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April 22, 2006

I'M WATCHING ANYA KAMENETZ ON CNN, going on about how bad Generation X has it. Of course, CNN's tear-jerking vignette was about a woman who ran up huge credit-card bills in college, which isn't terribly heartbreaking. Seems like they're going out of their way to paint a grim economic picture. More on this story here and here.

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

BILL HOBBS is blogging again.

BILL FRIST HAS A "GET TOUGH" COLUMN ON IMMIGRATION that more or less parallels what he said in our podcast interview. I suspect, however, that he'll have trouble delivering legislation that's equally tough.

AN ABSTINENCE-ONLY bait-and-switch from the Bush Administration? Jeez. Not that the "official" version wasn't lame enough to begin with.

A PACK, NOT A HERD: "A passenger who claimed to have a bomb aboard a United Airlines flight was subdued by passengers as the California-bound plane was diverted to Denver International Airport, airport officials said." Nice to see that people haven't gotten slack since 9/11.

UPDATE: In a related development, Mary Katharine Ham reviews the Flight 93 movie.

GATEWAY PUNDIT has a roundup of the latest Iraqi political developments.

AN ARGUMENT FOR INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY: "Mobbing" in academia. Fortunately, the Internet seems to serve as an effective antidote.

TIM WU ON REASONS TO SUPPORT NET NEUTRALITY: "The Network Neutrality debate is really a debate about what are, in effect, crown corporations, AT&T and Verizon, whose plans would distort private competition among internet service providers. Companies like AT&T are infrastructure providers, almost like the roads — and their plans are very much simple tollbooths placed on a utility necessary for the operation of the private market. That’s why I think even libertarians have reason to resist the incursions of a company like AT&T on the internet and its design." Plus, you're likely to see indirect -- and hence less accountable -- government regulation using monopolists as intermediaries. At least, that's how it worked last time we had that kind of arrangement.

TOM MAGUIRE: "The NY Times seems to think the political contributions of the sacked CIA officer are significant, but their investigative skills are apparently a bit rusty, since they are about $7,500 light in their reporting."

UPDATE: Lots of bloggers are jumping on this story: More here, here, and a big roundup here.

I'm pretty sure I know what the talk-radio folks will be talking about next week.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Still more here.

MORE: The coverage seems a bit warped:

If you want a good sense of where the media's mind is in the wake of the Mary McCarthy story, check this out. . It's an AP story about McCarthy's firing. Guess whose picture is at the top? Not McCarthy. Not Dana Priest. Not anybody involved in the story at all, actually. It's a picture of Scooter Libby -- who's not even mentioned in the article.

I won't be surprised if they end up fixing it soon. But it's there now.

So does that mean AP thinks McCarthy is the Plame source? . . .

MORE: A rather negative review of the New York Times' defense of Mary McCarthy. [Defense? Aren't they a neutral news source? -- ed. No.]

STILL MORE: Chester invokes some literary cliches.

MORE ON PORK: "Earmark reform is now a hot topic: The online Porkbusters movement has raised awareness of it; the Senate has passed a version of earmark reform; President Bush even addressed the issue in his State of the Union. Boehner is turning up the pressure at exactly the right time. But he and Speaker Dennis Hastert need to do more if they want to revive this budget. They need to use their power on the House GOP Steering Committee — which hands out committee assignments — as leverage against Lewis: He needs to know that his chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee is at stake."

UPDATE: Much more here.

WELL, DUH: The "culture of corruption" issue turns out to be bipartisan: "Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (W.Va.) stepped down temporarily from his post as ranking Democrat on the House ethics committee, amid accusations that he used his congressional position to funnel money to his own home-state foundations, possibly enriching himself in the process."

Stuff like this just makes a third-party run more likely, I suspect.

HERE'S HOW TO PARTICIPATE ONLINE in today's Milbloggers' Conference in Washington, DC.

UPDATE: LaShawn Barber is liveblogging, and links to some others who are, too.

SCOTT OLIN SCHMIDT is pondering the Pelosi Revolution and seems pretty comfortable with the idea. Republicans beware! On the other hand, The Commissar sketches a darker vision of the future. With ugly t-shirts, to boot.

UPDATE: Questions for Republicans, here.

MORE ON THE CIA LEAKER: I suspect that we'll see some other folks in the intelligence community losing their jobs, and possibly facing prosecution, over leaks as well, before this is all over.

UPDATE: A big roundup here, and a Scrappleface take here. And was the whole thing a sting operation?

April 21, 2006

The Glenn and Helen Show: Michael Totten, Austin Bay, and Jim Dunnigan

austinbook.jpg
We interview blogger Michael Totten, who spent the last six months covering Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq for his blog, with support from his blog readers. He talks about what he saw, how well the reader-support model works, and what he sees in the region's future.

We also talk to StrategyPage publisher Jim Dunnigan, author of numerous books on military matters, and columnist/blogger Austin Bay, who's also the author of The Wrong Side of Brightness, a novel, and who has another novel coming out soon. They talk about China's military and political ambitions, the progress of events in Iraq, and what to do -- and what, apparently, we're already doing rather quietly -- about Iran. (There's also some discussion of the much-touted Iranian "EMP bomb" threat.)

As always, it's a must-listen. You can click right here to listen to it directly, or you can get it via iTunes here.

There's an archive of previous podcasts here, and lo-fi versions for dialup are available here.

Hope you like it. My lovely and talented co-host is, as always, taking comments and suggestions for future episodes.

MORE TO COME, I EXPECT: A CIA employee fired for leaking classified information.

PUBLIUS HAS THE LATEST on political developments within Iraq. I agree that this is probably more positioning before a final resolution -- at least, that's how it looks like to my inexpert eyes. (Though more and more Iraqi politics are looking like faculty politics with the addition of AK-47s and IEDs -- which is not a good thing!)

Also, read this interesting dispatch from National Guardsman Arik Catron.

MY PAPER FOR THE HARVARD BLOG/SCHOLARSHIP CONFERENCE is now online. It's called Libel in the Blogosphere: Some Preliminary Thoughts. It's a preliminary draft, so comments and suggestions are welcome.

Other papers are also available, here.

MICHAEL TOTTEN has posted his final report from Iraq. Don't miss the postscript!

REBECCA MACKINNON: "I am a big fan of Skype in general, and I use it heavily. But the way Skype chooses to treat its Chinese users will ultimately impact the extent to which I as a user can trust Skype anywhere, in general."

Read the whole thing.

SAVETHEINTERNET.COM is a site dedicated to opposing a two-tiered Internet. I'm certainly against that, though I haven't followed the twists and turns of this debate too closely.

UPDATE: A survey of the issue, from Dale Franks.

IN THE MAIL: Matthew Continetti's The K Street Gang : The Rise and Fall of the Republican Machine.

I understand the logic of the "K Street strategy," but I don't see much in the way of actual results in passing Bush's domestic agenda. Not positive results, anyway.

MUCH MORE ON THE HILTZIK STORY, from Howard Kurtz.

UPDATE: More from Cathy Seipp. And Hugh Hewitt is noting the contrast between L.A. Times editor John Carroll's dismissive comments about the lower standards of the blogosphere, and, well, this. And Ace writes: "I'm going to pretend that this is the MOST IMPORTANT STORY OF THE ENTIRE YEAR, as the left did with Gannongate and l'affaire 'The Nech.'"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon is playing Freud with Hiltzik.

MARK TAPSCOTT has been writing editorials for the DC Examiner and posts links here.

Plus, he posts the Carnival of Cars. He's been awfully busy for a guy who's about to have tendon surgery.

BLOG WEEK IN REVIEW: Me, Eric Umansky, Tammy Bruce, and Austin Bay on the events of the week in a new podcast from PJ Media. Please give it a listen -- and, when you're done, fill out the survey.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER:

The Defense Department waves away the protesting generals as just a handful out of more than 8,000 now serving or retired. That seems to me too dismissive. These generals are no doubt correct in asserting that they have spoken to and speak on behalf of some retired and, even more important, some active-duty members of the military.

