October 09, 2004

GIVEN LAST NIGHT'S TALK about Supreme Court appointments -- and notwithstanding George W. Bush's foolish omission on that subject -- it's worth noting this symposium on Supreme Court appointments from Legal Affairs. Mark Tushnet says it doesn't matter. ("It's one thing for a President to nominate his ideal candidate for the Supreme Court. It's quite another to get that person confirmed.")

I BOUGHT MY COPY of John Fogerty's new album, Deja Vu All Over Again, earlier today. But I haven't listened to it yet. Eric Olsen has a review.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON weighs in on last night's debate: "As the night wore on Bush seemed the more human, the more real, Kerry the Boston Brahmin—smug, sanctimonious, self-righteous, and ponderous. Where Bush seemed genuine and vulnerable, Kerry appeared peeved, fussy, and smart-alecky. Kerry ended almost every one of his shotgun blasts of facts and figures with 'I have a plan'—though no plan was ever detailed or discussed."

Judging by these poll results, he wasn't the only one to feel that way. Heh.

JOURNALISM: Heal thyself.

MICHAEL BARONE joins with David Brooks in writing that media headlines are underplaying the Duelfer report:

But these headlines conceal the real news in the report of Iraq Survey Group head Charles Duelfer. For the report makes it plain that George W. Bush had good reason to go to war in Iraq and end the regime of Saddam Hussein. . . .

Duelfer also reported that Saddam asked subordinates how long it would take to develop chemical weapons once sanctions ended. One Iraqi chemical weapons expert said it would require only a few days to develop mustard gas. Former Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz said that Iraq could have had a WMD capacity within two years after the end of sanctions.

If the weapons inspectors had been given more time to conduct inspections, as John Kerry has on occasion advocated, we now know they would not have found any WMDs. Nor does it seem possible that they would have uncovered Saddam's attempts to maintain WMD capability. There would have been heavy pressure then from France, Russia, and China—whose companies were given kickbacks and windfall profits from the Saddam-administered U.N. Oil for Food program, Duelfer reports—to disband U.S. military forces in the Middle East and to end sanctions. And once sanctions were gone, there would have been nothing to stop Saddam from developing WMDs.

In other words, we were facing a brutal dictator with the capability to develop WMDs and the proven willingness to use them. A dictator whose regime had had, as the 9/11 Commission has documented, frequent contacts with al Qaeda. We have no conclusive evidence that he collaborated with al Qaeda on 9/11—but also no conclusive evidence that he did not. Under those circumstances, George W. Bush acted prudently in deciding to remove this regime. He would have been imprudent not to have done so.


AFTER WHAT THE AGE CALLS JOHN HOWARD'S "THUMPING VICTORY" in an Australian election that was run in no small part as a referendum on the war, it's interesting to see how little play it's getting in U.S. media.

If Howard had lost, however, I suspect it would be getting a lot of attention, and advanced as evidence that the war was going badly, Bush can't keep allies, etc., etc.

UPDATE: Australian blogger Tim Lambert says the Australian election didn't have anything to do with the war. "No, the election was not about Iraq--it was hardly an issue."

Hmm. But another Australian blogger wrote last week: "The hysteria that the Australian press has been whipped into, most significantly over Iraq, has radically altered the shape of the coming election."

And Tim Blair (hey, he's Australian, too, and even a journalist!) observes: "That’s why many voted for him ... although the New York Times, having earlier decided that War Plays a Role in Elections in Australia, now believes that Iraq remained in the background during the campaign."

I think it's Lambert who -- along with the NYT -- is doing the spinning here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tim Blair writes that Lambert is wrong.

I'M SHOCKED, SHOCKED TO HEAR THIS: Roger Simon says the New York Times is spinning oil-for-food in order to help Kerry and hurt Bush.

Elsewhere in the Times, though, David Brooks has it right. Spin in the news articles, facts in the opeds -- it's bizarro-world over there. . . .

MORE AFGHANISTAN PHOTOS from Major John Tammes. His description of the photo on the right:

Here is a voter receiving instructions before going to the booth to select
his choice.

And his description of the photo below:

This fellow is keeping the ballot box at a school in Dasht-e Robat (we had a Los Angeles Times reporter and photog accompany us!)

Tammes also forwards this Word version of the Afghan electoral law, and this Powerpoint presentation on the process.

