UPDATE: David Hardy has a suggestion for Kozinski backers.
posted at 06:42 PM by Glenn Reynolds
IS PERJURY BY HIGH GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS A SERIOUS OFFENSE? I'd have said yes (in fact, I did say yes), but here's an argument that the American people have already said no, by their electoral response to the Clinton impeachment.
I'm not at all sure I'm persuaded by this, but it's certainly an interesting twist on the argument. More here.
UPDATE: Michael Barone isn't convinced either, emailing:
I'm prompted to write by your posting on the blogger who argues that the American people rejected the idea that perjury by a high public official is an important crime because Republicans lost seats in 1998.
It's true that polls showed most Americans didn't want Bill Clinton impeached or removed for office. But the blogger relies on election returns. And the election returns showed Republicans won. They won more popular votes for the House than Democrats and they won more House seats than Democrats.
True, they lost a few House seats when they had expected to pick up a few. But they still won more votes. True, Newt Gingrich was out as speaker. But Denny Hastert, not Dick Gephardt, was in.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is warning that rising violence is threatening food security in Sudan’s Darfur region. It says next month’s important harvest may be affected by fighting between rebels and government forces, banditry and violence over cattle looting and access to grazing lands. The main crops in Darfur include maize, millet and okra.
More starvation is likely to ensue. Unfortunately, the rebels are rather disorganized at the moment, though they seem to be trying to get their act together. Special Forces trainers and guns would probably help.
Of course, no such tea-leaf reading is required where Alex Kozinski is concerned:
Judges know very well how to read the Constitution broadly when they are sympathetic to the right being asserted. We have held, without much ado, that “speech, or . . . the press” also means the Internet, and that “persons, houses, papers, and effects” also means public telephone booths. When a particular right comports especially well with our notions of good social policy, we build magnificent legal edifices on elliptical constitutional phrases--or even the white spaces between lines of constitutional text. But, as the panel amply demonstrates, when we’re none too keen on a particular constitutional guarantee, we can be equally ingenious in burying language that is incontrovertibly there.
It is wrong to use some constitutional provisions as spring-boards for major social change while treating others like senile relatives to be cooped up in a nursing home until they quit annoying us. As guardians of the Constitution, we must be consistent in interpreting its provisions. If we adopt a jurisprudence sympathetic to individual rights, we must give broad compass to all constitutional provisions that protect individuals from tyranny. If we take a more statist approach, we must give all such provisions narrow scope. Expanding some to gargantuan proportions while discarding others like a crumpled gum wrapper is not faithfully applying the Constitution; it’s using our power as federal judges to constitutionalize our personal preferences. . . .
All too many of the other great tragedies of history— Stalin’s atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few—were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. See Kleinfeld Dissent at 5997-99. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars. My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history.
Read the whole thing -- especially if you work at the White House on Supreme Court nominations!
The suspense ended Friday for I. Lewis Libby, but one of the case's biggest questions remained unanswered: What was the exact role of Robert Novak, the journalist whose column unmasked CIA operative Valerie Plame?
While it is now clear that the testimony of reporters Tim Russert, Matt Cooper and Judith Miller was crucial to Patrick Fitzgerald's leak investigation, it still isn't known who was Mr. Novak's primary source.
Indeed. Read the whole thing.
posted at 09:38 AM by Glenn Reynolds
ROBERT GEORGE has more on the "Sambo" Kerfuffle, complete with sexually deprecating hateblogging from Steve Gilliard.
SO WHILE ALL THIS OTHER STUFF WAS GOING ON, the Insta-Wife and I were test-driving cars as part of our slow-motion campaign to figure out what will replace the aging (nearly 7 years old, so call it "late middle age") Passat wagon.
Already tested: The Nissan Murano (nice, but lousy mileage), Infiniti FX45 (too small, lousy mileage), Honda Pilot (I liked it, she didn't), Honda Odyssey (minivan; we both hated it), Lexus RX330 (too expensive, not enough room). Off the table: The Dodge Magnum Hemi wagon (I liked it, she didn't, lousy mileage), the Passat TDI wagon (I liked it, great mileage, but the Insta-Daughter is sick of the Passat back seat, and she spends a lot of time there).
Today we testdrove the Toyota Highlander hybrid and the Subaru Tribeca. The Tribeca has its high points, but the Highlander was the big winner, beating out all of the cars I've driven.
I was ready for the quiet -- turn the key and it doesn't make any noise. I found it smooth, maneuverable, and quite impressively powerful. The interior is nicely done, though a bit busy and Toyota-ish; nothing wrong with it, but more functional than aesthetic. The third-row seats are good only for kids or small adults, but at least they're available. Lots of cupholders.
Acceleration was quite impressive, seeming at least as good as the Passat wagon. It handled more like a car than an SUV, and the turning circle was quite small. The seats are very comfortable.
The Subaru is a lot better looking inside and out -- some people don't like the nose styling, but I do. The interior is very pretty and comfortable, probably the nicest SUV interior I've seen. Helen loved it. Handling was smooth and stable, though mushier than the Highlander. The downside: It's a slug. I'd read reviews that said it was short on power, but I didn't give them complete credence -- when guys who testdrive Ferraris say that something's sluggish, I don't always agree. But the Subaru is slooowww. Pushing the accelerator to the floor makes the engine get louder, but doesn't make it go appreciably faster, in a fashion reminiscent of underpowered GM products from the 1980s. Plus the mileage is still mediocre.
The winner: The Highlander. The mileage is actually better than the Passat, especially in town where I do most of my driving, it's roomier and comfier, while driving amazingly well for something of its size. I doubt that it's worth the premium for the hybrid on a purely economic basis -- especially as old-style SUVs are trading at a deep discount now, with lots of "$5000 off" signs around the dealers, which would buy a lot of gas -- but if you don't want a minivan, and you do want room, and you're offended by the idea of getting 16 miles per gallon, then it looks pretty good.
posted at 10:14 PM by Glenn Reynolds
NOBEL LAUREATE and nanotechnologist Richard Smalley has died.
posted at 10:11 PM by Glenn Reynolds
HERE'S A HUGE ROUNDUP of Libby-related stuff from the Wall Street Journal.
