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April 02, 2005

MUCH MORE ON THE CANADIAN SCANDALS here, from Ed Morrissey.

UPDATE: Other Canadian scandals here. Extra credit if you can tie these together . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: More, including a helpful diagram, at the Canada Free Press.

MEGAN MCARDLE has thoughts on marriage.

POPE JOHN PAUL II HAS DIED, according to Fox News. (Via BNN, which reports that he declined further medical treatment last night).

UPDATE: Ann Althouse: "Such a well-lived life!"

The Anchoress has the whole story covered.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Teaching Company has made two lectures on the papal succession process available for free online.

Similar material in text form, here. (Via Hugh Hewitt).

Video of President Bush's remarks, here. "The world has lost a champion of human freedom."

MORE: Power Line's John Hinderaker finds something truly amusing in the New York Times' coverage -- be sure to check out the screenshot he saved. Heh.

Johnathan Pearce: " Pope John Paul II was one of the great figures of our age. However controversial a figure he may have been for his views on issues like abortion, birth control and capitalism, the late Pope was, in my eyes, a hero for playing a part in giving people in Eastern Europe the confidence to bring the Soviet Empire down."

MORE STILL: Stephen Bainbridge, Jay Solo, and Gerard Van der Leun have posts.

So does Donald Sensing. And Arthur Chrenkoff.

From the comments at Tim Blair's:

Final score for the 20th century:

Ordinary Poles, 2.
German intellectuals, 0.

Heh.

STILL MORE: Larry Kudlow has a long, and deeply personal, reflection.

HANG ON TO THAT TAMIFLU:

President Bush signed an executive order yesterday authorizing the government to impose a quarantine to deal with any outbreak of a particularly lethal variation of influenza now found in Southeast Asia.

The order is intended to deal with a type of influenza commonly referred to as bird flu. Since January 2004, an estimated 69 persons, primarily in Vietnam, have contracted the disease. But Dr. Keiji Fukuda, a flu expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said he suspects there are more cases.

I hope we'll dodge this bullet, but most experts seem to think it's just a matter of when, not if, this strain of flu makes the jump to general human transmission.

UPDATE: It's not directly related, but Angola's outbreak of the Marburg virus (which inspired The Andromeda Strain) has now set a record for the number of fatalities.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A report on the progress of a bird flu vaccine, here, and more on Tamiflu and the avian flu here.

ZIMBABWE'S OPPOSITION IS CONTESTING THE ELECTION: Fraud by Mugabe? Who would have thought it?

I'VE LISTENED TO THE NEW WEBB WILDER CD, and here, as promised, is a brief review.

In short, it's classic Webb. If you like Webb already, you won't be disappointed in this -- he hasn't lost his touch in the too-many years since the last album. In fact, I'd say that his songwriting and vocal chops have only improved.

If you're not familiar with Webb, well, you've missed something. When I moved to Nashville to clerk for Judge Merritt after law school, I had an idea of the kind of music I hoped to hear -- rock and roll with plenty of twang and tremolo, and a none-too-serious attitude. I was literally walking past the Exit/In one night when I heard Webb's music coming out of the door, and said 'yeah, that's it!"

I became a regular fan (you can hear me screaming in the background on some of the live cuts on It Came From Nashville) and I've followed him since. If this sounds like the sort of thing you'd like, you should check it out.

UPDATE: Reader Michael Elliott emails:

We are simpatico, my friend; Webb Wilder rules! Seen him many times at the Rock Island Brewing Company (Hey, Rock Island, IL. Isn't that's where Jake Blues is from?). Shared a brew or two with him and HE is the real thing. He is the "Webb-ster", the "Webb-instein", the "Webb-omatic".

He is Webb Wilder. Lesser musicians/ artists, behold Him and tremble.

Yes. And many live by his simple, yet affecting credo. He also offers advice that should be taken to heart in the blogosphere: "You're never too small to hit the big time."

April 01, 2005

WILL FRANKLIN has more on Zimbabwe.

WILL THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT FALL? There's a scandal, kept quiet by a publication ban. But some people, Kate McMillan reports, are publishing anyway.

More here:

The possible collapse of the Liberal minority government is once again a hot topic on Parliament Hill, fuelled by reports of explosive new testimony at the sponsorship inquiry.

Although exact details of the testimony cannot be revealed due to a publication ban, there are reports its disclosure would prove so devastating that Paul Martin's Liberal minority could fall if it became public.

Watching developments in Ottawa Friday night, CTV's Mike Duffy says the capital is buzzing with speculation the opposition will confront the Liberals with some of that testimony next week.

"It's probably going to be raised here on Monday by the opposition," Duffy told CTV News.

"Because MPs have privilege on the floor of the House of Commons it is conceivable that the Bloc Quebecois could get up and run some information from behind the closed doors" at the Gomery inquiry, he said.

A publication ban. How . . . Canadian.

UPDATE: Canadian reader Patrick Brown emails:

I think you may have the wrong impression about the publication ban on evidence at the Gomery inquiry in Canada - the one where apparently Liberal-damning evidence may be given next week. The inquiry is generally open, and televised, and one of the most-watched programs in Quebec, where the corrupt practices were concentrated. 3 men facing multiple criminal counts of fraud and conspiracy asked the Judge running the inquiry (Judge Gomery) for a publication ban on their upcoming testimony and the testimony of other witnesses that may bear on their conduct until after their criminal trials which begin the week of May 2nd and will last about 4-6 weeks.

In a ruling that has been hailed by a National Post editorial, Judge Gomery agreed to a partial publication ban, on the testimony of the 3 men, but not of any other witness, until the moment their juries are sequestered. Television
images of the testimony will be captured and sent to the media room as usual, but not published until the ban is lifted. The decision is available here:

Link

I am no fan of the Liberal government and it looks like there is plenty of corruption to be found, but Judge Gomery is doing a good job with this inquiry and I am confident that the delay in publication will be short and is justified. This is not a case of a pet judge being given the job of whitewashing the government. It probably doesn't even matter what his final report says - the proceedings are televised and the banned material will be also at some point. People are making up their own minds in Quebec, and the polls show it's costing the Liberals bigtime.

