intimidation works." "Challenge them," added David Brock of Media Matters, a new liberal group set up to criticize conservative media outlets. Democrats used to rail at the likes of Reed Irvine and his conservative group Accuracy in Media, accusing them of nitpicking at media stories and ginning up public complaints against them. No more. It will be interesting to see what, if any, "intimidation" success stories the Democrats will be touting in coming months.

--John Fund

I suspect that if a Republican were reported to have said this, it would be bigger news. Hey, the intimidation must already be working!

But actually, the most revealing bit is the part about media "no longer tilted in your direction." It's not media bias that's bothering these guys. It's the fear that it may slip away.

UPDATE: Is it already happening? Here's what the reporter whom Teresa Heinz told to "shove it" reports:

"I hope you burn in hell," read one e-mail. "You're a (expletive) Nazi," went another. "Teresa should have told you to go (expletive) yourself," another friendly e-mailer offered. And these were among the milder communiques; those that included death threats will be forwarded to the senders' respective hometown police departments.

One of my daughters back in Pittsburgh was brought to tears by a caller to our house. The clever woman identified herself as a Washington reporter seeking to interview me but then embarked on a filthy tirade. It seems a member of the Heinz Kerry Civility Enforcement Patrol posted our home address and telephone number on the response part of my convention blog.

So far, it doesn't seem to be working on this guy: "That said, and as I shove off from Boston, I'm still waiting for the answer to my question of Sunday night last."

WHY I CAN'T WIN: Read the update to this post.

TODAY was spent with kids. The Insta-Wife was showing her film and lecturing to a conference of juvenile court judges and caseworkers in Gatlinburg. I took the Insta-Daughter and Insta-Niece to the Ripley's Aquarium, which is surprisingly cool. It's not as nice as scuba diving, but you don't get wet. And the sawfish to the right, happily pressed against the clear plastic tunnel roof, is the only one I've ever seen -- they've gotten to be fairly rare in the wild for some no-doubt dire reason.

Though we live an hour from Gatlinburg, I don't go there much -- too crowded, too touristy. I prefer the actual mountains. But it's more fun with kids. They bought various items of exciting little-girl stuff (well, not so little anymore, really) and we had an excellent time.

That's a spider crab below. These pics were taken with the little Olympus 2 megapixel that is my go-everywhere camera. I'm sure that the more expensive ones would have done a better job -- but I had this one with me, which is an important point where digital cameras are concerned. The camera that's in your pocket does better work than the one that's in a drawer at home.

ONE REASON that I haven't written more about homeland security lately is that I don't think much has happened to change what I said in earlier columns like this one, or this one, or, for that matter, this one, which was written on September 12, 2001.

But this article on the Patriot Act and the PR wars over it is well worth reading. And this quote from Viet Dinh explains why it may have been a mistake for the Administration, too:

"The USA Patriot Act has become a brand," says Georgetown University Law Center professor Viet Dinh, who was instrumental in drafting the act as head of the DOJ's legal policy shop from 2001 to 2003. "Activists lump everything that is objectionable about the war on terror, anything wrong with the world really, onto the USA Patriot Act. No more than 10 percent of what people ascribe to the USA Patriot Act on any given day, is in the Patriot Act itself."

I wish I'd thought of that objection when I was opposing it. But while I think that the Patriot Act was a bad idea, and that most of it consisted of longstanding bureaucratic wishlists that had little to do with fighting terror, I also think that we still haven't seen any sort of very useful analysis of what has worked and what hasn't. This article is a good start at unpacking the debate, but we need much more.

And it's worth asking why the many, many members of Congress from both parties who voted for the Act haven't done much to advance the debate.

HOME. Blogging will resume later.

ED MORRISSEY and Greg Djerejian have much to say about this rather critical analysis of Kerry's Iraq plans. Key passage from the story: "But when asked for hard evidence that his victory would produce a troops-reducing deal for America, neither Kerry nor his fellow senators cite anything other than their vague perceptions and utmost hopes."

Jon Henke, meanwhile, has thoughts on how this is playing in Europe. Short version: Not as well as you might think.

BLOGS OF WAR has been on top of the terror-alert story -- just keep scrolling. And read this, too.

