March 26, 2005
THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF CORDITE is up. If you’re interested in gun-blogging, don’t miss it.
THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF CORDITE is up. If you’re interested in gun-blogging, don’t miss it.
A STEP FORWARD FOR SPACE ELEVATOR TECHNOLOGY:
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Borrowing a page from the playbook for the X Prize spaceship competition, NASA has set aside $400,000 over the next two years for competitions to encourage the development of wireless power transmission systems and super-strong tethers.
The Beam Power Challenge and the Tether Challenge, announced here Wednesday, are the first two of NASA’s Centennial Challenges, which aim to provide incentives for technological achievements that could be applied to future space exploration.
Although the space agency will put up the prize money, the contests will be administered by the Spaceward Foundation, a California-based group that started planning the contests last year.
Power-beaming technology looks good, too. Solar Power Satellites look a lot better when you’re thinking of hydrogen cars, and when oil is over fifty bucks a barrel. I’m also happy to see NASA taking the prize approach, too.
ACTING LIKE THE LEFT, CONT’D: Donald Sensing is getting flamed over the Schiavo matter:
Some of you have questioned whether I am truly Christian because of my position on the Terri Schiavo case. This speaks volumes because it is not I or my ideological allies who are casting people into the outer darkness because they disagree. The speed at which some of you have reached to condemn me – in the most literal way, since as a not-true-Christian I am obviously Hellbound – reveals much more about your spiritual condition than mine.
Likewise, I’ve gotten some email from people who are actually angry at me for having the temerity to disagree with Hugh Hewitt (an anger that Hugh certainly doesn’t share). We’ve seen what the you’re-the-enemy-if-you-don’t-agree-with-me-on-everything approach has done for the left. It’s disappointing to see people on the right imitating it. But read this post by Dan Riehl for evidence that it doesn’t have to be that way.
UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein thinks that this will actually make it harder for Bush on the judicial confirmation front. I’m not sure.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Charles Johnson has comments.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: So does Michele Catalano.
And it’s worth reading this Terri Schiavo FAQ from Football Fans for Truth (no lefty front group!), which suggests that an awful lot of things people have been saying about the case are, well, wrong. And read this, too:
Courts, however, rely on facts. Facts are determined by a predetermined process. In this case, the process has gone on for a very long time. Both sides have had every opportunity to have their say on several occasions. Independent factfinders and physicians have made their reports. Several courts have upheld Judge Greer’s rulings, including one in which the appellate court reviewed all the evidence. The end result of this long process are several factual determinations: Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state, she would not want to live in this condition, and Michael Schiavo has given his wife excellent care.
But this isn’t enough for Last. He goes into classic “Free Mumia” mode, declaring that these factual determinations are “tyranny by other means”. Much like Susan Sarandon and Danny Glover with Mumia, Last declares that to defer to the judicial process is to defer to “an imperfect system implemented by imperfect men.”
Free Mumia! Yeah, that’s pretty much the flavor of it.
MORE: Reader Charles Rutt emails:
While I agree that the Schiavo case has been handled by the courts in a way that is at least competent, it is the true innocence of this victim that arouses the passion of so many of her supporters. Mumia killed a policeman and was convicted. Terri Schiavo’s husband wants to end her life for what seem to be suspicious reasons. There is no written accounting of her wishes, her parents have said they would take care of her and release him from any responsibility, there is some money involved (to be honest there are so many “set the record straight” articles circulating.I’m not sure there truly is any money involved), and there are curious associations Mr. Schiavo’s lawyer seems to have with some strange “right to death” groups. I am not trying to convince you of the merits of the Schiavo case or that her supporters are right, but it comparing it and them to the “Free Mumia” crowd is borderline insulting.
That said, I enjoy what you do and really enjoy when you share your thoughts in depth.
Well, the “Free Mumia” comparison only applies to the unwillingness of some commentators to look at the actual record, and the willingness to posit a huge and implausible conspiracy on the part of numerous judges, attorneys, etc. (And Schiavo-partisan Randall Terry is just Al Sharpton with an inferior tailor. At best.). But the point is taken, and I apologize for any suggestion that the cases are otherwise comparable, because of course they’re not. There’s nothing tragic about what happened to Mumia.
I DIDN’T NOTICE AT THE TIME, but InstaPundit had its hundred millionth pageview a couple of days ago. Actually, it was a while longer ago than that, as this counter only went on when the site moved off blogspot, but it still seems like some sort of a milestone.
UPDATE: Reader John MacDonald jokes: “Yeah, but let us know when it’s a hundred million a day.” Just a dollar a pageview, that’s all I ask . . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Yes, I would actually settle for a penny per pageview.
ANN ALTHOUSE RESPONDS to Hugh Hewitt.
ROGER SIMON SAYS “BRAVO!” to Taiwan’s independence marches.
THE INSURGENTS’ “EXIT STRATEGY?” Turning in Zarqawi.
YESTERDAY’S RAZORBLOGGING produced a surprising amount of email. First, several readers happily assured me that I’d love the razor that I meant to buy. Yeah, I actually own one, and it’s quite good. (Just worn out).
Several readers wanted to know what razor I bought by mistake. Hunting around, I found it on Amazon, and it’s this one. Note the strong resemblance.
A buyer from Target asked how I liked the knock-off. My response: It sucks. Or, more accurately, it plucks, rather than cutting, often enough that I quit using it and went back to the old one. I just ordered the Norelco from Amazon; the other one will go back to Target next time I’m there.
UPDATE: Lots of razor-mail, too. A reader named “Will” (no last name) recommends this rather pricey setup, saying: “I’ve tried many electrics, this is the best for me. Better than the three-head Norelco.” But is my face worth that much money? No need to respond; I think I know the answer . . . .
Reader Dart Montgomery emails: “Razor trivia – straight razors cut hair evenly, while electric razors act like shredders and leave the end of the hair follicle with a ragged edge. Of no practical importance that I’m aware of, but makes me glad I use a straight razor. :)”
You’re a brave man, Dart Montgomery, if you mean one of these lethal implements.. Or do you just mean a blade? Perry Eidelbus thinks that’s the way to go:
While stationed in Panama during World War II, my father won an electric shaver in a raffle. I believe it was a Remington, which wouldn’t be surprising
considering how bad it was. He said it would “jump” at him, and it just wasn’t a good shave.
He used blades for the rest of his life. He and I generally favored Sensor Excels.
I seem to alternate, on no fixed pattern, between electric and blades. [LATER: “Pricey setup” link above was bad; fixed now.]
ANOTHER UPDATE: The email is pouring in. Reader Christopher Hagin emails:
As a former straight-razor user, I’d just like to say that straight-razors are very overrated. They are undeniably glamourous (as the cult of straight-razors attests), but they don’t give you as close a shave as modern cartridge blades. If you are prone to ingrown hairs, as are many black men, straight-razors are good because they do not cut the hair as closely as modern blades. In an emergency I once used a cheap disposable-it shaved as well as the straight-razor. I believe that the difference is the little rubber microfins you find on modern blades. Instead of a marketing gimmick, it seems IMHO that they actually make a big difference.
