Archive for April, 2004

April 25, 2004

DAVE TROWBRIDGE is declaring victory in the culture war. Somewhere, Jose Bove is crying.

Related development here.

April 25, 2004

JAY ROSEN WRITES that President Bush has a new strategy on the press:

And the reporter then said: Well, how do you then know, Mr. President, what the public is thinking? And Bush, without missing a beat said: You’re making a powerful assumption, young man. You’re assuming that you represent the public. I don’t accept that. . . .

Whoever can speak to the whole nation becomes a power. There is still a reporters gallery, and it is still speaking the language of a Fourth Estate. But perhaps its weakness is in speaking a language Americans recognize as theirs. Bush is challenging the press: you don’t speak to the nation, or for it, or with it.

He cannot sustain this challenge all the time–thus, the April 13 press conference, thus the embeds–but it is a serious argument. Intellectually, it’s almost a de-certification move against the press corps. There’s a constituency for this, and it picks up on long-term trends that have weakened the national press, including a disconnect between Big Journalism and many Americans, and the rise of alternative media systems.

As a first step out of this trap, journalists need to ask themselves: how did we become so predictable?

The press, of course, is unrepresentative. It isn’t elected, nor — in its views, its background, and its personal characteristics — is it reflective of the public. (If the public thought like the press, no Republican would ever be elected President.) Nor does the public feel that it is represented by the press. I don’t know if it ever did, but back in the day when reporters were more like ordinary people in their habits, incomes, and backgrounds — the Lou Grant era — I think it was more plausible to make that claim.

UPDATE: Reader James Bourgeois emails:

I am a regular visitor to your site and my interest was really piqued by the item you posted on the president’s commenting that the press doesn’t represent the public.

President Bush is right. The media do not represent the people. Journalists (I hesitate to call them reporters because they are all failures at that job), whether working for electronic or print media, represent a minority of vocal holier/smarter than thou liberals who would make all important decisions for the “great, unwashed masses” that comprise the electorate in our country.

I am a former reporter. I have a journalism degree. I left the business because of its drift from real reportage to advocacy and the abandonment of journalistic standards and ethics in favor of the kind of slanting and spinning we see today on the pages of the morning paper and on the evening news broadcasts. I knew it was time to find another way to make a living when I watched Peter Jennings, on a closed circuit feed to ABC affiliates, berate the American voter for Ronald Reagan’s election victory over Jimmy Carter. Jennings, who was a Canadian citizen at the time, repeated that disgraceful performance in a toned down manner thenight he ascribed the Gingrich led Republicans’ takeover of the House of Representatives to a temper tantrum by the voters.

The really disturbing thing about what’s going on in the media is that the effect has seeped into local newsrooms of small dailies, weeklies and small market television stations as well. The reporters in those small markets are mostly ambitious types who want to make it to the big leagues and to get there they have to show they have game. In other words, they’d damn well better subscribe to the prevailing political views or they have no shot at all at an upward career path.

Real journalism, until the advent of the internet, was a dying craft. The mainstream media is too absorbed in shilling for liberal politicians and left wing causes to have an objective view of its output. There are no opposing opinions in the newsrooms at CBS, NBC, ABC or any of the leading dailies which would give the major players enough pause to consider that perhaps the other side has a legitimate viewpoint that should, by right, be given some play without denigrating comments, asides and negative labeling affixed to it.

It is no secret why Rather, Jennings and their ilk abhor people like Matt Drudge, Charles Johnson and Glenn Reynolds. You guys have taken their audience. While they were busy evading their responsibilities to give news consumers the truth, they lost their viewers and readers to those who recognized a vacuum and stepped up to fill it.

One cannot be a realist without recognizing that no thinking person can report on events and issues today without having some opinions. Those opinions, however, are to be kept out of news stories, whether they appear on newspaper pages or on television and radio broadcasts. The mainstream media, unfortunately, in buying into the liberal line that the ordinary citizen is incapable of making rational, informed decisions, made a conscious decision to quit informing them and instead has chosen to engage in launching a daily propaganda barrage.

As for that “days of Lou Grant” comment, the Mary Tyler Moore show didn’t come close to depicting the reality of a newsroom. The newsroom is a place of sniping and backbiting, populated by cheap shot artists fighting for inches and minutes by taking sensational angles on stories that, when presented honestly and objectively, tell themselves to willing audiences. I’ve been there, and sometimes a reporter gets sent out on an assignment that turns out to be a dog or a non-story. When that happens, a real professional doesn’t tart it up to get air time or page space. He moves on the next one. We don’t see that today and its effects are easily detected in the shrinking readership and viewership
of mainstream media outlets.

Well, that’s perhaps a bit overstated. But the White House press corps certainly isn’t reflective of America, nor is it elected. Nor, in light of shrinking viewerships and readerships, can it claim that it’s giving the people what they want. As ABC’s The Note admitted a while back:

Like every other institution, the Washington and political press corps operate with a good number of biases and predilections.

They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are “conservative positions.”

They include a belief that government is a mechanism to solve the nation’s problems; that more taxes on corporations and the wealthy are good ways to cut the deficit and raise money for social spending and don’t have a negative affect on economic growth; and that emotional examples of suffering (provided by unions or consumer groups) are good ways to illustrate economic statistic stories.

None of these shared beliefs make the press “representative” of Americans at large, though it does tend to share the views of the academic/professional class to which it belongs.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Julie Cleevely emails:

Your reader James Bourgeois has just summed up the media in Britain perfectly. A couple of honourable exceptions, but in the main our media is no more than propaganda and lies. The BBC is a serious problem- Al Jazeera for middle class snobs.

Well, I think that these criticisms are a bit strong. Media bias is more like unconscious racism, most of the time, than it is like deliberate misrepresentation. While there are certainly cases of deliberate misrepresentation, most of the time I think it stems from a worldview so deep-rooted that they’re unaware of it.

