Archive for January, 2004

January 27, 2004

TOM MAGUIRE WRITES that Kerry’s South Carolina gaffe is nothing new.

January 27, 2004

NETWORKING NATION-STATES: Jim Bennett has an interesting article in The National Interest.

January 27, 2004

THE DAY BY DAY CARTOON below makes fun of GOP E-Strategist Larry Purpuro, for dissing weblogs. Purpuro’s comments seem pretty out of touch to me, and about as strategically sound (though in a smaller setting) as Kerry’s dissing of the South.

Kevin Aylward, however, thinks that there’s method in Purpuro’s madness: He’s a media consultant, and blogs are competition.

UPDATE: Perhaps the GOP should hire Pejman Yousefzadeh, who actually has some useful thoughts on the subject of blogs and politics.

January 27, 2004

UP ALL NIGHT WITH A SICK KID. I’m staying home with her today, which means that blogging will continue if she doesn’t get sicker. It may, however, show the results of sleep-deprivation, so keep that in mind as you read. . . .

January 26, 2004

SPEECHCODES.ORG is a website that tracks freedom of speech — or the lack of it — at colleges and universities around America. If you or your offspring are applying to colleges, it’s a good resource to check before sending in an application — or an acceptance.

January 26, 2004

January 26, 2004

IN THE MAIL: Got the February issue of Wired today, which has a profile of yours truly. It’s nice to be called an “Internet rock star” by Wired, but I don’t think it’s really true — or, if it is true, it won’t be for long. In fact, although InstaPundit’s traffic continues to climb and although I have no intention of quitting, I think that InstaPundit will get steadily less important in the grand scheme of things as the blogosphere grows. My slice of the pie is getting steadily bigger, but the pie is getting bigger faster.

I’m okay on that — in fact, I think it’s a good thing. InstaPundit’s nice, and I enjoy it, but the blogosphere is more important than any blog, and I’m happy to see it growing, flourishing, and expanding.

January 26, 2004

JUST RECEIVED what looks to be a very cool book: Constitutional Law Stories, edited by Michael Dorf. Each chapter provides interesting factual background on a famous constitutional law case, along with some additional perspective. Volokh Conspiracy blogger David Bernstein writes the chapter on Lochner, which makes sense, as he’s written a rather well-received book on the subject of pre-New Deal labor law.

January 26, 2004


The “Dated Dean, Married Kerry” buttons don’t fully communicate the dynamic, not without some tweaking. After dating a fiery, passionate guy who now seems a little nuts, these voters are lovelessly marrying the nearest single guy who seems basically grown-up and stable– someone who is boringly familiar but at least a known quantity. Maybe that will be enough to carry Kerry to the nomination. But ultimately I think it’s the path to Bob Dole’s electoral fate.

Does Kerry talk about himself in the third person?

UPDATE: Powerline offers more problems for Kerry.

ANOTHER UPDATE: So which one of these guys is Kerry? Though in a way, they’re all “boringly familiar.”

January 26, 2004

MIRANDA is still good law. That’s not so surprising — but that the decision is 9-0, and in a drug case, is heartening.

January 26, 2004

KEVIN SITES has interesting reports, and photos, from Iraq. And Rich Galen has another good post up, too.

January 26, 2004

JUSTIN KATZ SAYS THAT EVERYONE’S MISSING THE STORY where David Kay is concerned, and notes this Kay statement that hasn’t gotten much attention:

I must say, I actually think what we learned during the inspections made Iraq a more dangerous place potentially than in fact we thought it was even before the war.

Read the whole thing. And read this Roger Simon post, too.

UPDATE: Read this, too.


Now, it looks increasingly likely that Tenet’s agency failed America again with a poor strategy of intelligence gathering and analysis toward Iraq. Tenet had a year-and-a-half to restructure his agency to avoid the failures that led to 9/11, and while the Iraq situation is different – the WMD issue was always just one piece of the argument, and a “better safe than sorry” stance required action even with what has been found by Kay’s team – the failures in intelligence it exposes are precisely the same: Lack of human infiltration into the enemy’s leadership and planning; and a failure by analysts to gather all the pieces and connect the dots.

A prediction: Much of the illegal oil money Saddam thought he was spending on weapons production is sitting in Swiss, Syrian, Jordanian, Saudi and other banks under the pseudonyms of various generals, scientists and Baath Party members. Some of them may well be tapping into those accounts now to fight the insurgency. Others are kicking back on the east shore of the Red Sea, confident they duped both Saddam and the U.S. CIA.

Meanwhile, Tenet remains director at CIA. Why?

Why, indeed?

January 26, 2004


Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is discounting notions that any Democratic candidate would have to appeal to Southern voters in order to win the presidency, calling such thinking a “mistake” during a speech at Dartmouth College. . . .

“Everybody always makes the mistake of looking South,” Kerry said, in response to a question about winning the region. “Al Gore proved he could have been president of the United States without winning one Southern state, including his own.”

Um, no. Al Gore proved that he couldn’t win the United States without carrying one Southern state, including his own. (South Carolina political blogger Wyeth Ruthven, a Kerry supporter, thinks this is “damaging,” and suggests that people will continue to harp on it for quite a while.)

And for those who are already bored with New Hampshire, I have a collection of South Carolina political links over at I also note that you can’t blame candidates quite as much for gaffes like this, when you consider how they’re living.

UPDATE: Republican Ramesh Ponnuru says bring it on!

January 26, 2004


Deming, an associated professor of geology, says his troubles began in March 2000 when he published a letter to the editor criticizing a female colleague’s claim that all gun owners are potential murderers. He wrote that if her assertion is true, then one could argue that her “possession of an unregistered sexual organ made her a potential prostitute.”

The colleague filed sexual harassment charges against him that were eventually dropped.

Since then, he has written letters to local papers that were determined to be showing “contempt and resentment” toward the school. The letters were included in his personnel file in a situation he describes as “analogous to a professor stapling a student’s political letters to his or her examinations.”

More evidence of how bogus sexual harassment claims are used to silence unwelcome opinions — and of how thin the academic commitment to open debate often is, when those unwelcome opinions surface.

January 26, 2004


Just 48 hours before Lord Hutton delivers his verdict on the controversy surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly, the BBC has begun an advertising experiment that involves buying up all internet search terms relating to the inquiry.

Despite being one of the main players in the drama, anyone searching for “Hutton inquiry” or “Hutton report” on the UK’s most popular search engine Google is automatically directed to a paid-for link to BBC Online’s own news coverage of the inquiry.

No other news broadcaster or any newspaper has paid Google for this facility, leaving the corporation’s move even more conspicuous.

