February 28, 2004

SPRING IS SPRINGING here. It was sunny and 65 degrees, and my bulbs are coming out of the ground even as the last patches of Thursday's snow melt. (I shot this with the Toshiba and, inspired by SmokyBlog, applied the PhotoShop "brushstrokes" filter.)

I don't use PhotoShop much. For simple cropping and brightness/contrast editing (about all I do for the quickie photos I tend to post here), I use an elderly (and cheap!) program called MicroGrafx Picture Publisher. It's not as good as PhotoShop, but I can open it, crop, adjust contrast and brightness, size, and save as a .jpg in about the same amount of time that it takes for PhotoShop to load. (Okay, not quite, but it seems that way). I do like PhotoShop's "fill flash" setting, though. You can see an example of it in the photo of the InstaWife I posted here at the TypePad test blog.

UPDATE: A very cool gallery of photos from a Marine aviator, here. Shot with a Sony DSC-F707 digital camera. There's a lot of very impressive stuff in his portfolio -- just keep clicking.

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Libelling Lincoln?


More than 2.5 million people joined hands to form a 500-kilometre (310-mile) human chain stretching the length of Taiwan in a huge anti-China protest ahead of the island's presidential elections next month, organisers said.

I don't know how much of it is posturing, but this confrontation seems to be heating up.


Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi says he gave up his plans to develop weapons of mass destruction, because such weapons would have exposed Libya to danger, rather than protect it.

(Via World Wide Rant). Even some Bush critics are noticing:

As someone who was opposed to the invasion of Iraq and still has mega-doubts about the "region building" talk coming out of the Bush folks and neocons, I have to admit that Gadhafi's shift is clearly linked to Bush's adventurous foreign policy (as are other positive developments throughout the Middle East and the Islamic world).


GOOD QUESTION: "What good is a Republican Senate on Second Amendment and gun use issues if it keeps falling for the peddled myths of the gun control movement?"

A READER NOTES that John Kerry's 1971 Vietnam book is selling used on Amazon for $595. Wow. [That buys a lot of cookware! -- Ed. You said it. I think I'll wait for the GOP-sponsored free downloadable version. Though that probably won't bring down the used-book price much.]

WORD HAS IT that tomorrow's New York Times will have an in-depth look at the oil-for-food program and where the money went. That should be interesting.

UPDATE: It's already on their website now. Excerpt:

Iraq's sanctions-busting has long been an open secret. Two years ago, the General Accounting Office estimated that oil smuggling had generated nearly $900 million a year for Iraq. Oil companies had complained that Iraq was squeezing them for illegal surcharges, and Mr. Hussein's lavish spending on palaces and monuments provided more evidence of his access to unrestricted cash.

But the dimensions of the corruption have only lately become clear, from the newly available documents and from revelations by government officials who say they were too fearful to speak out before. They show the magnitude and organization of the payoff system, the complicity of the companies involved and the way Mr. Hussein bestowed contracts and gifts on those who praised him.

I don't believe this:

United Nations overseers say they were unaware of the systematic skimming of oil-for-food revenues. They were focused on running aid programs and assuring food deliveries, they add.

Those guys are either lying, or dumb as rocks. The story barely touches on the most interesting aspect of this -- Saddam's use of this money to purchase opposition to American war efforts from politicians and governments. For that matter, the UN has a lot of explaining to do.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Wagner James Au emails that this is the money quote:

In the high-flying days after Iraq was allowed to sell its oil after 10 years of United Nations sanctions, the lobby of the Rashid Hotel in Baghdad was the place to be to get a piece of the action.

That was where the oil traders would gather whenever a journalist, actor or political figure would arrive in Iraq and openly praise Mr. Hussein. Experience taught them that the visitor usually returned to the hotel with a gift voucher, courtesy of the Iraqi president or one of his aides, representing the right to buy one million barrels or more of Iraqi crude.

(Emphasis added.) Au asks: "Which journalists? Which actors? Which political figures? Seems to me that the author, Susan Sachs, suspects more here than she's revealing..."

Let's hope that those names will appear in the next installment.

I'VE ALREADY READ Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner's new book, Hollywood, Interrupted -- I got an advance copy when I blurbed it -- and all I can say is that my already-low respect for Hollywood fell even further. Sheesh.

VIDEO OF A NORTH KOREAN PRISON CAMP -- via the NKZone blog. Video links here.


President Robert Mugabe's government has set up secret camps across the country in which thousands of youths are taught how to torture and kill, the BBC has learned.

But Chirac treats him like a statesman.

UPDATE: Tim Blair has more.

TOM MAGUIRE: "If a Gore advisor thinks you have an authenticity problem, you have an authenticity problem."

IRANIAN RADIO is reporting that Osama has been captured. I'm skeptical, but we'll see.

UPDATE: More Pentagon denials. I'm inclined to believe them, though I'd rather believe the Iranians. I like the thought of Osama in jail, spilling the details of Al Qaeda operations.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Capt. Ed. thinks that the Iranians are trying to game the U.S. elections by creating conspiracy theories that will be gobbled up by gullible Dems.

I'm not sure this will hurt Bush.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, there's this report from VOA, suggesting that a capture is imminent. (Via Moderate Voice).

February 27, 2004

SOFTWARE WARFARE: Eugene Volokh (who, besides being a law professor of note, is actually something of a software mogul himself) has some cogent warnings that I hope the right people will read and heed.

HOWARD STERN UPDATE: Reader Jeffrey Bartash emails:

As someone who covers the FCC for a living, I can assure you that the pressure for a crackdown on broadcast indecency did not originate in the White House. In fact, critics have accused Michael Powell of being too lax. The main driver of tougher enforcement, at least on the FCC, has been Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps, a former aide to S.C. Sen. Fritz Hollings. In the Congress, there's been bipartisan support for a crackdown coming from the likes of Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Fred Uption, R-Mich. The White House has not been at the forefront of this issue.

I've wondered about that, as a broadcast crackdown before an election seemed kind of like a dumb thing for the Administration to do, and although a lot of people have been blaming the Bush Administration for it, I couldn't see any real indication that it was their idea.

CHIEF WIGGLES, BACK FROM IRAQ, has posted some must-read thoughts about America and the war.