There have been a few complaints:

[O]pposition candidates claimed the polls were unfair because the ink used to mark people's thumbs so they vote only once rubbed off too easily.

I'd be shocked if there weren't some fraud, of course -- but given that the United States still doesn't require photo identification, or mark people who have voted with indelible UV ink, etc., I don't suppose we're in a position to point fingers unless it's fairly significant. At any rate, given that critics were predicting that the elections would be derailed by chaos and mass violence (even worse than this!), complaints about insufficiently-indelible ink seem like a pretty good sign to me. I expect media stories to play up the fraud complaints and to downplay what a colossal achievement -- and rebuke to those critics -- this was. Read this for more background.

And from the look of these photos, the Afghans are already ahead of us in ballot technology!

UPDATE: Related thoughts here. ("Who can simply accept the results anymore? These days, there must be an elaborate, contentious post-election phase to magnify the losers' discontent. The only hope to avoid that is a wide margin of victory. That hope seems better in Afghanistan than in the U.S.") We've successfully exported American-style democracy already!

VARIFRANK has a beautiful new blog, beautifully designed by the beautiful Stacy Tabb. And that's a beautiful thing.

RASMUSSEN: "The latest Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll shows President George W. Bush with 50% of the vote and Senator John Kerry with 46%. Today is the first time all year that either candidate has hit the 50% mark in our survey."

JOHN HOWARD is claiming victory in Australia. (This response is pretty funny.)

UPDATE: Tim Blair: "Never again will I doubt the wisdom of Australians."

Margo Kingston: "It was a landslide . . . I'm taking a month off."

The Belmont Club has thoughts. He also takes note of Bremer's recent comments on troop levels in Iraq.


INSTAPUNDIT'S AFGHANISTAN PHOTO CORRESPONDENT, Major John Tammes, sends this picture from the Afghan elections and reports, "These men are waiting to vote in Dasht-e Robat (Parwan Province). They were very good natured about waiting and they seemed to be proud of what they were doing."

October 08, 2004

THE MSNBC STORY by Monica Novotny on bloggers and the debates, featuring yours truly, Scott Johnson of Powerline, and Kos, is now up over at Mickey Kaus makes a cameo.

SUM UP: Overall, a pretty good performance by both guys, neither of whom is a stellar orator. As I've said before, my judgment on these things isn't to be trusted -- I thought Carter beat Reagan -- but it looks to me like a pretty solid Bush win here for two reasons. First, the expectations were low, and he was drastically better than the previous debate, especially in the closing statement. Talk about beating the point spread. Second, he stayed focused and on-message, and looked firm instead of exasperated. As some talking head said, Bush came to play tonight. He wins the comeback prize, and the momentum shifts.

That's my take, but as I've said my judgment is suspect. We'll see what others think.

On the debate as a whole, well, it was pretty good and pretty substantive. A high point in the campaign, I'd say.

Hugh Hewitt: "No way to call this other than a big Bush win." Of course, he said that last week.

N.Z. Bear: "Bush connected with the audience with humor (self-deprecating and otherwise), while Kerry utterly failed to do the same. It was Bush's room: Kerry was just visiting. Combining that with solid answers which hammered Kerry on his weakest points made tonight a clear win for Bush on points, if not an utter knockout."

Bush is getting good reviews from the Hardball crowd.

Polipundit, which unlike Hugh Hewitt called the last debate a major defeat for Bush, thinks this was a big win.

Tom Maguire says Kerry abandoned Israel.

Power Line: "I had underestimated Kerry. I've always thought of him as a rather dull-witted stiff. But that's wrong. . . Two, Bush was much better tonight, more animated and energetic. He had several good spontaneous moments, one or two of which were funny. Did he 'win'? Beats me. But he did fine; he certainly didn't lose any ground tonight."

A reader emails:

I think Bush did so much better this time around because of the audience.
The first debate had the audience mostly invisible, and I don't think Bush
is comfortable if he doesn't have people he can see and try to connect to.

Interesting point.


My initial impression was that both candidates did a pretty good job. Bush was dramatically improved over his performance from the first debate.

I think Bush was the clear winner, although Kerry did okay. . . .

I thought Charlie Gibson, and the audience, both did great jobs.

In contrast to a few of my questioners, I thought the overwhelming majority of the questions were fair. Most of the Bush questions were tough on Bush; most of the Kerry questions were tough on Kerry.

