Archive for September, 2004

September 26, 2004

BUSH VOLUNTEERED FOR VIETNAM — yeah, we’re living in Bizarro world.

UPDATE: More thoughts from Russell Wardlow. And I didn’t realize it — somehow CBS missed the story, I guess — but the Bush-volunteered story actually came out in February.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Shockingly, this was even reported in Newsweek:

The standard rap against Bush is that he was ducking combat by joining the Guard. Actually, the Texas Air Guard had a program called Palace Alert that allowed pilots to volunteer for flight time in Vietnam. Three of Bush’s fellow pilots—Udell, Woodfin and Fred Bradley—recalled to NEWSWEEK that Bush inquired with the base commander about signing up for Palace Alert. He was told no; he had too few flying hours at the time and his plane, the F-102, was by then deemed obsolete for air combat.

Funny that this hasn’t gotten more attention. Does anyone read Newsweek?

September 26, 2004

RATHERGATE UPDATE: Bill at INDCJournal has an interview with Bob Schieffer. Who says bloggers don’t do original reporting? (It’s worth noting, as some otherwise-good histories of RatherGate haven’t, that he was also the first to bring in an outside forensic expert to evaluate the CBS documents.)

UPDATE: Bill Adams and The American Thinker have more on the latest CBS developments.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here, too.

September 26, 2004

NATO: A “FRAUDULENT ALLIANCE?” Germany is pulling out of a joint training exercise because of a Ralph Peters column? Peters’ reply is on-target:

Called for comment at home in northern Virginia, Peters said, “It’s perfectly all right for the Germans to call President Bush a Nazi, it’s perfectly all right for the Germans to criticize everything about America, to lionize [“Fahrenheit 911” director] Michael Moore and treat our soldiers as second-class human beings … but they want to try and censor the American media.”

Peters said the German decision was disappointing but not surprising.

“I think the fact that they’re pulling out is the best imaginable indicator of how weak our alliance is, how meaningless Germany’s contribution is,” said Peters. “If they pull out because they can’t stand one 800-word opinion piece in an American newspaper, how could we possibly expect them to stand by us in a violent crisis?”

We’ve already learned how much we can expect from them in that regard, I’m afraid.

UPDATE: Reader Eric Lundberg emails:

While sharing Medienkritik’s general disgust with the German double-standard regarding criticism, I think it is pertinent that the reason the German general pulled out of the exercise is that Ralph Peter’s is scheduled to be a featured speaker at the event (according to the September 24 “Stars & Stripes”). That said, I can’t imagine the U.S. Army being as thin-skinned.

Good point.

September 26, 2004

JOANNE JACOBS is thanking Dan Rather and Big Media generally for subsidizing her work on more worthy, but less salable, topics. Or something like that.

September 26, 2004


A car bomb in the Syrian capital, Damascus, has killed a senior member of Palestinian militant group Hamas. Izz El-Deen Sheikh Khalil died after the bomb exploded in his car, completely destroying it.

Perhaps some of the Iranian mullahs who are supporting Sadr might be next? I don’t know, but when you put it together with this story it gets interesting:

An Arab state provided Israel with valuable intelligence on the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and its leadership overseas, the London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat reported Friday.

According to the newspaper, an intelligence agency belonging to an Arab state supplied Israel with intelligence on Hamas leaders living in Beirut, Damascus, Tehran and Khartoum at the request of Mossad head Meir Dagan.

Hmm. Meanwhile, in a gratifying, but probably unrelated, development we have this report:

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) – Paramilitary police may have killed a suspected top al-Qaida operative Sunday in a four-hour gunbattle during a raid on a house in southern Pakistan that led to the arrest of two other men, a senior Pakistani intelligence official said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the dead man was thought to be Amjad Hussain Farooqi, who was wanted for his alleged role in the kidnapping and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.

Other intelligence officials said earlier that the raid was launched after police received a tip that Farooqi was hiding in the house.

He will not be missed.

September 26, 2004


America has mounted a covert operation to safeguard Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and prevent warheads from falling under the control of rogue commanders or Islamist terrorists.

Teams of American specialists, deployed in Pakistan’s most sensitive military sites, have formulated launch codes to prevent the unauthorised use of nuclear missiles.

“They are sending their experts to our nuclear sites to roll back our nuclear programme and declare Pakistan a rogue state,” said Munawar Hassan, deputy leader of Jamaat-I-Islami, the main Islamist party. “Pervaiz Musharraf is playing into the hands of the US. He is not our ruler, he is serving the interests of America.”

America’s involvement in compiling missile codes raises the possibility that it might be able to prevent Pakistan from launching its nuclear weapons.

I don’t see a downside to this, and I hope things are as reported.

September 26, 2004

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS offers thoughts on what’s going on in Iraq. Very much worth reading.

September 26, 2004


KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Afghan security forces killed a senior Taliban commander and two of his comrades in a raid in southern Afghanistan, an official said Sunday.

Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar, reportedly a former inmate at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, died in a gunbattle Saturday night in Pishi, a village in the southern province of Uruzgan, said Jan Mohammed Khan, governor of Uruzgan.

Just possibly, anyway.

September 26, 2004

BELDAR IS CHALLENGING THE MEDIA to demonstrate that the SwiftVet charges have been “debunked.”

September 26, 2004

IN THE MAIL: Actually, a couple of weeks ago, but it seems worth mentioning now in the wake of RatherGate: Richard Viguerie, et al., America’s Right Turn: How Conservatives Used New and Alternative Media to Take Power. Based on a quick look, it’s not bad (and there’s lots of interesting stuff on book publishing, talk radio, and direct mail as well as the Internet), but I still think that Joe Trippi’s book is the best overall in terms of recent Internet-and-politics works.

September 26, 2004


U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama suggested Friday that the United States one day might have to launch surgical missile strikes into Iran and Pakistan to keep extremists from getting control of nuclear bombs. . . .

Obama said that violent Islamic extremists are a vastly different brand of foe than was the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and they must be treated differently.

“With the Soviet Union, you did get the sense that they were operating on a model that we could comprehend in terms of, they don’t want to be blown up, we don’t want to be blown up, so you do game theory and calculate ways to contain,” Obama said. “I think there are certain elements within the Islamic world right now that don’t make those same calculations.

I wonder if the Times will start calling him a conservative?

September 26, 2004


Many refugees in Sudan’s wartorn Darfur region still live in a climate of fear and are reluctant to return home as they do not trust the government to protect them, according to the United Nation’s (UN) human rights chief.

“The stories we heard in all three states of Darfur convey an acute sense of insecurity,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said.

Many refugees “continue to live in a climate of fear”.

An estimated 50,000 people have died and 1.4 million have been displaced in Sudan’s western Darfur region where UN officials say pro-government Janjaweed militias have carried out a scorched earth campaign of ethnic cleansing against non-Arab minorities.

The Arab News, on the other hand, says this is just more Crusader-talk.

September 26, 2004

THE NEW YORK TIMES PICKS UP on the story of Kerry’s Chinese assault weapon:

In interviews appearing in the October issue of Outdoor Life, Mr. Kerry and President Bush were asked whether they were gun owners, and, if so, to identify their favorite gun. . . .

“My favorite gun is the M-16 that saved my life and that of my crew in Vietnam,” Mr. Kerry told the magazine. “I don’t own one of those now, but one of my reminders of my service is a Communist Chinese assault rifle.”

Mr. Kerry’s campaign would not say what model rifle Mr. Kerry was referring to, where he got it and when, or how many guns he owned. A spokesman for the senator, Michael Meehan, said Mr. Kerry was a registered gun owner in Massachusetts. On Thursday morning, Mr. Meehan said he had not been able to ask Mr. Kerry about the rifle because of Mr. Kerry’s hoarse voice; he did not respond to further inquiries.

