June 05, 2004

I'M OFF ON A FAMILY VACATION, and blogging is likely to be light next week. I plan to kick back and relax and spend very little time on the Internet. I'm taking a bunch of science fiction novels and only one serious book, Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: A True Story from Hell on Earth -- I figure if Kofi Annan tried to suppress it, it's probably worth reading. (To give you an idea of how seriously intellectual the trip will be, I'm also taking along the entire first season of Gilligan's Island on DVD.)

Daniel Drezner will be guest-blogging over at next week, so be sure to stop by. See you later!

MERDE IN FRANCE HAS MOVED: Note the new location.


A useful self-replicating machine could be less complex than a Pentium IV chip, according to a new study (PDF, 1.73 MB) performed by General Dynamics for NASA.
General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems recently concluded a six-month study for NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts that examined the design of "kinematic cellular automata," a reconfigurable system of many identical modules. . . .

The study also examined machine designs that would meet guidelines established by the California-based nanotech think-tank Foresight Institute to ensure the safety of self-replication techniques. The preliminary study is believed to be among the first U.S.-sponsored studies on self-replication in two decades.

This is quite significant. I hope we'll see more research -- instead of mere speculative pooh-poohing -- on this subject.

WINDS OF DISCOVERY is a survey of scientific news items, from the Winds of Change folks.

DANIEL DREZNER has interesting news on Hugo Chavez and Venezuela.


Human beings, who have imaginations, can see a recipe for disaster in the making; Republicans, whose goal in life is to profit from disaster and who don't give a hoot about human beings, either can't or won't. Which is why I personally think they should be exterminated before they cause any more harm.

From the opening paragraph of a theater review (!) in The Village Voice. (Via Jason van Steenwyk, whose blog should be a regular stop). Republicans -- not human, and in need of extermination? Sheesh. Hugh Hewitt is right: The Left has come unhinged.


ROGER SIMON has thoughts on right, left, and what's "progressive" these days. Some other people seem to be rethinking those subjects, too.

UPDATE: More here.

TAXPROF notes a report on the seamy side of state tax incentives.

DAVE KOPEL REVIEWS the new Harry Potter movie.

JIHAD SUMMER CAMP: Appalling, but not surprising.

MORE ON REP. JIM MORAN and charges of anti-semitism.

SOLDIER STORIES: Worth reading on this anniversary weekend.

SLACKERNOMICS: I haven't read it, but it sounds kinda interesting.

ANOTHER BIG DAY over at Stephen Green's. He seems to be on a hot streak.

MORE THOUGHTS ON insufficient diversity in the media.

June 04, 2004


Algerian forces took custody on Friday of a man believed to be one of North Africa's most powerful Islamic terrorists in a highly unusual multinational operation deep in the desert of Niger, according to an official from one of the countries involved. . . .

Germany paid Mr. Saifi nearly $6 million in ransom for the hostages' release, American and Algerian officials say. He is reported to have used the money to recruit fighters and buy weapons for the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which is fighting to establish an Islamic state in Algeria. [Thanks, Germany! Jeez. . . .]

In March, Chadian rebels captured 17 members of the group after a battle near the border with Niger. Mr. Saifi is believed to be among those captured.

The rebel organization, the Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad, approached the United States and other countries involved in the American-led campaign against terrorism in hopes of delivering the prisoners and reaping a political benefit from its good deed.

There seems to be a lot of interesting stuff going on in the Sahara.

MATT WELCH notes Kerry's support of a crackdown on broadcast indecency and observes:

There's nothing I've seen to indicate that a Democrat-run FCC would be a damned bit better than Michael Powell's boobs, and Kerry's comments about media consolidation in the same interview indicate a stronger willingness to regulate.

Indeed. The anti-indecency move is bipartisan, and instead of blaming Bush, opponents should be explaining to the voters why it's a bad idea. Because it's not something being foisted on voters by a few right-wing zealots. It's something with broad support, which is why Kerry and Bush are so close together on the subject.

QUOTING SCRIPTURE WHILE SHOE-BLOGGING: Surely a first for the Volokh Conspiracy.


DARFUR UPDATE: Some good news:

Commitment brings total U.S. contribution to nearly $300 million

The United States government will contribute an additional $188.5 million in emergency assistance to help ease the humanitarian crisis in Darfur in western Sudan, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Andrew Natsios, announced June 3.

Speaking at a Darfur donors' conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Natsios said the pledge brings the total U.S. contribution for Darfur to nearly $300 million since February 2003.

The United States has been actively pursuing an end to the fighting in Darfur for more than a year, Natsios said.

Still a long way to go, but there's also this:

WASHINGTON - The United States said Wednesday it was "deeply disturbed" at clashes in Sudan's western Darfur region and renewed demands for Khartoum to act immediately to rein in pro-government militias blamed for much of the violence.

It may take more than opening our mouths and wallets to get traction here, though:

N'DJAMENA (AFP) Jun 04, 2004

The Sudanese air force Friday bombed a market in Sudan's western region of Darfur, [reported] a mediator in Chad trying to bring about an end to a conflict which has sparked a serious humanitarian crisis.


UPDATE: More here:

Forty-five Members of Congress have signed a letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan urging him to travel to Darfur, Sudan, to help end the genocide that is taking place in the region, according to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA).

Wolf, who already has sent two letters of his own to Annan urging him to go to Darfur, organized the joint letter.

It sounds like he's not getting any more response to his letters than Sissy Willis has gotten. Guess they're all too busy shredding documents in Kofi's office to keep up with the correspondence. . . .

SANTEPHEAP is a Cambodia weblog that's worth a look.


It is a story that might not sound out of place in any part of the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo but for one thing, the soldiers Faela is talking about are not the rebel groups who devastated Ituri Province, in north-eastern DR Congo, during the last four-and-a-half years of conflict. . . .

Dominique McAdams, the head of the UN in Bunia, admitted that there was a problem.

"I have heard rumours on this issue," she said. "It is pretty clear to me that sexual violence is taking place in the camp."

Ms McAdams is not the only member of Monuc to be concerned about the behaviour of their soldiers in Bunia.

Last month the UN announced that it would launch a full investigation into abuse within the camp.

Yet the gap between the intention to investigate and the reality of that investigation in Bunia remains large.

These stories just keep coming.

UPDATE: Sadly, so do these:

Thousands of Congolese attacked UN offices and peacekeeping bases yesterday, angry that fewer than 1,000 UN peacekeepers were unable to prevent 2,000 to 4,000 rebels from seizing Bukavu, South Kivu's provincial capital, on Wednesday. The DRC's military in Bukavu unexpectedly collapsed, the chief of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations said.