UPDATE: Some interesting comments here.

I'VE TRIED TO CARE ABOUT ALL THE DEBATE SWIRLING AROUND THE PASSION, but I just can't seem to manage. (And I've even been crucified myself, something not many bloggers can say in the literal, as opposed to the figurative, sense.) But BlogCritics has a big roundup, for those who want more. And don't miss this long and informed review by Donald Sensing.

UPDATE: More discussion at Hot Abercrombie Chick -- and scroll down for additional posts.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Best title so far for a post on The Passion.

THE INSTA-MOTHER-IN-LAW HAD SOME SURGERY: We took her home a little while ago, and now I have to go out and pick up some prescriptions for her. Back later. In the meantime, Cathy Seipp's monthly "MoDo Watch" column is up. Excerpt:

One of the side effects of reading Maureen Dowd more closely than any human being should is that not only do you catch every one of her adorable bits of wordplay, you even begin to see -- beneath the text, like pentimento in a painting -- the jokes she probably considered but rejected as just too cute.

As in The Mummy, some things are probably better left buried. But you'll read the column anyway, just to find out what inspired this: "Dowd isn’t quite Lord Haw-Haw. But history may remember her as Lady Tee-Hee."

HOWARD KURTZ has more on Howard Stern.

My question: Why is this different from what happened to The Greaseman, which didn't produce any clucking about censorship? Er, except that Stern hasn't lost his job. Oh, and there's a Republican in the White House now.

UPDATE: Reader Joe Budzinski emails:

Glenn, that is a great point. And on top of that, the Greaseman ran a totally irenic show, as opposed to the spleen-fest that is the Howard Stern show and the "edgy" Don and Mike, whose spread-the-joy bits include getting people to park in the left turn lane to see how much honking will ensue (asked once how he distinguishes himself from the other shock jocks, Nino said something like "Why all the calumny? Why is it necessary to call someone on the phone and tear them a new one in order to entertain?") So it is fairly ironic that for one ill-advised remark the Greaseman, a multi-talented and genuinely nice guy, has been exiled to some godforsaken station in West Virginia, while Howard Stern the hate-meister is a budding poster child for freedom of speech.

I don't think Howard Stern is a hate-meister, though I don't listen to his show. (I've watched him on Comedy Central a few times, getting some stripper to take off her shirt, only to have her breasts blurred out for the viewers, which seems awfully pointless to me.) But I don't think there's much of a first amendment issue here -- and the double standard suggested by the Greaseman example suggests to me that people are really looking for an issue here for a variety of political and commercial reasons.

My challenge to those who think that Stern being dropped from 6 stations is an example of Bush Administration crushing of dissent -- see if you can get Kerry and Edwards to adopt a platform of ending all FCC regulation of broadcast content. Take it to the people!

THE SPELLING-BEE DOCUMENTARY Spellbound gets a good review from Brian Micklethwait, who also manages a Samuel Huntington tie-in.

INSIDER TRADING IN THE SENATE? Looks a bit suspicious.

MICKEY KAUS has a wrapup on the California debates:

Kerry couldn't resist making fun of Edwards' non-brevity. ("Let me return a favor from the last debate to John ...") How small and thin-skinned was that? Kerry's body language and facial gestures suggested he loathes Edwards.

Kaus also has some interesting poll numbers. And here's what Christopher Hitchens says about the Kerry campaign:

One reason I think this campaign is very lame -- it's supposed to have momentum, I wouldn't say it had much enthusiasm behind it -- he gives the impression that it's kind of his turn to be president and that he has a feeling of entitlement to the job.

I think that is a very great disadvantage.

I've never heard him or any of his supporters make any case why this is the moment for John Kerry.

John Kerry as Bob Dole? (Via Tim Blair).

UPDATE: Tom Maguire comments on the debate: "Still not clear whether Kerry was waffling, or pandering."

February 26, 2004

A POLITICAL POP QUIZ: Probably a preview of what we'll be seeing on TV soon.


Just a few weeks after promising to clean up its act during daytime hours because of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl bra-ha-ha, MTV is baring all again.

Britney Spears' graphic sex romp "Toxic" is back in heavy rotation around the clock.

I think that Jeff Jarvis rules. He's a smart, thoughtful guy, who knows a lot about the media world, and his heart is always in the right place. But I think that he's over the top with this post, which I linked below, claiming that the Bush Administration (note that FCC Chairman Michael Powell was originally appointed to the FCC by Bill Clinton) is tightening the screws of censorship until the media scream. (I saw Friends and Will and Grace tonight -- the latter featuring lots of jokes about washing down pills with booze and then vomiting. It's not Little House.)

If I had my druthers, I'd let the marketplace handle all of this stuff and put the FCC out of the regulatory business except for technical issues -- and maybe not even that. But that's not going to happen; given that some degree of regulation is politically certain, it doesn't seem to me that we've got all that much of it, really, or that we're in any danger of returning to the 1950s. And even if the FCC didn't regulate, companies would still punish people working for them who got out of line and created a flap, as they notoriously do in the newspaper business where the FCC has no jurisdiction. And as long as there are any content standards at all -- whether imposed by regulation, by "jawboning," or by the marketplace -- people will push them until they push back. That's what Howard Stern does. Now there's pushback. If things go according to pattern, the main consequence will be a boost in his ratings. So it's hard for me to see what all the excitement is about.

That's my take. For a somewhat contrary view, read this post by Eric Scheie.

KEITH BERRY is liveblogging the California debate.

HERE'S A CRITICAL ARTICLE on the nanotechnology industry's PR strategy. Mark Modzelewski's email behavior is mentioned:

It's likely that many nanotechnology business leaders consider, even if just as a remote possibility, that molecular nanotechnology can do everything its advocates claim—both good and bad. This and the fact that nobody has convincingly argued that molecular manufacturing is impossible makes dismissing it outright rather disingenuous, as well as a bad public relations strategy. It's hard not to think that nanotechnology business leaders are trying to avoid validating fears in an effort to avoid potentially stringent regulations.


SGTSTRYKER.COM: "Why I Wouldn't Vote for John Kerry."

