Archive for February, 2004

February 23, 2004

JIM HENLEY OFFERS some thoughts on the managerial class: “This has everything to do with why the white working class is not as reliably liberal as liberals think it should be.” (Via Megan McArdle).

February 23, 2004


This appears to be the moment to finally establish in everyone’s mind the deep fraudulence and corruptness of Ralph Nader’s various enterprises. Nobody has an interest in covering up for him now.

Indeed they don’t. More here.

February 23, 2004


February 23, 2004

I’VE MENTIONED DAVID BARON’S BOOK, The Beast in the Garden, about resurgent cougars in Colorado, before. (Here is an earlier post). Now The New York Times has an article about cougar sightings in upstate New York, one somewhat reminiscent of this article by Joe Tarr on cougar sightings in the Smokies.

I’m a bit skeptical of these reports, but if they’re not back now they’ll likely be reappearing sooner or later.

February 23, 2004

ALL OF AMERICA IS A FREE-SPEECH ZONE, which is why I find this crushing of dissent offensive:

Protesters at this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Boston may be confined to a cozy triangle of land off Haymarket Square, blocked off from the FleetCenter and convention delegates by a maze of Central Artery service roads, MBTA train tracks, and a temporary parking lot holding scores of buses and media trucks

Under a preliminary plan floated by convention organizers, the “free-speech zone” would be a small plot bounded by Green Line tracks and North Washington Street, in an area that until recently was given over to the elevated artery. The zone would hold as few as 400 of the several thousand protesters who are expected in Boston in late July.

As I’ve said here before, reasonable security precautions are fine, but efforts to move protesters out of sight are not.

February 23, 2004

ARABS WHO BELIEVE IN DEMOCRACY deserve better treatment than this story describes.

February 23, 2004

MICKEY KAUS wants to know when Kerry will release his military records:

I give Kerry points for his Vietnam service. But since it (along with some plug-n-play Shrum rhetoric) is almost the entirety of his campaign for president, can it really be true that he hasn’t authorized release of his military records? Does he think this is a defensible position? … Hello, Edwards!

Maybe Edwards could raise the issue while guest-hosting the Hugh Hewitt show!

UPDATE: Kerry’s already getting heat from Vietnam vets about his records. I suppose that they’ll probably turn out to be as innocuous as Bush’s records, but people are bound to wonder why he’s keeping them secret, especially after so much noise was made about Bush. [Later: Here’s a Snopes item debunking claims that Kerry’s medals are “fishy.”]

February 23, 2004

MICHAEL LEDEEN has a column on the Iranian elections. He’s quite hard on the low quality of media coverage, something also noted by Stephen Green.

February 23, 2004


Last year the President took a large political step, with political risk, when he put enough pressure on the Palestinian side for them to come forward with somebody who could be seen as a peacemaker, the new Prime Minister Abu Mazen. And we went to Aqaba. The President stood there with the new Prime Minister, King Abdullah of Jordan and with Prime Minister Sharon, and everybody committed to the roadmap and the President’s vision.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work because the Palestinians were unable — and I put the blame squarely on Mr. Arafat — Arafat was not willing to provide authority to Abu Mazen to take control of the security organizations and to go after terrorism and speak out against terrorism — not to start a civil war of the Palestinian communities and the Palestinian Authority, but to start moving against terrorism.

“Was not willing to provide authority” is putting it rather politely. (Emphasis added.)

February 23, 2004

KEN LAYNE AND THE CORVIDS’ new CD Fought Down gets another good review: “a very good set of the kind of pure rock ‘n’ roll hardly anyone plays anymore.” (Via Bill Quick, who rather strongly suggests that you buy it.)

February 23, 2004

THIS STORY seems to illustrate two things. First, that the “domino effect” from the invasion of Iraq is paying big dividends, and second that the IAEA process doesn’t work:

Libya succeeded in making weapons-grade plutonium before announcing it would abandon its efforts to build a nuclear bomb, United Nations inspectors said yesterday. . . .

Libya had been able to buy many of the components needed to build a centrifuge to enrich uranium from the nuclear “supermarket” operated by the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

The IAEA report confirmed that Libya had also bought enriched uranium. This was flown to Libya from Pakistan, said a police report citing the alleged chief financier of the nuclear black market, Buhary Syed Abu Tahir.

Fortunately, fear did what international arms control couldn’t.

February 23, 2004


February 23, 2004

THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS offers a collection of business and economic insights from all sorts of bloggers.

February 23, 2004

DAN AYKROYD: Bush now, Hillary later!

I think Hillary may feel the same way. . . .

February 23, 2004

PITCHING SOFTBALLS TO KERRY AT CNN: I think that many of today’s journalists, like Judy Woodruff, feel a certain generational antiwar solidarity, so they give him a pass on these things. But by doing so, they simply demonstrate their bias, and highlight his problems:

The press has not pressed Mr. Kerry to explain those charges. A case in point was his interview with CNN’s Judy Woodruff last Thursday. Near the end of the conversation, she raised the issue, asking: “It’s been reported that, well you’re aware of this, Vietnam veterans upset with the fact that when you came back from the war … you were accusing American troops of war crimes.”

Mr. Kerry responded with a falsehood followed by a quick shift, “I was accusing American leaders of abandoning the troops. And if you read what I said, it is very clearly an indictment of leadership … I’ve always fought for the soldiers.”

Even if Mrs. Woodruff had not read Mr. Kerry’s testimony — and it is widely available — surely she or her producer had seen the day’s work of the most widely-read political columnist in Washington, her CNN co-worker Robert Novak. In his Thursday column, “Kerry and Hanoi Jane,” Mr. Novak repeated Mr. Kerry’s statements to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and also pointed out that Mr. Kerry was the New England representative to an executive committee meeting of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, at which plans were made to sponsor “war crimes testimony” at the United Nations. A follow-up question beckoned.

Instead, Mrs. Woodruff gave Mr. Kerry a pass.