The White House will make another political mistake if it decides to try to defend Lewis Libby. Fortunately –for the country, for the health of America’s governmental institutions– the Bush White House hasn’t pulled a Clinton and trashed the prosecutor. By and large the Bush Administration has respected the judicial process. A Clintonesque trash-the-prosecutor tactic probably wouldn’t work, anyway, given the national press corps’ pro-Democrat bias. Clinton could rely on the national press to amplify his tawdry demonization of Ken Starr. The national press hates the Bush Administration.
If Libby committed perjury he did so out of arrogance. The most likely scenario is this both simple and sad: Libby thought he could get away with it. But then so did Clinton. Clinton lied to a federal judge and lost his bar license for five years. It’s time to give the Beltway Culture a kick. If he’s convicted, Libby should serve time. No one is above the law. If Libby is judged innocent, then he’ll continue to practice law in Washington. As I recall, one of his former clients was Marc Rich (the mega-felon pardoned by Clinton in the waning days of Clinton’s administration).
I should have thought of that -- conspiracy theorists, take it away!
On the question of what Libby was thinking -- well, if the charges are true, it beats me. I actually had an email the other day from someone who used to practice law with him, and who expressed disbelief that a lawyer as smart and careful as Libby could get into this kind of trouble. Part of the problem, I think, is that working at the White House makes people stupid -- between stress, sleep deprivation (which is no joke in that setting), constant flitting from crisis to crisis, and general bubble-ization, past a certain point people get effectively dumber the longer they stay. Is there more to it than that? Who knows. Fitzgerald didn't make it sound like there's a lot more here, but I suppose we'll see.
UPDATE: Here's a transcript of Hugh Hewitt's interview with former prosecutor Andrew McBride, who -- like Austin Bay -- thinks highly of Patrick Fitzgerald's work.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Much more -- all of it bad for Libby, pretty much -- here and here though there's this upside: "On the other hand, though, Libby also clearly was not trying to out Plame for the purpose of endangering her, punishing Wilson or harming the CIA. He was trying to do something that was legal and appropriate: to discredit Wilson and knock down Wilson’s misleading story about why he was sent to Niger. He should not have done it the way he appears to have done it, but he surely was not doing what Wilson and the Left have been claiming."
posted at 10:07 PM by Glenn Reynolds
UPDATE: Here's more on that rather unfair Forbes article about blogs, from Doc Searls.
Bill Quick doesn't mind the Forbes slagging: "Who cares? As usual, this chunk of bunk is hidden behind a big fat registration process, so nobody who matters is going to read it anyway."
posted at 06:30 PM by Glenn Reynolds
TOM MAGUIRE has a lot of thoughts on the Libby indictment, including these:
However embarrassing it might be, the NY Times may be forced to confront the fact that Nick Kristof is an important part of this story, since Fitzgerald essentially dates the beginning of this story to Kristof's May 6 column. The column was riddled with inaccuracies which Mr. Wilson has since disavowed - let's see if the Times tackles this.
And, per the summary (p. 5), it will be a bit harder for Joe Wilson and his many defenders to sustain the notion that his wife was not involved with selecting him for this trip.
Federal law enforcement attempts to use cell phones as tracking devices were rebuked twice this month by lower court judges, who say the government cannot get real time tracking information on citizens without showing probable cause.
This summer, Department of Justice officials separately asked judges from Texas and Long Island, New York to sign off on orders to cellular phone service providers compelling them to turn over phone records and location information -- in real time -- on two different individuals.
Both judges rejected the location tracking portion of the request in harshly worded opinions, concluding investigators cannot turn cell phones into tracking devices by simply telling a judge the information is likely "relevant" to an investigation.
"When the government seeks to turn a mobile telephone into a means for contemporaneously tracking the movements of its user, the delicately balanced compromise that Congress has forged between effective law enforcement and individual privacy requires a showing of probable cause," wrote Magistrate Judge James Orenstein of New York in the latest decision Monday.
THE MOUNTAIN HAS LABORED AND BROUGHT FORTH A MOUSE: At least if this report from the Post is true: No Rove indictment, and only a lame False Statements Act charge against Libby, which wouldn't even relate to the underlying issue. This will be a blue Fitzmas for some people if it works out that way, but it's too early to be sure that these reports are correct.
UPDATE: Okay, the indictment is out and it's more like a large rabbit:
Libby was indicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements. The five-count indictment charged that he gave misleading information to the grand jury, allegedly lying about information he discussed with three news reporters. It alleged that he committed perjury before the grand jury in March 2004 and that he also lied to FBI agents investigating the case.
(Indictment text here). Lying to a grand jury is serious, if true. The rest is Martha Stewart stuff. But this isn't the Libby-Rove-Cheney takedown that the lefties have been hoping for -- there's not even a charge of "outing" a covert agent -- and the very extravagance of their hopes will make this seem much less significant. If there's no more, this will probably do Bush little harm.
Laura Lee Donoho, meanwhile, says it's not Fitzmas, but Fitzween. Boo!
ANOTHER UPDATE: Various readers send versions of this: "That's the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on! . . . Look, that rabbit's got a vicious streak a mile wide! It's a killer! . . . He's got huge, sharp... er... He can leap about. Look at the bones!"
MORE: Some predictions. And Orin Kerr has further thoughts: "All things considered, the Libby indictment handed down today was narrower than I expected. As I read it, all five of the counts come down to Libby's lying to investigators and the grand jury about his contacts with the press. The counts seem pretty clearly valid and tight on the law, although none go to the substantive offense for which Libby was investigated."
Meanwhile, Byron York wonders why we still don't know who the leaker is.
Michael Kinsley: "Either this whole prosecution is nuts or the mainstream media view of reporters' rights is nuts. Which is it?"
Eugene Volokh wonders what a government official is supposed to do.