Fifteen DRC nationals working for WFP remained in the city, most of them hiding with their families for a second day.

The last two WFP international staff members in Bukavu were taken yesterday by a helicopter owned by the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) to the north-eastern city of Goma.

If this were happening to U.S. forces, it would be frontpage news worldwide, amid invocations of Vietnam and claims that it symbolized America's impotent brutality on the world scene. When it happens to the U.N., though, it hardly even counts as news.

THE ABRIDGED KEEGAN: I preferred the original.

DONALD SENSING HAS thoughts on eschatology.

IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THIS WOMAN'S NEIGHBORS need to be reading this woman's blog.


Coalition soldiers questioned two news media cameramen and a reporter after a roadside bomb exploded near a Coalition convoy two kilometers north of Mosul June 3.

The media, who were at the scene prior to the attack, told soldiers at the scene they had received a tip to be at that location prior to the attack and they had witnessed the explosion.

Nice of them to pass along the warning. . . .

UPDATE: Interesting contrast between the behavior of media folks and ordinary IRaqis.

STRAT SPEAKS OUT is local-blogging the G8 summit.

INTERESTING LETTER FROM MARK TWAIN to an American expatriate worried about his country's reputation:

Is it France's respect that we are going to lose? Is our unchivalric conduct troubling a nation which exists to-day because a brave young girl saved it when its poltroons had lost it - a nation which deserted her as one man when her day of peril came? Is our treacherous assault upon a weak people distressing a nation which contributed Bartholomew's Day to human history? Is our ruthless spirit offending the sensibilities of the nation which gave us the Reign of Terror to read about? Is our unmanly intrusion into the private affairs of a sister nation shocking the feelings of the people who sent Maximilian to Mexico? Are our shabby and pusillanimous ways outraging the fastidious people who have sent an innocent man (Dreyfus) to a living hell, taken to their embraces the slimy guilty one, and submitted to indignities Emile Zola - the manliest man in France?

Ouch. Read the whole thing.

HENRY COPELAND: Take this, blog-skeptics!


"BLOG-BRANDING?" Or is it brand-blogging? Anyway, Nike has a blog now, set up by Nick Denton (of course). Jeff Jarvis thinks this is important.

For purposes of historical accuracy, though, I should note that it's not the first attempt by a major brand to use blogs -- though I hope it works out better than Dr. Pepper's infamous "Raging Cow" blog campaign. Since it's not phony and lame, like "Raging Cow," it probably will.

UPDATE: A reader notes this IBM/Lotus blog by Ed Brill, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Some interesting background on IBM from Asparagirl.

MORE: Reader Chris Schmidt writes:

Wanted to give you a quick update on your IBM/Lotus blogs post. Late last year, IBM released a number of services to its employees. One of the better ones is the ability to start a blog within the internal network. There are 620 active blogs (2+ posts) from all around the world currently. It's still in a pilot form, but it and other recent applications make me think that IBM is starting to 'get it'. The company is working hard to get us to come together. Many of the projects I've seen recently have people distributed throughout the country as opposed to everyone in one place. Whether it's for a good cause or not, it's much easier to ping complete strangers for information.

Interesting. And cool.

MORE STILL: And, of course, I shouldn't forget the many Microsoft blogs!

THIS seems like a positive development: "Iraqi police have captured a top aide of al-Qaeda suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the US-led coalition says. . . . Mr Baziyani, who was arrested on Saturday, is said to be providing information to coalition authorities." It's especially positive that he was captured by Iraqi police.

HUGH HEWITT is back from his blog hiatus, and he's making up for lost time. Just keep scrolling.

KOFI DOESN'T WANT YOU TO READ THIS BOOK: My copy just came. Meanwhile here's a review:

The controversial volume, due out next week, charges that some UN officials demanded that 15 per cent of their local staffs' salaries go directly to them instead; that Bulgaria sent freed criminals to serve as peacekeepers; and that incompetent UN security had cost lives.

Their first-person account of a decade in UN service also includes candid details of drug use - particularly a marijuana cocktail called The Space Shuttle -- and casual sex. It says UN staff in Cambodia resembled "the jet set on vacation".

"Almost a million civilians (whom) our peacekeepers were supposed to protect died in two genocides," Andrew Thomson, one of the authors, said.

It certainly seems consistent with reports like this one from the Atlantic Monthly, and with what I've heard from friends and acquaintances who have done this kind of work. My guess, though, is that the sex-and-drugs angle, which is relatively minor, will get the most attention, while the corruption and failure to protect innocents -- which is a huge UN failing, amply demonstrated in many other reports -- will be ignored.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Thanks for the link to the book. I've travelled a bit in SE Asia, including Cambodia and Laos, and in both places have heard a lot of complaints from locals about the UN - in Cambodia, UN "peacekeepers" are popularly credited with introducing and widely spreading AIDS. A combination of poorly disciplined troops, little HIV testing and relatively high pay compared to the locals meant that the money the soldiers received was enough to support veritable harems of local girls. They weren't shy about spending it, and the results have been pretty tragic. In Laos, the more generalised complaint about NGO's was that, of the money they spent, very little went to the local economy - rather it disappeared into the pockets of westerner workers as salary. Since these could live very cheaply in-country, most of the cash wound up going right back to their home countries.

Yes, that's the sort of thing I've heard, too.

AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, Slate's new "Kerryism of the Day" feature is no better than its lame and sometimes dishonest "Bushism of the Day" feature. Now Eugene Volokh observes:

It's remarkable, then, how bad the editing in the Kerryisms really is. The Kerryisms author strips away necessary material, not just the "pointless embellishments." In the process, he substantially changes the original author's meaning; this often leads to the result's conveying something the original author doesn't want to convey(something authors rightly hate). At the same time, the Kerryisms author often omits other edits he should be making. And he makes all these mistakes with a smug, self-satisfied tone that leads the errors to just be more annoying.

Read the whole thing. A perverse thought: I wonder if all the traffic following the links from Eugene's critiques isn't what's keeping these features alive?


Let me get this straight--the Pope is criticizing Bush for recent "deplorable events", that is the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal, which came to attention a few months ago and is not only being investigated but prosecuted, whereas the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal has lasted decades (under the current pope's watch)? centuries? a millenia before being investigated by the institution.


UPDATE: Then there's this:

Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who was forced to resign as leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston after a long and painful sexual abuse scandal involving clergy members, was chosen by Pope John Paul II on Thursday to head a basilica in Rome. . . .

The appointment angered the cardinal's critics and others who see it as a reward. . . .