As with Kerry himself, if they thought his stands then were worthy of praise now, they’d be praising them — instead of concealing them.

February 22, 2004

I SPENT THE AFTERNOON AT THE LIBRARY, doing actual research involving actual books. I also walked around campus for a while, because the weather was pretty nice for February: sunny, and nearly 60. Students were walking around in shorts and t-shirts, trying to pretend it was spring, and the weather made it almost plausible.

That’s one thing I like about Knoxville. It can get cold here, but even a bad winter has a few breaks like this one that remind you that it isn’t permanent. One of the things I disliked about living in places like New Haven or Cambridge was that winter seemed to settle in forever.

One thing that I always find amusing about the change of seasons is the way different students react to it. Some stick to shorts and t-shirts until December, then break them out again at the least provocation. Others dress in down starting in November, and don’t give it up until April.

The weather will go to hell again tomorrow, if the forecast holds, with rain and thirtyish temperatures. But at least we got a break. And, as you can see, I managed to walk around campus a bit before and after my research.

UPDATE: Large image formerly at top removed out of mercy to dialup users; still visible here if you’re interested.

February 22, 2004


WASHINGTON–Former Alaska Gov. Jay Hammond said Saturday that President George Bush should make an Alaska-like dividend for Iraqis a central element of his re-election campaign. . . .

He noted that Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, at his request, proposed to President Bush that the U.S. push for an Alaska-style dividend program after the Iraq war.

“Ted, incidentally, wrote me back after that and said ‘I talked to the president. He’s very much interested. Stay tuned,'” Hammond said.


February 22, 2004

WAS THE GUARDIAN the victim of a cruel practical joke?

UPDATE: Tim Blair has more, including a link to the “suppressed” report, in handy PDF format. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Phil Bowermaster notes that although The Guardian looks bad here, the Global Business Network doesn’t deserve the blame for The Guardian’s gullibility and alarmism.

February 22, 2004

ED CONE REPORTS on John Edwards’ Internet operation.

February 22, 2004

HAITIPUNDIT has lots of news on goings-on in Haiti (pretty much all bad), and links to John Engel, who’s blogging from Haiti. One observation: “The conflict is incredibly complex. The rebels for the most part, are baddies. In my opinion, Aristide and his regime are also baddies.”

February 22, 2004

JUAN COLE is starting a project to translate American political thought into Arabic. As one Cranky Professor observes:

I can’t imagine a better thing for intellectuals to do than pay semi-employed Iraquis with good English to translate (the translator should indeed be a native speaker of the destination language).

Cole has more on his project here.

February 22, 2004

“DUBIOUS ACCOUNTING” AT THE PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS: The entire nonprofit sector is ripe for scrutiny.

Read this, too.

February 22, 2004

STEPHEN GREEN says that CNN muffed it in its coverage of the Iranian elections.

February 22, 2004

HERE’S RALPH NADER’S CAMPAIGN WEBSITE — but there’s no blog. Come on, Ralph — this is the 21st century!

February 22, 2004

THE LANCET has retracted a study on autism and vaccination:

Editor Dr. Richard Horton said Dr. Andrew Wakefield and a team of British scientists who conducted the study on the triple measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine didn’t reveal that they were being paid by a legal-aid service looking into whether families could sue over the immunizations.

Horton called it a “fatal conflict of interest.”

More importantly, the study has been discredited by other research. Still, this should put paid to the notion that drug companies are the only source of conflicts of interest where this sort of thing is concerned. If more people get sick because this study has led to fewer vaccinations (as seems to be the case) should the scientists and the legal-aid people be liable? (Via Howard Lovy).

February 22, 2004

IT’S OFFICIAL: Nader’s running. Best observation: “Whatever the effect of Nader’s campaign on the 2004 election, if it invigorates efforts to improve ballot access for third parties, it will be a plus for the nation.”

UPDATE: Dave Winer is happy:

By trying to hold back Nader (good luck) maybe you’re preventing exactly the kind of transformation we need. I think Nader is a patriot. Give him a medal. And think instead of being part of the herd.

Oliver Willis and Jeff Jarvis are, um, less enthusiastic.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Prof. Bainbridge disagrees with the ballot-access point. And Robert Tagorda thinks that a Nader candidacy might help the Democrats.

February 22, 2004

JOHN KERRY IS ASHAMED OF HIS FOREIGN POLICY POSITIONS: He must be. Why else would he be trying to take them off the table?

It won’t work, any more than George H.W. Bush’s war record let him take issues off the table.

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus observes: “If Kerry’s response to every substantive GOP charge about his record as a Senator is going to be ‘I served in Vietnam,’ it’ll be a long campaign. [You mean “long”=”tedious” or “long”=”losing”?-ed Both!]”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kevin Aylward looks at some polls on this subject.


In 1992, defending Vietnam war draft-dodger Bill Clinton, Kerry said: “We do not need to divide America over who served and how.” Now Vietnam division is Kerry’s major policy. Move on, Senator. There’s a new war.


February 22, 2004

“RIGGED POLL PUTS IRAN’S HARDLINERS IN POWER:” This headline tells it like it is. So does this Iranian:

Imad Nemaatallahi, an engineering student, said: “The talking will stop, the newspapers will be closed down and we will either end up richer or there will be another revolution.”

I don’t think “richer” is a viable option. There are already violent protests in southern Iran over vote rigging. I don’t know if they’ll turn into something bigger — I kind of doubt it — but it seems clear that any hope of peaceful democratic change in Iran is gone.

February 21, 2004

AND PEOPLE WONDER WHY THE NEW YORK TIMES HAS CREDIBILITY ISSUES? Compare this quote from the Times a couple of weeks ago:

“I don’t think I could vote for George Bush again when I think of the 500 people killed in Iraq and what’s happened to the economy in this country,” said George Meagher, an independent, who runs the American Military Museum in Charleston and said he now favors Mr. Kerry.

with this quote from today:

George Meagher, a Republican who founded and now runs the American Military Museum in Charleston, S.C., said he threw his “heart and soul” into the Bush campaign four years ago. . . . “People like me, we’re all choking a bit at not supporting the president. But when I think about 500 people killed and what we’ve done to Iraq.”