Okay, I stand corrected if I gave the wrong impression. But the notion of a publication ban that's good against the world -- which is how the order reads -- seems quite consistent with Canada's reputation as a "pleasantly authoritarian country."

ANOTHER UPDATE: "Time for a 'Maple Leaf Revolution,' eh?"

ACADEMIC DIVERSITY and a baseball analogy: Some thoughts from K.C. Johnson in Inside Higher Education.

WELCOME HOME, Marines.

UNSCAM UPDATE: Roger Simon reports on corruption in the Palace of Justice.

CHARLES STROSS attains posthuman status. There were warning signs that this was coming . . . .

AUSTIN BAY WRITES that the Volcker Report is the beginning, not the end of U.N. reform:

The scandal has deeply damaged the United Nations as an institution. For many critics, this doesn't matter. They already argue the United Nations is a facade masking coalitions of the corrupt — a forum where cynical international elites romp in a champagne sewer greased by the planet's Saddams, mafia thugs and rogue corporations. They point to the United Nations' dismal record in Bosnia, the Congo and Sudan's Darfur.

Why should such an organization continue to suck dollars and dither?

Such an organization shouldn't — that's why it needs massive reform.

Or, perhaps, it can just be allowed to twist in the wind.

HUGH HEWITT ON THE POPE:

With Reagan and Solzhenitsyn, John Paul II represents the three forces of opposition to communism that shattered the evil empire, the Soviet Union --the American-led West, the Eastern European resistance, and the Russian dissident movement. They also represented the three spheres of opposition: political, artistic and spiritual. Each man came into the field of his greatness later in life, and each has endured hard circumstances in their later years. I hope Solzhenitisyn is able to and inclined to write about his colleagues in the struggle that triumphed.

Video here.

LANCE FRIZZELL has a must-read report from Iraq.

NATIONAL JOURNAL: "'Blog Swarm' Stings the FEC." Nice roundup of the issue, and it's a free link.

CONTEXT AND HISTORY: John Cole has a Sandy Berger roundup.

MORE GOOD NEWS FROM IRAQ:

Another major Shia religious festival, which lasted from 29-31 March, ended without incident. The government made a major effort to provide security for the large gatherings of Shia Arabs attending religious ceremonies. Sunni Arab terrorists, especially al Qaeda, consider these ceremonies a major insult to Sunni religious beliefs. The government deployed a security effort on the same level as the one rolled out for the January elections. Coalition troops deployed mostly as back up and quick reaction forces. Al Qaeda tried to use suicide car bombers, but none of them got through to large assemblies of Shia Arabs. In one incident, a car bomb went off and killed five people, which was the most any of the attacks were able to do.

Another reason the attacks were not successful was that, in the days before March 29th, police arrested hundreds of Sunni Arabs and foreigners suspected of being terrorists. Many were, and this is because an increasing number of Sunni Arab religious leaders have changed their minds about armed resistance to democracy, and coalition forces. This has made it easier for Sunni Arabs to pass on information to the police. The Sunni religious leaders have done the math and concluded that they were backing the losing side.

This sounds like a major success, and one that deserves a lot of attention.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES is up!

THE NEW WEBB WILDER CD has arrived. I'll post a review later.

RYAN SAGER writes that libertarians have been cuckolded by conservatives.

UPDATE: John Weidner responds.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Interesting discussion in Weidner's comment thread, one that would make interesting fodder for any journalist/pundit writing on this topic. Lots of small-l libertarians and fiscal-conservative types feeling left out, and lots of social-conservative types delighting in heaping scorn on them, which strikes me as a poor way to maintain a coalition.

PUBLIUS has a Zimbabwe roundup.

SANDY BERGER UPDATE: Really, a rather sordid story of deliberate misconduct that deserves close attention:

The terms of Berger's agreement required him to acknowledge to the Justice Department the circumstances of the episode. Rather than misplacing or unintentionally throwing away three of the five copies he took from the archives, as the former national security adviser earlier maintained, he shredded them with a pair of scissors late one evening at the downtown offices of his international consulting business.

The document, written by former National Security Council terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke, was an "after-action review" prepared in early 2000 detailing the administration's actions to thwart terrorist attacks during the millennium celebration. It contained considerable discussion about the administration's awareness of the rising threat of attacks on U.S. soil. . . .

Berger's archives visit occurred as he was reviewing materials as a designated representative of the Clinton administration to the national commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The question of what Clinton knew and did about the emerging al Qaeda threat before leaving office in January 2001 was acutely sensitive, as suggested by Berger's determination to spend hours poring over the Clarke report before his testimony.

So Berger stole, and destroyed, classified documents as part of a politically motivated coverup. Let's just be clear about that. Criminal penalties, aside, the man's career in public life should be over, and he certainly should never have access to classified documents again. Unfortunately, the penalty he'll actually receive looks rather light -- certainly lighter than most folks who stole and destroyed classified documents would undergo. That makes it all the more important that the details of his misbehavior get plenty of attention, and that they're remembered long-term. (Via Expertise).

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Why did Martha Stewart go to jail for lying to investigators?

Berger now admits he did exactly the same thing. But he'll get off with a fine and an admission of "his mistakes".

Can one honestly say Martha's lies were more damaging than Bergers? I don't think so.

There are differences, I guess, but the big one is that Berger's one of the insiders. Still, Jim Geraghty is right to ask: " Just what do you have to do to get your clearance pulled permanently?"

He also wonders: "Do any Democrats want to confront the unpleasant truths of how the Clinton White House handled terrorism? Because there were some facts out there that were so damning, Sandy Berger was willing to break the law to make sure the public never saw them."

Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Patrick Hynes emails:

Berger did not destroy (or even attempt to AFAIK) all of the copies of the Clarke report, so what he was trying to expunge can't be anything Clarke said in the report. Must it not be true that Berger was after the marginal notations made on the report by officials who read the particular copies of the Clarke report Berger shredded? Do we know which officials reviewed the copies Berger destroyed? Can Archives tell us?

Someone should ask them.

March 31, 2005

SANDY BERGER'S GUILTY PLEA leaves some people unsatisfied.

TODD ZYWICKI offers thoughts on why campus intellectual diversity matters.

TOUR THE INDIAN BLOGOSPHERE: This week's Blog Mela is up!

READER STEVE OR TANYA -- it's one of those joint email accounts, so I don't know which one sent it -- writes:

I was looking forward to your perspective on the death of Terry Schiavo. Are you feeling uncomfortable with your previous ideas regarding her situation?

Although I've always tried to be pleasant to the Christian Right folks even where we disagree, I really think it's best if I don't weigh in right now. I turned down a slot on Hugh Hewitt tonight because I was afraid I'd use words that would get him an FCC fine. But I'll refer interested readers to this post-mortem at Blogs4God, and these thoughts on federalism from Right-Thinking. And Bill Ardolino is right about the Hillary 2008! implications of a lot of this stuff. And, if you've got a strong stomach, you can read this.

UPDATE: But here's the good side, from reader David Prentice:

I saw you on Kudlow's show with Hugh H. and John H. last week and had intended to write earlier. I have just learned about your hate mail (and your wife's) from some the right and wanted to give you some encouragement and thank you for what you do.

After I watched the show I had wanted to say how much I appreciated the dialogue you all had on that show because it showed by example how you could debate very opposite sides of an issue without rancor and bring light to it. I am what Andrew Sullivan would derisively call a right wing religious zealot. Full disclosure: I disagreed with your position on this matter, but I do so appreciate your spirit in putting forth your ideas, I always have appreciated your writings even when I disagree.

I love your blog, have been reading it for about a year now along with Powerline and Hugh Hewitt (You are my bookmarked 3!). I appreciate all of your view points and most of all your civility and the ability to find good information.

I am very disturbed to hear about the mail you have received from others who believe as I do. It is shameful and despicable and belies what they (myself included) claim to believe. I apologize for their horrible judgment, and want to encourage you to keep your weblog going strong in spite of all the nastiness.

Thank you again, you are appreciated by some of us "religious zealots" out there.

Well, I always hope that people can disagree without being disagreeable. The people who can't usually wind up losing. Some people certainly get this: Hugh does, and John Hinderaker -- who's been the target of moonbat assaults from the Left himself -- certainly understands the difference. Not everyone does. Those people are the fringey minority, for the most part, though I have to say that I was taken aback, and disappointed, by the Jonathan Last assault I mention below.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I've gotten a whole lot more emails along the lines of David Prentice's, for which I'm quite grateful. You know that the nasty folks are unrepresentative, but they're so damned energetic about it that it's hard to keep that in mind at times.

IT'S PAYBACK TIME for Megan McArdle.

MOLECULAR MANUFACTURING, step-by-step: The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology notes that it's closer to reality than we might think.

A SANDY BERGER GUILTY PLEA:

WASHINGTON — Former national security adviser Sandy Berger (search) will plead guilty to taking classified material from the National Archives, a misdemeanor, the Justice Department said Thursday.

Berger is expected to appear in federal court in Washington on Friday, said Justice spokesman Bryan Sierra.

(Via Joe's Dartblog).

IN THE MAIL: No god but God, by Reza Aslan. Looks interesting, though it will no doubt be controversial.

I'M ON THE RADIO WITH JEFF & BILL NOW.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY CLEARS SELF OF ANTISEMITISM: But this doesn't sound kosher:

In an effort to manage favorable coverage of its investigation into the complaints, the university disclosed a summary of the committee's report only to the Columbia Spectator, the campus newspaper, and the New York Times. Those newspapers, sources indicated to The New York Sun last night, made an agreement with the central administration that they would not speak to the students who made the complaints against the professors.

The Sun obtained a copy of the report without the permission of the university administration. Last night, when a reporter from the Sun came to Low Library, the central administration building, for a copy of the report, a security guard threatened to arrest the reporter if she did not leave the building.

According to one student, senior Ariel Beery, one of the campus's most outspoken critics of the professors, a Columbia spokeswoman told him that students were not being shown the report yesterday "for your own good."

That's not very impressive.

UPDATE: The Columbia Spectator story -- at least the one that's on the web now -- does quote some of the students.

I'LL BE INTERVIEWED ON THE RADIO by Jeff Goldstein and Bill Ardolino in just about an hour -- it's supposed to start at 3:10 Eastern. Details here. It should be a subdued and decorous affair, with those two in charge.

UPDATE: Gerard van der Leun has liveblogged it, "Without Any Regard for Accuracy." Looks fairly accurate to me, actually, with due allowance for snarkiness -- but the Godwin's Law violation didn't originate with me; I was responding to one.

HANDING OUT CHEESE, BRATWURST, AND KRINGLE: But what about beer?

I'M SHOWING THIS FILM in my Constitutional Law class today. I don't generally like to show films, but as I noted last year, unlike most movies involving the law, this one does a surprisingly good job of capturing the legal issues, and strategies, involved. I wish there were more like it.

I COULD SCREAM is a new blog looking at the plight of Islamic women.

MORE ON CENTRAL ASIA: StrategyPage is not optimistic:

Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazabayev are concerned that they will be overthrown like Askar Akayev in Kyrgyzstan. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have both been plundered by their presidential families. Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan all suffer corruption, unemployment and sluggish economies. All three conditions are linked by the greed of the presidential families and the politicians that support them. In all three countries, the support for the leadership is so narrow, that the police and army cannot be trusted to open fire on large demonstrations of angry citizens. But first, Kyrgyzstan has to sort out who is in charge. If this is done in such a way that most corrupt politicians are out of work, then Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan could be next. But for the moment, a lot of the crooked Kyrgyz bureaucrats may be able to buy their way out of this mess, and the "Tulip Revolution" may end up on the mulch pile.

