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October 16, 2004

INTERESTING BACK-AND-FORTH between bloggers David Kaspar and George Soros.

THIS POST BY CHARLES AUSTIN is, like so many of his posts, worth reading.

TONIGHT I WATCHED FAHRENHYPE 9/11, the Michael Moore expose. It's quite striking, particularly in the way they followed up with people who were featured in Fahrenheit 911, and show those people, one after another, saying that Moore misrepresented them and that they don't agree with the movie. This should be on network TV.

UPDATE: A reader writes: "Fahrenhype on network TV? How much would it cost? Where would I donate?"

"BECAUSE WE CAN:" The world's first all-digital accordion, from Roland. "The FR-7 faithfully combines the familiar sounds and nuances of a traditional accordion with the versatility of a modern digital musical instrument."

I'm guessing that next year's Grammy winner in the coveted Polka category just might be playing one of these bad boys.

STEVEN DEN BESTE is back, sort of, with an interesting look at the poll numbers.

TOUR THE INDIAN BLOGOSPHERE at this week's Blog Mela.

DONALD LUSKIN says that someone is trying to manipulate TradeSports.

UPDATE: As far as I know -- and no farther -- that doesn't seem to be going on at the Iowa Electronic Markets.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Luskin posts a somewhat troubling followup that also explains my question above.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts here.

TIM BLAIR'S ONLINE INSURGENCY has brought his much larger foe to a standstill.

STEPHEN GREEN points out a case of creeping fascism. Or something.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES IS UP! Happy eating! Or drinking, as the case may be.

FOR ONCE, I'M IN THE MAJORITY:

Fifty-seven percent say being homosexual is the way people are, not the way they choose to be — up from its level a decade ago. But likely voters by 2-1 also call it inappropriate for Kerry, when asked that question, to have noted that Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter is a lesbian. Cheney himself mentioned his daughter's sexual orientation in a campaign appearance in August. . . .

Indeed only among one group, Kerry's own supporters, does a majority (52 percent) say it was appropriate for him to mention Mary Cheney. Among Democrats, 51 percent call it inappropriate; that rises to 64 percent of independents, 80 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Bush supporters.

I said it was a mistake.

UPDATE: Another poll, this time from the Washington Post:

An overwhelming majority of voters believe it was wrong for Democratic nominee John F. Kerry to have mentioned in Wednesday's presidential debate that Vice President Cheney's daughter was a lesbian, according to the latest Washington Post tracking survey.

Like I said, it was a mistake.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bill Ardolino is pleased with his newfound majority status, too.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING INTERVIEW WITH BURT RUTAN by Leonard David of Space.com. Lots of interesting stuff there. Here's the bit that will probably get the most attention:

Over the decades, Rutan said, despite the promise of the Space Shuttle to lower costs of getting to space, a kid’s hope of personal access to space in their lifetime remained in limbo.

“Look at the progress in 25 years of trying to replace the mistake of the shuttle. It’s more expensive…not less…a horrible mistake,” Rutan said. “They knew it right away. And they’ve spent billions…arguably nearly $100 billion over all these years trying to sort out how to correct that mistake…trying to solve the problem of access to space. The problem is…it’s the government trying to do it.”

Governments are good at doing things like this first. Markets are much better at doing them cheaply, reliably, and frequently. He also has a prediction:

“IBM didn’t know in 1975 that they were going to build $700 dollar computers for people and that they were going to build them by the tens of thousands. But then came Apple,” Rutan said, “and they had to.”

That being the case, Rutan made another prediction: “Lockheed and Boeing will be making very low-cost access to space hardware within 20 years. They just don’t know it yet…because they’re going to have to.”

I certainly hope so. Meanwhile, as FuturePundit notes, there are still signs of life at NASA. I'd like to see the R&D functions split off into something much more like the old NACA (National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics), entirely separate from the operational end and with the primary mission (like NACA) of helping private industry advance. Rob Merges and I wrote an article arguing for that back in 1989, but I don't think it's available on the Web.

YES, I MADE IT BACK, though rather late as Continental seemed to have misplaced the crew for my plane. More blogging later.

October 15, 2004

I'VE BEEN SLACKING TODAY, and will soon (I hope) be airborne -- but Tom Maguire has been on a roll, again.

ANN ALTHOUSE writes that Kerry is "refueling her mistrust" with his bogus draft claims:

Quite aside from Kerry's attempts to scare people into voting for him with a trumped-up threat that Bush will revive the draft, this statement refuels my mistrust for Kerry. His argument about the draft implicitly asserts that he plans to withdraw from Iraq without adequately providing for a successful resolution of the conflict.

That has been my fear all along, and Kerry hasn't done much to address it. Meanwhile, reader J. H. Weible wonders if Kerry, who wants to add two new divisions, will have a recruitment-and-retention problem in light of polls like this suggesting that he's not very popular among the military. Can Kerry produce the force he's promising without a draft? Somebody should ask him.

I'M IN THE NEWARK AIRPORT, where the wi-fi seems intermittent. But at least I'm not having Will Collier's problems.

Sorry, Jeff: I still love you, but this was a quickie up-and-back trip using one of the fleet of Gulfstreams the University of Tennessee has for faculty use since I was able to line up good nonstop flight connections.

MICKEY KAUS notes that ABC's The Note has been busted by a blogger for posting bogus quotes. ABC has posted a correction, though you'll now have to scroll to the bottom to see it.

JOHN EDWARDS has been savagely beaten by a man in a wheelchair.

CALL ME PETER PARKER: Ken Layne is quoted calling me a "lone webslinger." But in the blogosphere, you're never really alone.

I took this from the cab.

I'M IN NEWARK, in the palatial new building of the Rutgers Law School, at an ABA conference on technology and legal education. Rutgers has a nice WiFi network, but I'll be pretty busy for a while. Blogging, and email response, are likely to suffer. Back later.

ON TRAVEL TODAY: Blogging is likely to be intermittent. I'm taking with me a copy of John Birmingham's alternate-history novel Weapons of Choice, which I purchased solely because of this bit in the Amazon description: "At the start of Australian author Birmingham's stellar debut novel, a United Nations battle group, clustered around the U.S.S. Hillary Clinton (named after "the most uncompromising wartime president in the history of the United States"), is tasked in the year 2021 with stopping ethnic cleansing by an Islamist regime in Indonesia."

That's plausible enough that it makes me wish Hillary were running this year . . .

JEFF JARVIS ASKS: "Would you go to jail for your weblog?" Of course, another way of putting it is, "should your weblog keep you out of jail?" That is, if you do things that would otherwise get you sent to jail -- like violating a subpoena -- does the fact that you're a journalist get you off the hook? The Constitution doesn't say that.

I found the Vanessa Leggett case troubling because the Justice Department seemed anxious to keep her from publishing -- they wanted all her notes, manuscripts, etc., not just copies, and they wouldn't let her keep copies. But as I wrote in a Wall Street Journal piece back then, the Justice Department's problem was as much in trying to draw lines regarding who was a journalist and who wasn't:

Contrary to frequent assertions from professional journalists, there is no special First Amendment protection for members of the press. Such protections, to the extent they exist at all, exist only as a matter of statutory or regulatory grace. Under the First Amendment, everyone enjoys the same protection as "professional journalists." Ms. Leggett probably had First Amendment grounds for refusing to turn over all of her notes, but not for refusing to testify to a grand jury, and not for refusing to make her notes available for copying (rather than seizure). Her refusal to testify may make her a heroine to journalists, but it does not make her a First Amendment heroine.

The Justice Department's behavior was thus doubly odd. The first oddity was requesting her material in such a way as to block work on her book. The second oddity was making an argument based on her status as a nonjournalist. As a matter of internal policy, the Justice Department often avoids asking journalists to identify their sources, but that has nothing to do with the First Amendment.

If you think that journalists -- which I would interpret as anyone doing journalism, but be aware that others may differ -- deserve the kind of privilege that they often claim, then support legislation that grants it. I don't think that legislation would pass, though, because I don't think that most people really believe that it's justified.

October 14, 2004

SOME INTERESTING IRAQ NEWS AND PHOTOS, here.

MY MUCH-LOVED NEC laptop is showing its age. I had to replace the keyboard in April; now it's having charger problems. I'm sending it back but it's obvious that a replacement will be in order soon.

What I'd like is something like it: Small, light, not necessarily especially powerful but with very long battery life. And fairly rugged (since it gets heavy use) but cheap (so I can take it anywhere without worries). Any suggestions? This looks pretty good, though the battery life may be the shortfall. This looks cool, but it's a bit pricey. Could I blog comfortably from a tablet PC?

UPDATE: Randy Barnett says he loves his Toughbook W2. And please, no "get a mac!" emails, unless there is once again a WordPerfect for macs. I'll give up my WordPerfect when they pry it from my cold, dead CD-ROM drive. Or something like that. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: More praise for the Toughbook. It's a bit pricey, though.

