November 01, 2003

EMBARRASSING DEVELOPMENTS FOR THE WASHINGTON POST: First, David Kay writes to say that the Post's reporter, Barton Gellman, misrepresented his findings:

The Oct. 26 front-page article "Search in Iraq Fails to Find Nuclear Threat" is wildly off the mark. Your reporter, Barton Gellman, bases much of his analysis on what he says was told to him by an Australian brigadier, Stephen D. Meekin. Gellman describes Meekin as someone "who commands the Joint Captured Materiel Exploitation Center, the largest of a half-dozen units that report to [David] Kay."

Meekin does not report, nor has he ever reported, to me in any individual capacity or as commander of the exploitation center. The work of the center did not form a part of my first interim report, which was delivered last month, nor do I direct what Meekin's organization does. The center's mission has never involved weapons of mass destruction, nor does it have any WMD expertise. . . .

We have much work left to do before any conclusions can be reached on the state of possible Iraqi nuclear weapons program efforts. Your story gives the false impression that conclusions can already be drawn.

Then (scroll down), Meekin writes to say that Gellman misquoted him.

JOSEPH STIGLITZ calls for Iraqi debt relief. Tyler Cowen has more on this.

I think that it would be a good thing if extensions of credit to dictators were regarded as risky propositions.

MORE ON CERP FUNDS IN IRAQ, from a celebrated expert:

I am a Marine Reserve Lt.Col. and was the Provincial Military Governor for Wasit Province in Iraq until early September. In fact, you blogged a story about me. (Link)

We had funds that were seized from Saddam and used them for all manner of reconstruction projects. Additionally we had US funds allocated for our discretionary use (well, there were some restrictions, I couldn't use it to benefit US personnel). It was essential to our success when I was there. We didn't lose one Marine to enemy fire after the war combat was over. As funding and the discretion to spend money where and when it is needed become bogged down in government red tape, it will create problems for the guys who are still there. No doubt. Politicians don't appreciate the needs of guys on the front lines and what we need to do to get things done. It't the small things that build in importance with immediate impact. We also got help for things we needed from folks back home. I asked a group called Spirit of America for red, white and blue soccer jerseys for local kids and adults to help build goodwill since soccer is the game there. They wrote up the story at: Link

They helped another Marine with dental supplies and they're helping Army guys there now. The main thing is that there is help from the private sector and people in the U.S. can help. You guys should know about that because it's even more important now that the seized funds we used are drying up.

I'm back home at work now but let me know if I can tell you more about this or put you in touch with the guys who helped us.

LtCol David Couvillon, USMCR

I don't think that bloggers and blog-readers can replace this money, but maybe there's something we can do to help. In the meantime, I think that Washington needs to look hard at giving local commanders the kind of freedom they enjoyed under the CERP program.

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE: We've already seen the 1946 Life Magazine coverage noted by Jessica's Well. Now reader Jack Callahan sends this picture from the Saturday Evening Post, and comments:

After reading the headline of the cover story of tomorrow's (11/2/03) New York Times Magazine ("Who Botched the Occupation") I happened to spot the attached Jan 26, 1946 Cover Page of the Saturday Evening Post (it was on the wall of a local barber shop).

Note the upper right hand corner (assuming the image makes it to you) - a feature story is entitled "How we botched the German Occupation".

My brief search did not locate the contents of the article, but I though you might find the cover amusing.

Indeed I do. Anybody have the article?

UPDATE: No copies yet. But reader Duffy Burdick has an interesting observation:

RE: The Saturday Evening Post cover---Note that it is a collective 'We' that "botched" the Occupation, not President Truman nor by extension, President Roosevelt. It suggests that there was still a sense that 'We' as a nation had been attacked and 'We' as a nation had responded.

Today, the media faults President Bush, e.g. , "Bush's War" , "Bush's Failure" , or his Administration without the slightest hint that we may all be in this together, regardless of our domestic partisan proclivities. Sad, really.

Yes, it is.

UPDATE: Reader Kathy Nelson has actually gotten the article and typed in the whole thing. I've read it and put some representative excerpts below (click "MORE"). I'd like to to put the whole thing up, but that's probably beyond fair use.

Read More ?

THE POWER OF GIZMODO: I've been looking for a small digital camera that also takes web-quality video with sound, and is cheap enough to take places where it might get damaged. This morning I saw this Gateway camera on Gizmodo, for $199. Went to the nearby Gateway store, tried it, bought it, and it's up to expectations. (And plumb easy to use; the controls are very intuitive.)

But what was really interesting was that everybody at the Gateway store knew about Gizmodo, and several said that they bought a lot of stuff in response to items there. I don't have any idea how much traffic Gizmodo is getting these days, but it's clearly reaching its target market.

UPDATE: Well, the camera wasn't that great -- and didn't sync reliably to my laptop -- so I returned it. The Gateway folks were very good about taking it back, after deciding that they couldn't figure out what the problem could be (MPEG4 devices tend to be hinky, apparently). I bought a Toshiba still camera that also records video in .avi instead.

"MANLY, YES. But women like it, too!" And we're not talking Irish Spring, here.


This is not the army of your favourite army sitcom. The officers of the 101st Airborne are sophisticated, entrepreneurial, very dedicated, and very, very smart. They didn't wait for someone to send them money to get started. Instead they're using Saddam's money. They found piles of it in his palaces, and figured this is a good way to return it to the people.

They didn't wait for Bechtel to show up. They're finding their own contractors.

Capt. Burns's tiny outfit, based in Makhmur, has spent $440,000 so far. They're having water pipes put in, and they've built a big park with swings and slides. They've refurbished the police station and the mayor's office.

Yeah. Too bad it looks like they're going to be stopped. If this CERP story is as it appears, this is the major dropped ball of the Iraq operation so far. I hope that people are looking into it.

RUMSFELD'S MEMO, REVISITED: Reader David Campbell points to this article in Slate, and observes:

If you read this then Rumsfield's memo makes even more sense. It is the mentality of the senior brass of the Army that he is trying to overcome. If he can change the way the army is approaching this problem then we may expect some success in the war on terror in places like Iraq.

Yes. Fred Kaplan's spin is typically negative, but the piece illustrates an important point. It's possible to disagree with the specifics of Rumsfeld's campaign to shake up the Army brass, but I think the need for such a shakeup is pretty plain, as is the unfortunate tendency of the brass to resist critiques of their performance.

October 31, 2003


UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has comments.

LUSKIN / ATRIOS UPDATE: Well, I was hors de combat as the story reverberated around the blogosphere yesterday, but it's bad for Luskin. Even folks like Misha and Bill Quick are all over Luskin, with Quick even promising to donate to an Atrios Defense Fund if it's required. (I would, too, though I doubt it'll come to that.)

I agree with Tom Maguire that a "delink Luskin" campaign in response is over-reach (and I find de-linking campaigns rather silly in general) but Luskin has blown it here, and badly. I don't believe that free speech always trumps libel claims, even in the blogosphere, but I think the threshold is awfully high, and I don't think that Luskin has met it with regard to Atrios, much less Atrios's commenters, for whose comments I don't think it's really fair to hold Atrios responsible.