As one of the chief “interested parties” in the Hutton inquiry into the apparent suicide of Dr Kelly, the move will strike many as worthy of comment, not least because the BBC’s online news pages will not be the most obvious place to go for the most comprehensive coverage, which is bound to include painful criticism of the corporation.


UPDATE: Several readers email to say that if the Beeb is doing this, it isn’t working. They seem to be right — when I googled “hutton inquiry” the first story that came up was the Guardian item quoted above! Hmm. Either The Guardian is wrong (no!), or the Beeb’s actions haven’t taken effect yet, or the Beeb pulled back when the story broke. We’ll see. Reader Grahame Young emails:

BTW: I don’t see any of the typical Google sponsored links (either at the top or on the right side). Did BBC/Google change something after this story? Can you buy “rank” from Google in the normal search results? Is it only serving “sponsored links” to UK residents (e.g. Google knows I’m Canadian when I search for “low air fares”)?

Any feedback from the UK?

Seems to be the same for UK searchers, based on a couple of emails, anyway.

January 26, 2004

BRYAN PRESTON looks at what David Kay is saying — and how it’s being treated by the media, and by John Kerry.

January 26, 2004

BOB NOVAK thinks that “Edwards may pull a rabbit out of N.H.” I noticed something along those lines the other day, though I’m not sure the polls really support it. Then again, the polls could be wrong.

January 26, 2004


Sen. John Kerry again repeated his mantra that the United States went to war in Iraq with an “illegitimate coalition.” Kerry has also used the term “fraudulent” to describe the 34 nations that have sent troops to Iraq, including Great Britain, Australia and Poland.

Someone, anyone, please get Kerry on the record of what impact his description of Great Britain, Australia, Poland, et. al., will have on the relationship between the U.S. and these countries should he become president. . . .

Kerry should be forced to be specific about his comments. Kerry wanted France, at the least, Germany and Russia to be part of the coalition. Say that. Of course, it diminishes the impact of the charge (34 nations vs. three), and might cause it to disappear from the stump speech.


But why isn’t anyone in the media asking this question?

Beats me. Do they think that the absence of France makes a coalition “fraudulent?”

January 26, 2004

FREE SATELLITE TV: “A hit in a freed Iraq.” Hey, it would be a hit here, too.

January 26, 2004

ALPHECCA’S weekly survey of media bias concerning guns is up.

So is this week’s Carnival of the Capitalists, a collection of business- and economics-related blog posts. Enjoy! [We’ve got guns and money — all we need is lawyers! — Ed. What am I, a potted plant? But okay, don’t miss Howard Bashman’s roundup of legal news from Sunday’s papers.]

January 26, 2004


The former leader of the U.S. hunt for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction said Sunday that intelligence agencies owe the president and the public an explanation for the failure to find large stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons after the U.S.-led war.

It was obvious after 9/11 that a lot of heads needed to roll, at the CIA and elsewhere. They didn’t. They still need to. On the other hand, it seems clear that pretty much every intelligence agency in the world thought that Saddam had stockpiles of WMD. But aren’t our guys supposed to be better?

January 26, 2004

JAMES KIRCHICK offers pictures and reporting from New Hampshire. And yes, Chris Matthews was having a bad hair day. . . .

January 26, 2004

CATHY SEIPP’S monthly Maureen Dowd dissection is up. “I actually found ‘The Argyle General’ her least objectionable column in months. Wesley Clark’s plaids, Jimmy Carter’s cardigans, Michael Dukakis’s brown suede jacket…if Dowd wants to take us on a tour of candidates’ closets past and present, fine. At least she’s not being silly about Iraq.” Ouch.

January 26, 2004

JOHN KERRY IN 1971, courtesy of Doonesbury.

January 26, 2004

JOHN HAWKINS has an interview with David Frum posted. Excerpt:

The last thing America is, is an empire. My counter example is; we very badly needed and expected to have Turkish support in the war on Iraq. The Turks didn’t give it and that put a spanner in some of our planning. Now, imagine if this were the Romans. Imagine if the emperor Trajan were planning an operation in Mesopotamia and the Cappadocians told him he couldn’t use their territory. He would have lined the highways with crucified Cappadocians. That’s what empires do, they do not say, “Oh, we’ll respect what your parliament says and come from another direction”.


January 25, 2004

USA TODAY: “Clark’s Democratic presidential bid could be in serious trouble.”

January 25, 2004

DOH! I meant to post on this earlier, but you can listen to the Blogging of the President radio show live right now at that link. At the moment, Ed Cone is comparing Howard Dean to WebVan. Meanwhile, on John Edwards, Cone observes: “If you meet him in person, you want to go home with him.”

Er, I like Edwards, but not, you know, that way.

UPDATE: Listened to the whole (remaining) thing, as I tried to finish up an article with a Tuesday deadline. Not bad, with a number of useful insights and some amusing fencing between Sullivan and Atrios (Sullivan asked Atrios when he’d last criticized someone on the Left; Atrios couldn’t remember). Frank Rich was engaging, and said he reads a lot of blogs. Jeff Jarvis offered a lot of first-class commentary. Chris Lydon did an excellent job hosting, though his insistence (which was also present in an interview he did with me a while back) that the New York Times was staunchly pro-war was as incomprehensible to me this time around as it was before. Still, quite a good program.

Daniel Drezner listened, and has more comments.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Sullivan is asking Atrios for examples, now.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s someone who noticed Lydon’s earlier comment on the NYT’s alleged pro-war bias.

January 25, 2004

COOL PICTURES FROM MARS, via the Opportunity rover.

January 25, 2004

MORE EVIDENCE that the British public is taking a tougher line on crime than the British government.

January 25, 2004

JACK BALKIN has two interesting posts: One on “What I learned about blogging in a year,” and one on why the New York Times is wrong about the effect of the Internet on politics. Read ’em both.

January 25, 2004

THE DETROIT NEWS is advertising for bloggers.

January 25, 2004


Joyful Iraqi pilgrims arriving in Saudi Arabia on Sunday said they would thank God for ending the rule of Saddam Hussein in prayers during haj pilgrimage but other Arabs were thinking of the U.S. occupation. . . .

“I and many people are thankful toward the United States because they were able to release us and we will definitely never forget. I don’t think any Muslim can forget this,” he said, standing by Kurdish and Iraqi flags beside the Iraqi pilgrims.

Somebody tell Howard Dean.

January 25, 2004

I’VE BEEN SAYING FOR A LONG TIME that Bush is vulnerable in 2004, regardless of how confident the GOP seems to feel. (Here’s an old post on that, but just enter the words bush and vulnerable in the search window to see a lot more). Now Tacitus is weighing in. Even this, rather optimistic charting shows Bush trending downward. I think that’s because the big-spending, “compassionate conservative” stuff is alienating more conservatives and libertarians than it is winning over undecideds.