This looks suspiciously like the same quote, recycled and relabeled. But thanks to the Internet, we can fact-check your ass. (Originally spotted here, with what I think is an appropriate comment: “Shame on the NYTimes….but then, it says alot that they have to keep interviewing the same guy over and over for different stories, to gather the right soundbite.”) Or, more likely, recycling the original quote in a different story.

And as for relabeling the source guy from “independent” to “Republican” to fit the slant of the story, well, that’s pretty lame — especially as the stories are by the same reporter.

February 21, 2004

LT SMASH has a roundup of reactions to the prospect of a Nader candidacy.

UPDATE: A bunch of the Dean folks are getting together at Joe Trippi’s farm this weekend. Wonder if Nader’s candidacy, and what to do for/about it, will be on the agenda? If Dean’s feeling shafted by the Democratic Party, a Nader endorsement isn’t out of the question.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s a collection of Nader stories, courtesy of The Command Post.

February 21, 2004

UNSOPHISTICATED GERMAN DIPLOMACY leads Der Spiegel to ask: “Are we a nation of failures, not fit for the future, governed by bungling amateurs?”

February 21, 2004

AFTER A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF PRODDING, Virginia Postrel is addressing the issue of economic change and the relationship between productivity and employment. She even mentions massage therapy!

On a more serious note, it’s very important that business writers start looking at this question in precisely the way that Virginia does, or protectionist sentiments are likely to grow.

UPDATE: Here’s an interesting piece from The Economist saying that the “jobless recovery” is a myth.

February 21, 2004


The White House press corps yesterday scrambled to figure out why a hastily-arranged “conversation” between President Bush and some regular Americans about the economy was suddenly closed to reporters — and what went on behind those closed doors.

Little did they know that behind those doors, one of the regular Americans whom Bush was meeting was a blogger.

Heh, indeed. The press seems a bit unhappy about being scooped. Get used to it, guys. More here.

February 21, 2004

HERE’S A VIDEOBLOG REPORT from Iran on the Iranian elections. (Via Jeff Jarvis).

February 21, 2004


UPDATE: There’s more on related subjects here and here.

February 21, 2004


PIERRE – Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., on Thursday praised the Bush administration’s war and nation-building work in Iraq and said he has no serious concerns about the lack of weapons of mass destruction.

Daschle told state chamber of commerce representatives meeting in the South Dakota capital that he is satisfied with the way things are going in Iraq.

“I give the effort overall real credit,” Daschle said. “It is a good thing Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. It is a good thing we are democratizing the country.”

He said he is not upset about the debate over pre-war intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, an issue that has dogged President Bush as Democratic presidential contenders have slogged through the primary season.

I wonder what polls he’s seen?

UPDATE: Or maybe Daschle is just dishonestly telling different stories to different groups, in the hopes they won’t notice. Your call.

ANOTHER UPDATE: In response to the “what polls?” question, reader Matt Edens emails, “the ones in South Dakota.” Seems likely, and in fact that’s consistent with what reader James Somers writes:

The story you linked to about Daschle’s recent pro-Administration remarks on Iraq is likely a sign of things to come. The Democrats have had a fun primary season bashing the Administration by playing to the anti-Bush hysteria of their base. But we are reaching a time where they may not be able to deliver that message safely anymore, because most of the competitive Senate races this year are in the “red states.” The Democrats are trying to hold open seats in the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana, and they have sitting senators up for re-election in the Dakotas, Arkansas and Nevada. They also hope to pick up seats in Oklahoma and Alaska. None of those states are places where naysaying about Iraq or demands for deference to the U.N. are likely to play well. Consequently, as in 2002, the Democrats will have to be very careful with their foreign policy message as November nears, or risk down-ballot disaster that solidifies the GOP’s hold on the Senate.

This would work better, though, if the Internet didn’t make it easy for people to compare statements across both temporal and geographic lines.

Of course, maybe Daschle has changed his mind in response to the facts. It could happen!

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The polls question is answered, at the Daschle v. Thune blog.

February 21, 2004

I HAVEN’T LISTENED TO IT YET, but the audio of John Kerry’s antiwar testimony from 1971, broadcast by Hugh Hewitt earlier, is now online.

UPDATE: A reader emails that this tape has been “sanitized” and omits the most inflammatory Kerry remarks. I haven’t listened, but here’s a link to what I think is a complete transcript if anyone wants to make the comparison.

February 20, 2004

DONALD SENSING has thoughts on marriage, gay marriage, and much more. Just keep scrolling.

February 20, 2004

JOHN ELLIS: “One of the prevailing myths of this campaign season is that Democrats are fired up as never before, eager to slay the evil Bush. Well, maybe so, but they’re not voting. Overall, turnout in last Tuesday’s Wisconsin Democratic presidential primary was down by 183,000 votes from 1988. Kerry trailed Dukakis by 150,000 votes.”

Interesting. (Emphasis added.)

Hey, maybe Ralph Nader will add some excitement!

February 20, 2004

D’OH! I think I forgot to mention this week’s Carnival of the Vanities. Well, it’s mentioned now.

February 20, 2004


February 20, 2004

AMAZING NEWS, which I hope will pan out:

DALLAS – An experimental vaccine wiped out lung cancer in some patients and slowed its spread in others in a small but promising study, researchers say.

Three patients injected with the vaccine, GVAX, had no recurrence of lung cancer for more than three years afterward, according to the study of 43 people with the most common form of the disease, non-small cell lung cancer. . . .

The cancer disappeared in three of the advanced-stage patients. Two of those patients previously had chemotherapy, which failed. In the rest of the advanced-stage patients, the disease remained stable and did not spread for almost five months to more than two years.