But that makes the generals' revolt all the more egregious. The civilian leadership of the Pentagon is decided on Election Day, not by the secret whispering of generals.

We've always had discontented officers in every war and in every period of our history. But they rarely coalesce into factions. That happens in places such as Hussein's Iraq, Pinochet's Chile or your run-of-the-mill banana republic. And when it does, outsiders (including the United States) do their best to exploit it, seeking out the dissident factions to either stage a coup or force the government to change policy.

That kind of dissident party within the military is alien to America. Some other retired generals have found it necessary to rise to the defense of the administration. Will the rest of the generals, retired or serving, now have to declare which camp they belong to?

It is precisely this kind of division that our tradition of military deference to democratically elected civilian superiors was meant to prevent. Today it suits the antiwar left to applaud the rupture of that tradition. But it is a disturbing and very dangerous precedent that even the left will one day regret.

"Even?" I'd say "especially." They've been pushing the idea that generals should run things, not their civilian superiors, and (with Kerry) the idea that only a combat veteran should be President. Yes, those are opportunistic slogans of the moment. But they're still slogans. Do they really want that kind of a country?

UPDATE: Reader Rachel Walker emails:

I understand the right to dissent. Heck, it's been my side's rallying cry since it lost to Bush in the Supreme Court in 2000. But the logic of this dissent puts their train of thought far into the (dare I say it) fascist line of behavior, since they are basically calling for the military to control all things.

This is what contrarian arguing can end up doing - leading one into exactly what they did not intend to be. I had to learn the lesson that not every action equals a proper reaction.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Fred Schoeneman disagrees: "The precedent was already set, back when all those retired (and active duty) generals were bitching about 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' And before that it was set by a General on active duty. His name was MacArthur, and he was a pro-war Republican."

MacArthur was fired. And neither he, nor the generals who bitched about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," were treated kindly by the media. Indeed, they were treated as threats to Democracy and the American Way. Why is this different?

MICKEY KAUS: "Are you as suspicious as I am about the current well-publicized crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants?"

April 20, 2006

JONAH GOLDBERG accuses Al Gore of perpetrating a "green scare."

THE NINTH CIRCUIT BLOWS IT ON THE FIRST AMENDMENT, according to this post by Eugene Volokh.

I'VE BEEN COMPLAINING ABOUT AIRPORT SECURITY for a long time. But it seems to still stink:

Increased airport security in the United States has been an expensive disaster that is turning a lot of otherwise law-abiding people into outlaws. But it's worse than that. International travelers have noticed that airport security outside the United States, especially in Europe (the home of twenty million Moslems, and thousands of openly enthusiastic Islamic radicals), is much less grueling. Yet there have been no attempts to "take advantage" of this seemingly lax European airport security to hijack aircraft.

Many frequent flyers in the United States have found, by trial and error, ways to sneak forbidden materials (cigar clippers, knives, lighters) past the gate security. And the airport security people know that all their aggressive searches aren't working. In the last two years, tests of airport security have shown that 60 percent of fake bombs get through. This was largely due to the fact that bombs can be taken apart, the pieces smuggled aboard, and then reassembled for use.

I don't know why the Democrats haven't made a political issue of this, since it's got a ready-made constituency (everyone who travels by air). Are they just unwilling to attack a big, expensive government program?

HARDBALL, HILTZIK AND REUTERS: Lots of bad news for the media today, over at the Media Blog. But NBC's embedded Baghdad blog gets a good review.

Plus, this: "As the famous saying goes, on the internet, no one knows you're a dog. However - they will probably figure it out if you are a horse's ass."

UPDATE: Thoughts on Hiltzik from Patterico. And more here from Captain Ed.

HERE'S A NICE PIECE ON MILITARY BLOGGERS by Bryan Bender in The Boston Globe.

And don't forget this week's Milblog Conference in Washington D.C. on Saturday.

Related item here.

MARK STEYN ON HUGH HEWITT: Talking about the Hiltzik affair, Iran, and more. Transcript and audio here.

MORGAN SPURLOCK'S FILM, SUPER SIZE ME, may have saved McDonald's! It's like what Michael Moore did for George W. Bush . . . .

IRANIANS IN ADHAMIYA? Zeyad has a report. Whether or not Iranians were behind the gunfire, it's interesting that so many Iraqis are saying so.

UPDATE: Though in Zeyad's post someone says that the gunmen "came from Iran" (which seemed to me to go beyond the usual Shia=Iranian line often heard from Sunnis in Iraq), this post from Michael Yon says that the Iranian role is overstated. Of course, he's still enroute back there, so this reflects his experience from earlier in the year. You should read the whole post anyway, though.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Tim Chapman writes:

You’ve got to hand it to some Republican appropriators. Despite swirling political winds that threaten to blow the GOP majority right out of town, they keep on keeping on.

Never mind the fact that the pungent stench from the Abramoff scandal still permeates the corridors of K Street and Capitol Hill. Never mind the fact that this scandal revealed the questionable practice of Congressional earmarking run amok. And never mind that it was only months ago that the Senate debate over the poster child of bad earmarking – the Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere – ignited a firestorm of criticism over the way Congress spends American tax dollars.

No, these considerations are a mere after thought – an annoyance – to many congressional appropriators who remain intent on bringing home the bacon, no matter what the cost. . . .

Now, the “emergency” spending issue is set to come before the Senate. Next week, when the Senate returns from its Easter recess, the chamber will debate an emergency supplemental bill. Aside from the above mentioned Rail Road to Nowhere, the supplemental contains over $82 million in “emergency” funds for disasters that happened prior to 2005 and going back all the way to 1999.

Nowhere in the text of the bill or in any committee reports are the projects that this money would fund listed. Instead, curious parties are referred to a table maintained by the Federal Highways Administration that lists the projects.

So now, not only are appropriators content to designate questionable projects as “emergency” funding, but they do so without even listing where the money will go in the text of the legislation.

So much for transparency.

Plus there's this, from the Christian Science Monitor:

Remember Alaska's "bridge to nowhere"? It's about to be topped by what critics call Mississippi's "railroad to nowhere," which is quickly becoming the poster child for excessive spending by the Republican-controlled Congress.

The project, which was added to a $106.5 billion emergency defense spending bill in the Senate, would relocate a Gulf Coast rail line inland, to higher ground. Never mind that the hurricane-battered line was just repaired at a cost of at least $250 million. Or that at $700 million, the project championed by Mississippi's two US senators is being called the largest "earmark" ever.

The controversy points to a deepening split in the GOP over whether to rein in spending in the face of wartime commitments and record deficits - and whether failing to do so threatens their majority in this fall's midterm elections.

Yes they should -- and yes, it does.

By the way, Trent Lott's railroad to nowhere now has a dedicated website. I don't think he'll like that.

Much more at the Heritage Policy Weblog.

A SMALL BUT PLEASANT CIVIL RIGHTS VICTORY: "Under pressure from the National Rifle Association, police this week began returning guns confiscated after Hurricane Katrina."

PLAME UPDATE: "Robert Novak said Wednesday that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald knows who outed a CIA agent to the Chicago Sun-Times columnist but hasn't acted on the information because Novak's source committed no crime."

UPDATE: Tom Maguire already knew this.

HERE'S A REPORT that China censored CNN's coverage of the Falun Gong protester.

FRAN O'BRIEN'S UPDATE: Scott Koenig is looking for a change of venue.

ANN ALTHOUSE: "I've had spontaneous discussions with women on the precise subject: Larry David is sexy."

So what about An Army of Larry Davids, then?

MAYOR BLOOMBERG GETS RESULTS:

Well I marched my unregistered guns out and gave them a good talking to. It seems that most of them knew they should not go out after dark or let themselves be found on the street.

Except my Mossberg. He smelled of cheap booze and refused to look me in the eye. His "Whatever dude!" comments started to get on my nerves.

I'm so worried he will end up in a life of crime and other sorry deeds. What is a dad to do?

I'm sure Mayor Bloomberg will have additional helpful advice.

HEH: "Tax Court: Couple Must Report as Income $25k Paid by Wife's Paramour." Should have followed the blackmailee's tax advice!