Jayne Meynardie emails: "Mouse or rabbit or whatever, if he knowingly lied to a grand jury, he should be punished, and no one should feel the least bit bad for him." True enough -- but it's hardly what we were promised in the run-up to today, is it? Perhaps more will materialize, as I noted above -- but as I also noted above, if this is all there is, it doesn't live up to the hoopla.
Gateway Pundit has more on the "who is the leaker" question. Was there a "leak" at all? Fitzgerald won't say. A commenter adds: "I think if I am ever called to a GJ, they will hear one thing... silence."
posted at 12:20 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A BLOG ADVERTISING KERFUFFLE: "Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial candidate pulled campaign ads from a bloggers' Web site Thursday because the blogger had derided a black Republican candidate in Maryland as 'Sambo.'" The blogger in question is the often-excitable Steve Gilliard. He's calling the Kaine campaign racist: "'I guess they have a problem with black people expressing themselves in print,' Gilliard said."
posted at 10:47 AM by Glenn Reynolds
I'VE BEEN READING JOHN BIRMINGHAM'S alt-history thriller Designated Targets, the sequel to his Weapons of Choice. So far it's holding up quite well, though as yet there are no references to presidents Hillary Clinton or Condi Rice.
Miers's 24 days in the searing spotlight demonstrated many things. One, that the conservative punditocracy is a powerful force, and never more so than when it decides to break with a Republican president. Two, that the normally disciplined White House can look amateurish when it makes as many mistakes as it did on this nomination. Three, that a Supreme Court candidate may be able to survive a thin resume, but not also a bungled questionnaire, unimpressive meetings with senators, an attempt to sell her on religious grounds, gushing letters to her boss, and no trace of ever trying to seriously address constitutional issues. Four, that nominating cronies is risky business. Five, that the party seems divided (former senator Jack Danforth told CNN that the activists' attacks were "mean" and "outrageous," though they simply used the power of their words to undermine a shaky nominee). Six, that presidents really do seem snakebitten in their second terms (see Watergate, Iran-contra, Lewinsky).
Yes. Miers was a weak candidate, who might have been confirmed anyway if the White House had been on its game. But it wasn't.
posted at 09:16 AM by Glenn Reynolds
THE N.Y.U. JOURNAL OF LAW AND LIBERTY is sponsoring an online symposium on Sarbanes-Oxley. Move fast -- I participated in one of their online symposia and when I went back to post my followup comments it was already over. This is internet time, not law-review time!
posted at 09:09 AM by Glenn Reynolds
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: People are dying of AIDS, but the Congress is using CDC money to fund Japanese gardens:
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-PA, engaged in a dialogue on the Senate floor earlier this week regarding the former's amendment to transfer $60 million previously appropriated for a Japanese garden at an Atlanta federal building to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Their exchange provides a vivid demonstration of the warped priorities encouraged by pork barrel culture in Congress.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Tapscott has updated his post -- the $60 million is for an entire package of upgrades, not just a Japanese garden. But the Senate has voted not to shift the money.
Officials are talking about rationing some consumer goods to manage the impact of sanctions, and are considering other measures, like releasing political prisoners or making overtures toward cleaning up corruption, as a means of rallying support, the analysts and people who work with the government said.
The efforts, however, may not provide much of a salve. At least one Kurdish leader, for example, said he doubted the government's sincerity, and viewed its offers as far too little to make a difference.
"If they don't allow for real freedoms and resolve internal problems, the people will not be behind them," said Kheir al-Deen Murad, secretary general of the Kurdish Azadi Party in Syria. "They have to open up the political life."
They are, however, deploying pro-regime protest babes. As arms-races go, this is pretty benign, at least!
UPDATE: Reader Russell Mitchell emails: "The pro-regime babes aren't doing one thing... .. smiling. Tells you all you need to know."
posted at 08:53 AM by Glenn Reynolds
NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE: "The movement of physicians from poor to rich countries is a growing obstacle to global health. Ghana, with 0.09 physician per thousand population, sends doctors to the United Kingdom, which has 18 times as many physicians per capita."
posted at 07:32 AM by Glenn Reynolds
October 27, 2005
LIBBY TO BE CHARGED, BUT NOT ROVE: And for False Statements Act violations, not any underlying misconduct. That's what the New York Timessays, anyway. Make of it what you will. (Via RWV).
FORBESattacks bloggers with an angry, adjective-filled article by Daniel Lyons that seems to live up to the worst claims it makes about the blogosphere -- even to the extent of shilling for companies that purport to offer "brand protection" against blog attacks.
Here's how to protect your brand: don't be an ass. And I'm giving that advice away for free.
Do bloggers sometimes go too far? Of course. But if the best-read bloggers typically did work of the lousy quality shown in the Forbes stories, they'd be pilloried -- appropriately so. . . . Let's hope Forbes returns to its normally higher standards in the future.
posted at 10:54 PM by Glenn Reynolds
FOUND PHOTOS: "The pages below show prints I made from processing film I found in old cameras. In many cases the exposed films were over fifty years old. You are seeing them for the first time as they were lost by the photographers that took these images. . . . Each roll of found film I am successful with makes me wish I could find the families of the subjects in the photographs. What a wonderful gift it would be to show them what I'd found."
(Via Fred Lapides' not-safe-for-work blog. The images linked above, however, are all work-safe. Lileks would love them, and the commentary.)
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Just had an interesting conference call with Sen. Coburn and several other bloggers. We discussed a lot of ways to increase transparency in funding bills, and it was clear that (1) the White House is beginning to feel the heat; and (2) this will be going on over the next year. It's a war of attrition, not a quick-hit.
Ultimately, I think we need to move toward Open Source Legislation as a model, though as Sen. Coburn was quick to point out, the Congressional leadership will fight tooth-and-claw against that. And heck, if we can get Dennis Hastert blogging, anything's possible.
UPDATE: More, including a list of who was on the call, here.
Preferential treatment was given to companies from France, Russia and China, the report says, all permanent members of the Security Council, who were more favorable to lifting the 1990 sanctions than the America and Britain.
The independent inquiry committee, which began its work in 2004, said in an earlier report that the program became deeply corrupted as Saddam arranged for surcharges and kickbacks while an overwhelmed UN headquarters failed to exert administrative control over the program.