EUGENE VOLOKH NOTES MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: I guess it's proof that the incidents in Evan Coyne Maloney's film Brainwashing 101 are far from unique.

UPDATE: Crushing of bloggers in Canada, too. More on that here.

I HAVE A PLAN, by Ann Elk.

THE COMMAND POST is looking for a few good bloggers to help provide state-by-state election coverage. Okay, actually at least 50.

PAUL MARKS notes progress.

DICK CHENEY ON KERRY'S USE OF HIS DAUGHTER:

You saw a man who will say and do anything in order to get elected. And I am not speaking just as a father here, though I am a pretty angry father, but as a citizen.

I think it was a major blunder by Kerry -- especially as his position on gay marriage is the same as the President's.

UPDATE: Reader Keith Rempel gets at the heart of what's wrong here, and articulates what I couldn't: "Kerry was using Cheney's daughter to harm her father. How many kids want to be used to harm their parents? Did anyone ask her if she wants to have her sexual practices used in the campaign?"

ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts here: "thou shall NOT speak of another's kid in any way that could POSSIBLY be construed as negative."

Meanwhile, Brian Erst emails:

A proper analogy would be if President Bush was asked a question about the issue of divorce. If, in reply, he said, "I believe divorce is very hard on children. Senator Kerry's daughters, Alexandra and Vanessa, know how painful and heartbreaking the divorce of their parents were to them. That's why I believe that we should have a program of marriage counseling that should take place prior to any divorce, to see if we can bridge the gap that has grown between two people who at one time, obviously loved each other. If it can't, then the divorce, however painful, may have to take place, but at least we have tried to minimize the damage to the children."

The inclusion of Kerry's daughters in the above quote would be crass. The matter is one of public record and I believe it has been spoken of to some extent during the campaign, but it still is using another person's family to score a cheap political point. . . . This one was obvious - especially after Edwards made the same point in his debate as well. Add Elizabeth Edwards' cynical psychoanalysis ("I find it sad Lynne Cheney has such a problem accepting her daughter...") and you get the Democratic equivalent of the old Republican tactic of wink-and-nod race baiting.

Well, maybe. I'm not sure I'd analogize gayness to divorce, but the family point-scoring is there. Whatever it is, it's tacky.

MORE: Lots of readers seem to think so. James Somers emails:

Politically, this issue is about parenthood, not gay rights, for the simple reason that there are more voters who are parents than there are voters who are gay. Kerry crassly exploited Cheney's daughter for use against Bush and thus, by extension, Cheney. Perhaps you have to be a parent to understand what that means. But the parents I've spoken to about this today - including some very liberal ones up here in deep-blue Connecticut - found Kerry's ploy nauseous. One Democratic friend, who's a father of four, said he recoiled at Kerry's remarks. And a mother I know who's voting for Kerry, and who believes (like me) that gay marriage should be legal, said she felt "deeply uncomfortable" when Kerry brought up Mary Cheney. The bottom line is that Kerry screwed up.

Yeah, I think it was a mistake.

STILL MORE: Andrew Sullivan writes: "The usually even-keeled Instapundit says that Kerry's 'position on gay marriage is the same as the President's.' I can't see how that's even remotely the case."

Well, it was this Kerry statement that led to my conclusion:

The president and I have the same position, fundamentally, on gay marriage. We do. Same position.

Call me crazy, but I took that to mean that they had the same position. Since it was a Kerry statement, I should have realized that I was probably missing out on a crucial nuance. My bad. Andrew also writes: "One last gripe about Glenn: he also writes that Kerry 'dissed' Mary Cheney. How? Is calling an openly gay person gay an insult?" Of course not. It's not even an insult to call a straight person gay. But it is disrespectful to drag people into debates on sexuality on national TV. And it's disrespectful to do so as an effort to -- as Mickey Kaus suggested -- swing the votes of homophobes. I'm surprised that Andrew is so untroubled by this.

I think this illustrates that those who are expecting some special degree of sensitivity toward gay issues -- or privacy in general -- from a President Kerry are likely to be disappointed. Apparently, it's all just stuff to be manipulated for advantage.

MORE STILL: Mary Cheney was there, along with candidate wives and mothers, but Ann Althouse notes the women who weren't mentioned.

FINALLY: This video clip seems pretty fitting.

And Howard Fineman observes:

But do you like one who mentions someone else’s child to make a nasty political point? There were no laughs but gasps in the press room when Kerry noted that Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter, Mary, was a lesbian. It came during a discussion of gay marriage. Now, of course, everyone knows something about Mary—she is open about her sexual orientation and has worked in outreach programs to gays and lesbians, and even brought her partner to the vice-presidential debate in Cleveland.

Still, what was Kerry's point in hauling her into a discussion of the pros and cons of gay marriage? Was he trying to highlight the fact that the vice president doesn't share the president's support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman? Was he trying to say that Cheney should actively OPPOSE it because of his daughter? Cheney and Kerry actually seem to share the same views.

But different standards.

HEH. Make that a double-heh.

FOR ME, THE ELECTION IS OVER: Went and voted at Early Voting today. It started yesterday, and it will be going on for two weeks. The place was doing a brisk business, and I can't help but think that this is a great thing. Not only for the (considerable) increase in convenience it represents, but also because early voting tends to reduce the impact of last-minute surprises, smears, etc. I'm not sure what percentage of the electorate will vote early this time around, but I strongly suspect that it will be bigger than four years ago.

DEFEAT FOR THE RIAA:

The Supreme Court handed Internet services providers and privacy advocates a crucial victory yesterday when it decided to pass on an important Internet piracy case. . . .

"The recording industry may not agree, but the U.S. Supreme Court thinks personal privacy is far more important that music piracy," Red Herring reported. "On Tuesday, the high court refused to entertain an appeal of a unanimous 2003 decision by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals that held that copyright holders cannot force Internet providers to identify file sharers using a mere subpoena. Industry watchers see this as yet another blow that the recording industry has taken in its fight against online file sharing -- a fight it is slowly losing. The lawsuits in question were between New York's Verizon Internet Services and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), headquartered in Washington, D.C."

Given that the subpoenas in question were robot-generated, that's as it should be. I wrote a column on this a couple of years ago. Wired News has more on this case, which is quite significant.

UPDATE: Things are going the other way in Britain, though.

LIP-READING: No idea what to make of this.

Read More ?


HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME: Stephen Green is very unhappy with what he's hearing.

UPDATE: Be sure you check out Bill Hobbs' running archive on voter fraud.

PAJAMA PEOPLE in the 18th Century: I've often said that the rise of the blogosphere represents, in many ways, a return to the late 18th century environment of pamphleteers, numerous small ideological newspapers, and coffeehouse debates. And I have to say that this passage from Larry Kramer's new book, The People Themselves: Popular Constitutionalism and Judicial Review, could describe the reaction of some in today's haut-commentariat to the rise of blogs and other alternative media:

After the adoption of the Constitution, most Federalists had expected to amicably govern a quiescent population content to follow their wise leadership. Instead, they were shocked to find themselves wrestling with an unruly, rambunctious democracy-in-the-making. Between the burgeoning newspapers, raucous parades, partisan holiday celebrations, and disrespectful debating societies, the people out-of-doors seemed literally to be taking leave of their senses. Suddenly, everyone apparently felt entitled to express an opinion -- more, felt that "constituted authorities" should be listening to their views. . . . Federalist leaders were caught flat-footed, unsure how to cope with this confusing new world.

Heh.

UPDATE: Reader Richard Samuelson emails: "Why did it just occur to me that President Jefferson received Ambassadors in his robe?"

Technically, those were early-19th Century pajamas. . . . But it was bearing out the Federalists' worst fears.

SORRY, JOHN:

German officials on Wednesday reaffirmed their policy of not contributing troops to the American-led force in Iraq and rejected speculation, prompted by a published interview with the country's defense minister, that the policy might change.

Oops. (Via The Mudville Gazette). My prediction, by the way, is that no matter who is elected they'll wind up sending a token number of troops within a year -- about the time when they're no longer really needed.


IS IT TOO EARLY TO THINK ABOUT THE NEXT ELECTION? Ordinarily, I'd say "Hell, yes!" But when you're talking Lileks for Senate, I have to say -- "where do I sign up?"

But only if he promises to keep doing The Bleat from Washington.