Stay tuned.

LASHAWN BARBER IS EVERYWHERE! I mean, everywhere!

ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS: Publius has a roundup of news on how things are going. And Will Franklin has photos. Meanwhile, Zimbabwean bloggers report goalpost-moving:

Reports reaching us from a number of activists in different locations around the country indicate that, contrary to the electoral ground rules set down by zanu-pf, presiding officers are now being instructed not to publish the results of poll immediately following the completion of the vote count at each polling station. Instead presiding officers are now under instructions to convey the results to the constituency centers and to await authorization from the Harare command center before releasing the results to the public.

Our informant in Binga reports that presiding officers in that constituency have been ordered to lock the polling stations at the close of polling and withdraw all means of communication from agents to ensure that nothing is communicated. This means that the results will not be published at the polling stations when the vote has been completed. The presiding officers are under instructions not to communicate any information about the poll until the consolidated result for the whole constituency has been verified and announced centrally. This is a major departure from the electoral procedures laid down by law.

So are the foreign election observers complaining? Hmm. Stay tuned.

March 30, 2005

AMBER ALERT: Jason van Steenwyk notes another missing headline.

LA VIDA ROBOT: This is a great article from Wired about "How four underdogs from the mean streets of Phoenix took on the best from M.I.T. in the national underwater bot championship."

HERE'S A LIST OF BLOGNASHVILLE REGISTRANTS: It's not too late to register yourself.

HANGING UP THE BLOG: I'm not in this place, but I understand. When it's not fun anymore, it's time to quit.

HERE'S A NEW POLL showing Iraqis rejecting theocracy. Good for them.

TINA BROWN joins the Stasi.

ON THE EVE OF ELECTIONS, Zimbabwe's opposition is acting optimistic:

Supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change now openly flash their party's salute in many places across the country. And yellow MDC T-shirts abound. MDC candidates have held hundreds of public rallies - a first - and have even had some access to state-controlled media. It's all part of an election campaign that has been relatively calm - despite previous years marred by political oppression, including beatings, and even murders. Ndira himself has been been arrested 19 times and was once beaten so badly he nearly lost his arm. . . .

But opposition members and diplomats are hopeful that, win or lose, the election will hasten the end of the Mugabe regime. So for now, "There's jubilation everywhere," Ndira says.

I certainly hope it works out that way. I'd like to see more vocal support for democracy in Zimbabwe from South Africa and from Western nations.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ARTHUR CHRENKOFF, who just celebrated his first anniversary blogging -- and who has accomplished quite a lot in that year.

HOW SAD HAVE THINGS GOTTEN? The New York Post cries enough. Robert George writes on hate mail and death threats on both sides of the Schiavo business, and says it's the worst acrimony he's ever experienced in decades of dealing with controversial issues. Meanwhile, Bryan Preston of Junkyard Blog emailed me the text of this post with the observation: "I obviously expect that the JYB has enjoyed its last instalanche, so this email isn't a troll for a link."

Well, JYB has been a bit mean to me, and doesn't seem to grasp the point of my argument -- which has been that passing Congressional legislation designed to influence the outcome of a particular case doesn't fit well with notions of federalism. Mickey Kaus can airily say "federalism, schmederalism" and note that if it were up to him he'd get rid of states and divide the country into ten convenient administrative districts, but one doesn't expect to hear similar sentiments from conservatives. Bryan sees this as libertarians telling conservatives what to believe, but I think it's more a case of libertarians being disappointed to see that what they thought of as common ground wasn't so common after all. It's not hypocritical for liberals like Kaus, or Bill Clinton, to ignore federalism, because they've never cared about it. I thought that conservatives did.

As for the rest of the personal attacks in the earlier post, well, they're not worthy of Bryan, but this is one of those episodes that seems to bring out the worst in people. That's why I didn't really want to weigh in to begin with -- I knew that I was unlikely to persuade anyone, because very few people seem to care about the facts, or about arguments.

That Bryan thinks that he's somehow now under some sort of lifetime link-ban simply illustrates how inflamed this has become. But I've tried to keep my head, even as those around me are, all too often, losing theirs. How well I've succeeded is for readers to judge.

UPDATE: Nice observations here and here from Soxblog.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I have more thoughts in this column -- though I'm labelled a "conservative," which is a misnomer, and more obviously so these days.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Patterico emails to ask if I'm saying that people who disagree with me can't handle facts or logic. No -- though if you read the incredibly nasty emails I've gotten the last few days, hoping for the InstaWife to suffer Terri Schiavo's fate, etc. -- you might forgive me for taking that position. But I know that emailers aren't a representative sample: The best may not lack all conviction, but the worst are always full of passionate intensity.

However, the fact that so few have bothered to read what I've actually written is disturbing. I've been accused of wanting to see Terri Schiavo die out of some twisted love for death, when I actually wrote that if it was up to me I might well put the tube in and turn her over to the family. But what I've been writing about isn't outcomes, it's about process -- and contempt for the Constitution and the responsibilities of different branches of government -- and I'm absolutely appalled at the people who posit deeply implausible judicial conspiracies, or say that they don't care about the Constitution if it stands in the way of getting what they want. I'm not prone to hold grudges of the sort that Bryan fears, but I'm deeply disappointed to hear a lot of folks acting like the lefties they usually complain about.

Among those I'd include Jonathan Last, who accuses me of a campaign for Terri's death, and of agreeing with Andrew Sullivan about the threat of "theocrats" even though I explicitly posted my disagreement with Andrew on that point. Hugh Hewitt, whom Last quotes, seems to understand the concept of "cordial disagreements among friends." But to some others, any disagreement on any part of the party line makes you one of the enemy, it seems. As I say, a lot of people are acting like the worst of the Left on this one. I think that Jonah Goldberg, et al., are whistling in the dark when they say there's no crackup here. Will it last? That depends on how people act afterward, I guess. [LATER: How off-base is Last? Far enough that Bryan Preston is defending me against Last's charges.]