But there are some lessons here. One is that threats of lawsuits almost always backfire in the blogosphere, even more than they do in general. There's no way to keep them quiet, and once disclosed they make the threatener look thuggish unless the case is quite strong. Another is that anonymity in the blogosphere is thinner than many people think: Atrios's email is known, and it's a major-ISP address, meaning that he's a subpoena away from losing anonymity. And that's true for a lot of other people who think they're anonymous. Anonymity is convenient, and it may prevent untoward consequences, but it's not really secure if anyone really wants to pierce it.

Another is that bloggers tend to stick together, and to value free speech very highly, despite rather intense disagreements. That's probably a good thing.

And, finally, while comments are nice, they do pose a problem. When you have a lot of comments, it's very difficult to police them. I loved The Fray at Slate, -- but it had Moira Redmond riding herd on it full time. What blogger can do that? And the real enemy of a blogger isn't trolls who disagree, but the commenters on "your side" who go over-the-top. And comments sections tend to breed that sort of extreme commentary, it seems. That's not a reason why people shouldn't have comments, necessarily, but it's a downside.

UPDATE: Roger Simon thanks his readers.

CALL ME CRAZY, but this sounds like an embarrassment for the Edwards campaign:

WASHINGTON (AP) - While a member of Congress' investigation into U.S. and Saudi intelligence failures, presidential hopeful John Edwards agreed to sell his home for $3.52 million to the public relations expert hired by Saudi Arabia to counter charges it was soft on terrorism.

Edwards, a Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Friday he learned sometime during the course of the 2002 transaction - months after the initial offer was signed but before the deal fell apart - that Michael Petruzzello worked for Saudi Arabia.

Though the sale broke off nearly a year ago, Edwards hasn't returned or publicly disclosed Petruzzello's $100,000 deposit, which remains in a real estate escrow account as the senator decides what to do with it. Edwards recently sold the house to another buyer for a half-million dollars less than Petruzzello's offer.

Probably not as bad as it sounds at first blush, but not good.

VIA THE KITCHEN CABINET, I've discovered the delightfully nonconforming Yale Diva.

BEYOND PARODY: Life imitates Scrappleface. Heh.

WAR OF CIVILIZATIONS: I agree with Armed Liberal on this:

I don't think we are in a war of civilizations...yet. I don't doubt that the other side thinks and hopes that we are, and that our response to them, over the last few decades, has been mistaken on a number of fronts.

A real war of civilizations, as I have pointed out over and over again, only has one result. We'll be here, they won't.

I believe there is still time to avert that war, through a balance of force, diplomacy, self-sacrifice in a number of arenas, and careful consideration of our relationships with the Islamic and Arab world.

Read his whole post.

CENTER FOR PUBLIC LACK-OF-INTEGRITY? Lynxx Pherrett says the CPI study is dealing from a stacked deck. For shame. (He's pretty hard on USA Today's James Cox, too.)

UPDATE: And it's doing real harm, as this email from reader Gene Rooney demonstrates:

So, I am in Kazakhstan, forced to watch BBC World as because aside from the Cartoon Network it is the only channel in English. And as I am reading Instapundit's blurb on THE CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY, who should appear on TV for an interview but a representative from THE CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY. First hardball question from BBC World Anchor : "So this report is
pretty devastating for the US administration, isn't it ?" More similiarly probing questions follow, all answers sound like 'blah blah blah Halliburton blah blah blah halliburton'

Having been forced to watch BBC World for two weeks has been a depressing, enligtening experience. I have lived in Europe and was always fortunate enough to be able to switch to something else and not have to watch BBC. Anti-Americanism is all pervasive on this horror of a channel, the only english language news many people get in many parts of the world. I can't watch it for more than a half hour without some wild anti-american slur, distortion or lie wanting me to throw something at the TV.

Charles Lewis should be ashamed to be throwing fuel on that fire. And the BBC should be ashamed, too, but that's hardly news by this point.


So the improvement's there, but as Jennifer Dunn said, the patience. You know, we, as Americans, want things done yesterday. And that's great, and that's how we work. But the other thing is, it's going to take time.

And as far as the terrorist attacks seem to be increasing, the generals were prepared for that. No one talks about basically the 100,000 criminals that were put out on the street right before the war started, or the two of the fractions (sic) that are coming in there that don't want to see this plan succeed.

But the bottom line is, no matter where anybody was at the beginning on the Iraqi vote or whatever, that's there, that's in the past; now we have to make sure that we do a really good job in Iraq so that we will also make sure that it's free there. And in my opinion, that will spread to other countries. That's what we should be focusing on now. Hopefully, sometime today we will pass that money to have the flexibility in it, to get out there so we can get the job done. The sooner we do it and build up the armies, the police forces, the sooner all our young men and women can come home. And that's our paramount goal.

As Dale Amon comments:

It seems quite telling how nearly every US politician, Republican or Democrat, find the 'ground truth' different from what they are hearing day after day from the Palestine Hotel bar.

If even a politician can see what is going on, what does this say about the intelligence of journalists?

It says that some journalists could learn a thing or two from meatcutters.

KATIE COURIC: A bad date.


PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (Reuters) -- A man described by authorities as a known sexual predator was chased through the streets of South Philadelphia by an angry crowd of Catholic high school girls, who kicked and punched him after he was tackled by neighbors, police said Friday.



Our enemies in Iraq have learned these lessons well. The car bomb of Oct. 12 was aimed at the Baghdad Hotel, housing not just large numbers of Americans but much of the provisional Iraqi government. It would have been the equivalent of the two Beirut bombings in one: a psychologically crushing massacre of Americans -- which would have sparked immediate debate at home about withdrawal -- and the instantaneous destruction of much of the pro-American government, a political decapitation that would have left very few Iraqis courageous enough to fill the vacuum.

The bomber failed. Most significantly, it was Iraqi police who assisted in shooting up the car at a relatively safe distance and thus preventing a catastrophe. The car bomb campaign has, however, continued with singular ferocity since. The war in Iraq now consists of a race: The United States is racing to build up Iraqi police and armed forces capable of taking over the country's security -- before the Saddam loyalists and their jihadist allies can produce that single, Beirut-like car bomb that so discourages Americans (and Iraqis) that we withdraw in disarray.

Who wins the race? If this president remains in power, the likelihood is that we do.

Good analysis. And nothing would help the war effort more than for the leading Democrats to make strong and repeated statements about not abandoning Iraq. That would remove a major source of hope for the terrorists.

It probably won't happen, though.

BUT THE EDITORS OF THE TIMES ARE HOPING FOR MORE HOOVERVILLES: The current headline on an economic story by Floyd Norris on the New York Times webpage:

Are Happy Days Back for the Economy? Bush Hopes So

Actually, I suspect a few unemployed workers hope so, too.

