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HOSTINGMATTERS USED TO HOST INSTAPUNDIT, and I still use them for my backup site. I recommend them totally and without reservation — they’re great. They’re also offering a special hosting deal now. You can’t trust platforms like Facebook and Twitter. You can trust HostingMatters.

And if you read the comments to this post, you’ll see praise from people like Mitch Berg, James Lileks, and Kathy Kinsley.

READER BOOK PLUG: From Mitch Berg, Trulbert!: A Comic Novella About the End of the World As We Know It.

READER BOOK PLUG: From longtime reader (and blogger!) Mitch Berg, Trulbert!: A Comic Novella About the End of the World As We Know It.

MITCH BERG: The Case For Ugly Guns And Big Magazines.

MITCH BERG: Ten Things You Should Do If You’re An “Anybody But Mitt” Republican.

BLOGGING ETHICS: Alarming News writes:

The story of Armstrong Williams allegedly taking cash from someone in the Bush administration to promote the No Child Left Behind Act is bizarre. I have no doubt that Williams truly supports the Act, but taking money for publicizing it without disclosing it seems very wrong to me. I agree with Jonah Goldberg that if the Clinton administration did this, conservatives would be outraged. This is no different.

I’m somewhat struggling with similar issues in relation to my work and my blog.

Read the whole thing. I’ve never had anybody offer me money in exchange for blog posts (bogus claims regarding Wonkette notwithstanding), but I have been offered substantial amounts of money to author opeds furthering the agenda of some people. I declined; even if it were an opinion I already held, undisclosed third-party payola just seemed wrong to me. I think the same thing’s true for blogs, which is why I think that the DaschlevThune folks should have disclosed the money they got.

On the other hand, payola for opeds of the sort I describe above isn’t so unusual that people should think the blogosphere is more likely to suffer from undisclosed payments than other areas — something that the Armstrong Williams case illustrates, too, of course. I’m rather skeptical of the notion of some sort of Official Blogger’s Code of Ethics, with blogs that sign on displaying the seal of approval. Kind of reminds me of the Comics Code Authority, and I’m generally skeptical of those kinds of ethics codes anyway.

I think that overall, the best protection against that sort of thing is for people to read a lot of blogs. Astroturf blogging is likely to ring false, and at any rate a blogger, however popular, doesn’t enjoy the kind of quasi-monopoly position that a newspaper journalist or a broadcaster does, making efforts to shape the debate via sub rosa funding far less likely to be successful.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg notes an inappropriate response.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis has a thoughtful response:

He screwed up and it’s all the more amazing because it would have been so easy not to. It’s all about transparency.

Yeah. Ethical flaps are very often contrived, and — as noted at great length here — we should be as skeptical of those making (or contriving) ethical charges as of their subjects. But this doesn’t seem to be such a case. Jarvis also offers some excellent advice for businesses wanting to use blogs for PR:

If a marketer wants to get consumers to try a product and talk about it, everyone should be transparent about that as well: Send out samples of the product and if people like it — or don’t or don’t care — they’ll say so. If you have a good product, you’ll win. If you don’t, you’ll learn. I, among many bloggers, now get publishers emailing me asking whether I’d like review copies of books (which would be great if I weren’t so busy reading and writing blogs that I don’t have much time for books anymore). If I write about a book I got for free, I should say so.

Hmm. I do get books for free sometimes, but though I’ve mentioned that in general I don’t always mention that in all of the the posts (I use “in the mail” to indicate that it came unsolicited, usually, but free review copies are such a well-established custom that it seems implicit). Generally the nonfiction books come from publishers, and the fiction I buy myself, though there have been a few exceptions (e.g., John Scalzi’s book). Sadly, nobody sends me samples of digital cameras, iPods, etc.; when I blog about my new Sony digital camera or whatever, it’s one I bought myself. If people did send me samples, I’d certainly mention that.

But free samples aren’t the big question; it’s outright payola. There’s a lot of that out there in the Old Media (usually disguised slightly in terms of free travel or gifts, but not always) — much more than is reported on by the Old Media, or even by bloggers — but we should try to limit it in the blogosphere. But the ultimate lesson is that you’ve got to make up your own mind. Every successful system attracts parasites, as Thomas Ray once said, and the blogosphere is a successful system.

On the other hand, some people are embracing payola. Reader Rick Horvath writes:

If you have not already been offered money to post on your blog since your post last night, how about I make you your first offer?

What would it cost to post something like:

“As a customer service to all the single women out there, I wanted to point out that there is a stunningly handsome (okay, the stunningly may be an overstatement), intelligent and funny 27 year old attorney working in the Philadelphia area by the name of Rick Horvath. Right now, he’s looking for a similarly funny and intelligent woman who would enjoy port and classical music, especially opera. Ladies, grab him while you can!”

Instapundit personal ads… the wave of the future!

I don’t think so, but consider this one a freebie, Rick. Good luck!

MORE: Further thoughts from La Shawn Barber.

STILL MORE: Eric Scheie has a rant that is both amusing and informative.