Read the whole thing, which is still more support, if any were needed, for the Den Beste Theory that France, et al., were opposed to invasion in part for fear that once Saddam was toppled we'd discover how much they'd been violating sanctions. There's also this possibly related item:
The suspicion of past corruption tainting Jacques Chirac's presidency returned to haunt him yesterday when a court imposed suspended sentences and fines on his former henchmen. . . . The outcome of the trial, which highlighted kickbacks of £50 million from school building contracts, was another crushing indictment of a political system riddled with corruption from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s.
This left Abu Theeb, a man who has devoted himself and his resources to fighting the Americans, in a curious position. His battle on polling day would be to secure a safe and smooth voting for his people - in a referendum organised by the enemy. In doing so he would be going up against the al-Qaida forces, and risking a split in the insurgency in Iraq.
I spent five days with Abu Theeb and his people last week, and I witnessed a very curious thing: a bunch of mujahideens talking politics and urging restraint. "Politics for us is like filthy dead meat," Abu Theeb told me. "We are not allowed to eat it, but if you are passing through the desert and your life depends on it, God says it's OK." This is a profound shift in thinking for these insurgents, a shift that might just change the way things develop in Iraq.
And in The Guardian, no less. Read the whole thing, which underscores the point made in the StrategyPage excerpt below: Attacking Iraqis has been deadly for Al Qaeda. Read this, too.
She's to be commended for doing this. The White House made a dreadful error in nominating her, which it compounded by its ham-handed efforts in support of her candidacy, and this was perhaps the only way to ensure that it wouldn't be a complete debacle for the Bush Administration. Let's hope that they'll do better the next time around. I'm not hoping for Alex Kozinski or anything -- okay, well, I'm hoping -- but we need a nominee who'll meet the high expectations established by the Roberts appointment. That Miers wasn't up to those standards is no discredit to her, as very few lawyers are. But it is a discredit to the White House, which nominated her. Now it's a do-over, and they'd be well-advised not to blow it.
CHIEF WIGGLES' NEW BOOK, Saving Babylon, is out. I read it in manuscript and thought it was quite good.
posted at 08:24 AM by Glenn Reynolds
IIPM UPDATE: A "breakout moment" for the Indian blogosphere, according to Mark Glaser in the Online Journalism Review.
Read the whole thing. This flap is, as I noted before, more evidence that heavy-handed tactics don't work very well against bloggers. Which, given that anyone can be a blogger, means that heavy-handed tactics are just a bad idea nowadays.
There’s an interesting pattern developing in Moslem media, especially the satellite news networks like al Jazeera; they are featuring more stories about Islamic terrorist attacks killing innocent Moslem civilians. Moslem journalists have an interesting, largely symbiotic, relationship with Islamic terrorists. They need each other. The terrorists need the favorable exposure in order to encourage people to join (especially for suicide missions), give money and provide support for actual operations (a place to hide, information). Islamic terrorists tend to be popular with Moslem audiences, especially when they are killing non-Moslems. Thus Moslem journalists do well when they feature stories of Islamic terrorists.
Arabs in particular, and Moslems in general, have adopted an attitude of victimhood, and tend to blame most of their problems on others, especially Westerners (although occasionally they will use other, usually nearby, but different from them, Moslems). Thus the enormous popularity, among Moslems, of the 911 attacks, and other terrorist operations that kill lots of infidels (non-Moslems). But the hero turns to zero when the victims are Moslems, especially if they are of the same ethnicity or nationality as the journalists.
Terrorists actually have the same symbiotic relationship with western media, who usually aren't so squeamish when their fellow-nationals are murdered.
In a related post from a while back, Nelson Ascher wonders when Buddhists will bomb Paris -- and if so, whether it will just be seen in the West as a justified response to imperialism. Personally, I blame the Crusades.
posted at 07:31 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MICKEY KAUS issues a multiple-count indictment against The New York Times' management. "And, of course, Pinch's overarching, original crime: Freeing a respected national newspaper to become an unashamed cocooning organ of New York liberal political and aesthetic prejudices (with a few exceptions, like Miller, that are slowly being corrected)."
IN LIGHT OF MY PRINTER POST from a while back, I guess I should report that I just installed one of these HP wireless printers to replace my now-dead study printer. (The old one bravely lasted just long enough to finish the book, which is now with the publisher; may it rest in peace in printer heaven, where the ink cartridges are always full and the paper never generic). The installation was easy, though it took a long time, chiefly because HP loads up the installation with a lot of software and other junk I'd just as soon do without. The wireless printing works fine from my laptop, too.
But what I'd really like is a wireless printer that will show up on any laptop in range, and print from any laptop in range, without having to load any software or drivers. That way guests, etc., could use it with a minimum of fuss. I don't think that's even possible with current operating systems. Am I wrong?
IS SMALL THE NEW BIG? That's a theme I've written about before (and it's even a chapter in the book), but here's more evidence for the proposition that small businesses are of growing importance in generating wealth:
When we look carefully at the distribution of these tax returns a clear picture emerges: an extraordinarily high proportion of high-income taxpayers have some form of business income (schedule C, E, or F) and that as their incomes rise, so too does the likelihood that they have business activity. As shown in Figure 2, overall 43% of taxpayers in the top 20% have business income, twice the percentage of those in the middle income group. Of those taxpayers in the top 1%—those earning more than $300,000 and subject to the highest marginal tax rates—nearly three quarters have business income. And for taxpayers with incomes above $1 million per year, nearly 83% have business income.
People often argue that self-employment or small business formation is up because people can't get other jobs -- it's just a step above welfare, in other words. This would seem to suggest otherwise.
posted at 06:08 PM by Glenn Reynolds
ANOTHER BLOGGER IS OFF THE FENCE regarding the Miers nomination: "I don't want a Justice who is merely better than the mediocre. I want excellence."
posted at 04:50 PM by Glenn Reynolds
BLOGGER MOMMA BEAR HAS DIED: She is remembered here and here.