I don't know how seriously to take these warnings -- the government is in a damned-if-you-do-or-don't position, and of course the warnings may serve to discourage attacks all by themselves. But the fact that they were based in part on old documents is neither here nor there, as Al Qaeda was planning the 9/11 attacks as early as 1996, or, really, 1993 and -- remember the "connect the dots" discussion? -- had we put together information from old documents in 2001 we might well have figured out what was going on. Or not, but it's hardly fair to fault them for trying to do that now.

As Jeff Jarvis observes:

Can't have it both ways, folks: Can't scream they they don't tell us what they know -- and then when they tell us what they know, it's not good enough for you. It's what they know. Can't scream that they're not connecting the dots and when they connect some, you scream because you don't like the picture it draws.

Yep. I'm not overly impressed with homeland security, as regular readers will recall. But this sort of criticism merely serves to demonstrate the unseriousness of the critics.

UPDATE: Reader Richard McEnroe emails:

BTW, doesn't the fact that these terrorist operations are planned years in advance tend to give the lie to the idea that the terrorists are merely responding to our _actions_ but instead feel an implacable and longstanding enmity for what we _are_?

Good point.

MICKEY KAUS wonders if it's too late for the Torricelli option. I don't think things are that bad for Kerry -- his campaign has no problems that he couldn't fix with some straight talk.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Interesting revelations from Tommy Franks.

August 02, 2004

I'M AWAY on an overnight with the Insta-Wife, who's giving a speech tomorrow, the Insta-Daughter, and an Insta-Niece, and since the hotel wifi is down, all I've got is 26.4 kbps dialup. Blogging may be limited until Tuesday afternoon.

UPDATE: Rubbing salt (water) in my wounds, Jim at Smoke on the Water emails that he's getting 51kbps -- from his sailboat. Sheesh.

GOOD NEWS: "Nine out of 10 eligible Afghans have signed up for landmark October elections, the United Nations said yesterday, a resounding endorsement of a democratic experiment intended to help Afghanistan turn its back on years of debilitating war."

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF rounds up good news from Iraq that doesn't seem to be getting much media attention.

BLAME ELIZABETH DOLE: God knows, I do.

POLITICIANS, CELEBRITIES, AND PRIVATE JETS: Gregg Easterbrook disapproves.

TOM MAGUIRE, who continues to be on a roll, has been parsing the Kerry/Stephanopoulos interview transcript and has interesting observations on taxes and the war.

"I DON'T CARE WHAT HE SAID:" KERRY REPUDIATES HOWARD DEAN:

Kerry dismissed former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's comment that raising the terror level might be politically motivated.

"I don't care what he said. I haven't suggested that and I won't suggest that," Kerry said. "I do not hold that opinion. I don't believe that.''

Good for him.

UPDATE: Apparently, I'm just another gullible liberal for approving this statement by Kerry. On the other hand, here's the Dean-fan spin: "Glenn is wrong - Kerry hasn't repudiated Dean's (correct) observation, he just disavowed knowledge of what Dean said." Mission: Impossible lives!

MAUREEN DOWD said that the Kerry Campaign is channeling Gilligan. Tom Maguire says that Bush is channeling Star Trek.

OF BABIES AND BATHWATER: Some thoughts on intelligence reform, in The Economist.

OPERATION GIVE is having problems with Atlas Line. Chief Wiggles' blog and Reid Stott have more information.

SO NOW I'M GETTING mash notes from fictional characters. Oh, well.

IN THE MAIL: Michelle Malkin's audacious new book, In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror.

I've always regarded the internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese residing in America during World War II as both a tragic mistake and a grievous wrong. That's the conventional wisdom, and Malkin sets out to refute it, arguing that (1) there were more reasons to fear espionage and sabotage than many critics realized until the recent declassification of intelligence data from MAGIC and other formerly secret sources: and (2) the internment wasn't as at odds with international law and norms of human rights as critics claim.

Her bigger point, however, is that we're still fighting the last war today by letting concerns about that history stand in the way of much-more-moderate efforts in the War on Terror. I don't know that she'll have much luck changing a lot of minds on this topic, though her book may serve to get the discussion going. Unless, of course, there's another major terror attack, in which case people may wish we'd given the subject more careful thought over the past couple of years.