MICHELE CATALANO OFFERS a handful of clues for readers in need of one.

HERE'S A PHOTO BLOG devoted to more technical issues. (Via SmokyBlog).


New London, CT (February 21, 2004) - A rally by College Republicans from Connecticut College in New London, CT was broken up Friday night by Campus Safety officers, who told them they had no permit. The students were rallying peacefully in front of the Olin Science Center, near the main entrance to the school. The students were showing their support for President Bush, and encouraging others to be excited about and supportive of the President.

"No one has ever needed a permit before," said Bob French, a junior from New Hampshire and the Executive Director of the state-level College Republicans.


NOW WE KNOW WHERE THE MONEY WENT: Here's a link to the asset auction page. Ritzy! Check out the massage table and the Hummer! [The massage table shows that they were ahead of the curve on the new economy! -- Ed. What about the Hummer? I'm bidding on this sweet bike! Vroom, Vroom! -- Ed.]

UPDATE: Apparently, the Hummer and the bike were not owned by, but were consigned by a third party. I'm not sure what that means, exactly.

PETER BEINART ON RALPH NADER: "Nader has already stung. In fact, his 2004 campaign will not only destroy him; it could finish off the Green Party as well."

Meanwhile, Ryan Lizza observes: "Man, not even the Deaniacs are idealists anymore."

UPDATE: An interesting report on a Nader appearance here. Matthew Yglesias appears, too.

TODAY THE MISSOURI SUPREME COURT upheld a law making it easier for people to carry concealed firearms, against a state constitutional challenge.

Just a data point, for those who assume that state supreme courts always lean left.

UPDATE: Dave Kopel has more on this.

ANOTHER UPDATE: So does Clayton Cramer.

WINDS OF CHANGE has its regular war news roundup posted. Don't miss it.

DEAN ESMAY is having some problems. If you've been thinking about hitting the tipjar there, now might be a good time.

UPDATE: A reader asks if I donated. Yeah, I sent twenty bucks. When I post links like this, I generally donate something.

TOM FRIEDMAN has an interesting column on outsourcing today, taking a generally positive view of the phenomenon.

Meanwhile, in response to my Postrel-inspired outsourcing/massage column today, reader Greg Dougherty emails:

I'm a computer programmer, and a massage therapist. And I can assure you that concerns about our "national virility" are unfounded. :-) In fact, I went shooting shortly after finishing 250 hours of massage training. The guy in the next lane let me take two shots with his 44 magnum. I did the best shooting I've ever done with a large handgun (I prefer 9 mm), and felt the least recoil I've ever felt. I attribute this to the fact that my training focused on directing the strength of my whole body, non-destructively, through my wrists and into my hands. The recoil from the gun just followed the same path, in the reverse direction. Thus I took the recoil with my whole body, instead of just my hand / arm.

IOW, massage training is good for your shooting skills.

I guess that's more bad news for the bad guys: in the future, Americans will be more relaxed, and yet more dangerous. . . .

BLOW-BY-BLOW BLOGGING on the Senate gun bill debate can be found here.

UPDATE: And here's a roundup of useful articles on the subject, courtesy of Dave Kopel.

I'VE REFERRED TO RANDY BARNETT as a rock star-like figure in the field of Constitutional Law.

But here's proof! I like the guitar.

APPARENTLY, SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY'S UNWILLINGNESS to do anything about a Palestinian hate mob that violently disrupted a pro-Israel protest a couple of years ago was no aberration, but evidence of a particular slant. At least, this report says that they're happy to punish anti-Palestinian speech, despite their limp reaction to the hate mob.

I hope that the civil rights groups looking into this case will insist on a close review of how business is done at SFSU, an institution that appears to have systemic problems of racism and antisemitism.

I'VE WRITTEN ABOUT SECRET SERVICE MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS BEFORE: But now Drudge is reporting that an outside audit shows over $3 billion unaccounted for.


One-time presidential candidate Howard Dean, whose campaign fund went from boom to bust, is pleading with donors to open their pocketbooks one more time and help him retire at least $400,000 in debt. . . .

The candidate was so confident the money would continue to flow that he became the first Democrat to skip public financing and rely solely on his own fund-raising ability to finance his campaign.

That confidence also carried through to his spending decisions. Flush with money, the campaign aired expensive ads early on and established a costly nationwide ground game. By the end of 2003 — before the primary contests even started — Dean had spent nearly every dollar he had taken in.

Hmm. Maybe the primary system actually works.

HERE'S ANOTHER in a steady stream of reports along these lines:

76 million people own a gun in this country. And now more than ever, the number of women who are buying and learning to fire guns is increasing.

Maybe they're inspired by guys like this one:

A senior citizen using the men's room yesterday at a popular Middletown eatery was approached by a would-be robber waving a knife. The potential victim responded by pulling out his own weapon - a handgun.

A thin, white male between 25 and 30 years old tried to rob the 68-year-old Langhorne man about 9:30 a.m. at the Great American Diner and Pub, 1201 E. Lincoln Highway, Middletown Sgt. Ken Mellus said.

The Langhorne man is licensed to carry the gun, police said. No shots were fired and the suspect fled.

This is the proverbial guy who brought a knife to a gunfight.


THE HAGUE -- The prosecution in Slobodan Milosevic's war crimes trial moved yesterday to rest its case two days early as the chief prosecutor conceded her team had not produced "the smoking gun" to convict the former Yugoslav president of genocide, the most serious charge against him.

No doubt we'll see handwringing, doubts about intelligence reliability, and charges that the Clinton Administration "sexed up" intelligence and misrepresented

Milosevic as a genocidal dictator in order to build support for unilateral action that even Wesley Clark called technically illegal -- but justified on the basis of an "imminent threat" of genocide, one that is now, of course, completely undermined by the absence of a "smoking gun." Massive criticism of the Clinton Administration's warmaking, which landed us in a "Balkan quagmire" from which we have yet to extricate ourselves, is sure to ensue.

Yeah, right, that's going to happen.

UPDATE: Some related comments here.

SOME THOUGHTS ON JOBS AND MASSAGES, inspired by Virginia Postrel, are in my TechCentralStation column today.


