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July 23, 2005

KARIM ELSAHY is trying to organize an antiterror protest in Cairo. If you're there, send me some pics.

verdicts1.jpg

verdictsdoug.jpgWENT TO CHILHOWEE PARK to see Doug Weinstein's band "The Verdicts" (yes, there are a lot of lawyers in it) play at the Gazebo. They did a bunch of excellent Steely Dan and Eric Clapton covers (the auto-show crowd liked the latter better than the former, but both were good) and managed to stay unwilted despite the near-100-degree heat.

Young lovers were meeting, and a good time was had by all. Alas, the Insta-Wife and Insta-Daughter came along under false pretenses -- we somehow had the idea that the auto show involved new cars rather than beautifully maintained old ones, and they wanted to check out potential replacements for the aging Passat wagon. (The Nissan Murano and Honda Odyssey are favored contenders at the moment).

Since the Passat is paid for, and I like it, I'm perfectly happy to put that decision off for a while, so I guess I'm happy that they wound up looking at '59 Corvettes instead.


AN ANTI-TERROR RALLY BY MUSLIMS in Antelope Valley, California.

You know, if these people had blown something up, they'd be getting more press. Which suggests that if the press wants to help eliminate terrorism, it should adjust its priorities.

UPDATE: Here's a report of an antiterror protest in Iraq, too. The same point applies.

ANOTHER UPDATE: There's more anti-terror protest action in Denmark.

WAKE UP WITH FREEDOM FIGHTERS! That's the slogan of Contra Café, made from coffee grown by former anti-Sandinista guerrillas. Story here. ("Retailing for $10 a pound on its website www.contracafe.com, the company pays the farmers $1.50 a pound -- more than market rates and more than what's known as fair-trade, or socially responsible, prices.")

I wonder if their t-shirts will start competing with Ché shirts on college campuses?

UPDATE: Reader Austin Pauls emails:

If Contra shirts start competing with Ché shirts on campus (not likely, but I might still buy one), at least those who wear the Contra shirts will know what they're representing. 85% of kids that wear Ché shirts don't know who he was, only that wearing that shirt symbolizes that they are "rebellious".

He has more on his blog.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.

SPACE BLOGS GET RESULTS!

I'VE BEEN ASKED TO REVIEW Richard Davis' rather timely book, Electing Justice: Fixing The Supreme Court Nomination Process. I don't want to give anything away, but I think it's a measure of how messy things have gotten that a proposal to elect Supreme Court justices seems plausible now.

EGYPTIAN BLOGGER BIG PHARAOH has more on the terrorist bombings in Sharm-el-Sheikh.

Meanwhile, Robert Mayer emails:

Just an observation. Most bombings, even going back to 9/11, seem targeted directly at tourism. Especially in the Middle East, though. Tourism is one of the easiest industries for a country to develop, and development leads to outside influence, liberalization, and reform. It looks like the terrorists are heading off capitalism right where it's taking off.

Yes. It's part of their overall plan to keep their own people poor and ignorant.

UPDATE: Sean Fitzpatrick auditions for a job with the BBC:

I didn't know Egypt had troops in Iraq. Otherwise, why would the terrorists target them?

Heh. Why, indeed?

ANOTHER UPDATE: John Pilger's sentiments are predictable.

MORE: Here's an analysis by Dan Darling that's worth reading.

And Austin Bay asks: "When will George Galloway and Teddy Kennedy admit Al Qaeda is at war with Arabs and Muslims as well as 'the West?'"

STILL MORE: Don't miss Noah Shachtman's bomb-blogging from Iraq: "[T]he networks aren’t very good at conveying the subtle shades of danger in a place like this. Either they lead, big, with a new act of carnage – or they bury the news from here at the end of the broadcast. That leaves the impression that all of Iraq is in flames, all of the time. Which is just plain wrong."

And there's more Egyptian blogging here. And scroll up from that post for updates.

July 22, 2005

WELL, THE TERRORISTS MOSTLY KILL ARABS AND MUSLIMS: Big bomb attacks in Egypt, killing 43 by current count. It's likely that number will rise. Gateway Pundit, who did not have dental surgery today, is rounding things up.

I predict that this will only encourage the loss of patience with Islamist radicalism that is already sweeping the world. That's the problem for terrorists: If they try to terrorize, they make people mad. If they don't, then, well, they're not really terrorists.

THERE'S A NEW DRAFT OF THE IRAQI BILL OF RIGHTS, somewhat improved from the last one. Publius has the scoop, and notes that the drafting process is ongoing.

UPDATE: Dave Price thinks this deserves more attention.

JOSEPH BRAUDE writes on the importance of pluralism as a means of defeating terror.

There's something to this notion, of course, but there's also a big difference between pluralism and multiculturalism, of the sort practiced in England. Perry de Havilland has a post that makes clear what the difference is. Excerpt:

If what we are trying to defend is a pluralistic tolerant society, then we have to make sure that the message is not just "throw the wogs out!" but rather "You are welcome here if you are willing to assimilate to a sufficient degree."

But how does one define what that 'degree' is exactly? I am not talking a Norman Tebbit style "cricket test" but rather a willingness to tolerate 'otherness'. We do not need Muslims to approve of alcohol or women in short skirts or figurative art or bells or pork or pornography or homosexuality or (particularly) apostasy. We have no right to demand that at all and obviously not all Anglicans approve of some of those things, so why require that Muslims must? No, what we do have the right to demand (and that is not too strong a word) is that they tolerate those things, which is to say they will not countenance the use of force to oppose those things even though they disapprove of them. In fact it is not just Muslims from whom we must demand such tolerance.

If we can get them to agree to tolerate those things, then it does not matter if Muslim women wear burquas because as long as they are not subject to force, a woman may elect to say "Sod this for a game of soldiers!" and cast off that symbol of misogynistic repression... and if she does not do so, well that is her choice then... but she must have a choice. They do not have to look like us (I do not hear calls for Chinatown to be razed to the ground), they do not have to share our religion(s), or lack thereof, but they do have to tolerate our varied ways and if by their actions or words they show they do not, we have every right to regard them as our enemies and take action to defend ourselves.