THE CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY is suffering some major credibility blows, as Daniel Drezner and Steven Antler point out that it's hyping a report on Iraq reconstruction contracts that doesn't really say anything. Drezner: "The Center for Public Integrity wants to claim that there's a fire here. Looking over their numbers, I'm not even convinced there's any smoke."

Read this, too:

I would say this isn't worth anyone's time, except it appears to document many contracts awarded to smaller, politically inactive, non-well-connected companies. It presents -- unintentionally, one might guess -- considerable evidence contradicting its central contention.

To coin a phrase, it shouldn't take a blogger to point stuff like this out.

But it does. Shouldn't the press be embarrassed to have missed this? And shouldn't the Center for Public Integrity be a bit embarrassed to be advancing such a weak claim amid such hype?

UPDATE: Stuart Buck has further criticism. To be fair to the CPI, though, conflating individual donations with donations from their employers is common, and not necessarily unjustified, as it's often expected that people will make these donations as part of their jobs. That doesn't excuse the CPI for claiming a lot more than it proved, or the allegedly-skeptical media for not looking into it.



CLINTON-GORE ECONOMIC BOOM CONTINUES: And it's not even from a Paul Krugman column!

IT'S A BLOGCRITICS HALLOWEEN FRIGHTFEST -- and it was organized by Susanna Cornett, so you know it's scary. . . .

NOTE TO GERMANS: The more you try the moral-equivalence game, the worse you look.

ARNOLD KLING looks at management issues in the terror war.

NEW VOLOKH CONSPIRATOR CORI DAUBER is fact-checking war reporting at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and MSNBC over at The Volokh Conspiracy. Just keep scrolling.

As Dauber notes, "it shouldn't take a blogger." But, sadly, it does.

DOUBLE STANDARDS: Roger Simon comments on North Korea.

MICKEY KAUS points out still more anti-war revisionism -- er, but about the invasion of Grenada? Those folks at the L.A. Times just never give up. . . .

October 30, 2003

A BLOGGER GOES TO WAR (well, post-war, anyway): Rich Galen is going to Iraq.

Maybe he can fill us in on the CERP story.

IDIOCY IN IRAQ? I linked earlier to a Washington Post story on the CERP program in Iraq. The military reader who sent the link said it was one of the most successful things we're doing there. Now another military reader emails from Baghdad:

News on the WP story about CERP.

Yes, it was the most powerful tool commanders have had. But as of now, it has been cut off. LTG Sanchez has informed all the resource managers this past week that the funding is done and there will be no more. All of our humanitarian projects we had going are now stopped and some projects (including those in the troubled Sadr City) are put on hold.

Given the utter disorganization of CPA, the battalion commanders here were making a significant impact. We fixed schools, sewage, markets, and got trash picked up. We put thousands of people to work. Now it's over, at one of the most critical times in this fight. Everyone on the line is dumbfounded over this decision.

I"m dumbfounded, too. This is a real story, not "police-blotter" reporting. Perhaps some of the journalists over there can manage to look into things.

And perhaps some members of Congress here can do the same?

UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus emails: "If [true], that's the worst news I've heard from Iraq all year."

ANDREW SULLIVAN IS MORE MANLY THAN ME, but Virginia Postrel observes: " it's not hard to write more manly prose than InstaPundit."

Yeah, and I cook, too!

UPDATE: Fritz Schranck emails to ask if I do laundry. Yes, and I even separate colors! But, actually, the InstaWife usually does the laundry, just as I usually do the cooking.

SORRY FOR THE LIMITED BLOGGING: I got my stomach scoped this morning. Everything's fine, but still a bit groggy from the drugs. Back later. Meanwhile, there's a new post up over at

CHRIS MUIR'S DAY BY DAY is starting to get the attention it deserves.

TEHRAN now has a blog cafe.

MILITARY READER JOHN KLUGE sends a link to this story from the Washington Post, about what he calls the most important aspect of Iraqi reconstruction:

This is the key good news story of the rebuilding of Iraq. Without the commander's emergency response fund, nothing would ever get done. It's good to see that someone is finally noticing. Note the international aid groups whining in the article about how the military is not qualified. The genius of the CERPS was that it took the money out of the hands of the bureaucrats and aid groups and gave it directly to the military to use on the ground. If it were up to the aid groups nothing would have ever gotten done.

Wait for someone to attack this procedure, now. . . .

Meanwhile, Iraqis are condemning suicide attacks and blaming foreigners. The Bush plan to establish Iraq as a counterweight to the rest of the Arab world seems to be working. . . .

BLOGGING WILL BE LIMITED this morning. But Virginia Postrel has a lot of new posts up. And don't forget the Carnival of the Vanities. And Stephen Green has been more active than usual. That should be enough to keep you busy for a while.

INTERESTING PUTIN RUMORS: Are they true? Beats me.

MORE REWRITING OF HISTORY: Andrew Sullivan explores the newest bogus claim by war opponents.

October 29, 2003

RICH BLOGGY GOODNESS: Carnival of the Vanities is up.

JOHANN HARI writes in The Independent that the real threat to Iraqis comes from Western defeatists. The column requires a subscription if you want to read it in The Independent, but you can read it for free on Johann Hari's blog. Excerpt:

These attacks are calculated to undermine our will to carry out a proper transition to Iraqi self-rule, along the path that has already been travelled by the Kurds in the North. A hasty withdrawal would give Islamic theocrats or recidivist Baathists a far better chance of seizing power than free elections. All decent people - including those who opposed the war - must now work to establish a consensus in Britain and the US behind the path that Iraqis, in every single poll of their opinion, are begging us to take: stay for a few years to ensure a transition to democracy, resist the fascistic bombers attacking those who have come to help, and gradually accord more and more power to the Governing Council in advance of elections.

A bomb will always get bigger headlines than a slowly refilling marsh or a burgeoning school, but we must keep focusing on the big picture. Nobody wants the occupation to continue indefinitely. Iraqi democracy is getting closer every day. We must keep siding with the Iraqi people, not the bombers who want to drive away their doctors and peacekeepers.

Read the whole thing, as they say.

JAMES MILLER thinks that American hegemony could last quite a while.


RAND SIMBERG has an oped on space policy that is, as always, worth your time. He's also got a clarification on his blog. Aren't blogs useful?


CAN THIS BE TRUE? Reportedly, Don Luskin is threatening to sue Atrios. That's utterly bizarre. Whether or not Luskin has a claim against Krugman, suing Atrios seems entirely over the top to me.

I've emailed Luskin asking if this is true. If it is, I agree with Armed Liberal: "this is just embarrassing."

EVERYBODY'S DISSING CAMILLE PAGLIA: Mickey Kaus, Roger Simon (and his commenters), even Brendan O'Neill. But Andrew Sullivan is offering qualified praise.

OF COURSE, KIM DU TOIT WOULD JUST MAKE A RUG: David Baron, with whom I used to do a radio show at Yale, now has a book out entitled The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature. It's about the way in which low-density residential patterns and animal-protection laws are bringing people into close proximity with dangerous animals.