FROM MEDIA TO "WE-DIA" -- some interesting developments.

ACCORDING TO THE FOLKS AT AMAZON, An Army of Davids has some strange bedfellows:

What do customers ultimately buy after viewing items like this?
49% buy the item featured on this page:An Army of Davids : How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths by Glenn Reynolds $15.74

36% buy The Ghost Brigades (Sci Fi Essential Books) by John Scalzi $15.57

4% buy How to Be a Domestic Goddess : Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking by Nigella Lawson $12.97

3% buy Dog Days by Ana Marie Cox $16.29

2% buy Size Matters : How Big Government Puts the Squeeze on America's Families, Finances, and Freedom by Joel Miller $14.94

Er, shelf-fellows?

UPDATE: Various readers email that they wouldn't mind "sharing a shelf" with Nigella Lawson. What, no Joel Miller fans out there?

INTERESTING STUFF ON LEGAL BLOGS at 3L Epiphany, including a list of law review articles citing blogs and one of courts citing blogs.

SOME INTERESTING POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN IRAQ: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.

DANIEL DREZNER HAS AN OPEN THREAD ON IRAN: I'm not sure what to do. I tend to agree with Jim Dunnigan that military action right now would be a mistake, and that we should be working for regime change, and supporting anti-Mullah activities in Iran. (Perhaps we are, but I don't see much sign of it). I think some of the fears are overstated -- I've heard people talk about the Iranians developing an EMP weapon, but I think they're a long way from that. I think you need a thermonuclear (hydrogen), not simply a nuclear weapon to get a crippling EMP pulse (this says that you need at least a megaton device) and that's much harder than a simple atomic bomb. On the other hand, claims that the U.S. can't do anything militarily to Iran are silly -- there are lots of things we could do, I'm just not convinced they're a good idea.

Congressional Democrats aren't offering many suggestions, though. (Via Billmon, who hasn't stopped blogging yet!) I don't really blame them for that -- I don't have any good ones myself -- but I do hope that their silence now will be remembered when they pop up to criticize whatever the Administration does, or doesn't, do.

We had Jim Dunnigan and Austin Bay talking about Iranian nukes and what to do in this podcast a few weeks back. We're going to try to get them on again soon.

UPDATE: This is interesting:

Recent developments regarding the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapons program have struck a nerve in India. As a result, India has greatly increased its intelligence efforts directed against Iran, and is looking for ways to cooperate with the United States and the European Union. This at the same time India is developing economic and military deals with Iran. The commercial and military people in Iran, that India works with, seem sane enough. But the senior Iranian officials, calling for the destruction of Israel, death to America and converting everyone on the planet to Islam, are worrisome. To put it mildly. So the Indians are taking a close look at their neighbor Iran, with the aid of anyone who will help.

Good.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts here.

BLOGGER BURNOUT: "Why I shut down my blog." Plus an interview with Billmon, who's feeling tired, too. I notice, though, that most people who burn out on blogging wind up coming back to it.

IMMIGRATION GROUPS are pulling away from ANSWER. That seems wise to me.

THIS WEEK SAW the 25th anniversary of The Boomer Bible.

HITCHENS ON HEWITT: Transcript and audio here.

MICHAEL SILENCE of the Knoxville News-Sentinel has more on the Bill Hobbs story.

WITH HU JINTAO VISITING THE WHITE HOUSE, I hope somebody leaves a copy of today's Washington Post lying around open to this oped by Rebecca MacKinnon:

Another victim of Chinese state kidnapping -- with whom I am personally connected -- is Wu Hao, an independent filmmaker, blogger and U.S. permanent resident. It is unclear why state agents abducted him on Feb. 22, but his friends think it may be related to his work on a documentary about China's underground Christians. He continues to be held -- this is the 58th day of his detention -- despite the fact that Chinese law limits the maximum detention without charge to 37 days.

About a month before his abduction, Hao (his first name) also took up the part-time role of Northeast Asia editor for an international bloggers' network that I co-founded, Global Voices Online ( http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/ ). He was excited about introducing the perspectives of Chinese bloggers to an English-speaking audience. He also kept an English-language blog at http://beijingorbust.blogspot.com/ . While his writings were considerably more honest and edgy than those in the China Daily, he was by no means a dissident and often defended his government against Western criticism.

Hao turned 34 this week. He personifies a generation of urban Chinese who have flourished thanks to the Communist Party's embrace of market-style capitalism and greater cultural openness. He got his MBA from the University of Michigan and worked for EarthLink before returning to China to pursue his dream of becoming a documentary filmmaker. He and his sister, Nina Wu, who works in finance and lives a comfortable middle-class life in Shanghai, have enjoyed freedoms of expression, travel, lifestyle and career choice that their parents could never have dreamed of. They are proof of how U.S. economic engagement with China has been overwhelmingly good for many Chinese.

Problem is, the Chinese Dream can be shattered quickly if you step over a line that is not clearly drawn -- a line that is kept deliberately vague and that shifts frequently with the political tides. Those who were told by the Chinese media that they have constitutional and legal rights are painfully disabused of such fantasies when they seek to shed light on social and religious issues the state prefers to keep in the dark. . . . But we have a serious problem that won't go away: How can Americans respect or trust a regime that kidnaps our friends?

The Chinese Embassy's website is here.

UPDATE: At least Bush raised the subject:

As the relationship between our two nations grows and matures, we can be candid about our disagreements. I'll continue to discuss with President Hu the importance of respecting human rights and freedoms of the Chinese people. China has become successful because the Chinese people are experience the freedom to buy, and to sell, and to produce -- and China can grow even more successful by allowing the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship.

Indeed.

THE AGE-ADJUSTED DEATH RATE in America is plummeting, and life expectancies are at a record.

VIA RANDY NEAL a very interesting report on online journalism and the future of newspapers.

HOWARD BASHMAN'S "How Appealing" blog is now hosted by Law.com. Its new URL is http://howappealing.law.com/.

SOCK PUPPETS at the L.A. Times?

UPDATE: More here.

THOMAS DOLBY reports on Freakonomics in action.

April 19, 2006

JEFF JARVIS: What's wrong with the Pulitzers.

RAND SIMBERG: I didn't leave the Libertarians. The Libertarians left me.

AN "ATTRACTIVE" DEMOCRAT for 2008.

BAD NEWS at Iraq the Model.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON HAS MORE on the New York Times shareholder revolt.

YEAH, BLOGGING'S BEEN LIGHT TODAY -- I've been busy with family and work stuff. Sorry.

AT THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (free link), a debate on whether bloggers can make money.

THE MAN WHO WAS MISTAKEN FOR A VAGINA: Sounds like an Oliver Sacks book, but no.

RUMSFELD-O-RAMA: Max Boot writes:

As it happens, I agree with their advice. As I first said on this page two years ago, I too think that Rumsfeld should go. But I am nevertheless troubled by the Revolt of the Generals, which calls into question civilian control of the armed forces. In our system, defense secretaries are supposed to fire generals, not vice versa.

The retired generals, who claim to speak for their active-duty brethren, premise their uprising on two complaints. First, many (though not all) say we should not have gone into Iraq in the first place. Former Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold calls it "the unnecessary war," and former Gen. Anthony Zinni claims that "containment worked remarkably well."

That is a highly questionable judgment, and one that is not for generals to make. They are experts in how to wage war, not when to wage it. If we had listened to their advice, we would not have gone into Kuwait or Bosnia or Kosovo.

Read the whole thing, which is not very encouraging for reasons that have little to do with Rumsfeld or the generals. Ralph Peters, on the other hand, is defending the generals: "If serving officers can't criticize public figures, neither should they offer endorsements. Secretary Rumsfeld notoriously cracks down on internal dissent, but he hasn't chided Gen. Pace for his on-camera flattery. If you're looking for the politicization of the officer corps, look no further." There's much more.