For decades the supporters of multiculturalism have used tax money and government regulations to actively discourage assimilation of immigrants into the broader society, preferring to see communities develop which favour 'identity politics' better suited and more amenable to their own collectivist world views. And now we are paying the price for that. We will not be able to defend ourselves physically or preserve our liberal society unless we stop tolerating intolerance, and that includes not just fundamentalist Islam but also the anti-western bigotry of the multiculturalists.

Indeed. And read this, too.

MICKEY KAUS DELIVERS SOME DIRT on John Roberts: "Supreme Court nominee John Roberts appears to drive a Chrysler PT Cruiser. This may be the scariest thing I've heard about him. ... An ugly, immature attempt at returning to an earlier era! Is that what the Constitution will look like after Roberts is through with it?"

SOME INTERESTING SENATE TESTIMONY BY DONALD TRUMP on the United Nations' inability to manage a construction project. Follow the link for a transcript and an audio file.

UPDATE: Background here.

LAST ROUND OF DENTAL SURGERY was this afternoon; hence the interruption in blogging. If that guy in Rockwood hadn't pulled out in front of us years ago, I wouldn't have had to go through this.

WAR-POSTURING PRODUCES BLOWBACK:

Soldiers from Massachusetts and Hawaii who work at the U.S. military detention facility at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, gave visiting home-state senators a piece of their mind last week.

Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, and Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii Democrat, met with several soldiers during a visit led by Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican.

Pentagon officials said soldiers criticized the harsh comments made recently by Senate Democrats.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, last month invoked widespread military outrage when he compared Guantanamo to the prison labor systems used by communist tyrant Josef Stalin, Cambodia's Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler.

"They got stiff reactions from those home-state soldiers," one official told us. "The troops down there expressed their disdain for that kind of commentary, especially comparisons to the gulag."

Maybe some of these soldiers will campaign against them, when they get out. (Via Hubpolitics).

UPDATE: The momentum builds.

And Austin Bay says we need to hear more on this story.

I FORGET WHICH MULLAH IT WAS who opined that women's hair gives off dangerous, mind-altering rays if left uncovered -- but I couldn't help but think of that when I read this idiotic claim that porn produces "erototoxins" in the brain. Or perhaps I should call it an idiotarian claim.

Bah, humbug. I say: Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy!

GAYPATRIOT NOTES that terrorists are openly targeting gays and wonders if the lack of reaction stems from prejudice.

AUSTIN BAY looks at the Iraqi Army's progress.

Also, his cover story in The Weekly Standard is now online.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES is up!

CONDI IN THE SAHARA: Gateway Pundit has a roundup with pics and video.

IN THE MAIL: James Hirsen's Hollywood Nation : Left Coast Lies, Old Media Spin, and the New Media Revolution. It's another book that the Insta-Wife stole on its arrival, but she reports that Hirsen has a wicked sense of humor.

TRYING AGAIN?

The man shot dead by police at a South London Tube station this morning is believed to be one of the bombers who escaped after yesterday's failed quadruple attack across London, police sources have told The Times.

Specialist armed police shot the man five times after he vaulted a security barrier at Stockwell station and attempted to board a stationary Tube train.

Lots more here.

FREDERICK TURNER writes on Darwin among the believers.

UPDATE: Rand Simberg responds.

ETHNIC CLEANSING IN THAILAND:

The Islamic militants are trying to do some ethnic, and religious, cleansing in the Moslem south. The three southern provinces have a population of some 1.8 million, and only 360,000 of those are Buddhists (the religion of the majority of Thais, who are ethnically different from the Moslems, who are Malays). The terror campaign is having some success, as some ten percent of the southern Buddhists have left the south in the past six months. But many of the remaining Buddhists are arming and preparing to defend themselves, and stay in the south.

Somebody send them some guns.

July 21, 2005

TOM MAGUIRE IS STEAMING. He says there's a press coverup in the Plame affair.

CISCO AND CHINA: Rebecca MacKinnon is still on the case. "The fact that Cisco clearly has no qualms about doing business with the Chinese Public Security Bureau is odious."

MICHAEL BARONE PREDICTS: "Justice Roberts will do much to redefine what is the mainstream in American constitutional law."

UPDATE: Things that everyone knows are sometimes wrong -- Roberts apparently is not a member of the Federalist Society.

PRIVATIZING SPACE: The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting survey:

At a time when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) struggles to return its aging shuttle fleet to service and realign itself to implement President Bush's blueprint for sending astronauts to the moon and beyond, several companies and interest groups are pursuing their own vision for putting humans into space more cheaply. "If we drive down the cost of transportation in space, we can do great things," Mr. Musk insists.

The goal: to loft people and cargo at one-tenth the current cost. Building reusable rockets is only the first step. Industry sources say NASA, too, will have to buy services and hardware - at lower cost - from a broader cast of aerospace characters than the traditional players. And while taking the lead in high-risk human exploration of space, the government also needs to build an infrastructure in orbit - such as the space station - from which private companies could launch missions and conduct research.

"This is an optimistic vision," acknowledges George Whitesides, executive director of the National Space Society in Washington, D.C. "But when you look at manned spaceflight at a broader level beyond the president's space-exploration vision, that's when it really gets exciting."

Indeed. (Via Rand Simberg). I just got the latest issue of the Chicago Journal of International Law (not online yet, alas) which has a symposium on space law including a small contribution of mine. There's a lot of very interesting stuff on space tourism and property rights.

THE FREE KOREA BLOG has lots of stuff on the Freedom House briefing session on North Korea. Just keep scrolling, or go here and work your way back.

THE HOUSE VOTED TO oppose withdrawal from Iraq and support operations at Guantanamo. I'm sure that will be the lead story on tonight's news.

IT'S ALL ROBERTS ALL THE TIME at Ann Althouse's place. Just keep scrolling.

THE ECONOMY SEEMS PRETTY GOOD TO ME, but CBS has been saying otherwise.

Well, the economy isn't very good for CBS.

TOM MAGUIRE looks at the emerging case against Karl Rove. But the most amusing bit is the dual Google Ads flanking his post.