MORE STILL: Just noticed this post by Mitch Berg on blogging, credibility, and ethics that’s relevant, though it predates the Armstrong Williams business.

CONTINUING TO TAKE IT EASY: Last night the InstaWife and I stayed home and watched Honey, a movie that she had been wanting to see.

The hiphop was OK from my perspective, though I kept wanting to hear some 303s in there somewhere. Jessica Alba was very cute, and otherwise I have little to say that isn’t in the Amazon reviews linked above. One thing that struck me, though, was the frequent presence of American flags in the background in scene after scene. I wonder if people will be able to spot films from this era that way?

Back later. Visit the links in the post below, and Capt. Ed, Oxblog, Daniel Drezner, Mitch Berg, and the new, Powerblog-driven Volokh Conspiracy have all been blogging up a storm this weekend, too. And this column on Iran by Pejman Yousefzadeh is worth your time.

UPDATE: The InstaWife says the movie was better than that, and notes that the Jessica Alba character is quite modern: (1) Wanting to help inner-city kids, she comes up with a project of her own, instead of putting her hand out to the government; (2) Subjected to sexual harassment, she doesn’t sue, but stands up for herself and gets even on her own; (3) Though there’s nothing anti-sex in her stance, she favors sexy creativity over crude titillation.

Good points, all.

MORE BAD NEWS FOR KERRY, from the Boston Globe:

WASHINGTON — A group of former officers who commanded John F. Kerry in Vietnam more than three decades ago declared yesterday that they oppose his candidacy for president, challenged him to release more of his military and medical records, and said Kerry should be denied the White House because of his 1971 allegations that some superiors had committed ”war crimes.”

Kerry has since said his accusation about war crimes and atrocities was too harsh, but many of his former commanders contended yesterday that they believed the allegations were aimed at them.

”I do not believe John Kerry is fit to be commander in chief,” said retired Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann, who helped organize the news conference and oversaw all of the swift boats in Vietnam at the time Kerry commanded one of those crafts. ”This is not a political issue; it is a matter of his judgment, truthfulness, reliability, loyalty, and trust — all absolute tenets of command.”

The story’s broken out into the major media now. The Kerry campaign says that these are all Republican shills. All of them? (Mitch Berg has thoughts on this, and one of his commenters notes: “Interesting, isn’t it, that the party membership of the swiftboaters is relevant, according to the left, but the activist group membership of the 9/11 families who slam Bush is completely irrelevant.” It certainly gets less media attention.)

Even without this stuff, I think it was a mistake to use Vietnam as a “branding” tool for Kerry — to young voters it seems ancient history, and to older voters it doesn’t exactly have positive associations. But these attacks would be dismissed as old news if Kerry hadn’t opened the door by constantly talking about Vietnam.

LT Smash observes: “Part of the blame lies with Kerry himself. Throughout the primary campaign, he repeatedly called attention to his service in Vietnam in order to differentiate himself from his opponents. He also brought along some of his fellow veterans on the campaign trail. He shouldn’t be surprised, then, that some of his former brothers-in-arms, who weren’t quite so happy about his post-war activities, have decided to speak up.” Yes.


John Ashcroft shredded the 9/11 commission yesterday, all but dragging Jamie Gorelick from behind the rostrum by her hair and yelling “This woman wrote part of the policy that erected the wall between intelligence and prosecution”, even declassifying one of Gorelick’s memos (read: “smoking gun”) which called for, as Ashcroft put it, “Draconian barriers” between the two parts of government most responsible for fighting the war before it became a military war.

So what did the media report? If anything, variations on “Ashcroft on the defensive”, and “The FBI blew it”.

Never – not in one account I’ve read so far, and I’ve read a bunch – did they read “One of the inquisitors on the 9/11 commission was a key architect of the system that made the FBI and CIA’s job completely impossible.” Not one example of “This commission’s work is fatally compromised” – as they would if Gorelick had been a Republican, and the President a Democrat.

For more on Gorelick’s multiple conflicts of interest, including unfortunate Saudi ties, go here and follow the links. I agree that the press is giving her a pass — as I wrote last summer, she shouldn’t have been on the Commission at all. She should resign now, but she won’t.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey is surprised that media, beyond the New York Times, are ignoring this story:

It appears that the primary culprit of the intelligence failure will be the structural hurdles placed recklessly in our counterterrorism efforts by a string of people, which neither starts nor ends with Gorelick, but certainly deeply involves her. Under those circumstances, the American public can have no confidence in any report in which she plays a significant part in shaping. No other member of the commission had this much impact on such a critical flaw. The public should demand the withdrawal of Gorelick from the 9/11 Commission, and they probably would if the media actually reported the story of the day anywhere near as well as the New York Times.

He’s got a survey of how other outlets are spinning the story, and it’s not pretty.

ANOTHER UPDATE: For an example of totally dropping the ball, read this piece by Fred Kaplan, which actually lionizes Gorelick (and, coincidentally, numerous other Clinton appointees) while completely ignoring this issue. Of course, he’s not alone, but it’s interesting that the Times coverage — which usually sets the tone for other outlets — is being ignored here. Why?