It’s the best shave I’ve found. I guess, because it has an AAA battery that it’s hybrid blade/electric. They’re still overcharging for the blades as the volume goes up, but the less expensive blades for their previous models fit this one with no discernable difference in performance.
Well, hybrids are stylish this year! But reader David Needham wonders why we’re wasting our time in front of the mirror:
I decided some years ago that since
a.) my wife frequently commented on the beard I had when we met and married (and how much she liked it) and
b.) I dislike the process of scraping my face anyway
that I’d just grow it and trim it with the same clippers/scissors/razor combo I use to cut my own hair. (Yeh, I also decided some years ago that griping about the loon that butchered my hair would be better directed at the loon in the mirror.)
Noticeably warmer in winter. Extra care keeping clean in summer (sweat & dirt from yard work–more care than bare face).
Added benefit? I get to shave it once a year for my April 15 “National Day of Mourning” ritual. (I keep hoping that holiday will catch on… )
Added benefit #2? I buy about 4 disposable razors a year.
Problem? My beard is MUCH grayer than anything else. On second thought, not so much of a problem…
My brothers both do the facial-hair thing, but I’ve always been clean-shaven. I’ve considered a beard, but never enough to grow one.
MORE: Reader Michael Kim emails: “Don’t overlook Panasonic. I have tried them all, from Braun to Grundig. Panasonic is by far the best. Various models priced from less than $100 to $200. I think this is the top of the line.” At that price, it ought to be.
Donald Sensing emails with similar sentiments:
Glenn, I used for a long time a Panasonic Wet-Dry electric razor. Magnificent shave, best I’ve ever had. I smeared shaving cream all over my face just as if I was using a blade razor, and the Panasonic shaved more comfortably and closer than anything I’ve ever used, including the M3 Power Razor I’ve been using lately. Rinsed the Panasonic under running water, too.
Anyone transitioning to an electric of any kind needs to remember that it will take 1-2 weeks to achieve maximum comfort and closeness. I don’t know why, but all three electric razor’s I’ve owned said so in their manuals, and they were right.
It’s true. Michael Demmons, meanwhile, says to stick with a blade if you can:
Men, in general, always had smoother skin when they became older because they shaved with a blade. What do you need when you shave with a blade? You need cream. Where does that cream go? On your face, obviously. What’s in the cream? Moisturizers. Since men have largely stopped using blades, they’re now as wrinkled up as old ladies are, when they never were in the old days!!
Interestingly, my grandmother has made that claim for years.
STILL MORE: Michael Ubaldi hasn’t had enough razorblogging: “Don’t end the discussion there – these are serious matters. Canister cream or soap and brush?”
I favor Barbasol menthol when I’m using a blade. Nice and cool. But it’s gone out of style.
Fraters Libertas is claiming primacy: “We were razorblogging before razorblogging was cool.”
MORE STILL: Kevin Menard emails:
If you’re still razorblogging…
I used all three but 10 years ago grew a beard and stay with that. I use a straight razor to trim around the edges because the longer edge gives a neater appearance, but it does not shave as close as a modern cartridge does (or a modern electric). You got to sharpen the sucker about once a year too. . . .
I imagine so. Douglas McIntosh, meanwhile, thinks that shaving cream is for sissies:
I shave in the shower with shampoo. Prell conditioned shampoo. Gives me a closer shave than with any cream I have ever used. Plus, I can shave in the shower.
Not with a straight razor, I trust.
THREE MONTHS LATER: Arthur Chrenkoff has a huge roundup of post-tsunami news.
A BIRD FLU VACCINE is being tested. Let’s hope it works; I have a feeling we may need it.
DEFENSE TRANSFORMATION: Interesting look at the Navy’s reorganization. “For some time since this war started I have been saying that given the Cold War deployment schedules we would need at least two and possibly three more CBGs (Carrier Battle Groups). Well we have them without increasing the size of our Navy.” The price is a higher maintenance load.
MORE ON BELARUS, HERE.
HUGE PRO-INDEPENDENCE PROTESTS IN TAIWAN: This won’t play well with the Chinese.
UPDATE: Tom Maguire emails:
On Taiwan, I am just thinking of Lucy Liu, and realizing that Taiwan will be unstoppable if they play the “protest babe” card.
Is it OK for me to be deeply sympathetic and deeply scared?
OTOH, their problem with Taiwan may become our opportunity with No Korea –they help us, we help them…
Condi had *really* better get this one right.
TODAY WAS NORMAN BORLAUG’S 91ST BIRTHDAY: As the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize who probably did the most good, and who probably gets the least credit therefor, he deserves the tribute that Jay Solo posted. Gregg Easterbrook’s excellent article on Borlaug has been moved behind The Atlantic’s subscriber wall, but you can read this article for a sense of his accomplishments.
UPDATE: You can read the Easterbrook article for free here.
WOMEN IN COMBAT: They seem to be doing pretty well at it, judging by this after-action report reproduced by Blackfive. Most amusingly, the insurgents were videoing the raid, and the captured video is available. Perhaps we can offer it to Al Jazeera.
UPDATE: After reading that after-action report, it’s hard to take this column by Jed Babbin very seriously. He’s fighting the last war; the women in the report are winning the current one.
BAD NEWS FROM BELARUS:
Belarusian demonstrators tried to rally outside the office of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday to demand his ouster in a self-declared attempt to emulate a popular uprising in Kyrgyzstan, but they were beaten back by riot police swinging truncheons.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, harshly assailed the Kyrgyz opposition, warning that protests that drove longtime leader Askar Akayev from power this week could destabilize the entire region.
Lukashenko, who has largely retained the Soviet system and hasn’t changed the name of the KGB in his country of 10 million, has stifled dissent, persecuted independent media and opposition parties, and prolonged his power through elections that international organizations say were marred by fraud.
He’s not going to go easily.
UPDATE: As one of Daniel Drezner’s commenters noted, “not enough hot chicks.”
Yeah, if Salma Hayek had been protesting, things would have been different. And Dan would have had many, many posts.
BILL QUICK seems to have decided that it may be worth trying to salvage the Democratic Party after all.
“IRAQ’S INSURGENTS SEEK EXIT STRATEGY:” Heh. Indeed.
DEMONSTRATIONS TAKING PLACE “ALL OVER IRAN?” Reports of this sort of thing have tended to be overoptimistic in the past, but this bears watching. I certainly hope it’s true.
WHAT’S NEXT IN THE ‘STANS? Gateway Pundit looks at how events in Kyrgyzstan are playing in neighboring regions.
MIKE KREMPASKY finds an earlier draft of the FEC regulatory proposal for the Internet, and concludes that Brad Smith is owed an apology.