There is a lot of concern over illegal immigration and its links to terror -- you hear a lot of it on the second-tier talk-radio shows, where the hosts aren't quite as worried about their position in the larger media world, and I've heard a lot of callers express deep dissatisfaction with how the Bush Administration is handling immigration.

To me it seems we have the worst of both worlds. The immigration system is hard and unpleasant for honest immigrants, tourists, and traveling professionals, while being largely porous to criminals and terrorists. I don't know how to fix it, but it pretty clearly needs fixing.

I'm quite pro-immigration, but being in favor of letting in people who want to come here and become Americans (like my delightful sister-in-law Victoria) isn't the same as being in favor of scrutiny-free borders -- much less a system that treats honest folks like criminals while serving as no real impediment to actual criminals. This needs fixing, badly, but I'm afraid that we're suffering from political paralysis on this front.

UPDATE: Related thoughts from Susanna Cornett.

LETTERS FROM THE FRONT: Worth reading.

"I HAVE TAKEN MORE OUT OF ALCOHOL THAN ALCOHOL HAS TAKEN OUT OF ME," said Winston Churchill. And it appears that he was right:

It is news guaranteed to raise a cheer among those who enjoy a glass or two: drinking half a bottle of wine a day can make your brain work better, especially if you are a woman.

Research to be published tomorrow by academics at University College London has found that those who even drink only one glass of wine a week have significantly sharper thought processes than teetotallers.

I'm obviously not drinking enough. I'll have to remedy that. (Hey, no wonder Stephen Green is so smart!) Although between the wine, the coffee, and the Guinness, I'll get plenty of exercise running off to pee. But that's healthy, too!

MORE BAD PR FOR ALABAMA on the vibrator ban law:

Most of the Alabama legislature is made up of men. Just who are they protecting here? It's a pretty sad state of affairs when the men folk have to get together and pass laws to keep their women from utilizing alternative methods for sexual gratification. What do you Alabama studs need? Lessons?

Ouch. Kerry ought to make fun of them for this -- he'll never carry Alabama anyway, so it's a freebie!

DEMOCRACY IN EUROPE?

The German government is under growing pressure to hold a referendum on the new European constitution after 30 of the country's most eminent legal scholars declared that federal law could easily be changed to allow a vote.

Opinion polls show that 70 per cent of Germans want a vote on the treaty but Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has refused to follow the British and French in staging a referendum. . . .

Reflecting the prevailing mood in the Berlin chancellery, Michael Muller, the deputy head of the Social Democrats' parliamentary party, added: "Sometimes the electorate has to be protected from making the wrong decisions."

A fair number of people are snarking at Muller's comment. Of course, a suspicion of thoughtless popular majorities is built into our own Constitution -- though Muller's comments, if accurately reported, seem to have more to do with outcomes than with government structure.

WELL, IT'S BETTER THAN WENDY'S! And I like Wendy's. (Via PowerLine, where we also get this comment: "You know, after all that hullabaloo over the 'fake turkey,' I wonder if anyone's going to pick up on this...")

STEPHEN BAINBRIDGE WRITES about moral self-dealing by pension managers at the Presbyterian Church (USA).

THE HILL: "Guns split the Kerry campaign."

BLOGARAMA: This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up. Don't miss it!

Also, Alphecca's weekly look at media bias relating to guns is up. And having recently posted on catblogging and birdblogging, in the interest of interspecies amity I suppose I should link to the Carnival of the Dogs. Woof!

DAN GILLMOR'S NEW BOOK, We the Media, is out. I read it in manuscript, and it's very good. It's a must-read if you're interested in blogs, new media, and all this cool stuff.

BRUCE SCHNEIER points out another dumb airline security incident, and offers some suggestions. "Security works best when people are in charge."

KERRY'S SECRET PLAN TO END THE WAR:

Reminded that he sounded like Richard M. Nixon, who campaigned in 1968 by saying he had a secret plan to end the war in Vietnam, Kerry responded: "I don't care what it sounds like. The fact is that I'm not going to negotiate in public today without the presidency, without the power."

Ed Morrissey observes: "It's really too bad he's not already an officeholder, a person with some official standing in the US government, or he could already be working on America's behalf. Darn it!"