The appointment could be financially lucrative for Cardinal Law. His predecessor in the job, Cardinal Furno, received a 10,000 euro monthly stipend, or about $12,000, said a former Vatican official who is a friendly acquaintance of Cardinal Furno. Cardinal Furno lived in a palatial apartment alongside the right flank of the basilica that is reserved for the archpriest, said the former official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Not very impressive. (Much discussion in the comments here).

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. This blog entry claims there's no pay for the position. That's not what the story says, but it could be wrong, I suppose.

RADLEY BALKO has an interesting column on fitness and health insurance.

YESTERDAY I MENTIONED the NBC miniseries Uprising, and a couple of readers also recommend another one called Escape from Sobibor. I've never seen it, but I seem to recall that my late publisher, Fred Praeger, liked it. A former Austrian track star, he escaped from a concentration camp himself, though I believe it was Buchenwald. From this experience he kept a lifelong passion for physical fitness -- I remember going to the gym with him in Boulder when I was out there on a visit, and he was lifting more than me despite being well into his 70s.

THIS LOOKS LIKE MORE GOOD NEWS on the employment front: "Unemployment rates declined in all four regions and in more than half the states in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Over the year, unemployment rates declined in all regions and in 47 states." And there seem to be lots of actual new jobs being created.

UPDATE: Steve Verdon has some thoughts, and Bill Hobbs observes:

The fact is, the Bush Boom is now creating jobs at a faster clip than the job growth John Kerry promises if he is elected president. . . . In fact, at a rate of 238,000 new jobs per month so far this year, the economy would create 11,424,000 jobs over four years. John Kerry is promising his economic policies would create only 10 million jobs in his first term.

The Bush people should hope that people take note.

ANOTHER UPDATE: They're doing more than hoping. They've got a new commercial out, which you can see online here. That was fast!

FELLOW PHOTO-BLOGGING LAW PROFESSOR ANN ALTHOUSE has posted a lot of cool photos from Manhattan.

THE BBC SPIKING NEGATIVE STORIES on the antiwar movement?

Say it ain't so! Here's the full story, from the New Statesman, and here's a key bit:

Just before the war against Iraq I began to receive strange calls from BBC journalists. Would I like information on how the leadership of the anti-war movement had been taken over by the Socialist Workers Party? . . .

The anti-war movement wasn't a simple repetition of the old story of the politically naive being led by the nose by sly operators. The far left was becoming the far right. It had gone as close to supporting Ba'athist fascism as it dared and had formed a working alliance with the Muslim Association of Britain, which, along with the usual misogyny and homophobia of such organisations, also believed that Muslims who decided that there was no God deserved to die for the crime of free thought. In a few weeks hundreds of thousands of people, maybe millions, would allow themselves to be organised by the opponents of democracy and modernity and would march through the streets of London without a flicker of self-doubt. Wasn't this a story?

It's a great story, I cried. But why don't you broadcast it?

We can't, said the bitter hacks. Our editors won't let us.

Radio silence was imposed on the sinister and in many ways right-wing behaviour of the far left and has continued into the campaign for this month's elections.

(Emphasis added.) This sort of thing hasn't gotten much more coverage in the United States. But given the BBC's troubles, I hope its editors' biases will get more attention in Britain.

UPDATE: LT Smash offers a report on the American version of this phenomenon.

JOANNE JACOBS has the Spelling Bee news covered.

GAIL HERIOT has observations on the SAT. My sense is that hostility to the SAT stems from the fact that it does exactly what it was designed to do -- it makes it harder for college administrators to discriminate in admissions.

A VERY INTERESTING PIECE on ocean conservation from The New York Times: "Saving a reef for the fish, and the people."

UPDATE: Related article here.

ANDREW SULLIVAN notes bizarre efforts to minimize terrorism at Salon, -- but it's James Lileks who explains what's going on:

To paraphrase an influential thinker of the previous century: The death of millions is a statistic.

The reelection of one is a tragedy.

That does seem to be the sentiment in some quarters.

MORE BAATHIST FINGERPRINTS on 9/11, according to Deroy Murdock. And, of course, to Stephen Hayes.

HERE'S A ROUNDUP OF D-DAY ANNIVERSARY POSTS, courtesy of BlackFive. Lots of interesting stuff.

June 03, 2004

IRAQI BLOGGERS ZEYAD and Ays have thoughts on the new Iraqi government.

CLINTON KNEW? Well, the Clinton Administration, anyway. That's the gist of this report:

More than a year before 9/11, a Pakistani-British man told the FBI an incredible tale: that he had been trained by bin Laden’s followers to hijack airplanes and was now in America to carry out an attack. The FBI questioned him for weeks, but then let him go home, and never followed up. . . .

NBC News has learned that Khan passed not one but two FBI polygraphs. A former FBI official says Newark agents believed Khan and tried to aggressively follow every lead in the case, but word came from headquarters saying, “return him to London and forget about it” -- which, critics say, is exactly what the FBI did.

Of course, this observation applies.

AMERICAN MUSLIM WOMEN fighting religious extremism. Interesting stuff.

ANOTHER HISTORY LESSON, this time from Paul Johnson.

STEPHEN GREEN IS ON A ROLL: Just keep scrolling.

IS GEORGE BUSH A "NASCAR Nazi?" That's what this columnist says.

At least no one is questioning his patriotism! Er, unless you count Matt Yglesias' speculation that Bush is a mole for the Mullahs. Yglesias is no doubt speaking tongue-in-cheek.

UPDATE: Josh Chafetz has comments on the "NASCAR Nazi" column. He's unimpressed by the author's grasp of history.

I think that Bush-hatred on the part of the left has actually surpassed Clinton-hatred on the part of the right.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Steve Hendren notes a contradiction:

Yglesias is way off. If Bush is "NASCAR Nazi" that would make him a "mole for the Mullets"!

Can't argue with that.

THE PRINCE OF MEMPHIS: Roger Abramson has a long and interesting profile of Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., who is likely to go far. Best bit:

“I’m not a Democrat who thinks rich people have too much,” he says. . . “I don’t think enough people have the chance to get rich.”

The Democratic Party needs more people who think this way.

UPDATE: More reaction here.

EUGENE VOLOKH HAS MORE on the Kerry campaign's intellectual property issues. I agree with Eugene that Kerry's probably OK here.

CATHY SEIPP HAS THOUGHTS on media diversity and the blogosphere.


BEIJING (Reuters) - A lone man staged a short-lived demonstration on Tiananmen Square Thursday night, the eve of the 15th anniversary of China's bloody military crackdown on democracy protests, a witness said.