I APPRECIATE Andrew Sullivan’s quoting me, but he’s wrong: Unlike Andrew, I don’t think that America is in danger of being taken over by religious Zealots, constituting an American Taliban and bent on establishing theocracy. I think that — despite their occasionally abusive emails (and most aren’t abusive, just upset) — the people that Mickey Kaus is calling “pro-tubists” are well-meaning, sincere, and possessed of an earnest desire to do good. I don’t think that they’re nascent Mullah Omars, and I think that calling them that just makes the problem worse. This is a tragedy, and it’s become a circus. Name-calling just makes you one of the clowns.
But I do think that process, and the Constitution, matter. Trampling the Constitution in an earnest desire to do good in high-profile cases has been a hallmark of a certain sort of liberalism, and it’s the sort of thing that I thought conservatives eschewed. If I were in charge of making the decision, I might well put the tube back and turn Terri Schiavo over to her family. But I’m not, and the Florida courts are, and they seem to have done a conscientious job. Maybe they came to the right decision, and maybe they didn’t. But respecting their role in the system, and not rushing to overturn all the rules because we don’t like the outcome, seems to me to be part of being a member of civilized society rather than a mob. As I say, I thought conservatives knew this.
UPDATE: I very strongly recommend this post by Donald Sensing, who doesn’t sound like one of the American Taliban to me.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More evidence of why this process stuff matters:
MIAMI – Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo wasn’t to be removed from her hospice, a team of Florida law enforcement agents were en route to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted – but they stopped short when local police told them they would enforce the judge’s order, The Miami Herald has learned. . . .
For a brief period, local police, who have officers around the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called a showdown.
In the end, the state agents and the Department of Children and Families backed down, apparently concerned about confronting local police outside the hospice.
It’s good that things didn’t escalate as they might have. Shooting matches between different law-enforcement agencies are real banana-republic stuff, and that’s what you get when you ignore the rules.
THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES IS UP! Enjoy it!
TRADE DRESS MATTERS: I thought I was buying one of these at Target the other day, but it was lookalike knockoff and I didn’t notice. Dang. Yes, I should have looked more closely at the package, but I was in a hurry, and I thought I knew what I was getting. Interestingly, it’s a mistake you probably wouldn’t make shopping online.
AN UNAUTHORIZED RALLY IN MINSK: “Members of Belarussian opposition parties and movements and entrepreneurs have joined an unauthorized rally in downtown Minsk to show their support for previously arrested opposition activists and entrepreneurial movement leaders, an Interfax correspondent reported.” Three or four hundred people, it’s reported.
I watched a number of the cable TV news analysis shows last night (and in the last few days), and I am appalled at the failure even to raise the most basic legal point about the statute Congress passed. Time after time, I heard people — like Fred Barnes on Fox News’s “Special Report” — say that everyone knows that Congress intended to give Terri Schiavo a de novo hearing, in which the federal court would disregard everything the state courts have done, and that the federal courts ignored the statute that Congress went to such extraordinary lengths to pass. . . .
Regardless of what people like Barnes think Congress intended, the federal courts were given a statutory text to follow, and the fact is they followed that text. Yet the TV commentators — at least what I heard — never made this most basic point. . . . The federal courts in no way flouted the federal statute. It’s irrelevant that Congress managed to make people think it was doing things that it never put in the statutory text.
Actually, I made that point on Kudlow last night, noting that Congress enacted a procedural statute, in the hopes of getting a substantive result. But this point keeps getting missed. It’s also worth noting — as Ann does — that the parents’ case was simply quite weak on the law. I thought conservatives were supposed to care about the law, but I see a lot of people being as result-oriented as, well, liberals are supposed to be . . . .
UPDATE: Jonathan Adler observes:
Congress knew how to require a stay — indeed a prior draft of the legislation included language that would have required a stay — but such language was not in the final statute. Quoting one, ten or twenty legislators doesn’t change this fact. The 11th Circuit panel was required to review the district court’s decision for abuse of discretion — a very demanding standard — and the majority properly exercised that obligation. This does not mean there was no injustice in the Florida courts, only that there was not a federal constitutional violation.
I’m quite astonished to hear people who call themselves conservatives arguing, in effect, that Congress and the federal courts have a free-ranging charter to correct any injustice, anywhere, regardless of the Constitution. And yet my email runneth over with just those kinds of comments. And arguing that “it’s okay because liberals do it too” doesn’t undercut my point that conservatives are acting like liberals here. It makes it.
Every system generates unjust results. This may (or may not) be one of them, but there’s no reason to think that Congressional action on an individual legal case is likely to improve things. My lefty law professors used to think that more procedures were always better, and seemed willing to tie the Constitution and the rules of procedure into knots to get to the result they liked. Even they have learned, to a degree, that more procedure doesn’t necessarily lead to better outcomes overall. And conservatives, as opposed to bleeding-heart liberals, are supposed to understand that there’s more at stake than the outcome in individual cases, and that there are real costs to putting whatever thumb-pressure on the scales it takes to get to a desired outcome in each case. Or so I thought.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Bill Oliver emails:
Conservatives do not believe that a law must be obeyed no matter how wrong or evil that law happens to be, nor do they necessarily believe that a court decision must be obeyed no matter how evil that decision. Certainly our founding fathers did not believe so.
I gather that you would have opposed the civil rights movement, since it involved resistance to immoral laws? I gather you would have supported the continuance of slavery?
See, this is what I’m talking about. The fact is that we have a hard case. I think that the courts involved, and there have been a lot of them, have been doing a conscientious job. But don’t trust me, listen to Daniel Henninger in the WSJ today:
It is true that Judge Greer has ruled against Terri Schiavo’s parents, the Schindlers, many times. But by my count, in the five years from the original circuit court decision, the rulings against them include the following:
Florida’s appeals court: eight times; the Florida Supreme Court: five times; U.S. federal courts: five times; the U.S. Supreme Court: three times.
This is a lot of judges. Some of the opinions are long discourses combing back through the details of the case. It is difficult for me to believe that these are all “liberal” judges intent on “killing” Terri Schiavo.
So the question is, do we overturn courts that are conscientiously doing their job because we think they got it wrong this time? Do we trust a bunch of Congressmen who often don’t even read the bills they vote on to do a better job?
If you think that nobody should ever be taken off a feeding tube regardless of their condition, maybe so. But if you think the real question is whether Terry Schiavo is brain-dead or not, then it seems to me that absent some pretty strong reason to think the courts can’t be trusted, it makes sense to let them do the job. And judging by all the discussion of her condition, the second question is the one that’s the big issue.
DAVID HUANG: “I wish I could say that I became a tax attorney because of my love for numbers and clear cut rules, but the truth of the matter is that I became a tax lawyer for the same reason that musicians join bands – for the chicks.”
Take advantage of it while you still can, David . . . .
JAMES MILLER PREDICTS A COMING WAR ON BLOGS:
It’s a universal law of capitalism: when an industry faces a new and significant threat to its profits and powers it turns to the government for protection. Well, bloggers who write on current events are challenging the mainstream media (MSM), the most politically well-connected industry in America. Watch for the MSM to start using their political influence to burden bloggers.
He has some thoughts on how that might take place.