STRATEGYPAGE REPORTS:

Sunni Arabs in Iraq are becoming more agitated about being caught in a war pitting an alliance of Saddam supporters and Islamic radicals, against the majority Shia Arab and Kurds who want peace and prosperity, at any price. The Sunni Arabs are increasingly desperate to do something about their situation. Despite the threats from Saddam's old enforcers (almost all of them Sunni Arads), and the al Qaeda influenced Islamic radicals; tribal and religious leaders are suggesting that the Saddam hardliners and foreign Islamic radicals leave. Leave Sunni Areas, leave Iraq, leave this life, it doesn't really matter. The Sunni Arabs see nothing but woe from the Saddam supporters and Islamic radicals. . . . The Sunni Arabs have been cowed by the terror, but not completely immobilized. Deals are being cut, to be finalized when Iraqi troops and police enter Sunni Arab towns under the shadow of American firepower. Will the Sunni Arab leaders remain with the Iraqi majority. Considering the alternative, they probably will.

Sounds promising; I hope it turns out this way. StrategyPage certainly has a pretty good record of accuracy.

Read this, too, which certainly supports the above.

UPDATE: Shannon Love observes:

It may be just an accidental strategy on our part, but allowing this or that group of insurgents to control an area for a period of time seems to have long-term benefits. The locals might imagine that they hate the Coalition and the provisional government, but a few days or weeks of living under the rule of the insurgents seems to provide a stark reality check. The insurgents are thugs and religious extremists, who terrorize and extort the local population and eventually draw down retaliation from the Coalition. The insurgents lose the struggle for hearts and minds through their own brutality. . . .

The actions of the insurgents cause the locals to view the Coalition as the lesser of two evils. We win the battle for hearts and minds by default.

I don't think it's an accident.

THANKS TO EVERYBODY who sent email about the Insta-Dad. I called his hospital room to find out when to pick him up, and nobody answered. Then a little while later he called me from home, to which he'd driven on his own. They let him go first thing this morning. Hope I inherited his superior recuperative powers.

INSTAPUNDIT'S AFGHANISTAN PHOTO-CORRESPONDENT, Major John Tammes, sends the picture above, and reports:

This is my class in CJSA 1348, Ethics in Criminal Justice, which met for 3 hours every Monday and Wednesday night over 8 weeks. I taught them as an Adjunct Instructor for Central Texas College, Bagram Education Center. They had two classes interrupted by rocket attacks and alerts, they studied between missions and after 13+ hour shifts, and they did it well. As I turned in their grades today, it struck me that they had achieved something quite admirable.

Indeed. Tammes adds: "P.S. After reading your Guardian story, I feel like a war correspondent. I'm flattered." Hey, if you're corresponding from a war, you're a "war correspondent." Right?

AUSTRALIA UPDATE: Greg Sheridan in The Australian:

The other critical conclusion to come out of this election is that it was a total vindication of John Howard over Iraq. This is very painful for the commentariat – perhaps the Government should set up special psychiatric triage clinics for commentators unable to cope with their grief over the electorate's decision on Iraq.

Heh. (Via Tim Blair).

TOM MAGUIRE has lots of interesting post-debate observations. Just keep scrolling.

GROUP-BLOGGING in a hotel ballroom with an audience of 650 people? Compare the photos of the Northern Alliance guys with the one of me, below, and you'll have to conclude that they know how to live. . . .

THE BELMONT CLUB offers an evolutionary perspective on the debates. And here's an amusing "what they really said" debate translation.

THE FORESIGHT INSTITUTE emails that Peter Diamandis, founder of the X-Prize, has come on board to help with a nanotechnology prize:

Palo Alto, CA -- October 14, 2004 - Foresight Institute has appointed Dr. Peter Diamandis, Chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, to lead the think tank's Nanotechnology Prize Steering Committee. The leading think tank and public interest organization focusing on nanotechnology, Foresight Institute established the Feynman Grand Prize in 1996 to motivate scientists and engineers to design and construct a functioning nanoscale robotic arm with specific performance characteristics. The prize was named after Dr. Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner in Physics, whose original goal for nanotechnology - systems of molecular machines building with atomic precision, is the guiding vision of long-term nanotechnology.

If you're interested in this stuff -- and you should be -- you should consider attending Foresight's 2004 Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology starting on Friday.

VIRGINIA POSTREL has a debate review up. "I was dreading tonight's debate as yet another 90-minute exchange of talking points, but it actually had some substance--in part because George W. Bush is a whole lot wonkier when he's talking about domestic issues than foreign policy."

MICKEY KAUS on the Mary Cheney business:

There must be some Machiavellian strategy behind the Democratic urge to keep bringing this up--most likely it's a poll-tested attempt to cost Bush and Cheney the votes of demographic groups (like Reagan Dems, or fundamentalists) who are hostile to homosexuality or gay culture or who just don't want to have to think about it. Or maybe Kerry was just trying to throw Bush off stride. In either case, the fake embrace was even creepier coming from Kerry than it was coming from Edwards.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Lynne Cheney is letting Kerry have it for dissing her daughter:

Lynne Cheney issued her post-debate rebuke to a cheering crowd outside Pittsburgh. "The only thing I can conclude is he is not a good man. I'm speaking as a mom," she said. "What a cheap and tawdry political trick."

That seems to be the emerging consensus.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Shockingly, here's agreement at the BBC: "I thought his mention of Mary Cheney, when asked if homosexuality was a choice, was a cheap swipe, and it defined Kerry's lack of substance. "

GOD FORBID, A SUCCESS STORY: My Guardian column for this week is up.

October 13, 2004

SURFING THE CHANNELS, the talking-heads seem to be giving this one to Bush, and Candy Crowley notes that Kerry felt he had to stress, again, that he could be trusted to defend America. Mary Beth Cahill tries to respond, but she doesn't sound like she means it -- in fact, she sounds like she's been crying. Laryngitis? Who put her on camera?

UPDATE: How do we know Bush won? I just got the Buzzflash spinmail and it's going on about claims that Bush was wired. Hey, did you guys watch him at the beginning of the debate? Must've been radio interference, then. . . .

But Pundit Guy says that Bob Schieffer was the big loser.

Debate summarized here.

Ann Althouse wrapup: "Bush revealed the deep personal side of himself, while Kerry was always cool and businesslike. Dukakis-like."

Tradesports shows a Bush win. I've had some suspicions that people may be gaming those futures markets, though.

NEXT-MORNING UPDATE: I went to bed early, but a Brit-reader sends this:

Both sides think they lost. Watching BBC with the spin merchants.

Hard sale.

The Republicans look depressed and the Democrats look absolutely desperate.

Both caning it utterly unconvincingly.

Is it too late for a Cheney-Lieberman ticket? Or Lieberman-Cheney, I don't care.

Meanwhile Stephen Green updates the Tradesports story: "Tradesport betters did indeed think Bush won. But if you follow the trendline after the debate, you'll find they also think the press claims that Kerry won - with the expected effects on the electorate."

Yeah, after I went to bed the reactions seem to have done a 180. The press is working damned hard to deliver its 15 percent.

MORTON KONDRACKE is saying that Kerry's reference to Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter was a "low blow." Julian Sanchez agrees.

I'm not sure it was a low blow, exactly -- but it's odd given that Kerry has the same position.

UPDATE: GayPatriot wonders why the Democrats are obsessed with Mary Cheney. He agrees with Kondracke and Sanchez.

THE CONCLUSION: Again, not bad for Kerry, but Bush is at the top of his game here at the end. He's still no Ronald Reagan, but he's good -- much better than at the beginning or in the earlier debates. If he'd been like this in the first debate he'd be up by 10.

Sum up: Not much of a debate, though it improved dramatically in the last half hour or so. As I've said before, my judgment is suspect, but I think Bush wins this one hands down -- if anyone was still watching at the end. And hey, at least I agree with Julian Sanchez's rather different crowd.

THE WIFE QUESTION: Both do the best of the evening so far. But Bush hits it out of the park. Kerry hits a double. Bush's problem -- is anybody still watching?

UPDATE: Roger Simon finds Kerry's answer interesting:

Why did Kerry's mother feel she had to remind him "Integrity! Integrity! Integrity!" from her hospital bed when he told her he was thinking of running for President. What did she know. My mother would have assumed I would have integrity in the same situation.

Mine, too.

JEEZ, IS IT A KERRY-MCCAIN TICKET? All I can say is, invoking campaign finance reform is a big mistake. It has been a disaster, and it's responsible for a healthy share of the divisiveness and nastiness in this election.

Kerry goes on about divisiveness, and blames Bush.

Question for Kerry: I wonder if it was a Republican who put up this sign, which I saw downtown the other day?

BUSH AND KERRY ON RELIGION: My Guardian column from last week is looking right on target here.

GUN CONTROL: Bush will irritate his base with his straddle. Kerry makes the argument that the Assault Weapon Ban would have stopped terrorists. Jeez, even the gun-control groups have given up on that dumb argument, as the AWB was purely cosmetic and left functionally identical guns untouched. I score this a loss for both.

UPDATE: The CNN focus group loved Bush's gun answer. Go figure.