UPDATE: Some thoughts on anonymous sources from Walter Pincus.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed Morrissey is playing guess the author.

ORIN KERR: "It looks like there probably won't be a brutal confirmation battle over John Roberts, even though Roberts is generally understood to be conservative, and Roberts' credentials and qualifications are a part of his appeal."

He could be right, especially as Cass Sunstein is praising Roberts, which would seem to be an indicator.

HERE'S A TRANSCRIPT of JOHN HOWARD'S DEVASTATING RESPONSE to dumb press questions about Iraq.

UPDATE: And this photo essay on Al Qaeda actions before the Iraq invasion makes Howard's point rather graphically.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Trey Jackson has the John Howard video.

MORE: Reader Solon Brochado emails:

If someone hadn't asked that question, you wouldn't have prime-minister's Howard great answer to quote (or link to), after all.

Now, I'm not trying to say that was the case. I'm sure that a great part of the press believes in that notion or, at least, think the terrorists' acts are somehow justifiable, albeit wrong.

Nonetheless, I believe the question had to be asked. Any journalist knows what Howard's or Blair's answer to that will be. Still, it doesn't matter whether you agree or not with their opinions, you're a reporter and you have to report. And since that is a rather widespread opinion throughout the world, you MUST get Blair's and Howard's answer to it.

The tone-of-voice has to be taken into account, and it was, um, obnoxious.

If I were a reporter at that press conference, I would have asked: "Do you think the press's sensationalization of the attacks, and rationalization of terrorists' motives, is causing innocent people to be killed and put at risk?" My tone of voice I leave to your imagination, but it seems to me to be a far more reasonable question, and one that the rest of the world needs to hear at least as much.

STILL MORE: Wagner James Au emails:

Seems to me that the real issue isn't whether the reporter asked a stupid question-- he actually asks Howard if an Australian survivor of the 7/7 attack blaming the war in Iraq means we're losing "the progranda war against terrorism", which is a much more nuanced question than what the NRO Corner depicts (big surprise there)-- the real issue is how Howard's *response* is reported by the press, tomorrow. If at all. The mainstream media consistently promotes the uninformed narrative that coalition presence in Iraq is enflaming extremist Muslims into becoming terrorists-- leaving unexplained the fact that terrorists in Iraq target Shiite Muslims far more than coalition troops (or for that matter, bomb London underground stops frequented by British Muslims.) Howard is puncturing that simplistic narrative with a frontal attack, and the press doesn't like to be embarrassed. Look to see how many lead papers give prominent coverage to Howard's statement. I'm guessing none to few do.

Good guess. But the question I originally referenced was asked of Tony Blair by another reporter -- a woman, but I don't know from what news service.

YET MORE: Richard McEnroe answers Au's question with this report:

Of course, if you were in LA, you never saw it, because the minute Howard uttered the word "terrorism," the video feed was cut. Was that the Beeb in England or Tribune in the US, I wonder?

Beats me, but it's not surprising either way.

THERE'S AN INSTAPUNDIT PROFILE in Hotline's Blogometer. You'll have to scroll down, as they haven't gotten around to adding individual permalinks yet.

MIKE KREMPASKY: "Why does the Columbia Journalism Review hate bloggers so? Why would a site whose mission is'to promote better journalism' twist a story to the point of falsehood, just to take a slap at poor self-published pundits?"

IN THE MAIL: Down Range : Navy SEALs in the War on Terrorism, by Dick Couch. Looks pretty interesting, though I imagine that lots of the interesting stuff about special operations and the war won't come out for decades.

SKY NEWS is reporting that the bus bomb is identical to designs used in the 7/7 attacks.

MULTI-FAITH ANTITERROR PROTESTS in Pakistan, Germany, and Australia. Gateway Pundit has a roundup and pictures.

I'M WATCHING TONY BLAIR AND JOHN HOWARD right now, talking about the London attacks and the war -- Howard's particularly good at noting that this is a war, not a series of isolated incidents -- and their frequent invocation of anglosphere solidarity is almost a commercial for Jim Bennett's book. I wonder if they've read it? They're certainly living it.

UPDATE: Some idiot correspondent asked Blair if the attacks were his fault because of the Iraq war. And others are taking an equally negative line -- one asks if the propaganda war against terror is being lost.

No -- but if so, it's because of people in the media like these. John Howard's too polite to tell them to read Norm Geras, but he put them in their place with logic, noting that Bin Laden was unhappy about the liberation of East Timor and declared war on that basis long before the Iraq invasion.

Translation: You're idiots, cowards, and political hacks. Yes! The preening, point-scoring irresponsibility of the press, which is if anything worse in Britain than in America, is one of the most striking things about this war, and it will be decades before it recovers. If it does.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER proclaims the vindication of the neocons.

AUSTIN BAY looks at the manhandling of U.S. officials and reporters accompanying Condi Rice in Sudan today, and asks "where's the outrage" compared to reports that a Koran may have been mishandled.

I think we should bring the hammer down. Condi should announce that we're sending guns, bombs and trainers to the Darfur rebels -- and that should just be the start.

JEEZ, I CAN'T EVEN GO TO THE GYM without some Al Qaeda bozos trying to blow up London. Luckily, this week's effort seems pretty lame so far compared to two weeks ago:

Exactly two weeks after four suicide bombers wreaked havoc in the London rush hour, parts of the capital were brought to a standstill today by a spate of apparent copycat attacks on three Tube trains and a London bus.

Emergency services were called out to incidents at three stations, including a reported nailbomb attack at Warren Street station.

A British Transport Police spokeswoman said Warren Street, Shepherd's Bush and Oval stations had all been evacuated. An explosion was also reported on a No 26 bus at Hackney in East London, blowing out the windows but not causing any injuries.

Only one person is so far reported to have been injured, at Shepherd's Bush.

The Times is calling these "copycat attacks," suggesting that they're not real Al Qaeda efforts, I guess, though I don't know how they know that yet. Sky News is reporting that British police are in hot pursuit of one of the bombers, apparently a suicide bomber whose bomb didn't go off. We'll know a lot more if he's captured.

Tim Worstall has much more.