AP reports that President Bush has reversed course and reinstated the U.S. Department of Labor's Davis-Bacon regulations on federally funded hurricane recovery and reconstruction projects in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
Mark Tapscott adds:
This latest decision, along with the lack of vocal White House support for the Coburn amendments last week and the growing fiasco of the Harriet Miers nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court could well ignite an open revolt on the Right that could seriously damage Bush's ability to get anything through Congress for the rest of his second term in the presidency.
THERE'S LOTS OF RAMPANT SPECULATION regarding what Patrick Fitzgerald will do. I don't have any particular thoughts, except to note that lots of people are mentioning the False Statements Act. That's a troubling law, and as I've done before, I recommend my former colleague Peter Morgan's article, The Undefined Crime of Lying to Congress: Ethics Reform and the Rule of Law, 86 Nw U L Rev 177 (1992). The False Statements Act reaches more (a lot more) than just lying to Congress, and his article surveys its history and some of its abuses.
The subject also gets considerable discussion in this book, which was seen as more-or-less pro-Clinton when it came out, but which I think (and thought) has more general applicability.
MY FORTHCOMING BOOK has a chapter called "From Media to We-dia" (with an appropriate hat tip to Jim Treacher) and the theme is one I've sounded here a lot -- about how technology lets individuals do things that only big organizations could do not long ago. I was interviewed the other day by documentary filmmaker Ron Galloway, who's doing a film on WalMart, and this item from his blog illustrates my point:
We had to edit a trailer for our distributor in a rush the other day, so we ran into the Apple Store in Soho, bought a PowerMac and Final Cut Express, jumped in the car heading for Maryland, and digitized and edited a trailer in the car while riding down the New Jersey Turnpike.
By the time we hit Carlisle, PA it was done. We found a hotel with wifi, and uploaded the 5 minute trailer we had just edited on the road.
You can't buy that kind of fun.
Actually, you can. And it's not even all that expensive!
DOCTORED PHOTOS AT USA TODAY? Adobe's "fill flash" can sometimes do surprising things, but I'm not sure it could do this.
posted at 09:28 AM by Glenn Reynolds
TOM MAGUIRE continues his relentless dissection of Plame coverage. Meanwhile, on the question of why the White House cared what Joe Wilson was writing in the Times,Mickey Kaus observes:
Isn't it possible the White House was extremely alarmed by Wilson's covert (and then overt) appearances on the NYT op-ed page because Cheney, Libby, et. al. were operating under the outdated impression that the NYT op-ed page was where the fate of men and policies gets decided--i.e. that it was still overbearingly influential? [You mean ...--ed Yes! If TimesSelect had been in place in 2003 this whole scandal would have been avoided.]
JONATHAN STEELE'S HORROR: "The Guardian reports on the historic first democratic constitution adopted by an Arab country in a referendum. Jonathan Steele's piece, which appears to be a news story and not an opinion column, drips with the bitterness of defeat. . . . Is this sort of reaction really just resentment at the fact that a right-wing Republican has promoted a war which is leading to the creation of a democratic republic in Iraq? Or is it not more the case that the likes of Steele actually find something deeply horrifying in the very idea of Arabs choosing democracy."
Previously, when newspapers have taken their own work to task, it has resulted from one of two causes. A reporter was caught committing outright acts of plagiarism or fabrication — as with The Washington Post's Janet Cooke or the Times' Jayson Blair. Or the paper needed to clear the name of an innocent person whom the newspaper had effectively tried and convicted of a serious crime — as the Atlanta Journal and Constitution did to Richard Jewell, falsely accused of the 1996 Millennium Park bombing, and the Times did to Wen Ho Lee, falsely accused of spying.
THE issue that has ostensibly caused this unprecedented character assassination is Miller's involvement in the public exposure of CIA operative Valerie Plame. And in this case, no one at the paper is accusing Miller of making anything up — because she never published anything on the subject. Nor can anyone accuse Judith Miller of harming the reputation of an innocent — because, again, she never published. . . .
OF course, none of this Miller character assassination has anything to do with the Valerie Plame story. Rather, it has to do with the war in Iraq, weapons of mass destruction — and the peculiar solipsism of both the staff of The New York Times and the paper's liberal readership.
Read the whole thing. I think that driving the war issue is the Baby Boomers' Vietnam era conceit that right-thinking people are always "against the war," regardless of circumstances. Or which war.
UPDATE: David Adesnik on a different story exhibiting the same phenomenon: "I think the real lesson of this article is that journalists are unable to comprehend Iraq except through the prism of Vietnam."
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has unveiled an environmental plan to boost energy efficiency, cut down on waste and reduce greenhouse gases tied to global warming as part of a wider effort to address issues where it has been pummeled by critics.
Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott said the world’s largest retailer wants to be a “good steward for the environment” and ultimately use only renewable energy sources and produce zero waste.
UPDATE: A reader who works at WalMart sends this link on an experimental energy-conserving WalMart.
J.D. JOHANNES, recently back from Iraq, writes on the "2,000th casualty" PR event:
Unfortunately, the media and the anti-war factions will never see Staff Sgt. Alexander as more than number 2000--a number used to wage a political battle. . . .
Unlike the pundits who will bray this evening on the cable channels and the activists who will hold vigils in Washington, D.C., I have been to the country where these men died.
I have been to the exact village where 1,998 died.
I have walked the dirt roads of Al Amariyah. I have been in businesses and houses around Amariyah. I have rode in a humvee up and down the bomb littered roads leading into Amariyah.
I may not have known Lance Corporal Butler, but I spent months with Lance Corporals--many in the Corps for less than a year--who patrolled Amariyah. . . .
Numbers 2,000, 1,999 and 1,997 also strapped up every day to stand on a wall many in America are willing let crumble. And to those who would let that wall crumble, they are just numbers.
They are not men of action and conviction, to the anti-war faction, they are merely numbers of sufficient quotient to send a press releases and hold press events.
I asked Marines all across Al Anbar province two questions:
1. If something goes bad and you die here. What would you think of people who used your death to protest the war.
2. After being here, and knowing what you know, would you still join the Marines/volunteer for this deployment?
The answers were invariably the same.