A close friend of mine (actually, a former girlfriend) died of lung cancer at the age of 33, despite never having smoked. I’d like to see that sort of death become as obsolete as death from bubonic plague. And when people like me seem to be in a hurry to see science and medicine progress, it’s because we understand that people are dying now who don’t have to be, and who won’t be once cures are developed. (Via Donald Sensing).

UPDATE: Reader David Horwich emails:

Some of my practice is helping pharma (including biotechnology) companies raise the capital necessary to get through the three phases that must be done before a drug is approved for sale. The last credible figure I saw was that a pharma company would spend north of $100 million to get a drug approved; it takes 10 years to do this. Now think about the funnel that the company has to sift through to get there. Phase I is testing safety and a little bit of efficacy. If the compound makes it through to Phase II, it tests efficacy and determines the appropriate dosage to try to make it work. Phase III is for all the marbles, when
the company does a double-blinded, placebo test, in multiple clinics throughout the country, once it has located and enrolled the patients.

Then, if the data pans out, the company prepares a report of its findings and goes to the FDA and waits nearly 18 months to find out whether or not it will then have the luxury of spending tens of millions of dollars on marketing and selling the drug. All before one dollar of revenue.

And a significant percentage of drugs that get into Phase I don’t make it to Phase II. And a lot of Phase II drugs don’t make it to Phase III. And a large number of Phase III drugs fail the test. The cost above does not include these failures. The next time anyone complains about the high cost of prescription drugs should understand this. The reason Canada or EC countries get innovative drugs much cheaper is because they don’t have to go through this system of bringing a drug to market. Think Thalidomide and you can understand why this occurs.

Having said all that, there are some truly amazing technologies in the pipeline that I know about. The entrepreneurial spirit and the compassion and passion that executives at these startups and nascent companies have is astonishing to be part of and makes my job all that much more satisfying. Genomics is going to make their job much, much easier and has already begun to do so.

Bring it on, I say.

February 20, 2004

AMIR TAHERI WRITES on the end of illusions in Iran, including the notion that the mere holding of elections constitutes democracy, and the idea that Iran is likely to be reformed from within.

Meanwhile Jeff Jarvis has a roundup of Iranian blog coverage.

UPDATE: More thoughts, on an earlier version of Taheri’s piece that ran in the Arab News, here.

February 20, 2004

THE TROUBLE WITH LIBEL. Most people who file those suits seem to regret doing it.

February 20, 2004


And then there’s this. I guess you don’t find many apparatchiks who favor free speech.

February 20, 2004

MARGARET WENTE has thoughts on the unfolding Canadian scandals, which really deserve more attention than they’re getting in the States.

February 20, 2004

FREE DOWNLOADS AND COMPETITION: Okay, the InstaWife’s book was selling on Amazon for $100 used, which led her to make it available for free download on her website. The used price is now $95.24, after being available for download for over a month, even though there’s a comment on the Amazon page telling people where they can get it for free. I’ll grant that this isn’t scientific, but it certainly suggests that the availability of free downloads doesn’t destroy the market for a product, even at a very high price differential.

What’s more, she’s gotten quite a few donations through her website, making the entire operation a profitable one. People’s willingness to make donations, sometimes sizable, in support of things they can get for free is something that has surprised me about blogging, and suggests that the portrayal of human behavior I got in Econ 101 was incomplete.

February 20, 2004

NICK SCHULZ on gay marriage. A few days ago, I noted that although gay marriage polls badly, I didn’t think the intensity of the opposition was very high. So far, it still looks that way.

February 20, 2004

BASED ON THIS BLOG REPORT, Iranians appear to be boycotting the elections, and everything else, today.

UPDATE: You can read translated Iranian blog reporting here at IranFilter.

February 20, 2004

MICKEY KAUS notes that CBS gave Kerry a mulligan. Is it bias? Or Kerry’s superior strategy?

February 20, 2004

MORE ON IRAN: This story from The Telegraph suggests that a collapse may be imminent, or at least that the mullahs have lost moral and religious authority:

The old American embassy in Teheran might have been seared into the world’s consciousness as the cradle of Iran’s revolution, yet the talk among the young Revolutionary Guards stationed there does not match the murals shouting defiance from battered walls.

“I would live in America, no problem,” said one 22-year-old, who added that he associated the country with “love and freedom”.

Nearby, “Down with USA” was painted on the wall in garish red and yellow hues.

Another guard, also in his 20s, added: “Our government has one view of America but the people have another.

“Our government tries to show the US as an enemy of our country and of our people. All of the young believe the US is good. Most of the people believe this.”

How long can the Mullarchy keep power under these circumstances?

February 20, 2004


Something about this war is eating Bush’s detractors alive, something unquantifiable with conventional weights and measures. I think that it is because if George W. Bush really did lie (and thus surprising both the Right and Left), the anti-war crowd would still have to face a disheartening Spectacle of Freedom For An Entire People, instead of the more satisfactory Humiliation Of Bush At The United Nations And Mass Graves Nobody Knows About.

That simple.

Nothing is more irritating than watching your enemies fail to live up to your worst expectations. If George W. was hawking stolen museum art, or John Ashcroft was forcing Shiites to convert, or Dick Cheney was sucking the oil from Iraqi teenager’s skin, the Left would have far lower blood pressure. They would be relieved, vindicated, because the war would be delightfully immoral.

The anti-war crowd long ago started measuring themselves as culturally, intellectually, and morally superior to the pro-war crowd, instead of measuring whether their policies were superior. Thus, the incredible success in Afghanistan and Iraq is not a blow to their policy, it is a blow to their ego and sense of self.

Indeed. (Via Vodkapundit).

February 19, 2004

“WORTHWHILE CANDADIAN SCANDAL” — Now there’s a turn of phrase that just keeps going. . . .