MORE: By the way, I think I should stress that the “wall” wasn’t necessarily a bad idea at the time — at least, the purpose of separating law enforcement and intelligence reflected a longstanding tradition. In hindsight, we wish it had been different, but it’s not fair to employ hindsight that way. But if this is true for Gorelick, it’s true for Bush, too, and Gorelick — and the other anti-Bush partisans on the Commission — want to have it both ways on the hindsight front.

What bothers me is that Gorelick is accusing Bush of living in a pre-9/11 mindset before 9/11 when she was occupying that mindset too. And her complicity in this sort of thing — coupled with her obvious motive to deflect blame, and her less-than-forthcoming treatment of these issues — makes her, in my opinion, unfit to serve on the Commission. (And that’s leaving the Saudi issue aside). That’s not because she authored the “wall” policy to begin with, but because of her behavior since.

BLOGGERS MAKE IT BIG — Mitch Berg emails:

The Northern Alliance will be filling in for Hugh Hewitt tomorrow and Wednesday, 6-9 Eastern/3-6 Pacific.

Over the two days, the show will feature Captain Ed, PowerLine, Fraters Libertas, King Banaian from SCSU Scholars, James Lileks, and me.


I’LL BE ON HUGH HEWITT’S SHOW shortly, along with James Lileks. You can listen online by following the link and clicking on “listen online.”

UPDATE: Started off a bit distracted, as my tomcat was for some reason hurling himself against the closed door to my study, but it picked up after that. Hope the thuds didn’t make it over the air. Sticking around into the next hour.

James Lileks, who’s sticking around too, says that more people should be reading Mitch Berg. He’s right, of course.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon has joined us!

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: We’ve been talking about guerrilla media. Here’s the independent pro-Bush ad I just mentioned. And here’s an ad by on whether we were misled about Iraq.

THIS RATHER CONFUSED AND LAME ATTACK ON JAMES LILEKS will perhaps inspire a thousand Fiskings, meaning that this part, at least, will come true:

The invasion of Iraq has set a course that could well prove dangerous to us and the rest of the world, but happily it has provided fresh meat for the warbloggers to chew in the public square.

The piece is by Dennis Perrin, henceforth also known as “Mr. fresh meat for the warbloggers to chew on.” Or maybe not, as the piece may be too lame even for Fisking. As John Scalzi emails:

As best as I can tell, he’s criticizing James for airing his personal opinions on his personal site. And I’m all, like, yeah? And?

But they’re the wrong opinions! Er, even if it’s not clear from this piece why, exactly, they’re wrong. I guess if you’re a member of the right alt-weekly crowd you don’t have to explain such things.

UPDATE: Reader Luke Pingel is voting for “too lame to Fisk:”

Sheesh, Glenn, there’s nothing to Fisk. That guy’s article read like one of my 6th grade book reports – where I hadn’t actually paid enough attention the reading assignment and resented having to write the book report so much that I took my pre-pubescent anger out in the report while missing the whole point of the book and of the exercise. I mean this guy busts on Lileks for being verbose on his own website, all the while he’s wasting somebody else’s ink and paper with nothing to say.


UPDATE: John Scalzi has now posted some comments of his own:

Perrin seems additionally shocked that James’ observations are off-the-cuff sorts of things, without footnote or journalistic kow-tows to impartiality — indeed, it’s almost as if they were written, you know, late at night or something. In short, Perrin’s huge news flash seems to be that James Lileks is writing like a blogger. On his blog, no less!

And I’m thinking, what does this Perrin fellow want? A cookie?


ANOTHER UPDATE: Paul Miller notes some well-worn rhetorical tropes in Perrin’s piece.

And Fraters Libertas is providing context. Hugh Hewitt comments: “Mr. Perrin is so small a force as to not warrant a fisking. But let’s be fair: Let Mr. Perrin start a blog and see if anyone notices. Anyone at all.” Ouch.

Looks like the Northern Alliance has been activated!

MORE: Read this, from Mitch Berg, too.

STILL MORE: And here’s more still.

IN RESPONSE to Kim du Toit’s essay on manhood, which I linked earlier, I just want to note two things: First, that it’s come back to me already via multiply-forwarded email from all sorts of friends and acquaintances who don’t seem to realize where it originated, suggesting that it’s taking on a life of its own, and second that I actually think the strongest part of his essay was his reflection on how television and advertising reflexively denigrate men — and especially fathers — nowadays (sort of the Berenstain Bears syndrome writ large).

I also want to note that my enthusiasm for cooking increased when I realized that cookware is just another kind of tool. . . .