MY COLLEAGUE TOM PLANK emails that I'm wrong about this debate: "Damn. I think this is the best debate of the three, and I think both candidates are doing well. [Which means that Kerry is doing about the same or a little better as the first debate, and Bush is doing much better than the first debate.]"

It's improved since the very lame first half-hour.

UPDATE: Stephen Green disagrees:

This thing is, mercifully, two-thirds over. Kerry is doing what Bush did in the first debate. He's smirking "off" camera, he's droning, he's dull. Bush, no matter how boring I find the material, at least sounds passionate. Problem is, other than intoxicated political junkies like me, who the hell is still watching?

I'm not intoxicated! Yet.

"THE BEST WAY TO TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF OUR TROOPS IS TO SUCCEED IN IRAQ:" Good answer.

KERRY'S TOUGH TALK ON IMMIGRATION: We'll do retinal scans -- eat your heart out, John Ashcroft! This is aimed at Bush's base, which is unhappy about illegal immigration and thinks that Bush is a wimp for not doing more. Kerry doesn't want to win them over, just encourage them to stay home.

IT'S GOING TO BE HARD TO SCORE THIS DEBATE, because both so far have turned in much worse performances than last time.

UPDATE: Nick Gillespie agrees: "I'm getting a sense that both of these guys will emerge from this as losers."

Hey, Nick -- put up Ron Bailey's article on health insurance. It's better than what I'm hearing from Bush and Kerry.

Stephen Green adds: "This debate sucks."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Julian Sanchez reports that apparently Bush sucks less: "the 80 percent liberal room I'm watching with seems to agree that Bush is winning."

MORE: Reader David Broadus agrees, with emphasis:

Bush is hitting it out of the park tonight. He does not look or sound like the same person of the last two debates. I don't see how you think they are both losers...

Okay, I've said before my judgment of these things isn't to be trusted.

STILL MORE: Jeff Jarvis is liveblogging, too.

KERRY SAYS BUSH IS INTOLERANT on gay marriage, but also stresses that they have the same position on it. Hmm. Looks like a straddle to me.

A "PLAN" IS NOT A "LITANY OF COMPLAINTS:" First original line. So far this is the weakest debate of the three. That in part accounts for the glassy look in my eyes, though I've had that kind of a day anyway. . . .

UPDATE: Early-call specialist PoliPundit is already calling it for Bush: "In the first debate, Kerry’s harsh prosecutorial manner was effective. In the second, it was boring. In the third, it’s backfiring."

Should you believe him? His track record is good, and Kerry's protectionist trade talk is sure losing me.

JEEZ, HOW MANY LINES from the previous debates are being recycled here? All of them?

I'M BACK. Thanks for the kind wishes for the Insta-Dad. He's doing quite well.

I won't be live-blogging tonight -- see the folks below, and Hugh Hewitt, who'll have his trademark question/answer/evaluation matrix up, for that -- but I'll post a summary afterward, and, who knows, maybe a point or two during. And here's a big list of livebloggers. I think that Daniel Drezner will be liveblogging, along with The Politburo, and LaShawn Barber has opened up a comment thread for your use.

UPDATE: And Ann Althouse announces that her liveblogging will be "au naturel," which should surely drive up her traffic. . . .

And for those wondering if the mainstream media are in the tank, note that Kerry press releases are running on the Boston Globe site. (Via Ken Layne).

ANOTHER UPDATE: They'll also be liveblogging it at the Nashville Scene's blog, Blogville, where we get this insight: "just ninety minutes until the time when we never have to sit through a presidential debate for another four years! That alone is enough for celebration."

Amen. Will either guy have the guts to issue a thank-you to the "several dozen people watching this instead of the baseball game?" Probably not.

SORRY FOR THE LIMITED BLOGGING: The Insta-Dad had aneurysm-repair surgery today. I just left him napping at the hospital, where he's doing fine, while I drop into my office. (It wasn't a near-death experience or anything, it's been scheduled for a while, but it was a bit more involved than they planned).

I'll try to be back for the debates, if possible, and maybe even sooner. But if I'm not, Ann Althouse and Stephen Green will be liveblogging as usual. And there's lots of interesting stuff at The Volokh Conspiracy, so check them out. Plus, what I've called a "media Enron" before is starting to look a bit more that way. Back later.

MORE ON THE AUSTRALIAN ELECTIONS AND THE WAR over at Tim Blair's place, where John Howard weighs in.

THIS SOUNDS LIKE GOOD NEWS:

BAGHDAD, Oct. 12 -- Local insurgents in the city of Fallujah are turning against the foreign fighters who have been their allies in the rebellion that has held the U.S. military at bay in parts of Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland, according to Fallujah residents, insurgent leaders and Iraqi and U.S. officials. . . .

"If the Arabs will not leave willingly, we will make them leave by force," said Jamal Adnan, a taxi driver who left his house in Fallujah's Shurta neighborhood a month ago after the house next door was bombed by U.S. aircraft targeting foreign insurgents. . . . Several local leaders of the insurgency say they, too, want to expel the foreigners, whom they scorn as terrorists. They heap particular contempt on Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian whose Monotheism and Jihad group has asserted responsibility for many of the deadliest attacks across Iraq, including videotaped beheadings.

Perhaps we can look forward to not merely a military victory, but an ideological one as well.

UPDATE: I guess these guys must be some of those "chickenhawks" I've been hearing about!

ANOTHER UPDATE: StrategyPage reports:

Although the details are secret, American and Iraqi troops are on the offensive against Sunni Arab and terrorist gangs. Over a year of effort in building up an intelligence network among the population has paid off. Even in the Sunni Arab areas, many people are fed up with the lawlessness and violence created where the gangs operate. So information comes in about who is who and is doing what. This provides more, and higher quality, targets for raids. The ground units usually surround houses or compounds at night and arrest people, and seize weapons, bomb making equipment and documents, without a shot being fired. Some 30 areas have been identified as occupied and influenced by various gangs. The process of clearing out these areas has apparently been underway for two weeks. Not a lot of publicity for this effort, as keeping the opposition guessing is a powerful weapon.

And scroll down for more interesting stuff.

MORE: Reader and frequent Insta-critic Jonathan Miller accuses me of painting a sunny picture of Iraq. [Well, it is sunny there! It's in the desert! -- Ed. "That was a metaphor, wasn't it? Don't you know what a metaphor is?"] He says I don't link a lot of stories involving bad news. True enough -- I figure since that stuff is plastered all over the TV networks and newspaper front pages at the least provocation, I don't add a lot of value by repeating it. The good news, and stuff that bears on the strategic background, on the other hand, somehow seems to get a lot less attention. When bad news matters and is undercovered -- which sometimes happens, if it requires actual understanding to appreciate -- I do try to mention it, as with the CERP program, discussed here and here, among many other posts, or with regard to Zeyad's war crimes reports -- go here for a roundup and follow the links for earlier posts.

But, as I've said before, InstaPundit isn't a news service. I'm not sure any blog is, with the possible exception of The Command Post. And even there, I think they see their mission as supplementary to the larger media world, and don't regard themselves as a free-standing source of information. My sense regarding Iraq is that things are -- despite the problems endlessly documented in the Big Media -- moving along, and that it's no more a hopeless quagmire than Afghanistan has turned out to be. I could be wrong, of course -- I often am, about all sorts of things -- but I think that anyone who wants to assess what's going on in Iraq needs to do more than just "look at what's on television," as John Kerry suggests. I try to help provide a fuller picture than the TV folks, whose chief goal, it sometimes seems, is to help Kerry get elected.

ANOTHER UPDATE: MSgt. John Michael emails from Iraq:

No, it's no Garden spot, but given that many of us are risking our lives for this bit of sand I think we've got a vested interest in making sure the truth is put forth in as bold terms as possible.

So given the number of returned troops, and especially the number who've left Active Duty and aren't bound by any possible legal issues, why aren't there a lot more ex-GI's acting out in a fashion reminiscent of John Kerry '71?

I know there is a handful among the hundreds of thousands, but lets face facts, the folks who were here aren't sharing that MSM view of Iraq, nor are those here now. I think that preponderance should carry some weight.

Indeed.

THE BIG KERRY DISCHARGE STORY that Mickey Kaus was predicting last night is now out in print. I wonder if anyone will ask Kerry about this -- and about why he won't release his military records -- at the debate?

UPDATE: This post from PoliPundit suggests that there's less to this story than meets the eye. We'll see. Well, maybe we'll see, depending on whether anyone else looks at this stuff.

WELL, I SAID IT WAS AN HONOR just to be nominated! Congratulations, Dan!

GET OUT OF THE WHEELCHAIR AND WALK! John Edwards' Ernest Angsley-like remarks have drawn a critical response from Bill Frist.