The man, about 50 years old, kneeled briefly to pray at the foot of the Monument to the Peoples' Heroes at the center of the square, where tens of thousands of students gathered from April to June 1989 to press demands for democratic reform.

He was swiftly taken away by police, according to a Reuters photographer who witnessed the scene. Police in plain clothes and in uniform routinely comb the square on sensitive anniversaries, snuffing out protests as quickly as they start.

Indeed. And nobody seems to care all that much.

UPDATE: And there's this:

The Beijing doctor who exposed China’s cover-up of severe acute respiratory syndrome disappeared from his home, his daughter said on Thursday, apparently as part of a security crackdown ahead of the anniversary of the 1989 massacre against Tiananmen Square protesters. . . .

Dr Jiang sent a graphic letter to senior leaders on the Beijing massacre earlier this year during the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress calling for the government to admit its handling of the incident was wrong.

The letter quoted two of the top Chinese leaders involved in ordering the troops into central Beijing as admitting the verdict should be overturned.

The detention of Dr Jiang and others is a reminder that while the 1989 killings may be fading in popular memory, they remain a source of deep division and sensitivity within the party itself.

The good news is that there's still dissent to be crushed.

MATT ROSENBERG WRITES on Bill Cosby and the blogosphere.

HERE'S A VERY NICE PROFILE OF ROGER SIMON. And I certainly agree with his concluding sentiments.


In the terrorists' vision of the world, the Middle East must fall under the rule of radical governments, moderate Arab states must be overthrown, nonbelievers must be expelled from Muslim lands, and the harshest practice of extremist rule must be universally enforced. In this vision, books are burned, terrorists are sheltered, women are whipped, and children are schooled in hatred and murder and suicide.

Our vision is completely different. We believe that every person has a right to think and pray and live in obedience to God and conscience, not in frightened submission to despots. (Applause.) We believe that societies find their greatness by encouraging the creative gifts of their people, not in controlling their lives and feeding their resentments. And we have confidence that people share this vision of dignity and freedom in every culture because liberty is not the invention of Western culture, liberty is the deepest need and hope of all humanity. The vast majority of men and women in Muslim societies reject the domination of extremists like Osama bin Laden. They're looking to the world's free nations to support them in their struggle against the violent minority who want to impose a future of darkness across the Middle East. We will not abandon them to the designs of evil men. We will stand with the people of that region as they seek their future in freedom.

Read the whole thing, which includes not only a vision, but a four-part strategy. (Via Meryl Yourish).

UPDATE: Tom Smith finds the New York Times' coverage of this speech far less straightforward than the speech itself. Well, there's a surprise. . . .

RYAN SAGER WRITES that it's a bad year, politically, for the National Education Association.

MORE DISRESPECT for Robert Novak.

And why hasn't he been subpoenaed yet?

JOHN KEEGAN OFFERS INSTRUCTION to those who are ignorant of history:

I have been recovering from major surgery for the past few weeks and so have overdosed myself on daytime television - Richard and Judy, Crucible snooker, I Want that House, A Place in Greece. Most of it is entirely forgettable. There is, however, an undeniable fascination in watching Jon Snow, of Channel 4 News, energise himself for his early evening denunciation of Anglo-American activity in Iraq. About 5.30 he comes on to rehearse his sense of outrage. At 7pm we get the full display of apoplexy and hysteria - raised voice, flushed face, physical trembles.

I do not know whether Jon Snow is a history boy who has decided to suppress what he knows in favour of his commitment to drama studies. I do know that he, and the serried ranks of self-appointed strategic commentators who currently dominate the written and visual media's treatment of the Iraq story, have a duty to stop indulging their emotions and start remembering a bit of post-war history. Iraq 2004 is not Greece 1945, not Indochina 1946-54, not Algeria 1953-62 and certainly not "Vietnam".

It is a regrettable but not wholly to be unexpected outcome of a campaign to overthrow a dangerous Third World dictator. If those who show themselves so eager to denounce the American President and the British Prime Minister feel strongly enough on the issue, please will they explain their reasons for wishing that Saddam Hussein should still be in power in Baghdad.

Read the whole thing.


UPDATE: Kathryn Jean Lopez has a glimpse of the future: "I can picture it all now. The Tenet press conference with Howard Dean's group and MoveOn where he announces that Bush is a failed leader. The October surprise book where he blames everything wrong with intel on W., Condi & the Pentagon."

That does seem to be the preferred path for the Bush Administration's washouts. Of course, his most telling charge would be "Bush should have fired me on September 11th!" And that one may be a bit awkward. (Read this piece from 2002, too: "Someone remind me why George Tenet still has a job.")

Reader Don Hoover emails: "I guess since Tenet was a Clinton apointee, he had to listen to Gore and resign. . . . Unfortunately, Tenet should have been fired 1/2001 and that's what will be missed in this coverage."

MORE: Mark Riebling has thoughts on Tenet's strengths and weaknesses, and suggestions regarding a successor. ("Tenet had to leave, but our intelligence failures are not entirely his fault. . . . President Bush would do well to replace Tenet with someone who knows, and who has said publicly, that our whole philosophy of intelligence is naive.")

And here's a rare InstaPundit post praising Tenet for building up the Agency's paramilitary capabilities, which turned out to be an excellent move. It's on the intelligence side where Tenet hasn't done as well.

STILL MORE: Reader Chuck Herrick has a darker take:

Here is what I'm injecting into my Ouija board ... Tenet resigned because he has inside information that there will be at least one more horrible terror event on American soil before the election. My guess is Tenet has access to the intelligence to back this up and Tenet realizes that the next one is not preventable. The terrorists are going to get away with another one.

And, my guess is that Tenet, having had all the other terrorist events happen "on his watch" can't handle one more. So, he's going to flee the scene. How would you like to be his replacement? I would not. I think other terror incidents (on American soil) are preventable, but I also think that we as a culture don't have the will to do what it will take to make this so. It will take at least the resignation of a guy like Tenet, but it will also take lots more. In that sense, there probably was nothing Tenet could do but to avoid being the guy at the helm when it happens.

Well, that's encouraging.

It's also possible -- even though everyone, including me, is inclined to doubt it -- that his stated reason of wanting to spend more time with his family is true. Consider, all you readers and bloggers, just how much paying close attention to this war has taken out of you. It has certainly taken a lot out of me. It can only be a thousand times worse for Tenet and those others at the center of things. After seven years, he may just have had enough. We always doubt such claims, because people who resign for other reasons always use them as smokescreens. But that doesn't mean they're not sometimes true.