UPDATE: Mitch Berg has more:

In advertising, the “Fred Flintstone” archetype has taken complete hold; Fred was impulsive, stupid, lost to his self-centered and wrong-headed desires. Wilma was the inevitable voice of wisdom and reason. It’s gotten to the point where kids today accept that as the norm (the fathers on Lizzie McGuire, Boy Meets World, Even Stevens and so many other kids’ shows follow that model.) It wasn’t always that way; compare fathers on TV produced in the fifties and early sixties (Andy Griffith, Robert Young, even Hugh Beaumont – all of whom were on a level field with their TV wives and girlfriends) and TV set in the fifties and early sixties (Tom Bosley’s ridiculous father in Happy Days, or the impotently tormented Dan Lauria in Wonder Years). You’re talking about two drastically different samples of men. Why is that? I think Kim has it right.

Education is, if anything, worse.

Read the whole thing. Meanwhile reader Michael Anderson agrees with me:

I also want to note that my enthusiasm for cooking increased when I realized that cookware is just another kind of tool. . . .

Huge, glittering, extremely sharp knives, billowing open flames, hunks of raw meat, gratuitous beer-and-wine drinking during preparations…what could be more manly?

Yep. If this isn’t manly, I don’t know what is. . . .

Reader Les Meade, meanwhile, sends this:

Your link to the Berenstain Bears syndrome reminded me of something that my son (now 24) commented upon years ago about why he wouldn’t watch the TV show Home Improvement. He said it was because every show was exactly the same; “the Dad is an idiot and screws everything up until Mom puts him back in line.” I think he was only 13 when he pointed this out to me. What boy wants to grow up with such low expectations for his future?

And what happens to the ones who do?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Dan Mallon emails:

What bothers me more is the way men and fathers are depicted in advertisements. They can’t cook, clean, or care for themselves when they’re sick.

In my house, I cook and shop. My wife does most of the cleaning as she doesn’t like how I do it. We both do laundry, both changed diapers and cared for sick kids.

Imagine putting an advertisement on that showed a woman saying, “Can you balance the checkbook, honey? You know I can’t do math.”

They’d be lynched. I wonder, though, if this phenomenon doesn’t go part of the way toward explaining why network TV is losing so many male viewers.

Reader Barbara Skolaut emails:

A reader wrote to you that his then-13-year-old son said he wouldn’t watch Home Improvement because “every show was exactly the same; “the Dad is an idiot and screws everything up until Mom puts him back in line.”

I wouldn’t watch it either, for exactly that reason. And I’m a now-57-year-old woman. I’m sure other women noticed it, too, but loved the concept. I didn’t; I’ve always hated it when women as a group are denigrated (and having grown up in the the 50’s, I can assure you I was on the receiving end of plenty of it) and think if it’s wrong for men to do it to women, the reverse is also true.

The answer to the age-old question “what do women want?” is respect. Well, if we want it, we need to give it. It’s just as wrong to say “all men are [fill in insult of your choice]” as it is to say “all women are [insult du jour].

Yes. I think that advertisers, TV programmers, etc. are way behind the curve on this and don’t realize how angry this makes a lot of men, and many women, and how much it’s costing them.

And how much it’s contributing to what Jeff Jarvis calls the citizens’ media revolution.

MORE: Shell comments: “It isn’t the Battle of the Sexes. It’s a battle of ideologies. Not left vs. right or Dems vs. Pubs, but Socialism vs. Individual Responsibility. And there are women, and men, on both sides of the divide.”

Jonathan Gewirtz emails: “Dude, I’ve got two favorite tools: my Glock and my Cuisinart. And I’ll bet there are women who would make the same statement.”

STILL MORE: Other comments are in the “Extended Entry” area. Hit “More” to read ’em.

Continue reading ‘IN RESPONSE to Kim du Toit’s essay on manhood, which I linked earlier, I just want to note two thing…’ »

JOANNE JACOBS IS CALLING FOR MORE HOMEWORK, which demonstrates that she must not be planning to run for office anytime soon.

UPDATE: Mitch Berg disagrees.

PICKING UP WHERE MATT WELCH LEFT OFF, now Susan Estrich is all over Arianna Huffington:

Huffington has no chance of winning. Never did. The only reason to run was her ego, self-aggrandizement, attention — at the expense of her kids.

She is running on a platform she didn’t even believe in a few years ago. Nor is it one she lives by.

How could she do that to her children? my own children ask.

In Huffington’s case, of course, it may be a bit more complicated than that, financially speaking, since it’s slightly more difficult to live off your children’s child support when your children aren’t living with you. But don’t bet against her. This is, after all, the woman who runs against oil interests and lives in a mansion financed by oil money, rails against pigs at the trough and pays no taxes, runs as an independent and supports a guru.

I think that this candidacy may have been a gimmick too far. (Via Mitch Berg).

UPDATE: Yes, definitely a gimmick too far:

Arienron – I’m sorry, I mean Arianna – says the business is “cyclical” because she’s been doing research. $2.7 mil seems to me an awful lot of photocopying at the library. But that just goes to show why I’m poor bumbling Dr Watson next to Arianna’s Sherlock Holmes. “Why, Holmes, what an amazing deduction!”

“Elementary, my dear Watson. By the way, did you get a receipt from that hansom cab driver?” . . .