UPDATE: But Tom Maguire is excited: "Wow! That is going to save a huge amount on health care costs. . . . But how does it work, exactly? Somehow Kerry can make the lame man walk, and the blind man see, but what is involved? Do I have to get on a bus and go to Washington, or will Kerry tour the nation working his wonders?"

October 12, 2004

I HOPE THIS IS TRUE: A reader emails me a Stratfor analysis on Iraq strategy. I won't reprint the whole thing, but here's the key bit:

Whatever Kerry has had to say about Bush's execution of the war in the past, he has made it clear that he will continue what Bush calls the "War on Terror" and that he will not abandon the war in Iraq.

This last is by far the most important thing to have emerged during the campaign from a geopolitical and strategic point of view. However much the candidates argue over who would be better at fighting the war, it has become clear that the war will go on regardless of who is elected or re-elected -- and that that includes the Iraq campaign. Neither is promising a radical redefinition of the war. Each is claiming simply to be the more effective in executing the war.

Therefore, on this fundamental level, the election has become unimportant.

As I've noted repeatedly, I'm a single-issue voter. If I could be persuaded of this, I might be able to look at other things. I have to say, though, that I don't have tremendous confidence in Kerry's follow-through.

One other brief bit from a rather long analysis:

Since al Qaeda initiated the war, it is critically important to understand that it has completely failed to achieve its strategic goals. From a purely political standpoint, the war has thus far been a disaster for al Qaeda. At the same time, assuming that al Qaeda has not lost the ability to carry out operations, the United States has not yet secured the homeland from follow-on attack.

This seems right to me. As for the earlier part, well, I'd sure like to believe it.

UPDATE: It's worth reading this piece on democracy in the mideast by Jackson Diehl, from today's Washington Post, too. Sounds like "root causes" are being addressed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Many readers say that I shouldn't rely on Stratfor. Fair enough -- I haven't followed their analyses, but those who say they have aren't impressed. Meanwhile, reader Alexandre Leupin thinks their faith in Kerry is unjustified on the facts:

"As I've noted repeatedly, I'm a single-issue voter."

I am too, in the sense that, if our security is not preserved, all the rest (freedom, prosperity, the rule of law, equality of women, etc) becomes meaningless.

I'd say I am a 1 1/2 issue voter, since I like the state confined to a reduced perimeter in my life. And here, W. Bush record is not good, he has tremendously expanded federal spending on domestic issues, excluding the needs of security and defense (understand that I would not object if he ratcheted defense spending up to 7% of GDP- the level at the heigth of the cold war - from the present 4%) . To me, on that point, Kerry would be only a bit worse.

Reading a lot about Kerry's positions on defense (especially the piece in this sunday's NYT magazine), I have come to the conclusion he is not a flip-flopper at all: since 1971, he is at his core, consistently, a pacifist, with a deep reluctance to projet US military might abroad and a hasty willigness to cut spending on defense. This comes without a doubt from his Vietnam experience. In other words, he is not fit to be commander-in-chief today, we are not in Vietnam anymore, Toto.

I'm afraid that's how I see it too. I could be wrong of course -- I've been wrong about Presidents, before, though usually in the direction of being disappointed, alas -- but that's how it looks to me.

TOM MAGUIRE HAS CRACKED BUSH'S CODE.

THE PAYPAL DONATION BUTTON was coming and going all weekend and into today, and some people have noticed. Paypal was having server problems -- here's the story from MSNBC. It seems to be OK now, but . . . .

BUSH WINS:


President George Bush won by almost 400 votes when University of Tennessee students took to the online polls Oct. 7 and 8 in the Student Government Association-sponsored mock elections.

The Bush/Cheney ticket received 1,015 votes to the Kerry/Edwards ticket receiving 643 votes. Students had the opportunity to vote for all candidates that will appear on the Tennessee ballot in the November elections.

A total of 1,721 students - 6.6 percent of the student body - voted in the election.

I rather doubt this can be extrapolated nationwide. But at least they haven't succumbed to the climate of fear!

VICE SQUAD is a blog devoted to, well, vice.

MARK GLASER WONDERS if satellite radio and "podcasting" will bring about a renaissance in radio journalism. I hope so.

PERSPECTIVE, from The Belmont Club.

BROADEN YOUR BLOG HORIZONS: This week's Carnival of the Vanities is up.

SOME PEOPLE ARE UNHAPPY that Sinclair Broadcasting will be showing the documentary Stolen Honor on its stations. The DNC is even trying to shut down the broadcast.

This leads Fritz Schranck to observe:

I wonder what it’s like to live an irony-free life.

This question came up as I read the news that some folks are spitting mad about a broadcasting company’s plans to air all or significant portions of an anti-Kerry documentary before the November 2 election.

According to various news outlets, Sinclair Broadcasting plans to pre-empt its stations’ regular programming in order to show Stolen Honor. On its web site's home page, the company says it has invited Senator Kerry to participate in the upcoming program, and also says that the final details of the show are yet to be determined.

Of course, the irony is that the people who are most angry about this upcoming event were also highly likely to be among Michael Moore’s biggest fans, who eagerly lined up in droves to watch Fahrenheit 9/11 earlier this year.

I can’t say that the audience for that movie was entirely sympathetic to Kerry, of course, since I was among those sitting in the theater. However, it was pretty obvious that I was in a decided minority. . . .

What I really find distressing is the attempt to enlist the government in an effort to suppress Sinclair's exercise of free speech, as suggested in The Nation article noted earlier.

Who are these people? Do they really think the First Amendment is a one-way ratchet that only turns to the left?

The effort to censor Sinclair seems to me to be a bigger -- and more significant -- assault on free speech than fines against Howard Stern for using dirty words. I wonder if the free-speech defenders will turn out for Sinclair like they did for Stern?

UPDATE: This, reported by Drudge, seems rather thuggish of the Kerry campaign:

Kerry Senior Advisor Chad Clanton to SINCLAIR Broadcasting: 'They better hope we don't win' [said on FOX NEWS DAYSIDE]...

I hope this will mobilize the free speech lobby. Meanwhile, Sissy Willis writes: "John McCain and Russ Feingold, your offices are calling you. Is that you, goose? Gander here."

[LATER: Reader Michael Morgan emails: "Doesn't Chad Clanton's remark seem to be the kind of rhetoric that the Kerry-Edwards campaign should be directing against terrorists rather than, you know, their fellow Americans?" Why yes, yes it does.]

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ed Clark emails:

I would love for someone to explain to me, without using double-speak, how airing Stolen Honor is any different than what CBS has been doing on the public airwaves for months. Except that Stolen Honor may actually be true.

I note they invited Kerry on the air, to comment on any inaccuracies or unfairness.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oliver Willis -- not to be confused with Sissy, above, because although Oliver is a bit overwrought since he started working for the Media Matters outfit, he's no Sissy -- emails:

Fahrenheit wasn't broadcast over the public airwaves. And remember this movie called "The Reagans"? The cries of free speech ring a bit hollow when the movie's a campaign ad run by the Swift Boat Vets.

Howard Stern was broadcast over the public airwaves, and that didn't stop people from calling the fines against him censorship. And "The Reagans" was stopped by public outcry, not government action. As for the rest -- why do the cries of free speech "ring a bit hollow" here? Because it's a campaign ad? (Like Moore's film?) Or because it's a campaign ad for the wrong side? Sounds to me like Oliver's endorsed the one-way ratchet theory.

Related post here, from Professor Bainbridge.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Richard Roark emails that the Moore / Stolen Honor comparison isn't fair:

Why are all these people trying to compare Stolen Honor to Fahrenheit 911? Is it that the obvious comparison is just too obvious?

Sinclair Broadcasting is saying it is a news program. A news program about something that happened 30 years ago. But in this case instead of citing "unimpeachable source(s)" without names and documents that are forged, this news program can cite the federal register for direct quotes and the sources testifying to the aftereffects of those quotes are actually willing to appear on camera, with their identity being openly displayed instead of hidden. The possibly aggrieved party has even been invited to respond.

Good point.

MORE: Andrew Sullivan somewhat disagrees. I havent seen this film, so I don't know if his characterization of it as a "rank smear" fits. But he doesn't help me here. What, exactly, is untrue about this film? To demonstrate that it's a "rank smear," he needs to point to some fairly serious lies. But I don't think he has -- they're assumed, not proven, or even identified. As for his CBS example, well, CBS has already done enough, as have quite a few media outfits. They tried to influence the election on the public airwaves, after all.

Given the media's extensive efforts to deliver its 15% for Kerry, it's funny that this is suddenly so outrageous.

I think this whole thing illustrates that campaign finance "reform" is a terrible disaster. First, it hasn't cleaned things up -- it's just produced a sub rosa battle of rich guys and interest groups. Second, it's coarsened the political dialogue even further, since candidates have some incentive to play nice, but independent groups don't. Third, controversies like these are undermining free speech. And, finally, all of this is hitting in wartime, when we don't need this kind of nastiness, etc.