But it’s certainly true that the notion of the professional press as a check on the government has no foundation. The Constitution envisions freedom of speech and of the press as checks — not the institution of the press as one. That’s a key difference, I think.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mike Hammer emails:

Glenn: As a former print journalist I’d like to make a brief comment about the non-representative press. Journalists may be out of step with mainstream America, but for the vast majority of them it is because they are woefully underpaid, not overpaid. I suspect that many more newsrooms would swing to the middle if reporters were paid enough to live above the poverty line.

As a current college professor I could say the same thing about academia. If assistant professors were paid enough to live in middle class neighborhoods, then more of them might actually consider themselves middle class.

Mike Hammer
Assistant Professor of Spanish
San Francisco State University

I’d be the last to disagree that academics are underpaid. By definition! But the White House press corps makes a lot more money than most Americans, I imagine. It’s true that reporters at run-of-the-mill newspapers don’t make a lot of money. But I think that the analogy with academics demonstrates that there’s more to being “mainstream” than income. In fact, I don’t think the salary difference accounts for it, as higher-paid academics and journalists don’t seem to be any less aligned with the overwhelming ideologies in their fields. Indeed, as James Bourgeois suggests, they seem to be the opinion leaders for the less well-paid among them.

Newzilla, meanwhile, thinks I’m too generous to the press. But small publisher Brian Kuhn emails:

Though I often feel I’m fighting a losing battle and throw my hands up in disgust over the obvious bias displayed by the national media, I must say that I’m pretty durn proud of the small weekly and daily newspapers across this great land of ours. We (small town newspapers) are like a bunch of mini-blogs, printing everything from who visited who over the past week, to, yes, cute little cat and dog pictures. When news happens we of course print it, but with the very real knowledge that HOW we report it effects real people . . . often our friends and neighbors. Spin just does not work in small communities. Any fool publisher/editor/reporter who does try something like that wouldn’t last a year. That’s a fact.

As far as political affiliations within this large community of small publications, I’d say it’s 50/50, much along the lines of the famous “red/blue” map of 2000. We tend to reflect the communities we serve. I know of two small weeklies in our neck of the woods that were bought out by young pups fresh out of journalism school, who started running editorials that didn’t reflect the general conservatism of our area. They were about as liberal as you can get, repeating the usual liberal mantras. . . and they didn’t last a year. They just lost their readership, and had to sell. Democracy at work.

I wrote a column for our state’s press association for nearly a decade about technology issues facing our industry — from around 1990 to mid 2002. I strayed from my usual field in my last column to beg my fellow publishers across our state to read Bernard Goldberg’s “Bias,” and to do everything we could to counter the failings of our national media by remaining true to our commitment of fair and balanced reporting at the local level, and a commitment to serving, not dictating to, our readership.

Many of the older generation of publishers (including my father) grew up with complete faith in national media , believing anything that makes it into print or on the airwaves had to be true — especially from such organizations as the NYT, TIME, Newsweek, and other print media. So, I didn’t know how that last column of mine would play.

To my surprise, I didn’t hear one argument against that column. Not one. From the many people who e-mailed me to comment on it . . . only agreement.

So, yes, the national media is blowing it big time in ways obvious to those both in and outside the industry. And the disgust of the public is justified.

But to the reader you posted in your update, Glenn, who quit journalism out of similar disgust . . . don’t give up hope on those of us with small circulations and viewership. We’re still ticking, and providing a positive difference within the communities we serve.

Brian K.
. . . and proud of it.

Hey, that’s my job description here at InstaPundit!

MORE: Ryan Pitts disagrees with me, but it seems to me that his points are already answered in the updates to this post. I will say, though, that Pitts’ “we’re just plain folks” response rings false to me and, I suspect, a whole lot of other people. Including media guys like Gerard Van der Leun, who’s a lot harder on the press than I have been.

And at any rate, it’s clear — going back to the original point of this post — that whatever the divorced, go-fishin’ guys in Pitts’ newsroom think, the national media in general and the White House press corps in particular think that they are not just plain folks, but that they have a special, institutional role of a quasi-governmental nature. Hence the “Fourth Estate” claims. The problem is, that they don’t. As I said earlier, the Constitution sees the activities of speech and publication as checks on government. There’s no special role for the institution of the press. Which is a good thing since the Internet, talk radio, etc., are blurring that line beyond recognition and letting the rest of us get in on the act.

There are, by the way, quite a few very interesting comments to Rosen’s post now, and I highly recommend that you read them if this incredibly long post hasn’t totally exhausted your interest in the subject.

Finally, Roger Simon:

I will add, however, before I rush off to the Book Festival, that the press is often their own worst enemy.

The recent Presidential Press Conference, referred to by Rosen and others he cities, is a strong case in point. If one of the goals of free journalism is to make clear presidential policy they did a particularly poor job of it that day. Four questions were devoted to asking Bush to make an apology for 9/11 because Richard Clarke had. Leaving aside whether Clarke was being disingenuous, the answer has no real meaning . It’s devoid of factual content and is essentially a posture, no matter what the reply. It doesn’t lead to transparency, because it’s only “attitude.”

If the press wanted to ask something legitimately hard of Bush, how about this: “Mr. President, why didn’t you fire George Tenet on September 12?” Now there’s a question I’d like to hear answered, not the puerile pabulum asked by these veteran journos. I didn’t need Bush to dismiss them. I was perfectly capable of doing it by myself.

Ouch. Yes, if the press were better at its actual job, people might cut it more slack on its self-described role. Here are some other unasked tough questions for Bush that I noted shortly after the press conference. Most of them, unfortunately, would have required actual knowledge that the press either lacks, or assumes that its readers and viewers aren’t up to comprehending. Either way, the “special role” seems dubious.

And read this and this while you’re at it.

Jay Reding: “What we’re seeing now is a struggle between what the media thinks it is and what it has actually become.”

April 25, 2004

EARLIER I NOTED THIS NASA RELEASE pointing out that many newspapers were showing pictures of the space shuttle Columbia crew’s flag-draped coffins and identifying them as Iraq war dead. Here’s a partial list of outlets that were snookered. Apparently, they just picked these up from an antiwar website and didn’t do any further checking.

Remember this when Old Media guys talk about how untrustworthy the Internet is. . . .