UPDATE: Reader Sean Starke points out a Kerry Tax Straddle from the same article -- and I notice that it contains another howler:

On domestic issues, Kerry gave a "rock hard" pledge not to raise middle-class taxes if he becomes president, though he said a national emergency or war could change that.

Reminded that the country is at war already, Kerry said, "We're going to reduce the burden in this war, and if we do what we need to do for our economy, we're going to grow the tax base of our country."

"Reminded that the country is at war already"?


I wish the Democrats had nominated a guy who didn't need to be reminded.

GREG DJEREJIAN faults Kerry and Edwards' response to the latest terror alerts: "Mr. Kerry--if he thinks this latest terror alert was false--should proclaim it loudly and clearly. Conversely, if he thinks it was real--he should renounce Howard Dean's comments unequivocally (really, what he should be doing, is telling us what (if anything) he'd be doing to make the NYSE or IMF buildings safer--but maybe that's a bit too much to ask)."

BOI FROM TROI has learned from his experience.

OUCH:

The survey showed Kerry losing 1 percentage point and Bush gaining 4 percentage points from a poll taken the week before the Boston convention. The change in support was within the poll's margin of error of +/–4 percentage points in the sample of 763 likely voters. But it was nonetheless surprising, the first time since the chaotic Democratic convention in 1972 that a candidate hasn't gained ground during his convention.

I don't think that polls tell us much, and a Newsweek poll showed a slight gain for Kerry. But this can't be good news.

But hey, Kerry's way ahead in this poll! "When asked who would be a better president, the journalists from outside the Beltway picked Mr. Kerry 3 to 1, and the ones from Washington favored him 12 to 1. Those results jibe with previous surveys over the past two decades showing that journalists tend to be Democrats, especially the ones based in Washington."

Who knew?

UPDATE: Many, many readers have emailed this chart from the Iowa Electronic Markets showing Bush pulling ahead since the convention. I don't know how much these are worth, either.

Meanwhile, reader Jon Roscoe has been watching the morning TV shows and says that it's surprising how little attention the first poll is getting. Maybe that's because of the second poll. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, Howard Kurtz notes: "Kerry, for his part, proved a big draw, attracting more than 24 million viewers for his acceptance speech, compared to 21.6 million for Al Gore at the last convention." There's a number for everybody!

Meanwhile Sardonic Views writes that the real winners in the polls are media companies in the battleground states, and the real losers are media consumers in the battleground states: "That puts me in the 'loser' category since I live in one of the battleground states and can only expect the partisan crap on both sides to get worse over the radio, TV and in print."

Democracy ain't pretty.

MORE: Some interesting stuff on electronic markets vs. polls in terms of accuracy.

August 01, 2004

SANDY BERGER UPDATE: Despite earlier reports to the contrary, the investigation is reportedly going forward.

LE MONDE loved Teresa Heinz Kerry's speech.

Some people, on the other hand, preferred to clean up dinosaur poo.

ANDREA SEE has is now publishing a webzine about Xiamen, where she's living now. It's called What's On Xiamen. She's also writing a regular column on life in Xiamen.

HUGH HEWITT: "It is frustrating to see even a skilled journalist like Chris Wallace asking Kerry and Edwards questions about Senator Edwards' diet Coke habit when Iran has announced its intent to resume production of nuclear centrifuges."

MORE PHOTOBLOGGING: SKBubba has posted a gallery of photos -- as well as his regular Friday birdblogging feature. (Birdblogging? Keep it away from my catblogging, or I won't be responsible for the results!) Bubba adds: "Most were taken with my D70 (plus a few taken with my previous and very good point-and-shoot Fuji Finepix S602Z)." As I've noted before, the big news is that consumer-grade digicams have gotten really, really good.

UPDATE: Jeff Quinton has more photoblogging.

THE STORY THAT WON'T DIE: Keith Cowing's NASA Watch has much, much more on Kerry's Kennedy Space Center visit, as well as a photo of George H.W. Bush in a bunny suit! (Via Rand Simberg, who has some advice on what George W. Bush should do in a spirit of non-angry campaigning.)