It’s comical how tone deaf Arianna Huffington’s campaign has been. Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to tap the anger that’s brought this recall campaign so far – the people who are fed up with runaway spending, high taxes, bureaucratic featherbedding. Arianna seems to think there’s another kind of anger out there – people who are angry because they want more government programs, more regulation, more bureaucracies, and they’d be prepared to pay higher taxes for these blessings. Hey, I would too in her shoes. After all if you tripled Arianna’s state income tax bill, you’d get …let’s see now, three times zero equals …zero.

Ouch. Running for office, even as a gimmick, produces a different level of criticism altogether.


Some 29 commercial aircraft have been shot down by such missiles. However, the downed aircraft have been small, and most of these tragedies have taken place in Africa. The wars in Africa are the worst on the planet, so violent that most journalists avoid them. For three decades, this has kept the use of portable missiles against civilian aircraft off the front page.

Poor Africa. Meanwhile, James Lileks has some thoughts on the subject, too.

UPDATE: Bruce Rolston says that Dunnigan’s wrong about the numbers of missile attacks in Africa.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s a piece on low-tech threats from Ralph Kinney Bennett that’s worth reading.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s more from Mitch Berg.

LIMBAUGH VS. THE BLOGGERS: Limbaugh’s take doesn’t impress me:

In the audio links below, I treat you to my analysis of pollster Dr. David Hill’s column headlined “Bloggers Won’t Match Limbaugh.” A blogger is a citizen who gets a website and just opines on various topics unrealted to politics. A friend of mine defined the term, derived from “web log,” as “a nerd with a journalist degree and no social life who spends most days and all nights writing e-mails to himself and his friends in hopes of attracting attention from traditional media outlets.” Andrew Sullivan is perhaps the best-known political blogger.

Hmm. I don’t know if Sullivan has “no social life” — seems to me I’ve heard some controversy about his having too much of one — and I’m pretty sure that most of his posts are “realted to politics” in some fashion or other. Heck, they’re even related to politics. Seems to me that Limbaugh has failed this part of his own proclaimed formula for success, here: #2: “Master production technique.” You know, like spelling and research, and having one sentence relate to the next . . . .

Donald Sensing has more on this, including some advice to Limbaugh: “You don’t understand what blogging is all about and what it does.” Nope. Obviously not. What’s funny is that Limbaugh obviously feels the need to put down blogs, and to build himself up at their expense. What’s he scared of? Blogs surely aren’t cutting into his market share. (No Gulfstream jets to bigshot celebrity events here, or elsewhere in the blogosphere!) Are they just making him feel as if he’s behind the curve? This grandpa-Lou stuff won’t help that.

UPDATE: Bill Quick writes: “Limbaugh is nowhere near as stupidly irritating as those of the Michael Savage school of Republican Radio Broadcasters, but every once in a while he does show his age, and his cluelessness about some of the subjects on which he opines.” That seems about right. It’s okay. He’ll catch on eventually.

Meanwhile Daniel Drezner has the answer.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mitch Berg, who used to work in talk radio, thinks he knows what Limbaugh’s about. Makes sense to me.

STILL MORE: I’m getting various emails pro and con on Limbaugh. I’m no ditto head, but I have no real beef with him either. He’s very good at what he does — just listen to, well, most other talk radio to see just how good — and, really, what he does seems a lot like what bloggers do. It’s striking to me that this rather artificial one-two assault on bloggers in relation to Limbaugh took place, and I wonder what he’s reacting to.

I (no surprise) think blogs are great, and I think that the blogosphere punches way above its weight thanks to its ability to move fast, incorporate lots of minds, and attract “opinion leader” readers and bloggers. But it’s a very different kind of medium than talk radio, and comparisons seem silly to me. I just wonder why Rush is so anxious to make them.

MINNESOTA BLOGGER MITCH BERG compares Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura. Overall, they’re not that similar, he says.


MONTPELIER — Gov. Howard Dean’s call for a “re-evaluation” of some of America’s civil liberties following this week’s terrorist attacks was criticised Thursday by a Vermont Law School professor.

“Good God,” Vermont Law School Professor Michael Mello said when read the remarks Dean made at a Wednesday news conference. “It’s terribly irresponsible for the leader of our state to be saying stuff like that right now.”

Benson Scotch, the head of the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said it was simply too soon after the attacks to engage in the sort of debates Dean called for.

Dean said Wednesday he believed that the attacks and their aftermath would “require a re-evaluation of the importance of some of our specific civil liberties. I think there are going to be debates about what can be said where, what can be printed where, what kind of freedom of movement people have and whether it’s OK for a policeman to ask for your ID just because you’re walking down the street.”

To be fair, the story is dated September 14, 2001, a time when a lot of people were saying stupid things about civil liberties. The refrain from too many of the talking heads was that we’d have to put away our freedoms, like the childish things they were, and put our fate in the hands of Big Brother. (Of course, Dean should have been reading this column.)

And he does waffle a bit in the piece, saying that he hasn’t made up his mind. But perhaps some reporters should ask him if he has made up his mind on these subjects in the intervening years.