UPDATE: I finally managed to get the Memory Hole site — which has been down from traffic load, I guess — to open. The problem is that he filed a Freedom of Information Act request that’s rather obviously flawed. Here’s the link, which may or may not work for you. But here’s the FOIA language:

All photographs showing caskets (or other devices) containing the remains of US military personnel at Dover AFB. This would include, but not be limited to, caskets arriving, caskets departing, and any funerary rites/rituals being performed. The timeframe for these photos is from 01 February 2003 to the present.

The request should have specified combat deaths. One reader emails that this was an Air Force mousetrap, because astronauts are not military personnel. Er, except that they usually are. I assume that this was an honest mistake on the part of the Memory Hole, but it’s a dreadfully-worded request, and it’s not surprising that the result included non-combat deaths. What’s more, to the extent that newspaper editors were aware of the wording of the request, they should have realized the risk that these photos would not represent Iraq combat deaths or, for that matter, combat deaths at all.

April 25, 2004

I FINISHED NEAL STEPHENSON’S THE CONFUSION the other night. I liked it a lot, and my reactions were very similar to Eugene Volokh’s, though I liked its predecessor volume, Quicksilver, more than Eugene did. You can see a lot of narrative threads being pulled together, not only from Quicksilver, but from Cryptonomicon. I very much look forward to the next volume, The System of the World, which I’ve already pre-ordered from Amazon.

April 25, 2004

UNSCAM UPDATE: Here’s still more on the oil-for-food scandal:

At least $1.1 billion was paid directly into UN coffers, supposedly to cover the cost of administering the $67 billion scheme, while Saddam Hussein diverted funds intended for the poor and sick of Iraq to bribe foreign governments and prominent overseas supporters of his regime. . . .

Although the UN Security Council approved the plan to levy a 2.2 per cent commission on each oil-for-food transaction, the huge sums this reaped for the UN have never been fully accounted for.

A senior UN official who is closely involved in uncovering evidence of the scandal admitted: “The UN was not doing this work just for the good of Iraq. Cash from Saddam’s government was keeping the UN going for a few years.

“No one knows exactly what sums were involved because an audit has never been done. That is why they are wriggling and squirming now in New York.”

(Emphasis added.) This explains a lot.

April 25, 2004

CLAYTON CRAMER documents nature’s power.

April 24, 2004

HERE’S MORE ON AL JAZEERA AND TERROR LINKS, from the military blogger I linked earlier here. Here’s his original post.

April 24, 2004

THE NEW YORK TIMES has a lengthy analysis of Kerry’s antiwar days, but Tom Maguire notes that once again the dates of Kerry’s military service are wrong:

Does it change the story to say that Mr. Kerry, while still in the Naval Reserve, ran in an anti-war caucus?

Does it change the story to say that Mr. Kerry, the 26 year old Navy Lieutenant, had arranged a private meeting with North Vietnamese and Vietcong emissaries to the peace talks?

Maybe not much. But one might hope that both the Kerry campaign and the “All the News” folks would be able to report accurately the basic facts of Kerry’s military service.

And we wonder why this confusion persists – we seem to be back to “Kerry never said he was Irish” with this one.

Well, it’s better than the Klan mistake, anyway.

UPDATE: More here from Capt. Ed Morrissey.

April 24, 2004


April 24, 2004

“BLOGAGANDA” — deconstructed by Roger Simon.

April 24, 2004

POWELL AND COPPS: Communist sympathizers?

Among all the absurd, meddling, and stupid rulings from the FCC lately, this one really takes the Twinkie: The FCC fined a station for making a phony phone call to the real Fidel Castro — and getting him on the line — but not following commission rules about getting permission to put the person on the air.

More like rule-bound idiots, I’d say. There should be an exception for making fun of dictators.

April 23, 2004

BY POPULAR DEMAND, here is another cat picture.

You know, I really don’t want to make Friday catblogging a regular event here, notwithstanding its popularity among some readers.

I suggest that you email Kevin Drum and ask him to pick up the slack, so that I don’t have to.

April 23, 2004

NOAM CHOMSKY: The Jeff Goldstein interview. One word: Heh.

April 23, 2004

EARLIER, I MENTIONED JIM DUNNIGAN’S PIECE on myths about Iraq. I should have also mentioned this piece by Victor Davis Hanson on the same topic.

April 23, 2004

I MENTIONED PAT TILLMAN’S DEATH BELOW, with some comments in tribute emailed from one of his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan. I don’t really have much to add to those. But here’s a comment worth repeating:

“In sports we have a tendency to overuse terms like courage and bravery and heroes,” said Cardinals vice president Michael Bidwill, son of the team’s owner Bill Bidwill, “and then someone like Pat Tillman comes along and reminds us what those terms really mean.”

Indeed. Mason Wilson has some further thoughts.

UPDATE: “Pat Tillman stadium?” Sounds like a nice idea.

April 23, 2004

I’VE UPLOADED SOME MORE PHOTOS to the Exposure Manager gallery for anyone who’s interested. They’re from Wednesday’s swing through the Cherokee National Forest, and return up US 11 past various small towns.

Sorry, but there are no cat pictures.

I actually enjoy driving through, and photographing, the small towns on the little highways (and US 11 isn’t one of the really little highways) as much as I enjoy the comparatively pristine nature. I like the hand-painted signs, and the impromptu still life settings, that you find as you pass through small town business districts. That was something that Walker Evans, one of my photographic heroes, had an incredible eye for. I’m not in his league, but then, hardly anyone is.

April 23, 2004


Thursday’s New York Times misidentified GOP Senate candidate Pete Coors as a Ku Klux Klan member who murdered a black sharecropper. . . .

The Times story concerned a federal court decision upholding Louisiana resident Ernest Avants’ 2003 conviction in the slaying.

The story indicated the accompanying photo was of Avants. But the picture actually was of Coors on the day the Golden beer baron announced he was running in Colorado’s open Senate race.

In related news, over 200 million Americans were misidentified as people who trust the New York Times. [Above quote expanded from original post to make the nature of the misidentification clear.]