UPDATE: More worries here. Meanwhile, note this stirring defiance from law professor blogger Tom Smith: “they can stop us from blogging and saying whatever we think, especially about political candidates, when they pry our keyboards from our cold, dead fingers.”
ARMORED HUMVEES: Too dangerous?
Most of the accidents involve new hummers, the ones with armor installed at the factory. The hummer was always considered a safe vehicle, because it had a low center of gravity, and it’s width made is less prone to rollovers. But now there are more rollovers, and they appear to be caused by the increased weight of the armor, and the higher speeds troops use to avoid, or get away from, ambushes. Combat casualties have been falling sharply over the past three months, and part of that has to do with the high speed driving tactics adopted by troops using hummers. Such tactics have evolved over the last two years. But all that hot rodding comes at the cost of more fatal accidents.
As I wrote before, “it’s not as simple as more armor = better.” There are tradeoffs — speed vs. protection is one of the oldest in military design — which the simplistic and uninformed press coverage of the issue missed, as usual.
UPDATE: On the tradeoff, reader Mike Dayton emails: “Not only military design. Which do you see more of – rabbits or armadillos?”
ANOTHER UPDATE: My combat-engineer secretary emails from Iraq:
As far as the armor on the humvees goes, this argument could also be made for the body armor we wear on our persons. In fact, Anthony Zinni states in Battle Ready that he felt that Vietnam era body armor was not worth the trade off in mobility. I felt the same way about our body armor until I got here. As far as humvee mobility, I think that the trade is worth it as an armored humvee you would “just lead don’t lead ’em as much.” This is of course personal opinion based on zero empirical evidence. In addition to rollover tendencies, a long term issue will be maintenance — the add on armor is simply wearing the
Just my .02.
In other news got to swim in a pool which use to belong to Saddam on one of the palace compounds at the airport. I think his architectural tastes could best be described as “thug/pimp.” I would imagine that a Houston drug dealer from ’88 would be in heaven.
Makes sense to me.
INTERESTING ARTICLE ON BLOGS AND ADVERTISING, from The Wall Street Journal. (Free link). Shockingly, some advertisers find the content of Nick Denton’s properties “too naughty.”
HOLD THE TULIPS: Capt. Ed warns against getting too excited, too soon, about the future of Kyrgyzstan. He’s right to worry. Remember, democratization is a process, not an event.
You can still expect a great deal of pain, some unavoidable ingratitude and many, many setbacks. As I said, it’s not easy – the much under-estimated Post-Totalitarian Stress Disorder will be the greatest enemy – but we have little choice. Doing nothing and hoping for the best is no longer a viable foreign policy option.
Is it time for a “Wolfowitz Plan?”
HOW ARE YOU GONNA KEEP ‘EM DOWN ON THE FARM, after they’ve seen Guangdong?
In interview after interview, they spoke of the huge shift in perspective they experienced upon entering China. “When I lived in Korea, I never thought my leaders were bad,” said one woman in her 50’s, a farmer who had brought her grown daughter to Yanji recently from her home not far from the other side of the border for treatment of an intestinal ailment. “When I got here, I learned that Chinese can travel wherever they want in the world as long as they have the money. I learned that South Korea is far richer, even than China.”
“If we are so poor,” she continued, “it must be because of Kim Jong Il’s mistakes,” she said referring to North Korea’s leader.
I think that more people will be catching on to this.
DARFUR UPDATE: It’s easy to see why the U.N. has been paralyzed:
The answer is that China plays by a different set of rules. As China’s support for the rogue regimes in Iran and Sudan has made clear, moral constraints and human-rights considerations are not pillars of Beijing’s foreign-policy calculus. While Tehran threatens to go nuclear and Khartoum continues its genocide in Darfur, Beijing has used its clout (and U.N. veto) to shield these regimes from international sanctions. In return, it receives entree into two important energy markets. . . .
The fact that China has overpaid for recent ventures in Oman, Sudan and elsewhere is telling. Rather than investing in money-makers, China is buying footholds throughout the Middle East.
These footholds are popping up everywhere. While China’s relations with Saudia Arabia and Iran have received the most press, its dealings in countries such as Oman and Sudan are even more extraordinary. In Sudan, China is the single largest shareholder of an oil company consortium that dominates Sudan’s oil industry and the chief investor in the country’s largest pipeline.
Meanwhile, in a possibly-unrelated development, there’s resistance among many third-world nations to the idea of the United Nations intervening to promote democracy and prevent genocide. Norm Geras notes a parallel, here.
SCHIAVO HYSTERIA from Fox’s John Gibson:
Just to burnish my reputation as a bomb thrower, I think Jeb Bush should give serious thought to storming the Bastille.
By that I mean he should think about telling his cops to go over to Terri Schiavo’s hospice, go inside, put her on a gurney and load her into an ambulance. They could take her to a hospital, revive her, and reattach her feeding tube. It wouldn’t save Terri exactly; she’d still be in the same rotten shape she was in before they disconnected the feeding tube.
I think John Gibson should have to spend a few minutes alone with Bill Quick.
UPDATE: Ron Brownstein, on the other hand, wins the award for the cheesiest effort so far to make hay out of the Schiavo tragedy for his own unrelated pet issue: “Does the ‘culture of life’ extend to the victims of gun violence?”
As John Cole observes: “There is enough dumb out there to hold both parties back.”
TOM MAGUIRE has a roundup on the continuing implosion of the Plame scandal. Oddly, Josh Marshall has nothing on this.
The US trade deficit (the value of goods bought from China versus what was sold to them) reached $162 billion. That amount accounts for over twenty percent of China’s GDP (total economic activity.) This has serious military implications. If China goes to war with the United States, the first impact would not be bombs, but an end to exports to the United States. Putting over a hundred million Chinese out of work would have a larger impact than any bombing campaign.
This will deter the Chinese, if they’re rational.
UPDATE: Jim Bennett emails: “True. plus, the more foreign oil they import, the more vulnerable they would be to the US Navy cutting off their supplies. Worked wonders on Japan in WWII. Of course, they said all of this about Germany before WWI.” Yes, that’s the problem with the rational-actor assumption.
ANOTHER UPDATE: China is building its military faster than expected:
Reports, and digital photos, getting out of China via the Internet, indicate that the modernization of the Chinese armed forces is some two years ahead of the schedules cited by most Western experts. New aircraft, ships and tanks are showing up sooner than expected, and China is spending money on more training for pilots and ship crews. Not as much training as Western forces get, but more than in the past for China. It appears that the Chinese defense budget will go up another 10-15 percent next year. This is only about half of what Japan spends, but the Japanese pay much more for personnel and equipment. This gives Japan a qualitative edge that the Chinese are trying to close.
China also expects Europe to drop its arms embargo this Summer. This would enable China to more quickly, and cheaply, upgrade warplanes, ships and tanks with more modern, and effective, French and German electronics and weapons.
Oh, goody. Thanks, Jacques! Thanks, Gerhard! We’ll remember the favor, if this comes about . . . .