UPDATE: Reader Tom Nord emails:

That post on Dean’s remarks — a mere three days after 9/11 — is a pretty thinly veiled piece of agitprop. Everyone was acting a little freaked out that week.

Well, I said that.

He was not the only person to suggest we might need to sacrifice some civil liberties.

I said that, too.

As I recall, it was Ari Fleischer who put it so succinctly, “People need to watch what they say.” If you are going to start dredging up stuff like Dean’s remarks, why not create a whole gallery of embarrassing things said by politicos — from both sides of the aisle — during those awful days?

Sounds like Ari was right. But, sure, people were freaked out, and I blasted ’em then. But Dean’s running for President. Surely it’s not too much to ask that a President’s first instinct not be anti-civil liberties, and that a President be able to avoid saying dumb things in the midst of tragedy. Dean’s no worse than a lot of people who were on TV then. But he’s running for President, while David McCullough, for example, isn’t.

If anyone else running for President said similar stuff, by all means send me the links.

ANOTHER UPDATE: C.D. Harris thinks I’m giving Dean the benefit of the doubt when he doesn’t deserve it: “my experience has been that, generally speaking, people’s gut reactions are pretty reliable indicators of their mindset about things. Apparently, Dean’s is pure authoritarianism.”

Well, I don’t know. But someone should at least, you know, ask him about this.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Hesiod emails that I’m being intellectually dishonest for linking to the above and not linking to this statement by Dean in a interview:

Too many in my party voted for the Patriot Act. They believed that it was more important to show bipartisan support for President Bush during a moment of crisis than to stand up for the basic values of our constitution. They trusted this President, knowing full well that John Ashcroft was the Attorney General. Only one senator had the courage to vote against the Patriot Act— Senator Russ Feingold, and he deserves credit for doing so. We need more Democrats like Senator Feingold—Democrats who are willing to stand up for what is right, and stand against this President’s reckless disregard for our civil liberties. We don’t need John Ashcroft—or any other Attorney General—rifling through our library records. As Americans, we need to stand up—all of us—and ensure that our laws reflect our values. As President, I will repeal those parts of the Patriot Act that undermine our constitutional rights, and will stand against any further attempts to expand the government’s reach at the expense of our civil liberties.

Hesiod is somewhat overwrought here. I’m happy to hear that Dean opposes the Patriot Act, a bill that I also opposed. But it’s not a complete answer. Perhaps the language that Dean “will stand against any further attempts to expand the government’s reach at the expense of our civil liberties” is — except that I wonder if Dean really means it. Any further attempts? If he does mean it, I’m impressed.

MORE: Mitch Berg says I’m cutting Dean too much slack and adds: “Of course, had a Governor George (or Jeb) Bush said any such thing on 9/14/01, we’d be hearing about it.” From Hesiod!

THE PENTAGON WANTS TO USE A FUTURES MARKET to predict terror attacks. Although this is getting a lot of criticism (mostly from members of Congress who, I suspect, couldn’t accurately describe the operation of existing futures markets) I think it’s an excellent example of creative thinking, and the Pentagon deserves to be congratulated for it. As I’ve suggested before (here, here, and especially here) the diffuse, fast-moving threat of terrorism requires a diffuse, fast-moving response. And this sounds like a very plausible way of recruiting a lot of minds in the service of anti-terrorism.

Josh Chafetz agrees:

A futures market in terrorist attacks, while it sounds grisly, may help us to aggregate diffuse knowledge in a way that will prove superior to expert knowledge. It also may not, but it seems to me that it’s worth a try. At the very least, if we’re going to demand that the government get creative in fighting terror, we shouldn’t be so quick to criticize when it does just that.


UPDATE: Reader Fred Butzen emails:

The story about the Pentgon’s “terrorism market” clearly is an extension of Iowa Electronic Markets, which has been run for years by the University of Iowa’s Tippett School of Business. Here’s a link to the Iowa Information Market’s web site:


In brief, the IEM lets persons place bets on the likelihood of given events’ happening; for example, people could bet on the likelihood that Saddam Hussein will survive this year, or who will win the next presidential election. The collective expertise of the participants has proven to be extremely useful in predicting events.

The notion that the dim-bulbs in Congress and the media should attack such a useful and proven idea as the Pentagon’s is utterly absurd.

This is absolutely right. Whether or not the Pentagon’s idea is a good one depends on details I don’t know about. But the lame criticism makes clear that the critics are — as usual — clueless on the subject.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mitch Berg points out that this approach has worked in the past.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Defense Tech has more on this. So does ChicagoBoyz, which also points to this Martin Devon post. Martin is particularly hard on our elected representatives:

I was pleasantly surprised to see a bit of “out of the box” thinking on the government’s part about how to evaluate the likelyhood of terror threats. Doesn’t it just figure that a couple of maroons from the senate would complain so that they can be seen “taking the high ground?” I’d pay them the compliment of believing that they wrote the complaint for cynical reasons, but just watching them on TV is enough to lead one to conclude that they really are stupid enough to be making an issue of this on principle.