U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown verbally attacked a top Bush administration official during a briefing on the Haiti crisis Wednesday, calling the President's policy on the beleaguered nation "racist" and his representatives "a bunch of white men."

Her outburst was directed at Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega during a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill. Noriega, a Mexican-American, is the State Department's top official for Latin America. . . .

Noriega later told Brown: "As a Mexican-American, I deeply resent being called a racist and branded a white man," according to three participants.

Brown then told him "you all look alike to me," the participants said.

I agree with this assessment of Brown's remarks:

That's unacceptable language, no matter who says it. Representative Brown needs to suffer at least as much criticism as Trent Lott did for praising for a fellow who ran on a segregationist platform. Lott's statement could be interpreted as support for segregation. Representative Brown needs no interpretation...what she said was simply racist.

Fortunately, however, the Bush Administration has people who are capable of standing up to racism, and pointing out the idiocy of those who engage in it:

After her comments about white men, Noriega said he would "relay that to (Secretary of State) Colin Powell and (national security adviser) Condoleezza Rice the next time I run into them," participants said. Powell and Rice are black.

Rep. Brown's colleagues in Congress need to condemn this racist behavior immediately. And she should probably resign. Perhaps she can get a guest slot on Howard Stern's show, where she'd fit in just fine.

UPDATE: David Adesnik notes that there's sexism here, too:

Everyone seems to be up in arms about the racial aspect of Corrine Brown's remarks. But how about the sexism? In this day and age, people still try to undermine successful women by impying that they are not feminine enough. Calling Condi a white man just plays into that kind of prejudice.

Indeed it does. No doubt NOW will be demanding an apology from Rep. Brown shortly.

JAMES LILEKS weighs in on the Howard Stern matter, and he's not siding with Howard:

The future of civilized conversation depends on men brave enough to ask educated Nigerian immigrants if they ever ate a monkey, and whether men who appeared on Paris Hilton pron tapes slammed a partner up the butt.. God bless Stern. It’s good to know he’s speaking out on the issues that matter, and paying the price.

Bravery, thy name is Howard. And I expect that you will stop screening calls now. I mean, there's a guy in the Bronx who wants to make a point about the filthy sp-cs down the hall - who are you to say he's wrong?

It's hard for me to get too exercised about this. I'm opposed to censorship, but Stern was "censored" by his employer. I'm capable of getting exercised about such things, sometimes, but not this time. And if Rush Limbaugh had been canned over the kind of racial comments Stern made, and allowed on the air, nobody would be crying "censorship." Instead they'd be saying that it showed the inherent racism of his show and his audience.

Well? You want to make a case for complete deregulation of broadcasting, it's fine with me. But if you're not willing to do that, then you're a hypocrite, because under pretty much any kind of a plausible content standard Stern loses. And you can't defend Stern's talk while calling for the removal of Michael Savage, Dr. Laura, or other folks that lots of people seem willing to silence, or see silenced, without being a hypocrite.

UPDATE: Radio DJ Big Rick Stuart has more on the Stern affair, noting:

Stern doesn't work for Clear Channel (CC). He works for Viacom/CBS/Infinity. He show is taken on syndication deals from Viacom to 6 Clear Channel stations. The 6 stations are not that big of a deal, it isn't a bold move or whatever people are saying.

It was up for awhile at the Drudge Report but now I haven't seen it. According to what was posted at Drudge a caller on his show asked the guest if he ever banged a famous n*gger and do they smell like watermelon. I don't know the exact quote but those were the words that got him in trouble. . . .

Is the issue Freedom of Speech? Well that's what Stern says, and even what Rush said today according to Drudge. I guess anybody who gets fired from an on air media job could say the same thing. People have been fired for a long time for saying some stupid sheet on the air. Freedom of Speech? If Stern really thinks people will buy that he is crazy. The freedom to hear a woman have mayonnaise rubbed on her butt then have Howard throw slices of bologna and see if it sticks? Come on. So once you get a job on the air you can never ever be fired for something you say because of freedom of speech? Uhh no it don't work that way. Can you unjustly be fired for content of your show? Oh for sure.

Read the whole thing. Here's the link to the Drudge piece on Limbaugh's defense of Stern.

SOLDIERS ARE COMMITTING SUICIDE AT AN ALARMING RATE -- in the Bundeswehr. David Kaspar has some interesting statistics, which suggest that the German army could save lives by sending troops to Iraq.

February 25, 2004

SOME LOVELY PICTURES of the Smoky Mountains in February, by Matthew Cromer. I nearly drove up there today, but decided that I had too much to do and stayed home to work. Obviously, I was an idiot, with this sort of thing 30 minutes from my door.

Let this be a lesson to me. . . .

UPDATE: I noticed that Matthew uses a Sony DSC-F828 digital camera, which I've heard mixed reports about (the problem is noise and chromatic aberration in low-light settings). I asked him about his experience and he replied:

I'm pretty happy with the 828. It does have one major flaw which is a tendency to purple fringing in some lighting conditions It's pretty easy to deal with for an advanced photoshop user, but annoying. . . .

The reason I got the 828 is because I shoot mostly landscape images and need as much resolution as I can get, and because I like composing with the LCD on the back. The LCD will pivot up and down which is very nice for shots taken overhead or close to the ground. It's also nice (to me) to be able to take pictures with the camera off my face. You can't do that with an SLR because none of them (today anyway) have live LCDs. I also shoot video of the kids which is very nice.

I love the ability to shoot high-quality video with sound. But since I often shoot indoors or in poor light, I don't think this one's for me. He's sure done some first-rate work with it, though.

CARIBPUNDIT has a lot of news on developments in Haiti.

JEFF JARVIS: "When Janet Jackson's outfit opened, it opened a door not on her breast but on censorship."

He has some choice words for the Bush Administration.

UPDATE: Joe Gandelman, on the other hand, calls it a taste malfunction on Stern's part.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Interesting bipartisan disagreement in the comments to Jeff's post.

HERE'S MORE on anti-semitism at the United Nations.

IS THE UNITED STATES USING BIOLOGICAL WARFARE IN IRAQ? Apparently, so, as this war critic reports:

"The consequences of the geranium bombs have yet to be seen, but from what I have seen in the pediatric wards, which stretch for blocks and blocks in Baghdad, they will be even worse."