MORE STILL: Here's the text of Tenet's goodbye speech.

Meanwhile, Michele Catalano rounds up various reasons offered for Tenet's departure. And (via Michele) this roundup of blogospheric reactions, and this suggestion for a successor: "Why not appoint Howard Dean or Wes Clark, since they knew all along about 9/11 and that there 'were' no WMD?!?"

And more opinions are rounded up here.

EVEN MORE: Mickey Kaus:

My own completely uninformed hunch is that if there's a hidden backstory it has more to do with the Plame investigation (where the CIA and the White House could well be at odds over enforcing the law against disclosure of agents' identities) than the Chalabi business. (Update: Fred Kaplan seems to agree, and raises the other interesting possibility that Tenet was somehow playing footsie with Kerry.)

Beats me.

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF: "In case you wonder if Europe is truly screwed: the Spanish Prime Minister Josй Zapatero has awarded medals - Cross of Military Merit - to his Defence Minister and three generals, not for anything as mundane as bravery or distinguished service, but... wait for it... for withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq!"

UPDATE: A reader suggests that this feat of arms should be memorialized in song.

SPINSANITY is criticizing Slate for a phony "Bushism," noted here earlier.

From what I've seen (I'm not a regular reader of either feature) the "Kerryism" feature hasn't been any better. Slate would be well advised to discontinue these features, which serve largely to undermine its credibility and its reputation for wit. And those journalists at The New Republic and The Washington Post who recycled the Slate item look pretty bad, too. Shockingly, Dana Milbank is one of them.

INTERESTING STUFF ON AGING RESEARCH over at Randall Parker's FuturePundit.

COPENHAGEN CONSENSUS: The results of Bjorn Lomborg's conference aimed at prioritizing world problems and solutions are out, and are now available on the web.

AMAZON NOW HAS A PAGE DEVOTED TO "plogs" or personalised blogs with links to lots of real blogs like InstaPundit and Boing Boing.

Somebody should tell them, though, that the term "plog" has already been taken. (Permalinks not working right -- scroll down to the Jan. 10 entry, or just click here if you've got RealPlayer).

BELLE DU JOUR offers dating tips from the animal kingdom.

SHEILA O'MALLEY notes Victor Klemperer's witness.

UPDATE: For those who wonder, yes, Victor Klemperer was indeed related to conductor Otto Klemperer (and, hence, to Werner "Col. Klink" Klemperer of Hogan's Heroes fame -- though Werner was actually a conductor himself and a man of many other talents).

ANOTHER UPDATE: By the way, the excellent NBC miniseries Uprising on the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt is now on DVD. Here's a review that Dave Kopel and I wrote back when it came out in November of 2001.

HACKING CANON'S DIGITAL REBEL, to make it the equivalent of the far-more-expensive 10D. Interesting idea.

BO COWGILL WRITES: "Prepare for a Michael Moore film debasing Sweden."

Meanwhile, Ray Bradbury, from whose novel Fahrenheit 451 Moore lifted his title, has a low opinion of Moore: "He is a horrible human being." And Roger Simon comments: "Ray Bradbury's original Fahrenheit 451, as we all know, was about book-burning. Maybe Moore's Fahrenheit 911 is actually about pants-burning, as in 'Liar, Liar, pants on fire!'"

Finally, Jeff Jarvis proposes some blogospheric fact-checking.

June 02, 2004

ANOTHER DIPLOMATIC SUCCESS? "If it were not vulgar, I would say the Bushies suckered the U.N. into signing on to the New Iraq through Brahimi."

Vulgar or not, I think that's probably right.

MEGAN MCARDLE: "Guess who lags the US in curbing toxic emissions? No, really, you'll never guess."

Hmm. Here's a possibility:

The annual Taking Stock report, drawn from submissions by more than 20,000 polluters in the United States and Canada, shows that Canada is lagging the United States in curbing toxic pollution. Although total North American emissions declined by 18 per cent from 1998 to 2001, Canadian emissions rose three per cent.

Hmm. And yet. . . .

STEPHEN GREEN OFFERS THOUGHTS on how to end the "Cycle of Violence."

UPDATE: In a related development, a new wrinkle in nonlethal munitions. Though I think there's some precedent for its use in the region. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: And speaking of things that havent' changed in two millennia. . . .

BLACKFIVE OFFERS A LETTER FROM AFGHANISTAN, with a suggestion that Robert Novak read it.

LT SMASH looks at what's to come in Iraq.

WHILE I WENT OUT TO GET FROZEN YOGURT, the InstaWife watched CBS news. She pronounced it "one long commercial for the Democrats." (Yeah, but where's the FEC?) I referred her to

UPDATE: It wasn't just CBS. MIckey Kaus writes:

Am I the only one who was amazed that the NBC Nightly News ran what seemed like a minute of what was in effect a trailer for Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11, now to be distributed by the Weinstein brothers of Miramax? There was no identifying line on the screen--if you tuned in you'd think you were watching an NBC report. ... Q.: What was the news peg that justified the extended showing of footage from the Weinsteins' film? A.: The peg was that the Weinsteins had released footage from their film! .. Either they have the best PR person in the world or there is a backstory here, waiting to be told.

I think I know what it is.

BETTER ALL THE TIME: Another good news roundup from The Speculist.

CATHY SEIPP posts her monthly review of Maureen Dowd's work. Once again, it's unflattering: "You know, I think if you survived Normandy or Iwo Jima you deserve better in your old age than to be clucked over by a condescending Maureen Dowd. But maybe that's just me."

KERRY ON LOOSE NUKES: Tom Maguire has thoughts.

UPDATE: Wonkette doesn't like the color scheme.

THOUGHTS ON AL QAEDA STRATEGY, or lack thereof, from Donald Sensing and The Belmont Club.

SOME INTERESTING STATS on the National Spelling Bee contestants. This one caught my eye:

Most spellers attend traditional public schools (179). The rest attend home schools (35), private schools (27), parochial (20) or charter schools (four).

That seems like a wildly disproportionate number in home schools. (And, if it isn't, well, that's news too.)

Speaking of the Spelling Bee, both Mr. Sun and Ed Cone have thoughts. And they're both big fans of Spellbound, the Spelling Bee documentary that I've mentioned before. (Here's a Brian Micklethwait post on the film.)

UPDATE: One of the spellers from Spellbound has started a blog! And a reader sends this revealingly clueless BBC review of the film. Sheesh. Compare this review with Brian Micklethwait's post above.

INSTAPUNDIT: The blog women love! But of course.