February 19, 2004

HUGH HEWITT: “My offer to [John] Edwards to co-host my program any or all days from now until March 2 remains open. Given that I am on, among many places, in drive-time in L.A., San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, and in the early evening in Boston, Atlanta, Cleveland and Cinncy –all Super Tuesday markets– I am certain he’d be tripling his exposure in those cities by coming into the studio, but I haven’t heard from the campaign.”

If Edwards passes on this offer, he deserves to lose.

February 19, 2004

ROGER SIMON continues to follow the money — Saddam’s oil money, that is.

February 19, 2004

RHODE ISLAND’S GOVERNOR CARCIERI has withdrawn a proposed state Homeland Security bill that got a lot of criticism.

February 19, 2004

ANDREA SEE will be running in the Xiamen marathon and is looking for sponsors (the money goes to charity). If you’ve been waiting your whole life to sponsor a tattooed smartassed Chinese/Singaporean woman in a Chinese marathon, well, here’s your chance.

February 19, 2004

MICHAEL TOTTEN: “I can’t help but think some people admire totalitarian regimes not because they want to live in one, but because they want to be in charge of one.”

He also has some thoughts on what should be done with Saddam.

February 19, 2004

PATRICK BELTON has a roundup of reports on tomorrow’s Iranian elections and observes:

ON THE EVE OF A CORRUPT ELECTION which will undoubtedly install a conservative majority and add the Iranian parliament to a trifecta of judicial, clerical, and now political institutions controlled by hardliners, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi announced today that she would not vote, in protest against the mass disqualification of reformist candidates. Abstention will be widespread, in fact – Agence France Presse’s correspondent this morning found only one passer-by who was planning to vote, after speaking with three dozen.

Still, there will be an election, even if it has already been determined that its results will not reflect the preferences of the Iranian people.

The real question is what will happen next.

February 19, 2004

IRAQI WOMEN are marching to demand equal rights. Funny that American women’s groups aren’t rallying loudly to their support.

February 19, 2004

IS THE JOHN EDWARDS CAMPAIGN REALLY “WHOLLY FUNDED by the trial lawyers”? That’s what John Kerry’s press secretary, Stephanie Cutter, is quoted as saying in the New York Times. And, since the Times story provides no contradictory information, and it’s the New York freakin’ Times, I guess it must be true, right?

Maybe I’ll go donate a buck to Edwards, just so that he’ll have gotten at least one dollar from somewhere else. Odd that it hasn’t happened before. . . .

UPDATE: Are all these people trial lawyers, too? And how does the Times know? Superior investigative journalism, I guess. . . .

February 19, 2004

OKAY, I GUESS THAT MAYBE SOMEWHERE things are weirder than this, but they couldn’t be much weirder.

At least they’re polite Nazis. . . .

February 19, 2004

BILL MOYERS WILL LEAVE PBS, after the elections.

February 19, 2004

HOSSEIN DERAKSHAN is encouraging Iranian bloggers to be reporters during tomorrow’s elections.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, you might want to read this piece on what’s at stake:

Demonstrations five days ago in the western city of Marivan were so potent that the regime sent helicopter gunships to shoot down protestors, and there are reports that members of the regular armed forces joined the demonstrators. And in Hamadan, demonstrators clashed with security forces after the closure of the unfortunately named “Islamic Equity Ban.” The demonstrators accused the bank managers of stealing the bank’s money and smuggling it out of the country to their personal benefit, and that of the regime’s top figures. The charge is credible because, as Western governments know well, large quantities of cash — just as in the case of Saddam Hussein — have been moved out of Iran in recent months by friends and relatives of the leading officials.

Read the whole thing, which also reports that smugglers, trying to get uranium out of Iran and into Iraq, were arrested in Mosul. That ties together interestingly with this report of newly discovered uranium enrichment equipment.

The Mullarchy that rules Iran wants to turn it into North Korea, with themselves in the role of Kim Jong-Il.

February 19, 2004

WINDS OF CHANGE has its always-useful and interesting war news roundup posted.

February 19, 2004


February 19, 2004

OVER AT THE TYPEPAD TEST BLOG I mentioned bandwidth as an issue for bloggers. I just looked to see how much bandwidth InstaPundit has used this month — so far it’s 216 gigabytes. Your results are likely to vary, but you should certainly take bandwidth, and the likelihood that it will grow, into account when you choose hosts.

UPDATE: Tom Smith thinks my house looks tidy. Er, parts of it. Don’t look in the study, where books, manuscripts, MIDI cables, and assorted bits of hardware are strewn everywhere.

February 19, 2004

BREATHALYZER INTERLOCKS FOR CARS look a lot like fingerprint locks for guns, observes Eugene Volokh, who is surprised that people are more exercised over one than the other.

February 19, 2004


A New Jersey woman, one of the hundreds of people accused of copyright infringement by the Recording Industry Association of America, has countersued the big record labels, charging them with extortion and violations of the federal antiracketeering act.

I think they’re vulnerable on a variety of legal fronts, not just this one.

UPDATE: Sorry, I was imprecise above. I meant that I think they’re more vulnerable on other fronts — also under RICO — than this one.

February 19, 2004

IF NADER RUNS, I think he’ll pick up a fair number of former Dean supporters. Here’s some evidence in support of that proposition.

UPDATE: Reader Don Byrd emails that these quotes are unrepresentative:

I’ve met probably 500 Dean supporters one time or another during the last year in Nashville, and I can count on one hand the number of them who say they voted for Nader. At a meetup (attended by about 150 Dean supporters) I hosted in September, I introduced one of those guys, thinking he could speak to the job we’re doing trying to entice greens into our efforts…but to my shock (and missing the point) he was roundly booed by the crowd when I introduced him as a Nader voter. Dean supporters are anti-Bush Democrats, but Democrats nonetheless.

Well, we’ll see, won’t we?

February 19, 2004


The Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan has been demonized in the West for selling atomic secrets and equipment around the world, but the trade began in Europe, not Islamabad, according to court documents and experts who monitor proliferation.

The records show that industry scientists and Western intelligence agencies have known for decades that nuclear technology was pouring out of Europe despite national export control efforts to contain it.