He’s got laryngitis! Go away!

Call me crazy, but stuff like this isn’t going to help with the Kerry rebranding effort.

September 26, 2004

A BUNCH OF PEOPLE ARE EMAILING ME about this article on political bloggers in today’s New York Times magazine.

Yeah, it calls me a “conservative,” but I’ve just about given up fighting that since to so many people “conservative” is just a synonym for “supports the war.” (Me and Mark Hatfield! And Barack Obama!).

I think it’s a pretty good article. Some people are unhappy that it focuses on the lefty bloggers, but that was the intent of the piece from the get-go, and it’s been underway for a while — I had a long conversation with the reporter a few weeks back — and it’s not as if folks like me and Andrew Sullivan and Mickey Kaus haven’t had our time in the media spotlight.

UPDATE: A different perspective on the blogosphere here, from The Independent. And, weirdly, the Kos crowd seems to regard the New York Times piece as a “hatchet job against left-wing bloggers.”

There’s no pleasing some people.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Joshua Rovine emails:

One theory is that not only is Obama a conservative for suggesting the need to get rid of Iranian nukes, as you suggested, but maybe he is a nefarious neoconservative who, like his fellow Jews, cares only about helping Israel. Oops, he isn’t Jewish. Oh well.

Hey, me neither. Another thing that Barack and I have in common!

Meanwhile Paul Seyferth emails:

I would call you a sober liberal, sort of a “classic liberal” with your shoes off and your pant legs rolled up. It’s not your fault the Left made a muck of everything.

I do think that nominating Kerry was a mistake. And I suspect that it’ll be an even bigger one if he wins, since he has no real base of support beyond the “anybody but Bush” crowd.

But though I think Kerry is probably beyond the point of credibly reassuring me on the war, I invite him to move left and join me in open support for gay marriage, drug legalization, and abortion rights without any of that “personally opposed but still in favor” weaseling.

MORE: Hugh Hewitt thinks the Times is trying to bring in blogger reinforcements:

It is a vast cry for help, a plea for reinforcements. The bloggers are inside the citadel, so call in the allied bloggers.

On the other hand a more — or maybe just differently — cynical reader thinks this is all about excuse-making, arguing that they’re setting up the lefty bloggers for blame when Kerry loses. First Dean, then Kerry: It’s all those lefty bloggers’ fault! I suspect that in both cases, this is looking too deeply for agendas. But I could be wrong.

More thoughts here. And here, too.

And Yclipse says that the Times misunderstands the nature of the blogosphere.

September 25, 2004

CINEMOCRACY writes that I’m not paying enough attention to aesthetics:

Reynolds is missing an essential part of the debate – he doesn’t appear to embrace the realities of the political image, unless he’s exposing media bias or scorning Hollywood. We find this is odd, because Reynolds is a photographer by hobby, and there is no other art form that is more tuned towards selecting something from the real world and manipulating its qualities (framing, contrast, pose, etc.) in an image designed by the artist to inspire in a desired effect.

That’s probably true. So let me look at one aesthetic aspect of this campaign — the bumper stickers. I think it’s important, and so does John Kerry!

[H]e spent four weeks mulling the design of his campaign logo, consulting associates about what font it should use and whether it should include an American flag. (It does.)

So what hath Kerry wrought? I think it’s a winner:

It’s got a very nice retro-look, somehow reminiscent of the New Frontiers era. Smart move, since that’s the last time a Democrat ran convincingly as strong on national defense, and there’s that whole JFK-parallel thing going, too. The flag was a nice addition, and certainly strengthens that effect.

It’s especially notable by comparison to this earlier Kerry logo, which by contrast reeks of the 1970s, a far less fortunate association:

The Bush/Cheney material is more middle of the road. Their main bumpersticker seems to me to invoke a 1980s feel — a sly Reagan allusion, perhaps?

Not stunning, but serviceable.

This one is more elegant:

Understated, and suitable for people who fear vandalism, which is apparently a problem.

Kerry’s firsthand attention to political semiotics is impressive, and unusual in a leader. What this bodes for the campaign, or reveals about the candidates, is less clear, though one suspects that President Bush has taken a more, er, delegative approach to questions of design

September 25, 2004

IT’S NOT A HURRICANE — it’s an opportunity to market your blog!

September 25, 2004

MICKEY KAUS passed through town, headed toward L.A. in the sleek Kausmobile. We had sushi and talked about blogs; the Insta-Daughter enlightened him on The Sims.

I haven’t done a cross-country drive in a while, and I envy him. More journalists should emulate Kaus and do these drives. Or maybe Kaus is emulating Daniel Waterhouse, from The System of the World:

‘Twere pointless, as well as self-important, to rush to London, so long as he was on the island, and able to reach the city on short notice. Better to take his time and to see that island, so that he would better understand how things were . . . Through the windows of Mr. Threader’s carriage he was viewing a country almost as strange to him as Japan. It was not only England’s unwonted peace and prosperity that made it strange to him. Too, it was that he was viewing places that Puritans and Professors did not get invited to. Since Daniel had never seen those places, he tended to forget they existed, and so discount the importance of the people who lived in them.”

Even in the 18th Century they had the equivalent of Flyover Country — and the people who were smart enough not to skip it.

September 25, 2004


They’re six feet from Iraq’s head of government and they’ve got not a question for him. They’ve got no interest in Iraq except insofar as they can use the issue to depress sufficient numbers of swing voters in Florida and Ohio.

Who’s living in the fantasyland here? Huge forces are at play in a world of rapid change. As the prime minister said, ”We Iraqis will stand by you, America, in a war larger than either of our nations.” But the gentlemen of the press can barely stifle their ennui. Say what you like about the old left, but at least they were outward-looking and internationalist. This new crowd — Democrats and media alike — are stunted and parochial, their horizons shriveling more every day.


September 25, 2004

THE INSTA-DAUGHTER bought The Sims 2 today, and so far gives it a mixed review. She’s not crazy about the 3D aspect, and she seems to find the user interface harder to navigate than the old Sims. That may change with time, though. It looks pretty cool to me, but I haven’t actually played it, just looked over her shoulder.

September 25, 2004

I’VE SAID BEFORE that I think it was a mistake for Kerry to brand himself as “The Vietnam Candidate.” But this column by Colbert King explains why it’s playing so badly:

Those who dismiss critics of John Kerry’s Vietnam service as just a bunch of right-wing Republicans out to advance George W. Bush’s cause don’t know what they are talking about — or they are engaged in wishful thinking. . . . The column also criticized “Unfit for Command” for smearing Kerry, a decorated former naval officer, as disloyal because of his antiwar activities. Writing as a former Army officer, I concluded: “Speaking for myself, it is enough that he served.”

A number of readers agreed with that conclusion. Many more, however, most of them angry veterans, did not. Most striking was the fact that those who identified themselves seemed to span the political spectrum, with one even describing himself as a Howard Dean Democrat.

Two weeks later, another e-mail arrived on the same topic. It was from a Howard University classmate, a friend of 47 years, former assistant secretary of the Air Force Rodney Coleman. A Democrat. . . .

“When Kerry made those critical statements of the war,” Coleman wrote, “my parents, God bless them, went ballistic about their son going in harm’s way. My military colleagues in the fellows program who had been there and were shot up were incensed that a so-called military man would engage in such insubordinate actions. At the time Kerry made those unfortunate remarks, America had POWs and MIAs, among them my friend, Colonel Fred Cherry, the longest-held black POW of the Vietnam War. How could a true American fighting man throw away his medals, while thousands he fought alongside of were in the midst of another example of man’s inhumanity to man?”