UPDATE: Ryne McLaren comments: “Funny how the media seldom makes these sorts of mistakes with Democrats.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: But wait, there’s more:


Columbia Crew Mistakenly Identified As Iraqi War Casualties

Many news organizations across the country are mistakenly identifying the flag-draped caskets of the Space Shuttle Columbia’s crew as those of war casualties from Iraq.

Editors are being asked to confirm that the images used in news reports are in fact those of American casualties and not those of the NASA astronauts who were killed Feb.1, 2003, in the Columbia tragedy.

An initial review of the images featured on the Internet site shows that more than 18 rows of images from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware are actually photographs of honors rendered to Columbia’s seven astronauts.

News organizations across the world have been publishing and distributing images featured on the web site.

Sheesh. And these guys are dissing weblogs for inaccuracy?

April 23, 2004

MUST READING: Jim Dunnigan writes about Myths of Iraq over at StrategyPage. Read the whole thing.

April 23, 2004


April 23, 2004

JOHN KEKES WRITES on the professoriate and the truth.

UPDATE: This OxBlog post goes interestingly with the above.

April 23, 2004


What are the odds that Iran is participating in UNSCAM-like activities?

Oh, somewhere around 100%, I’d say.

April 23, 2004


WASHINGTON — Vietnam combat records posted on John F. Kerry’s campaign website for the month of January 1969 as evidence of his service aboard swift boat No. 94 describe action that occurred before Kerry was skipper of that craft, according to the officer who said he commanded the boat at the time.

On the site, the Massachusetts senator is described as the skipper of Navy boat No. 94 during several actions in late January 1969.

However, Edward Peck, who was the skipper of the 94 before Kerry took over, said combat reports posted by the campaign for January 1969 involve action when he was the skipper, not Kerry. Peck, who was seriously wounded in fighting that took place on Jan. 29, 1969, said he believes Kerry campaign aides made a mistake in claiming Kerry as skipper of the 94 at that time.

The Globe has more — just follow the link.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire observes:

At a minimum, the campaign is confused about his dates of service, which seems odd, since Kerry’s Vietnam experience has been the foundation of his campaign (not to say his political life).

Yes, this makes me wonder if his campaign is ready for primetime.

April 23, 2004

NKZONE has loads of stuff on that North Korean explosion yesterday. Just keep scrolling.

April 23, 2004

SYRIA IS SENDING TERRORISTS TO IRAQ: “The sources said the reporting has not been clear on whether hard-line Syrian President Bashar Assad is involved directly in ordering the aid. But they say he has much to lose if Iraq becomes a pro-U.S. democratic country.” No kidding. And he’s not the only one.

Syria and Iran fear that they’re next. They’re trying to keep us busy until we get tired and go home. They’ll keep it up until either we make them stop, or it appears that it’s not working.

April 23, 2004

JOHN FARRELL says that the movie industry is committing slow-motion suicide.

April 23, 2004

MICKEY KAUS points to a potential screwup in the planned trial of Saddam. Can this be right?

Kaus: “Did ‘Brandini’ know about this? Does he approve?”

April 23, 2004

WOW: My brother just updated his band’s homepage and it’s pretty slick.

April 23, 2004

LT SMASH is offering premiums to people who donate to Spirit of America. And these guys are giving away free blogs! With hosting!

UPDATE: Then there’s this!

April 23, 2004

INSTAPUNDIT’S AFGHANISTAN PHOTO-CORRESPONDENT, Major John Tammes of the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps, sends this from Bagram, Afghanistan. It seems that the Ordnance Corps has taken a back-to-the-future approach to transport. . . .

My secretary once rode a camel across much of Mali, and has retained a deep hatred for camels ever since. As has just about everyone I know who has ever had much to do with camels.

UPDATE: On a less cheerful note, Major Tammes sends this followup:

I suppose the story has reached you by now about Pat Tillman being KIA. I guess when I said it was still dangerous here – I didn’t hope to be proved correct so soon in such a sad and public way.

I admired him for what he did. He was a rare person to cast aside fame and fortune to go defend the society that would have been happy to continue to glamorize him as an NFL player. He was a man dedicated to duty, honor, country in every respect.

Indeed. Story here.

UPDATE: More thoughts here.

April 23, 2004

YESTERDAY, I MENTIONED THAT RANDALL BECK, editor of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, had a hissy fit concerning blogs. Here’s an analysis of what this reveals about the South Dakota political scene.

April 23, 2004

IRAQ AND SOUTH AFRICA: Interesting observation from one of Andrew Sullivan’s readers.

April 23, 2004


A former French ambassador to the United Nations, Jean-Bernard Merimee, is listed as receiving vouchers totaling 11 million barrels. Also on the list is a vocal friend of Iraq, Gilles Munier of the Franco-Iraqi Friendship Association.

At the Vatican, the Rev. Jean Marie Benjamin — a French priest who is reported to have arranged a meeting between the pope and Tariq Aziz, the former deputy prime minister of Iraq — is listed as receiving the rights to sell 4.5 million barrels.

The list is dominated by Russian citizens and organizations. In addition to Mr. Zhirinovsky, the list names the former Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov, the Russian Orthodox Church, the “office of the Russian president,” President Vladimir Putin’s Peace and Unity Party, and companies linked to the Communist Party.

In Indonesia, the list is headed by Mrs. Megawati, whose spokesman has said she is “aware of the allegations.”

The files purportedly show vouchers being handed to socialist, communist and nationalist political parties in Ukraine, Belarus, the former Yugoslavia, Romania, and Slovakia.

There are also vouchers for the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

A prominent British member of Parliament is listed, along with his Jordanian business partner.

Obviously, United States foreign policy needs to place a heavier emphasis on covert bribery of foreign officials. It seems to work!

UPDATE: More here from the BBC. And here’s a roundup of today’s British coverage. One headline says it best: “Sick children sacrificed for profit and propaganda.”

April 23, 2004

JAMES LILEKS is suffering from blog burnout, and needs a vacation. It happens to the best from time to time.

April 22, 2004

RYAN BOOTS has posted his Iraqi blogger roundup for this week. Don’t miss it.