FINALLY: Heh. This seems about right:

coxforkumschiavo.gif

DON'T MISS this week's Carnival of Education.

MORE LEAKAGE FROM THE VOLCKER COMMITTEE: The case of the Main Mentor.

IT'S BLOGGERRIFFIC! This week's Carnival of the Vanities is up!

NORM GERAS has a firsthand report from inside Zimbabwe. Things aren't pretty.

And I've got more on Zimbabwe's upcoming elections over at GlennReynolds.com.

RAND SIMBERG has thoughts on arms control in outer space. I wrote something on that topic myself, a while back.

KIM DU TOIT is a proud winner. But, really, it's an honor just to be nominated. After that it's just a popularity contest. . . .

BLOGGING LEGISLATOR UPSETS LEADERSHIP: I'm guessing, though, that overall the leadership has more to lose here.

ONE OF THE SIDE EFFECTS OF THE RAZORBLOGGING is that lots of purists have been telling me that I absolutely must get one of these for my lawn. It's safer than a straight razor!

RUMORS OF CIVIL WAR IN VENEZUELA:

The army is unhappy about the cozy relationship between Chavez and leftist rebel groups in neighboring Colombia. Venezuelan troops have been operating more aggressively along the Colombian border. This is officially a crackdown on the smugglers who always have operated there. But the Venezuelan troops are accused to really going after the Colombian rebels, or supporting them. Take your pick. No one is sure exactly what is going on.

To top it all off, Chavez is now organizing a new army, one loyal to him personally. This is part of his plan create "Bolivarian Circles of Venezuela Frontline Defense for National Democratic Revolution." These are political clubs all over the country, particularly in poor areas, where Chavez has the most support. Chavez expects to have 2.2 million members, who will be the backbone of the “democratic revolution unfolding in Venezuela." What upsets the armed forces is Chavezs decision to pass out infantry weapons to these political clubs, so that his new political clubs can use force to “defend the revolution.” There are believed to be Cuban advisors involved in this effort. This sort of mass organization has been used before in Latin America, by both leftist and rightist dictators (pro-fascist Juan Peron of Argentina, and communist Fidel Castro of Cuba.) But by passing out guns to his most dedicated followers, Chavez is angering the military, making the middle class even more nervous, and setting the stage for a bloody civil war.

We've heard this story before, and it never ends well.

DEMOCRACY IN BHUTAN: Everybody Wangchuk tonight!

GREG SCOBLETE does a New York Times compare-and-contrast exercise, looking at the treatment of Enron vs. Oil-for-Food.

VERIZON WIRELESS UPDATE: I like the go-anywhere quality of the Verizon EVDO data card. But when I signed up in November, the salesman told me that we'd go from the 122kbps "National Access" service to the 512kbps "Broadband Access" service by the end of the first quarter of 2005. They've got one day left, and there's no sign of it happening. That's a bit irritating.

OXBLOG looks at media-approved police brutality.

NASA PODCASTS: Cool. (Via Space Law Probe).

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: "I had sincerely intended to be the only scribbler in America who stayed out of this most stupid and degrading argument. . . . But, once you engage for even an instant, you are drawn into a vortex of irrationality and nastiness that generates its own energy."

Indeed.

On the other hand, John Hawkins has put together a Terry Schiavo FAQ that is neither nasty nor irrational.

DON'T RAGE AGAINST THE BLOG: Embrace the blog! Advice for Big Media folks, over at GlennReynolds.com.

IS THERE HOPE FOR NASA? My TechCentralStation column is up.

MORE PROTESTS FOR DEMOCRACY in the Arab world:

In this roiling political spring of protest and debate about democracy in repressive Arab countries, cell phone text messaging has become a powerful underground channel of free and often impolite speech, especially in the oil-rich Persian Gulf monarchies, where mobile phones are common but candid public talk about politics is not.

Demonstrators use text messaging to mobilize followers, dodge authorities and swarm quickly to protest sites. Candidates organizing for the region's limited elections use text services to call supporters to the polls or slyly circulate candidate slates in countries that supposedly ban political groupings. And through it all, anonymous activists blast their adversaries with thousands of jokes, insults and political limericks.

Ah yes: "There once was a man from Yemen . . ."

March 29, 2005

VARIOUS PEOPLE have been demanding spring-weather pictures from Knoxville, but I've been -- alas -- too busy to take any. I managed to take a few on the way across campus today, though, so here you are.

UPDATE: Moved to the "extended entry" area to speed page loads.

Read More ?


AN ITEM I LINKED TO EARLIER, suggesting that the WSJ should have credited Roger Simon, was in error, as was I. As Roger notes, the WSJ says they got the same information independently.

SOME THOUGHTS on military nanotechnology.

SHOCKWAVES AND ECHOES:

The shock waves from Kyrgyzstan's lightning revolution are spreading around the former Soviet Union - and into the heart of Russia - leading analysts to wonder which regimes might be next to face the peoples' wrath.
Recent days have seen a spate of copycat protests launched by opposition groups that were perhaps hoping their own local authorities might fold and flee under pressure, as did Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev when demonstrators stormed his Bishkek complex last week. . . .

Two Russian ethnic republics, Ingushetia and Bashkortostan, have seen mass street demonstrations this week directed against Kremlin-installed leaders. Even in remote Mongolia, the former USSR's Asian satellite, hundreds of protesters gathered last week to "congratulate our Kyrgyz brothers" and demand a rerun of last June's disputed parliamentary polls.

Some experts see a common thread among these upheavals that began 17 months ago when Georgians overthrew Eduard Shevardnadze in a peaceful revolt and continued with Ukraine's "Orange Revolution" late last year.

"Every situation is different, but a single process is unfolding," says Valentin Bogatyrov, a former Akayev adviser and director of the International Institute of Strategic Studies in Bishkek. "Kyrgyzstan is a kind of trigger that will spread this unrest to our neighbors, and beyond. We are witnessing the second breakup of the Soviet Union."