Read the whole thing.

September 25, 2004

DARFUR UPDATE: David Brooks observes:

Confronted with the murder of 50,000 in Sudan, we eschewed all that nasty old unilateralism, all that hegemonic, imperialist, go-it-alone, neocon, empire, coalition-of-the-coerced stuff. Our response to this crisis would be so exquisitely multilateral, meticulously consultative, collegially cooperative and ally-friendly that it would make John Kerry swoon and a million editorialists nod in sage approval.

And so we Americans mustered our outrage at the massacres in Darfur and went to the United Nations. And calls were issued and exhortations were made and platitudes spread like béarnaise. The great hum of diplomacy signaled that the global community was whirring into action.

Meanwhile helicopter gunships were strafing children in Darfur.

Read the whole thing, which is just damning.

September 25, 2004

KERRY’S FINAL, FATAL MISTAKE? “Kerry will never dig himself out of this one, I think. And any time he makes his old favorite argument that he is much better suited for interaction with our allies, his Allawi blunder will be thrown in his face.”

September 25, 2004

POWER LINE notes that the AP is at it again.

UPDATE: That was quick. AP has changed the headline and the story. It’s nice that they fix these things when people point them out, but it’s telling that the first iteration seems to involve such a partisan anti-Bush spin.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:

Doesn’t this remind you of the sneaky TV lawyers who ask a loaded question which they KNOW will thrown out upon objection?

Then, the judge intones, ” The jury will disregard…” but the damage is done. And wasn’t that the whole point of the question? CAN the jury simple forget they ever heard?

The blogosphere now sits in the judge’s role, yet, the damage is done. Thousands of news sites received the damaging title and used it. Bah!

But the witness’s credibility is damaged. Especially if you read what Power Line has discovered about the reporter in question.

MORE: A reader notes that the reporter didn’t write the headline (they never do), which is true enough, and worth stressing. But she did write the story.

September 25, 2004

JAY ROSEN HAS THOUGHTS on whether CBS News has a political future.

September 25, 2004

PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW how I’m liking the new Neal Stephenson book, The System of the World. I’m about 2/3 of the way through it now, and enjoying it very much. The opening is a bit windy, but the action is now well underway, featuring such delights as Isaac Newton and Daniel Waterhouse trying to defuse a ticking bomb only to . . . well, that would be telling.

September 25, 2004

OXBLOG’S AFGHANISTAN CORRESPONDENT files a surprisingly positive report on the run-up to the elections next month. Excerpt:

But the political skill demonstrated by Karzai since July, and the popularity he clearly possesses, are reason for optimism. Afghans themselves are optimistic. The country has passed its major political challenges reasonably well since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 – forming a transitional cabinet, drafting and approving a constitution, maintaining a steady civilian government in Kabul. The next milestone, Afghanistan’s first free presidential election in over a decade, also looks to be a qualified success. For now, that’s quite an achievement.

Read the whole thing, which is detailed and quite interesting.

September 25, 2004

DARFUR UPDATE: I’m not sure what to make of this:

ABECHE, Chad — The UN High Commissioner for Refugees proposed autonomy for the troubled Darfur region of Sudan, a solution the government has resisted but said yesterday it would be willing to discuss anew in an effort to end the violence that has killed 50,000 people. . . .

Nothing less than radical change would stop the violence, the refugee chief said. “We have an enormous responsibility now, not to accept that this can go on and on,” Lubbers said at a border town serving as the UN base for camps holding most of the 200,000 Darfur refugees in Chad.

The Arab-dominated government in Khartoum has denied widespread allegations that its troops and allied Arab militia, called the Janjaweed, have conducted a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Darfur’s African population in retaliation for the uprising launched last year by the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equity rebel movements.

Stay tuned.

September 25, 2004

STRATEGYPAGE on satellite vulnerability:

September 25, 2004: Does the U.S. Air Force have adequate defenses for American space satellites? So far they do, but there’s some doubt that this will be the case in the future. The United States armed forces are more dependant on space based systems (for communication, navigation and reconnaissance) than any other country. This, naturally, makes the several hundred military and commercial satellites, that provide these services, a target for anyone planning to take on American troops. So far, there has been only one attempt to attack these space based capabilities. This happened during the 2003 Iraq war, where the Iraqis turned on some GPS jammers they had purchased from a Russian firm. The American air force had a weapon ready for this; smart bombs that homed in on GPS jammer signals. The Russian jammers were quickly destroyed and the war went on without any other attacks on American satellite capabilities.

But in the meantime there have been other successful attacks on commercial satellite systems.

Saddam had thoughts of sticking SAM missiles on top of SCUDs, but never did it. (This isn’t as dumb as it sounds — the U.S. experimented with, I believe, sidewinders on top of Pershings and discovered that it made a not-too-bad expedient antisatellite weapon).

UPDATE: Several readers want to know more, and one suggests that it may have been a Sparrow, not a Sidewinder, which is possible. I recall reading about this in one of Paul Stares’ books, either The Militarization of Space: U.S. Policy 1945-84 or Space and National Security. But they’re both at my office, so I can’t look for more details.

September 24, 2004

A BOGUS KERRY FLIPFLOP? Tom Maguire is suspicious of a 1997 Kerry quote that’s been floating around today. So is Power Line, which observes: “No doubt we’ll learn more soon. In the meantime, we won’t add this one to Kerry’s Hall of Fame collection of flip-flops.”

UPDATE: In fact, the Kerry quote that’s been circulating is wrong. Follow the link for more.

September 24, 2004

INTERESTED IN BEING A LAW PROFESSOR? Read this post, and this post by Gordon Smith.

September 24, 2004

THE HOUSE PASSED A DUMB BILL that’s supposed to keep “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance by stripping federal courts of jurisdiction. As Eugene Volokh notes over at, this approach is dumb in more ways than one.

September 24, 2004

HERE’S MORE CRITICISM OF KERRY’S CAMPAIGN DIPLOMACY — if he’s dissing our allies now, what will he do if he’s President?

UPDATE: Jason Van Steenwyk, recently returned from service in Iraq, has related thoughts.

And there’s more criticism of Kerry’s diplomacy here.

September 24, 2004

PAYPAL ALTERNATIVES: Linda Seebach recommends BitPass, and points to this explanation of why it’s supposed to be better. Other readers send links to FirePay and NeTeller, too. I don’t know much about any of these, personally. But it does seem like the field is ripe for competition.

September 24, 2004

ELEVATING THE DEBATE: Virginia Postrel has a further observation. I can’t argue. When she’s right, she’s right!

UPDATE: Okay, one major-media guy wrote something. But it’s not a “feature story.” It’s a blog entry.

September 24, 2004

ROBERT MUSIL looks at another big story from CBS.

September 24, 2004

CHIEF WIGGLES NEEDS YOUR HELP to save the life of a 9-month-old Iraqi girl. Follow the link for more information.

September 24, 2004

ERROR-CORRECTION UPDATE: Well, maybe. My TechCentralStation column noted postings on a Borders union chatboard from Borders’ employees who said they were hiding books. Now, in a message that appears in place of the original chatboard, the union says that the messages were posted by someone who may not have been a Borders employee. (They don’t say that he/she isn’t, only that they don’t verify employment. But it sounds like trolling, regardless. I’ve asked the TCS folks to note this in an update, too.)

Reader Jon Woolf, meanwhile, thinks there’s another explanation for all the anti-Bush books cluttering up bookstores — they’re just not selling as fast as the staff thought they would:

There are two possible reasons why the bookstores are full of copies of anti-Bush books, while pro-Bush or anti-Kerry books are hard to find, and those two are diametrically opposite in their implications.