I'm glad that animals like cougars are making a comeback (here's an interesting article on reports, possibly true, that they're back in the Smokies), but I don't want them around my house. And if they were, I'd be inclined to make a rug, too.

UPDATE: Reader Jayson K. emails:

I can back up reports of cougars in Tennessee. A friend of mine who built the house I live in now bought some land near Gatlinburg. On day while walking his land, he saw a cougar. He was really startled and a little in awe, while he half-expected to run into a bear, he never thought he'd run across a cougar. So be ton he lookout when you go walking into the woods deep in TN.

Once, quite a few years ago, I saw what looked like cougar tracks not too far from Happy Valley. But I'm no expert tracker -- though if they were bobcat tracks, it was one damn big bobcat. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jay Manifold emails:

Glenn - You'll probably get tons of e-mails like these. There have been multiple reports within the past year of cougars appearing (for the first time in over a century) in or near the KC metro area, population 1.8 million; see, for example, Link.

I'd say that David Baron's book is quite timely!

Yes. It's very well written, too. Here's a bit from the introduction:

This book tells the story of a death that was not supposed to happen and the forces that made it inevitable. It is a tale of politics and history, and ecology gone awry, all come to life in feline form. It is the chronicle of a town that loved its own version of nature with such passion that its embrace ultimately altered the natural world. The comparison may seem far-fetched, but much as the Aztecs hauled prisoners up high pyramids and cut out their beating hearts as an offering to the sun, the human mauled five centuries later on a frozen hill in 1991 was, in effect a sacrifice, killed by a community embracing a myth: the idea that wilderness, true wilderness, could exist in modern America.

I've just glanced through it so far, but it looks quite good.

MORE: Reader Herbert Jacobi emails:

Re The Beast in The Garden. I have hunted Cougar, both in Utah unsuccessful) and Arizona (successful). They are amazing. If you don't hunt them with dogs your chances of getting one are close to nil. Even with dogs it's a challenge. They blend in with their background perfectly. You could walk buy one five feet away and not notice. People tend not to believe that but it's true. I think it is a mistake not to hunt them at all. They gradually lose their fear of people and follow the deer and other edibles into back yards.

Yes, it seems rather obvious to me that "fear of humans" is usually acquired, not inbred. Predators fear humans because humans are dangerous. If people stop acting dangerous, predators stop fearing humans. Then the predators become dangerous.

I, FOR ONE, welcome our new robot overlords. Heh.

ZELL MILLER IS ENDORSING PRESIDENT BUSH for reelection. I'm not sure that this really guarantees that Bush will carry Georgia, as the reader who sent the link suggests, but it's surely bad news for the Democrats when one of their own Senators endorses an incumbent Republican a year before the election.


Female Score: 777
Male Score: 931

A strong feminine side -- I guess I'm a metrosexual like Howard Dean!

I'm pretty sure that means that it's no longer cool to be a metrosexual. . . .

FIREBLOGGING: Joi Ito has some cool links. And Citizen Smash (formerly LT Smash) continues to blog.

ROGER SIMON has more comments on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's sliming of Rep. Nethercutt.

WILL SALETAN CHARGES WESLEY CLARK with hypocritical obstructionism over Iraq. I may be wrong here -- my political-prediction track record isn't that great -- but Clark's campaign seems to be foundering. And it seems to be foundering not so much over tactical missteps as over the character of the candidate himself. Saletan concludes:

I don't know whether we'll win the postwar if Congress approves the money Bush asked for. But I know we'll lose it if Congress doesn't. That's what happens when a nation at war starts to think like the Wes Clark of 2003. Just ask the Wes Clark of 1999.


DISHONEST JOURNALISM at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Sliming" Rep. George Nethercutt.

Miserable behavior.


The European Commission was facing a crisis last night after its auditors found Brussels had failed to shut down a network of slush funds and that abuses had spread beyond a statistics office at the centre of the scandal.

MEPs called for the head of Pedro Solbes, the economics commissioner, after a final audit report leaked yesterday said missing records and the total breakdown of financial control at Eurostat, the statistics agency, made it impossible to know how much taxpayers' money had vanished or what it was used for.

Investigators identified the loss of Ј3 million in "a vast enterprise of looting" by senior officials in Luxembourg, mostly through inflated contracts with outside firms.

Obviously, there should have been enough American troops to prevent the looting.


ALTERNATE HISTORY: Donald Sensing says that Parisian taxicabs wrecked the world, and Geitner Simmons collects some reactions. And scroll around on both blogs for lots of other interesting posts.

THIS SPEECH BY BILL GATES on Longhorn, Microsoft's in-design operating system, indicates that they're thinking about blogs, at least a little:

But what's interesting about this is a couple of things. First, it actually built in these common parts that show information, notification, services, that a user might really be interested in seeing when they're working on their main application, without popping up a window that covers it. For example, the time or their buddy list or a slide show, which, of course, you can add and remove these tiles here -- or even an RSS-feed built right into the sidebar. (Applause.) And you want to hear blogging or about to blog when they get -- who is going to be the first person after the keynote to go and post on their blog. Scobel, OK. Well, we'll see. It's going to be a race. But the best part about this is not that we have this functionality built into Windows. The best part, like everything I'm going to show you today, is that this is part of the platform. This is part of the SDK that you guys are going to get, you guys can write to it, and we think you can do great, great things with this.

Make of it what you will.

[CORRECTION: It's a Gates speech, but these comments are actually by Hillel Cooperman. I missed the transition as I was scrolling. Sorry]

UPDATE: This blog aims to get people to like Microsoft more, and talk about Longhorn. On the other hand, firing bloggers for blogging is probably a bad move, if the goal is acceptance in the blog community.

"THIS ISN'T JUST MISPLACED HUMOR, IT'S PLAIN BAD JOURNALISM:" Eugene Volokh delivers a spanking to Slate's "Bushism of the Day," which does appear to have engaged in outright misrepresentation this time.

Guys, if there aren't enough genuine Bush gaffes to support that feature, how about retiring it? It's embarrassing you more often than Bush, these days.

DIGITAL FREEDOM UPDATE: Bill Hobbs posts a long report on Tennessee's new TiVo-and-modem-licensing law. And, yes, that's really what it is.

ROBOTS ARE PEOPLE, TOO -- or at least they will be, someday! My TechCentralStation column is up.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING AND BALANCED report from Baghdad by Tish Durkin, in The New York Observer:

My piece was about the total disconnect between what matters to most of the people in Iraq and what seems to matter to most of the people elsewhere who are upset about Iraq. Or, as a young Iraqi friend said to me right after I arrived at the end of August: "Everybody in the world is so obsessed with weapons of mass destruction. Nobody in Iraq gives a shit."

Most of the people outside Iraq seem to be obsessed with giving the Bush administration what they think it deserves. Most of the people inside Iraq—i.e., the Iraqis—are fixated on getting what they think they deserve. For all too many champions as well as critics of U.S. policy, this is all about American vindication versus American mortification, and Iraq is a car to be stripped down for its rhetorical parts. Some parts make the Americans look good, so the White House and company take those and wave them around. Other parts make the Americans look bad, so the antiwar crowd takes those and waves them around. Still other parts—most of the car, of course—are harder to classify, or are subject to change from one week to the next. These pretty much get junked.