Putin can't like this. Here's more on Ingushetia, including the observation that it's "on the brink of revolution." I don't know if that's true, but clearly there are a lot of people interested in democracy.

MORE ON THE U.N.'S AMBITION TO REGULATE THE INTERNET:

In a series of speeches over the last year, Zhao has suggested that the ITU could become involved in everything from security and spam to managing how Internet Protocol addresses are assigned. The ITU also is looking into some aspects of voice over Internet Protocol--VoIP--communications, another potential area for expansion.

"Countering spam is just one of many elements of protecting the Internet that include availability during emergencies and supporting public safety and law enforcement officials," Zhao wrote in December. Also, he wrote, the ITU "would take care of other work, such as work on Internet exchange points, Internet interconnection charging regimes, and methods to provide authenticated directories that meet national privacy regimes."

Gee, do you think any of that stuff could be used for censorship or something?

LOTS MORE NEWS FROM LEBANON: Heads are (figuratively) rolling. And they're the right heads.

I'LL BE ON MSNBC'S CONNECTED COAST TO COAST at about 5:15 eastern.

UPDATE: You can see video here and here.

HERE'S MORE on Higher Education's diversity problem, which is much worse than I had realized. I wouldn't support quotas as a remedy. But perhaps "goals and timetables," which are not quotas of course, might be considered.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: But people are pushing back.

I WONDER WHY THIS A.P. STORY on the non-combat death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq features a picture of George and Laura Bush, who have nothing to do with the story?

I sat on this for a couple of hours, thinking that it was just a glitch, but the picture switched from one of Laura to one of George and Laura.

UPDATE: A reader who works at Yahoo!, where the story is hosted, emails:

In this particual case, the picture points to a Yahoo! slide show about the military, and that happens to be the first photo in the slide show. I don't think there was any intent here of kind of thing that I know what you're alluding to. It was a military story that linked to a military slide show, that's all. BTW, the photo is a Reuters pic on a AP story.

However, this one is a bit more ummm, well...you decide.

Purely accidental, I'm sure.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. The picture's different now.

ROGER SIMON has been reading the latest report on the Oil-for-food scandal, and has some observations. It's a must-read.

I'VE BEEN HEARING ABOUT THIS GADGET, but I had no idea how easy it is to buy -- or how cheap! Subverting the dominant paradigm, with help from Target . . . .

UPDATE: Two posts on the ethics of TV-zapping, here and here.

IN THE MAIL: Stephen Hicks' Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault. Not my area, but the reader reviews look good.

Also, a copy of Norman Abrams' Anti-Terrorism and Criminal Enforcement, which looks as if it would make a good supplementary text for my National Security Law class, and a useful shelf-reference for a lot of people interested in these topics.

CARNIVAL OF CANADIANS: This week's Red Ensign standard is up.

I HAD NO IDEA that sexual harassment was so widespread.

HEALTH CARE BLOGGING, and a discussion of what happens when gorilla penises attack (or did I read that wrong?), all over at this week's Grand Rounds.

NOT CREDITING BLOGGERS: The Wall Street Journal. Of course, Claudia Rosett has been working on this story, too. Still.

UPDATE: Roger Simon reports that the WSJ got its information independently, though different channels.

NORM GERAS has a Zimbabwe roundup.

I'VE BEEN FOLLOWING THE DEBATE between Jeff Jarvis and Hugh Hewitt on the role of "theocrats" in the Terri Schiavo matter.

Hugh's right that it's hard to ascribe the Congressional legislation to "theocrats" when it was supported by Tom Harkin (and Ralph Nader!). There's much more going on than that; this is a matter on which all sorts of people, of all sorts of persuasions, can be found on both sides.

On the other hand, here's some advice, very similar to advice I gave to the antiwar movement: If you don't want to be confused with a movement led by theocrats, don't let actual theocrats be seen as your spokesmen. It may be impossible to shut Randall Terry up -- though if I were Karl Rove, I would have tried really hard -- but he needs to be loudly and regularly denounced as a nut. Otherwise you're in the same boat as lefties who don't want to be identified with Ward Churchill, but happily use him when they want to draw a crowd.

(In fact, the Terry / Churchill axis is surprisingly close -- they both view 9/11 as a necessary chastisement for a sinful America. If that's not a distinguishing mark of full-bore idiotarianism, I don't know what is).

Terry's getting what he wants from this: Attention, and a measure of undeserved legitimacy. But Bush seems to have fallen into a no-win situation. The Terryesque nuts on the far-right are mad at him for not standing in the hospice door a la George Wallace, while lots of other people see Randall Terry speaking, and George W. Bush rushing to sign the Schiavo bill, and associate the two. That may be unfair, but it's inevitable, and I think it may turn out to be costly.

As Rich Lowry wrote about Randall Terry: "I'm guessing that everytime he opens his mouth on TV support for keeping Terri Schiavo alive drops another couple of points." I don't think he's doing much for Bush, either. As I said about the antiwar people, you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. Randall Terry's a dog.

UPDATE: More comments on the fleas here, and here. Jarvis taken to task here. And reader Troy Hinrichs emails:

Interesting that Randall Terry is back. I thought that guy was dead or handling snakes out in your neck of the woods.

Last night I was driving home from work and left the radio on Michael Savage (a show I can barely stand) and Randall Terry was there. I forgot how much of an ass he truly is. I'm a Southern Baptist pro-life GW Bush voter (4x -- twice as Gov. of the THE great state). If I think Randall Terry is a complete jackass, then how much moreso an agnostic who is unsure which way to think of the Schiavo situation?

Oh and btw -- the liberal worry about theocracy is mostly a canard. There have been NO greater advocates of separation of church and state than Baptists (maybe individual exceptions, but not as a body of believers) -- going back to Roger Williams. Somebody's god is always in control, no matter if GW Bush, John Kerry, or Ward Churchill were President. Everybody worships at somebody's altar.

I think that first crack is unfair to the snake-handlers.

MORE: The Anchoress, as always, makes this point better than I could.