Reason 1: the bookstores are anti-Bush and pro-Kerry, so they stock and prominently display anti-Bush books, while not stocking or displaying anti-Kerry books.

Reason 2: the bookstores are driven by two conflicting forces: expected sales and actual sales. They stock what they expect to sell and don’t stock what they don’t expect to sell. If they guess wrong on what will or won’t sell, they have to “push” the nonsellers because nonsellers are a big loss in money terms.

In particular, if a bookstore guesses wrong and orders a lot of copies of a book that then doesn’t sell, those copies are going to stay on the shelf for days or weeks. All those stacks of anti-Bush books that you see every time you walk into a Border’s — how many of them are the same copies, sitting on a table or in a shelf gathering dust, not being sold? Suppose a Border’s puts out a table with 20 copies of some anti-Bush book and 20 copies of UNFIT FOR COMMAND at 10:00AM. UNFIT is popular, so all twenty copies of it are gone by 10:30. Meanwhile, nobody buys even one copy of the anti-Bush book. Then if you walk in at 10:45 what do you see? Twenty copies of the anti-Bush book and no copies of UNFIT. Bias in the management? No. Just the marketplace at work.

Hmm. Interesting theory, though I’m not sure I buy it.

UPDATE: Reader Kenneth Grover emails:

In your post which reflects on the two possibilities of why bookstores have many anti-Bush books your reader posits two causes: ideological and push sales. Both reasons are in effect along with a third; false perspective. Bookstores approach the ordering of books from their ideological bent (We smart, they dumb, we buy smart books, nobody want dumb books). This leads to the first situation of sold-out conservative titles and mounds of liberal titles. Then, since this is a bad situation, they have to push the unsold liberal books as much as possible to try and get out from under. The real kick comes in with the fact that their false perspective has broken the feedback loop and nobody changes their buying decision on the next go around.

Reader Matthew DeLuca emails:

Regarding the question of whether or not bookstores are biased towards Kerry in their selection and display of political books, I’ve made a point of asking the checkout clerk at each bookstore I visit (four, so far) why there’s no copy of Unfit For Command available. Invariably, the answer has been that the book has been flying off the shelves, that they can’t keep it in stock, the publisher can’t ship fast enough, et cetera. I don’t sense that they’re feeding me any kind of line, either…so I’m sticking with the theory that it’s a simple supply versus demand issue.

I’m shocked that Al Franken’s books aren’t selling better. On the other hand, reader Shelby Clark doubts that the unsold-volumes theory really explains things beyond the short-term:

Bookstores (most especially the big chains) have relatively generous returns policies. If books are sitting unsold for weeks, they will be returned to the publisher for a full or substantial credit/refund. Bookstores absolutely will not sit on large stores of new books that aren’t moving.

I don’t really know what this means for your or Woolf’s theses, but that’s my view. Credentials: I worked for several years at a sizeable NY publisher of popular books; my wife was for many years a bookstore manager, and the industry remains a serious interest to us both.

I thought that publishers had tightened up on returns somewhat, but I could be wrong. And reader Kevin Carbis emails:

Caught your post (actually I catch just about all of ’em) on the possible explanations for the Anti-bush slant in bookstores. This has occurred to me a couple times. I work in downtown SF and the closest bookstore is a Border’s up at Union Square. I’m in there at least twice a week, I have to take the stairs up to the tech and history books. The landing on the staircase has a lot of extra space which is usually full of books. For weeks now, its been Clinton’s My Life. There must be 200 copies stacked there. Every week, 200 copies. Then one week, 200 copies all marked 10% off. Then 20% off, now 30% off. I’m sure they restock to make the stack look nice but the size of the stacks and the size of the discounts make me wonder if the second explanation might not be more plausible than I would have thought.

Beats me. But as I noted in the column, even one of my farthest-left colleagues has found the gauntlet of Bush-bashing books (which I guess Clinton’s isn’t, really) so depressing that he’s ordering from the Internet now. I wonder if store managers take that into account.

September 24, 2004

RATHERGATE, THE KERRY CAMPAIGN, AND MORE: Victor Davis Hanson has thoughts on the big picture.

September 24, 2004

RECIPEBLOGGING: This week’s Carnival of the Recipes is up.

September 24, 2004

PAYPAL SEEMS TO HAVE DECIDED to become the Web Morality Police:

Beginning Friday, PayPal will begin penalizing users who buy things it doesn’t want them to: prescription drugs from unverified pharmacies, material with even a whiff of sex and gambling or lottery services. . . .

Its policy on adult materials is especially stringent, banning not only any material or services suggesting sexual activity but also “non-adult services whose Web site marketing can be reasonably misconstrued as allowing adult material or services to be purchased using PayPal.”

Seems like we’re past due for more competition in this area.

September 24, 2004

WELL, I DIDN’T ORDER THIS VERY EXPENSIVE LENS for the D70, but after perusing some of the reviews forwarded by readers in response to my earlier post, I did buy this far more reasonably priced one. It doesn’t address my desire for a wider wide-angle, but it does provide more telephoto reach, and in a very convenient and versatile package, which is good for travel. I had some doubts about the quality given the price point, but the reviews were excellent. I’ll try to shoot a few pics over the weekend and put them up so that you can decide for yourselves.

Meanwhile, here’s a review of the lens that was too expensive for me. And here’s a review of the lens I bought.

September 24, 2004

SOME VERY USEFUL OBSERVATIONS on the stem-cell debate.

September 24, 2004

FROM THE I-THOUGHT-KERRY-WAS-A-DIPLOMAT DEPARTMENT: Charles Krauthammer joins the list of those wondering why Kerry is dissing our allies:

The terrorists’ objective is to intimidate all countries allied with America. Make them bleed and tell them this is the price they pay for being a U.S. ally. The implication is obvious: Abandon America and buy your safety.

That is what the terrorists are saying. Why is the Kerry campaign saying the same thing?

Why, indeed.

UPDATE: It just gets worse:

Democrats moved quickly to fuel skepticism, denouncing Allawi’s message in unusually pointed terms.

While Kerry was relatively restrained in disputing Allawi’s upbeat portrayal, some of his aides suggested that the Iraqi leader was simply doing the bidding of the Bush administration, which helped arrange his appointment in June.

“The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips,” said Joe Lockhart, a senior Kerry adviser.

This is behavior that is absolutely unacceptable coming from a Presidential campaign in wartime, and it’s not an isolated incident but part of a pattern of such behavior. Joe Lockhart should apologize for these remarks, and Kerry should fire him. Otherwise you’re going to hear a lot of people questioning Kerry’s patriotism. And they’ll be right to.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Greg Djerejian calls Lockhart’s comment “disgraceful,” and observes:

Remember, Kerry may need to work with this so-called “puppet” in the future. Regardless, this is astonishingly irresponsible campaign rhetoric from a key member of the challenger’s campaign team. To malign the serving PM of Iraq as appearing a “puppet” plays right into the handbook of insurgents operating in Iraq. I’m truly shocked Kerry would ostensibly authorize such an inflammatory statement (ie., not in the Casablanca ‘shocked, shocked’ kinda way).

I think that statements like this are more evidence that the Kerry campaign — or at least the Clinton folks running it — expects to lose. Hence, they don’t have to worry about who they’ll be working with, but they want to fire up the anti-Bush base. That doesn’t make it any less disgraceful to be going around uttering comments that might as well be designed to undermine America’s alliances, of course. This sort of stuff is appalling.