Projecting the 2004 elections based on today’s polls is a fool’s game — you’d think that Iowa would have taught people how volatile polls are — but that doesn’t mean that Bush’s people should be overly confident. And as for those Bush/Churchill analogies, remember what happened to Churchill the minute people felt safe.

UPDATE: Reader Carole Newton sends this, which is typical of quite a few emails that I got in response to this post:

Bush, Rove et al thought that to keep the GOP conservatives happy, all they had to do was cut taxes and support and pass a bill against “partial-birth” abortions. Wrong. With the outlandish spending by a GOP-controlled Congress, the stupid and costly prescription drug bill, the over-reaching No Child Left Behind Education Act and the immigration proposal (no matter how they try to spin it, their proposal is amnesty for illegal aliens), they have lost a very considerable number of Republican voters like me.

I have voted Republican all my voting life (I am 60 years old) and I can tell you emphatically that I will not be voting at all for the first time. I certainly will never vote for a Democrat and Bush has morphed into a Democrat as far as I am concerned. The Powers-That-Be in the Republican Party know this about their “base” but are ignoring it, much to the peril of George W. Bush in November 2004.

A non-trivial number of people are saying this. Most of ’em will probably wind up holding their nose and voting for Bush in November. But not all.

MORE: Another reader writes:

As a Republican, I welcome all hard core conservatives who are so disgustedto not vote for Bush. And if he loses, I also welcome them to recuse themselves TOTALLY from the political discussion over the next 4 years, especially when Pres. Kerry gets to nominate 1 or more members of the SCOTUS. Because if that happens, they have themselves to blame, nobody else.

They better learn the lesson that the Nader Democrats learned last election-half a loaf is better than none. Time for them to get their priorities straight. The potential SCOTUS openings should trump all other considerations for them. If they want to mount pressure, they’re best off doing it in the Senate, where a key vote can make a crucial difference…

I expect we’ll hear this debate for several months.

STILL MORE: Reader Roscoe Shrewsbury emails: “You should have written, ‘It’s the immigration, stupid’.”

Hmm. Well, maybe. That’s not what my email suggests, but I’m sure it’s not a scientific sampling. I haven’t seen any polls on that. Has anyone?

MORE YET: Bill Peschel sends this link to a poll suggesting that immigration isn’t a big issue with very many voters.

January 25, 2004

MUSHARRAF AT DAVOS: Some interesting observations.

UPDATE: Speaking of Davos, all I can say is bravo for Bill Clinton, for reminding people there that the war on terror isn’t some sort of Bush fantasy, much as they might like to believe that:

And you may be interested to know that any time he referred to the Bush administration, or alluded to it, it was in a complimentary way. He told this crowd — again, a crowd that could use hearing it, especially from this source — that much of what we’re doing, successfully, in the War on Terror never makes the newspapers. For example, “cells are rolled up,” which you never hear about. The administration has achieved “cooperation with other governments” that is not “inherently sensational” but “has saved a lot of people’s lives.” You never hear about this bomb found in this container on this cargo ship destined for this port — and “I could give you 50 other examples.”

Good for him. Add this to his earlier comments on WMD, and it’s a major blow to the loonier sections of the anti-war crowd.

DOH! The Clinton link above was broken. Sorry. Fixed now.

January 25, 2004

MICKEY KAUS explains why he can’t stand John Kerry.

January 25, 2004

DONALD SENSING weighs in on the Wesley Clark / Michael Moore claims that Bush was a “deserter” and has some very harsh words:

Three observations here. First, Jennings was quite correct to point out that the accusation of George W. Bush’s presumed absences is “a reckless charge not supported by the facts.”

Second, Clark, a retired four-star general, admits he is entirely unconcerned that an ideologue celebrity has made this most serious, unfounded charge against the commander in chief. . . .

Third, practically no civilian actually knows what desertion really is.

He’s pretty hard on Mark Kleiman, too.

UPDATE: Bad link before. Fixed now. Sorry.

January 25, 2004

HERE’S SOMETHING FROM DAVID KAY that hasn’t gotten as much attention as other things he’s said:

David Kay, the former head of the coalition’s hunt for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, yesterday claimed that part of Saddam Hussein’s secret weapons programme was hidden in Syria.

In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Dr Kay, who last week resigned as head of the Iraq Survey Group, said that he had uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year’s war to overthrow Saddam.

“We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons,” he said. “But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam’s WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved.”

Dr Kay’s comments will intensify pressure on President Bashar Assad to clarify the extent of his co-operation with Saddam’s regime and details of Syria’s WMD programme. Mr Assad has said that Syria was entitled to defend itself by acquiring its own biological and chemical weapons arsenal.

Hmm. We’ve been hearing those reports from various sources of uncertain reliability (like Debka) since the war. But this is a bit more significant. Is Syria next?

UPDATE: Michael Ubaldi emails: “You know, when I read the Kay report it was a brief in Reuters and the first thought I had was, ‘Okay, what did Kay say that they didn’t report?’ Trouble is, the abbreviated version has had two days to sink in.” Yeah, you’d almost think somebody wants it that way.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More on this here, from Blaster’s Blog.

January 25, 2004

I WONDER WHAT THIS was all about?

A security guard at a BASF Corp. chemical plant was shot in the shoulder after he approached a suspicious truck and talked to a man who said he had been taking pictures, authorities said.

The guard’s name was not released, but Freeport police said he was doing well at a Brazosport hospital following the Friday night shooting.

The guard told police the gunman was a man of Middle Eastern descent with bushy hair and a mustache. The man was driving a white pickup with tinted windows and a black stripe.

Probably not terrorist-related, but . . . .

January 25, 2004

SAMIZDATA has received an upgrade.

January 24, 2004

WONKETTE IS CRUSHING ON JOSH MARSHALL: “Look, he’s blogging so fast, he has warped the very fabric of time and space!” (Sure, she tries to sound snarky, but they always do when they’ve got a crush. . . .)

Here at InstaPundit, where Josh Marshall is admired — but not, you know, that way — the photo Wonkette is gushing about inspired, er, different thoughts.

January 24, 2004

JOHN STOSSEL had an excellent program last night on 20/20, called Lies, Myths, and Stupidity. It was even-toned myth-busting on subjects ranging from health, to gun control, to DDT and malaria, to the environment.

The program was tied to his new book, Give Me a Break, which — to judge from its subtitle, How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media, may be somewhat less even in its tone. (Or maybe not — publishers often choose titles, as we’ve discussed before.) The program, at any rate, was just terrific. I’ve ordered the book, and I’ll see if I like it as much.