April 22, 2004

ERIC DREXLER has set up a new website full of technical information on nanotechnology.

April 22, 2004

WEISBERGISM OF THE DAY: Eugene Volokh wields a very sharp knife.

April 22, 2004

A FAVORABLE REVIEW for Randy Barnett’s book, Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty.

April 22, 2004

INDCJOURNAL POSTS AN AMUSING PHOTO-REPORT from yesterday’s protests in front of the Supreme Court. If you watched the TV coverage, you’ll find this behind-the-scenes look amusing. If you provided the TV coverage, you’d better hope your friends don’t see this post. . . .

Fans of the ’80s metal band “Krokus,” on the other hand, will be scratching their heads.

April 22, 2004

KERRY’S MILITARY RECORDS ARE (PARTIALLY) OUT, and Tom Maguire is looking at them, which is more than some people opining on them have done, apparently. Here’s the Boston Globe story.

April 22, 2004

PATRICK MOORE AND NICK SCHULZ have thoughts on where the environmental movement is heading.

April 22, 2004

SALON HAS AN EXTENSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NEAL STEPHENSON up — you’ll have to sit through an ad first, but I think it’s worth it.

You can read this Stephenson interview, by me, without the ad. But it’s not nearly as extensive.

April 22, 2004

ANOTHER JOURNALIST WHO CAN’T TAKE CRITICISM is lashing out at the blogosphere.

When I see some editor lose it this way, it doesn’t fill me with confidence in traditional media.

More here.

UPDATE: And here.

April 22, 2004

THE “UNSCAM” OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL hit the British media in today with a splash. Here’s a roundup of the coverage there. (Via the “Friends of Saddam” UNScam blog — which has lots more on this scandal.)

UPDATE: More here.

April 22, 2004

HERE’S A PICTURE OF BALD RIVER FALLS from my expedition yesterday. I plan to spend a lot more time in the Cherokee National Forest and areas around there. For whatever reason, I tend to go north rather than south on my photo expeditions, but that’s caused me to overlook all sorts of places that I should pay more attention to.

Because the big pictures seem to cause excessive page-load times for some of my foreign readers (who have not just dial-up, but 24K dialup) I’ve compressed this image rather savagely. I’ll have some higher quality stuff posted over at the Exposure Manager site later, but I haven’t had time to deal with that. I got my exams written early this year, which let me take yesterday off, but there’s still a lot of end-of-the-semester cleanup to be dealt with.

At any rate, my photography is a pale shadow of the stuff that Fletch does over at A Smoky Mountain Journal. But that’s the beauty of amateurism: I can do it anyway!

April 22, 2004


April 22, 2004

MERYL YOURISH has a concise but interesting blogosphere roundup.

April 22, 2004


SEOUL (Reuters) – Up to 3,000 people have been killed or injured in a huge explosion after two goods trains collided in a North Korean station hours after leader Kim Jong-il had passed through, South Korea’s YTN television station says.


UPDATE: Here’s an interesting Korea-related story:

According to the Jo Gap-je, the chief editor of the Chosun Ilbo’s Monthly Chosun Magazine, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney apparently laid down the law to the Chinese during his visit to Beijing. More specifically, he is said to have told Chinese leaders, “If China cannot prevent North Korea from arming itself with nuclear weapons, the United States, too, cannot prevent Taiwan and Japan from arming themselves with nuclear weapons.”

Very interesting, if true.

April 22, 2004


April 22, 2004

MY LOCAL MALL HAS SEVEN — YES, SEVEN — JEWELRY STORES, and I’ve never been able to understand how they can all stay in business, though I assume that colossal markups have something to do with it. My guess is that it’ll be a lot harder for them now that Amazon is selling jewelry online at a discount. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this.

UPDATE: Reader Steve Clayton emails:

Like a lot of purchases that are very “personal”, buying jewelry for most people is what I call a “squeeze the merchandise” business.

If you’re buying a standardized commodity — CD, DVD, book, etc. — e-tailing is a delivery channel, though many people still go to Borders or Barnes & Noble for the “experience”.

There are some things that we just have to “see it/touch it” before we buy it. Jewelry is one of them.

Only not everyone feels that way, as reader Jeff Miller emails:

If you think Amazon selling online jewelry is a big deal, check out Seattle-based Blue Nile, which sells diamonds and jewelry over the Net.

They’re set to go public and, according their S-1, last year they brought in $128.9 million in revenue and made a whopping $27 million in profits. That’s a nice little profit margin.

News to me, but apparently there’s a market. And, it turns out, one of the companies is headquartered in Knoxville, which was also news to me. Reader Andrew Coloctronis emails:

You may be interested to know that Knoxville is the home to a TV and Internet Jewelry sales company, Jewelry Television (formally ACN TV). With over 1,000 employees located at a facility on Kingston Pike, Jewelry Television conducts all its production, shipping, broadcasting and web hosting locally.

I knew we had several cable-sales channels here, but I didn’t know about this one. Apparently, plenty of people are willing to buy without touching.

April 22, 2004

THE “UNSCAM” OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL is getting more attention:

It worked like this: Iraq would export under-priced oil, import over-priced goods, and cash in the difference through friendly middle-men. This occurred in plain daylight, right under the U.N.’s nose, with the complicity of hundreds of international companies, and possibly, the knowledge of many governments that had seats on the U.N. Security Council.

Beyond the kickbacks, Saddam was able to smuggle an estimated $5.7 billion worth of oil and fuel out of the country in total violation of the sanctions. Hundreds of trucks would enter Iraq from Turkey filled with goods bought under Oil-for-Food – then drive off again with fuel destined for sale on the black market. Other smuggling routes included a pipeline through Syria, and ships sailing Iranian territorial waters.

This sanctions-busting trade provided no benefit to Iraq’s civilian population. In fact, it created drastic fuel shortages inside Iraq. And again, it could not have occurred without the knowledge, and participation, of Iraq’s neighbors.

Kofi Annan made an excellent choice in appointing former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to head the independent panel. But let there be no illusions. Despite yesterday’s Security Council vote in support of the Volcker probe, his inquiry will be as popular with the governments of Security Council members as Hercule Poirot’s investigation was on the Orient Express.