MORE: Roger Simon thinks there’s no strategy here, just the desperate flailing of a drowning campaign:

I think it’s more a product of “Hail Mary” desperation than a conscious desire to bring out the base. The isolationist anti-war left, noisy as they are, do not constitute a large enough minority to be useful in that regard. Bad strategy all around. It might even be a turnoff, because it leaves us with these Profiles in Courage to compare:

1. Awad Allawi – a man who was once left for dead (1978) in his Surrey home after having been bludgeoned with an ax by one of Saddam’s henchman who thought he had killed him. Allawi then spent a year in a hospital. He is still said to walk with a limp and is now the object of, one would imagine, daily assassination attempts.

2. John Kerry – a man who left the Vietnam War after 4 1/2 months after having been “seriously wounded” – a description that now even his biographer finds dubious.

Indeed. Whatever it is, it’s disgraceful, and if Roger is right I suspect that the Democratic Party will pay a stiff price for it in November. If Kerry keeps this up — making statements that are not merely anti-war, but that are deeply destructive and useful to our enemies — you’ll see Democratic candidates — and not just Tom Daschle — scampering to distance themselves from Kerry and embrace Bush.

September 24, 2004

PAYPAL SEEMS TO HAVE DECIDED that Bill Quick’s blog is a “hate site” or something, which is absurd, and they’re threatening to shut down his account.

This strikes me as a terrible move on their part, and they certainly deserve to hear from everyone who is unhappy about it.

September 24, 2004

RICHARD COHEN is defending Dan Rather for making an honest mistake: “Mistakes are what happen to aggressive news organizations.”

Yes, and so is fixing them when it’s obvious that they’re mistakes, instead of stonewalling and calling those who point them out partisan hacks. Even if the error was in good faith — which some would certainly dispute — the response wasn’t.

And this sounds like political maneuvering more than journalism:

Newsweek’s Howard Fineman argued that CBS News producer Mary Mapes became “obsessed,” with trying to prove that George W. Bush got special treatment in the National Guard, because she wanted to “save the world from a George Bush presidency, and in the last five years, she’s tried to find that smoking gun that would allow her to do that.” Appearing on MSNBC’s Imus in the Morning on Wednesday, Fineman fretted that due to the CBS scandal, it is getting “increasingly difficult to prove” that the rest of the media strive for “objectivity” and want to be “fair” and “even-handed.” Fineman also predicted that “if Roger Ailes and Fox had done something like this, you know, the world would be on fire.”

I’m guessing that Richard Cohen wouldn’t be defending them as vigorously, either. (And when some blogger blows it this way, I’m guessing that Cohen will write an I-told-you-so column rather than a bend-over-backward defense like this one, though I could be wrong.) But the damage has been done, and defenses like Cohen’s — which pretend that hit jobs intended to influence an election, based on documents that any reasonable person should have recognized as likely false, constitute “committing journalism” — probably explain why media credibility is at a low point today.

September 24, 2004

VIRGINIA POSTREL notes the kind of reporting we need from Iraq.

September 23, 2004

RESPONDING TO MICHAEL MOORE: A must-read post from Junkyard Blog.

September 23, 2004

RATHERGATE UPDATE: Here’s the speech Les Moonves ought to give. Also, articles on bloggers and Big Media in the International Herald Tribune, the Sydney Morning Herald, and Wired News. All of them mention pajamas, but the Wired News article by Adam Penenberg has the best bit: “My first thought was if bloggers had no credibility then why was this guy on my television, defending CBS?”

UPDATE: More here: “I’m glad Dan Rather has apologized. But I’d rather he would explain.”

I’d be happy if he would resign. Meanwhile, Charles Paul Freund says that CBS and Rather are acting like politicians, not journalists. He observes:

The continued wellbeing of establishment journalism requires trust. That trust is exactly what CBS’ bizarre behavior has been undermining.


September 23, 2004

A WHILE BACK, I linked to some very cool photos taken by a Marine aviator over Afghanistan and Iraq.

He’s now returned from his second deployment in Iraq, and he’s posted a bunch of new photos.

They’re also worth a look.

September 23, 2004

A SMALL REACTION TO A BIG SPEECH: The Belgravia Dispatch is deeply unimpressed with Kerry’s response to Allawi’s speech:

Kerry looks, er, very small today. I mean, was this statement for real? In its discombobulation, utter lack of grace (all but calling Allawi a liar), near absurdities (“Let me tell you, if the 4th Infantry Division and the diplomacy had been done (ed. note: whatever “done” means) with Turkey, you wouldn’t have had a Fallujah”), pleading tone (“And ask the military leaders. Go ask the military leaders”)–it reads more like a bona fide Deanian (or Goreian?) meltdown than a serious policy statement/press conference.

What I don’t get is that Kerry’s big claim is that he’ll get us allies, but it seems that whenever you turn around he’s dissing somebody on our side. Last week it was Australia, and then there were those remarks about a “fraudulent coalition” in Iraq. This seems to me to be no way to win friends, though I suspect that it may influence people.

UPDATE: Roger Simon asks: “[W]hat if Kerry wins using this rhetoric? What will he do when confronted with decisions to make on Iraq?” You know, the more I look at the new, Dean-channeling Kerry, the more I think that he doesn’t expect to win. He’s given up trying to convince swing voters that he’s serious on the war. I think this is about firing up the base to protect down-ticket candidates as much as possible.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jason Van Steenwyk, recently returned from Iraq, is also unimpressed with Kerry’s remarks. “Ok. So you want other nations’ leaders to expend political capital and treasure and send their lads to risk their lives . . . . So why don’t you act like it? Why aren’t you trying to sell the deal?”

Related item from Ralph Peters here: Ouch.

September 23, 2004

MCAULIFFE KNEW! I’m waiting for the bumper stickers.

Meanwhile, Cathy Seipp has still more on RatherGate, in a piece called “A Typist’s Tale.”

UPDATE: Actually, it seems McAuliffe didn’t know. With a speed that Dan Rather should envy, Jim Geraghty has retracted the McAuliffe report above: “Again, I blew this one, folks. My bad.”

See, Dan, it’s not that hard. (And, by the way, Jim Geraghty also sent an email to people to be sure they’d notice the update and correction, and offered another apology. Very handsome. I think the New Media are serving as a role model for the Old, here. Or should be.)

September 23, 2004

POLIPUNDIT: Black Gay Republicans put Bush in the White House!

September 23, 2004

JEEZ, I’M TOTALLY OUTCLASSED in the “minions” department, by this Nathan guy. My minions aren’t “everywhere.”

In fact, they’re not really anywhere. [What about me? — Ed. That’s my point.] I guess I’m not trying hard enough to recruit. . . .

September 23, 2004

MYSTERY POLLSTER is a polling-related blog by one of Kaus’s secret sources. It’s full of interesting information on, yes, polling.

Plus, scroll to the bottom to find out Wonkette’s dirty little secret.

September 23, 2004

I HAVEN’T PAID MUCH ATTENTION to the whole Cat Stevens brouhaha. But Eric Olsen has some thoughts.

September 23, 2004


UPDATE: I agree that Kerry’s response to Allawi’s speech was ill-considered. Somebody call the brand manager!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Dart Montgomery emails:

Arrgh – Kerry’s speech was “ll-considered???”Are you running for office on the Upper West Side?

How about Arrogant, Awful, Divisive, Dishonest, Destructive, Horrible, Terrorist-Inspiring etc., etc., etc.?

Actually, as other people get more inflamed about the election, I’m making an effort to become milder, though I was chided by a colleague the other day for being insufficiently snarky of late. And, of course, there are those who claim that I lack fire.

September 23, 2004

CATHY SEIPP has more thoughts on RatherGate and the cocoon.

UPDATE: Another story in the CBS-affiliate-backlash category.

September 23, 2004

HOW BERKELEY CAN YOU BE? Amusing photos, though not entirely work-safe. (“There was no shortage of Bush/pubic hair jokes.”)