An InstaPundit reader who is too smart to be in Congress emails with a more meaningful criticism: the futures market won’t identify “unknown unknowns,” since the betting — as with ordinary futures markets — must take place within the context of standard “products.”

This is true as far as it goes, but (1) You could provide incentives to come up with new forecasts; and (2) This is only one part, obviously, of a more general approach to thinking about and predicting terror, not the whole thing. The biggest weakness to my mind is that i fthe results are public, terrorists might deliberately choose strategies that are deemed unlikely by the “market.” But, of course, the market could also be configured as a trap, so that could work both ways.

MITCH BERG IS DOING INVESTIGATIVE BLOGGING. I suspect we’ll see more stuff along those lines.


When’s the last time a man spontaneously checked to see if the house was low on toilet paper or Saran Wrap?

About five minutes ago. I cook, too. Get your head out of 1957, woman.

UPDATE: Reader Michelle Dulak emails: “Two words for Ms. Cottle: Read Lileks.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Single dad Mitch Berg replies:

Here was my day today, Ms. Cottle: Up at 5:45. One load in the wash, fold the load from the dryer. Wake the kids. Take a bath. Wake the kids again. Get ’em dressed, and out to the bus. Oops, son’s been suspended from the bus – drive him to school. Drive to work (30 miles). Work. Get call that ex can’t pick up son from school – race back through rush-hour to get son. Home. Cook dinner. Homework. Basketball practices for both kids. Home, baths, bedtime stories, to bed – and then maybe an hour for me.

And that routine is not that much different than when I was married, maam.

I’m not here to whine about life as a single dad. I love it. But men today – married or not – are every bit as harried as Ms. Cottle’s benighted broads. If Warren Farrell, author of Myth of Male Power is to be believed, harried to death. The whole book is worth a read.

But thanks for reminding me – I gotta get toilet paper and Saran Wrap.

I know a lot of guys like this. I’m surprised that Michelle Cottle doesn’t.

MINNESOTA BLOGGER MITCH BERG has some thoughts on the Nazi-defaced Norm Coleman billboard and the climate of hatred that leads to such acts.

FIRST DONAHUE, NOW STEPHANOPOULOS? This Week isn’t doing very well under Stephanopoulos, according to this report from USA Today. Mitch Berg thinks the host slot should go to George Will.

MINNESOTA BLOGGER MITCH BERG HAS THIS TO SAY about Garrison Keillor, in response to Keillor’s latest in Salon:

Keillor is a funny man, a generally superb humorist, and Prairie Home Companion is a weekly ritual – even my children (9 and 11) love it. But Keillor is in his entirety a creation of the public sector. And like any public institution, he suffers the public with the same grace as do the cashiers at the Department of Public Safety. Having known, socially and professionally, many who’d worked with him, having met many more who’d dealt with him in a variety of capacities, one notes this: Keillor treats those he perceives as superiors with unvarnished obsequeity; Peers, he addresses with a veneer of respect; underlings, he treats like cat litter, to be rubbed underfoot and…well, you know how it ends, right? Having known a few people who’d worked on PHC, the metaphor basically fits.

Keillor is reacting to a Republican sweep the same way the Teacher’s union, or the National Orgization of Women, do; with doomsday rhetoric, with chicken-little doommongering, with nasty, defensive slurs – and the added fun of lots of personal slurs against “the enemy.”

Following these observations is a point-by-point Fisking of Keillor’s assertions that, if there were any justice, would have Keillor apologizing profusely and begging forgiveness.

But there isn’t any justice where the likes of Keillor are concerned. Except that provided by the Blogosphere.

UPDATE: Tacitus has some interesting observations on Keillor, and a comparison of Keillor with Lewis Lapham.

GARRISON KEILLOR, NORM COLEMAN, AND WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE DEMOCRATIC LEFT: Minnesota blogger Mitch Berg has some observations.

Rachel Lucas, meanwhile has some of her own regarding Terry McAuliffe, author of the Wellstone rally debacle.

MINNESOTAN MITCH BERG blogs his impressions of the Wellstone-themed campaign rally.:

If you don’t live here, it’s hard to describe. Maybe it’s like this elsewhere in the country. All I know is, it’s totally on the sleeve of this state, and showed in spades last night. It’s something that started as a vague sense of unease seven years ago, when I first started becoming active in politics in Minnesota. It grew to a more coherent notion in 2000. It whacked me over the head when the mob booed the assembled Republican senators.

Hatred of Republicans is part of the majority, *mainstream* DFL culture in Minnesota.

Not dislike. Not disagreement. Hate.

You see it in bits of day to day life in this state: women theatrically holding their noses when talking about Republican candidates at the coffee shop; people who put “No Republicans Need Apply” at the top of personal ads; a mob of 15,000 mainstream, work-a-daddy, hug-a-mommy Minnesotans baying at the moon at the recognition of Republicans.

This is not the lunatic fringe; it’s not analogous to the rantings of those Republicans who act from hate, the party’s loud but isolated homophobes, anti-immigrants, clinic-bombing-coddlers. This is the mainstream of the Minnesota DFL.