They did not want their death to be used as a prop and they would make the same decision all over again. These young Lance Corporals and Non-Commissioned Officers volunteered to join the Marines, many with the intent of coming to Iraq. And while few would say they like war, they all recognize the necessity of it.
The Marines and soldiers who fight in Iraq are not numbers, but the media and certain groups are treating them as if they were. Number 2,000 was a national treasure, just as number 1,435 was and number 2,038 will be. For what is the value of a man who will fight a war for others who despise him?
But for those who are willing to take action, there would be no wall at all hold back evil and those men and women on the wall deserve more than a number.
The size of the rejection was seen as a protest at the failure of public policy on security and as a reflection of discontent with the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. . . .
The No campaign - the effort against the ban - made much of the failure of public policy to deal with the threat of violence. The Yes campaign was seen to lack substance and ultimately failed to present convincing arguments on the risks of gun ownership.
Opinion polls on the eve of the referendum revealed a strong correlation between rejection of the ban and disapproval of Mr Lula da Silva's government.
Gun control is usually a loser when it goes to a popular vote.
I'm not impressed at all with Senator Levin's email, but Congressman Ehlers gets at least a B for his. No word from Debbie Stabenow.
Reader Sudi Beheshti emails:
I emailed my congressman, Sam Johnson, R - 3rd District, TX, regarding helping with the effort to cut spending. Here's his response. He doesn't talk about specific cuts, but it seems to be a better than average form letter!!
Thanks for all your efforts in the PorkBusters project!
(Johnson's letter is in the Extended Entry area -- click "more" to read it).
And reader Julie Martin-Korb emails about what's happening in Maryland:
In September, I wrote to Maryland Senators Sarbanes (D) and Milkulski (D) and Representative Chris Van Hollen (D) suggesting that the federal highway funds earmarked for the Montgomery-Prince George’s InterCounty Connector (ICC) be donated to Katrina relief. I previously forwarded to you and posted on Porkbusters the non-response I received from Senator Sarbanes. I have not yet heard from Sen. Mikulski or Rep. Van Hollen.
I also wrote to Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich (R) with the same suggestion. I called upon him to lead the way for other state governors and demonstrate the compassion of the people of Maryland by donating the federal ICC funds to Katrina relief. Today I received a two-page responsive letter from Robert L. Flanagan, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.
Flanagan's response is also below -- click "More" to read it.
Thank you for contacting me regarding the budget and wasteful spending. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
Earlier this year, our economy was growing and our deficits were falling. The deficit we faced was largely due to the costs of our war against terrorism. Then the gulf coast was devastated by two hurricanes, causing our deficits to rise even more.
Our priorities include dealing with the aftermath of the hurricanes. At the same time, throwing money to the devastated region won't make
our problems there disappear. Congress needs to use caution in selecting where to focus our limited resources. There are many long-term displaced workers, students, and families as a result of this hurricane season and Congress has worked hard to make sure that they are able to continue their education and find employment.
When it comes to rebuilding the devastated areas, folks in Washington aren't in a position to know what Gulf Coast residents need. It's best to let the private sector drive most of the rebuilding. I support
legislation designed to encourage growth by offering incentives to the people and businesses that are going into the devastated areas and
working to make it inhabitable once more. Congress needs to make wise decisions about our public investments in infrastructure. You should also know that I am looking at ways to offset the money going to the Gulf Coast region.
I am hopeful that once we get through these times of immediate crisis, we will be able to seek out a means to balance the budget. I want our children and grandchildren to inherit the American dream, not the American debt. I appreciate knowing of your support for eliminating wasteful spending. You can count on me to be fiscally responsible as I represent you and the Third Congressional District of Texas. Thank you again for contacting me.
Member of Congress
Robert Flanagan's letter follows:
“President George W. Bush recently announced that federal funds will cover the great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the disaster zone, from roads and bridges to schools and water systems. In addition, Congress has passed, and President Bush has signed, legislation authorizing more than $60 billion in assistance. These funds will carry out the first stages of the relief effort and begin the rebuilding. Please be assured that the State of Maryland is providing a range of services to the victims of Hurricane Katrina to meet the emergency needs of those impacted by the disaster. Maryland is providing her sister states with the staff, equipment, and resources they need during this difficult time…
“The funding plan for the ICC, which the Maryland General Assembly endorsed during its 2005 session, includes a combination of creative funding sources, with the goal of making the maximum amount of funds available for other projects across the State while the ICC is being built. Accordingly, the ICC will be funded using Maryland Transportation Authority toll revenue bonds; Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles (GARVEE) bonds (which, as the name implies are repaired with future federal highway funds); and State and federal funds to be expended on a pay-as-you-go-basis…”
Julie Martin-Korb observes: "So, not only our current but also our anticipated future federal pork will be donated to this road, which was dubbed by the Taxpayers for Common Sense as 'the most wasteful road project in America.'"
A West Yorkshire head teacher has banned books containing stories about pigs from the classroom in case they offend Muslim children. The literature has been removed from classes for under-sevens at Park Road Junior Infant and Nursery School in Batley.
British banks are also abandoning piggy banks for the same reason. And though it's characterized as toleration, I think it's really out of fear of violence.
No, I'm not serious about the advice. But they need to think about the incentive that's being created here, or I fear that others will take the lesson. When you reward behavior, you tend to get more of it.
UPDATE: Several readers email to observe something that seemed obvious to me, but maybe wasn't -- that this sort of behavior is unfair to Muslims, since it stereotypes them as excitable and easily offended. That's a common vice of political correctness, of course, as it tends to belittle and demean the very people it's ostensibly concerned with. Meanwhile, reader Michael Murphy emails: "Well, I suppose we should be grateful that books containing references to Jews or which feature Jewish characters are not removed from the shelves lest they offend."