Richard Brookhiser, meanwhile, is defending Rumsfeld:

In the soft days before 9/11, Mr. Rumsfeld came to the Pentagon intent on transformation—making the military more high-tech, breaking down the barriers to inter-service cooperation. This is an old fight, for the Pentagon, like any corporation, must evolve to live; if it doesn’t, it becomes General Motors. Tail-kickers like Mr. Rumsfeld naturally acquire enemies, for reasons bad (people don’t like rocking the boat) and good (maybe the boat sails well as it is).

The transformed military toppled the Taliban government in quick time, using Special Forces on horseback and pilotless drones. Point to Mr. Rumsfeld. In Iraq, Baghdad fell in three weeks, but the war against the insurgency has lasted three years. Point to his critics? Mr. Rumsfeld’s great failing, in their eyes, was not sending in enough troops. If we had had more boots on the ground, so the indictment runs, the insurgency either would not have blossomed or could have been crushed. But this too is an issue with two sides. More boots can mean more firepower. But they can also mean more targets. More boots would also have meant a draft, which would mean more neophyte troops.

Our goal was always not to add Iraq to the American Raj, but to turn the country over to a stable, non-monstrous government. This required, first, forming such a government, and second, seeing that it could defend itself.

Read the whole thing here, too.

UPDATE: A reader sends this defense of Rumsfeld:

The only thing that matters to me is that the generals--be they retired or active, Iraq veterans or not--claiming that more troops in Iraq would solve all the problems are dead wrong. Rumsfeld is right. More troops would have inflamed Islamic passions, created a disincentive among the Iraqi Security Forces to improve, cost the U.S. much more money, and--most importantly--cost us many more casualties.

Rumsfeld knew this, and he knew it by studying the last time a great western power fought a protracted Islamic insurgency, which was the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962).

The French had 500,000 troops in Algeria, which at that time had a population of 9 million. If you scale the troop-to-citizen ratio up to match Iraq's population, that would mean we'd need 1.5 million troops in Iraq. We currently have 138,000.

The French lost 18,000 troops killed over an eight-year period, or 2250 a year. Again, if you scale it up to Iraq ratios, it would be 6750 a year. We're losing about 700 a year, and that figure is falling.

Between 350,000 and 1.5 million Algerians were killed. To scale those figures up to Iraq, multiply them by three. So far in Iraq, about 32,000 have died, including terrorists.

The French used a policy of collective punishment in Algeria: If a village harbored insurgents, the village was bombed from the air or hit with artillery strikes. The French also tortured suspects to death, rounded people up by the thousands and shot them without trial, and put about 2 million in concentration camps. And they still lost the war.

With less than 10% of the troops (proportionally) that France had in Algeria, and with a policy not of conquest but of partnership, look what we've accomplished. More importantly, look at the slaughter we've avoided.

Something to thank Rumsfeld--not the generals--for.

I've been skeptical of the "more boots on the ground" argument myself, but I'm a law professor, not a general. Or a Secretary of Defense.

GRAND ROUNDS is up! So is the Carnival of the Feminists and the Carnival of Education. More carnivals at BlogCarnival.com.

HEART DISEASE: More common in women, and more often misdiagnosed, than most people realize according to this report in the New York Times.

We had a podcast on this a while back.

AN ANTI-TERRORISM VICTORY for the Justice Department:

Seven Los Angeles area residents indicted on accusations of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a terror organization lost a federal court challenge in a bid to prove their innocence.

The seven wanted to challenge a determination by the State Department that a group they funded was a terror organization.

The seven allegedly provided money to the Mujahedin-e Khalq, which "participated in various terrorist activities against the Iranian regime" and "carried out terrorist activities with the support of Saddam Hussein's regime," according to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The San Francisco-based appeals court in 2004 first ruled against the seven and on Monday let the decision stand without a rehearing.

I'd be interested in seeing a list of U.S. terror convictions since 9/11. I haven't seen anything like that lately.

BAD TIMING for Michael Wolff. Wolff's splashy anti-McClellan piece is now kind of obsolete, as McClellan steps down.

People are already suggesting replacements.

LAWPROF ALAN HIRSCH has a website on false confessions. These happen more often than you might think, especially where the defendants are young or not very bright.

WHEN HU JINTAO COMES TO AMERICA, I hope that various media folks covering the visit will pay a little attention to the plight of imprisoned Chinese blogger Hao Wu.

MY TCS DAILY COLUMN IS UP: "Bionic humanity is coming, not with the bang of a huge, secret government program of the Steve Austin variety, but on the little cat-feet of a collection of new developments."

IT WAS INEVITABLE, I GUESS: U.S. Generals Call For Resignation of Media Leaders.

UPDATE: Related post here.

WHAT WOULD ROBERT HEINLEIN DO? Cory Doctorow reviews John Varley's Red Lightning and calls it "The book Robert Heinlein would have written about GW Bush's America."

Tensor, on the other hand, looks at Heinlein's actual wartime correspondence and thinks Doctorow is wrong: "I'm not sure whether the law Heinlein wrote about is still on the books (I hope not), and my purpose is not to accuse Doctorow of somehow damaging the morale of active-duty military personnel. I mean only to point out that Heinlein circa 1942 seemed perfectly comfortable with a law 'specifically intended...to restrict the freedom of speech of civilians in wartime,' a law far more directly restrictive of civil liberties than any part of the Patriot Act. What's more, Heinlein apparently supported this law strongly enough to admonish a friend in private correspondence not to break it."

He concludes: "Trying to posthumously enlist Heinlein (or any dead author for that matter) in some modern political cause strikes me as a dubious enterprise."

I think that's right, though it's often an almost irresistibly tempting one. At any rate, I've read Red Lightning, and regardless of the Bush point (which is strained, but at least somewhat plausible) it is an excellent Heinlein-style junior novel, the sort of "entry-level science fiction" that John Scalzi is always calling for more of.

MR. HU, TEAR DOWN THIS FIREWALL:

The visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to the United States this week is an ideal moment for a message to be delivered to the Chinese leadership class - that if the Chinese nation wishes to take its place in the international community, it must allow the Chinese people to participate in the global internet community. Currently the Chinese government is trying to operate a national intranet, monitoring and filtering the links between China and the rest of the world with what has been dubbed the "Great Firewall of China", and also monitoring internal content with a force of 30,000 thought-police.

Excellent point.

April 18, 2006

CARTOON JIHAD, meet cash flow jihad.

MERYL YOURISH on Palestinian bombs:

Shrapnel is what killed Phillip Balhasan, who stayed alive long enough to realize his children had survived, and to hug them tightly before he collapsed.

But even this is not enough for the terrorists. They also soak the shrapnel in rat poison, because it causes hemorrhaging — victims may bleed to death before they can get to the hospital.

Remember all of this, when you hear the world tell Israel to “use restraint” in responding to this attack. Remember all of this, when you read about the innocent metal shop owners who insist their shops were only making nails and screws for construction purposes.

Remember all of this, when Israel is the nation that is demonized by the blind, hateful people who wear checked kaffiyehs at anti-war protests, and call Israel an “apartheid state” for building a separation barrier — to keep out the monsters who would use bombs like I have just described.

Remember this, when you look at the pictures of the results of the bombing, and notice the thousands of dents in the metal surrounding the bombing area — the mark of the ball-bearings and other metal shrapnel.

And remember that these are the people that Sami Al-Arian has admitted supporting.

UPDATE: There's a discussion in the comments as to whether the rat poison claim is true. This Slate article says it's not.

WHEN MINDLESS SNARK SUBSTITUTES FOR THOUGHT: Jesse Walker quotes something I wrote in 1999 about how "wars initiated essentially on presidential whim" would have horrified the Framers, and it's supposed, I guess, to indicate some change in my views.

Er, except that war on Al Qaeda, and the invasion of Iraq, were explicitly authorized by Congress, in declarations of war and everything. After, you know, an actual attack on the United States.

A pretty lame effort on Jesse's part -- really, a cheap shot -- but typical of what passes for antiwar analysis, even among libertarians today, I'm afraid. As are the comments that follow. Jeez.

UPDATE: Kjell Hagen emails:

I understand the Kosovo military action in 1999 was not so popular in the US, I don´t know what you thought about it. However, those 35 days of bombing from the air saved a people, the Kosovo Albanians. Kosovo would have been Darfur or Rwanda without this military action. Although it is a UN-chaos today, it is a lot better than the alternative. USA and NATO did the right thing, and the Kosovo Albanians are very grateful for it.