Read the whole thing. More background and links here.

UPDATE: Jan Haugland has comments on the Russians’ reluctance to be investigated.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stefan Sharkansky traces Oil-for-Food money to some American political campaigns. Both Democrats and Republicans are involved.

April 22, 2004

ROBERT ALT posts an interesting report from Baghdad.

April 22, 2004


Think the Republicans got lost somewhere in cyberspace? Think again. The GOP’s underreported e-campaign may lack the media razzle-dazzle of the Deaniac phenomenon, but it promises to leave no less a mark on the annals of political campaign history.

It all comes down to a difference in style and strategy.

Interesting report. The Bush blog has certainly improved of late. It’s also interesting to see Larry Purpuro saying some things about Internet campaigning that seem a lot more progressive than his famous dissing of the blogosphere.

UPDATE: Here, by the way, is a Washington Post story on BlogAds and candidates that I meant to link earlier but forgot to.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Bush blog’s new Morning Reads feature seems to be quite well done.

April 22, 2004


A U.N. fact-finding team is set to travel to Sudan’s Darfur region to investigate claims of genocide by Arab militias against black African residents.

Violence in the country’s oil-rich Darfur region has raged for more than a year, displacing as many as one million people inside Sudan and forcing over 110,000 into neighboring Chad, according to U. N. estimates.

Rebel groups accuse Sudan’s government of arming Arab militia groups to carry out attacks.

Oxblog has more.

April 22, 2004

IT’S STEVEN DEN BESTE vs. a French reporter. You make the call.

April 22, 2004

LOTS OF INTERESTING DISCUSSION regarding illegal combatants and habeas corpus over at The Volokh Conspiracy. Just keep scrolling.

April 22, 2004


April 22, 2004

BOTH ZAPATERO AND MICHAEL MOORE appear to be mistaken. Related developments here. Meanwhile Iraqi blogger Mohammed has some birthday thoughts, including this one: “Why should I be strong while watching others run away; Spain, Honduras, Thailand, human organizations, the UN and all the others who want (and it’s their right I must say) to avoid the dangers. But why did they disappoint us? Why abandon us in this moment when we really need them? . . . Why do others get discouraged easily? Don’t mistake me. I’m upset but will NEVER run away like some people did.”

April 21, 2004


Iraqi oil pumped under Sevan’s direct supervision for seven full years was openly sold to whoever lined Saddam and Sevan’s pockets. . . . The former Iraqi oil minister claims that the UN “was stealing money from the Iraqi people,” alleging that as many as 300 UN bureaucrats were employed to administer the programme. “We were not pumping oil to feed Iraqis, but to feed (300) UN bureaucrats in New York.”

Before Sevan’s recent mysterious disappearance into the nether world, facilitated by boss Annan, who shrewdly packed him off on long leave before retirement, Sevan nonchalantly admitted, ” that as much as 10 percent” of the programme’s revenues may have been “ripped off,” telling a TV channel: “Even if 10 percent of the revenue was stolen, 90 percent got to the people it was intended for. Why does nobody report that?” he asked peevishly.

More here:

In the 12 months since the fall of the Iraqi dictatorship, a clear picture has emerged of how Saddam Hussein abused the United Nations’ Oil-for-Food program. The Iraqi Governing Council has begun to release critical information detailing how, in the words of The New York Times, “Saddam Hussein’s government systematically extracted billions of dollars in kickbacks from companies doing business with Iraq, funneling most of the illicit funds through a network of foreign bank accounts in violation of United Nations sanctions.” In effect the program was little more than “an open bazaar of payoffs, favoritism and kickbacks.”

Read the whole thing. And there’s new blog set up to follow the oil-for-food scandal that’ll probably be a must-visit site over the coming months.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to today’s Congressional hearing testimony on UNSCAM, and here’s a story on the U.N. Security Council probe going ahead. I suspect a certain amount of halfheartedness on the part of those UN bureaucrats, however.

Tom Magure has more, with many links. And there’s more here.

April 21, 2004

REALITY ON THE GROUND: A report from Iraq.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn says that mideast instability is a good thing.

April 21, 2004

DANIEL DREZNER has advice for bloggers interested in reviewing books.

April 21, 2004

SLATE’S “EXPLAINER” has an interesting item on NASA Planetary Protection Officer John Rummel, whose job is to prevent cross-contamination between the Earth and other planets. I’ve met Rummel on one or two occasions and he seems quite sharp. Here’s a column I wrote on related issues a while back.

April 21, 2004

IS AL JAZEERA CONNECTED WITH THE TERRORISTS? It seems likely. Quite some time ago I linked a military blogger’s report of Al Jazeera reporters paying people to shoot at Coalition troops. Now Robert Alt writes: “While telling half of the story is bad enough, there is substantial evidence that outlets like Al Jazeera are in fact acting in concert with terrorists to generate overtly false and misleading news reports.” Imagine that.

UPDATE: More evidence here.

April 21, 2004

WENT OFF DRIVING AROUND THE MOUNTAINS today — down to the Cherohala Skyway and Bald River Falls. Back blogging later.

In the meantime Virginia Postrel has several interesting, and worrying, posts on malaria and DDT. Go read ’em.

April 21, 2004

ROGER SIMON on the “UNSCAM” oil-for-food scandal:

As a supporter of the United Nations (yes, I believe it necessary), I find this potentially immensely destructive to the organization. If the Oil-for-Food allegations are true, and it increasingly looks as if they are, without a deep and full bloodletting (probably including the resignation of Annan) the UN will never recover the confidence of the American people, nor should it. By not being on this with Watergate-style intensity, the media is aiding and abetting the downfall of the organization they wish to save.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Austin Bay — also a UN fan — has more thoughts on what this scandal means: “If the United States doesn’t force the United Nations to come clean about the deeply corrupted Oil for Food program and account for billions of skimmed Iraqi oil dollars, then we’re not merely fools, we’re party to the further degradation of a vital international institution.”