UPDATE: There's lots more on the Guardian blog, including this:

It is now becoming clear that there were three attempted bombings today - at Oval station, at Warren Street station, and on a 26 bus in Hackney. Speculation suggests the detonators on these devices went off, but the bombs themselves did not.

This suggests amateurism, or a substantial degradation of Al Qaeda capabilities.

The Counterterrorism Blog has much more.

More here, too.

And here's the BBC Reporters' Log. Latest:

The undercurrent in these police statements is that these might have been much more serious incidents, that these might have been serious bombs which might not have gone off properly.

The concern is that this could have turned out to be another serious attack on London.

Happily, it didn't. Brian Erst emails:

One reason that the bombs may have "failed" in London this morning, provided they actually did fail, may be that these were timed explosives rather than suicide bombs.

There has been much speculation that the four bombers of 7/7 were unaware of their own impending doom, having been told that the bombs they were going to explode were actually on timers when, in fact, they were not. Presumably, this is the type of deception that works only once.

It may be that today's wave of attackers actually did use (and insisted on checking) timers, and that these timers simply failed to work. In which case, the attacks were no less "sophisticated" than 7/7 - to the contrary, they were MORE sophisticated (to let the bomber live to bomb another day), but failed as a result of bad implementation of that plan.

Interesting point. We'll see.

MICHAEL YON reports on a close encounter of the explosive kind in Mosul, where he was in on the capture of a major arms cache and bomb factory. Lots of interesting photos, too.

Really, this is war reporting of a caliber not often seen these days.

STRATEGYPAGE ON RECRUITING:

The army is also noticing regional patterns. Recruiting is holding steady in the Midwest, and is up in the South. In other words, the recruiting tends to follow political patterns. The Blue (Democratic) states are sending fewer volunteers, and the Red (Republican) states more. But the Blue/Red state may have more to do with job prospects than political beliefs. Areas where the unemployment rate is the lowest tend to be the toughest for recruiters.

There’s also the reality factor. Troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are more likely to reenlist. Some of this is due to higher re-enlistment bonuses, but those re-enlisting (and 35 percent of them do it in a combat zone) often say they believe strongly in what they are doing, and that’s why they volunteer to keep doing it. By the end of the year, the army expects to get 4,000 more re-enlistments than it expected. A disproportionate number of these are coming from combat troops, which is very helpful.

More on how retention is going better than recruitment here, from USA Today: "Soldiers are re-enlisting at rates ahead of the Army's targets, even as overall recruiting is suffering after two years of the Iraq war."

My guess is that part of it stems from media coverage: Serving soldiers have better information about what's really going on than potential recruits, who just see the gloom-and-doom on TV. Thanks, media guys!

URIAH KRIEGEL WRITES that Bush's selection of John Roberts is a split-the-difference move that resembles his stem-cell decision.

July 20, 2005

WILL WE SEE "DUMBASS QUESTIONS?" Count on it!

THE SMITHSONIAN has found new photos from the Scopes Trial. If, by the way, your idea of what happened in the Scopes Trial comes from Inherit the Wind, I highly recommend Ed Larson's book, A Summer for the Gods. You might also read this post by Jim Lindgren.

And, if you're interested, you can watch this documentary video featuring Larson and yours truly, originally done by Court TV.

NORM GERAS TAKES ON TERRORIST APOLOGISTS -- in The Guardian! "It needs to be seen and said clearly: there are, among us, apologists for what the killers do. They make more difficult the fight to defeat them."

UPDATE: Read this post by Callimachus, too.

DARFUR UPDATE: My former student Mary Littleton sends this link to the Genocide Intervention Fund, which supports military intervention, though as far as I can tell they're not actually raising money to hire mercenaries to intervene, as the title made me hope . . . .

RON BAILEY IS REPORTING from the creationism mega-conference. Reports are here and here.

I suspect that not many attendees were fans of his new book.

RIOTS IN YEMEN: Roundup here.

UPDATE: Will Franklin has photos and more background on what's going on: "These demonstrations are not about poverty itself, nor about gas prices. These demonstrations, targeted against Saleh's rule, were nothing less than the early stages of revolution." He argues -- correctly, I think -- that we need to be supporting democracy even though the current regime is our (ostensible) ally in the war on terror.

DARFUR UPDATE: The United States is airlifting troops to Sudan.

MAX BOOT WRITES that China is waging stealth war on the United States. "This is not a challenge the Pentagon is set up to address, but it's an urgent issue for the years ahead."

I'm pretty sure that Microsoft and Cisco aren't helping matters.

WRITING IN THE NEW REPUBLIC, Bill Stuntz offers a lukewarm review of the Roberts pick: "But in the end, the political risk-taker in the White House decided not to take risks: He picked the sane, smart, and safely conservative John Roberts. . . . In other words, more a Rehnquist than a Scalia. . . . But the Rehnquist model may be better suited to politics than to law."

UPDATE: Randy Barnett has some similar thoughts:

John Roberts is who you get when the President finally nominates the "best qualified" candidate. I mean truly best qualified as measured by college and law school degrees (both Harvard), grades (summa, Harvard; Magna, Harvard Law School), clerkships (Friendly, Rehquist), post law school job (Chief Deputy SG), big prestigious law firm job. He is widely reputed to be considered by the Justices themselves as among the very best Supreme Court oral advocates around today. And no one dislikes him.

But what sort of Justice will Judge Roberts make? I have no idea. I have never met him, so all I have to go on is his public record--a record of enormous accomplishment. But so far as I know, we know nothing about what he stands for apart from the fact that he is undoubtedly politically conservative. Is he an originalist? We don't know. Is he a majoritarian conservative like Robert Bork? We don't know. Would he find any limits on the enumerated powers of Congress? We don't know. Would he have ruled with the majority in Kelo? We don't know.

Read the whole thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, Democratic reader Harvey Schneider, who frequently sends me critical emails, seems more enthusiastic about Roberts:

As an independent/libertarian who leans Democratic, I have this to say about Roberts. Good. After the liberal core of the court decided Kelo and Medical MJ, screw the liberals. Naral and NOW don’t like it? Too bad. They have one issue, and don’t seem to care about federalism, Private Property rights, or compassion for terminally ill patients. Since they seem to have it figured out I guess they don’t need my support. Besides, despite my generally pro-choice position, after fathering two children, my view has changed a little bit. Abortion up until 5 minutes before birth is not something I support unconditionally anymore.