It may turn out to be a perennial problem. . . .

INTERESTING NANOTECHNOLOGY GOINGS-ON in Europe, according to the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology. The European NanoBusiness Association -- which appears to be somewhat more, er, restrained in its public-relations strategy than its American counterpart -- is involved.

THE NEW REPUBLIC NOTES something that quite a few readers emailed me about last week -- an article in the New York Times that didn't seem to know the difference between Arabs and Muslims, two overlapping, but distinct, sets. I didn't note it -- I can't blog every boner at the Times -- but I'm glad that someone else has noticed.

REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES ARE STARTING TO BUY BLOGADS, reports Bill Hobbs. The only thing that surprises me is that it's taken so long.

ENRON ON THE EAST RIVER: Roger Simon continues to stay on top of the U.N.'s still-unresolved disappearing oil-for-food money scandal.

WHAT IS ALAN GREENSPAN TALKING ABOUT these days? Rather a lot, really.


Quran (9:11) -- For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a
fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the
lands of Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair
still more rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of
Allah; and there was peace.

Pretty cool, except that I'm fairly sure it's bogus. Sura 9 is "Repentance," and in my copy of the Koran (the 1955 Arberry translation) verse 11 reads:

Yet if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, then they are your brothers in religion; and We distinguish the signs for a people who know.

Sorry to bust a bubble here. Since this seems to be one of those endlessly forwarded email items, you may see it soon, if you haven't already.

UPDATE: A whole lot of people have sent the link to this Snopes debunking of the bogus Koran quote. A couple even accused me of being behind the times, reaching for an actual book rather than going to Snopes first. Well, it's right there on the shelf, you know, and I paid $11.50 for it (used) at the Yale Co-Op some years ago, so I figured I ought to get my money's worth. . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: More debunking here.

SOME REFLECTIONS ON KERRY'S "LACKLUSTER" LEADERSHIP from the Yale Daily News. I'd say the statute of limitations has run on these events.

HE'LL BE STANDING UP when he comes before the judge, and not just out of respect:

An armed robbery went awry this morning when a store manager shot the suspect in the back and buttocks.

Embarrassing. (Via the self-defense blog, where I learn about this stuff first even when it's in my own home town.)

TOM MAGUIRE: "Bush blew it on the gay marriage question." Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Alex Knapp has thoughts on why Bush is getting more heat than Kerry when their positions are essentially the same.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Best of the Web notes a sudden surge in support for states' rights among some unlikely candidates.

A PHONY JOBS DEBATE: Robert Samuelson says that Kerry and Edwards are lying about unemployment, and that the press knows it and doesn't care:

[N]o one considers it dishonorable to blame a president falsely for job loss (or to credit him falsely for job gains). The dishonesty is so routine that it's respectable. The press abets the hoax because it must report what candidates say and because it favors campaign combat over substance.

Read the whole thing.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES is up. Bras are featured.

WHAT CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT WOULD YOU FAVOR? Neal Boortz is running an online poll. The gay marriage amendment is only one choice among many, and at the moment it's in last place.

UPDATE: Jay Solo has some thoughts.

SHEILA O'MALLEY offers no mercy to Naomi Wolf.

UPDATE: Nor does Anne Applebaum:

The larger implications are for the movement that used to be called "feminism." Twenty years of fame, money, success, happy marriage and the children she has described in her books -- and Naomi Wolf, one of my generation's leading feminists, is still obsessed with her own exaggerated victimhood? It's not an ideology I'd want younger women to follow.

By way of comparison, how would people react if a fortyish man complained that Catherine MacKinnon had put her hand on his thigh 20 years ago?

About the same way, actually: "Who cares? Get a life!" That's progress, I think.

GEORGE WILL on the growing antisemitism of the Left:

It used to be said that anti-Catholicism was the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals. Today anti-Semitism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals.

Read the whole thing, which is an interesting follow-on to this Michael Totten post from yesterday.

And David Bernstein has a message for Adbusters!

CHRIS MUIR is ready to take his Day by Day cartoon public. If you'd like to help him out, go here to find out how.

LESS THAN MEETS THE EYE: That's my first take on Bush's constititutional amendment, over at

UPDATE: Rob Bernard wonders why, when Bush and Kerry seem to have the same position here, it's Bush who's being called the bigot? But not this guy!

Meanwhile, if you're wondering what the religious-blogging community is saying, there's a roundup here at Blogs4God.

AUSTIN BAY WRITES on viral terror and what to do about it.

JOHN KERRY PROMISES to engage in sex discrimination: "As president, I will put American government and our legal system back on the side of women."

Is the legal system supposed to take sides based on gender?

UPDATE: Reader Nicole Griffin is unimpressed by this appeal:

Regarding the section of Kerry's website you linked to, all I have to say is "huh?" Putting aside the issue of whether the government SHOULD take sides between the genders, the full quote from Kerry is:

“In case after case, President Bush’s actions have made American women less safe and less secure - on the job and on the streets. As president, I will put American government and our legal system back on the side of women. I will stand up for their security, ensure their safety, support their rights, and guarantee their dignity. This nation can do no less.”

Maybe I missed something, but what the hell does Kerry think that Bush has done to make women less safe and secure? I can't name a single thing that he has done that has had an effect on women in particular that it has not had on all Americans. Furthermore, as an American woman, I personally feel much "safer and more secure" with Bush as president, knowing that he's willing to go out and kill terrorists and evil dictators who hate America than I would with Kerry as president, whose solution would be to threaten them with a UN resolution.


ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Elizabeth King agrees:

Sign me up as another woman who feels much safer and more secure with President Bush in the White House than I would if John Kerry became Commander in Chief. My man Bush is taking it to the enemy. Kerry thinks that the enemy is us.

But not if we're properly restrained by the UN!

February 24, 2004

JUST BECAUSE IT'S FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE doesn't mean that it'll go anywhere you can point it. I saw this hung-up Blazer, whose owner had apparently decided to take a shortcut over the kerb and down a bank without measuring ramp angles, yesterday.