April 21, 2004

IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM, JOIN ‘EM: My TechCentralStation column looks at media and campaign finance.

April 21, 2004

LITIGATION AS A MILITARY TACTIC: Eugene Volokh has thoughts on habeas corpus for enemy combatants.

April 21, 2004


April 21, 2004

THE PATH TO SUCCESS IN THE BLOGOSPHERE: Have the Rittenhouse Review issue an abortive delinking fatwa against you! Since that happened, Wonkette has been featured in the New York Times, on Slashdot, and countless other places, and seen her traffic soar. She’s even on TV!

Who will be the next lucky blogger to receive a “Capozzolaunch?”

April 21, 2004

GEOFFREY NUNBERG HAS THOUGHTS on blogging, and Edward Boyd has thoughts on Nunberg.

April 21, 2004

“MERCENARIES AND SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE” working for the United Nations? Say it ain’t so!

April 21, 2004

CHIEF WIGGLES HAS MOVED to a new, improved site.

April 20, 2004

UNSCAM UPDATE: ABC News has more on the unfolding U.N. oil-for-food scandal:

April 20 — At least three senior United Nations officials are suspected of taking multi-million dollar bribes from the Saddam Hussein regime, U.S. and European intelligence sources tell ABCNEWS.

One year after his fall, U.S. officials say they have evidence, some in cash, that Saddam diverted to his personal bank accounts approximately $5 billion from the United Nations Oil-for-Food program.

In what has been described as the largest humanitarian aid effort ever undertaken, the U.N. Oil-for-Food program began in 1996 to help Iraqis who were suffering under sanctions imposed following the first Gulf War.

The program allowed Iraq to sell limited amounts of oil, under supposedly tight U.N. supervision, to finance the purchase of much-needed humanitarian goods.

Most prominent among those accused in the scandal is Benon Sevan, the Cyprus-born U.N. undersecretary general who ran the program for six years.

In an interview with ABCNEWS last year, Sevan denied any wrongdoing. . . .

But documents have surfaced in Baghdad, in the files of the former Iraqi Oil Ministry, allegedly linking Sevan to a pay-off scheme in which some 270 prominent foreign officials received the right to trade in Iraqi oil at cut-rate prices.

“It’s almost like having coupons of bonds or shares. You can sell those coupons to other people who are normal oil traders,” said Claude Hankes-Drielsma, a British adviser to the Iraq Governing Council.

Investigators say the smoking gun is a letter to former Iraqi oil minister Amer Mohammed Rasheed, obtained by ABCNEWS and not yet in the hands of the United Nations.

There’s much more. Read the whole thing.

April 20, 2004

STUART BENJAMIN thinks that the FCC’s efforts to regulate broadcast content more aggressively are likely to backfire.

April 20, 2004

ED MORRISSEY HAS A LENGTHY POST on the CPA memo mentioned in the Village Voice article discussed below, and subsequently made available on the web. Morrissey writes:

The subhead of the article, in fact, reads “A Coalition memo reveals that even true believers see the seeds of civil war in the occupation of Iraq”.

However, in reading the actual memo, the author points not to an inevitable civil war but instead to the numerous opportunities surrounding the CPA to improve its performance and its position with the Iraqis, the vast majority of which want to see the US succeed. . . .

The Village Voice cherry-picked a bit to write its analysis, but give them credit for releasing a near-complete text of the memo for everyone to analyze on their own. In truth, people use bits and pieces of this memo to support a number of political stances. However, when one reads the memo in its entirety, the inescapable conclusion is not that the writer has given up on American efforts in Iraq, but that only American efforts will solve the problems.

Yes, the memo’s insights won’t be exactly shocking to blog readers. Read the whole thing.

April 20, 2004

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: DPreview has just posted reviews of five 8-Megapixel digital cameras.

April 20, 2004

SOME PEOPLE COMPLAINED about the Israeli body painting and Love Parade photos I linked not being work safe. So here’s a beach picture gallery by the same photographer that should be work safe anywhere outside Saudi Arabia, and maybe the offices of certain FCC Commissioners. I think, however, that you’ll find it worth your time.

April 20, 2004


April 20, 2004

EVAN COYNE MALONEY has added a blog to his site.

April 20, 2004

HERE’S AN ARTICLE ARGUING FOR THE PARTITION OF IRAQ: I still don’t know what I think about this, but you can read it and see what you think.

UPDATE: Jonathan Gewirtz thinks it’s a good idea.

April 20, 2004

CATHY SEIPP WRITES on junk science in the media. Breasts are involved.

UPDATE: Will Wright emails: “Two words to describe media: Anxiety pimps.” Harsh, but not without some basis in fact.

April 20, 2004

ATTENTION homesick Knoxvillians and University of Tennessee alumni: I’ve uploaded a collection of photos from campus previously shown on InstaPundit into a handy gallery on Exposure Manager. Enjoy!

April 20, 2004


I know that many of you are fond of pinning the responsibility for the new, draconian FCC on George Bush and those evil Republicans. So … this reminder. The FCC Commissioner who is pushing the hardest on all of this so-called “indecency” is Michael J. Copps. Copps is the former chief of staff to South Carolina’s Democratic Senator Ernest Hollings, a Democrat. Hollings has never been known for his defense of first amendment rights for broadcasters. Copps is a Democrat, not a Republican.

Turning this into an anti-Bush move was a major mistake for opponents of the FCC push.

April 20, 2004

JEFF JARVIS IS PROPOSING a “Citizens’ Media Association.” Sounds good to me!

April 20, 2004

JOE GANDELMAN WRITES that John Kerry is sitting on a political time bomb by not releasing his military records.

I’ve certainly heard some talk-radio people making hay out of this issue already, and I suspect that — like Howard Dean’s sealed gubernatorial documents — there’s no upside for Kerry in keeping this stuff close to the vest.

UPDATE: Zach Barbera emails: “Maybe someone over at the DNC finally figured out that the rope-a-dope has worked very well for Bush and is now trying to play the same game with Kerry’s military records.”

Could be.

April 20, 2004

DAVE CULLEN has an interesting article on the Columbine killers up over at Slate.