McCain, Feingold, and the many editorialists who supported this bill -- and President Bush, who signed it in the mistaken belief that the courts would overturn it, and the Supreme Court, which wrongly upheld it -- all ought to admit their error. Will they?

Another reader emails:

Sundance channel aired the "Concert for Change," a six-hour anti-Bush concert. Are the free-speech-for-me-but-not-for-thee types open to the idea of a six-hour Ted Nugent jam fest?

I'm cool with it.

STILL MORE: Reader Ed Paul, who unlike me is watching PBS tonight, emails:

I assume that if The Sinclair Kerry special is an illegal contribution in kind the the Kerry hagiography on PBS tonight will also be illegal. Jeese, they have one of his crew members telling the Silver Star story and NOT one word about the Swift Boat Veterans.

Sounds like that one-way ratchet.

LT SMASH has thoughts on the anniversary of the USS Cole bombing: "In Kerry’s world, was the attack on the Cole just a nuisance?' . . . My problem with Kerry isn’t that he sees Iraq as a diversion from the War on Terror, but rather that he sees the War on Terror as a diversion from his domestic agenda."

STEPHEN GREEN has a report, with photos, from a Bush rally in Colorado. Protesters were present.

UPDATE: More photoblogging here.

GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBILITY, COMMERCIAL SPACEFLIGHT, AND THE "UNINVOLVED PUBLIC" -- my TechCentralStation column is up.

STEVE SCHWENK responds to Daniel Okrent. Via a blog, natch.

UPDATE: Colby Cosh has no sympathy for Schwenk, writing, "It never ceases to amaze me when people send missives to newspapers and magazines and then are surprised when their words end up in print." True enough. On the other hand, he makes an important point regarding Okrent's column, too: "Okrent, buried under what is no doubt an avalanche of mostly unfounded accusations of bias, has reached the inevitable Ombudsmoment where he forgets that he is being paid to represent the readers to the paper rather than the other way around."

DAVID BERNSTEIN has thoughts on the rapid decline of free speech in Canada.

SAMIR VINCENT: The Invisible Man? Not to the all-seeing eye of the blogosphere!

A MINOR BUT REAL DIPLOMATIC SUCCESS:

Senior Vatican officials have decided to put aside their differences with Tony Blair over the war in Iraq, calling for multinational troop reinforcements to secure the country's fledgling democracy.

In February last year, both Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state, offered some of the fiercest denunciations of Mr Blair and President George W Bush for their strike on Saddam Hussein. . . .

Their private criticism of Mr Blair was made embarrassingly public by Vatican officials, who revealed at a press conference that the Pope had urged him to "make use of all the resources offered by international law to avoid the tragedy of war".

Now, in light of the post-war chaos, Cardinal Sodano has announced a newly hawkish line on Iraq from Rome. "The child has been born," he declared recently on behalf of the Vatican. "It may be illegitimate, but it's here, and it must be reared and educated."

So before the child of Iraqi freedom was born, the Vatican was ready to kill it? This calls for a headline: Sodano abandons pro-abortion stance!

READER MARY LITTLETON sends word of a fearsome strike. Could it affect the election? Who knows?

THE AUSTRALIAN ELECTIONS AND IRAQ: Tim Blair has much more:

Let's take another look at Tim Lambert's claim that Iraq was "hardly an issue" in the election. "Anyone who has been following the election would know how little it was discussed," says Tim.

Anyone who watched the election debate between the two leaders would have heard Iraq mentioned 25 times ("Latham puts Iraq on the election table," wrote Margo Kingston, a source Lambert may find trustworthy).

Latham mentioned Iraq three times during his campaign launch (his promise to bring the troops home was a major part of his election platform, driving much media coverage); Howard's launch mentioned Iraq twice. Iraq was mentioned 27 times in questions and responses following Howard’s Press Club speech in the final week of the campaign.

Game, set, match to Tim. Er, the Blair one.

CLIMATE OF FEAR UPDATE: "Offices that house President Bush's re-election campaign in Spokane were broken into and vandalized last night, the latest in a string of crimes at Republican offices across the country."

AFGHAN ELECTIONS UPDATE: Scott Norvell reports from Kabul:

It was a regrettably typical comment from an American reporter in this part of the world. "At least it's news," he said of the Afghan election scuffle over the weekend. "Otherwise, this is just a success story."

God forbid it be a success story.

But that's what it was here, no matter how hard the international media tried to spin it. There were no car bombs raining body parts all over the polling stations. There were no last-minute assassinations. There were no drive-by shootings. The best they could come up with for "news" was grumbling from hopelessly trailing opposition candidates about washable ink and threats of a boycott. The media's disappointment was palpable.

I'm sure that it was.

HERE'S A MEDIA ANALYSIS of bogus draft fears, in which we learn that a gullible and inaccurate CBS was outperformed by local papers.

Yeah, yeah, I know: dog bites man. But still.

HEALTHCARE BLOGGING: You want it, Grand Rounds has got it! Everything from Vioxx, to the flu vaccine shortage, to dangerously resistant staph infections, to the importance of nurses -- and much more.

October 11, 2004

RUDY GIULIANI ON KERRY AND TERRORISM:

"For some time, and including when I spoke at the Republican Convention, I’ve wondered exactly what John Kerry’s approach would be to terrorism and I’ve wondered whether he had the conviction, the determination, and the focus, and the correct worldview to conduct a successful war against terrorism. And his quotations in the New York Times yesterday make it clear that he lacks that kind of committed view of the world. In fact, his comments are kind of extraordinary, particularly since he thinks we used to before September 11 live in a relatively safe world. He says we have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance.

I’m wondering exactly when Senator Kerry thought they were just a nuisance. Maybe when they attacked the USS Cole? Or when they attacked the World Trade Center in 1993? Or when they slaughtered the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972? Or killed Leon Klinghoffer by throwing him overboard? Or the innumerable number of terrorist acts that they committed in the 70s, the 80s and the 90s, leading up to September 11?

This is so different from the President’s view and my own, which is in those days, when we were fooling ourselves about the danger of terrorism, we were actually in the greatest danger. When you don’t confront correctly and view realistically the danger that you face, that’s when you’re at the greatest risk. When you at least realize the danger and you begin to confront it, then you begin to become safer. And for him to say that in the good old days – I’m assuming he means the 90s and the 80s and the 70s -- they were just a nuisance, this really begins to explain a lot of his inconsistent positions on how to deal with it because he’s not defining it correctly.

Read the whole thing. Maybe Kerry was right to be afraid. On the other hand, Power Line is actually defending Kerry on this point: "I don't understand Kerry to be saying that we should give terrorism the same type and limited level of attention we gave it pre-9/11; rather I think he was providing a realistic, though tone-deaf, assessment of what it is possible to achieve in the war on terror."

That's probably right, though I also agree with Power Line that Kerry's statement that September 11 didn't affect his thinking is far worse than the "nuisance" bit -- especially when you see what that thinking consists of.

Meanwhile, Eugene Volokh has a followup post on this, which you should read. It links to several earlier items.

There are also interesting thoughts here on Kerry's message problem:

The bigger issue is that Kerry thinks his theories are just too complex for us. I'm a pretty intelligent guy. You will never win points with me by saying that I won't get it. That says more about you than me. It says that you think that I'm stupid. It says that you think I need to be coddled. No thank you. What it means is that you don't know how to express yourself well enough for me to understand. Or worse yet, you just don't want to try.

Kerry does seem to have problems along these lines. "I have a plan, but it's too complicated to explain" doesn't instill confidence. Reader Jay Allen's comment on this post underscores the point:

I think what Kerry is trying to say here is, "I've always considered terrorism a danger - unlike the President, who didn't swing into action until after 3,000+ people were killed on American soil. I recognized the danger in the African embassy bombings, in the attack on the Cole, in the attack on the WTC in the early 90's. I agreed with Gary Hart and others who were sounding the alarms well before we were struck at home. 9/11 gave me the ammunition I needed to convince others that we needed to step up our fight against al Qaeda."

Whether that's *true* or not is an open question, but it's not as morally bankrupt a statement as you and Powerline are making it out to be.

Does Kerry mean this? I don't think so, actually. [LATER: Eric Lindholm emails: "Keep in mind that Kerry missed 76% of the Senate Intelligence Committee meetings including every meeting the year after the first attack on the WTC." Ouch.] But if he does, well, then he should have said it.