January 24, 2004

JACK SHAFER COMMENTS on the Senate computer-files scandal:

I wonder how the Globe would have covered the story had a Democratic staffer stumbled upon a stack of incendiary strategy memos by Republican staffers. If she shared them with her colleagues and then with the Globe, would the Globe have eagerly printed excerpts of them? You betcha. And would Republicans scream holy hell and demand an investigation after the Globe went to press? You betcha. And would the Globe and the Times be editorializing about the investigation’s “chilling effect” on dissent and free speech? You betcha, again.

Clearly, whenever the Senate investigates itself, it’s news. Likewise, the identity, motivations, and modus operandi of these leakers is news, too. But, like York, I can’t help but think there’s a journalistic double standard operating here in which partisan leaks to conservative journals and journalists (the Novak-Plame incident, for another example) are treated as capital crimes, but partisan leaks that wound Republicans are regarded the highest form of truth telling.

And it gets worse, apparently, in an election year.

UPDATE: Robert Racansky emails:

One doesn’t have to wonder too much.

Back in 1997, the New York Times printed transcripts of an intercepted telephone call between Newt Gingrich and Republican strategists. The tape was provided to the press by Rep. Jim McDermott (one of the “Baghdad Democrats” Link):

Jan. 10, 1997 — The New York Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution report on an intercepted cell phone conversation indicating Gingrich may have violated his Dec. 21 agreement with the panel not to orchestrate a GOP counterattack against the charges. In a telephone conversation taped that day, and subsequently obtained by the two papers, the speaker is heard reacting favorably to strategy concocted by GOP operative Ed Gillespie.

Jan. 14, 1997 — Under fire for accepting the tape of Gingrich’s phone call, the ethics committee’s ranking Democrat, Jim McDermott (Wash.) recuses himself from further consideration of the Gingrich matter, on condition that one Republican also step aside from the ethics committee to maintain the panel’s partisan balance. Unrepentant, McDermott blasts ethics chair Nancy Johnson (R-Conn) and committee Republicans, who he says “stonewalled or otherwise “obstructed sensible efforts to get at the whole truth.”

Yes, I remember that incident.

January 24, 2004


It was a great shame for journalists all across the country, for instance, that the Bloc Quebecois, not our so-called media, had to break the story about the revolting 40% increase in federal government spending over the past five years. There was a 90% increase in the Justice Department budget, 129% in legal services alone. What on God’s green earth would they be doing with that money?

Why don’t we know more about the connection between the Desmarais family, TotalFinaElf, the Bank Paribas, Jacques Chirac, and the UN’s Oil for Food program? Given the relationship between the Desmarais family and Chretien, did that have anything to do with our refusal to join the war in Iraq? If this were the States, that story would be front and centre for months. Why do we not know more about the $250,000 the Canadian government gave to Human Concern International, an Ottawa-based organization headed by Ahmed Khadr who is reputed to have links with Osama bin Laden. Khadr used the money to open refugee camps in Pakistan that CSIS now says were used to aid Islamic fighters waging holy war in Afghanistan.

Let me tell you why we don’t have a free press. If we did, things would change for our plushy elites pretty fast.

Indeed. All I can say is that if Ashcroft were ransacking the homes of critical journalists we’d be hearing a lot in the Canadian press about the fundamental lawlessness of America. Which isn’t to say that the Canadians are wrong to be searching here — it’s just to note that that’s what they’d be saying if things were reversed.

January 23, 2004

POWERLINE REPORTS MORE ELECTION-YEAR PARTISANSHIP AT THE POST: Shockingly, Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus are involved. Powerline concludes: “It is hard to see this kind of shoddy journalism as anything other than a part of the Democrats’ 2004 campaign.”

January 23, 2004

GERARD VAN DER LEUN has a report on the joint Marine Corps / Blogosphere volunteer effort at Camp Pendleton yesterday. And there are pictures and more reporting here.

UPDATE: Here’s a gallery of photos courtesy of Da Goddess. And you can find Big Media reports here, here, here, and here — as well as here. Glad to see that this nice work is getting some recognition.

January 23, 2004

MORE EVIDENCE that Ed Cone was right to say that criticism of the war won’t win the election for the Democrats:

Public support for the war in Iraq remains strong, with almost two-thirds of the American public saying that going to war was the right decision, a poll out Thursday found.

The number who said going to war was the right decision, 65 percent, is about the same number who felt that way in December, soon after the capture of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Perhaps another reason Dean is slipping?

January 23, 2004

SWITCHING FROM DEAN TO EDWARDS: An interesting thread over at Kos.

January 23, 2004

BILL HOBBS says that Wesley Clark has been swept into the conspiracy swamp, and offers more here. Mark Kleiman, on the other hand, believes Clark spoke properly.

UPDATE: Hobbs is quoting Edward Boyd, though with approval.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Annenberg Center’s says that the Bush desertion claim is bogus. Bill Hobbs has further comment.

January 23, 2004

INSTEAD OF READING MAUREEN DOWD’S TWADDLE about Iraq, you might want to read Iraq Now, a blog by an officer who’s actually there. Reader David Radulski emails:

Van Steenwyk, a financial reporter in civilian life, is an Army lieutenant reservist on combat duty in Iraq. Van Steenwyk’s notes on leadership for junior officers are some of the best I’ve read anywhere.






Wish I’d had them when I needed them.

Read ’em all.

January 23, 2004

“MEANWHILE, BACK IN KOREA. . .” Austin Bay’s latest column looks at what’s going on there.

January 23, 2004

HERE’S A QUICK DEBATE WRAPUP from Nick Denton’s new “Gawker for Washington, D.C.” site, Wonkette. Wonkette also offers a roundup of blogosphere reactions.

January 23, 2004

THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE: Writing from London, Scott Norvell takes on the BBC for hypocrisy:

Case in point: a recent stunt by BBC Radio 4’s Today program. As an exercise in grass-roots lobbying, Today asked its 6 million weekly listeners to propose a new law for the new year. A labour MP, Stephen Pound, was drafted to front the bill when it was all over.

More than 10,000 new laws were suggested over the course of a couple weeks. Of those, five were short-listed and voted on via email and telephone by some 26,007 respondents. The results, as one wag put it, “blew up” in the face of Today’s producers and presenters.

Clearly expecting some sensible law mandating fat-free potato chips or renewed efforts to save the ruby-throated thrush of Upper Equatorial Guinea, the organizers were obviously aghast when the winner, with 37 percent of the vote, was a law allowing homeowners to use “any means” to defend their property from intruders. . . .

And while a few listeners of Today wrote in to express horror that their compatriots could “endorse vigilantism,” most nailed the real problem illustrated by the whole exercise. “Is it surprising that the public is disenchanted with politicians when they patronisingly treat clearly expressed majority democratic wishes like this?” one viewer wrote.