JESSE WALKER HAS more on low-power radio, including this: "college radio is coming to Afghanistan. Could zines and 7-inch indie labels be far behind?"


"Right now, our biggest problem is finding qualified people," said Larson, plant manager at Milwaukee N/C Machining in Fredonia.

On Tuesday, the Institute for Supply Management reported that its manufacturing employment index advanced in May for the seventh consecutive month with a 61.9 reading, the highest mark in 31 years.

Economists say the report from the Arizona-based group shows that the economy is rebounding - especially for the battered manufacturing sector.

I suppose there will be some people who will be disappointed, though.

JOANNE JACOBS: "Rosie the Riveter has trumped Patton."

SO NOW AMAZON IS SELLING industrial supplies and medical supplies? And, only somewhat less surprisingly, shoes. Soon there won't be anything that you can't buy from Amazon. Er, except for Heinz ketchup. Is that a political statement?

UNSCAM UPDATE: The finger-pointing begins:

The former head of the United Nations' oil-for-food program in Iraq says the Security Council prevented him from effectively administering the multibillion-dollar-a-year program that is now the focus of several inquiries into allegations of corruption and mismanagement. . . .

Mr. Sevan did not explain in his e-mail message how the Security Council had hampered him from effectively administering the sprawling program. But diplomats and United Nations officials said it was what one called "common knowledge" that member states were ignoring the widespread complaints about kickbacks and payoffs by Saddam Hussein's government so that their companies could continue being part of the lucrative program.

Read the whole thing. He also slams unnamed "pundits" for giving him a hard time.

UPDATE: Roger Simon is deeply unimpressed. "Now let me get this straight. Because Chalabi is probably guilty of various shenanigans, Mr. Sevan and his cronies at the UN did nothing wrong. Grade in logic: F. Blame Canada?.... No, blame Chalabi!"


In Tuesday's "cease and desist" letter, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth called on Kerry's campaign to stop what it said was the unauthorized use of the images of some of them in a 60-second biographical spot titled "Lifetime." The ad began running nationwide in early May.

Hmm. I don't think I like this.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has posted a legal analysis.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON is writing in The New Republic:

The misplaced restraint of the past year is not true morality, but a sort of weird immorality that seeks to avoid ethical censure in the short term--the ever-present, 24-hour pulpit of global television that inflates a half-dozen inadvertent civilian casualties into Dresden and Hiroshima. But, in the long term, such complacency has left more moderate Iraqis to be targeted by ever more emboldened murderers.

He favors a more aggressive approach.

HERE'S A BLOG with cool embedded video of the Rolling thunder parade in Washington that I mentioned earlier.

STRATEGYPAGE offers a frontline report from Iraq.

UPDATE: Orrin Judd offers several interesting items on the transition.

MIKE RAPPAPORT is looking on the bright side.

UPDATE: Reader Elizabeth Mauro points to this passage ("American officials reported that in the cable to Tehran, the Iranian official recounted how Mr. Chalabi had said that one of 'them' — a reference to an American — had revealed the code-breaking operation, the officials said. The Iranian reported that Mr. Chalabi said the American was drunk.") and adds "I'm thinking Ted Kennedy."

Plausible, but far from certain. On a more serious note, the one thing I'm sure of is that we're not getting the whole story here, for good or for ill.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Patrick Belton has more questions on Chalabi.

HOW TO THINK about neuroethics: My TechCentralStation column is up.

ANOTHER U.N. SCANDAL: U.N. ambulances used by terrorists. "According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies, senior UNRWA employee Nahed Rashid Ahmed Attalah confessed to using his official U.N. vehicle to bypass security and smuggle arms, explosives and terrorists to and from attacks. . . . Moreover, according to Rep. Smith, a UNRWA school hosted a Hamas rally by a key Hamas leader in July 2001 and another UNRWA employee praised homicide bombers, proclaiming: 'The road to Palestine passes through the blood of the fallen, and these fallen have written history with parts of their flesh and their bodies.'" There's a link to the video.

SUDAN UPDATE: Carroll Morse has more background on the horrific events there.

ROD DREHER in the Dallas Morning News:

We decided to search photo wire service archives for the past month, looking for images of U.S. soldiers engaged in helping Iraqis instead of shooting at them. We were startled to discover that the photo accompanying this text was the only image of its kind that moved on the wires in recent weeks. This newspaper's photo department told me that if news photographers aren't shooting those pictures, it's because media back home aren't interested in those stories.

Which justifies the reader complaints we've been hearing, does it not?

Jay Rosen is mentioned.

IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT already, check out this interview with Matt Welch by Norm Geras.

SEAN HACKBARTH RESPONDS to my criticism of the Kerry / Ketchup business, below. He also comments in email:

Oh by far, Heinz is the best. Even if John Kerry were running Heinz
personally and pumping the company's profits into his campaign, I'd still
buy the stuff.

It's a classic American sauce. And full of healthy Lycopene!

UPDATE: But it gets no respect from Amazon! But as far as I'm concerned, it's a "gourmet food."

THIS IS KIND OF SAD: A gallery of photos you can't take in New York City anymore.


If being a single dork who's into policy means someone in D.C. is gay, it's a wonder that the orgy at the Washington Monthly stops long enough for them to get a magazine out.


UPDATE: Reader Frank Banecker emails: "Wonkette? Doesn't she strike you as a September 10th kind of babe?" Ouch, again.

June 01, 2004

HOWELL RAINES says that John Kerry must do better.

Ed Morrissey says that "Raines thinks that Americans are just too stupid to understand Kerry."

UPDATE: Reader Terry Notus thinks Raines has it backward:

In that Raines article in the Guardian you linked, he writes "As America's FIRST WAR-HERO candidate since John F Kennedy, he ought to be leading the national
discussion on what went wrong in Iraq."

You would think Howell Raines would have heard of George McGovern or at least George H.W. Bush, right?

You'd think.



Sissy Willis has comments.

PROF. BAINBRIDGE has a very interesting post on the relationship between martial virtues and civic virtues.

BUSY TODAY doing yardwork for the InstaMom. Cleaned gutters, caulked, cut down several trees (a couple were big enough to merit an axe -- well, they merited a chainsaw, but what I had was an axe, but at least I felt manly while swinging it), etc. Back later.

IT'S AN ARTICLE OF FAITH among many war critics that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. I'd be interested in hearing what those people have to say about Stephen Hayes' new book, The Connection : How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America. He's doing some of that dot-connecting that people are, in other contexts, so enthusiastic about.

UPDATE: More here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's one response, but I don't find it dreadfully persuasive due to the high straw-man quotient. The United States abandoned the war on Al Qaeda?