UPDATE: More pics here.

September 23, 2004

TODAY I OPENED MICHAEL KELLY’S POSTHUMOUS BOOK, Things Worth Fighting For, and came straight to this passage:

I used to watch television news, but at some point between the time CBS married Westinghouse, NBC married General Electric, and ABC married Mickey Mouse, I sort of lost interest.

I don’t think that corporatization was the only thing to hurt TV news, but I don’t think it helped.

UPDATE: Reader Michael Nolin emails:

It took almost a full year before I stopped thinking first thing every Wednesday morning, “Oh good, it’s Michael Kelly column day.” He was great. He would have been all over Rathergate.

I think that’s right.

September 23, 2004

SCOTT KOENIG will be debating the war on public radio in just a few minutes. Follow the link for audio-streaming and call-in information.

September 23, 2004

BURNING ANNIE, an indie movie that I like, will be showing at the Silver Lake Film Festival in Los Angeles this Sunday.

September 23, 2004

INTERESTING THOUGHTS on terror-cell size and social dynamics, over at The Belmont Club. Read the whole thing.

September 23, 2004

I’VE UPDATED THE KERRY DRAFT POST, below, which seems to have involved AP misrepresentation of Kerry’s remarks, though to be fair that misrepresentation was perhaps understandable in light of things that other Democrats have been saying. And read Tom Maguire’s post on the subject, “From Fake Boos to Fake News,” for more.

September 23, 2004

THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE CRITICIZES KERRY ON IRAQ, saying that he is “channelling Howard Dean:”

After his 2002 Senate vote to authorize the war, Kerry often characterized disarming Hussein as “the right decision.” In May 2003, Kerry said on ABC that while he “would have preferred” more diplomacy before going to war, “I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein. And when the president made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him.”

As recently as last month, Kerry was sticking by that principle, stating that even if he had known the U.S. wouldn’t find unconventional weapons in Iraq or prove close ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda, he still would have voted to authorize the war. But succeeding weeks have confronted Kerry with two harsh realities: His presidential candidacy has ebbed in public opinion polls, and Iraq has grown bloodier.

So it was bizarre, although not exactly shocking, to hear Kerry veer left during a speech on Monday: “We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure …” he said. “Invading Iraq has created a crisis of historic proportions, and if we do not change course, there is a prospect of a war with no end in sight.”

Kerry, who knows a few things about changing course, evidently believes he and his Senate colleagues were right to give President Bush the authority to wage war, but that Bush was wrong to use the authority.


UPDATE: On the other hand, SpinSwimming says that Kerry is channelling C3PO.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This is interesting: “While leaving the House floor, did you see Allawi kiss Senator Lieberman on the cheek? and couple minutes later kiss Paul Wolfowitz on both cheeks? And we’re worse off today than under Saddam rule?”

September 23, 2004

I HAVE A COLUMN ON RATHERGATE and what it means for the media, worldwide, in The Australian today.

UPDATE: Yes, somehow Microsoft and Linux got reversed. I’ve asked them to fix it.

September 23, 2004

JAYSON BLAIR ON RATHERGATE: “It’s really sad to see what’s happening to Dan Rather and CBS, and no one knows like me what its like to lose their credibility. I would give anything to have it back.”

September 23, 2004

A PROPOSED LAW AGAINST “RECKLESS SEX:” “To convict, prosecutors would need to show beyond a reasonable doubt (i) a first-time sexual encounter between the defendant and the victim; and (ii) no use of a condom. The defendant would then have the opportunity to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the victim consented to the unprotected sex.”

UPDATE: Er, no, I’m not uncritically repeating proposals from the religious right. Follow the damn link. More commentary here: “Starting off, however, it is pretty clear from past experience (say AIDS/HIV) that the criminal law is a paticularly crappy way to deal with health problems (and health issues have to motivate here or there would be little point to required use of a condom). In adddition the suggested correlation of first time encounters without condoms and coercive sex is (a) speculative and (b) too poor a relation to support use of the criminal law.” I’m inclined to agree, though I haven’t read the paper in question.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A law student offers a counter-proposal.

And here’s another counter-proposal, designed to deter unplanned pregnancies.

MORE: I think Clayton Cramer likes the idea, though.

September 23, 2004

WHY THE BLOGOSPHERE is like Voltron.

UPDATE: Of course, the Borg metaphor remains popular.

ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, the “minions of Skeletor” reference seems like an outlier.

September 23, 2004

GREG DJEREJIAN IS DEBUNKING AFGHANISTAN MYTHS, and wonders whether this rather positive report on Afghanistan in today’s New York Times will get the attention it deserves, especially from Bush’s critics on the Left. He says that Kerry’s got it wrong, too.

Meanwhile StrategyPage reports:

While al Qaeda manages to set off one or more suicide bombs a day in Iraq, it finds itself losing the war it is waging. The bombs are killing mainly Iraqis, and the Iraqis have noticed this. . . . Al Qaeda will fight on until the last of their members is rounded up by Iraqi police. But al Qaeda have already lost their war in Iraq.

I certainly hope so.

UPDATE: On the other hand, Stephen Green thinks that Bush is blowing it on Iran.

September 23, 2004


Hundreds of Iranian online journals have been protesting against media censorship by renaming their websites after pro-reformist newspapers and websites that have been banned or shut down by the authorities.

Many of the websites, known as blogs or weblogs, have also posted news items from the banned publications on their websites.

The protest was started by blogger Hossein Derakhshan, a student at Toronto university in Canada.

He told the BBC that although he felt the action was symbolic, he wanted to show Iranian authorities “that they would not be able to censor the internet in the same way as they have managed to control other media”.

He said he was delighted with the response.

The hardline Iranian press has published a personal attack on him, he said, “which is proof that the authorities must be worried by the bloggers’ protest”.

Kind of like when Dan Rather’s defenders started talking about pajamas.

September 23, 2004

MICKEY KAUS on elevating the debate: “But this is the blogosphere, where we get to talk about … what we are interested in talking about! You want duty stories, read David Broder. … It’s not every day that a new information medium undermines an old info-constricting, caste-like hierarchy either. (Think Protestant Reformation.) There are enough pixels to discuss both Rather and Zarqawi.”

And they’re premium, American-made, non-outsourced pixels!

September 22, 2004

CBS NAMES AN INDEPENDENT PANEL, but Stephen Bainbridge notes some Thornburgh- and Rove-related background you might miss otherwise.

September 22, 2004

LOTS OF GOOD STUFF over at The Volokh Conspiracy. Just keep scrolling.

September 22, 2004

OKAY, NOW I BELIEVE THOSE POLLS about how badly Kerry is doing. Why else would he be making bogus claims about restoring the draft?

Maybe some reporters should ask him why, if this is a secret Bush plan, it’s Democrats in Congress who are sponsoring bills to bring back the draft? Or maybe at least note that in the reports?

UPDATE: This take seems about right:

What next, is Kerry going to denounce the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to tax e-mail?

This is not the move of a campaign confident about where it is in the polls.


ANOTHER UPDATE: Weirdly, the draft reference is now missing from the AP story linked above. You can still see it here, though, at least for now.

MORE: Hmm. Is this AP’s fault, rather than Kerry’s? This may have been the result of a reporter hyping the draft issue rather than, as I thought, Kerry trying to raise it in a “nuanced” fashion. [LATER: Reader Jim McManus emails: “Doesn’t it say something Danron-like that you find the need to apologize for believing an AP post without first checking it out?” Heh. Yes, it does.]

STILL MORE: More thoughts here, including the observation that this seems to be some kind of unified message-of-the-week.