YOU CAN SEE VIDEO of me, Hugh Hewitt, and John Hinderaker on Kudlow & Co. over at GlennReynolds.com. I was pretty much triple-teamed as I tried to stand up for federalism. You can decide how I did.
UPDATE: Yes, Hugh’s right, it was a very cordial disagreement. Which is how it should be.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Transcript here.
THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO has released its Ward Churchill report. Blogger News Network has a summary, and a link to the full document, but the bottom line is that he’s in trouble for research fraud, etc., but not for his “little Eichmanns” statement.
UPDATE: Victor Davis Hanson, meanwhile, wonders if Ward Churchill even exists.
I’LL BE ON CNBC’S KUDLOW & CO. at about 5:40 Eastern today, along with Hugh Hewitt and John Hinderaker.
The unrest in Kyrgyzstan shows that mass opposition to dictatorship can work in the “Stans” (the former provinces of the Soviet Union that became five independent nations; Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan). The Stans had never been democracies. When the Russians conquered them in the 19th century, the local governments were monarchies or tribal forms. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, former Soviet officials held elections and manipulated the vote to get themselves elected “president for life.” But many people in the Stans want clean government and democracy. It appears that the same kind of mass, and generally peaceful, protests that liberated Eastern Europe from tyranny in 1989, could work in Central Asia as well.
PERSONALLY, I think this is just Al Jazeera’s way to sneak in some circulation-boosting Page Three-type action while maintaining plausible deniability . . . .
METAPHOR OVERLOAD from Silflay Hraka, which now has two correspondents in Iraq — more than many newspapers.
WHY DIDN’T THEY SAY THIS BEFORE THE ELECTION?
A federal court should first determine whether a crime has been committed in the disclosure of an undercover CIA operative’s name before prosecutors are allowed to continue seeking testimony from journalists about their confidential sources, the nation’s largest news organizations and journalism groups asserted in a court filing yesterday.
The 40-page brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, argues that there is “ample evidence . . . to doubt that a crime has been committed” in the case, which centers on the question of whether Bush administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame in the summer of 2003.
IN THE MAIL: Lance Morrow’s The Best Year of their Lives: Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon in 1948. None of them, as best as I can tell from a quick look-through, come across as especially appealing. But I liked the “Interlude” that sets the stage of Washington in 1948. Here’s a bit:
When John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon Johnson were young men in Washington, there were no nightclubs (except the forlorn Blue Mirror downtown), and only a handful of decent restaurants . . . . The tinny National Symphony played in Constitution Hall. The National Theater on Pennsylvania Avenue (around the corner from the Treasury Department, the theater an island of lonely festivity in the surrounding darkness of deserted downtown Washington) offered shows that (if one was lucky) were trying out for Broadway or (if one was not lucky) for earnest cultural exchange companies. . . . Congressman Kennedy fled town when he could.
I remember practicing law in Washington in the late eighties, and having someone tell me that twenty years earlier a senior civil servant could afford to eat anywhere in town. But with the flood of lobbyists that started in the 1970s, things got posher, and now senior civil servants feel poor. That’s a real change.
I like this anecdote, too:
Nicholas Longworth, the former Speaker of the House . . . . who had gone almost totally bald at an early age, was lounging in a leather chair in the Capitol when another member ran his hand over Longworth’s bare scalp and said, “Nice and smooth. Feels just like my wife’s bottom.”
Longworth ran his own hand over his head and said, “Yes, so it does.”
Hard to imagine that line from Dennis Hastert, isn’t it? Or a host of others, these days.
UPDATE: Legions of readers inform me that the bald-head anecdote is an old chestnut dating back to Ramses II if not earlier. Strangely, I’d never heard it before. Live and learn.
A BRUTAL EDITORIAL ON THE E.U. from The Times:
Unfortunately, there appears to be a severe shortage of brainpower at the highest level in France. Even though more jobs will be created than lost, the prospect of any redundancies means the directive has been attacked by the Socialist Party and the trade unions. Not to be outdone, M Chirac has jumped on the bandwagon, seized the wheel, and chose a dinner on Tuesday to condemn liberal market principles as “the new communism of our age”.
This will be a surprise to those who had the misfortune to spend time in the labour camps. In reality, what this sad saga and his ludicrous statement illustrate is that Chiracism is the new infantilism of our era. His crass protectionism is naked populism pure and simple. In a similar vein, as part of yet another political tack, he opted yesterday to embrace the cause of poverty in the Third World (as if those souls had not suffered enough) and this despite his unrelenting refusal to contemplate the wholesale overhaul of a Common Agricultural Policy that condemns millions of people there to abject misery.
Business as usual, in other words.
CHARGES OF JUNK SCIENCE:
While we at American Council on Science and Health have been determined to remain on the sidelines of the raging national debate about the fate of Terri Schiavo (this is largely a legal and ethical issue, not a scientific one), we cannot remain silent about the outrageous misrepresentation of scientific facts about this case that has been occurring in the past ten days.
The medical reality of Ms. Schiavo’s case is this: She has been in what is medically referred to as a “permanent vegetative state” for the past 15 years, ever since her heart temporarily stopped (probably due to the severe effects of an eating disorder), depriving her brain of oxygen. Brain scans indicate that her cerebral cortex ceased functioning — probably just after she experienced cardiac arrest in 1990. Ms. Schiavo’s CAT scan shows massive shrinking of the brain, and her EEG is flat. Physicians confirm that there is no electrical activity coming from her brain. While the family video repeatedly shown on television suggests otherwise, her non-functioning cortex precludes cognition, including any ability to interact or communicate with people or show any signs of awareness. Dozens of experts over the years who have examined Ms. Schiavo agree that there is no hope of her recovering — even though her body, face and eyes (if she is given food and hydration) might continue to move for decades to come.
Those are the harsh facts. . . .
Yesterday, there was another public challenge to Ms. Schiavo’s well-established diagnosis: Florida governor Jeb Bush announced that a “very renowned neurologist,” Dr. William Cheshire, had concluded that Terri had been misdiagnosed and that she was really only in a state of “minimal consciousness” rather than a persistent vegetative state. He used this “new diagnosis” to argue that “this new information raises serious concerns and warrants immediate action.”
As it turns out, Dr. Cheshire is not “renowned” as a neurologist — his limited publications focus on areas including headache pain and his opposition to stem cell research. Dr. Cheshire never conducted a physical examination of Ms. Schiavo, nor did he do neurological tests. . . . Let’s call tripe when tripe is served.
Reading over the report on Schiavo prepared in 2003 by guardian ad litem Jay Wolfson (link in PDF) helps make clear why this last effort will not succeed. Many physicians have backed the PVS diagnosis, and the courts are unlikely to give much weight to an eighth or ninth opinion at this late stage.
The 38-page report is by and large a persuasive document, showing that the Florida courts did not lightly reach the conclusion that Mrs. Schiavo should die.