Many of the names that have turned up among lists of suppliers and middlemen who fed equipment, materials and knowledge to nuclear programs in Pakistan and other aspiring nuclear nations are well-known players in Europe’s uranium enrichment industry, a critical part of many nuclear weapons programs. Some have been convicted of illegal exports before.

The proliferation has its roots in Europe’s own postwar eagerness for nuclear independence from the United States and its lax security over potentially lethal technology. It was abetted, critics say, by competition within Europe for lucrative contracts to bolster state-supported nuclear industries. Even as their own intelligence services warned that Pakistan could not be trusted, some European governments continued to help Pakistan’s nuclear program.

Perhaps this explains the different degree of enthusiasm for international agreements on the part of Europe and the United States — the United States actually worries about having to comply with them, while the Europeans, unfettered by any such concerns, are free to posture.

UPDATE: And, in a related matter, we have this:

The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency has found undeclared advanced uranium enrichment centrifuge parts in Iran, sources familiar with an inspection report told CNN Thursday.

The information will be included in a detailed report to be presented March 8 at a meeting of International Atomic Energy Agency governors in Vienna, Austria.

The report will say that the centrifuge equipment, found on an Iranian air force base, is not of a type that works with equipment found at nuclear sites that Iran has declared.

The report marks the first time Iran’s nuclear program has been linked directly to its military. . . .

The diplomats also said the design matched drawings of enrichment equipment found in Libya that was supplied through the network headed by Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan.

It would, I think, be very desirable for the Mullarchy in Iran to fall before it acquires nuclear weapons. I wonder if anyone else feels that way?

February 19, 2004


Does “electability” still work as an argument for Kerry if a CNN/USA Today poll has Edwards beating Bush 54-44, almost the same margin as Kerry’s 55-43 edge over the president?

It’s also a big question for the Bush campaign, of course.

February 19, 2004

HOWARD’S END: My thoughts on the Dean campaign and the Internet are up over at Excerpt: “I think it means that the Internet is a powerful tool, but no tool is better than the hand that holds it.” LT Smash, meanwhile, has a roundup of blogosphere responses to Dean’s departure.

I’ll actually miss him. I’m pretty sure that he would have been a disaster as a President, or even as a general-election candidate. I disagreed with him on most stuff, I think, and certainly about his signature issue, the war. But he did have a genuineness that the other candidates lacked, and I liked him for that.

UPDATE: The Wall St. Journal calls Dean “the most consequential loser since Barry Goldwater.”

February 19, 2004


As Friday’s parliamentary elections approach, however, there’s a distinct tone of worry that conservatives expected to regain control of parliament would step up pressure to censor the Internet.

“It will be the end of the blog era in Iran,” said a Tehran-based blogger who operates, the name indicative of her love of Western music.

But thus far, the Internet has managed to avoid the hardliners’ choke hold on media, which has silenced dozens of pro-reform newspapers and publications since the late 1990s.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Iranian bloggers have some thoughts on the U.S. Presidential election, too.

February 19, 2004

CONSERVATISM AT YALE LAW SCHOOL: A report from the Yale Daily News.

UPDATE: David Bernstein has some firsthand experiences to report.

February 19, 2004

ANOTHER KERRY SCANDAL, this one from the Los Angeles Times:

Sen. John F. Kerry sent 28 letters in behalf of a San Diego defense contractor who pleaded guilty last week to illegally funneling campaign contributions to the Massachusetts senator and four other congressmen.

Members of Congress often write letters supporting constituent businesses and favored projects. But as the Democratic presidential front-runner, Kerry has promoted himself as a candidate who has never been beholden to campaign contributors and special interests. . . .

Asked what he did to repay the money, Kerry’s campaign said Wednesday he had donated $13,000 to charity on Feb. 9 — which was two days before Majumder’s guilty plea.

Capt. Ed observes:

As in the Liu Chaoying case, which is mentioned in this article but curiously doesn’t mention Liu or her status as a spy, there is no indication that Kerry was aware of DR. Majumder’s illegal activities. However, this clearly demonstrates the extent to which Kerry can be bought.

In this, he’s not terribly different from some other politicians. But he’s claiming to be.

UPDATE: Reader Dave Perron notes that this story has been around for a while. True enough, but Kerry’s now campaigning — absurdly, as Howard Dean pointed out — as the anti-special-interest candidate. Presumably, that’s why the Los Angeles Times thought the latest developments were big news.

And read Shannon Love’s comment to Capt. Ed’s post, which captures a sad truth about money in politics: “I am less upset that politicians can be bought than I am that they come so damn cheap.”

February 19, 2004

“I WAS KIM JONG IL’S COOK:” As the reader who sent this link from the Atlantic Monthly observes, it’ll curl your hair.

February 19, 2004

I’M A PRETTY MELLOW GUY, which means that I found a recent preachy screed by the CJR campaign blog trivial, and didn’t bother to try to refute it. I generally like the blog, and jumping on other bloggers isn’t usually my thing. But if I had tried, I probably wouldn’t have done as good a job as Jay Rosen has done.

I’ve been pretty critical of the “ethics establishment,” and the way in which its pronouncements tend to be rather transparent shields for self-interest. The journalistic ethics establishment certainly falls into this category. Ethics are important. Ethics authorities, however, usually aren’t.

But in one sense I think that Jay misses the important transitional role the CJR blog is playing. Many among the more hidebound segments of the press are scared of blogs, or ignorant of them. Institutional blogs like CJR’s will help to introduce them to the blogosphere. Wonkette can come later.

Kinda like starting with Pat Boone, and ending up with Elvis.