Martin’s Law is clearly not going anywhere anytime soon. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott found the wishes of thousands of the citizens he ostensibly represents to be “amusing.” The Guardian called it “embarrassing.”

And people wonder why Brits are cynical about their government and media?

Well, some people wonder. (UPDATE: More here.)

MORE: Tim Lambert emails (as I expected him to) that the poll is unscientific. Maybe so — but that’s an argument against the BBC using it — not an argument for discounting it after it produced a result the BBC didn’t like.

January 23, 2004


The nanotech act of 2003 is certainly one for the history books. Future marketing students might marvel at how a group of salesmen achieved political victory – complete with requisite silencing of dissenters – for an “industry” that does not yet exist. . . .

But for now, it is commerce that is driving the nanotech vision, redefining “real” nanotechnology to suit what is best for nano business. Business leaders and policy-makers did this by carefully selecting which theories are the ones the general public is supposed to believe, then marginalizing the rest.

I predict failure for this strategy. But read the whole thing.

January 23, 2004

I STILL HAVEN’T read the Frum/Perle book, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, but the InstaWife is reading it, and she reports that it’s very good. (I’ve been so busy with appointments committee work that I haven’t read much this week. Night before last I did manage to settle down with a beer in front of the TV — to watch a videotape of a job candidate’s presentation that I had had to miss that day because it conflicted with a class. If you’re wondering why there’s been less blogging than usual, well, that’s why.)

January 23, 2004

DAVE WINER defends the Dean Scream. Worth reading.

January 23, 2004

ZEYAD’S SCOOP OF THE NEW YORK TIMES has become the subject of a big story in Salon, where Zeyad has already been covered once. For those unwilling to sit through the ad, Jeff Jarvis has an excerpt, along with comments on the lameness of the Times’ excuses.

UPDATE: By the way, in connection with this piece, you might want to read this item on problems with the NYT Baghdad bureau (and this item, too, on problems there that haven’t gotten much Western press), along with this column that Dave Kopel and I wrote on gamer culture and the war.

January 22, 2004

EUGENE VOLOKH: “A little bit of embarrassment seems to be in order.”

Actually, The Volokh Conspiracy has been on a roll. Just start with the above post and keep scrolling up.

January 22, 2004

JOSH MARSHALL, blogging from New Hampshire: “I think Dean is in very bad shape. The issue isn’t so much, or isn’t exclusively, the loss in Iowa or the whole business with his speech. Rather, I have the sense that he’s neutered himself in the final stretch.”

His readers paid to send him there to report. Looks like they’re getting their money’s worth.

UPDATE: Roger Simon has observations on tonight’s debate. And Jeff Jarvis observes: ” This debate got more attention than any before. This was the chance for a candidate to electrify the audience. Nobody did.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mark Kleiman says that Clark is getting the shaft from the Kerry spin machine. Meanwhile Andrew Sullivan says that Clark is toast. The two are not, of course, mutually inconsistent. (Kleiman also takes me to task for even linking an earlier Tacitus item without doing extensive research into the pro-Clark spin. Personally, I think that’s a bit grumpy of him.)

January 22, 2004

I JUST NOTICED that the Corvids CD is ranked 1,028 on Amazon. That’s pretty impressive, especially considering that its sales are probably just about all blog-generated.

UPDATE: Just looked again and it’s up to #873. Good going, guys!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Now they’re #695. With a bullet!

MORE: 524!


January 22, 2004

BLOGGERS: Killing off Old Media? Or raising ’em from the dead?

January 22, 2004

MAUREEN DOWD SNEERS AT SOLDIERS: Soldiers sneer back. “I didn’t know that poodles were eligible for service in the Australian SAS. Please clarify.” The bit about the Fijians is good, too.

January 22, 2004

I’VE GOTTEN A BUNCH OF EMAILS asking what I think about this scandal:

Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.

From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight — and with what tactics.

I don’t know. This may or may not be illegal — I wouldn’t be surprised either way — but it’s certainly cheesy. “Gentlemen don’t read other gentlemen’s mail,” and all that. But nobody ever mistook these guys for “gentlemen.” Certainly no hacking skills seem to be involved:

A technician hired by the new judiciary chairman, Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, apparently made a mistake that allowed anyone to access newly created accounts on a Judiciary Committee server shared by both parties — even though the accounts were supposed to restrict access only to those with the right password.

We’ll probably hear more about this — although, on the other hand, it’s so embarrassing for everyone concerned that maybe we won’t.

UPDATE: Reader Rick Giovanelli thinks this is mostly an embarrassment for the Republicans:

A fat lot of good it did them. Hard to believe they could have had LESS success had they not been snooping.

Good point.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Allen S. Thorpe emails with a contrary view:

If I were Leahy, I wouldn’t make a big deal about this. It will only make him look like a doofus.

Is there a Latin term for “Beware of the Techie,” say, Cave Geekem?

I don’t think the Romans had geeks.

UPDATE: Reader John P. Wilson says I’m wrong:

Please, the whole Republic and Empire was crawling with civil and weapon engineers, the original geeks. The Greeks too. Heron, Philon, Frotinus, and Vitruvius, weren’t they all geeks? Can’t you just see them arguing over where the best cement can be found, what makes the ideal aggregate, optimal draw weights by limb cross-section on bows?

It’s easy to believe that the Romans had plenty of nerds. But geeks? I’m not so sure.

January 22, 2004

IN OTHER WORDS, the question is “Do we want Dr. McCoy for President?”

January 22, 2004

JAMES LILEKS MAKES MTV with his Howard Dean remix.

It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

January 22, 2004

HEY, thanks, Colby! But am I old enough for a “lifetime achievement award?” In Internet years, I guess.

January 22, 2004

IS WEB VIDEO COMING OF AGE? I look at that subject over at

January 22, 2004


Here’s an addition to the “white African American” story you posted to yesterday – this appears on CNN today :


…and these kind of stories support why I have ambiguous feelings about the “African American” tag for people of black descent.

I was born here in the United States, but was educated in a variety of Southern African countries. All my records for my primary and part of my secondary education are from African schools. When I came back to the States to go to college, I had to go to an interview for incoming students. I walked into the professor’s office, and it was obvious that she took great pride in her heritage, with all sorts of “pride” posters, etc. on her walls. It was also evident that it was a shock for her to see a white guy walk in, based on the documents I provided.

Yes, I’ve encountered this phenomenon from time to time. Africa is a rather large and complex place, and there are, in fact, lots of white people, as well as ethnically Chinese and Indian people, who have many generations of African ancestry. For that matter, black Africans are a highly various group, and don’t tend to think of themselves as an undifferentiated mass. Unfortunately, many people — including many people who think of themselves as culturally sensitive — persist in stereotyping.