I think Gibson did a good job, too.

TalkLeft: "John Kerry won, hands down. He had concrete answers. He was Presidential. He showed his knowledge and exposed Bush's mistakes."

Robert Prather: "Bush won. It was an unambiguous win. I wish he hadn’t waited until tonight to sound this articulate."

Hillary Clinton on CNN: "Senator Kerry hit it out of the park tonight." Says Bill thought so, too.

Roger Abramson from The Nashville Scene: "Bush wins, but only because he made up for last time."

Ann Althouse: "I think both men performed well in terms of style and getting their statements across. There is little basis for going on about who performed better tonight. People will have to pick between the two based on substance this time. . . . Ah, wait. One key style point. After it's all over, Bush plunges into the audience and interacts warmly and enthusiastically with the people, while Kerry goes over and hangs around with the moderator and then hugs his wife. Bush is posing for pictures with people. Where's Kerry now?"

Election Projection: "President Bush hit at least a triple tonight. He clobbered Senator Kerry on substance and even bested him on style. I thought the questions tonight were solid, fair, and impartial - way to go Charles Gibson!"

Kathryn Lopez: "Bush and Yankees win."

Jeff Jarvis -- who was liveblogging -- "Draw. Which is to say nobody wins, including us. More lively. Both were more in command. Come to think of it, if it's a draw, then it's a Bush victory, since this time, he was coming up from behind."

Alarming News: "We had two French reporters covering our party from Radio France, for a show called Interception. I talked to them for a little while, they're against the war in Iraq, pro-Kerry and they thought that Bush obviously won." French reporters are never wrong!

Andrew Sullivan: "A draw."

Ann Coulter on CNN: Bush beat a Democrat on Democratic issues. Paul Begala: Close, but Kerry won.

Pundit Guy, meanwhile, thinks both candidates lost. "I think tonight, we saw the death of the town hall meeting format."

Joe Trippi on Hardball: The online polls aren't scientific, but the fact that Kerry's winning them proves he's ahead. (Huh?) He thinks the town hall format was a big success. I'm inclined to agree with him about that latter point -- though I don't know how town-hallish this really was. But I think it was a good debate.

Joshua Zader: "There was a clear winner in tonight's debate — and it was Ronald Reagan." Heh. Yeah, he did get bipartisan props. . . .

Reader Shivan V. Mahendrarajah emails: "I live in NYC: limousine liberals hated Guiliani publicly, but voted for his reelection because they trusted him to keep them safe. I think the same phenomenon exists with GWB, and he reminded voters why they should vote for him. . . . Finally, some talking hairpiece on CNN called it a draw, so it must be a Bush win!"

Josh Marshall: "I thought it was basically a draw."

Note that ABC apparently nailed Kerry on the Shinseki story.

And so, after fighting a migraine for two days, to bed.

UPDATE: Soxblog observes:

Kerry was himself last night, which is to say he was a condescending jerk. Mickey Kaus points out the following: How could he tell looking around the room that none of the people there made more than $200k a year? Did he stroll around the parking lot and see nothing but Corvairs and Pintos? Did he do a quick scan and see no hair coifed by Christophe? Did he sneak a peak at the questioners’ cuticles and note the pitifully unmanicured state of their sorry digits?

He also says I "blew it" with my analysis of Kerry's abortion remark, below.

And echoing what was reported above last night, the Euro-press is calling it a Bush victory.

Transcript and web video are available here. Don't you love that?

Meanwhile, the spin wars are going on. And hey, they worked last week:

Newsweek's Evan Thomas and NBC's David Gregory conceded on Imus in the Morning this week that they thought George W. Bush won the debate last week, but changed their mind in the face of the media line. "I was quickly informed I was wrong and that Kerry had won," Thomas quipped Monday morning. Thomas said that while "Kerry did well," he "didn't think that Bush was as terrible as everybody else did." Gregory stated that he "initially" saw Bush as the winner, but then "there was kind of a debate in the press corps, those of us who were watching in the main filing center where we were watching the pool feeds, as opposed to watching some of the other networks that had the reaction shots and the split screens."

As I noted on Kudlow & Cramer yesterday, even Joe Lockhart called it a draw after the debate, but by Monday it had morphed into a crushing defeat for Bush. It's as if the press wants Kerry to win!