And I supported that bombing, though I had doubts as to whether it would work. (It was Wesley Clark, not me, who called it illegal.) I did -- and do -- favor getting Congressional declarations of war whenever possible, though one reason I have done so, that it would discourage sniping later in the conflict by forcing people to go on the record, has been only imperfectly borne out by recent events.

I love the term "UN-chaos," too, as its meaning is, alas, immediately clear. Meanwhile, reader B. de Galvez emails:

Speaking of old quotes, it never hurts to be reminded of the railing about Clinton's "genocide", claiming sanctions killed 1.5 million Iraqis (500,000 to 700,000 of them little tykes).

Indymedia produced this video at the time of the 2000 Democratic Convention. The Iraq section starts at about 36:36.

Link

As so many repeatedly have asked, why aren't these people rejoicing over the countless lives that have been spared by Saddam's involuntary retirement?

The video wouldn't play for me, but the point certainly holds.

MORE: Walker responds that I have so changed my views. Er, no. He also says that the Congressional declarations were not declarations of war. Actually, they were. But even if one were to accept what I think is his argument -- that they were authorizations to use military force against a named enemy, but not technically declarations of war -- they surely undercut any claim that we went to war on President Bush's "whim."

I'm not really sure what point Walker was trying to make in his post anyway. That -- as some of his commenters libellously suggest -- I'm on the White House payroll? (Er, no again). That I hated Clinton back then, but love Bush now? No, in fact I co-wrote a book generally regarded as a Clinton defense, though I was pretty disappointed in him by the end. But I didn't let my disappointment with Clinton turn into a hatred of all his policies, the way that some people seem to have let their dislike of Bush turn into a belief that all of Bush's policies -- and anyone who defends any of them -- have become evil. Indeed, regular readers of InstaPundit will see that my references to Bush and the Republicans are not exactly uniformly positive. (And I have managed to praise Clinton when I thought he deserved it, too.) One would think that libertarians, as Walker claims to be, would be less anxious to divide the world up into teams, but that seems not to be the case, alas.

And, yes, rather than responding to this I probably should have read the post below again, and taken it to heart. . . .

MORE STILL: A reader emails that the Iraq and Al Qaeda declarations were "informal" rather than "formal" declarations of war. This distinction, which has to do with the (fictional) notion that we don't go to war since the U.N. Charter was adopted, isn't really relevant for U.S. constitutional law. If you have an identified enemy, a casus belli, and an authorization for the President to go after them with the military, you've got a declaration of war. The Hamdan opinion responds to the claim of no formal declaration in essentially these terms. (And, lest I be accused of changing my views on this topic, I remember having this very discussion with John Hart Ely back when we were both visiting professors at U.Va, over ten years ago. As I recall, he agreed.)

Since people seem interested, click "read more" for an excerpt from an article by Ely with which I was, and am, in substantial agreement. It's "KUWAIT, THE CONSTITUTION, AND THE COURTS: TWO CHEERS FOR JUDGE GREENE," 8 Constitutional Commentary 1, 1991. But here's the gist:

Judge Harold Greene's decision in Dellums et al. v. Bush was plainly right in its central proposition, that (except in the event of a "sudden attack" upon the United States) the Constitution places unambiguously in Congress the authority to decide whether the nation goes to war. (Once war is congressionally authorized--note that there has never been a requirement that such authorization actually be labeled a "declaration of war," only that it be clear--authority to manage it then passes to the President in his role as "Commander in Chief.")

(emphasis added) Click "read more" for a couple of other bits, but it should be clear that Walker is without basis saying that the notion that the Iraq and Al Qaeda resolutions were declarations of war is bizarre. (Downside to my position: I agree with Joe Biden -- upside, I agree not only with Ely but with Eugene Volokh. I hope Walker's writings on pirate radio are better researched.)

Some comments here and here.

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WHY READING NASTY BLOG COMMENTS (and blogs) can be bad for you.

EUROPE AND TERRORISM: Victor Davis Hanson predicted that Europe would crack down quietly, and now it's coming true:

Four and a half years after the Sept. 11 attacks, and after deadly bombings in Madrid and London since then, the troubled debate within Western democracies over how to weigh security against basic freedoms has only grown and spread, as the legal tools for dealing with terrorism suspects multiply.

The clashing of priorities has been clear in the United States, in the domestic debates preceding the renewal of the Patriot Act, and in the international uproar over prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib and the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay.

But many European governments, including some that had criticized the United States for its antiterrorism measures, have been extending their own surveillance and prosecution powers. Officials, lawyers and human rights experts say that Europe, too, is experiencing a slow erosion of civil liberties as governments increasingly put the prevention of possible terrorist actions ahead of concerns to protect the rights of people suspected, but not convicted, of a crime.

As I've suggested before, perhaps Bush should mollify his critics by promising to take a "more European" approach.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Blogger LawHawk offers a defense of Trent Lott's railroad-to-nowhere project. I'm not sure I'm convinced, but given that I've just come to dislike Trent Lott in general, I feel that I should go out of my way to link suggestions that I'm wrong about this project.

What do you think?

UPDATE: Mark Hessey emails: "Hmm, before I clicked thru I was skeptical as well, but I came away thinking LawHawk makes a pretty good argument." Reader Christian Lane thinks that LawHawk's argument underscores Trent Lott's problems:

I think what this shows is that Trent Lott has become an ineffective advocate for his constituents' needs. The relocation of the railway may be a good idea or even necessary, but Mr. Lott's support for it obscures the merits. If his first priority were serving the needs of the citizens of Mississippi, he would either (i) take a strong stand against pork, including specific pork for Mississippi, to (hopefully) demonstrate that he is against pork, but the railway project isn't pork or (ii) step aside. I doubt that will happen and I think the failure to do so implies that Mr. Lott's real motivations as a Senator are not necessarily in line with the needs of the citizens of Mississippi.

Ouch!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Brent Ramsey emails:

Have to give you some input on the CSX railroad project supported by Senators Lott and Cochran. I lived in Long Beach, MS for 23 years. That project has been on the books at least that long and longer. The way that railway crosses the towns of Ocean Springs, Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, and Pass Christian with literally dozens of road crossing many of which have no physical barriers, just a warning sign for a railroad crossing kills dozens of Mississipians each year. It is a worthwhile project to protect lives and to improve rail transportation across the MS gulf coast. I retired and left MS in 2002 and now live in western NC so I have no vested interest just an opinion that it is a worthwhile project and really is not correctly described as pork.

Hmm. Well, it may be worthwhile, though that still leaves open the question of whether federal taxpayers should pay for it. And, even if that's true, a project that Mississippi has been trying to get for so long shouldn't be funded as Katrina relief, much less snuck into a war appropriations bill. It should stand, or fall, on its own merits. One characteristic of "pork" is that it avoids the normal budgetary scrutiny. That seems to be what Lott has been trying to do here.

Mississippi reader Lisa (last name withheld on request) writes:

If I did not know the local history of this project, I might think differently than I do. I just think it stinks to use the worst disaster in American history to get funding for a local pet project, when so many people are still so devastated.

I live on the Ms. Gulf Coast . . . Gulfport has wanted a new east west corridor for decades and could not come up with the money to fund it.

Relocating the CSX railroad and using the right of way for a new road will not take all of the traffic off of Hwy 90, the casino's are located there.

So Hwy 90 will still be a vital road, you are just adding another road to be rebuilt in case of another Katrina.

And I could mention that the railroad acted as a dam preventing the devastating storm surge from going even further inland.

The project has enough merit that Gulfport has been looking into it for years. They have just come up with a clever way for you (the federal taxpayers) to pay for it.

Sounds like pork to me.

Me too.

MICHAEL FUMENTO is blogging from Iraq.

A SHAREHOLDERS' REVOLT at The New York Times:

That seems at least as much of a revolt as six retired generals calling for Rumsfeld's resignation, no? Except that Morgan Stanley is still on active duty. It's a mutiny! ... P.S.: Morgan Stanley noted that "[D]espite significant underperformance, management's total compensation is substantial and has increased considerably over this period."