Of course, this works both ways. My brother — who doesn’t look any blacker than I do — is sometimes asked by Nigerians (in Nigeria) whether he is black. At first he thought this was odd, but one explained “We have Americans coming here all the time who say they are black, but they look white to us.”

UPDATE: More thoughts from Tacitus: “What’s amusing in Omaha is sometimes deadly in Africa.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Julie Carlson emails:

I lived in Liberia for 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer (1982-84). Allow me to make a few observations about race and Africa. First, people in Liberia at least, are very upfront about skin color. To them it is just another way to identify you. I had short hair and was rather thin, and little kids would occasionally say, “Hello white man” when I passed by. I am female. The adults just laughed good-naturedly. Several of my students were discussing another student and I couldn’t place him by name. They said, “well, he’s black”. After a few minutes of back and forth I finally said the obvious. “Well, you’re all black. That doesn’t help me.” Again, lots of laughter. Evidently this particular student had very black skin.

Second, to most Africans, we are less about race than we are about being American. Several of the black volunteers had a tough adjustment. They thought they’d be welcomed as a long lost brother, so to speak. But Americans LOOK American, WALK like Americans, etc. in spite of skin color. They were seen first and last as Americans.

Yes. Too bad more Americans don’t see it that way.

January 22, 2004

DAVID PINTO: professional blogger-about-baseball? Looks like it could happen. Cool.

January 22, 2004

HERE’S AN after-action report from the volunteer effort at Camp Pendleton.

January 22, 2004

TACITUS says that Wesley Clark shouldn’t belittle John Kerry’s military record. There’s a lot of interesting discussion in the comments.

January 22, 2004

LEE HARRIS: “It isn’t like Howard Dean is the first man to shriek. I shriek quite a lot myself, and have already done so several times during the current election campaign.”

Read the whole thing. Meanwhile Jeff Jarvis comments: “The scream merely gives voters the excuse they were looking for to vote against Dean, to find an alternative, to blow this race wide open.”

January 22, 2004

LISTENING FOR UNICORNS: Cathy Seipp has a column on university presidents and the SATs.

UPDATE: More on the subject here.

January 22, 2004

THE CURMUDGEONLY CLERK has thoughts on statutory rape, which should probably be read in conjunction with this post by (but of course!) Will Baude. My own sense is that child molestation — along with real, as opposed to statutory, rape — is mala in se, while statutory rape is mere mala prohibita. This is a distinction that is often not reflected in the law, or in public discussion.

My column on society’s attitudes toward teen sex from 2002 is, somewhat, related.

UPDATE: More thoughts here, from Anne Cunningham.


January 22, 2004

PROF. BAINBRIDGE COMMENTS on Bush and gay marriage: “The move Bush makes here is to begin shifting the terms of the debate from outcome to process. Yes, he’s still focusing too much on whether the law should recognize gay marriage, but at least he has begun to shift attention to the real question, which is ‘who decides?'”

January 21, 2004

STILL MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: And blatant racial prejudice, too! Eugene Volokh has more.

January 21, 2004

SOME PEOPLE have emailed asking me to write more about the State of the Union. I’m probably the wrong one to ask. As a general rule, I hate State of the Union addresses. The last two were different — 2002 was close after 9/11, and 2003 was a lead-in to Iraq. Last night’s, at least once you got past the war part at the beginning, was more typical: a bunch of domestic nostrums that for the most part were either mere gestures (steroids?) or things the federal government shouldn’t be doing anyway (basically, everything about education).

I can’t critique Bush’s gay marriage proposal because I still can’t figure out what he was saying. (I suspect that my confusion is fully intended). The federal government has no business telling states what their marriage laws ought to be. Of course, I basically favor gay marriage anyway — though (and I guess it’s possible that this is all Bush was saying, though I doubt it) I agree that it would be better to see it adopted by legislation than by judicial decision.

Well, like I said, I find run-of-the-mill State of the Union addresses pretty awful: smarmy, full of cliches and obvious efforts to tug at the heartstrings, well larded with pork and posturing. But, you know, they’re not for me. Whenever I find myself grimacing at these, I’m reminded of a direct mail consultant who talked to the board of a nonprofit I used to run. He asked us if we liked the advertisements for porcelain collector plates. Everyone said no. “That’s OK,” he responded. “Those ads are aimed at people who like porcelain collector plates. You’re not their target market.” I’m pretty sure I’m not the target market for the State of the Union addresses, either, though I’m not sure who is. . . .

I’m utterly unimpressed with Bush’s domestic spending program, but I’m not its target market, either. Nor, sadly, is there anywhere else to turn: According to the National Taxpayers’ Union, the Democratic candidates are all worse. Fundamentally, there’s not a big enough voter cohort in support of fiscal restraint. Like it or not (and I don’t) the voters are pretty much getting what they want in terms of spending. That may or may not prove terrible for the country — people have been doomsaying about deficits for pretty much my whole lifetime — but there’s no question in my mind that the money contributing to the budget-bloat would be better spent if it was still in the taxpayers’ pockets. The only problem is that the taxpayers (or at least the voters, an overlapping but not fully contiguous set) don’t seem to feel the same way.

UPDATE: This isn’t exactly a Fisking of the State of the Union, but in places it comes pretty close: “I give you a D for your domestic agenda. Other than your tax cuts, you have accomplished little.”

Meanwhile, if you missed it, here’s a column by Victor Davis Hanson offering a more positive take on the foreign-relations part of the SOTU, which was clearly the better portion.

January 21, 2004

I’M AFRAID I HAVE TO AGREE WITH MATT WELCH that James Taranto’s characterization of Democrats who booed the Patriot Act as the “al Qaeda Cheering Section” is over the top.

I’ve been a Patriot Act skeptic — to put it mildly — since pretty much day one. It’s not all bad (and even John Kerry pointed that out last night on ABC) but the overall mindset, and the bureaucratic opportunism, that it represents is a bad thing. And “Homeland Security” remains pretty much of a joke today: lots of pork and gold-plating, lots of new bureaucracy, and not a lot of obvious benefit for security. What’s more, Steven Brill’s account of Ashcroft’s role in the Patriot Act’s drafting, which I blogged here back in April, is just devastating.

There’s no question that the Democrats have demonized the Patriot Act and tried to turn it into a political weapon against Bush — and it’s hypocritical given the 1994 and 1996 “crime” and “terrorism” bills, which were basically more of the same. But that hardly turns them into an “Al Qaeda cheering section.”

UPDATE: Steve Sturm says that Matt and I are wrong.

January 21, 2004

IOWAN DAVID HOGBERG offers a wrapup on the Iowa caucuses.