For the Iraqis, who tend to view this as a place and themselves as people, both sets of analysts are transparent opportunists. Nonetheless, from here, it is disturbing to note the momentum that seems to be gathering behind those who are back home chanting for the U.S. to get out now. It is scarcely less disturbing to contemplate the belief of some leading American politicians that they can go halfsies: keep funding Iraqi reconstruction, for instance, but put the funding in the form of a loan. (Whoever thought of that probably had a cash bar at his wedding.) This is not because the occupation is some sort of triumph. But if this is about the Iraqis, it simply doesn’t matter whether it is in the context of American glory, American gloom or something in between that these people finally get a decent shot at a decent life. It only matters that they do get it, and the only question is how.

Read it all, and compare it to this lame Newsweek report by Rod Nordland, which goes out of its way to dis Chief Wiggles:

There’s even a blog from inside the Green Zone, put out by someone who says he’s a military intelligence soldier using the psuedonym Chief Wiggles ( Lately the boosterish Chief Wiggles has been using his blog to find donors to give him bicycles so soldiers can pedal around the zone giving out toys to children.

Calling Chief Wiggles "boosterish" indicates, to me at least, that Nordland can't possibly have been reading his blog, which makes clear that the Chief is working hard to make a difference, and often suffering in the process. No doubt he would be more appealing to journalists if he were exuding existential despair, and smoking a Gaulois, but I'm kind of glad that he's the way he is, and kind of unhappy that Newsweek has sent a reporter who can't tell the difference between boosterism and a sense of responsibility.

Meanwhile, the Newsweek article's headline, "The World's Most Dangerous Place," indicates that whoever wrote it hasn't been to, well, a lot of other places in the world. (And don't these people have editors? It's "pseudonym," not "psuedonym.") Quite an embarrassing performance, overall, but sadly it's on a par with Newsweek's war coverage in general.

UPDATE: Via email, Bill Hobbs piles on the criticism of the Nordland article:

Even worse, he used Chief Wiggles' old blogspot URL.

Wiggles's blog is now at

And he implied Wiggles might not really be who he says he is, although the DoD has issued a press release identifying Wiggles: Link and Link

Pretty embarrassing, I'd say.

MORE: Reader David Henry emails:

Glenn, the Chief was on Scarborough Country on MSNBC just a few nights ago. Nordland ought to have his face slapped for such a sorry article. Very poor job of journalism. I could do better and I'm just a meatcutter.

Hey, meatcutting takes training!

STILL MORE: Major Richard Cleveland emails:

Screw Rod Nordland. After 18 years in the US Army, and too many many deployments away from my family, I still love what I do. It's because I get to meet, every single damn day, guys like Chief Wiggles. They are real, and there are a bunch of them in the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force.

That's been my experience, too.


Western and Arab intelligence sources claim that Al-Qaeda is building secret bases in Mali's Sahara desert (especially in the north, and the area near the Algerian border) with the help of Algerian extremists. Regional intelligence spotted an influx of Islamic extremists from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan, concluding that Algerian extremist groups were helping them relocate to the Sahara.

The Sahara, stretching between Mauritania and southern Libya, is only loosely patrolled by the forces of Algeria, Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali.

There seems to be a lot going on out there.

BUSH/RICE 2004: Well, there's a website now. . . .

October 28, 2003

IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN CHECKING OUT Rantburg, Winds of Change, and The Command Post lately, well, you should. They're doing an awful lot of war-blogging, and other news-blogging, that's well worth your time and attention. Don't miss, either, including this special Iraq section.

I've been busy and distracted lately, and these guys have more than covered the slack. Remember: the blogosphere is a big place, and this is just one tiny part of it.

U.S. OUT OF EUROPE, NOW: Eugene Volokh responds to Gregg Easterbrook on Iraq.

UPDATE: Eric Kolchinsky writes that the key to victory is at home. Likewise, the key to defeat. Meanwhile reader Jim Ryan emails:

Why are we even having this discussion? Leaving Iraq right now is not even a remotely plausible option. Tens of thousands of innocents would die in the ensuing years of civil war, and Iraq would descend again into the hands of madmen. And terrorists would judge us to be weak - rightly.

Yes, and I think that the American people know that. We're reaping the result of decades of weakness -- starting in Tehran, and continuing through Beirut, Mogadishu, etc. The terrorists are counting on pulling off another Mogadishu.

Gautam Mukunda also thinks that Easterbrook has this one wrong:

Indeed, it is removing ourselves from Iraq and allowing it to collapse into anarchy - whatever the initial reasons for our action - that would be dishonorable.


Read this, too, by Jay Bryant -- who I heard on NPR the other day. Not quite a blogger on TV, but close. (Here's the link to his blog.)

MORE: Read this excellent post by Michael Totten, too: "If we faced a genuinely popular insurgency in Iraq, we'd have one hell of a serious problem. But this crowd is the absolute scum of the earth, and most Iraqis know it. If we don't run away, they are not going to win."

STILL MORE: From Winds of Change: "I've said in the past that the two keys to winning this war are an iron butt - the simple willingness to sit it out - and the adaptability to learn from our mistakes and the opponent's tactics. We may be showing both."

HOW COPY PROTECTION ROBS THE FUTURE: Dan Bricklin offers a concrete example.

CAN THIS ANTIWAR MOVEMENT BE SAVED? Michelle Goldberg asks the question.

I HAVEN'T READ NAOMI WOLF'S LATEST ESSAY on pornography, but the porn bloggers sure are Fisking it something fierce.

UPDATE: More here. And from a non-porn blogger.

WHY AREN'T MORE European women online? Beats me.


George Bush is going to nominate conservative judges because George Bush is a conservative. If you have said that no conservative minorities (or fewer conservative minorities) will be allowed on the courts, then you are effectively saying that you will not allow minorities to make the high court for as long as George Bush is president.

Anti-discrimination suits supported by those same Democrats have made it difficult for companies even facially neutral employment tests that have disparate impact on minorities. Should Democratic senators hold themselves to a lower standard than they hold private enterprise?

Hmm. Could this be a campaign commercial, do you think? It's certainly engendering skepticism in the comments section, but I'm not sure that matters for campaign-commercial material. You'd almost think that Bush was making high-profile nominations with that in mind. . . .

THE MOST GENEROUS NATION IN THE WORLD -- guess who. (Hint: Not Sweden.)

I HAVEN'T PAID ENOUGH ATTENTION TO THE SAN DIEGO FIRES (according to some of you) but it's all over the news and I don't have any very profound thoughts on the subject.

But here are some more astounding firsthand photos sent by a reader.

UPDATE: And here's a very cool satellite photo. The photo's cool. The fires suck.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a bigger picture.


BLOGGERS ON TV: Virginia Postrel will be on MSNBC at 6 p.m. Eastern today.