I’m not there, so my objection isn’t quite the same. To me, it was more like this.

UPDATE: TAPPED, by contrast, found the rally “inspiring.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: This piece by Will Saletan captures it well:

But the solemnity of death and the grace of Midwestern humor are overshadowed tonight by the angry piety of populism. Most of the event feels like a rally. The touching recollections are followed by sharply political speeches urging Wellstone’s supporters to channel their grief into electoral victory. The crowd repeatedly stands, stomps, and whoops. The roars escalate each time Walter Mondale, the former vice president who will replace Wellstone on the ballot, appears on the giant screens suspended above the stage. “Fritz! Fritz!” the assembly chants.

“Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning,” Wellstone declares in a videotaped speech shown on the overhead screens. “Politics is about improving people’s lives.” But as the evening’s speakers proceed, it becomes clear that to them, honoring Wellstone’s legacy is all about winning the election. Repeating the words of Wellstone’s son, the assembly shouts, “We will win! We will win!” Rick Kahn, a friend of Wellstone’s, urges everyone to “set aside the partisan bickering,” but in the next breath he challenges several Republican senators in attendance to “honor your friend” by helping to “win this election for Paul Wellstone.” What can he be thinking?

There’s a salutary practicality about many of the liberal clichés repeated and applauded tonight. But there’s a creepy arrogance about them, too. The ceremony’s closing speaker, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, says Wellstone “never took himself too seriously” and “never had to proclaim his decency.” Yet tonight, the men and women who purport to represent Wellstone’s legacy are taking themselves quite seriously and constantly proclaiming their decency. “We can redeem the sacrifice of his life if you help us win this election for Paul Wellstone,” Kahn tells the crowd. Somewhere, Wellstone must be turning on his cross.

Nice metaphor.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Wellstone’s campaign manager has apologized.

Now Robert Musil wonders if this is in response to overnight polling, and implies that it must be given that the apology pulls the rug out from under those who have been defending the rally.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The Minnesota GOP Chair is demanding equal time.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus emailed that I’ve used the word “tacky” a lot to describe this event. But I just saw DNC spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri use the same word in describing the behavior of people who booed Republicans there. Hey, it fits.

THE LAST UPDATE: John Cole predicts how this will play out over the next days and months.

NOBODY’S MENTIONING TERRORISM in connection with these apparently motiveless shootings in the DC area. Why not?

UPDATE: A reader emails that based on this review of Al Qaeda training tapes, such attacks might well be terrorism. There are a number of scenarios that seem reasonably close to what’s supposed to have happened, along with this observation:

There is information to the effect that the “perfect day” as seen by Al Qaeda would combine attacks designed to produce the maximum number of casualties with attacks that would give them the opportunity to get “face time” on the news channels to deliver their rhetoric. For maximum effect these attacks would take place nearly simultaneously at multiple geographically separate locations.

This does seem to have gotten maximal news attention for minimum risk and effort — the sort of thing that a cut-off terror cell, or a group of freelancers with minimal resources, might do. We’ll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile reader Mitch Berg writes: “And yet again – a mass shooting in a state without a shall-issue concealed-carry law.”

Well, there are two lessons from the LAX shooting: that people on the scene with guns can bring such things to a prompt end, and that authorities will be very slow to blame such attacks on terrorism. But at the moment this is all speculation — we’ll have to wait on evidence, if any materializes. I’ll leave you with these comments emailed by Jim Henley:

Glenn, no one’s talking about terrorism yet because it’s a developing story – no one fucking knows right now. I can tell you that these shootings are way way too close to home in a literal sense, all occurring in places where the Henley family actually shops or drives. Latest word from the schools (currently locked down, which means my son hasn’t had recess, sure to be a root cause of terrorism on HIS part I don’t know what will) is that they’re going have police supervise the loading of the buses, but not apparently taking the crushingly obvious step of putting police ON the buses. The other concern is all the parents who will be congregating on corners WAITING for buses.

I suppose in Knoxville people would just bring their guns to the bus stop. Alas, here in Montgomery county only outlaws will have guns (more because of cultural cringe and relative safety than local laws). Since it’s been quiet for a few hours, police think the killers are in hiding, according to my wife. (I work over in Virginia, so I’m getting all my updates from her.)

It sounds like a Starkweather-style spree. It may yet prove to be terrorism. The only things I see that incline me in that direction right now are that it’s two guys, not one, and the report that they’ve gone into hiding. (Default assumption in a spree case is that one guy really wants to be shot dead himself and keeps going until he is.)

I guess there’s one more thing that makes it worth speculating about a terrorist angle – the Post report you cite omits any, even fragmentary description of the killers. The Post has a tendency to do that when they’re afraid such descriptions will inspire what they think of as retrograde reactions.

Yes, I noticed that omission from the Post account myself.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And now there’s a similar shooting incident at the U.N. though no one appears to have been hurt, and the M.O. is different. Asparagirl has blogged it.