I certainly don’t know Ms. Schiavo’s condition, as I’m not a doctor and haven’t evaluated her — not that that’s stopping others. But I think it’s absurd to claim, as many are, that a cabal of liberal judges wants to murder Terri Shiavo because it is — in Peggy Noonan’s absurdly over-the-top phrase — “half in love with death.” To be fair, Noonan aims that phrase at others, really. But I think that many on the right have succumbed to hysteria here. This is a tragic situation, and it’s been turned into a circus.
UPDATE: Reader Jean Tuttle emails: “Mr. Reynolds, I worked as a nurse in ICUs and ERs. I have no idea what kind of brain damage Mrs. Schiavo has ,but I find it hard to believe her EEG is flat.The patients I saw with flat EEGs couldn’t breathe on their own, couldn’t move or make any sound. As I said before I don’t have any idea the amount of brain damage Mrs. Schiavo has, but I would bet the EEG isn”t flat. I think there is so much disinformation coming out of both sides of this ,that it is impossible to know what the facts are.”
That last part is certainly true.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Perhaps this column by Neal Boortz is an answer to Peggy Noonan: “Where do your concerns truly lie, with the eternal soul of Terri Schiavo, or with her earthly body?”
Sissy Willis has more thoughts on hysteria.
MORE: Gerard van der Leun says that Noonan was making a literary allusion that I missed:
Over the top? Perhaps, but more in the line of a literary allusion:
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
— Keats, Ode to a Nightingale
And, as such, not really that much beside the point.
Hmm. I had forgotten that — I haven’t read that poem since high school — but I’m not sure that the allusion, if that’s what it is, fits Noonan’s message.
And reader Gerald Dearing emails with this observation, which makes a suitable capper for this post: “You know the debate has truly entered the realm of the surreal when Neal Boortz weighs in with a spirituality argument!”
ATTENTION WEBB WILDER FANS: Reader Glenn Harness emails with information I can’t believe I’ve missed up until now — Webb Wilder has a new CD out. It’s called, appropriately enough, About Time. I haven’t heard it, but I’ve already ordered it.
RICK HASEN has posted an analysis of the FEC’s draft regulations on internet political speech.
WINDS OF CHANGE has a war news roundup. They continue to provide interesting stuff that you don’t see elsewhere.
SKIP INTRO: I pretty much always do. And I’ll bet you do, too.
WANT MORE LAW-BLOGGING? Check out the Carnival of the Lawyers!
MORE COOL WEB VIDEO STUFF: Amazon is sponsoring a short-film competition in which its customers will get to vote for the winner. They seem to be embracing web video in a big way, which I think is very cool
STRATFOR REVERSES COURSE ON IRAQ: I’ve never been a big fan of Stratfor’s analyses, myself, but quite a few people will find this interesting.
MORE VIOLENCE IN KYRGYZSTAN, with the government looking as if it’s on the way out.
UPDATE: More action:
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – President Askar Akayev and his family left Kyrgyzstan’s capital by helicopter Thursday evening, the Interfax news agency reported, hours after protesters seized government headquarters in Bishkek and claimed control of state broadcasting facilities.
The report, which cited unspecified sources and could not immediately be confirmed, said the helicopter was headed toward Kazakhstan.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Tim Russo is pessimistic about the outcome, regardless. He doubts that there will be sufficient engagement by Western nations to promote a real democracy. Judging by the limited attention this is getting outside the blogosphere, he may be right.
WOLFOWITZ AND THE INTERNATIONAL ORDER: Some thoughts from Joe Katzman.
CONSERVATIVE CRACKUP: Is the Republican coalition about to splinter? I examine the question over at GlennReynolds.com.
UPDATE: More here: “In taking jurisdiction over Terri Schiavo’s case from the state courts, where conservative Republicans would have previously said it belonged, and handing it to federal judges, the Republican Party arrogated to the federal government breathtaking new powers that would have made Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan wince.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff the Baptist writes:
If the Democrats were wise, they would be stripping the fiscal conservative wing off the party right now. But they can’t because that would mean committing to a small government they don’t really want.
Yeah. But all that has to happen is for fiscal conservatives, and libertarians, to stay home. I don’t think that things have come to that pass yet, but I do think that it’s possible.
MORE: John Cole, on the other hand, is proclaiming the death of modern conservatism.
STILL MORE: Joe Gandelman:
George Bush won two elections by getting Benefit Of The Doubt Voters: people turned off by the inept, clumsy, and at times left-of-center campaigns of Al Gore and John Kerry. Post election analyses showed that the Democrats lost many centrists during these elections because Bush was considered the safer choice. Phone calls and emails we’re now getting indicate some of these folks now consider this crew not compassionate conservatives or classic conservatives but members of an increasingly powerful radical right.
What’s even worse for the Republicans is that this is an issue that, fundamentally, isn’t worth a lot to them. At least, I don’t see it leading to a policy victory that would be worth the damage it’s likely to do. As Gandelman cruelly asks: “Who was their advisor? Bob Shrum?”
And the real damage wasn’t from raising the issue. It was from passing special legislation, and responding hysterically. It was from acting the way liberals have acted for years. Follow the Gandelman link, as he has a nice roundup of views from all perspectives. And Mystery Pollster looks at all the various polls.
THE ITALIAN NEWSPAPER CORRIERE DELLA SERRA writes that Bush is a revolutionary:
The first is that when Mr Bush spells out that he is fighting “for freedom and democracy in Arab countries,” he is turning on its head – positively, according to Mr Fassino – the traditional policy of Republican administrations that “supported fascist military dictatorships in South America in the name of political realism.” Mr Bush is not Henry Kissinger, and this cannot be ignored. The second point is that the democratic ferment evident almost everywhere in the Arab world has its origins in a general process of secularization that has not left Muslim societies unscathed. This, too, cannot be ignored by those who, like Mr Fassino, side with people laying claim to these values where hitherto they have been denied, and refuse to support the oppressors merely for fear of jeopardizing the status quo.
(Via Harry’s Place).
KATHA POLLITT AND CHRIS NOLAN debate women and journalism.
MUGABE’S MISMANAGEMENT: Nick Kristof writes:
The hungry children and the families dying of AIDS here are gut-wrenching, but somehow what I find even more depressing is this: Many, many ordinary black Zimbabweans wish that they could get back the white racist government that oppressed them in the 1970’s.
“If we had the chance to go back to white rule, we’d do it,” said Solomon Dube, a peasant whose child was crying with hunger when I arrived in his village. “Life was easier then, and at least you could get food and a job.” . . .
When a white racist government was oppressing Zimbabwe, the international community united to demand change. These days, a black racist government is harming the people of Zimbabwe more than ever, and the international community is letting Mr. Mugabe get away with it. Our hypocrisy is costing hundreds of Zimbabwean lives every day.
But under Mugabe, they’ve got freedom! Er, well, no. . . . But that’s how it usually is with his ilk — you wind up with neither.