They don't go anywhere when the wheels are in the air. I saw 'em tow it off, but I didn't stick around to see if it would drive, or if important bits had been scraped away in the process.

I don't have the religious opposition to SUVs that some people have, but I have to say that people seem to expect more from them than they can really be expected to deliver. Just because all four wheels will deliver power doesn't mean that they're immune to the laws of physics.

UPDATE: Big SUV-winching image moved for the benefit of dialup users. Now you can see it here.

TOM MAGUIRE has a bunch of interesting posts up. Just keep scrolling.


Brice: You've gone on record as being opposed to gay marriages.

Kerry: That's right. I'm for all the people but we didn't have any same-sex marriages in Viet Nam.

Chortle. Read the whole thing.

OKAY, this AP story says that Bush is for "banning gay marriage." But when I read his statement and the Scott McClellan press briefing it seems more like what he's talking about would basically be the constitutionalization of the Defense of Marriage Act -- which would do exactly nothing, since, even pre-DOMA, states didn't have to recognize each others' marriages. There is some stuff about marriage being between a man and a woman, but it also seems as if that wouldn't be binding on the states (or, if it is, only to the extent that they can't call it "marriage.") At any rate, I'm now thoroughly confused. I'll have more on this over at as soon as they get it posted.

And note this confusion, too.

UPDATE: Okay, the post may be a bit longer -- I had a few legal thoughts that I need to think about some more. But in the meantime, here's my bottom line on the amendment issue:

I'm still against this, just as I was against the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act. I know plenty of gay people who are, for all practical purposes, married. I don't see what's wrong with them getting married. I don't understand how letting gay people get married threatens heterosexual marriage. And, in fact, I suspect that to the extent it makes any difference at all, gay marriage will prove to be a fundamentally conservative institution, with married gays taking the role of solid citizens that married people have traditionally taken.

I think that the country will figure that out, and sooner than many people think. I also think that the country ought to be given a chance to figure it out, and not be prevented from doing so by a constitutional amendment.

UPDATE: Interesting developments in California. It looks like Virginia Postrel's prediction last fall that all hell would break out was true.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen Green is rounding up negative blogosphere reactions to Bush's announcement. There are a lot of them. More here. And this is interesting: "Bush's decision today will advance the rights of gay Americans beyond anything anyone is predicting. In 15 years, most States will allow gay marriage -- thanks, ironically, to George W. Bush." That's just perverse enough to be true!

But I think that Bush should have taken Jim Glassman's advice.

ROGER SIMON looks at the two faces of George Bush. He doesn't like the gay marriage one, but the democracy-for-Iran one is good!

The best line is from one of his commenters, though: "Hey, in America we're having fights about whether gay people can get married whereas in other parts of the world (like the Middle East) they simply kill gay people with rocks."

UPDATE: Bryan Preston takes a more positive view of Bush's gay marriage stance.

THIS CAN'T BE GOOD FOR KERRY: Sydney Schanberg is in the Village Voice accusing Kerry of a P.O.W. / M.I.A. coverup:

The Massachusetts senator, now seeking the presidency, carried out this subterfuge a little over a decade ago— shredding documents, suppressing testimony, and sanitizing the committee's final report—when he was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on P.O.W./ M.I.A. Affairs. . . .

The Kerry committee's final report, issued in January 1993, delivered the ultimate insult to history. The 1,223-page document said there was "no compelling evidence that proves" there is anyone still in captivity. As for the primary investigative question —what happened to the men left behind in 1973—the report conceded only that there is "evidence . . . that indicates the possibility of survival, at least for a small number" of prisoners 31 years ago, after Hanoi released the 591 P.O.W.'s it had admitted to.

I have no idea if this is true, of course, and I've generally been skeptical of such coverup claims in general. But the Village Voice can hardly be dismissed as a Karl Rove outlet (nor can Schanberg be called a Bush booster), and this certainly puts a different cast on the whole "I served in Vietnam" business. Kerry may be wishing he hadn't made quite such a big deal of that now.

UPDATE: Weirdly, Tom Maguire emails that Schanberg wrote a similar story about McCain in 2000. Does that make this more, or less, credible?

DOUG "INSTALAWYER" WEINSTEIN has some thoughts on Kerry and Edwards that are worth reading. (And he's a Kennedy cousin, too!) He also wonders why Edwards hasn't taken up Hugh Hewitt's offer. So do I.

LT SMASH has an amusing post on the gay marriage issue. I'll have more later, but I'm swamped this afternoon.

And this is just frightening.

MICHAEL TOTTEN looks at antisemitism on the Left. There's more of it all the time.

GET YOUR NANO-PORK here. . . .

BACKLASH: The NYT reports that Bush will back a gay marriage ban.

I think that the SF marriages pushed him off the fence on this, and I think it's probably a bad thing for all concerned. (Via Clareified).

UPDATE: More, including a question as to whether the Times is reporting accurately on the Musgrave amendment, here. Meanwhile, Roger Simon is unhappy.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kerry and Edwards oppose gay marriage, but Nader supports it!

Machiavellian question -- is this why Bush made his statement right after Nader entered the race?

MORE: Andrew Sullivan is, unsurprisingly, deeply unhappy.

RANDY BARNETT'S ROCK-STAR LIKE TOUR OF AMERICA, promoting his new book Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty, continues, with stops in Philadelphia and Southern California. No word on whether groupies have started following him from town to town, a la the Grateful Dead.

I'm not ready to review Randy's new book yet, but you can read my review of his last book, The Structure of Liberty, (from the Northwestern Law Review) here.

THERE'S LOTS OF INTERESTING STUFF going on in Central Asia and the 'Stans, and Winds of Change has a roundup.

ISLAM IN CLEVELAND: Some positive developments.


UPDATE: Tim Blair, unsurprisingly, is pithier: "If consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, John F. Kerry’s mind must be freaking enormous."

THE NEW YORK TIMES has issued a correction on the Meagher story, mentioned below:

An article on Sunday about people who supported George Bush in the 2000 election and are considering a vote for the Democratic candidate this year referred incorrectly to George Meagher, who voiced dissatisfaction with the administration. As noted on Feb. 3 in an earlier account of his comments in the same interview, for an article about veterans leaning toward Senator John Kerry, Mr. Meagher is an independent, not a Republican.