Hmm. Expertise and credentials as a blow against interest groups on both sides? Is Bush that subtle?

REST IN PEACE, JAMES DOOHAN. I'll raise a glass of Saurian brandy to him tonight.

BLOGS ARE TAKING OFF IN CAMBODIA:

Like many young Cambodians just now getting used to the idea of surfing the web, Mean Lux only recently heard about blogs. But his work traveling this country's back roads may soon bring a rush of Cambodians to the blogosphere.

As part of a project launched by a pro-democracy nonprofit, Mean spent most of June in dusty provincial capitals showing high-school and university students how to publish an online diary.

In an interview last week, he said the most common question was whether people in other countries could read blogs from Cambodia. He said they could.

"They also asked, 'How will people know where my blog is?' I said, 'How will they know what your phone number is? It is the same way,'" he said.

In one town, Mean wasn't able to get a reliable connection to the internet, which is not surprising considering that until two years ago, net access in Cambodia was only available in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, a tourist destination in the north. (The International Telecommunication Union estimated that only 25 in 10,000 Cambodians were net users in 2003, one of the lowest internet-penetration rates in Asia.)

Nonetheless, about a dozen students who attended Mean's training sessions were inspired to create their own English-language blogs after the three-hour workshop.

Keep it up, guys!

SOME GUIDANCE FOR JOHN ROBERTS in answering the all-important Star Trek question.

TOM MAGUIRE: "Hello, Media Matters! Did you notice that the NY Times pulled the rug out from under you yesterday? I didn't think so."

RAND SIMBERG HAS SAD THOUGHTS on another Apollo anniversary: Read the whole thing, which also has some useful thoughts on the future.

ANN COULTER says that John Roberts isn't conservative enough. (Drudge story here.).

Beldar disagrees.

I'M READING RON BAILEY'S Liberation Biology: The Scientific And Moral Case For The Biotech Revolution, and I think it's likely to be one of the most important books of the year. Here's an excerpt:

Human liberation from our biological constraints began when the first human sharpened a stick and used it to kill an animal for food. Further liberation from biological constraints followed with fire the wheel, domesticating animals, agriculture, metallurgy, city-building, textiles, information storage by means of writing, the internal combustion engine, electric power generation, antibiotics, vaccines, transplants, and contraception. In a sense, the goal toward which humanity has been striving for millennia has been to liberate ourselves, by extending our capacities, from more and more of our ancestors' biological constraints. . . .

If we are allowed to use biotech to help future generations become healthier, smarter, and perhaps even happier, have we "imposed" our wills on them as bioconservatives warn? Will we have deprived them of the ability to flourish as full human beings? To answer yes to these questions is to adopt Jean-Jacques Rousseau's view of humanity as a race of happy savages, sadly degraded by civilization. Previous generations have, of course, "imposed" all sorts of technologies and institutions on us. Thank goodness they did, because by any reasonable measure we are far freer, richer, better off than our ancestors.

Indeed we are. And Bailey's book is important enough to attract nasty ad hominem review spam from the Jeremy Rifkin crowd!

STEM-CELL UPDATE:

Dr. Verlinsky, a 62-year-old Russian émigré whose passion is embryo research, might seem the last person Senate Majority leader Bill Frist would invite to Washington as President Bush's stem-cell policy faces a challenge in Congress. But the Tennessee Republican did just that, and Dr. Verlinsky was at the Capitol building yesterday, briefing a room full of Republican staffers.

The reason is that Dr. Verlinsky's busy laboratory claimed to have developed another technique that now is emerging as a dark-horse in the stem-cell debate. By fusing existing stem cells with ordinary cells, Dr. Verlinsky says his team has been making new supplies of stem cells without human embryos.

I hope this is right, but let's not get ahead of the science.

THIS WEEK'S STORYBLOGGING CARNIVAL is up.

EARLIER, I MENTIONED BUSH'S SMIRKING during the Roberts introduction. Reader Avner Bezdboroko says I was wrong about why:

Last night on Ted Koppel he showed a side view of the introduction. The Roberts' children were misbehaving some, sort of like Giuliani's son during Rudy's innauguration. This was in the Presidents peripheral vision and was why he was smirking. The kids had to be taken off the stage by their mom.

I stand corrected.

UPDATE: Here's the picture, with the comment that "The kid will definitely be seeing this again at his wedding reception." Heh.

I'LL BE ON MICHAEL GRAHAM'S SHOW in a few minutes, talking about the Roberts nomination. You can listen online here.

"STUNNED AND CAUTIOUS:" Ed Morrissey rounds up editorial reaction to John Roberts' nomination.

UPDATE: Here's Howard Kurtz's take on the reaction: "The morning analyses, if you read between the lines, seem to say: shrewd choice."

HOWARD KURTZ reports on proposed shield legislation for journalists. It sounds bad to me:

Pence said the bill would cover online reporters for newsgathering organizations but not millions of individual bloggers.

I don't see any justification for that distinction. I am at best lukewarm on the idea of shield laws like this, but if we have them, they should be based on the activity of journalism, not where your paycheck comes from, a notion that is increasingly obsolete. As I noted in a piece on the Vanessa Leggett case:

At any rate, a more relevant standard than "professional journalist" (though also not a First Amendment doctrine) would seem to be found in 42 U.S. Code section 2000aa, which forbids law enforcement agents from seizing "work product materials" or "other documents" possessed by a person "reasonably believed to have a purpose to disseminate to the public a newspaper, book, broadcast or other similar form of public communication."

It seems as if a similar model could apply here -- though it's not at all clear to me that it's a good idea to create such a privilege to begin with. But to the extent that we do, it should be based on expression, not on possession of a guild card.

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN IS UP: It's an interview with J.D. Johannes of Faces from the Front, about his independent reporting in Iraq and the future of media.

MORE ANTI-CHAVEZ PROTESTS IN VENEZUELA: Gateway Pundit has a roundup, with photos.