SPIRIT OF AMERICA is trying to upgrade its activities. Jeff Jarvis has some thoughts on how, and why, you should help.

You should also read this column by Dan Gillmor, who's antiwar but pro-Spirit of America, and here's an announcement that Armed Liberal (Marc Danziger) has forsaken anonymity to take a job as Spirit of America's Chief Operating Officer.

NOAM SCHEIBER IS WITTY AND ENTHUSIASTIC, and expects to be properly rewarded.

Mickey Kaus, however, thinks he's expecting too much.

OSAMA'S WORST NIGHTMARE, via Pseudopsalms.

He wouldn't like this, either. (Second link NSFW).

FRIDA GHITIS writes on Amnesty International in The New Republic: "In fact, it could be argued that one of the most serious emerging threats to human rights today is Amnesty's decision to spend a disproportionate share of its limited resources attacking the United States--at the opportunity cost of focusing attention on governments that are slaughtering, enslaving, torturing, and imprisoning millions of people around the world."

Perhaps they should address a bit more effort to this situation.

"EVERY WAR WITH FASCISM IS OUR BUSINESS:" An interesting interview with the sole survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. "Those who say that you don't have to fight for freedom, don't understand what fascism is. I do." Read the whole thing.

I USUALLY LEAVE TENNESSEE POLITICS to Bill Hobbs and others who make it their specialty. But via Doug "InstaLawyer" Weinstein, here's a report on how Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen has angered the Trial Lawyers with a new Workers' Compensation bill. He had a lot of support from them last time around, but it looks like they'll be less enthusiastic next time.


THE GENEVA Conventions are so outdated and are written so broadly that they have become a sword used by terrorists to kill civilians, rather than a shield to protect civilians from terrorists. These international laws have become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.

I think that a rethinking of the laws of war is probably in order. The Geneva Conventions have acquired a quasi-mystical status in the minds of some (most of whom haven't actually read them), but they're merely another set of international agreements, and the world has changed rather a lot since they were adopted. In addition, I don't believe that the United States has fought a single war since World War II in which our enemy was honoring the Conventions.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

I wonder how many Americans are like me in learning everything we know about the 'Geneva conventions' from the TV show, Hogan's Heroes. Do you remember how Col. Hogan could reduce the camp commander Col. Klink to a quivering mess by threatening to report him for 'violations to the Geneva conventions?' In retrospect, I doubt they had that much power. Anyhow, I'm wondering if Hogan's Heroes has a great part in the seemingly mystical understanding lots of people have about them?

Good point.

A SAD CONCLUSION to the Eurofighter debacle.

May 31, 2004

GERARD HENDERSON: On the anniversary of D-Day, the French have "much to be humble about."

SEAN HACKBARTH'S THE AMERICAN MIND is a good weblog, and its regular Kerry feature is okay. But -- and I don't mean to single out Sean in this -- I'm tired of the ketchup stuff.

Yes, Kerry's married to the Heinz heiress. And some people think it's funny to associate him with a condiment. But Heinz Ketchup is an American treasure. Kerry should be proud to be associated with it, and Kerry's critics aren't diminishing him by making that association.

Oh, Hunt's is OK, and Del Monte has its charms. The off-brand Paramount "Oyster Hot" is really good. But Heinz is the Ketchup Reference Standard. It's the uber-Ketchup. So please stop dissing it in a lame attempt to make Kerry look bad.

VARIOUS READERS HAVE REQUESTED MORE CATBLOGGING: I took this picture of Nicholas on Friday, but didn't want to get into the Kevin Drum groove. But, since people insist. . . .

He and my 9-month-old nephew, who went back home with his dad today, were playing a game. Nicholas would sit in the grass until the baby achieved contact, then move a few feet away, staying well within crawling range, and wait, repeating the move as needed. Both seemed to enjoy the process.

UPDATE: More catblogging here.

MARK STEYN'S MEMORIAL DAY COLUMN: "They had victims galore back in 1863, but they weren't a victim culture. . . . Playing by Gore-Kennedy rules, the Union would have lost the Civil War, the rebels the Revolutionary War, and the colonists the French and Indian Wars. There would, in other words, be no America."

READER JED KANE sends this update from Washington, along with a couple of photos:

I went to the Rolling Thunder Memorial Day 2004 ride in DC Sunday. The group is made up of mostly Vietnam vets, and the ride is to raise awareness of the POW/MIA issue, as well as to honor vets. The group's leader's paid a visit to President Bush via Harley and presented him with a Rolling Thunder tee-shirt. This group has endorsed Bush over Kerry, a significant action given their membership.

Here's a link to the Washington Post article (registration required).

Note paragraphs 9 through 11.

While the bike adornments were mostly apolitical, I shot these examples of how these folks view John Kerry.

Kane is certainly right that there's a lot of anti-Kerry sentiment mentioned in the Post article, entirely consistent with these photographs. And this suggests -- as I've mentioned before -- that Kerry has been mistaken to play up the Vietnam angle so much.

UPDATE: Well, this explains it. Look who was attending.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Chong-Ren Chien emails:

Hey, saw your story on Rolling Thunder and I figure I would contribute a couple of pictures your way. Hope you like them.

The first picture was shot while I was pulling up to the stop light in Alexandria, VA. The slogans on the truck were priceless so I pulled out my digital camera and took a shot.

The second one is with me with a couple of Vietnam vets. They were hanging out at the WWII memorial when I noticed them. I decided to approach them and ask for a picture and they obliged.

Thanks Chong! Here they are.

WILLIAM SAFIRE'S Memorial Day column is worth reading.

RADLEY BALKO IS taking on the food bluenoses in Time. "If you aren't responsible for what you put into your mouth, chew and swallow, what's left that you are responsible for?"

DEAN DATA UPDATE: Aziz Poonawalla reports that the Dean user data weren't sold -- they were just given away. "I had assumed that Deanlink data was indeed private, and when I registered there was no indication in their privacy statement that I was putting myself on an open database accessible by unprotected feeds. At the very least, DFA had a duty to share the details of how Deanlink operated with more transparency."

CAPT. ED says that the new Libertarian Party presidential nominee is a disaster who thinks Congress works for the President. But Al Barger likes him: "Badnarik's not much of a politician- but I don't care, and don't think it'll hurt us."

UPDATE: More thoughts at Catallarchy.

BLOGS' IMPACT ON BIG MEDIA: An interesting column by Mark Glaser in the Online Journalism Review. And here's a lengthier article on the same topic by Rachel Smolkin in the American Journalism Review.

But am I really a "moody maestro?" I think I'm pretty even-tempered. At least by Internet standards!