Heh.

UPDATE: Here's much more on the subject from corporate-governance expert Professor Bainbridge, who observes in passing: "Sulzberger's management has not been particularly beneficial for the company's other shareholders."

And another reader thinks it's gutsy of Morgan Stanley to go public, since it's at risk for negative coverage from the Times. Surely the NYT wouldn't stoop to something like that.

IGNORE BLOGGERS AT YOUR PERIL: That's the latest research! (Via Dan Riehl).

THE COUNTERTERRORISM BLOG IS MERGING WITH BILL ROGGIO'S -- and Roggio is heading to Afghanistan as an embedded blogger.

MICHAEL YON'S FRONTLINE FORUM is "a place for those deployed in harm's way to tell real stories about the ground situation."

I'M ALL FOR ROBUST DEBATE, but calling a Democratic career civil servant a child molester just to score political points seems beyond the pale.

SAMI AL-ARIAN PLEADS GUILTY:

When Sami Al-Arian denied raising funds for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, he now says he was lying.

The former University of South Florida professor has portrayed himself as a martyr to free speech, a victim of anti-Muslim sentiment and the nation's war on terrorism. He maintained he supported only peaceful solutions to the problems in the Middle East.

But in court papers unsealed Monday, Al-Arian admitted he raised money for the Islamic Jihad and conspired to hide the identities of other members of the terrorist organization, including his brother-in-law, Mazen Al-Najjar. He also admitted knowing "that the PIJ achieved its objectives by, among other means, acts of violence."

Read the whole thing.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Trent Lott isn't giving up:

Mississippi's two U.S. senators included $700 million in an emergency war spending bill to relocate a Gulf Coast rail line that has already been rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina at a cost of at least $250 million.

Republican Sens. Trent Lott and Thad Cochran, who have the backing of their state's economic development agencies and tourism industry, say the CSX freight line must be moved to save it from the next hurricane and to protect Mississippi's growing coastal population from rail accidents. But critics of the measure call it a gift to coastal developers and the casino industry that would be paid for with money carved out of tight Katrina relief funds and piggybacked onto funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It is ludicrous for the Senate to spend $700 million to destroy and relocate a rail line that is in perfect working order, particularly when it recently underwent a $250 million repair," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who is planning to challenge the funding when the $106.5 billion war spending bill reaches the Senate floor. "American taxpayers are generous and are happy to restore damaged property, but it is wrong for senators to turn this tragedy into a giveaway for economic developers."

You can find a defense of Lott's plan -- which I don't find terribly convincing, but your results may vary -- here.

IN THE MAIL: Andrew Napolitano's new book, The Constitution in Exile : How the Federal Government Has Seized Power by Rewriting the Supreme Law of the Land. It should probably be read together with Joel Miller's Size Matters.

The good news -- as this piece on responses to the Kelo case demonstrates -- is that liberty lost isn't gone forever, if people care. Just think how much could have been accomplished, though, if the GOP Congress had actually cared about limiting government.

DON'T MISS THIS SATURDAY'S Milbloggers Conference in Washington, D.C.

BAD NEWS FOR THE G.O.P.: Republican voters are coming to appreciate the virtues of divided government.

BILL HOBBS UPDATE: The blowback continues -- see the comments to this post by Michael Silence of the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

But in a comment to this post Hobbs observes:

I think we should all just let it go and move on. I'm going to be fine. I already had plenty of consulting work, and more is coming in. This incident hasn't hurt me.

Belmont was a great place to work, I did some amazing work there that will make the resume look great, and the university was gracious at the end. . . .

If I had been a PR advisor telling Belmont what to do in this situation, rather than the employee involved, I would have told them to part ways with the employee.

I also would have told them that doing so would likely spark severe blowback in the blogosphere.

As it did.

UPDATE: To Belmont University's undoubted delight, the story has made Inside Higher Education:

To date, several American colleges — among them Century College of Minnesota, New York University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — have found themselves caught up in controversies over the Danish cartoons and how to respond to them, but no one besides Hobbs has lost a job.

Hobbs announced his resignation from Belmont in a posting on another blog in which he said that his departure was a “mutual” decision and praised the university. But many commenters there and elsewhere criticized the university for not sticking up for Hobbs. His departure from Belmont is being called McCarthyite, “a travesty of justice,” and evidence that “the barbarians are truly at the gate.” (Few of the comments have noted that Hobbs worked in public relations at Belmont.)

Via e-mail, Hobbs declined to comment, but said that this online account — which questioned how his removal was consistent with Belmont’s values — was accurate.

Jason Rogers, vice president for administration and university counsel at Belmont, said that it was university policy not to discuss personnel matters and that he could say little more than that Hobbs was no longer employed there.

Asked about criticism that the university’s handling of the situation conflicted with free expression, Rogers said: “The university is committed to freedom of expression. This particular situation isn’t about freedom of expression. It’s about a personnel matter.”

Uh huh.

MORE: Bill Quick: "How stupid can you get? They need a good PR guy in the worst way. Oh, wait a minute. They fired him."

MICKEY KAUS TRIES TO EXPLAIN why I should care about the Burkle affair. (Video here).

EUGENE VOLOKH has the latest in the Ohio State University harassment debacle. The University has done the right thing; if I were the librarian, however, I'd consider suing the faculty members who made the obviously-ridiculous complaint. Furthermore, if I were their colleagues I'd be rather unhappy with them for embarrassing the entire University with a silly (and thuggish) stunt.

Did the American Library Association ever get involved, defending the ability of librarians to make recommendations without fear of intimidation? Just wondering.

UPDATE: Apparently not. Librarian-reader Maureen Lynch emails:

I'm a Librarian & a former member of the American Library Association. Stress FORMER. Sadly, they are an extremely political organization (guess which way they lean?) who rarely, if ever, side with Librarians who are perceived as conservative. This is an organization that has had Molly Ivins speak as a keynote speaker, which should tell you something about their leanings. Considering the ALA has a large Gay specialty group , there's no way they would take his side. I used to attend their annual meetings until I got tired of their perennial Republican- & business-bashing & long ago dropped my membership. Because so many of us who are corporate Librarians & tired of ALA's nonsense have left the organization, it is dominated by hate-filled lefties with an agenda.

The politicization of professional associations over the past few decades has done real harm. Sounds like this is another example.

ARMY OF DAVIDS UPDATE: It's a podcast review of the book from Newt Gingrich. He and Joe Trippi agree on something! Actually, I suspect they agree on quite a few things.

MILBLOGWIRE will bring the best from military bloggers around the world.

JUDITH APTER KLINGHOFFER:

To hear two and three star generals whine that Rumsfeld is too intimidating causes one to ask who else can so easily intimidate them? Are we talking perhaps of the insurgents, Ahmadinejad, Assad Fils, the North Korean or China? Imagine being a soldier who has served under the command of so easily intimidated a general. Their retired generals' contention that they are speaking for their active duty colleagues merely makes matters worse.

On This Week Joe Klein, whom no one can accuse of being a Bush fan, said that Bush repeatedly asked the generals in Iraq if they had everything they needed and they repeatedly assured him they did. But when Jerry Bremer asked them what they would do with an additional division, they said, we'd clear Baghdad. Excuse me? The American army in Iraq does not have a single general with enough guts to respond to the president's question with "depends on what you want us to do?"

Sorry, guys, civil control of the military is not our problem. Gutless military leadership is.

Ouch. And this, mind you, is from someone who's wanted Rumsfeld out for months.

UPDATE: Likewise from the Washington Post editorial page:

It threatens the essential democratic principle of military subordination to civilian control -- the more so because a couple of the officers claim they are speaking for some still on active duty. Anyone who protested the pushback of uniformed military against President Bill Clinton's attempt to allow gays to serve ought to also object to generals who criticize the decisions of a president and his defense secretary in wartime. If they are successful in forcing Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation, they will set an ugly precedent. Will future defense secretaries have to worry about potential rebellions by their brass, and will they start to choose commanders according to calculations of political loyalty?