Is it officially a phenomenon yet?

UPDATE: I didn't see Virginia. They did have Terry Gross of Fresh Air, who looked nothing like I imagined and -- even more weirdly -- sounded nothing like she sounds on the air. The difference between the tiny lapel mike they use for TV and the big honking broadcast-condenser mike they use for radio, I guess. It's all in the proximity effect.

Advice to Terry: Guard that microphone with your life!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Virginia reports that the segment didn't air, and she doesn't know why.

POLITICALWIRE ASKS: Is Howard Dean more like George McGovern, or Jimmy Carter? Carter, I think, but I could be wrong.

Meanwhile, is Wesley Clark endorsing pre-emptive war?

If elected, Clark said he would repair relations with other nations and use force as a last resort. He said he would be willing to launch a pre-emeptive strike against threats to the United States, and promised to seek a legal definition of terrorism from the United Nations to bring offenders to justice under international law.

Hmm. The reader who sent this thinks so, and I can see why, but it's all a paraphrase. No doubt he'll clarify things later.

UPDATE: Reader Jorge del Rio has these comments:

Actually, the key point in that article that stuck out to me was the last line: "...and promised to seek a legal definition of terrorism from the United Nations to bring offenders to justice under international law."

Two points. First, the UN General Assembly is the last place I would look to for a legal definition, especially for something like terrorism. I can just see this long list of activities that would be terrorism with the caveat, unless done against Israelis. Second, this is approach seems to me to try and make terrorism into a police matter. It is not. This was the same approach used on the first WTC attack as well as the attacks on the USS Cole and the US embassies in Africa. National security matters are NOT police matters.

Thinking like this should preclude anyone for even thinking about running for the presidency.

Yes, it's a discredited approach.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This James Lileks column on Dean is worth reading. And why doesn't Lileks put links to his columns alongside The Bleat?

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: PoliPundit says that Dean is no Carter.


TET 2003: Belmont Club offers a fascinating side-by-side comparison of media coverage from now, and from 35 years ago. It's pretty clear that the terrorists, at least, are operating from the Tet playbook.

UPDATE: Reader James Ingram emails:

Lets not get carried away with the Tet analogy. There are important differences:

1. The scale of battle is much smaller. Note the reference in the blog you cite to the engagement of 35 battalions. I think the total number engaged was much higher. We're talking tens of thousands on NLF and NVA main force troops, not a handful of suicide bombers. Ambushes of this scale were almost daily occurrences in Viet Nam for five years.

2. The scope of the losses was also much different. There have been some 400 American combat deaths in more than six months of war; deaths are running a few a week (too many to be sure). During Tet and after, deaths ran to hundreds a week. In 1968, the year of Tet and the bloodiest year of the war, deaths averaged over 300 per week; during Tet and the counter-offensive that followed they were much higher. They had been averaging over 200 a week for over a year, and they would return to that level through 1969 and some of 1970.

3. The scope of civilian destruction is also much different. These bombers have blown up a few buildings. Tet leveled the city of Hue. The physical destruction of civilian infrastructure during Viet Nam was unimaginable today.

4. Perhaps most importantly, Tet followed a period in which the US government had confidently assured us the enemy was bled white, on its last legs, etc etc. The shock of Tet was that an enemy that supposedly had no forces left was suddenly mounting a major offensive. We realized then that our government had been misleading us on a scale that was hard for people raised in the 40's and 50's, when we trusted our leaders, to understand. Whatever his faults, Bush has not lied on the LBJ scale. Tet was an immense moral setback for the US government. This is a setback to be sure, and a propaganda coup, but scarcely the kind of shock created by Tet.

Well, the press seems to want to play it that way. Daniel Drezner has some useful observations.

AHEAD OF THE CURVE: In the mail today was a copy of Walter Shapiro's new book, One-Car Caravan: On the Road with the 2004 Democrats Before America Tunes In -- which, as the title indicates, is a report of time he spent with the candidates back before anyone was paying attention. I've just flipped through it so far, and it looks quite interesting, but I'll try to provide a longer report later when I've had a chance to actually read it. But here's an interesting bit:

Even in late May, when I spoke with Schriock about Internet fund-raising, she projected the slightly nervous tone of a 1920s aviatrix about to attempt a cross-country flight. "Someday just like direct mail, it's going to be a science," she said. But right now, she admitted, there was just too little of an on-line track record to hazard a realistic second-quarter projection. . . . They were all like high-school science students who had thrown a bunch of volatile chemicals into a beaker and had no idea if they were going to spark a chain reaction. As the evocatively named Zephyr Teachout, a former death-penalty lawyer who now oversees Internet organizing for Dean, put it, "The learning curve for all this is extraordinary."

Not nearly as extraordinary as the results.

More on this, later.

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY has a collection of links to photos of female bloggers.

What struck me -- aside from the beauty and erudition of those involved, of course -- was how many of these blogs I'd never seen before. The Blogosphere has become a very big place.

BARKING MOONBAT ALERT: The anti-Americanism of groups like A.N.S.W.E.R. comes in for lots of criticism, as it should. But as more proof that there's less and less difference between the far left and the far right, check out this photo I'm pretty sure that these are the kids of "Pastor" Fred Phelps, though this story doesn't say. The signs read: "God Blew Up the Shuttle," "God Hates America," and "God Hates Fag Enablers."

I caught the tail end of a segment on this on my local talk-radio show. Most of the callers were extremely negative on the subject, though the host was engaged in a Socratic dialogue with one who thought that America was evil because it was tolerating homosexuality, and that tolerance would inspire God to come down in his wrath upon us all.

Yeah: No-show for the Holocaust, or Rwanda, or what's going on in North Korea, but he's going to come down from the clouds and hurl lightning bolts if two guys get married.

Unless God is a barking moonbat -- which some early Christians believed -- I'm not convinced that these guys have it right.

UPDATE: Yep, it was Fred. Those might be his grandkids, though. I don't think that he has any "parishioners" who aren't members of his family.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Grandkids, indeed. Michele Catalano is all over this guy.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: I guess God's wrath is about to rain down on Taiwan.

THE VENTURA COUNTY STAR is running reader-submitted fire photos. Some are excellent.

THE FIRST TOUR GROUP has returned from Iraq, and offers a mixed report. Seems a bit early yet for tourism, if you ask me.

THE TENNESSEE DIGITAL FREEDOM NETWORK notes that there are hearings in Nashville on the state Super-DMCA law today and tomorrow. Via email: " From the list of proponents who will present it is becoming clearer that this legislative attempt is about content control. Back in the spring the proponents abjectly denied that."

Nashville Big Media did a lousy job of covering this issue last spring. I hope they'll do better this time around.

SO DOES THIS mean that someone's planning another DOS attack for Thursday? Looks like it to me.

Remember the backup site:

UPDATE: More information here.