COLBY COSH is worried about bird flu and thinks preparations are inadequate. Colby writes:
Our one true weakness may be a general unfamiliarity with large-scale infectious disease — our lifelong experience of medicine as virtually omnipotent. Our post-Victorian forebears could be killed anytime by an ear infection or an inflamed scratch; they possessed few illusions about death. And yet they were almost unnervingly cheerful in the face of pestilence. In Edmonton, one November 1918 flu circular from the authorities concluded with the words “Keep smiling.” Even after four years of wartime slaughter and austerity — years endured only to be punctuated by global disease — no one thought this cretinous or trivial. The recriminations and carping that accompanied SARS, which took only 800 lives worldwide, suggest we may not bear up nearly so well if Big Flu really does emerge.
My great-great grandmother (who I never knew, but who my grandmother still talks about with great admiration and affection) worked at the Alabama Boys’ Industrial School during the 1918 flu epidemic and was for a while the only unaffected adult there. The sheer burden of trying to look after so many people who couldn’t really look after themselves (she organized the barely-functional to help the nonfunctional somewhat) nearly killed her, they say, but her collapse didn’t come until some people had recovered.
Yet the general tendency is to underestimate the pluck of modern folks — look at what happened on 9/11 — and while people do panic in the face of epidemics, there’s nothing new about that, either. Of course, preparation now beats panic later, and may even obviate the need.
Tamiflu is supposed to be fairly effective against bird flu, and governments are stockpiling it. But there won’t be enough for everyone. And, as with warfare, logistics gets less attention, but it often as important as the sexy stuff.
UPDATE: Derek Lowe says that guys like him are unlikely to be producing miracle drugs in the midst of an epidemic.
MORE COMPLAINTS about Google News.
TOM MAGUIRE has a Social Security roundup.
THE DEMOCRACY PROJECT BLOG has gotten a look at a draft of the FEC proposed regulations on Internet campaign speech.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh finds the draft regulations a bit narrow: “I hope the FEC doesn’t really mean to limit the rule to people who do their own hosting, and who compose everything solely on computers that they themselves own. And perhaps in context the final proposed rule will make that clear. But as written, this particular paragraph offers little cause for rejoicing.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: RedState has the full text online.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE VIRGINIA LAW REVIEW for making its content available online for free.
ANOTHER FAKE MEMO IN THE NEWS? Power Line is hot on the trail.
JOHN EDWARDS is podcasting.
MORE BREDESEN ENTHUSIASM, via the WSJ’s Political Diary:
Howard Dean said the way back to power lies in appealing to voters with confederate flags on their pick-up trucks. He’s dropped the imagery but kept the message, showing up in Nashville this week to shine a spotlight on a successful southern Democrat, Tennessee’s Gov. Phil Bredesen. “My idea is to get this state a lot more purple than it is right now,” he told students at Vanderbilt.
They’re pessimistic about his chances.
ANOTHER BAD WEEK for Michael Moore’s “Minutemen.”
EUGENE VOLOKH AND GEOFFREY STONE debate free speech.
Kojo Annan, son of Kofi Annan, United Nations secretary-general, received at least $300,000 from Cotecna, a Swiss inspection company awarded a contract ultimately worth about $60m under the Iraqi oil-for-food contract.
The amount was almost double the sum previously disclosed, but payments were arranged in ways that obscured where the money came from or whom it went to.
It’s as if they knew they were doing something wrong. . . .
ROGER SIMON is looking at the numbers.
THE SUMMER OF THE SHARK: Over at GlennReynolds.com.
INTERESTING GRAPHIC on blogosphere traffic spikes, from Boing-Boing.
IN THE MAIL: A copy of Ramez Naam’s new book, More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement. I’m not crazy about the cover illustration, but the book looks quite interesting.
UPDATE: Rand Simberg has a review.
MORE ASTROTURF: Professional protesters.
WELL, IT’S A new twist on the old “hair in my soup” line. I don’t know how I missed this before.
UPDATE: Reader Steve Nieters emails: “Your daughter will likely love it. Funny for adults too, but our boys howled when reading it at her age.”
ASTROTURFING CAMPAIGN FINANCE “REFORM:” Jon Henke notes that Nick Confessore was involved. Heh.
EUROPE, CHINA AND NORTH KOREA: TigerHawk thinks that Condi has cut a deal.
ASTROTURFING CAMPAIGN FINANCE “REFORM:”
According to a recent report by the nonpartisan Political Money Line, Campaign Finance Lobby: 1994-2004, Pew spent an average of $4 million a year over 10 years promoting reform. Seven other foundations — including the Carnegie Corp. ($14 million), the Joyce Foundation ($13.5 million), George Soros’ Open Society Institute ($12.6 million) — cumulatively ponied up another $83 million over 10 years for the same purpose. In his March 2004 lecture at USC, curiously titled “Covering Philanthropy and Nonprofits Beyond 9/11,” a tape of which was recently uncovered by Ryan Sager of the New York Post, Mr. Treglia explained how he operated. “The strategy was designed not to hide Pew’s involvement,” he said, “but most of Pew’s funding.” To accomplish that goal, “I always encouraged the grantees never to mention Pew,” whose tactics were evidently copied by the others. Sure enough, the American Prospect neglected to mention a $132,000 payment from the Carnegie Corp., which financed the magazine’s special issue, “Checkbook Democracy,” which focused on campaign-finance reform. Meanwhile, NPR, which collected $1.2 million from the liberal foundations, failed to disclose that that money was funding a program called “Money, Power and Influence.”
Watch out. Irony this rich will go right to your thighs.
The article also notes President Bush’s role in breaking a campaign promise by signing this dreadful legislation. (And, as I commented at the Politics Online conference, he betrayed his oath of office, too).
UPDATE: Pew grantee The Center for Public Integrity is defending Pew, though there seems to be a bit of preemptive distancing going on, too.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The CPI’s Bill Allison emails that he didn’t mean to be doing any distancing. Well, you can read it yourself, but it seemed that way to me, especially with the way that CPI (1) Challenged Treglia’s accuracy; and (2) Stressed that it, at least, had always disclosed. Perhaps that’s in the eye of the beholder, but as I say, to me it seemed a bit defensive.
MORE: Reader Andy Freeman emails:
I’m looking forward to The Center for Public Integrity’s investigation of
(1)checkbook journalism, and
(2) the campaign and money behind McCain-Feingold.
I think they have a conflict of interest, there. To be fair, I’m sure that they’re decent people who believe in what they’re doing, and who aren’t doing it just because of the money.
MORE: Ryan Sager has had first-person exposure to Allison.
HERE’S MORE ON UKRAINE’S PROBLEMS WITH ITS PAST, and this not-entirely-encouraging observation: “Yushchenko has shown a tendency to fall into a kind of minor-league imitation of his predecessor when reporting on his government’s actions.” Minor-league is better than major-league, but people should keep pressure on him to live up to his promises.
Follow the link for much more on Ukraine, missiles, and Iraq.
VIOLENT SUPPRESSION IN KYRGYZSTAN:
Riot police have violently broken up an anti-government protest hours after Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev named a hardliner to take charge of security.