A bit devoid of, um, context, isn't it? As Kaus says, "treats the symptom, ignores the underlying disease."

UPDATE: Backstory here, at the CJR campaign blog. What bothers me isn't so much the quote-recycling as the way the relabeling of Meagher from "independent" to "Republican" suited the general anti-Bush slant of the second story.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oxblog, inspired by the above, notes a photo issue:

If you look at today's coverage of the Haitian uprising in the WaPo and NYT, you'll notice that both have photos of the same man-in-the-street, Jean-Bernard Prevalis. According to the photo credits, they were taken by different photographers.

Nothing dishonest there, exactly. But it reminds me of a storm in New Orleans a few years back, where all the networks showed a picture of the same downed tree -- which a friend there told me was pretty much the only downed tree. Is it emblematic? Or just visually dramatic? It's hard to tell, and yet it matters, even when there's not an agenda. And doubly so when there is one.

February 23, 2004

RICH GALEN has another post up. Don't miss it.

JAMES JOYNER of Outside the Beltway has lost his job. So if you've been thinking of hitting his tipjar, but haven't gotten around to it, well, this might be a good time.

PUBLICOLA NOTES A REPORT on a possible effort to sneak an assault-weapons extension into law.

Eternal vigilance, you know. (See this very old post from August of 2001 for evidence that gun-rights folks were already disappointed in Bush. That's probably bad for Bush now. His dad took 'em for granted, too.)

UPDATE: Clayton Cramer has more comments suggesting that there's less here than meets the eye.

JIM HENLEY OFFERS some thoughts on the managerial class: "This has everything to do with why the white working class is not as reliably liberal as liberals think it should be." (Via Megan McArdle).


This appears to be the moment to finally establish in everyone's mind the deep fraudulence and corruptness of Ralph Nader's various enterprises. Nobody has an interest in covering up for him now.

Indeed they don't. More here.


I'VE MENTIONED DAVID BARON'S BOOK, The Beast in the Garden, about resurgent cougars in Colorado, before. (Here is an earlier post). Now The New York Times has an article about cougar sightings in upstate New York, one somewhat reminiscent of this article by Joe Tarr on cougar sightings in the Smokies.

I'm a bit skeptical of these reports, but if they're not back now they'll likely be reappearing sooner or later.

ALL OF AMERICA IS A FREE-SPEECH ZONE, which is why I find this crushing of dissent offensive:

Protesters at this summer's Democratic National Convention in Boston may be confined to a cozy triangle of land off Haymarket Square, blocked off from the FleetCenter and convention delegates by a maze of Central Artery service roads, MBTA train tracks, and a temporary parking lot holding scores of buses and media trucks

Under a preliminary plan floated by convention organizers, the "free-speech zone" would be a small plot bounded by Green Line tracks and North Washington Street, in an area that until recently was given over to the elevated artery. The zone would hold as few as 400 of the several thousand protesters who are expected in Boston in late July.

As I've said here before, reasonable security precautions are fine, but efforts to move protesters out of sight are not.

ARABS WHO BELIEVE IN DEMOCRACY deserve better treatment than this story describes.

MICKEY KAUS wants to know when Kerry will release his military records:

I give Kerry points for his Vietnam service. But since it (along with some plug-n-play Shrum rhetoric) is almost the entirety of his campaign for president, can it really be true that he hasn't authorized release of his military records? Does he think this is a defensible position? ... Hello, Edwards!

Maybe Edwards could raise the issue while guest-hosting the Hugh Hewitt show!

UPDATE: Kerry's already getting heat from Vietnam vets about his records. I suppose that they'll probably turn out to be as innocuous as Bush's records, but people are bound to wonder why he's keeping them secret, especially after so much noise was made about Bush. [Later: Here's a Snopes item debunking claims that Kerry's medals are "fishy."]

MICHAEL LEDEEN has a column on the Iranian elections. He's quite hard on the low quality of media coverage, something also noted by Stephen Green.


Last year the President took a large political step, with political risk, when he put enough pressure on the Palestinian side for them to come forward with somebody who could be seen as a peacemaker, the new Prime Minister Abu Mazen. And we went to Aqaba. The President stood there with the new Prime Minister, King Abdullah of Jordan and with Prime Minister Sharon, and everybody committed to the roadmap and the President's vision.

Unfortunately, it didn't work because the Palestinians were unable -- and I put the blame squarely on Mr. Arafat -- Arafat was not willing to provide authority to Abu Mazen to take control of the security organizations and to go after terrorism and speak out against terrorism -- not to start a civil war of the Palestinian communities and the Palestinian Authority, but to start moving against terrorism.

"Was not willing to provide authority" is putting it rather politely. (Emphasis added.)

KEN LAYNE AND THE CORVIDS' new CD Fought Down gets another good review: "a very good set of the kind of pure rock 'n' roll hardly anyone plays anymore." (Via Bill Quick, who rather strongly suggests that you buy it.)

THIS STORY seems to illustrate two things. First, that the "domino effect" from the invasion of Iraq is paying big dividends, and second that the IAEA process doesn't work:

Libya succeeded in making weapons-grade plutonium before announcing it would abandon its efforts to build a nuclear bomb, United Nations inspectors said yesterday. . . .

Libya had been able to buy many of the components needed to build a centrifuge to enrich uranium from the nuclear "supermarket" operated by the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

The IAEA report confirmed that Libya had also bought enriched uranium. This was flown to Libya from Pakistan, said a police report citing the alleged chief financier of the nuclear black market, Buhary Syed Abu Tahir.

Fortunately, fear did what international arms control couldn't.


THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS offers a collection of business and economic insights from all sorts of bloggers.

DAN AYKROYD: Bush now, Hillary later!

I think Hillary may feel the same way. . . .

PITCHING SOFTBALLS TO KERRY AT CNN: I think that many of today's journalists, like Judy Woodruff, feel a certain generational antiwar solidarity, so they give him a pass on these things. But by doing so, they simply demonstrate their bias, and highlight his problems:

The press has not pressed Mr. Kerry to explain those charges. A case in point was his interview with CNN's Judy Woodruff last Thursday. Near the end of the conversation, she raised the issue, asking: "It's been reported that, well you're aware of this, Vietnam veterans upset with the fact that when you came back from the war ... you were accusing American troops of war crimes."