If things were so bad before, they should have resigned in protest instead of complaining publicly once they were safely in retirement and, in some cases, had books to promote.

UPDATE: Ouch. Zinni is fact-checked.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Greg Djerejian -- whose hostility toward Rumsfeld is intense these days -- thinks I'm unfair to the generals by linking this. Yes, they've served in combat. But as JFK noted in Profiles in Courage, physical courage is far more common than political courage, and it is their political courage that is in question here.

I keep hearing people say that Rumsfeld must go, but the argument about what, exactly, we should be doing instead is less clear, and the dump-Rumsfeld movement seems to me to be more about internal Pentagon politics, and about giving former war supporters political cover for changing their views, than about Rumsfeld himself. I'm entirely open to hearing suggestions about what we should be doing differently, but when those suggestions always seem to turn into Bush-bashing, or in this case proxy-Bush-bashing, I tend to tune out.

Meanwhile there's an interesting back-and-forth on the subject between Prof. Bainbridge and his commenters here.

MORE: I guess I'd also like to hear why I should listen to those retired generals instead of these:

But the extraordinary parade of generals who have stepped forward to defend Mr. Rumsfeld includes a bevy of retired officers, including Gen. Richard B. Myers of the Air Force, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Gen. Tommy R. Franks of the Army, who commanded American troops in the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

There are a lot of generals out there, after all.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Here's a defense of Trent Lott's "railroad to nowhere."

TWO DUKE LACROSSE PLAYERS were arrested before 5 am this morning. (Why so early?) LaShawn Barber has questions.

UPDATE: Ed Cone offers the names of the players, and a caution:

Let me remind you, dear reader, even now: You don't know what happened. You didn't know before the DNA test, or after. You didn't know when sentiment was strong against the players, or when the backlash flowed against the woman. Your opinion about the facts is not relevant. You don't know.

Good point -- though if we're not supposed to form opinions, why is this getting so much coverage?

April 17, 2006

JUDAS: A saint for our season.

FREE SPEECH UPDATE: A reader sends an email to the campus from Northern Kentucky University President James Votruba, regarding the incident in which a professor destroyed a pro-life cross exhibit. Whole thing's below the fold (click "read more" to read it) but here's an excerpt:

It has been heartening that student and faculty groups that do not necessarily support the position of Northern Kentucky Right to Life have come out strongly in support of the organization's right to be heard through their display. This reflects a commitment to the importance of free speech and inquiry as a hallmark of our University.

Professor Jacobsen has been removed from her remaining classes and placed on leave from the University. She will retire from the University at the end of this semester. The Faculty Senate, representing more than 1,000 NKU faculty members, has taken strong action today that affirms the importance of free expression as a defining quality of the University. Our campus has spoken with a strong and unified voice.

This seems right to me. Click below to read the whole thing. And bravo to Northern Kentucky University, which seems to have hit just the right tone, something that's not to be taken for granted these days. In fact, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia have been conspicuous in their recent failures to do as well.

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ABOUT TIME: "The Defense Science Board will conduct a summer study on a topic that would have been inconceivable when the Defense Department established the board 50 years ago this year: the military implications of Internet search engines, online journals and 'blogs.'"

This would have been a better study for 2002.

MICHAEL TOTTEN offers more blogging from Iraq, with lots of photos.

DARFUR UPDATE: "China and Russia last night thwarted a year-long diplomatic drive by Britain to impose United Nations sanctions on the perpetrators in of the violence in the Darfur province of Sudan. . . . The United States, which backed the British initiative, reacted angrily by threatening to call a public vote of the 15-nation Security Council that would force Russia and China into making a formal veto."

PLAME UPDATE: Tom Maguire has a roundup on the latest revelations and asks: "when does Josh Gerstein start getting the accolades heaped on Murray Waas?"

IT'S A PRESIDENTIAL STRAW POLL AT HUGH HEWITT'S. At the moment, Giuliani has a slim lead.

NINA BURLEIGH: "I cringed as my young son recited the Pledge of Allegiance. But who was I to question his innocent trust in a nation I long ago lost faith in?"

Who, indeed? Reader Wagner James Au, who sent the link, writes: "My question is, why do anti-war liberals get so offended when people question their patriotism, when they spend so much time questioning it themselves?"

EUGENE VOLOKH looks at diversity, academic freedom, and the Ohio State University harassment debacle.

JONATHAN RAUCH says it's not a war on terror, but a war on Jihadism:

Jihadism is not a tactic, like terrorism, or a temperament, like radicalism or extremism. It is not a political pathology like Stalinism, a mental pathology like paranoia, or a social pathology like poverty. Rather, it is a religious ideology, and the religion it is associated with is Islam.

But it is by no means synonymous with Islam, which is much larger and contains many competing elements. Islam can be, and usually is, moderate; Jihadism, with a capital J, is inherently radical. If the Western and secular world's nearer-term war aim is to stymie the jihadists, its long-term aim must be to discredit Jihadism in the Muslim world.

No single definition prevails, but here is a good one: Jihadism engages in or supports the use of force to expand the rule of Islamic law. In other words, it is violent Islamic imperialism. It stands, as one scholar put it 90 years ago, for "the extension by force of arms of the authority of the Muslim state." . . .

Jihadists, she writes, are not merely angry about U.S. policies. They believe that America is the biggest obstacle to the global rule of an Islamic superstate. Ultimately, in the Jihadist view, "Islam must expand to fill the entire world or else falsehood in its many guises will do so." Violence is by no means mandated, but it is assuredly authorized.

This squares pretty well with what Moussaoui was saying in court, doesn't it? Read the whole thing.

JONAH GOLDBERG: "The week the deranged president of Iran again calls for the annihilation of Israel and once again denies the Holocaust ever happpened James Carroll draws the only logical conclusion: Bush is a lunatic and this administration is run by 'deeply frustrated, angry, and psychologically wounded people.'"

Or maybe it's more like the phenomenon described here?

CHRIS CILLIZZA AT THE WASHINGTON POST writes about Bill Frist's Internet strategy.

I don't know how it's going over at Frist's site, but Frist's Avian Flu podcast with us has now been downloaded over 750,000 times, making it our number-one podcast so far. That's about double the next contender, Claire Berlinski talking about her book on Europe. [Hey, what about a Frist-Berlinski ticket? -- ed. We could do worse. And probably will. . . .]

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Newt Gingrich is warning Republicans about pork:

With the federal budget deficit at record levels, Gingrich said Americans are losing patience with "pork," the discretionary spending earmarked to benefit local political constituencies.

"We were sent here to reform Washington, not to be co-opted by Washington," he said.

Indeed. Meanwhile, in a battle of pork vs. the Navy, guess who wins? Trent Lott's co-Senator, Thad Cochran (R-MS) is involved.

"WE'RE LIBERALS, but that doesn't mean we wouldn't nuke Iran." I thought Duncan Black had already removed all doubt on that subject.

SCIENCE FICTION UPDATE: I've been reading John Barnes' new book, The Armies of Memory, which I'm liking a lot. The reader reviews suggest that I'm not alone.

Barnes is also blogging. Among other things, he has this prediction: "In the 21st century, a civilization in which everyone can know everything, dominated by an uneasy American hegemon, is going to the stars. Check back in 2100 to see how it all went ..."

THE CARNIVAL OF BLOGOSPHERE COVERAGE is up! So is the Carnival of the Capitalists, the Blawg Review, and the shipping carnival, Maritime Monday, which brings me fond memories of my 2 (yes, 2) semesters of Admiralty law. Lots more carnivals at BlogCarnival.com.

DAVID ZINCAVAGE HAS A BILL HOBBS ROUNDUP: I haven't spoken with Bill Hobbs about his post-Belmont career plans, but I'll venture one prediction. If this really was an effort by Democrats and liberal bloggers to "silence" Hobbs, as some on the right have claimed, it will backfire. Now that he's no longer working at Belmont, he's free to write about whatever he wants, as much as he wants. This is one crucial difference between bloggers and journalists: Get a columnist or reporter fired, and you might actually silence him/her. Get bloggers fired from their day jobs, and you've given them more time -- and more reason -- to go after you and yours hammer-and-tongs. And other bloggers are apt to join in. (And even if, as I suspect, Hobbs was just "collateral damage," I think the point still holds).