MORE STILL: Jeralyn Merritt says that there are a few Republicans pushing the draft, too. She’s got links. I have to say, though, that everyone — and I mean absolutely everyone — I’ve heard pushing the idea has been a Democrat, and I’ve seen no sign that the White House wants it.

STILL MORE: A debunking of the draft rumors — which I’m scoring as “cynical fear-mongering” unless there are new and unlikely developments — here, and also at Snopes.

MORE STILL: Spoons has a post untangling this, and a reader who saw Kerry on MSNBC says that he seemed rather noncommital, and that he was very hard to understand because of laryngitis, which may have confused the AP reporter. It seems likely that Kerry’s statement on the draft wasn’t as clear as the original report made it. However, it’s also clear that the Democratic Party, beyond Kerry, is trying to fear-monger on the subject of the draft.

September 22, 2004

YESTERDAY WAS THE LAST DAY OF SUMMER, and I happened to be on campus for a trip to the library. So I took some pictures.

The weather was beautiful today, too, but I spent the day mostly at home, slaving over a hot word processor on various writing projects, hence the relatively limited blogging.

I really should spend more time outdoors, and less time at a computer, shouldn’t I?


September 22, 2004

THE INTIFADA IS OVER: Michael Totten notes a major victory in the war on terror that deserves more attention.

September 22, 2004

POLLS: Yesterday, I wrote that I was skeptical regarding state-by-state polls showing Kerry doing badly. Today, I have to say, I’m skeptical about the way Kerry is plummeting in the IEM and TradeSports futures markets.

September 22, 2004

IS THE BLOGOSPHERE ELEVATING THE POLITICAL DEBATE? I just had an interesting conversation with a journalist who’s writing on that question, and who pretty clearly seems to feel that the answer is “no.”

If “elevating the debate” means a sort of good-government, League-of-Women-Voters focus on where candidates stand on health care, etc., that’s mostly true, I suppose. But I think it misconceives what blogs are about. There certainly are bloggers posting on healthcare and other issues — see, for example, Jeff Jarvis’s Issues 2004 posts and this post by Ann Althouse on medical malpractice — but the political blogosphere is to a large degree about media criticism. If the Big Media were talking more about issues, and less — to pick RatherGate as the example which I think inspired this conversation — about Bush’s National Guard service, probably bloggers would be talking about issues more, too.

Of course, what’s striking about RatherGate is the absolutely incredible degree of ineptitude, arrogance, and outright political manipulativeness that it has revealed. In light of that, I can understand why members of the media would rather talk about other things.

But, all blogger triumphalism aside, the media criticism matters. And it matters because Big Media are still the main way that our society learns about what’s happening, and talks about it. A serious breakdown there, which seems undeniably present today, is very important. In many ways, as I’ve said before, it’s more important than how the election turns out.

Meanwhile, I don’t recall much tut-tutting about bloggers focusing on Trent Lott’s racial remarks, instead of his position on national health insurance. Were we elevating the tone then, but not now?

UPDATE: Ann Althouse, on the other hand, points to someone who isn’t elevating the tone. As you might expect, she manages to deflate him, without using improper language. Plus, she comes up with a cool new blog name. [LATER: My linking of Althouse has apparently turned her into one of my “minions.” Minions? It sounds so very Ming the Merciless. “Minions! Sieze him! We’ll see if Professor Leiter can maintain his trademark self-regard after a few months of grading exams in the bluebook mines of Kessel!” Okay, we’re in Frank J. territory, now. . . .]

ANOTHER UPDATE: Interesting Gallup data on public attitudes toward the media in the wake of RatherGate. Apparently, it’s not just bloggers who care.

MORE: Reader Tucker Goodrich has these thoughts on “the issues:”

The issues the blogs have been addressing are issues the press and the Democrats would rather not address, because (in my opinion, and I guess, by their omission, on theirs) they’d lose.

We’re in a war. The character and suitability of the commander-in-chief is a valid issue. A partisan media trying to throw the election by releasing forged documents to throw the character and suitability of the CinC in doubt is an issue. Whether or not the new CinC would prefer to win or lose the war is an ISSUE!

But the Democrats and the press are trying to win the debate by framing those as not “issues”, but as partisan carping. Nice try, but sorry. They are issues, and are every bit as important as healthcare or the economy, if not more so.

They’d simply like to frame a debate where they, the press, define the issues in such a way that they’ll win. The real impact of blogs in this election is that the press can no longer frame the debate to their liking. And this is a huge win for people who don’t agree with how the press tries to frame the debate. And competition in framing the debate can only be good for our democracy and our republic, even if it’s bad for the Democrats and the Republicans.

And the press. As reader Bill Gullette emails: “Where did Rathergate originate? And most certainly even in the most favorable terms, the story was hardly an above the belt effort in terms of what CBS or Rather/Mapes intended the story to achieve.”

Reader Merv Benson adds: “Blogs are the letter to the editor that the editor does not want to print.”

STILL MORE: A positive spin:

All the MSM really needs to do is be the professionals they have falsely claimed to be all these years. A real news organization which was devoted body and soul to getting the truth out, chips fall where they may, would embrace the new world that is growing up around it. . . .

The real story is a happy one. The MSM is on the verge of a new golden age. If it would just learn to do its job, take advantage of these new developments, quit trying to be “gatekeepers” and drop the ideological and partisan shilling, good things would start to happen sooner rather than later.


MORE STILL: Hmm. Compared with Lewis Lapham, who’s charging Bush with “treason,” maybe bloggers are elevating the tone!

FINAL UPDATE: This article on the contributions of blogs is worth reading, too.

OKAY, REALLY FINAL UPDATE THIS TIME: Virginia Postrel has more thoughts, and says that the real issue is that reporters aren’t interested when blogs elevate the debate:

Reporters and media critics are bored, bored, bored by the very sort of discourse they claim to support (a lesson I learned the hard way in 10 long years as the editor of Reason). They, and presumably their readers, want conflict, scandal, name-calling, and some sex and religion to heighten the combustible mix. Plus journalists, like other people, love to read about themselves and people they know.

That’s no doubt true. Virginia also thinks I sound “defensive” in this post. Maybe, though I’d say “reactive” — the interview, with a guy who warned me up front that I wasn’t likely to like his story, seemed driven as much by unhappiness over RatherGate as anything else.

September 22, 2004

DON’T MISS THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES: There are a lot of blogs out there besides InstaPundit, and you should be reading them.

September 22, 2004

AUSTIN BAY, just back from Iraq, has a new column up:

According to the Times, the report from the National Intelligence Council “outlines three possibilities for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst case being developments that could lead to civil war.”

Wake up the Beltway bureaucrats: The Iraqi civil war started in summer 2003, when a group hard-core Baath (and Sunni-dominated) holdouts decided their route to personal survival — and possible track back to power in Baghdad — was relentlessly savage violence.

Savage violence is the daily routine of the criminal gangs who run dictatorships large and small, so virtually everyone expected some degree of post-Saddam thug resistance. However, no one knew the Baath hardcore had so much money. [Money? Where could that have come from? — Ed.]

The biggest mistake the Iraq coalition made, however, was underestimating the power of criminal arrogance. That’s a mistake we Americans make repeatedly — whether the thug is Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam, Osama bin Laden or one of our own mob chieftains like John Gotti. . . .

When does arrogance turn to desperation?

I don’t know — perhaps Mohammad Bogy could give us an opinion. I do know the Baath thugs are attempting to manipulate the U.S. political cycle. If they continue to murder, they believe America will wilt and leave the new Iraqi government in the lurch.

Read the whole thing.

September 22, 2004


Democratic and Republican pollsters say the reason for the change this year is that an issue Mr. Bush had initially pitched as part of an overall message – which candidate would be best able to protect the United States from terrorists – has become particularly compelling for women.