Give 'em time.
posted at 03:33 PM by Glenn Reynolds
GOOD NEWS FROM THE TROOPS: The Mudville Gazette has articles on both troop recruitment and troop retention. Greyhawk particularly likes this explanation given by a soldier for why he reenlisted: ..."because as I look around at the state of this nation and see all of the weak little pampered candy-asses that are whining about this or protesting that, I'd be afraid to leave the fate of this nation entirely up to them."
posted at 03:27 PM by Glenn Reynolds
TOM MAGUIRE has much more on the latest Plame developments: "Even some aficionados are growing weary of this speculation and leak-parsing (but not me!)."
posted at 01:13 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE PLANK is a new group blog at The New Republic.
posted at 01:08 PM by Glenn Reynolds
CAN'T STOP THAT BOY: Lileks is up to #37 #28 on Amazon.
Some 1,400 people died in Indian Kashmir because of the recent quakes, and over 140,000 were made homeless. Across the border in Pakistani Kashmir, over 50,000 died, over 70,000 were seriously injured and over three million are homeless. The American relief effort has involved thousands of troops, several dozen helicopters and navy ships carrying relief aid and military equipment for rescue and reconstruction work. The U.S. noted the large amount of good will generated in Moslem Indonesia because of vigorous American relief efforts last year after the Indonesian earthquake and tidal wave, and is apparently out to repeat that process in Pakistan. The scope of the disaster has caused the Pakistanis to toss aside most political considerations and accept aid from anyone (including India and Israel). The quakes have had more impact on the military and political situation in Kashmir than any diplomacy or military efforts in the last several decades.
And scroll down to see how Al Qaeda is upset about this.
RYAN SAGER: "The parallels between 1994 and 2006 keep piling up. Republican denials that there could even possibly be a problem might just be the next piece of the puzzle. . . . Chances are, though, that the Republicans will muddle through. But, if they're paying attention, they also know that their continued success at this point is owed entirely to their adversaries' inexplicable incompetence. Bush, in this second term, is weak; but Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are like lactose-intolerant kittens."
THOSE EXPECTING A QUICK RESOLUTION TO THE PLAME AFFAIR may want to ponder this:
There is major news in the fight over the report of independent counsel David Barrett's investigation into the Henry Cisneros matter. Late today, the three-judge panel overseeing Barrett ordered that parts of his report be released to the public -- and that all of the report be given to Congress.
For those who have forgotten, Cisneros was Clinton's HUD Secretary, and was charged with lying to the FBI about the amount -- not the existence -- of payments to his former mistress.
Oh, well. Some people will manage to cash in a bit, just like last time.
NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Nanodot has been covering the Foresight Nanotechnology Conference.
posted at 09:45 PM by Glenn Reynolds
I LIKE AUTOMATED SERVICES like Technorati or Google News, but they're easier for spammers and spoofers to fool than real people are. That's the point of this post by Dave Winer, though as he notes, real people can be fooled, too.
Hurricane Wilma headed into the Atlantic Ocean after its path across southern Florida knocked down trees and power lines and flooded low-lying areas. Insured damages from the storm may be as much as $10 billion, more than any of the four hurricanes to hit the state last year.
Wilma, the eighth hurricane to reach Florida since August 2004, was over the Atlantic, about 350 miles (563 kilometers) south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. One death was attributed to the storm, which cut power to more than 3 million people.
Last month conservative backbenchers changed the direction of House GOP fiscal policy by introducing "Operation Offset" -- a package of potential savings in government spending that would offset the tens of billions of dollars needed to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
At first, the package was met with disapproval by House Leadership. But weeks later, Hastert and others have embraced parts of the package and are scheduling a vote on the House floor this Thursday that would increase savings by $15 billion. That vote is a direct result of the actions of the House conservatives led by Mike Pence.
Now, a band of fiscal conservatives in the Senate plan to offer a similar proposal. Tomorrow, at 12:30 Senators Ensign, McCain, DeMint, Graham, Sununu, Coburn and Brownback will hold a press conference in which they will unveil the details of their own savings package.
LONGEVITY UPDATE: Here's an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education on Aubrey de Grey and the Cambridge conference on Scientifically Engineered Negligible Senescence. Meanwhile, closer to home is this article on current progress. There's also more here.
The US and France on Monday presented a joint front against Syria, demanding Damascus tell the truth over its alleged involvement in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister.
Shockingly, however, the cooperation is less than total. Daniel Drezner has a Syria roundup.
He's clearly one of the leading judges in the country, with vast experience in antitrust law, admintrative law, constitutional law, and more. His marijuana incident is now more than twenty years in the past, and no longer seems disqualifying in any event, given subsequent revelations ("I didn't inhale" and whatnot).
Most important, Ginsburg (who is still only sixty) is not a Bush crony or loyalist, and can be counted on as a strong and independent voice on the Court. And conservatives would rally around: if he was good enough for Ronald Reagan, surely he's good enough for the Bush Adminstration.
Ben Bernanke, the White House economic adviser who has urged the Federal Reserve to articulate its preferred rate of inflation, will be nominated to succeed Alan Greenspan as Fed chairman, reports said Monday. A formal announcement is expected at 1 p.m. EDT.
Bernanke, who gained a reputation as a monetary moderate while a Fed governor from 2002 to 2005, was named chairman of the White House council of economic advisers in June. He is the former head of Princeton's economics department and received his economics education at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
At a time President Bush is battling criticism of his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, the choice of Bernanke is viewed as a safe one.
You want to funnel millions to Louisiana? OK, how much are you willing to deny North Dakota?
The initial proposals failed in Washington, suggesting that though Katrina may have swamped a major American city and killed more than 1,000 people, it lacked the punch needed to make elected officials give up pet projects. Nevertheless, supporters vowed that the synergy unleashed by the hurricanes that battered the Gulf Coast this year and a bloated federal budget that both liberals and conservatives bemoan for differing reasons could produce a watershed moment in fiscal management. . . .
Despite last week's setbacks, members of the Porkbusters movement remain optimistic. Hurricane Katrina and its enormous price tags have stirred new debate about fiscal responsibility, they say.
One positive sign, they say, is a proposal that would require massive cuts to offset post-Katrina appropriations. It was introduced by the Republican Study Committee, a conservative caucus that has gained status on the Hill since the GOP leadership was rocked by the indictment of Texas U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay and criticism of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.