Akayev, who promised not to resort to a massive use of force against demonstrators on Tuesday, named the head of police in the capital Bishkek as new interior minister to deal with protests trying to force him from office and which are dividing the mountainous Central Asian country.
A short time later, riot police moved in and broke up an anti-Akayev demonstration of about 200 people in the capital.
Read the whole thing. And here’s a firsthand report from a high-ranking NGO official who was there, including this bit: “Most alarming was the re-appearance of people wearing white hats and red armbands. Large, threatening looking fellows, they pushed, shoved and generally made it clear that if people wanted trouble, they were ready to give it. It really is alarming the use of un-armed, non-uniformed thugs to enforce discipline. I really can only call them proto-fascists.”
UPDATE: Hmm. Reader Michael Marino notes that according to this NPR report the white-hatted folks are opposition members picking up for the police, who have gone on strike. That seems inconsistent with the report above, but I can’t tell which is right.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Nathan Hamm emails: ” The report is from the south, which is still under the control of protesters. The crackdown was in Bishkek, so the white hats are not the same in each account.”
UNITED NATIONS – After months of denials, the United Nations admitted yesterday that, in an exception to its own rules, it has paid for the legal defense of Benon Sevan. The U.N.’s own investigation panel denounced Mr. Sevan for his central role in the oil-for-food scandal that has engulfed the world body. . . .
Up until late last week, the U.N. said it had not paid any of Mr. Sevan’s legal fees. But yesterday, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard told The New York Sun that the U.N. had been paying his legal bills up until last month.
Mr. Eckhard refused to disclose the sum paid, saying that the legal bills submitted by Mr. Sevan “will be reviewed” by U.N. legal experts, indicating that the exact figure may change. Sources who refused to be named told the Sun, however, that the costs exceed $300,000. Mr. Eckhard did not address the source of the payment to Mr. Sevan’s legal team, which could come from an account financed by Iraqi oil revenues or from U.N. funds. Congress is investigating the oil-for-food scandal.
This doesn’t exactly enhance the credibility of their other denials.
MORE ON F.E.C. INTERNET REGULATION, from The Wall Street Journal:
When it comes to the law of unintended consequences, the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance “reform” is rapidly becoming a legal phenomenon. The latest example comes courtesy of the Federal Election Commission, where officials are being asked to extend the law to the very people it is supposed to empower: individual citizens. . . .
An idea kicking around the FEC a few years ago would require government to calculate the percentage of individuals’ electricity bills that went toward political advocacy (we aren’t joking). Another alternative would be to classify all bloggers as journalists, seeing as how the press is about the only entity exempt from McCain-Feingold. As much we enjoy our profession, we think a nation of journalists is overkill.
Overkill? I think it’s precisely what the First Amendment is about.
UPDATE: I’m not sure I’d take this approach, though.
A WAR WE ARE WINNING: Austin Bay has a very interesting column today. He also notes how the press got it wrong, and by doing so played into the terrorists’ hands:
Collect relatively isolated events in a chronological list and presto: the impression of uninterrupted, widespread violence destroying Iraq. But that was a false impression. Every day, coalition forces were moving thousands of 18-wheelers from Kuwait and Turkey into Iraq, and if the “insurgents” were lucky they blew up one. However, flash the flames of that one rig on CNN and, “Oh my God, America can’t stop these guys,” is the impression left in Boise and Beijing.
Saddam’s thugs and Zarqawi’s klan were actually weak enemies — “brittle” is the word I used to describe them at a senior planning meeting. Their local power was based on intimidation — killing by car bomb, murdering in the street. Their strategic power was based solely on selling the false impression of nationwide quagmire — selling post-Saddam Iraq as a dysfunctional failed-state, rather than an emerging democracy.
The good news is that the press’s diminishing credibility, and the availability of alternative channels of communication, kept this strategy from working. But read the whole thing, to see how Austin, in Iraq, was able to see things that the journalists there missed.
UPDATE: Bay has more background on his blog.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Beckwith emails:
Your post regarding the latest Austin Bay column got me thinking about what would have happened in Iraq if there had been no blogs from Iraq and no emails from soldiers back home to circulate around the Internet.
I think the ‘quagmire narrative’ might have become a self fulfilling prophesy. Rather than completing the ‘long hard slog’ the administration might have cut and run with the looming presidential election. Key tactics and strategies, developed through trial and error in the battlefield, may have been abandoned just before they began to bear fruit. Or, Bush may have soldiered on in the face of seemingly incontrovertible evidence that his policies were a ‘collossol mistake guaranteeing a Kerry victory that may — rightly or wrongly — have emboldened the insurgents (Baathists and imported Jihadis) to hang on a bit longer.
As it is, we came pretty close as a society and electorate to giving up last year. If we had, it’s hard to see how the Jan 30 elections and and nascent democracy movement in the Middle East would have happened. If blog readers are as influential as some polls indicate, they may have done just enough to turn the tide.
I ask because, by last fall, I was getting 90% of my Iraq news from blogs that provided an on the ground perspective from soldiers and Iraqis in theater instead of the major media outlets. This led me to be cautiously optimistic despite the problems we have there. Certainly this affected my vote on Nov 2. I doubt I was alone and I think this was a consequential election.
Success has a thousand fathers, and we’ll see Ted Kennedy taking credit for Iraq before it’s all over. But I’d like to think that blogs played a part in neutralizing psychological warfare on the part of the terrorists.
A NEW CAPTAIN FOR THE TITANIC? My TechCentralStation column looks at Michael Griffin’s prospects at NASA.
CHRIS NOLAN on Katha Pollitt: “It’s as if she’s taking to the web to let web readers know that The Nation and The Monthly are serious about this whole women thing. Really and truly they are. See. Here they are.”
GOP OVERREACH ALERT: In their book The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge explain how the Republican coalition could go wrong: “Too Southern, too greedy, and too contradictory.”
David Brooks thinks they’ve hit the “too greedy” part already:
Back in 1995, when Republicans took over Congress, a new cadre of daring and original thinkers arose. These bold innovators had a key insight: that you no longer had to choose between being an activist and a lobbyist. You could be both. You could harness the power of K Street to promote the goals of Goldwater, Reagan and Gingrich. And best of all, you could get rich while doing it!
Before long, ringleader Grover Norquist and his buddies were signing lobbying deals with the Seychelles and the Northern Mariana Islands and talking up their interests at weekly conservative strategy sessions – what could be more vital to the future of freedom than the commercial interests of these two fine locales?
Before long, folks like Norquist and Abramoff were talking up the virtues of international sons of liberty like Angola’s Jonas Savimbi and Congo’s dictator Mobutu Sese Seko – all while receiving compensation from these upstanding gentlemen, according to The Legal Times. Only a reactionary could have been so discomfited by Savimbi’s little cannibalism problem as to think this was not a daring contribution to the cause of Reaganism.
Ouch. Makes those neocons look good, though, doesn’t it?
UPDATE: A reader sends this link to a story about Jack Kemp sucking up to Hugo Chavez. I’ve mentioned that before, but it bears mentioning again. Pathetic.