I DON'T SUPPORT THE DRUG WAR, especially when we're busy with terrorists, and one of my complaints with the Bush Administration is that they're wasting too much time chasing pot when we should be concentrating on dangerous people. So this is no great comfort:

Despite the Bush Administration's harsh stances on marijuana and drug law reform, it seems as though a Kerry Administration may be little better, and very possibly worse. If well-known drug warriors are to be believed, a Kerry Administration may actually be more interested in taking out Mary Jane and her admirers than Bin Laden and his.

Dang. No comfort there.

UPDATE: Jeralyn Merritt says that Kerry is better than that. I hope she's right!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile reader Mark Stockwell offers an observation that's depressing all around:

It has long occurred to me that the same actions that make this country safer from terror should also have an effect on the supply of illegal drugs. Stronger borders, much closer watch on cargo, closer examination of illegal money flows; all these behaviors should result in fewer illegal drugs. I suspect that until the price of street drugs goes way up, we can know that we haven't gotten serious about terror.

I'm not sure this is right, but it makes sense.

ROBERT KAGAN:

Maybe Kerry's real act of cynicism was his vote for the Iraq war in the fall of 2002. With that vote, he ignored everything he believed he had learned from his Vietnam experience. In retrospect, he may feel that he sold his soul to make himself electable. In the months since the war, Kerry has had to pretend he did the right thing, not only because a politician dare not admit error but because his political advisers believe that in a post-Sept. 11 world most of the electorate does not want an "antiwar" president. Throughout the long months of the campaign, Kerry disciplined himself to sound like a hawk. But in his heart, based on all he learned during the formative years of his life, Kerry is not a hawk. At the Democratic National Convention, John Edwards followed the script. Kerry followed his heart.

The ironies abound. Three decades ago, Kerry came out in opposition to the war he had fought in Vietnam. Today, Kerry extols that service so that he may safely, patriotically distance himself from the war in Iraq that he had supported.

Read the whole thing.

TOM MAGUIRE notes Joe Wilson updates, and a Niger-forgery rowback, along with lots of other interesting stuff. Just keep scrolling

I HAVE A LAW REVIEW ARTICLE JUST OUT, arguing that Marbury v. Madison isn't as important as law professors tend to make it. (It was part of the Marbury 200th Anniversary symposium described here). It's not available on line, strangely, though I've already gotten the issue it's in; the symposium also includes far better articles by far more important people, like Mark Tushnet, William Nelson, and Jerry Phillips, among others.

Meanwhile, Eugene Volokh notes that as part of the effort to block gay marriage, Rep. Istook (R - Oklahoma) may be trying to overrule Marbury by statute. Volokh has more, concluding: "If this sounds confusing, I think that's just because the statute is so awfully drafted." The bill also (at least arguably, as the bad drafting makes it uncertain) runs roughshod over principles of federalism by trying to deprive state courts of jurisdiction to hear claims regarding gay marriage.

You will not be surprised to read that I think it stinks.

DANIEL DREZNER notes good news for free trade. We can use some of that.

UPDATE: Robert Tagorda notes that Kerry thinks that good news for free trade is bad news.

PRICING MYSTERIES: In the Sunday ad supplement to my local paper, a Nikon Coolpix 8700 (a fancy 8 megapixel all-in-one camera) has dropped from its debut price of $999.95 to $799. Even on Amazon (which for some reason doesn't usually feature the best prices on camera equipment) it's dropped to $889.94. (And Amazon regards this as so low that you have to add it to your cart to find out what it costs).

The Nikon D70 outfit, on the other hand, is holding firm at $1299.99.

So the Coolpix has dropped 10-20% in price, while the D70 hasn't budged, though they hit the market at about the same time. Is this because the D70 is priced close to cost to begin with, and there's no margin? Or is it because the Coolpix is more of a consumer camera, and their prices always drop? Beats me, though there's probably an explanation. It's not quite the great cookware mystery all over again, but it's close.

UPDATE: Roger Simon emails: "The answer to your conundrum, I think, is simple. The D70 is outsellling the Coolpix - as well it should." Hmm. So maybe the D70 is just a lot better at being what it is than the Coolpix is at being what it is. And speaking of photography, here's a cool gallery of photos from high atop various buildings and structures in New York. (Via Jeff Jarvis).