January 21, 2004

I LIKED this Amazon customer review of the Corvids CD: “I expected a passable vanity project – ‘Oh look, a writer’s making a record, how cute!’ Instead, I found a fantastic bunch of songs that smell like whiskey and feel like summer.” Any artist should be overjoyed to get a review like that.

January 21, 2004

LINK PROPAGATION and credit — some interesting observations.

January 21, 2004

SOME INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS on the difference between conservatism and libertarianism.

January 21, 2004

DANIEL DREZNER NOTES the persistence of soft power.

January 21, 2004


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – French bank Credit Lyonnais and a French government agency pleaded guilty on Tuesday to U.S. felony charges stemming from the takeover of a failed California insurer as part of a $772 million settlement reached last month. . . .

A separate settlement resolved all federal claims against French billionaire Francis Penult and his holding company, Artemis S.A., which agreed to pay $185 million in fines.

I’ll bet there’s an interesting backstory.

January 21, 2004

IT’S BEEN A WHILE since I’ve linked to the Grouchymedia site, but he’s got some new videos up that you might enjoy.

January 21, 2004

BRANCH OUT in your blog-reading: Carnival of the Vanities is up for this week.

January 21, 2004

A FEW WEEKS AGO, I wrote this column inspired by David Baron’s book, The Beast in the Garden, which is about the way romanticized attitudes about dangerous animals led to people being killed by mountain lions in Colorado. Since then, still more people have been killed by mountain lions, in California.

So it’s interesting to see this oped by an Alaskan, from the Los Angeles Times of all places:

I am puzzled now by the strange way people here are dealing with mountain lions — which is to say, letting them kill you. . . .

Why would anyone go into mountain lion country without the means to protect themselves from attack? I notice the police are armed. The wardens and rangers are armed. Indeed, anyone with any clue where they are would be armed.

The title: “Walk Softly and Carry a Big Gun.”

UPDATE: Reader Jeff Johnson emails:

I used to live in Orange County in the later part of the ’80’s and would go mountain biking in a wilderness park near the one where the recent maulings took place. At that time, 1989 to be exact, there were signs posted to warn visitors to be on the alert for mountain lions. Several years prior to then a small child was killed by a mountain lion and the park service was sued for not properly warning people. I don’t know what part of “wilderness” these people didn’t understand. Anyway, I always stuck a handgun in my rear bag when I rode out there. I figured it was a lot easier to explain to the police why I had to shoot a mountain lion than to explain to my wife’s parents why I couldn’t do anything while a lion was attacking their daughter. And since my Texas father-in-law was an avid hunter, I don’t think I would have been able to make him understand something like that. Besides, I’d be more afraid of facing him for not carrying a firearm than the police for carrying one.

The advice from my uncle who lives in Alaska was, “Always take a firearm into the woods that can bring down the biggest animal that lives there.”

Of course, that can be a pretty big gun. Meanwhile Boulder reader Tony Apuzzo writes:

It’s illegal to defend yourself against Mountain Lion attacks in Boulder, Colorado. Well, at least via a “weapon” or “firearm”.

He seems to be right:

Possession or discharge of a firearm or weapon, including paint ball guns, is prohibited on OSMP.

Why: Visitors with weapons jeopardize the safety of other visitors and wildlife.

You’d think that they’d be more worried about huge carnivorous animals, wouldn’t you?

January 21, 2004

DICK MORRIS: “Desperate to keep control of the Democratic Party, the Clintons used their negative researchers and detectives to the ultimate and generated a story-a-day savaging Dean.”

Hmm. If this is true, is a third-party run by Dean more likely?

January 21, 2004


Europe’s apparently doomed attempt to overtake the US as the world’s leading economy by 2010 will today be laid bare in a strongly worded critique by the European Commission.

The Commission’s spring report, the focal point of the March European Union economic summit, sets out in stark terms the reasons for the widening economic gap between Europe and the US.

It cites Europe’s low investment, low productivity, weak public finances and low employment rates as among the many reasons for its sluggish performance.

The draft report, to be published by the Commission today, warns that without substantial improvements “the Union cannot catch up on the United States, as our per capita GDP is 72 per cent of our American partner’s”.

Hmm. Bloated public sectors, high taxes, excessive regulation, and inflexible hiring rules probably have something to do with it.

January 21, 2004

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE WASHINGTON POST? This “News Analysis” piece by David Von Drehle misquotes Bush to make U.S. operations in Iraq sound less multilateral:

“Some critics have said” U.S. foreign policy is too unilateral, Bush allowed, before ticking off a list of 17 countries with troops in Iraq and citing his teamwork with “the international community” to contain threats in North Korea and Iran.

But here’s what Bush actually said:

Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalized. This particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, El Salvador, and the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq.

(Emphasis added.) So the Post characterization actually halves the number of countries involved. (Yeah, Bush only “ticks off” 17 of them, but he mentions the other 17. Not reporting that is pretty hard to defend). Darren Kaplan — who noticed this before I did, and whose post has more background — is certainly “ticked off” at the Post.

Until recently, the Post has been a lot fairer than this. What gives?

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Looks like they “selectively quoted” him, rather than misquoting. By Washington Post standards, that’s considered exercising “good editorial judgement.” Some might call it spin, and some will, and they will be correct.

Actually, I think it’s worse than that. It’s an indirect quote — and it’s an inaccurate indirect quote. That’s not just selective quotation — it’s a misrepresentation of what Bush actually said. A relatively small one, compared to some others, but one for which there’s no real excuse. As Kaplan points out, other papers managed to get it right.

Meanwhile, Porphyrogenitus emails with this explanation for the Post’s shift: “It’s an election year.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Newspaperman reader Jon Ham emails:

In addition to the selective inaccurate quoting, the Post’s copy editors didn’t catch the Copy Editing 101 glitch in the piece. A policy can’t be “too unilateral.” It’s either unilateral or it’s not. There are no degrees of unilateral, just as there are no degrees of unique.

Good point. I had missed that.

MORE: Reader Dave Robertson says that Ham is wrong:

Mr. Ham would be correct if only real definitions were applied. But in anti-Bush political speech, “unilateral” means either “without prior UN approval” or “without active participation of France & Germany”. No matter how many nations participate, Iraq will always be unilateral. Too unilateral is the emphatic variant of unilateral.

And since Bush was already unilateral in Iraq, multilateral can never be applied to any Bush endeavor. Therefore, the U.S. is being unilateral in North Korea by wanting to have multi-nation talks. The multilateral position would be for the U.S. to agree to North Korea’s demands and have on-on-one talks.

What worries me is that this makes sense. . . .