JIM DUNNIGAN ARGUES that even if North Korea has developed nuclear weapons, it's probably not an immediate threat. Maybe not -- he's right that building something that goes bang is different from building something that's deliverable as a weapon. But didn't India and Pakistan make that transition fairly quickly? And, once it has those, aren't things rather a lot worse?

More reason to do what we can to hasten the Kim Jong-Il regime's demise. As if these aren't enough.

NICK DENTON'S PORN BLOG, "Fleshbot," is now sporting a "coming soon" label. It's work-safe at the moment, but I rather doubt it will be once it's up and running.

UPDATE: Some people are upset about this development. Or are pretending to be. . . .

A RATHER COOL COLLECTION OF PHOTOS (this one is my favorite), from Sugarmama.

CIDER THAT'S NOT CIDER? When will this madness stop?

STEPHEN F. HAYES has an article on Saddam / JAl Qaeda connections that I missed during my limited-blogging weekend. If you missed it, too, then you may want to check it out. I think there are still more questions than answers, but there are rather a lot of questions.

PORPHYROGENITUS WONDERS "where have all the flower children gone?"

Ok, so I've been reading the news accounts of the latest round of bombings in Iraq. I figured that if anything was deserving of such protection as having a ring of human shields to prevent bombing, it might be a Red Cross facility dedicated to succoring the Iraqi people. But no mention of any human shields. But then I thought: Of course, they left Iraq after the fighting (some left during the war). But of course now they should be planning on returning to Iraq, right?


FACT-CHECKING NEWSWEEK -- from "a lowly blogger sitting in Northern Virginia with little more than Google and a good memory for stories."


I supported the war on Iraq darn near unequivocally. I thought -- and still think -- that Saddam Hussein posed a strategic long-term threat to US interests. I thought that the only viable alternative to war, sanctions, were unspeakably cruel to the populace, while doing little to either punish Hussein, or remove him from power. And I believed that we could build a stable democracy in the Middle East. In the long run, I thought we'd all be better off. And in the short run, if it cost me some money -- well, it was a price I was willing to pay.

But my inclination to support the war rested on the assumption that once it was over, we would be ready, willing, and able to rebuild Iraq after we invaded. If we aren't going to do this, why invade in the first place? In order to convince the world that we're the superpower equivalent of a malevolent toddler who smashes anything that catches his eye? Even if you didn't support the war, isn't the folly of refusing to pay for reconstruction evident? If we pull out now, with Iraq in a shambles, we're writing Al-Qaeda's recruitment brochure for them. And we're utterly destroying any credibility we might have with the rest of the world.

But while I still think we can help Iraq transform itself into a functioning free society, I'm terribly afraid that we won't.

Bad enough that anti-war protesters -- who were terribly, terribly concerned about the plight of Iraqis before we invaded -- are now staging demonstrations to urge us to pull out immediately now that we're the only thing standing between those Iraqis and anarchy. But there are actually rumors that the White House is contemplating accelerating our departure, which seems lunatic to even discuss when the country doesn't appear to have a functioning anything.

I hope those rumors are false. Because if the White House -- by which, in this case, I mean George W. Bush -- decides to drop the ball on this, I'll probably vote Democratic, even if Kucinich is the nominee. A half-hearted war is the very, very worst kind. I think that Bush understands that. He'd better.

UPDATE: Martin Devon takes a more positive view.

PHIL BOWERMASTER offers this important cautionary note:

The trouble with the future is that it can be harder to predict than a lot of experts would like to make out, especially when they're committed to a particular conclusion.


MICKEY KAUS responds to the Easterbrook flap by posting the case against editors.

He has thoughts on blogs and libel, too!

UPDATE: Stephen Green finds that having editors isn't enough to guarantee quality.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has worthwhile observations.

ROBERT TAGORDA HAS MORE ON DEAN AND HALLIBURTON, concluding that there's not a whole lot to the connection he found beyond, well, the connection he found.

UPDATE: Link was broken. Fixed now -- sorry. Meanwhile Al Giordano says there's more to come in terms of close ties between Dean and the energy industry. Do I believe him? I dunno -- he also thinks that Bolivia is moving toward authentic democracy. . . . . But that's a question of analysis, not facts, and he's got links. Make up your own minds.

CNN IS FINALLY STARTING TO FIGURE OUT THIS BLOG THING, but Justene Adamec isn't overly impressed with their latest effort.

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis characterizes Justene's post as pissy. I didn't read it that way -- I thought it was more about the CNN story's lack of context. I certainly didn't see it as reflecting badly on BigWhiteGuy, or his blog, and I didn't mean for my post to do so either.


October 27, 2003

WHY WOULD ANYONE ATTACK THE RED CROSS? Clifford May explains. Again.

UPDATE: Interesting:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A U.S. general said the one attacker captured in the bombings that killed 34 Monday had a Syrian passport, fueling suspicions that foreign fighters were behind a rising tide of violence.

Interesting, but not surprising.

BLOG TV: Just saw the MSNBC report on Chief Wiggles' Iraqi toy drive. It was a nice segment, and it was fun to see, and hear, the Chief. Only caught the very end of Matt Welch's appearance on O'Reilly earlier, but I'm going to try to catch the rerun if I can stay awake.

UPDATE: Welch was great on substance -- but lose the glasses, Matt. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hey, another blogger was on TV. I missed it.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH: Satisfying Katha Pollitt since, er, today!

HARRY'S PLACE is one of many blogs I should be paying more attention to. Now he's got an interesting post on reactionary nihilism on the Left:

It is clear that the Iraq war has shown that a certain section of the left really has nowhere to go except self-hatred and that a reactionary antipathy to the US and the western democracies has moved from beyond the ultra-left fringes into the mainstream of left-liberal oppositionalism.

It is precisely the spreading of 'pure oppositionalism' that makes it worthwhile looking closely at the activities of the Socialist Workers Party and others. Because while the details of their quasi-Trotskyist ideology remain restricted to a tiny minority, their broader outlook has gained something close to hegemony on the radical left.

Marginalizing it politically, but making it more of a threat in terms of "politics by other means." Harry notes:

If the left's old internationalism, anti-fascism and militant defence of democracy is finally defeated by the spread of reactionary nihilism it will not only be the left who are the losers.


UPDATE: Andrea Harris: "If hating Amerikkka is wrong, we don't want to be right!"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Michael Totten calls A.N.S.W.E.R. "the new skinheads."

And I have some further thoughts over at

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: But is hatred a family value?

MORE: And still more on the spread of political hate here.

FIRSTHAND REPORTING: Sasha Castel is featuring posts from Major Sean Bannion in Baghdad. Meanwhile OxBlog has firsthand reports from Kabul.


As a (still) registered Democrat, I wish Michael Totten were running in my party's primaries. I'm serious.

Me, too.

THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT OSAMA AND SADDAM: As reader John Davies emails: "Strangely, the mainstream liberal media are silent on this issue."


CATHY YOUNG WRITES on the rights of those accused of rape. (Via TalkLeft).

CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS, a collection of economics- and business-related blog posts from all sorts of bloggers, is up.