UPDATE: Timothy Goddard emails:

I think that your reader, Jay Allen, is attributing a bit too much boldness to Kerry. He never argues, to Bai at least, that he was warning about Al Quaeda for years. I gather from the article that Bai made it clear that he wouldn't stand for that sort of exaggeration. Instead, Kerry was talking about his crusade against international money laundering--certainly a worthy cause, but a very small one, that Kerry has inflated. As I argue at my own blog, after 9-11, Kerry "seized upon the one thing in his small political repertoire that he could connect with the attacks–in this case, international money laundering, or what Kerry expands to become 'this entire dark side of globalization,' which Bai discusses in greater detail later on–and determines that, if only we had all listened to him, this whole thing could have been averted."

Here's the post from Goddard's blog.

Reader Rick Schmick observes:

Jay Allen's recent post makes a good point in that Kerry seems to be saying that he recognized the threat of terrorism before the President. This leads me to another question...so why didn't he do something about it? Listening to Kerry gives you the impression that he knows how to fix all the major problems that we face, and he knew it before anyone else, even if he doesn't want to bother sharing many of the details with those of us in the cheap seats. So, why hasn't he done anything in his 20 year Senate career to take on this problems? What bothers me most about this guy is that now he has all the solutions, but he doesn't have any legislative history to show he's been trying to fix them before.

That does undermine his case somewhat.

James Lileks, on the other hand, agrees that the "nuisance" language isn't the big issue:

Mosquito bites are a nuisance. Cable outages are a nuisance. Someone shooting up a school in Montana or California or Maine on behalf of the brave martyrs of Fallujah isn't a nuisance. It's war.

But that's not the key phrase. This matters: We have to get back to the place we were.

But when we were there we were blind. When we were there we losing. When we were there we died. We have to get back to the place we were. We have to get back to 9/10? We have to get back to the place we were. So we can go through it all again? We have to get back to the place we were. And forget all we’ve learned and done? We have to get back to the place we were. No. I don’t want to go back there. Planes into towers. That changed the terms. I am remarkably disinterested in returning to a place where such things are unimaginable. Where our nighmares are their dreams.

We have to get back to the place we were.

No. We have to go the place where they are.

Indeed.

MORE: Bill at INDCJournal observes:

My verdict: the comments were politically stupid because he should know that they'd be truncated and taken out of context, but a lot of people are, in fact, taking them out of context. He was clumsily grasping for a way to describe the ominpresence of terrorism in much the same way that Bush told Matt Lauer, "'I don't think you can win" this war. Of course, the Dems spun that perceptive statement to Hell and back, so fair is fair.

That being said, there's no doubt in my mind, that based on his description of a "global test," his drastic anti-war and anti-defense history and his previous description of the WOT as primarily a law-enforcement operation, that John Kerry plans on pursuing a foreign policy that devolves US strategic thinking back to an approximation of the Clinton Administration's weakness. Such a defensive posture will be more likely to steer us towards disaster.

I think that's right. And I don't blame Kerry -- much -- for regarding terrorism as a "nuisance" in the 1990s. That's what I thought, too. I was wrong. He hasn't admitted that he was, but instead wants to turn back the clock.

A CANADIAN READER who has sent me a lot of email on the subject notes that CNN will look at terrorist sanctuaries in Canada tonight at 10 pm Eastern.

THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN BLOG ROUNDUP has been posted. Check it out -- you may find some blogs you like better than this one!

UPDATE: Reader Brian Sament emails that I shouldn't make recommendations like this:

You're getting like the stereotypical hero guy who always insists while mugging for the TV camera that "it's nothing, it's what anyone would do."

Do you NOT want people to visit your blog? Do you think your blog SUCKS and feel ashamed that people are visiting it?

Recommend other blogs, but it's downright strange when you tell people not to visit your own blog.

Well, I'm not telling people not to visit my blog. But the blogosphere is a big place. Judging from the complaints I get from some readers that I'm not writing enough about stuff they consider important, InstaPundit is not, in fact, a one-size-fits-all blog. And neither are any others! I think it's important for people to find blogs they like. Lots of people come to InstaPundit and read it, and a few other blogs that I link to a lot, and don't venture further into the blogosphere. I try to encourage people to get beyond that because (1) I might not be around forever; and (2) I think those other blogs deserve more traffic, too. The blogosphere is more important than any one blog, and no single blog is everything to everybody, or should try to be.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Bill Graham emails:

I'm not sure if I agree with Brian's comment or not in whole, but this is how I view your work:

You are not Twain, Poe, Tolstoy, nor Shakespeare, etc. You sir, are the librarian who took the job because (s)he loves to read. One pass by your desk and I can get a plethora of suggestions and just the right amount of commentary about each one. No plots given away, just a sampling and a suggestion to go find the same enjoyment you have experienced. And like any good librarian, you often repeat the suggestion that if I am only reading the Cliff Notes, I am really just cheating myself.

And like most librarians, you're doing this on a volunteer basis. Thank you.

Well, I'm a librarian's son. . . .

IN RESPONSE TO THIS POST, READER Nathan Wilkes notes some useful advice to Daniel Okrent.

A SERVER BELONGING TO INDYMEDIA HAS BEEN SEIZED by the FBI, pursuant to a foreign court order.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'm no fan of Indymedia, an outfit that blurs the line between dissent and incitement. But they're also a news service of sorts, and I rather doubt that any more "mainstream" service would get this kind of treatment almost regardless of the conduct involved. (And despite the fact that, I believe, posts on IndyMedia have in the past called for people to bring down InstaPundit through extra-legal means, I don't want Indymedia treated differently by the authorities than a more "respectable" outfit would be, if engaged in the same conduct).

Orin Kerr and Eugene Volokh have far more detailed observations.

UPDATE: Hey, maybe it's actually an anti-Bush move! After all, those guys are recycling InstaPundit posts mocking the antiwar movement, so they must be Karl Rove puppets.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader sends this explanation for why the servers were pulled, not just copied:

I work in a huge company with a lot of rack-mounted servers.

We have no "documented process" that an Operator (or even Technician) could provide the contents of a server.

We have mainframe tape drives and remote backup systems, but they are all proprietary - and complicated to use.

It's not like we can just burn a DL-DVD (or 10+) and provide a backup of the hundreds of gigs of data that a server holds. Not only do we not have the burner or the media, we also don't have the procedures. If it's not documented and approved, an Operator cannot perform the action on the production data. And only an Operator can perform tasks relating to production data - not Technicians.

It would be far, far easier to just shut down the boxes, pull them, and give them to the Feds. Two non-production servers could be re-assigned and automated restores queued. The process for swapping out failed servers (which is what this simulates) is documented and proceduralized.

That's how we would handle it, if it ever came up.

This makes sense to me, though I don't know that much about this stuff.

TIM BLAIR has more on the Australian elections, where blaming the government for terrorist attacks seems to have played badly with the electorate.

UPDATE: In the comments to Tim's post, a compelling reason to be glad that the Aussies are still on our side: "Speaking from experience with the stuff, all vegemite is weaponized."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Aussie blogger Arthur Chrenkoff weighs in -- and somewhat splits the difference -- on a question that has divided the two Tims:

This seems to be a classical case of "heads I win, tails you lose"; if Howard had lost the election it would have been a referendum on Iraq; but since he won, the election was obviously about other issues. This is quite reminiscent of the media spin of the European Parliament election results a few months ago - it seems that the war in Iraq simply cannot be shown as anything other than an electoral liability. . . .

Sections of the media and the punditry, together with the rabid left (mostly associated with the Greens) had tried to make Iraq the issue of the campaign. For that small but vocal section of the Australian electorate the election was always going to be the referendum on Iraq - hence the unprecedented attempt to attack John Howard in his own seat of Bennelong. Neither the government nor the Labor opposition would however much oblige, preferring to campaign largely on domestic "bread and butter" issues. This is not to say that Iraq and the war on terror were absent from the campaign altogether: the voters were from the start given a clear choice on these issues. According to Labor, the war in Iraq was wrong and it made us more of a terrorist target. Hence we should pull out our troops by Christmas and concentrate on fighting the war on terror in our region, in cooperation with our Asian neighbors. According to Liberals, the war in Iraq was right and our troops should stay until their mission is accomplished. As for the war on terror, we shall fight it wherever we can, in Indonesia by all means, but in the Middle East too, if necessary.

Voters were quite aware of this choice, and to the extent that the people had voted for the complete policy package, the Liberal foreign policy option has clearly proven to be the preferred one. From that point of view, the pro-war position was victorious on Saturday. But it's also clear that the issue of whom to trust to manage Australia's booming A$800 billion economy had also played on voters' minds, particularly in marginal seats, which are experiencing large housing growth and are therefore more receptive to concerns about the interest rates.

If the issue of Iraq did not seem to have been on the forefront of the Australian election campaign, it's because by contrast with the US presidential campaign it wasn't there to anywhere near the same degree. But the reasons it didn't need to be as prominent is that the voters have already had three years in which to acquaint themselves with the Liberal and the Labor positions.