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mike Marten observes:

I sell cameras for Ritz/Wolf and can tell you without a doubt that the D70 is outselling the 8700. We can't keep the D70 outfits on the shelf, while the first 3-4 8700's we received are the same 3-4 we still have.

Competition for each model may be an important factor to consider in looking at the demand. The 8700 has competitors in Canon, Sony, Olympus and Minolta in the 8MP field... and honestly, it's not the top of the game there (Minolta has a very nice camera in the A-2). In the entry-level DSLR realm, it's basically the D70 and Canon's Digital Rebel - here, the D70 is the clear champ in every area aside from the Rebel's slightly lower price.

As a needs-assessing salesperson, I also feel that the 8MP cameras appeal to only a niche market (the big barriers being size, price and complexity) where the DSLRs are much more versatile and familiar, so are excellent for a wider range of users.

Several readers also think the name "Coolpix" is a turnoff. As reader John Roney observes: "Name screams amateur. The high end Coolpix however is at a price point and capability that is not targeting the casual user." That seems right to me. And sure enough, the comparable Sony DSC-F828 isn't discounted nearly as much. And reader Richard Avery notes that there's more Coolpix discounting on Amazon than I realized: "The Amazon site also includes a link to a $200 dollar rebate coupon. I assume that would make the final cost $689.94 which would be a 30% discount from the original list price." Yeah, I guess the 8700 just isn't doing as well -- though I've seen some absolutely superb photos taken with them.

MEMORY CARDS: A lot tougher than I had thought:

They were dipped into cola, put through a washing machine, dunked in coffee, trampled by a skateboard, run over by a child's toy car and given to a six-year-old boy to destroy.

Perhaps surprisingly, all the cards survived these six tests.

Most of them did fail to get through two additional tests - being smashed by a sledgehammer and being nailed to a tree.

Even then, data experts Ontrack Data Recovery were able to retrieve photos from the xD and Smartmedia cards.

Perhaps surprisingly? I'm surprised. (Via Slashdot).

MAUREEN DOWD is comparing the Kerry Campaign to Gilligan's Island, with Kerry in the role of Skipper: "Given that the Kerry convention featured a skipper brave and sure, a first mate who makes others comfortable, a millionaire called "Lovey" by her spouse, two pretty young Kerry castaways and a movie star (the ubiquitously annoying Ben Affleck), I suppose we should be grateful that Camp Kerry didn't introduce the nominee with the 'Gilligan's Island' theme song."

Now this seems unfair to Kerry -- and to the Skipper -- though it's true that the Skipper did spend an awful lot of time telling old Navy stories. And, like most Dowd efforts, it takes a theme and gets way too cute with it.

Anyway, Gilligan's Island should be beyond politics. It's an American classic.

UPDATE: Reader Karl Rotstan has been thinking about this a lot:

A notable absence in Dowd's Gilligan analysis is the Professor. This surely is not an accident - the Professor was by far the most crucial castaway in terms of the survival of the whole group. Dowd's failure to reference him in any way is a stunning admission-by-omission that the Dem's castaway experience is likely to be far more deadly than Gilligan's. It will indeed be a fateful trip.

Maybe he's been thinking about it too much.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And this guy is suggesting Fantasy Island, with George Soros in the Ricardo Montalban role. That'll be next week's Dowd column! She could do a whole series of Island-themed allusions. . . . [Don't give her ideas. -- Ed. Good point.]

MORE: Les Jones, who hit on this simile before Maureen Dowd did, says that Ron Reagan, Jr. is The Professor. Hmm. I don't think that works, but you can decide for yourself. Now, maybe this Professor.

STILL MORE: Uh-oh. If Kerry's campaign is like Gilligan's Island, it could be a terrible provocation:

Viewed through the prism of America's enemies, it's easy to see how the "Gilligan's Island" gang represents everything Muslim fanatics and their sympathizers hate. As Cantor describes it, "The Skipper embodies American military might, the Professor represents American science and technological know-how, and the Millionaire reflects the power of American business...the presence of The Movie Star among the castaways even hints at the source of America's cultural domination of the world - Hollywood."

Heh. Read the whole thing.

MORE STILL: Read this.