HEY, IF THEY ASK ROBERTS THIS KIND OF QUESTION, people might actually tune in: "I'd like to know if Star Trek had an influence on John Roberts and, if so, what that influence was."

And don't forget Gilligan. The nominee would be well-advised to study carefully, just in case . . . .

UPDATE: But perhaps not, as reader Jerry Hurtubise suggests, quite this carefully.

July 19, 2005

I'LL BE ON THE SPECIAL-EXTENDED EDITION OF HUGH HEWITT'S SHOW in a few minutes. You can listen online here.

TOM MAGUIRE offers to help the New York Times' editors refresh their recollection.

ABC SAYS IT'S JOHN ROBERTS from the D.C. Circuit.

UPDATE: Jonathan Adler has thoughts.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Sean Hackbarth says that Roberts' confirmation hearings will likely turn on French Fries. Though most definitely not, in this case, "freedom fries."

Here's a profile of Roberts. And note that Joe Lieberman put him forward as a compromise candidate who would be easily confirmable:

Lieberman is one of the "Gang of 14," seven Democrats and seven Republicans who in May broke a Senate deadlock by agreeing not to filibuster judicial nominees except in "extraordinary circumstances." . . .

Lieberman offered reporters Wednesday three names he said could be considered without sparking a talk-athon. He would not say whether he brought them up to Rove.

He said federal appellate Judges Michael McConnell and John G. Roberts were "in the ballpark," and that "people tell me" appeals court Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson is "very similar."

This suggests that a filibuster is unlikely, and that Bush really has asked the "advice" of some Senators. As he should.

N.Z. Bear, meanwhile, has set up a John Roberts tracking page. And there's a roundup, including links to opinions, here. More here, and here, too, from the Washington Post.

Now the real question is whether this is right -- or whether Bush leaked a false name just to make the media look bad . . . .

MORE: Here's a profile of Roberts by Jeffrey Rosen of The New Republic:

Top of his class at Harvard Law School and a former law clerk for Rehnquist, Roberts is one of the most impressive appellate lawyers around today. Liberal groups object to the fact that, in 1990, as a deputy solicitor general, Roberts signed a brief in a case involving abortion-financing that called, in a footnote, for Roe v. Wade to be overturned. But it would be absurd to Bork him for this: Overturning Roe was the Bush administration's position at the time, and Roberts, as an advocate, also represented liberal positions, arguing in favor of affirmative action, against broad protections for property rights, and on behalf of prisoners' rights. In little more than a year on the bench, he has won the respect of his liberal and conservative colleagues but has not had enough cases to develop a clear record on questions involving the Constitution in Exile.

(Probably because the "Constitution in Exile" is a myth.) But follow the link for more. Rosen's conclusion: "All in all, an extremely able lawyer whose committed conservatism seems to be leavened by a judicious temperament."

NARAL, on the other hand, doesn't like him. Its main page already includes a form letter to Senators opposing him.

The Insta-Daughter's take: "He looks pretty good for 50."

STILL MORE: Just watched Bush's intro, followed by the Leahy / Schumer response. Bush was smirking; he thinks he's got it in the bag. (Video here.) More significantly, perhaps, Leahy and Schumer looked pretty flat; they seemed to be going through the motions (video here); I don't think they believe they can stop him. That could change of course, but it's certainly how it looks now.

Here's Roberts' profile from SCOTUSblog. And check out the SCOTUSblog Supreme Court Nomination Blog for much more.

And Austin Bay has thoughts: "Word is that Roberts is 'well thought of' in DC — meaning he has social aplomb. That counts. It may not count in NY Times editorials but it will count in Senate votes. What does this mean down the road? Bet on a Roberts confirmation."

What do I think of him? Beats me. Just searched his hearing transcripts on the right to bear arms and found nothing. How is he on federalism and other limits on government power? Beats me again.

Nan Aron said she'd urge a filibuster of Roberts, but that was in the context of him being named to replace Rehnquist, if that matters.

Here's the Kos Krowd's reaction.

YEAH, STILL MORE: Reader Edward Royce emails:

Hmmm.

"What do I think of him? Beats me. Just searched his hearing transcripts on the right to bear arms and found nothing. How is he on federalism and other limits on government power? Beats me again."

Great. O'Connor with a penis.

I'm supposed to be happy about this?

7 of the 9 Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republicans. 3 of them are acceptable, which shows you how incompetent Republicans are at choosing judges.

Frankly this conservative is completely underwhelmed.Bush might think he's got some sort of mojo going on, but if Roberts doesn't turn out to be a solid conservative, and not another O'Connor, then the GOP is screwed.

I know a lot of conservatives who have been adding up the support given, and lack of results received from the GOP. I've been asking a lot of conservatives to name which issues or agendas the GOP has come through on for conservatives.

It's a damn small list.

Sigh. F***ed by the GOP, yet again. I'm done. The GOP's donation letters go into the trash and the next time I vote might be 2008 or maybe 2010. The GOP better not expect me to give a rat's ass about them in 2006.

Hmm. I quoted this on Hugh Hewitt's show, and Hugh suggested that these concerns are misplaced. In particular he noted some evidence in opinions that Roberts takes Commerce Clause issues seriously. But this certainly illustrates that Bush has a credibility problem with the base.

Matt Margolis, meanwhile, has a roundup of blog reactions.

And, finally, here's Roger Simon's take.

STANLEY FISH GETS DOUBLE-TEAMED by Ann Althouse and Jeff Goldstein. My thoughts on the underlying issue can be found here. Also here. And, in a way, here. Yes, I was pretty interested in this topic for a while.

FROM THE NEWSWEEK FLAG-IN-TOILET SCHOOL OF ART, we see that California Attorney General Bill Lockyer's taste is rather poor. (Dan Weintraub's SacBee blog now requires registration, but you can see the pictures here, too.)

First Lockyer was advocating prison rape, and now this. Does he have a political tin ear -- or is he just a jerk? It's hard to believe, though, that California couldn't find someone better for the job.

SKBUBBA is no longer blogging. SayUncle has more. It's a big bummer.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF TOMORROW is up!