So there it is, in a "nuanced" package. With regard to the U.S. media, it's quite clear that his first paragraph is the operative one, though. And given the fate of those taking the Michael Moore line (see the first link, above) I think that efforts to take the war out of the election seem like spin to me.

OAS BRIBERY SCANDAL UPDATE:

The resignation of Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Miguel Angel Rodríguez amid accusations that he received bribes while he was president of Costa Rica is making big headlines. But too little attention has been paid to the French telecommunications giant Alcatel, which reportedly paid the suspected bribes. . . .

But that's only the beginning of the story. Rodríguez supporters say Costa Rica's current president, Abel Pacheco, demanded Rodríguez's resignation from the OAS last week as a way to divert attention from his own Alcatel payment scandal.

It turns out that Pacheco, as well as his rival in the 2002 election, received a $100,000 contribution from Alcatel that he failed to report to election authorities. Pacheco has conceded that he received the Alcatel money for his 2002 campaign, but says that the payment was not conditioned to any favors on his part.

''I told them they didn't need to give a campaign donation to be treated fairly, but they said they wanted to contribute to democracy anyway,'' the president was quoted as saying by the daily Al Día.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Bad link above. Fixed now. Sorry.

HERE'S A PAPER by Dave Kopel and Michael Krause on the Drug War's negative impact on freedom and human rights.

JOHN FUND HAS MORE on voter intimidation and the new climate of fear in America.

A WHILE BACK, I MENTIONED Joel Miller's book, Bad Trip: How the War Against Drugs is Destroying America. Now there's an interview with Miller in Reason.

THE BELMONT CLUB on Kerry's anti-terror strategy: "When the newfangled description of terrorism as a 'blended threat' is subtracted, the entire program consists of the policies of the late 1990s."

More here.

BUSINESS-BLOGGING: This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up, with lots of business- and economics-related blog posts. Don't miss it!

THAT BULGE IN BUSH'S JACKET? Some people thought it was a bullet-proof vest, but now the truth is out.

STEPHEN SCHWARTZ has Columbus Day thoughts.

JOHN O'SULLIVAN notes the importance of the Australian elections, and how little attention they've gotten in the U.S. media. It's also worth reading in conjunction with this post. "Al Qaeda has received a serious setback, Kofi Annan a rebuke, France and Germany a disappointment — and the media elites a slap in the face so stinging that outside Australia Howard's victory has been a non-story." As O'Sullivan notes, though, his defeat would have been treated as big news, freighted with deep political significance.

WHY THE ELECTION IS SO TENSE: Here's a passage from John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge's The Right Nation that sums things up:

[I]t is noticeable how much more the 2004 contest matters to the Democrats. The presidency represents their best chance of seizing meaningful power. The Republicans control both houses of Congress, most of the governorships (including those in America's four biggest states), and the majority of state legislatures. . . . Another Bush victory would cement their lock on power.

I think this is a bit of an exaggeration, but I don't think there's much doubt that Democrats feel this way.

I TEND TO FIND BLOG-RANKING SYSTEMS, like TV award shows, a bit dull. But judging by the plethora of both, others disagree with my taste. Anyway, N.Z. Bear has one of the best, and he's upgraded it recently to better serve you by providing a lot more information about who's linking to what blogs. It certainly seems as if a lot of work has gone into it.

MICKEY KAUS:

After almost year on the job, New York Times ombudsman Dan Okrent has finally been pummeled by reader criticism into a useless, angry defensive institutional crouch. The left complains--but hey, the right complains too! "[E]very judgment, it appears, offends someone." So screw all of you! . . .

Er, what was Okrent's job again? Defender of the Times against the Public? Something like that. ... What's the use of an ombudsman who doesn't think his paper ever screws up, who is shy about naming names when it comes to finding fault, and who seems to hate those who complain to him?

It hasn't worked out as well as I'd hoped.

UPDATE: An interesting perspective on Daniel Okrent's naming of names.

SIMON'S ASIAN BLOG ROUNDUP for the week has been posted. And don't miss Alphecca's weekly report on media gun coverage.

INTERESTING LOOK at the questioners in the debate, and their political donation histories.

LAB-TESTED.COM: It's like Gizmodo for dogs!

October 10, 2004

EUGENE VOLOKH has thoughts on John Kerry, terrorism, and prostitution:

But what remarkable analogies Kerry started with: prostitution and illegal gambling. The way law enforcement has dealt with prostitution and illegal gambling is by occasionally trying to shut down the most visible and obvious instances, tolerating what is likely millions of violations of the law per year, de jure legalizing many sorts of gambling, and de jure legalizing one sort of prostitution in Nevada, and de facto legalizing many sorts of prostitution almost everywhere; as best I can tell, "escort services" are very rarely prosecuted, to the point that they are listed in the Yellow Pages.

These are examples of practical surrender, or at least a cease-fire punctuated by occasional but largely half-hearted and ineffectual sorties.

Indeed.

TOM MAGUIRE has your Plame update taken care of.

MORE REPORTS FROM AFGHANISTAN, with photos. (And scroll down for more reports.)

I CALLED KERRY'S ABORTION ANSWER IN THE DEBATE "very good" -- which got me flak from pro-life readers.

But they're not the only ones who think I was wrong. William Saletan writes:

I know something about abortion politics, so I can tell you how effective Kerry's answer was. It was awful. He defended public funding of abortion, which most Americans oppose, while at the same time he managed to convey ambivalence about the legal right to abortion, which most Americans support.

Hey, I call these things as I see 'em, not necessarily how you see 'em. But I don't think that Kerry's answer was bad at all, for the reasons I mentioned below. (But Hugh Hewitt agrees with Saletan, and disagrees with me.)

I also don't agree with Saletan's overall assessment: "Kerry blows the second debate." I think that Bush won, but I don't think that Kerry blew it. But, as I say, my opinions on this stuff are notoriously unreliable -- or, at least, not necessarily shared by large numbers of other people.

NOW THAT THE X-PRIZE IS DONE WITH, it's time for the X-Prize Cup! This gives the other contestants a chance to show their stuff and perhaps attract investors, or buyers for their technology.

Yeah, this stuff is pretty smart.

HERE'S MORE on the legislative struggles regarding space tourism.

INTERESTED IN NANOTECHNOLOGY? The Foresight Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology is just two weeks away.

Howard Lovy has highlights.

ROBERT TAGORDA HAS A ROUNDUP ON THE AFGHAN ELECTIONS, and notes a number of positive reports, including this one from the BBC reporters' blog:

It was a celebration today. There was a tremendous buzz of excitement at the polling stations.

I genuinely got the feeling that this was the people's opportunity and that's why in Kandahar the problem with the ink is being laughed out of town.

Good. Even Reuters agrees:

Afghan Polls Fair Despite Ink Fiasco -Monitors

There's also a positive report from ABC News:

The Taliban vowed to turn the Afghan election into a day of bloodshed, but the rebels mounted only a smattering of small-scale attacks on police and civilians and a larger clash that left many of their own dead.

After months of what proved to be empty threats, military commanders and ordinary Afghans said Sunday the vote was a serious setback for the holdouts of the hard-line Islamic regime that was driven from power by U.S. bombs almost three years ago for harboring Osama bin Laden.

"Yesterday was a big defeat for the Taliban and a huge defeat for al-Qaida," Lt. Gen. David Barno, the top American commander in Afghanistan, told The Associated Press. "It shows that the political process is overwhelming any influence they may have."

Voters also said the Taliban had been exposed as weak.

As I mentioned earlier, thing seem to have gone much better than the critics feared. This certainly sets a good precedent.

UPDATE: And here's more from the BBC:

Observers approve Afghan election

International observers have endorsed Afghanistan's first presidential election, rejecting opposition calls for a new poll amid reports of fraud. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said demands by 15 of the 18 presidential candidates to annul the poll were "unjustified".

The local Free and Fair Elections Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) said the poll was "fairly democratic".

Maybe the Afghans can send advisers to Palm Beach County!

Scroll down, or go here and here, for more, including photos from InstaPundit's Afghanistan photo-correspondent.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Interesting to compare these reports with this claim. (Via Ichiblog).

MY DAD invited us to come out to the lake for dinner -- he said he was having "a few people over" -- and to spend the night. So I got there, and the first person I saw when I went out on the deck was perennial InstaPundit "fave" Cornel West, along with Jeffrey Stout and a host of other philosophers, political theorists, etc., one of whom was a delightful woman from Chicago who I believe is Daniel Drezner's Dean. We had a very nice time, then hung out over brunch with my father this morning. Just got home; regular blogging will resume later.

UPDATE: Drezner informs me that she is a colleague of his, and she is a Dean at U. Chi., but not his Dean. He agrees, however, that she is delightful.