Mr. Kerry responded with a falsehood followed by a quick shift, "I was accusing American leaders of abandoning the troops. And if you read what I said, it is very clearly an indictment of leadership ... I've always fought for the soldiers."

Even if Mrs. Woodruff had not read Mr. Kerry's testimony — and it is widely available — surely she or her producer had seen the day's work of the most widely-read political columnist in Washington, her CNN co-worker Robert Novak. In his Thursday column, "Kerry and Hanoi Jane," Mr. Novak repeated Mr. Kerry's statements to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and also pointed out that Mr. Kerry was the New England representative to an executive committee meeting of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, at which plans were made to sponsor "war crimes testimony" at the United Nations. A follow-up question beckoned.

Instead, Mrs. Woodruff gave Mr. Kerry a pass.

As with Kerry himself, if they thought his stands then were worthy of praise now, they'd be praising them -- instead of concealing them.

February 22, 2004

I SPENT THE AFTERNOON AT THE LIBRARY, doing actual research involving actual books. I also walked around campus for a while, because the weather was pretty nice for February: sunny, and nearly 60. Students were walking around in shorts and t-shirts, trying to pretend it was spring, and the weather made it almost plausible.

That's one thing I like about Knoxville. It can get cold here, but even a bad winter has a few breaks like this one that remind you that it isn't permanent. One of the things I disliked about living in places like New Haven or Cambridge was that winter seemed to settle in forever.

One thing that I always find amusing about the change of seasons is the way different students react to it. Some stick to shorts and t-shirts until December, then break them out again at the least provocation. Others dress in down starting in November, and don't give it up until April.

The weather will go to hell again tomorrow, if the forecast holds, with rain and thirtyish temperatures. But at least we got a break. And, as you can see, I managed to walk around campus a bit before and after my research.

UPDATE: Large image formerly at top removed out of mercy to dialup users; still visible here if you're interested.


WASHINGTON--Former Alaska Gov. Jay Hammond said Saturday that President George Bush should make an Alaska-like dividend for Iraqis a central element of his re-election campaign. . . .

He noted that Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, at his request, proposed to President Bush that the U.S. push for an Alaska-style dividend program after the Iraq war.

"Ted, incidentally, wrote me back after that and said 'I talked to the president. He's very much interested. Stay tuned,'" Hammond said.


WAS THE GUARDIAN the victim of a cruel practical joke?

UPDATE: Tim Blair has more, including a link to the "suppressed" report, in handy PDF format. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Phil Bowermaster notes that although The Guardian looks bad here, the Global Business Network doesn't deserve the blame for The Guardian's gullibility and alarmism.

ED CONE REPORTS on John Edwards' Internet operation.

HAITIPUNDIT has lots of news on goings-on in Haiti (pretty much all bad), and links to John Engel, who's blogging from Haiti. One observation: "The conflict is incredibly complex. The rebels for the most part, are baddies. In my opinion, Aristide and his regime are also baddies."

JUAN COLE is starting a project to translate American political thought into Arabic. As one Cranky Professor observes:

I can't imagine a better thing for intellectuals to do than pay semi-employed Iraquis with good English to translate (the translator should indeed be a native speaker of the destination language).

Cole has more on his project here.

"DUBIOUS ACCOUNTING" AT THE PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS: The entire nonprofit sector is ripe for scrutiny.

Read this, too.

STEPHEN GREEN says that CNN muffed it in its coverage of the Iranian elections.

HERE'S RALPH NADER'S CAMPAIGN WEBSITE -- but there's no blog. Come on, Ralph -- this is the 21st century!

THE LANCET has retracted a study on autism and vaccination:

Editor Dr. Richard Horton said Dr. Andrew Wakefield and a team of British scientists who conducted the study on the triple measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine didn't reveal that they were being paid by a legal-aid service looking into whether families could sue over the immunizations.

Horton called it a "fatal conflict of interest."

More importantly, the study has been discredited by other research. Still, this should put paid to the notion that drug companies are the only source of conflicts of interest where this sort of thing is concerned. If more people get sick because this study has led to fewer vaccinations (as seems to be the case) should the scientists and the legal-aid people be liable? (Via Howard Lovy).

IT'S OFFICIAL: Nader's running. Best observation: "Whatever the effect of Nader's campaign on the 2004 election, if it invigorates efforts to improve ballot access for third parties, it will be a plus for the nation."

UPDATE: Dave Winer is happy:

By trying to hold back Nader (good luck) maybe you're preventing exactly the kind of transformation we need. I think Nader is a patriot. Give him a medal. And think instead of being part of the herd.

Oliver Willis and Jeff Jarvis are, um, less enthusiastic.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Prof. Bainbridge disagrees with the ballot-access point. And Robert Tagorda thinks that a Nader candidacy might help the Democrats.

JOHN KERRY IS ASHAMED OF HIS FOREIGN POLICY POSITIONS: He must be. Why else would he be trying to take them off the table?

It won't work, any more than George H.W. Bush's war record let him take issues off the table.

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus observes: "If Kerry's response to every substantive GOP charge about his record as a Senator is going to be 'I served in Vietnam,' it'll be a long campaign. [You mean "long"="tedious" or "long"="losing"?-ed Both!]"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kevin Aylward looks at some polls on this subject.


In 1992, defending Vietnam war draft-dodger Bill Clinton, Kerry said: "We do not need to divide America over who served and how." Now Vietnam division is Kerry’s major policy. Move on, Senator. There's a new war.


"RIGGED POLL PUTS IRAN'S HARDLINERS IN POWER:" This headline tells it like it is. So does this Iranian:

Imad Nemaatallahi, an engineering student, said: "The talking will stop, the newspapers will be closed down and we will either end up richer or there will be another revolution."

I don't think "richer" is a viable option. There are already violent protests in southern Iran over vote rigging. I don't know if they'll turn into something bigger -- I kind of doubt it -- but it seems clear that any hope of peaceful democratic change in Iran is gone.