April 20, 2004

A WHILE BACK, I reprinted an email from a reader about problems at the CPA in Iraq. Now the Village Voice has an article based on a purported CPA internal memo that suggests that the problems are quite severe indeed. I don’t know how much credence to put in this, but it definitely deserves further inquiry ASAP, both from the press and from the Bush Administration’s higher-ups.

UPDATE: Reader Michael Midura emails:

I read the article and it’s pretty depressing. So what’s the fallout? Well, it’s a memo that’s seems to have a bunch of well-thought out solutions to serious problems facing the CPA in Iraq. Therefore, the media will ignore it.

As long as the right people pay attention, that’s okay.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Alexander Sudnik is skeptical:

Forgive me for being skeptical, but where’s the full memo? Why doesn’t the Voice print the whole thing, so we can see for ourselves what it says? Why do we have to take this reporter’s characterization of what it says?

Any decent blog would link to the whole thing. We should expect no less from the Voice. Moreover, I see that the piece is “web only” – so it’s not for a lack of space in the print version.

Good points. And it’s true — this memo may be bogus, or it may be wrong. But I want to ensure that things like this aren’t ignored, or swept under the rug.

More comments here. Meanwhile a reader who prefers to remain anonymous emails: “I don’t think the situation is an any way irretrievable, and I still think the invasion was a good idea – but if the Administration doesn’t get its act together, then that could change fast.”

UPDATE: By popular demand, they’ve put the memo on the Web in redacted form. This doesn’t prove it’s genuine, of course (not that I have any reason to doubt it), but it’s helpful to have it. No smoking guns on a first read, really — it’s consistent with a lot of things we’ve been reading on American and Iraqi blogs. That tends to suggest it’s authentic. I certainly hope, at any rate, that the Bush Administration is paying close attention.

April 20, 2004

AID AND COMFORT: Cox and Forkum slam Michael Moore for likening terrorists to Minutemen.

April 20, 2004

A PROPOSED VICTIMS’ RIGHTS AMENDMENT is coming up for a vote in the Senate, and I agree with Bruce Fein that it’s a bad idea:

To forgo the VRA is not to cherish victims’ rights less, but to venerate the brevity and accessibility of the Constitution more. Amendments are appropriate only when flexible and adaptable statutes would be insufficient to achieve a compelling objective; or, to protect discrete and insular minorities from political oppression. Neither reason obtains for the VRA.

As Fein notes, Congress has the power to do what’s necessary (if anything is necessary) by statute. This is just election-year grandstanding.

April 20, 2004

WINDS OF CHANGE has its Central Asia news summary posted.

April 20, 2004

HOWARD BASHMAN’S BLOG, “HOW APPEALING,” is now being hosted by Legal Affairs magazine, a fine publication for which I have written on a couple of occasions. Another blogger has taken the Boeing! (More on the Boeing here.)

April 20, 2004

THE OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING TRIAL hasn’t gotten much attention, but Clayton Cramer has been following it and he’s noticing some disturbing developments.

UPDATE: More here, in a somewhat contrary vein.

April 20, 2004

THE TAXPROF BLOG has multiple posts on Bush, Cheney, and Kerry’s tax returns. And driving in to work this morning I heard Neal Boortz talking about the Kerry Massachusetts tax issue mentioned here on Saturday and featured in the New York Post yesterday. Looks like another issue has leaped from the blogosphere to the mainstream.

April 20, 2004

THOUGH I’VE SAID IN THE PAST that the Republicans are lagging the Democrats in terms of campaign blogging, they seem to be catching up. The official Bush site is now posting morning reads: sort of their own version of The Note.

April 20, 2004


Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, may have helped sub-Saharan African countries develop weapons in clandestine exchanges for the region’s uranium, it emerged yesterday.

Dr Khan visited Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan between 1998 and 2002 in the wake of selling nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya in a black-market trade exposed this year.

The disgraced scientist toured Africa with an entourage of aides and nuclear experts, indicating the network was wider than previously thought, according to an Associated Press investigation published yesterday.

I have a feeling that there’s more to this story than we’ve heard, so far.

April 20, 2004


Denmark has declassified intelligence reports compiled before the Iraq war which show officials thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
In one report, Iraq was thought to have both chemical and biological weapons, as well as an active nuclear programme.

The extracts appear to contradict claims leaked to a newspaper that there was no evidence to back up the theory.

And the story’s not over yet. The chemical weapons that Al Qaeda planned to use in Jordan reportedly came from Syria, but King Abdullah says they didn’t come from Assad. So are the Debka reports of Iraqi stashes in the Bekaa Valley more credible now? Who knows?

April 20, 2004

WOW, I just noticed the new Ken Layne and the Corvids site. Ken looks so . . . rugged.

April 20, 2004

USING MRI’s to evaluate political advertising? I’m skeptical — but also a bit disturbed. . . .

April 20, 2004

A SAUDI BLOGGER with an interesting perspective, via Jeff Jarvis.

April 20, 2004

FIRE GEORGE TENET: That’s what Andrew Sullivan says in response to a passage from Bob Woodward’s new book, Plan of Attack, that portrays Tenet telling a skeptical President Bush that the case for Iraqi WMD is a “slam dunk.”

I haven’t read Woodward’s book, and I’m never sure how much credence to give some of his unsourced accounts, but I haven’t had any great confidence in Tenet anyway and this certainly doesn’t help. On the other hand, the person in the best position to judge Tenet’s work, it would seem to me, is George W. Bush, and he hasn’t shown any signs of wanting to fire him. If this story were true, wouldn’t he?

UPDATE: Reader Julia Gordon emails:

I don’t think we can infer anything about Tenet’s performance from the fact that Bush doesn’t seem to want to fire him. Bush hasn’t fired Norman Mineta either.

Here’s an idea: Bush should bring Donald Trump on board as Director of Firing. After The Donald handles Tenet and Mineta, we’ll give him the State Department phone directory–he can start with the Saudi desk…

Good idea.

April 20, 2004

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH has a column assessing the Bush Administration’s new stance on Israel and the Palestinians.