A PRODUCER AT MSNBC emails that, barring sudden complications (always a risk with TV) a story on Chief Wiggles' Iraqi toy drive will air at about 10:52 p.m. Eastern time tonight.

UPDATE: And, in an entirely unrelated development (er, except for the blogger-on-TV angle), Matt Welch will be on Bill O'Reilly's show tonight.

JOHN HART ELY has died, at the age of sixty-four. I got to know him when we were both visiting professors at the University of Virginia school of law, ten years ago. He was a gentleman and a scholar, in the truest sense of both words.

REPORT FROM CHINA: A while back I posted an email from a friend who travels regularly to China on business who cancelled some summer travel plans because of SARS fears. She just got back and sends this report:

On the mainland everyone was very welcoming - not many westerners have returned to the factories, but they are starting to schedule visits. At the hotels the westerners seemed to be predominately Germans and Indians - and that is a big change. We also met some guys from France, but they were ??tourists?? Not many tourists come to the special economic zones (i.e., factory areas). They said they were from France, and tourists (remember the coneheads?). None of the Taiwanese or Chinese brought up SARS, and the few times that a foreigner said anything, the subject was immediately changed.

There is an incredible national pride in the "space mission," unbelievable Chinese patriotism. I think that there's going to be lots more coming our way from the east. It's such a cliche, but the Chinese are so industrious, and they are accustomed to working toward a common goal. Space is the perfect goal as they are evolving into capitalism - the government was brilliant in pushing the launch. A common goal with so many side benefits - scientific innovation, military development, and a reason to work together for the good of the nation. Geez.

Anyway, when we got back to Hong Kong for a couple of days rest, I saw a woman with a facemask on and realized that she was the first person we had seen wearing one. Usually there are lots of people wearing masks because of the heavy air pollution. It seems that the predominant feeling is one of confidence, or trying to show confidence, that SARS is no longer a threat. The newspapers reported that the government investigating committee on SARS is trying to discover how the virus spread so quickly, and who is to blame. But when the space launch occurred, it overshadowed all other news. Hmm- another side benefit...

There does seem to be some worry that SARS might reappear this fall. And here's more reason to eschew handshakes in that connection.

UPDATE: She sends this postscript:

PS- We were wined and dined on some of the most elaborate meals that we've ever had in China. And there was no exotic meat this time. Remember - we go to Guang Dong Province, where SARS is believed to have originated, in the meat markets. Usually we can count on eel, snake, maybe frog; but this time it was duck, lobster, fish and chicken every time.


A HOWARD DEAN / HALLIBURTON CONNECTION? Robert Tagorda raises some interesting questions. I'll be interested to see if this pans out.

ARNOLD KLING has some interesting thoughts on polarization and groupthink.

UPDATE: Why is the Left so angry? Maybe it's because it's losing its grip on "legitimate" opinion.

AWARD WINNING JOURNALIST ROGER AILES offers comments on The New York Times' lapses in professionalism.

DONALD TRUMP IS A SMART MAN, because he hates to shake hands, regarding it as filthy and unsanitary. I think he's onto something.

I'm coming down with a cold, as I almost always do after going to the faculty recruitment conference. It's contagion central, as candidates from all over the country come into a room, shake hands with every member of the committee, talk for a while, shake hands again, and leave. By the time candidates from all over the country have met with committees from all over the country, it's a veritable microbe-fest, and it always takes place at the beginning of cold-and-flu season. Ugh. Remember, when you shake hands with people, you're shaking hands with everyone they've shaken hands with. . . .

JIMMY CARTER UPDATE: Seems I wasn't quite as wrong as I thought. Scroll down, or click here.

ALPHECCA'S MEDIA GUN-BIAS SURVEY IS UP: And Clayton Cramer identifies a worthy drive-by shooting.

JOSH MARSHALL is asking his readers to fund blog coverage of the New Hampshire primary. I'll bet that he's successful. I even donated myself, because I'm more interested in reading what he has to say than in, well, what a lot of other people have to say.

UPDATE: Josh says he's raised enough money -- nearly $5000 -- and doesn't need any more. "The point here was never to hit the Granite State in, you know, princely Howard Fineman-fashion --- you know, gold-plated quill pen, vellum notebook, personal food-taster, etc."

Well, okay -- although I kind of like the idea of having someone point at a stretch limo or a Gulfstream and say "must be a blogger." . . . .

LT SMASH is blogging the San Diego fires. He's even got photos.

DAVID BERNSTEIN is Fisking a New York Times editorial on judicial nominee Janice Rogers Brown. I don't pay close attention to these nomination battles, which tend to be devoid of substance. But if Bush really wants to get some motion here, he should offer recess appointments to people like, say, David Bernstein. . . .

UPDATE: Larry Solum has more on Janice Brown, though he doesn't mention the Bernstein-appointment angle. But Jonah Goldberg seems to be on board. The momentum is building!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's still more on Brown, from Reason.

ANDREW SULLIVAN has a lot of interesting observations on the war, the antiwar protests, and the media.

He's right about the scarcity of protesters this weekend. I didn't see any. The InstaWife saw a few, but they didn't interfere with getting around the Mall. According to the New York Times there were "more than 10,000." Not much of a crowd, even if you assume the Times estimate is on the low side, and each protest seems smaller.

But it's not just their numbers that are hollow -- it's their ideas. Having failed miserably to prevent the war, they're now calling for an "immediate withdrawal" from Iraq. That's a course of action that (as even antiwar folks like Howard Dean have noted) would surely be disastrous for the Iraqi people, and for America.

Whose side are these people on?

UPDATE: C.D. Harris thinks he knows what side they're on.

October 26, 2003

MADE IT BACK FROM D.C. Our departure was a bit later than we had planned, as we were rousted out of bed by the fire alarms in the middle of the night, which led to the hotel being evacuated, and us standing outside for quite a while before they let us back in. (There was a real fire, but sprinklers extinguished it almost immediately, we were told) Unlike many people, I was dressed ("Keep clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark" -- Robert Heinlein) but it was the InstaWife who was fastest off the mark in getting everyone up and out. Despite being on the 5th floor, we were among the very first people out of the building. She's pretty good in an emergency.

Driving home, she took my place at the wheel for a couple of hours, and I sat in the backseat with our daughter, watching Agent Cody Banks on the in-car video. A spy thriller with nanobots! Not bad, actually. And heroine Hillary Duff is no shrinking violet, arranging for the bad guy to get eaten alive from the inside out by weaponized nano-disassemblers. She doesn't seem at all sad about his gruesome end, either. More Bellicose Women stuff, I guess. I think that a Teen Heroine from years past would have exhibited more signs of reluctance or remorse after gruesomely offing the bad guy.

Watched some Rocky and Bullwinkle, too. And it was an interesting experience sitting in the back seat of the Passat. I've owned it for over four years and I'm sure that the time I spent sitting back there today exceeded the accrued time up to that point. It was roomy and comfy. And what I wouldn't have given to be able to watch movies and cartoons in the backseat when I was a kid. . . .

Tired now. Back later.