January 21, 2004


The food and fuel situation up north is pretty grim, and it’s making the security forces up there nervous. Lots more North Koreans are openly expressing a “I don’t give a damn” attitude. Just like Eastern Europe in 1989. The current food crises is a result of foreign donors refusing to contribute food for North Korea because the government has not allowed foreigners to observe where the donated food goes. Other witnesses have consistently reported that the donated food goes to the armed forces and is not sent to areas where there has been unrest, or where the government suspects there might be unrest (because a number of locals have fled to China or Russia.) Currently, some twelve percent of North Korea’s population, that was getting food aid, has been cut off. New supplies will not arrive for several months.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler has a story taking a rosier view of North Korea’s situation. But not everyone is convinced.

January 21, 2004

PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY: My TechCentralStation column is up.

January 21, 2004

“THEY LIKE BUSH, AND THEY ARE NOT STUPID:” Australian journalist Caroline Overington reports on American voters.

January 21, 2004

HALLIBURTON MANIA! Last week it was Joe Conason making Halliburton and Mars noises (though he’s backpedaled since, protesting that he never really meant that Halliburton wanted oil from Mars — which would make sense, though if so then the oleaginous spin that he put on his piece can only be explained as an effort to get gullible lefties thinking just that while maintaining plausible deniablilty. Well, sort of plausible, anyway, at least to the gullible.) Anyway, now it’s Clarence Page in the Chicago Tribune, doing the Halliburton shuffle:

Like a lot of big firms, Halliburton has had its eyes on the moon and Mars for quite a while. Halliburton scientist Steve Streich helped author an article in Oil & Gas Journal two years ago titled “Drilling Technology for Mars Research Useful for Oil, Gas Industries.”

The article, unearthed last week by Progress Report, a daily publication of the liberal Center for American Progress, described the exploration of Mars as an “unprecedented opportunity” for the drilling industry and a “great potential for a happy synergy” between space researchers and “the oil and gas industry.”

Seriously, this is getting more and more like the increasingly baroque Clinton conspiracy theories.

UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Michael Hawkins emails:

Has no one seen the movie Armageddon? If you need to drill, you call in the oil and gas people. Even liberal Hollywood filmmakers know that.


January 20, 2004

“FOR DIPLOMACY TO BE EFFECTIVE, WORDS MUST BE CREDIBLE — and no one can now doubt the word of America.” — George Bush, the State of the Union, January 20, 2004.

“Diplomacy has more to do with (credible) threats than with sweet reason. And ‘threats from America’ are a lot more credible, nowadays.” InstaPundit, January 18, 2004.

UPDATE: Stephen Green is blogging the SOTU in realtime, so I don’t have to. His take on Bush’s many domestic initiatives (steroid testing? opposition to gay marriage?) is pretty much mine: unimpressed: “On domestic policy, Bush is the Republican Bill Clinton. No issue is too small to get his attention, if he can throw a few million dollars at it and claim ‘progress.'” I guess you have to do some of this if you’re President. But I don’t have to like it. I like the Social Security privatization, though.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bush looks better now that the Democratic reply is on. Nancy Pelosi’s unblinking, wide-eyed stare-into-the-camera delivery is just creepy. (“Please meet my captors’ demands.”) But judging from what she said — and from the fact that every member of the CNN focus group, Democratic and Republican, thought the war was worth it — I think that Ed Cone was clearly right to say that criticism of the war is approaching its sell-by date. And the Dems’ program proposals aren’t any more impressive than Bush’s. (Daschle says that when our parents were kids, all Americans could go to good schools. Really? When my parents were kids, schools were segregated.) I kind of like Daschle’s effort to coopt Newt Gingrich’s “opportunity society” phrase, though.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Kerry’s on ABC, waffling when asked how he’ll vote on Bush’s legislative proposals. Now he’s waffling on the gay marriage issue — he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act under Clinton, but he doesn’t support gay marriage now. He describes his vote as “an act of courage.” Then he says he agrees with Bush, but that Bush is trying to find “wedge issues.” Now he’s talking about Equal Protection — but he doesn’t say what that means for gay marriage. And now he’s swerved off into affirmative action, all without ever answering Peter Jennings’ questions about gay marriage. Lame.

MORE: The Democratic response got panned by the MSNBC focus group — even by the Democrats. Pelosi and Daschle are criticized for delivery, lack of message. Chris Matthews notes that Tom Daschle never mentioned Iraq. Yeah, they left that to Pelosi, which doesn’t seem like a good move. Bill Frist notes that only the Republicans stood up and applauded the prescription drug benefit. (I wouldn’t have applauded it. Then again, I’m not a Republican.)

Meanwhile, Bill Hobbs has more analysis on the State of the Union (Tom Petty is invoked), and Spoons was liveblogging. So was Capt. Ed. (Best line: “A Republican president bragging about a 36% increase in Federal spending on education. I join the Democrats in sitting on my hands for that one. If only I were bloated, I could do a Ted Kennedy impression.”) Meanwhile Howard Fineman is making fun of the Democrats for stressing the importance of food labeling. Daschle and Pelosi’s TV skills are derided again: “They should have just turned it over to Martin Sheen.” Ouch.

STILL MORE: Roger Simon exposes my ignorance. And a final note: The pundits all love Edwards now.

January 20, 2004

MERYL YOURISH says that Daniel Pipes is wrong: There’s nothing “feminist” about a veil.

January 20, 2004


Dean and Clark are atop what looks like a two-man race for the Democratic presidential delegates from California, but President Bush holds at least a narrow lead in hypothetical matchups with all the Democratic contenders. So says the latest Field Poll.

Bush leading in California? If California is even in play, he’s going to be pretty tough to beat. I’d be inclined to doubt this poll, but hey — I’ve already been wrong that way once this week. . . .

January 20, 2004

DONALD SENSING WRITES that Andrew Sullivan is wrong about preemption:

While I see Andrew’s point, I don’t entirely agree. There are two actors in any potential pre-emption situation, us and the other country.

What Andrew says in his post is that the Iraqi WMD picture painted by the American intelligence apparatus was so spectacularly wrong that using WMD weapons or programs as an element of the casus belli for future military actions against a foreign power can’t be credible anymore. . . .

The lesson here for us is to do intelligence better, but the lesson for would-be foreign leaders seeking WMDs may well be that secrecy and bluffing are a good way to find oneself on the wrong end of regime change.

That seems to be what motivated Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddaffi to abandon WMD programs.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Spoons says that Sensing is right on substance, but Sullivan is right on politics.

January 20, 2004

BUT IT SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY WHEN IT WAS BORN! Eric Muller’s blog, Is That Legal? is a year old today.

January 20, 2004

EVAN COYNE MALONEY interviews supporters who stand up for reasoned debate, and in opposition to hatred. Don’t miss this video!

January 20, 2004

IRAQI BLOGGER ZEYAD gets a writeup in Salon.