I've also written before about the opportunities for individuals to go into political coverage -- especially statehouse coverage -- and outperform the kind of coverage that local media generally provide. I think there's an opportunity for Bill there, if he chooses to pursue it.

At any rate, I think that it's really Belmont University that's to blame, more than Mike Kopp or the folks at the Scene. Belmont, after hiring a prolific blogger whose views were well-known, let him go over blogging those views. This despite Belmont's apparent intent of embracing, and profiting by, the blogosphere. As I noted before, Belmont has thus squandered its efforts, since it's now in a worse position than before. Where it used to be a nonentity to the blogosphere, now it's regarded unfavorably. Hugh Hewitt seems to agree.

UPDATE: Michael Silence of the Knoxville News-Sentinel has posted a roundup that seems to support my point.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Craig Henry wonders if The New York Times will get involved. And Smantix comments: "This must be that fascist Amerikkka I keep hearing about."

DON BOUDREAUX defends free trade. We need more of this sort of affirmative defense, as opposed to merely snarking at Lou Dobbs. Yes, Dobbs is snarkable, but he's making an argument. Free traders need to respond. (Though on immigration, I note that the issue is more political than economic, really. See this post by PoliPundit for an example of what I mean.)

HAO WU UPDATE: Chinese blogger Hao Wu has been in prison since February 22. There's a letter-writing campaign on his behalf, and a petition aimed at Hu Jintao. And here's the background on his case.

The webpage for the Chinese Embassy in the United States is here.

I'VE PAID NO ATTENTION to the Burkle/Stern affair, but Mickey Kaus is all over it. So is Gawker. They've got everything except a reason why I should care!

YALE TALIBAN UPDATE:

Yale now doesn't even attempt to claim that Mr. Hashemi has changed. In conversations with donors, president Richard Levin has fallen back on two arguments: that Mr. Hashemi currently is a nondegree student, and that the State Department issued him a visa. But Mr. Hashemi's application to become a sophomore in Yale's full degree program, the same type of program that Mr. Farivar graduated from at Harvard, is pending before Mr. Levin. That makes his continued presence at Yale especially relevant as Yale's Board of Governors, the body that supposedly runs the university, prepares to meet this week.
Many in the Yale community are appalled at the damage university officials have caused by their failure to address the Hashemi issue after seven weeks of controversy. "That silence has provoked bewilderment and anger among many," David Cameron, a Yale political science professor wrote The Wall Street Journal last week. "Yale appears to have no convincing response to those who ask why, given the nature of the Taliban regime, his role in it, its complicity in the 9/11 attacks, and his apparent failure or refusal to disavow the regime, Mr. Hashemi has been allowed to study at the university."

Even some who defend the right of Yale to make its own admissions decisions now say it went too far with its Taliban Man. Mark Oppenheimer, a Yale grad who edits the New Haven Advocate, an alternative weekly, says he has "finally come to the conclusion" that "Yale should not have enrolled someone who helped lead a regime that destroyed religious icons, executed adulterers and didn't let women learn to read. Surely, the spot could have better gone to, say, Afghani women, who have such difficulty getting schooling in their own country."

Read the whole thing. Plus, a related article from the Yale Daily News:

Former Taliban diplomat Rahmatullah Hashemi's presence as a non-degree special student at Yale has put pressure on administrators to expedite ongoing efforts to clarify the difference between the Non-Degree Students Program and the degree-granting Eli Whitney Students Program.

If Hashemi intends to gain degree status next year -- as he told the News in February he would seek to do -- his application to the Whitney Program must be received by the May 1 deadline. Some students within the degree program have questioned in internal e-mail messages whether Hashemi's background merits his acceptance, and Assistant Dean William Whobrey, who oversees both the Non-Degree and Whitney programs, said that, pending approval, next year's Yale College Programs of Study will attempt to clarify the distinctions between the two.

This really represented an appalling lapse of judgment on Yale's part.

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF MAY BE GONE, but Bill Crawford has a roundup of under-reported news from Iraq.

April 16, 2006

"NUGGETS OF DEATH?" Not so much, according to Ed Cone.

UPDATE: Different, but related, post from Tom Maguire.

A LOOK AT THE ALBERTA OIL RUSH: I'm all for big increases in oil production in politically stable places (bring on the Colorado oil rush, too), but I think that one upside of current high oil prices, besides bringing all this additional capacity online, is that it's getting people to look beyond oil as an energy source. I hope we'll see more of that, too.

UPDATE: Like this:

In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That's the conviction that inspired Greenpeace's first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.

Look at it this way: More than 600 coal-fired electric plants in the United States produce 36 percent of U.S. emissions -- or nearly 10 percent of global emissions -- of CO2, the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce these emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power. And these days it can do so safely. . . . I am not alone among seasoned environmental activists in changing my mind on this subject. British atmospheric scientist James Lovelock, father of the Gaia theory, believes that nuclear energy is the only way to avoid catastrophic climate change. Stewart Brand, founder of the "Whole Earth Catalog," says the environmental movement must embrace nuclear energy to wean ourselves from fossil fuels.

Indeed. Read the whole thing.

SOUTH PARK, BORDERS AND MORE: Tigerhawk looks at the "violence veto" and its implications.

UPDATE: Rand Simberg says we now know who the defenders of free speech are. And aren't.

STRATEGYPAGE LOOKS AT DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ and sounds two themes often heard here -- that the problem is political, not military, and that the biggest political problem is corruption:

It's corruption that Iraqi politicians understand as well as their Western counterparts. Get elected, get access to public money, and steal as much as you can without getting punished. This is where the real war for Iraq's future is being fought. There will be some corruption, that is understood. No government on the planet is completely free of it. But too much, and the government does not work. The voters become unhappy, unrest grows, and you end up with another dictator. Right now, the politicians are so corrupt that they could drive the country back to a dictator in less than a decade. Many Iraqis are aware of this. The question is, will enough honest Iraqis step up, at great risk to themselves, to establish and maintain a viable (relatively honest and efficient) government? No one knows, and the politicians are still arguing over who will have what ministry so that we can start ruling, and dealing with some very pressing problems.

The government has to deal with corruption, in the long run, and the militias, in the short run. The Sunni Arab terrorists and Saddam loyalists are still fighting, but they have lost. Most Sunni Arab leaders are now more concerned about protecting their people from the Iraqi army and police. These security forces are not only dominated by Kurds and Shia Arabs, but are strong, and growing stronger. Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbors have given up any ideas of actively supporting putting the Iraqi Sunni Arabs back in power. Instead, the neighbors are hoping the Shia Arabs and Kurds running the new Iraqi government will help containing Iran. That is the major goal of the Arab nations of the region. That sometimes gets forgotten in the West. They never forget it in the Persian Gulf.

Turning Iraq into a dependable ally against Iran has always been part of the strategy, I think. I hope it works, and sooner rather than later.

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HAPPY EASTER! We had fun with my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew William, who enjoyed his first Easter egg hunt and managed to look shockingly cool in the process.

It was fun to see all the little kids enjoying themselves, and all the neighborhood parents working together to make a good time for all concerned.

The weather was perfect, something not to be taken for granted in Southern Ohio. Last night we sat on the deck, drank beer, and watched tremendous displays of chain lightning for a long time before the rain set in. By morning the rain was gone, and it was crystal clear. I actually found myself wishing it were a bit cooler this afternoon, as we squinted at inadequate swingset documentation under a hot sun.

Still, a great weekend. I hope you're having a happy Easter too.

Getting together with family and friends is one of life's underappreciated pleasures. Appreciate it, while you can, as they won't always be there forever.




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As you can see, I managed to make a new friend. Funny I always though of the Easter Bunny as being bigger. My nephew William (shown with his mom, Victoria, below) wasn't sure what he thought about the Easter Bunny, but he liked the eggs. Hope your day is good!





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