STILL MORE: And here's a sensible post from Jesse Walker on the excesses of the other side:

Reasonable people reading the evidence can differ as to what Schiavo would have preferred, but one thing they can't do is declare there's no question about what she wanted 16 years ago. In the last few weeks, alas, reasonable people have sometimes been scarce.

This is what makes it a hard case, of course.

MORE STILL: Terri Schiavo as Christ? Seems a bit sacrilegious to me.

HERE'S MORE ON ZIMBABWE:

Zimbabwe's heating up again prior to the elections scheduled for March 31. Tensions in the capital of Harare have increased dramatically. The Mugabe dictatorship has decided to attack Christian church leaders it holds responsible for "encouraging" street protests. The government is specifically going after Catholic bishop Pius Ncube. This clergyman has been a major critic of dictator Robert Mugabe. Ncube issued a statement that said the March 31 election will be "rigged"-- and of course, that will be the case. The Mugabe government is thoroughly corrupt. The Mugabe government recently imposed a law that makes "unauthorized demonstrations" a felony punishable by up to 20 years in jail. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition group, reports that threats of physical violence against regime opponents have increased. As the elections approach, the Mugabe government is trying to isolate the country as much as possible from foreign reporters by denying entry visas. All of these are tactics the dictatorship has used in the past. The big question remains what the opposition will do if Mugabe steals another election.

And, as the article notes, whether pro-democracy protesters will get support from South Africa and the EU, both of which have been pretty unhelpful so far.

GOOD NEWS / BAD NEWS FOR THE AFGHAN ARMY:

The recruiting for the new Afghan army is going well, except for the fact that so many of the eager recruits have to be rejected for health reasons. Apparently no one realized how poor the health of the average Afghan is. Most recruits, and most young Afghans, are

- Slightly malnourished, often suffering from minor vitamin deficiencies

- Come from rural areas where they were not exposed to many communicable diseases, and have not had any immunizations.

- Have never had a physical, dental, or eye exam.

In other words, it's like the U.S. Army in 1898.

NOWHERE TO HIDE: Ward Churchill faces tough questions in Berkeley.

IRAQI RESISTANCE BEGINS TO CRACK after the elections:

The Iraqi resistance has peaked and is 'turning in on itself', according to recent intelligence reports from Baghdad received by Middle Eastern intelligence agencies.

The reports are the most optimistic for several months and reflect analysts' sense that recent elections in Iraq marked a 'quantum shift'. They will boost the government in the run-up to the expected general election in May.

Heh.

March 28, 2005

THIS IS ZIMBABWE: A blog that may be worth watching over the next several days. (Thanks to reader Garth Godsman for the link).

NEW BLOG SITES: The American Liberty League is aimed at implementing Bill Quick's proposal to move the Republicans in a more pro-liberty, small-government direction.

The Immigration Blog is a group blog about immigration.

UPDATE: And here's the NeoLibertarian Network blog.

WELL, MAYBE HE HAS A FUTURE AT ABC OR CBS!

More here: "'Crude fabrication' is an understatement."

MORONS? I prefer to think "brave."

AUSTIN BAY has thoughts and history on Zimbabwe's election. Publius notes calls for a peaceful uprising against Mugabe. And here's a link to more information and resources on Zimbabwe's elections.

GREYHAWK has a roundup on military recruitment and retention.

VACATIONING IN IRAQ: Reportedly, a good time was had by all.

BLOGNASHVILLE, a big blog conference that's in, you guessed it, Nashville, is now open for registration. Here's a link to the BlogNashville Blog and here's the schedule. I'll be there, and so will J.D. Lasica, Linda Seebach, Dan Gillmor, Bill Hobbs, Robin Burk, Ed Cone, Mark Glaser, LaShawn Barber, Rebecca McKinnon, and a host of others. Including you, perhaps?

I GUESS IT ALL DEPENDS on which files you want to share . . . . (Via TaxProf).

IN THE MAIL: American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of Robert Oppenheimer, by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin. Looks pretty interesting, though its Cold War history appears a bit conventional.

TIM WORSTALL'S BRITBLOG ROUNDUP is up.

IF YOU'RE NEAR A BEACH ON THE INDIAN OCEAN, you may want to move away for a while in light of this news:

8.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra Monday close to where a similar quake triggered a tsunami that left nearly 300,000 people dead or missing, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

A USGS spokeswoman told Reuters the quake struck 125 miles west northwest off Sibolga, Sumatra or 880 miles northwest of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, close to where the 9.0 magnitude quake struck in December.

A spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey told CNN that the earthquake could cause tsunamis.

Or not, but I wouldn't stick around the beach.

UPDATE: Much more here. And here.

ANOTHER MADE-IN-THE-BLOGOSPHERE MARRIAGE is in the works. Congratulations! And details on the proposal are here, including a cool Simpsons reference.

MORE crushing of dissent. (Via LGF).

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS is up! And so is this week's Carnival of the Cats!

HUGO NOMINATIONS ARE OUT: They include not just one, but two books that I liked a lot.

MIKE KREMPASKY, NOMINATED FOR A FIRST AMENDMENT AWARD for his defense of free blog-speech. It's deserved.

HEH: Well, I warned you about those wacky credit card companies.

AMBER ALERT: Jason van Steenwyk notes a missing headline at The New York Times, and elsewhere in the news media. Meanwhile Lawrence Kaplan is noting the curious reluctance of the press to report good news from Iraq:

At what point does the press report a trend? The question comes to mind because, over the past month, the news from Iraq has been unusually good. Depending on which military official you ask, insurgent attacks have dropped by either a third or nearly half. The number of Americans killed in action has declined. Civilians have begun killing terrorists. Over the past week alone, U.S. forces have killed scores of insurgents in lopsided battles--in the latest, Iraqi forces spearheaded the offensive. Does this mean America has turned a corner? Can we see a light at the end of the tunnel? Does it mean anything at all?