Although the Coburn amendment lost, it struck a chord among lawmakers as they face increasing belt-tightening pressure. . . .
And, there is a curious twist to the story: Many residents of Alaska appear to support forfeiting the bridge money for hurricane relief. "This money, a gift from the people of Alaska, will represent more than just material aid; it will be a symbol for our beleaguered democracy," reads a typical letter to the Anchorage Daily News.
Young, who made sure his state was one of the top recipients in the highway bill, was asked by an Alaska reporter what he made of the public support for redirecting the bridge money. "They can kiss my ear! That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard," he replied.
If you needed any more proof that "pork" is about putting money in the hands of fatcat contributors, rather than helping constituents, this would seem to be it.
UPDATE: More on the blogosphere's role, and the Capitol Hill response, at the National Journal's Blogometer.
posted at 08:55 AM by Glenn Reynolds
THE MIERS OPPOSITION is getting organized. It's becoming increasingly obvious that this nomination is a debacle. By now, I think it's even obvious to the White House.
JOHN FUND looks at what went wrong with the Miers nomination and observes, "I believe it is almost inevitable that Ms. Miers will withdraw or be defeated. Should that happen, it is important President Bush understand how it really happened."
THE United Nations withheld some of the most damaging allegations against Syria in its report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, it emerged yesterday. The names of the brother of Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, and other members of his inner circle, were dropped from the report that was sent to the Security Council.
The confidential changes were revealed by an extraordinary computer gaffe because an electronic version distributed by UN officials on Thursday night allowed recipients to track editing changes.
The mistaken release of the unedited report added further support to the published conclusion that Syria was behind Mr Hariri’s assassination in a bomb blast on Valentine’s Day in Beirut. The murder of Mr Hariri touched off an international outcry and hastened Syria’s departure from Lebanon in April after a 29-year pervasive military presence.
Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, described the report’s findings as “deeply troubling”. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said: “It is an unpleasant story which the international community will take very seriously indeed.”
But the furore over the doctoring of the report threatened to overshadow its damaging findings. It raised questions about political interference by Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary- General, who had promised not to make any changes in the report.
I'm guessing that he used the phrase, "You have my word as a diplomat." Retief, where are you when we need you?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Addison Laurent points out that the Retief stories are available free online from Baen Books. I've mentioned the Baen Free Library before; it rocks.
posted at 11:16 PM by Glenn Reynolds
ANOTHER VICTORY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: DESPITE MASSIVE GOVERNMENTAL AND INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT, a gun control referendum has failed in Brazil, and by a rather sizable margin:
More than 64 percent of voters favored keeping arms sales legal, the electoral court said with 75 percent of the expected 122 million votes counted.
Only 35 percent supported the ban even though some 36,000 people were killed by guns last year in Latin America's largest country, where bloodshed and violence are a daily concern for many citizens. [Yeah, it's a Reuters story, so you have to expect asides like that.] Full results were expected by midnight (0200 GMT).
"We didn't lose because Brazilians like guns. We lost because people don't have confidence in the government or the police," said Denis Mizne of anti-violence group Sou da Paz.
This may be true -- but one might say the same about many civil rights, of course. As Dave Kopel suggests, this looks like "a stunning repudiation of the international gun prohibition movement."
The next question is when gun rights activists will stop playing defense against gun-control efforts and start promoting the right to arms as an international human right.
UPDATE: Reader Joe Rega emails:
Hi Glenn, I live in Brazil and believe me, you don't know the half of it. The level of propaganda from the pro-ban side, which included the current government, the Church, the Globo television network (think CBS, ABC and NBC combined) and the arts/intelligentsia crowd was beyond the pale and clearly directed at the less fortunate. In other words, it was presented as a class vote. The margin of victory indicates that Brazilians of all classes voted against this ridiculous referendum. It is a sure sign of the steady but certain maturing of democracy in this country.
posted at 08:06 PM by Glenn Reynolds
INDIAN BLOGGER DESI PUNDIT announces a Blog Quake Day to raise money for Pakistani earthquake relief. It's quite explicitly modeled on the Katrina effort.
Syria continues to arm proxy guerrillas and run spies in Lebanon despite withdrawing its troops from the country in April, an Israeli newspaper quoted an upcoming U.N. report as saying on Sunday.
The report, due out later this week, could compound international pressure building up against Damascus since a U.N. probe last week named senior Syrian officials as suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.
So far, so good.
posted at 06:52 PM by Glenn Reynolds
PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH posts a Serenity review and talks about his new brown coat.
posted at 06:43 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MORE GOOD NEWS FROM "THE QUAGMIRE:" Gateway Pundit has a roundup: "'Iraq the Quagmire' is maturing into 'The MidEast Democracy Leader'! The strongest proof of this it that even the Arab League is backtracking from its previous stand."
OF COURSE, it is not necessary for Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers to have attended an elite law school to be qualified for a seat on the Supreme Court: Neither John Marshall Harlan nor his grandfather (famous for his eloquent dissent in the separate-but-equal decision) did, and Robert Jackson, perhaps the most elegant writer in the court's history, attended no law school at all.
And it certainly is not necessary that she previously have served as a judge on a lower court. Many of the great justices were new to the bench, starting with John Marshall, through Charles Evans Hughes, Earl Warren, and William Rehnquist.
What is indispensable is that she be able to think lucidly and deeply about legal questions and express her thoughts in clear, pointed, understandable prose. A justice without those capabilities -- however generally intelligent, decent, and hardworking -- risks being a calamity for the court, the law, and the country.
Read the whole thing.
posted at 04:29 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MICKEY KAUS has a lengthy post on the New York Times' response to the Miller/Plame business, which he calls "incoherent."
posted at 10:29 AM by Glenn Reynolds
BOLIVIANS MARCH IN THE STREETS FOR FREE TRADE: If only we could get people to turn out for that here.
posted at 10:22 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MY WALL STREET JOURNAL OPED on Harriet Miers' nomination is now available for free over at OpinionJournal.