February 18, 2004

PEOPLE KEEP SENDING ME THIS STORY FROM NEWSMAX: McCain: Hanoi Hilton Guards Taunted POWs With Kerry’s Testimony. I agree with Mudville Gazette, though, that the headline misrepresents the facts actually laid out in the story. While there’s evidence elsewhere that the North Vietnamese used Kerry’s testimony to demoralize some U.S. POWs (“Paul Galanti learned of Kerry’s speech while held captive inside North Vietnam’s infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison. . . . During torture sessions, he said, his captors cited the antiwar speeches as ‘an example of why we should cross over to [their] side.'”), there’s no evidence that this ever actually happened to McCain, and the story doesn’t actually say that once you get past the headline.

February 18, 2004

ANIL DASH asked me to try out TypePad and see what I thought. I like it. Here’s my take-it-for-a-spin TypePad blog.

February 18, 2004

NANOTECHNOLOGY is progressing so rapidly that even experts are having trouble keeping current.

February 18, 2004


DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – Syria has sent messages to bitter foe Israel via Turkey offering to restart stalled peace talks between the two countries, Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam said Wednesday.

The messages carried by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul expressed “Syria’s readiness to resume peace talks from where they broke off” in January 2000, Khaddam said.


UPDATE: Hmm. Interesting juxtaposition of stories here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Britain is closing its embassy in Syria, according to a report on the Free Arab Forum blog.

MORE: Here’s a news story on the embassy closure. The slant is a bit different from the post above.

STILL MORE: War critic Michael Duff is surprised to see that the Bush doctrine is working:

I don’t really like the Bush Doctrine, okay?

After 9-11, I thought we should confine our efforts to the Al Qaeda organization. Instead, Bush decided to condemn half the Middle East with his Axis of Evil speech and roll tanks into Iraq.

It bothered me. It still bothers me. But dammit, if you look at the patterns, it seems to be working. The Middle East thinks Bush is batshit crazy, and their governments are afraid of us. Do you get that? The bad guys are afraid of us, because against all logic and common sense, we went into Iraq and we took Saddam down. . . .

In 2001, New York was burning and we were afraid. Today, there are American flags flying in Baghdad and our enemies are afraid.

Indeed. Read the whole thing.

MORE STILL: Here’s another perspective, tying together events in Syria with events in Iran.

February 18, 2004

NOT EVERYONE HAS GIVEN UP on the Kerry infidelity story. Eric Scheie notes that over at the John Edwards campaign blog some of Edwards’ supporters are still hoping to give the story legs.

UPDATE: My goodness, the first comment posted below Scheie’s entry is a truly shocking example of Bush-hatred. People said this sort of thing about Clinton, too, of course, but I don’t recall it being regarded as acceptable in polite society, as Bush-hatred clearly is.

And speaking of such things, I highly recommend this article by University of Texas law professor Doug Laycock, entitled Vicious Stereotypes in Polite Society, which originally appeared in Constitutional Commentary, a faculty edited law review published out of the University of Minnessota law school.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader thinks that this story is relevant.

MORE: Polite society responds. More from the same source here.

In a later comment, Scheie says that the guy who posted the Bush-hatred stuff is normally a nice guy, and just lost it. That can happen to any of us, of course, and happens to most of us at one time or another. But it’s when people aren’t (politely) reminded that they’ve crossed the line that things tend to spin out of control. I appreciate the people who criticize me on matters of tone, when their own tone is such as to make those criticisms credible.

February 18, 2004

JEFF JARVIS: “The most amusing phone call of coming days will be Al Gore trying to endorse Kerry or Edwards.”

February 18, 2004

WIRED NEWS has an interesting story on Blogads and campaigns.

February 18, 2004

THIS PASSAGE FROM HARDBALL seems like it deserves more attention. James Hoffa of the Teamsters is explaining why he supports Kerry:

MATTHEWS: How about ANWR? You guys want to see ANWR because you want to see guys working in your business. I guess there‘s a lot of Teamsters jobs up there lined up and organized, if you could put a pipeline up to the Alaska wilderness. He is against that.

HOFFA: Well, we talked about that.

He says, look, I am against ANWR, but I am going to put that pipeline in and we‘re going to drill like never before. . . .

MATTHEWS: But he is against drilling up there. What are they going to run through the pipeline?

HOFFA: Well, they are going to drill all over, according to him. And he says, we‘re going to be drilling all over the United States. And he says that is going to create more jobs. . . .

MATTHEWS: It just seems amazing that he has turned around on NAFTA, turned around on WTO, turned around on ANWR, anything to get the Teamsters.


Oh, indeed. This seems like big news to me, if it’s true. And Hoffa certainly seems serious.

UPDATE: Apparently it only seems serious in print — from the context you can tell he’s kidding, as reader Steve Jennings emails:

Limbaugh played the excerpt from Hardball with Hoffa today. After Hoffa made those statements that Kerry was in favor of drilling there was an outburst of laughter from others on the show. Hoffa doesn’t believe that and no one believed him.

Thank goodness that Rush Limbaugh is clearing up what could otherwise be an embarrassing moment for Kerry.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon emails: “A reader of my blog just posted he or she) saw the show and that Hoffa was definitely NOT kidding. Matthews looked incredulous.” Stay tuned. Did anybody TIVO it? (Link to Simon post here).

MORE: Reader Paul Hrissikopoulos emails:

Hoffa seemed serious to me. It seemed to me that the people on the Hardball panel laughed because Matthews’ jaw almost hit the ground when he said it.

He blogged it here. And another reader emails:

Hoffa was dead serious. The laughter from the panel was in response to Matthews’ shock at Hoffa’s statement. HOFFA WAS DEAD SERIOUS.

Why doesn’t some enterprising reporter ask Hoffa — and Kerry — about this? Personally, I hope the story’s true, as it would suggest a measure of realism regarding energy policy.

February 18, 2004

POTHOLES: Will Collier asks a war critic “what’s wrong with this picture?”

February 18, 2004

THE FUTURE OF BLOGGING: In my TechCentralStation column today.

February 18, 2004

WINDS OF CHANGE has a China news roundup that, like all such, is worth your time.