At least to judge by the amount of press coverage devoted to the past weeks' progress in Iraq, the answer would seem to be no. . . . The overall tenor of press coverage suggests that, if anything, the reverse is true: Even as I write these words, ABC News's Peter Jennings briefly relays news that U.S. and Iraqi forces killed 80 insurgents today, before moving on to a much longer and gloomier feature on the ingenuity of the resistance.

Kaplan wonders if journalists are so habituated to negative spin that they can't, or won't, recognize good news. Meanwhile, Arthur Chrenkoff continues his effort to round up the good stuff that gets buried, though it's telling that he leads with a story that was such good news "that even the New York Times had to sit up and take notice." Though he notes that the Times still managed to insert an error that undermined its significance.

STRATEGYPAGE:

Terrorism isn’t the biggest problem in Iraq, nor is political instability or the high crime rate. All of those are easy to solve compared to the biggest, and most persistent problem; corruption. Lack of fair and efficient government has been a problem in this region for thousands of years. When the officials were honest and efficient, mighty empires flourished. But most of the time, the bureaucrats are on the take, and everyone suffered. It’s been going on for so long that it’s been accepted as the way things are. But one of the unexpected side effects of global communications (especially email and satellite news) is that most Iraqis now know that it doesn’t have to be that way. To reinforce these heretical views, visitors, or migrants, to these distant lands of honest government, come back and tell wondrous tales of cops who are not crooks, and politicians going to jail for taking bribes.

But the current reality in Iraq is that of thieves getting back into power. . . . While many Iraqis are willing to pay any price for peace and quiet, and many others are willing to accept intimidation, an increasing number are willing to put their lives on the line for clean government. People know that this will eventually bring rule of law and safety. But first, it’s a fight to the death between groups of Iraqis who have very different views of Iraq’s future. A happy ending is not assured. If enough Iraqis do not step up for honest government, the country will end up with another Saddam.

Another reason not to bug out too soon, as the article notes that the presence of Coalition troops, and investigators, is key to bringing corruption under control.

"FAKE BUT ACCURATE," AGAIN? John Hinderaker looks at another phony-memo story.

All I know is that when some blogger is taken in by a phony memo, which is bound to happen eventually, we'll probably hear some Big Media folks brag about their superior fact-checking. But this episode demonstrates that there's no basis for such bragging.

ROGER SIMON HAS BEEN INVESTIGATING OIL-FOR-FOOD and has the first installment of his report up. It's real blog-journalism, and very interesting. Among other things, Kojo Annan appears to have had a much closer relationship with the Saddam regime than has been previously reported.

March 27, 2005

THE EMAIL CONTINUES TO POUR IN on yesterday's Razorblogging post. I had no idea this was a topic of such intense interest, but I think I've gotten more email on that than on anything else in ages.

NOW THEY'RE MARCHING FOR DEMOCRACY IN MONGOLIA: That should make the neocon who authored these words very happy. . . .

This victory of freedom is practical, not ideological: billions of people on every continent are simply concluding, based on decades of their own hard experience, that democracy and markets are the most productive and liberating ways to organize their lives.

Their conclusion resonates with America's core values. We see individuals as equally created with a God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So we trust in the equal wisdom of free individuals to protect those rights: through democracy, as the process for best meeting shared needs in the face of competing desires; and through markets as the process for best meeting private needs in a way that expands opportunity.

Both processes strengthen each other: democracy alone can produce justice, but not the material goods necessary for individuals to thrive; markets alone can expand wealth, but not that sense of justice without which civilized societies perish.

Don't you think?

TREY JACKSON HAS VIDEO of a discussion of blogs and journalism featuring Jeff Jarvis, Peter Beinart, David Brooks, Ana Marie Cox, and more. I disagree with Ana's claim that the Trent Lott affair was driven by partisanship, though -- it was pretty thoroughly bipartisan. See the Kennedy School study on that topic for the full story.

AUSTIN BAY IS SOLICITING SUGGESTIONS as to who should fill Kofi Annan's job, given that Kofi's tenure appears short.

I've already made my suggestion. You can make yours in the comments to Austin's post.

HAPPY EASTER: I'd planned to spend the day taking it easy, following the advice in the post just below. Instead I wound up in the Emergency Room at Children's Hospital, as the Insta-Daughter's sore throat turned into a galloping case of strep. Sigh.

WORDS OF WISDOM:

If you ever wish you could have more time to get something done, just remember: if you did have more time, you wouldn't get more done. The extra time would melt away, and you'd be back feeling pressure to get it done in too little time. You might as well enjoy the free time and not moan about the things you didn't achieve. Idle moments at the dining table, talking about this and that, are much more your real life than all those grand accomplishments, achieved and unachieved.

Indeed.

NOT 95 THESES, BUT 11: Bill Quick nails his complaints about the GOP to the church door, and offers a proposal for change:

Am I suggesting the formation of a new party? No, not at the moment. But we do have tools available to us, most especially the Internet and blogs. Moveon.org, as much as I dislike its goals, has perfected these as a method of exerting enormous influence. It has, in effect, taken over the machinery of the Democratic party. What they did, we can do as well, and I am proposing that we do it.

Only in a more moderate way, I hope.

UPDATE: Read this, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More dissatisfaction here, from the retired publisher of the Omaha World Herald: "I would think that I'm not the only Republican who feels the party's leadership has engaged in an irresponsible and perhaps unprecedented effort to subvert the traditional separation of government powers."

RIVAL PARLIAMENTS IN KYRGYZSTAN: I don't know what to make of this, but things actually seem to be settling down.

UPDATE: Nice roundup from The Post on the complications created by a revolution that happened faster than the revolutionaries expected.

WE WATCHED THE CITY CONFIDENTIAL EPISODE based on the Insta-Wife's documentary last night. It was pretty interesting, as they told the same story (and used some of her footage) but in a rather different fashion from her film. And though she thought her interviews had been cut, she was actually featured a lot. The indefatigable Trey Jackson posted a video montage of her segments from the film.

HAPPY EASTER!