UPDATE: Don't miss the Cotillion Carousel, either.

STEPHEN CARTER FOR SUPREME COURT PICK? I knew him well at Yale, and he was one of my references when I was on the teaching market. I think he'd be easily confirmable, but if the Bush folks are thinking of him, then their thinking is considerably different than I had supposed. I would have expected somebody more like Joy Clement or Edith Jones.

CALEB CARR WRITES ON TERRORISTS AND THE SMELL OF FEAR:

What common elements can we establish among these societies at the given moments that they were victimized?

Of paramount interest is the fact that each nation had recently exhibited a weakening public determination to aggressively meet the rising challenge of Islamist terrorism. Consider the U.S. of 2001: The Clinton administration had left behind a record of essentially ignoring those few terrorism analysts who asserted that full-fledged military action against al Qaeda's Afghan training bases, backed by the possibility of military strikes against other terrorist sponsor states, was the only truly effective method of preventing an eventual attack within U.S. borders. President Clinton himself, we now know, at times favored such decisive moves; but opposition from various members of his cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and finally (as well as most importantly) a general public that would not or could not confront the true extent of the Islamist problem generally, and al Qaeda specifically, forced him to confine his responses to occasional and counterproductive bombings -- even as the death toll from al Qaeda attacks on U.S. interests abroad rose dramatically. Correctly sensing that the new president, George W. Bush, was treating the terrorist threat with a similar attitude of denial, al Qaeda's Hamburg-based subsidiaries launched the 9/11 operation. . . .

In all of these examples, then, the "trigger" for terrorist action was not any newly adopted Western posture of force and defiance. Rather, it was a deepening of the targeted public's wish to deal with terrorism through avoidance and accommodation, a mass descent into the psychological belief, so often disproved by history, that if we only leave vicious attackers alone, they will leave us alone. It is hardly surprising that by actively trying -- or merely indicating that they wished -- to bury their collective heads in the sand, the societies were led not to peace but to more violent attacks.

Indeed.

IT'S AMAZON.COM'S Tenth Anniversary -- and to think that I once doubted they'd make it! Keep that in mind if I ever offer investment advice . . . .

BLOWING SMOKE, THE MOVIE: A Jim Treacher Production.

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF UNVEILS the United Nations' secret color-coded alert system.

JOSCHKA FISCHER CLAIMS VINDICATION, but David Kaspar looks at the record and finds otherwise.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL has an interesting interview with new FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who favors loosening up rules on broadband:

Mr. Martin's theory is that phone and cable companies will be more inclined to expand broadband connections to consumers if they don't have to help foot the bill for their rivals. "If you have to share your network at marginal costs with your competitors, going forward you won't have an incentive to invest in your network," he says. Last month, the Supreme Court deferred to the FCC on the matter, handing Mr. Martin an invitation to write new rules.

The full transcript is here, with more detail, and you can also see some disappointing comments about broadcast indecency.

WANT HEALTH-CARE BLOGGING? This week's Grand Rounds is up!

PUBLIUS ANALYZES a leaked draft of the Iraqi Bill of Rights.

UPDATE: Meryl Yourish says that Publius was wrong.

July 18, 2005

YES, TOM TANCREDO IS SOUNDING PRETTY DUMB. But there's plenty of idiocy to go around.

UPDATE: More from Donald Sensing and Hugh Hewitt.

RYAN SAGER: First they came for the talk-show hosts . . . .

TERROR-BOMBING EUPHEMISM OF THE DAY: "Mobile self-demolition specialists." Coming soon to the BBC and NYT!

Meanwhile, Prof. Bainbridge has thoughts on multiculturalism and terror.

IRANIAN DISSIDENT AKBAR GANJI is near death.

TOM MAGUIRE says the press is moving the goalposts on Bush.

Meanwhile, well, just read this. And this: "Did Rove force Cooper to call him using telepathic orders, secretly controlling Cooper?"

Quite possibly. At least, superhuman telepathic powers on Rove's part would explain a lot.

And there's more on the goalpost-moving thing here.

MY STAY IN HILTON HEAD isn't quite a vacation. I'm here for the Southeastern Association of Law Schools conference. Today at lunch there was an interesting panel on the Solomon Amendment and military recruitment at law schools. It was more balanced than you might expect (in fact, if the moderator hadn't decided to weigh in, it would have leaned pro-Solomon Amendment), and interesting. My own panel was on free speech and the Internet, mostly from an international perspective. Pretty interesting discussion, with the Canadians present weighing in in favor of "hate speech" laws, but with not many others agreeing.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF LIBERTY IS UP!

UPDATE: So is this week's Carnival of Music.

And don't miss the Carnival of the Revolutions, either!

For that matter, don't miss the Carnival of Cars, which should satisfy your autoblogging needs.

FACT-CHECKING MORGAN SPURLOCK: It seems like a pretty demanding job.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS is up!

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

HARRY'S PLACE has a post on moral equivalence, now and then, comparing "pacifist" comments that a German victory in World War II would represent "justice" with similar tolerance for Islamic terror today.

Meanwhile, Mickey Kaus notes that moral equivalence extends even to Martians:

Did War of the Worlds screenwriter David Koepp really say that the Martians in the movie represent "American military forces," while Tom Cruise and the embattled Earthlings represent Iraqi civilians? Looks like he did.

Jeez, you just can't make this stuff up.

BELDAR: "It started with a burrito and a jalapeño last Sunday night that turned out not to have caused indigestion." There's lots of photo-hospiblogging, too. And note the important point: He didn't have the classic symptoms, just something that felt odd and wrong. Keep that in mind, as it could save your life.

(When the Insta-Wife had her heart attack 6 years ago, it was diagnosed as a panic attack. They didn't even do blood tests. That was probably because she was a young, athletic woman, but they should have done them. Hospitals are usually better with women now, but if you have shortness of breath or chest pain insist on the tests.) Meanwhile, send Beldar your prayers and good wishes.