February 18, 2004

HUGH HEWITT played John Kerry’s 1971 Senate testimony on Vietnam on his radio show yesterday and remarks:

I played John Kerry’s 1971 testimony on the radio program, and the response was intense. The first two hours brought scores of calls and e-mails which denounced Kerry for his slander of the military that served in Vietnam and for his understanding of the war. Kerry has thus far successfully dodged a discussion of the specifics of his testimony, and it was very hard to find the audio –it took my producer Duane considerable digging to find the tape.

The impact of actually hearing Kerry slander the military–his accent is unbelievable, and his tone of arrogance and condescension repulsive– is powerful, and I do not believe he can serve successfully as Commander-in-Chief given the reactions I heard from veterans and currently serving military.

Hewitt links to a text version, but unfortunately the audio isn’t available. I hope that someone will put the audio online so that more people can listen and decide for themselves.

February 18, 2004

MORE ON GAVIN NEWSOM and the San Francisco gay marriage issue: Larry Solum has a post on some of the issues raised, and Jacob Levy has a piece in The New Republic on the Federal Marriage Amendment.

UPDATE: Arthur Silber points to (and summarizes) this brief in support of the San Francisco position. I’m off to a faculty meeting and haven’t had time to read it, but you may find it interesting.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s a link to the brief for the other side.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Katz disagrees with Levy.

February 18, 2004

OKAY, THE GUY WHO INTERVIEWED ME FOR THIS STORY was nice enough, but I questioned then whether his characterization of InstaPundit was right:

The stance is a departure from that of most conservatives, a division that supporters of gay marriage hope to exploit.

“I don’t see the response to gay marriage as unified at all on the conservative side,” said Glenn H. Reynolds, a supporter of gay marriage rights and publisher of the generally conservative blog

If you support gay marriage, drug legalization, and legal abortion — but you also support the war — then you’re a “conservative,” I guess. That seemed to be his position, and it seems to be a lot of people’s. As Art Leff said, all definitions are permitted to the definer, so long as they’re clear.

UPDATE: Paul Boutin comments.

February 18, 2004

JEFF JARVIS notes that Iranian weblogs are probably more important than the American blogs that we hear more about.

February 18, 2004

INTERESTING PIECE ON SYNESTHESIA: I’m interested in this. I’m quite a synesthetist myself, experiencing sound in visual terms. (Based on my experience, this is true of most sound engineers, and many musicians). The sound of falling rain “looks” like polkadots. A kick drum hit looks kind of like an overstuffed pillow, with the shape and size varying according to tone. Electric guitars look like multicolored spaghetti.

I suspect that this is actually useful, allowing more brain processing power to go to work on a problem. I can “see” differences in sound (like the difference between two nearly-identical delay times) that I can’t really hear directly. I think lots of people who work with sound have similar experiences, though I wonder whether this is developed through the work, or whether people with those characteristics tend to go into such things. Perhaps some of both, though I’ve experienced sound this way since I was a kid.

February 18, 2004

HERE’S A LENGTHY BLOG-DISSECTION of the Associated Press’s coverage of the National Guard flap, in which the Associated Press comes off quite badly indeed. Of course, that should be no surprise to people who have been paying attention.

February 18, 2004


Democrat National Committee (DNC) chairman Terry McAuliffe today said that presidential candidates John F. Kerry and John Edwards have gone AWOL from the Senate, missing almost every Senate vote in the past three months, and perhaps longer. (2/5/04)

Al Kamen, today, in the Washington Post:

Seems staff for Democratic front-runner Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, created quite a fuss by demanding that a Meredith Broadcasting TV crew be thrown out of a hearing in which Small Business Administrator Hector V. Barreto came to testify on the president’s budget. . . .

So why all the static from Kerry’s committee staff? Was this to prevent video footage of Kerry gone AWOL?

Once again, Scrappleface’s Scott Ott is writing the lines. Kerry’s just living them.

February 18, 2004

THE 1000 FIGHTING STYLES OF DONALD RUMSFELD: My favorite is “Hidden Monkey Hands.” (Via Tim Blair).

UPDATE: Don’t miss Crouching Tiger, Hidden Defense Secretary, either. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Several readers point out that Rummy does not use the Shaolin Buddha Finger. Hey, you have to hold something in reserve.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Oops, I was wrong. He does!

February 18, 2004

HERE’S AN INTERESTING history of Presidential space initiatives, recommended by Rand Simberg.

February 18, 2004

KAUS has your roundup on post-Wisconsin spin. Plus, bonus digs at Joe Conason! Meanwhile Wonkette isn’t impressed with the way Kerry interrupted Edwards’ speech: “Something Gore would do.” And the question on everyone’s mind: “Did Dean bow out? We’re not sure because his speech was so schizo.”

UPDATE: Moderate voice: “What seems to be happening is this: the more voters see of Edwards, the more they seem to like him.” And Sean Hackbarth has been looking at the exit poll data in more detail.

February 17, 2004

KERRY’S BEHIND BY A BIT at the moment, but Fox just projected him the winner in Wisconsin. Even if that holds up, I think that this keeps Edwards very much in the game, which will make Doug Weinstein (who’s big on Edwards, not so big on Kerry) very happy.

Even more importantly, it will keep pundits happy, which is why I’m sure that this will be spun as an Edwards victory, regardless.

UPDATE: Lots of pundits are hinting darkly that the Democrats may be glad to have Edwards if “something” comes up to derail Kerry. Is this what they’re talking about? Or is there some other shoe that may drop?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Moxie has started Republicans for Edwards — that means he’s got the “big Mo!”

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: We’ll be hearing a lot about “delegate-rich states” over the next few weeks. And it occurs to me that although Howard Dean was talking tonight about moving the agenda on the war, in fact he demonstrated that being loudly antiwar gets you a distant third place in the Democratic primaries. Not much there.

The Kerry spin is that he did better among committed Democrats, and Edwards did better among Independents and Republicans. Er, okay — but which votes will a Democrat need to pick up in order to win in November? I’m just, you know, asking. . . .

Kaus has more.