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner has survey data on which blogs are read by Big Media folks. And Jeff Jarvis has some related stuff. And this John Leo column relates to a hypothesis offered by Drezner.

ALPHECCA has a Memorial Day photo essay up.

UPDATE: Eric Olsen has Memorial Day thoughts. More here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Quinton rounds up Memorial Day posts from around the blogosphere.

And here's a comprehensive guide on how to support the troops -- from all the Coalition countries, not just America -- presented by Winds of Change.

MORE: Gerard van der Leun has a moving post on the name on the stone.

CAPITALISTS DON'T TAKE HOLIDAYS: Or, at least, this week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up, despite the holiday.

UPDATE: A reader from Sullivan & Cromwell emails (from the office, natch) that capitalists don't take holidays -- and neither do their lawyers! How well I remember. . . .

THIS WEEK'S IRAQI BLOG ROUNDUP, The Carnival of the Liberated is up. As always, it's well worth reading. Read this, too.


Arab militia use 'rape camps' for ethnic cleansing of Sudan

In Darfur, Sudan's western-most region, the people remain untouched by last week's peace agreement signed between the country's Islamic government and Christian rebels. Sudanese soldiers and the government-backed Janjaweed militia still terrorise, and at the centre of their campaign of "ethnic cleansing" is a policy of systematic rape designed to drive civilians from their settlements.

And yet Sudan is on the U.N. Human Rights Commission, and nobody seems to care much about what's happening in Darfur. Can't we send these people guns, or something?

UPDATE: Tacitus has thoughts on what's going on, and what should be done.

ROGER SIMON ON TOM FRIEDMAN: An interesting post.

SOME MEMORIAL DAY PHOTOGRAPHY: Here's a gallery of photos from the World War II Memorial in Washington. Here's a gallery -- and here's another -- from two different photographers at the Moffett Field Air Show. And here's a collection of Fleet Week images.

Lileks has one, too.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse: "Personally, I owe my own life to the Army and the smell of coffee, but to be more like my mother, I shouldn't tell it as a personal story: There was a war. People did what had to be done."

Mudville Gazette has a collection of milblog Memorial Day links. Check 'em out.

And go read this Memorial Day request from CPT Patti. If you can help, do.

May 30, 2004

INSTAPUNDIT'S AFGHANISTAN PHOTO-CORRESPONDENT, Major John Tammes, sends this photo and reports:

I have attached a photo of one of our staff here at Bagram. Squadron Leader Richard Langley of the RAF Regiment (how non-unilateral of us, yes?). It is people like him that are helping make this unfortunate land a better place.

He also sends this:

I never thought in the course of my military career I would hear myself asking any of the following questions: "Hand-bombs? You mean grenades? OK, where did you put them?" or "Did the FBI come by and ask you about toilets yet?"

The first set of questions was to an employee (of East European extraction) of a contractor who told me he had found three "hand bombs" under a sandbag. I asked him where he put them, and after a merry little chase that led to three different people, I found them. The EOD (bomb squad) cleared that little mess up...

The second question was me asking a manager of the same contractor if some FBI agents based here had manage to get in touch with him about a little plumbing support. As soon as I uttered those words, and realized how odd they sounded, both the manager and I were laughing.

Sometimes I just shake my head in wonder here.....

Thanks, Major. And happy Memorial Day.

WAS IT ALL A SET-UP? Surely not. On the other hand, SayUncle is suspicious, too.


UPDATE: Ann Althouse thinks that these figures are inflated.

U.S. NEWS: "Having overestimated his support, radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr backs down." Read the whole thing, especially the final paragraph.

I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO TO BURNING MAN, and my brother and I even talked about it a few years ago. But the closest I'll ever get is probably Brian Doherty's new book, This is Burning Man, which tells the interesting story of how the festival came about and what lessons have been learned. (One is that pure anarchism only takes you so far.)

If, like me, you're not likely to make it out there this year, you might like this book (which for some reason also showed up in my mail a while back): Drama in the Desert, a photo essay, with accompanying DVD, from Burning Man. I watched the DVD; it's pretty cool.

SGT. STRYKER thinks that the political conventions should be more like science fiction conventions. I agree.

DAVID ADESNIK LOOKS AT a new poll from Iraq and pronounces it good news. Iraqis don't like the CPA much, and they'd like to end the occupation, but they think that things are getting better and want democracy.


It is already worth it for Iraq. There are more than 8,000 towns and villages in the country. If the much predicted civil war had erupted in any of 'em, you'd see it. Not from the Western press corps holed up with its Ba'ath Party translators at the Palestine Hotel, but from Arab television networks eager to show the country going to hell. They cannot show it you because it isn't happening. The Sunni Triangle is a little under-policed, but even that's not aflame. Moqtada al-Sadr, the Khomeini-Of-The-Week in mid-April, is al-Sadr al-Wiser these days, down to his last two 12-year-old insurgents and unable even to get to the mosque on Friday to deliver his weekly widely-ignored call to arms.

Meanwhile, more and more towns are holding elections and voting in "secular independents and representatives of non-religious parties". I have been trying to persuade my Washington pals to look on Iraq as an exercise in British-style asymmetrical federalism: the Kurdish areas are Scotland, the Shia south is Wales, the Sunni Triangle is Northern Ireland. No need to let the stragglers in one area slow down progress elsewhere. Iraq won't be perfect, but it will be okay - and in much better shape than most of its neighbours.

So I've moved on. I am already looking for new regimes to topple. . . .

In other words, don't make the mistake of assuming that Bush's poll numbers on Iraq have fallen because people want him to be more multilateralist and accommodating. On my anecdotal evidence, they want him to be more robust and incendiary.

And evidently John Kerry's internal polling is telling him the same thing. Hence, his speech in Seattle on Friday.

It's not just anecdotal, and it's not just internal -- just look at this poll:

30. When you hear about the continuing violent attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq, are you more likely to think the United States should be pulling troops our of Iraq or that the United States should be using more force to help stop the attacks by Iraqi insurgents?

1. Pull troops out 32%
2. Use more force 52
3. (Neither) 9
4. (Not sure) 7

Several other questions in the poll are consistent. This suggests that among those who disapprove of Bush's handling of the war there may be as many who think he's too soft as too harsh. And I agree that Kerry's new stance (noted here earlier) suggests that Kerry sees a market for toughness, or at least the appearance thereof.

Steyn thinks that Kerry is just being a weathervane, and that may be true. But you can learn things from watching weathervanes. Tim Blair, meanwhile, is hosting an interesting discussion.