July 17, 2005

IRSHAD MANJI IS PROFILED in the London Times:

Irshad Manji has already been dubbed ‘Osama’s worst nightmare’ for her criticisms of Islam. Now she wants Britain’s Muslims to stand more firmly on the side of freedom

No wonder Irshad Manji has received death threats since appearing on British television: she is a lipstick lesbian, a Muslim and scourge of Islamic leaders, whom she accuses of making excuses about the terror attacks on London. Oh, and she tells ordinary Muslims to “crawl out of their narcissistic shell”. Ouch. . . .

The underlying problem with Islam, observes Manji, is that far from spiritualising Arabia, it has been infected with the reactionary prejudices of the Middle East: “Colonialism is not the preserve of people with pink skin. What about Islamic imperialism? Eighty per cent of Muslims live outside the Arab world yet all Muslims must bow to Mecca.” Fresh thinking, she contends, is suppressed by ignorant imams; you can see why she has been dubbed “Osama’s worst nightmare ”.

“The good news,” she insists, “is it doesn’t have to be like this.” She wants a reformation in Islam, returning it to its clever, fun-loving roots. “The world’s first ‘feminist’ was an 11th-century Muslim man. Baghdad had one of the first universities in the 9th century; the Spanish ‘Ole!’ comes from ‘Allah’; Islam even gave us the guitar.”

But now it gives us the suicide bomber: why? She does not rule out alienation and all those Muslims-as-victims explanations, but thinks the Muslim Council of Britain is negligent for “not even acknowledging religion might also have played a role”. Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, said terrorists could not be Muslims but Manji hits back: “The jury is out on what Islam is.” . . .

She recalls asking Mohamed al-Hindi, political leader of Islamic Jihad, where the Koran glorifies martyrdom; he insisted it was there, but even after looking up books and phoning colleagues, he couldn’t find one reference. “His translator suggested I better go if I wanted to leave alive,” she recalls. “I asked why he had even given an interview, and the translator said, ‘Oh, he assumed you would be just another dumb westerner’.”

Read the whole thing.

AL QAEDA WAS TRYING TO GET RID OF AZNAR with the Madrid bombings, according to captured computer files. No surprise there, and unfortunately it worked.

BIZZYBLOG thinks the New York Times' future looks poor, both financially and editorially.

On the other hand, not everyone thinks much of Fox's prospects, either.

HUGO CHAVEZ UPDATE: The dead are risen in Venezuela -- to vote!

Henri Charrière, the convict who vividly recalled his multiple escape bids from the disease-ridden penal colony of French Guiana in the novel Papillon, has been found “alive” in Venezuela, 32 years after his reported death. Or so Venezuela's electoral register would have you believe.

Politicians in Venezuela have complained that the official voter list contains thousands of deceased voters, an irregularity that, if abused by unscrupulous election officials, could distort the result of polls.

“Why is there such a big fear of undertaking an audit of the electoral register?” asks Alejandro Plaz, spokesman for Sumate, which lobbies for transparency and participation in elections.

Now, the discovery that Mr Charrière, who died in 1973, is eligible to cast a ballot in local elections in August looks certain to amplify such concerns about the inadequacy of Venezuela's electoral system.

Go figure.

YES, BLOGGING HAS BEEN RATHER LIGHT this weekend. The Insta-Wife and I are at Hilton Head (kid free!) and we've had better things to do.

JOHN PODESTA says the Plame scandalmongering is all about the war in Iraq.

Of course it is. As Jerry Pournelle noted, "[M]ost of the Democrats who want to beat up the administration over the war voted to authorize it, so an honest analysis of the war decision factors won't work. So, we have this imbecile investigation taking up time." Indeed.

Read this, too.

And here are more thoughts from Mark Steyn: "But in the real world there's only one scandal in this whole wretched business -- that the CIA, as part of its institutional obstruction of the administration, set up a pathetic 'fact-finding mission' that would be considered a joke by any serious intelligence agency and compounded it by sending, at the behest of his wife, a shrill politically motivated poseur who, for the sake of 15 minutes' celebrity on the cable gabfest circuit, misled the nation about what he found. . . . What we have here is, in effect, the old standby plot of lame Hollywood conspiracy thrillers: rogue elements within the CIA attempting to destabilize the elected government."

Steyn's comments, I think, point to the next stage of this affair: When all is said and done, I think the CIA will turn out to be the big loser here, because there's just no way to parse these facts that makes the Agency look good -- just varying shades of incompetent, or politically motivated and dishonest.

UPDATE: Andrew thinks it's not over yet. Could be. The only thing certain (besides the CIA looking bad) is that quite a few mutually inconsistent theories presented as sure-thing explanations by their confident boosters have fallen by the wayside already.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tom Maguire rounds up the Monday Rove/Plame action.

FRENCH LEAKS and home-grown terror.

READER WARREN MEYER WRITES:

Where's the wall-to-wall Harry Potter coverage?

You’re missing the major issue of the day, though I don’t know if anyone who is able to read today is actually reading a blog. It would have been more interesting to release Harry Potter on a weekday to see what hit GDP would take for a few days.

My eleven year old boy just finished, and reported it to be his second favorite. I will say, though, that he was very, very sad and depressed when he was finished. I would like to add my comments, but I am only on about page 25. I threatened my son with being tied up naked in his school cafeteria (a terrible threat for an 11 year old boy) if he gave me any spoilers.

Hmm. Harry Potter fostering child abuse -- maybe the critics are right! (A better threat would involve dressing him in this! Eew. There's a market?)

Darren Cahr, on the other hand, is finding eerie resonances with contemporary events. Meanwhile, if you've already finished the new book, Amit Varma is already blogging about the next one.

UPDATE: Reviews of the latest Potter book here and, er, here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Shanti Mangala has a pretty favorable review posted. And Meyer has now posted a review of his own.

THE CARNIVAL OF NEW JERSEY BLOGGERS IS UP!

GREG DJEREJIAN WRITES THAT JOSH MARSHALL AND OTHERS aren't shooting straight on the Niger / uranium story. "Josh has pretty much been forced to piss all over the SSCI and Butler reports because they simply don't support the narrative he peddled assiduously for months last year. . . . Josh's credibility would be bolstered significantly if he accepted that he never struck gold on this story. He tried, tooth and nail, to score a grand slam. He never did."