I’ve been saying that for three years.

September 22, 2004

HMM. This ad on Kerry looks a lot like this one. I guess we’ve established a theme.

September 22, 2004

TOM MAGUIRE doubles down on Nick Kristof. I agree with Maguire that for Kristof to complain about mudslinging is “a bit rich.”

UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

September 22, 2004

UNSCAM UPDATE: Claudi Rosett pulls no punches on Kofi Annan’s involvement with the Oil-for-Food scandal.

And Roger Simon says that Annan is engaged in the mother of all stonewalls.

September 22, 2004

IT’S INTERESTING to read these thoughts on technological change from Terry Teachout in conjunction with this column by Anne Applebaum on RatherGate.

September 22, 2004

OUCH: “It would be like an American today meeting with the heads of al Qaeda.”

UPDATE: Heck, even Chris Matthews saw this one coming.

ANOTHER UPDATE: But it wasn’t secret — well, it may have been when it happened, but not later.

September 22, 2004

YOU KNOW, the “pajamas” remark just won’t go away: Part-time pundits in pajamas find CBS asleep at the switch. Heh.

And interestingly, look at what’s number two on Google when you search “pajamas.’ Heh, again.

September 22, 2004

MORE ON THE INTERNET, cocooning and customer revolt: My TechCentralStation column is up.

September 22, 2004

THE NEW CLIMATE OF FEAR IN AMERICA seems to have claimed another victim:

A local soldier back from the war in Iraq said he was beaten at an area concert because of what was printed on his T-shirt, NBC 4’s Nancy Burton reported. . . .

According to a Columbus police report, six witnesses who didn’t know Barton said the person who beat him up was screaming profanities and making crude remarks about U.S. soldiers, Burton reported.

Not anti-war. Just on the other side.

UPDATE: In response to a later link back to this post on August 8, 2006, Reader Ted Gideon emails that this report turned out to be false.

I don’t promise not to link to stories that turn out to be wrong (how could I?) just to correct errors when they appear. And, actually, I’m glad this looks not to have been true.

September 21, 2004


These days, network news survives in hermetically sealed cocoons—free of commercial pressures and calls for financial viability. CBS News has more cocoons than any other network. There’s Evening News, which languished in last place for years; Face the Nation, another ratings disaster; Sunday Morning, which remained unchanged even after the death of anchor Charles Kuralt; and 60 Minutes, which is profitable but has an employee-retirement program similar to that of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The CBS cocoons engender a kind of madness. Rather is paid an outsized salary—he makes $7 million per year—that is in no way commensurate with the number of viewers he delivers. Where most prime-time shows have a few weeks to prove their viability, newscasts often are given years and decades. The network’s former glory allows Rather to shroud himself in the aura of Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow. “I’m confident we worked longer, dug deeper, and worked harder than almost anybody in American journalism does,” Rather told the Washington Post Sunday, when in fact CBS spent less time verifying the Guard documents than most bloggers.

Indeed. Don’t miss the conclusion.

UPDATE: Read this transcript and this one.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here: “Rather appears to have been guided by the belief that he was doing his institution a great favor by holding out instead of retracting the story. Why any institution should believe that shirking the truth in the short run is a path to strength in the long run is beyond me.”

Meanwhile, Patterico observes:

These are not people who were duped. And the problem is not how they handled it once they were caught — though they handled that part badly. Their main transgression was in ignoring the evidence staring them in the face before the story ever ran. At the very least, they could have given some time on the broadcast to the dissenters.

But they didn’t. And I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: don’t fool yourself believing that this is the first time this has happened. Come on. If you have watched “60 Minutes” then you are familiar with that feeling you have at the end of a segment, when you think to yourself: “Wow, everything seems to point to one conclusion.” You thought that was because everything really did point to one conclusion?

Nope. It’s because everything else was left on the cutting room floor.

We’re just seeing one very notorious example where they got caught.

Yes, it’s a thirteenth chime of the clock.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Larry Walsh emails: “More to Patterico’s point, as another pundit once noted, ‘crisis doesn’t build character, it reveals it.'”

September 21, 2004

DAVID BERNSTEIN notes that Reuters is reporting dishonestly. It’s also creating incentives to threaten its reporters’ lives. This doesn’t seem very smart to me.

September 21, 2004

GREG DJEREJIAN blogs on Bush’s speech to the United Nations. Here’s the text of Bush’s speech.

September 21, 2004

TOO GOOD TO CHECK? I wish there were photos with this report of a protest at CBS headquarters, but I do like this bit: “the protest is notable because all of them were dressed in pajamas.”

Like Dan Rather, I want the story to be true. Unlike Dan Rather, I’ll wait for confirmation before pronouncing it genuine.

UPDATE: Ah, I think it was this protest.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Photos here — but not everyone is in pajamas.

September 21, 2004

WOOHOO! Just got the new Neal Stephenson book, The System of the World, today. Blogging may be halfhearted and distracted while I read it.

September 21, 2004


Polls show the president is tied or slightly behind in New Jersey and trailing Senator Kerry by only some six to eight percentage points In New York. GOP Governor George Pataki introduced the president at a reception with 1,000 people by saying, “Welcome back, Mr. President, to the swing state of New York.”

It’s really hard for me to believe that Bush is doing as well, and Kerry as badly, as these state polls seem to suggest.

September 21, 2004

“REALLY, THOUGH, THIS IS ALL JUST A COINCIDENCE:” John Cole posts a RatherGate / “Operation Fortunate Son” timeline.

This NPR report features talking-heads saying that this story — which involves the release of forged documents in order to influence a Presidential election, and back-channel conversations and what sure looks like collusion between a major television network and a political campaign — isn’t all that important.

No doubt the nabobs of the journalistic ethics establishment would be giving Fox News and the Republicans the same benefit of the doubt, were the facts reversed.

September 21, 2004


A week or two before the issue of the supposed National Guard memos on President Bush’s military service came up, I speculated on this site about the emergence of a new cyber-public in response to the discrediting of many of the traditional news media. Luck made me a prophet: the exposure of the memos as forgeries was a textbook example of what I had been talking about. . . .

What we saw was an extraordinary example of what chaos and complexity theorists call spontaneous self-organization. Out of a highly communicative but apparently chaotic medium an ordered, sensitively responsive, but robust order emerges, acting as an organism of its own. Suddenly a perfectly-matched team of specialists had self-assembled out of the ether.

Read the whole thing, which is very interesting. (But InstaPundit is “venerable?” In Internet years, yeah!) It’s also worth reading this piece by Cathy Young from the Boston Globe, and this essay by Andrew Sullivan from Time.

Pajamas are mentioned in all three.

September 21, 2004

I ALMOST FEEL SORRY for the tag-teamed Nick Kristof. I am actually acquainted with Yoshi Tsurumi, having edited one of his articles back when I was on the Yale Law & Policy Review in law school. While he was pleasant enough to work with, I wouldn’t bet the farm on him. On the other hand, these quotes sound out of character — and I wouldn’t bet the farm on Kitty Kelley, either. . . .

September 21, 2004

IT’S NOT ABOUT IRAQ OR DAN RATHER: Perhaps reason enough to check out this week’s Carnival of the Capitalists?

September 21, 2004


What does Mr. Novak know about Iraq and the decision makers in the USA? If his information about how decision makers in America are thinking, is similar to his information about Iraq, then I guess we are safe and there’s no need to worry.

Read the whole thing. I’m with Ali on this one.

UPDATE: Greg Djerejian has more thoughts, which are very much worth reading.

ANOTHER UPDATE: So is this column by Jonah Goldberg. And read this post from Soxblog.