WHAT THREE MISTAKES HAVE YOU MADE: Bush dodges this. I've made a lot of mistakes he says, but on the big questions -- Afghanistan, Iraq, I'm right. When they ask about mistakes, they're asking -- did you make a wrong decision going into Iraq? No.

Kerry: The mistake was Iraq, and rushing to war. (Over a year? That was a rush?) [LATER: Read this]. Quotes more Republicans.

Bush: He complains about troop equipment, yet he voted against the $87 billion, then said I voted for it before I voted against it.

Saddam Hussein was a risk to our country, and he'd still be in power if Kerry had his way. Kerry recycles his line from the previous debate, starts talking about Halliburton and tax cuts, sure sign of pressure.

ABORTION QUESTION: I think Kerry's answer here is very good -- I won't legislate what's a matter of faith for me. As a President I have to represent all the people. You can take that position and not be pro-abortion.

I think this is Kerry's best answer so far.

Bush: A shorter and simpler answer: We're not going to spend taxpayer money on abortion. Moves to partial-birth abortion ban, and parental notification, "unborn victims of violence act." "Every child protected by law and welcomed in life." This sounds focus-group-tested.

Kerry: It's not that simple.

I think this is a place where nuance will play well, actually, and I think he handles it well.

Bush: It's pretty simple. You vote yes or no on banning partial-birth abortion, you voted no. You can run but you can't hide.

UPDATE: Reader Kevin Menand says that as a pro-choice "secularist" I just "don't get it" on the abortion issue, or I wouldn't like Kerry's answer so much.

Could be, but I call 'em as I see 'em. Your results, as always, may differ.

WHO WOULD YOU NAME TO THE SUPREME COURT? Bush foolishly doesn't say "Eugene Volokh." Strict constructionist. Long disquisition on what makes a good or bad judge. The Dred Scott discussion is a bit confused.

Kerry: Bush will appoint conservatives like Scalia and Thomas. I'll name a Justice whose opinions aren't political. Sounds a lot like what Bush says.

UPDATE: A reader emails that Kerry voted to confirm Scalia.

STEM CELL QUESTION FOR KERRY: He invokes Nancy Reagan. (Notice how many Republicans he's mentioning? Reagan, Eisenhower, McCain, etc.)

Interestingly, though, he takes a question about science -- adult stem cells work -- and turns it into a question on morality.

Nonetheless, it's his strongest bit yet, though he overstates Bush's "ban."

Bush: Embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of life to create a stem cell. I'm the first President to fund it. (Huh? Bad transition here, I think. . . ) His delivery is good, though: Science is good, but so is ethics. Still, he's in a tough position, looking like a straddler compared to Kerry.

Kerry: Pounces: Hits Bush here for waffling. He's got him on this one, I think. Bush is trying to be nuanced.

Bush: My embryos had already been destroyed. I made the decision to balance science and ethics.

Watching both of them, stem cell research must be polling well.

PATRIOT ACT QUESTION: Bush: I don't think your rights are being watered down. We're giving antiterrorist forces the same powers drug warriors have had. This argument doesn't impress me! He does better on the intelligence-sharing bit and the Lackawanna 6.

Kerry: Invokes Racicot and Sensenbrenner against the Patriot Act. (Payback for the Robert Rubin bit!) People's rights have been abused. He's pretty good on this, even noting that he voted for the Patriot Act. "I'm not a flip-flopper, I believe in the Patriot Act." But we can't let the terrorists change the constitution. Good delivery here.

Read More ?

OUTSOURCING: Bush invokes Robert Rubin against Kerry. Nice.

KYOTO TREATY: Bush muffs this by not noting that Clinton let it die, and the Senate voted against it 97-0. Kerry: Kyoto was flawed. I was in Kyoto. Maybe not the best way of phrasing it. Then he comes close to saying that terrorism is b/c of Kyoto.


KERRY: Read my lips -- no new taxes on people making under $200K a year!

Bush: Look at his record in the Senate -- he's not credible as a fiscal conservative. Of course he's going to raise your taxes.

I'D LIKE TO SEE THE RATINGS -- I'll bet that this back-and-forth on tax cuts is causing a lot of viewers to tune out.

SO IS BUSH A CRUEL starver of children or a fiscal profligate? Both!

THE HEALTHCARE DEBATE IS PRETTY LAME: I'd link to Ron Bailey's excellent article on this in the latest Reason, but it's not online yet.

"I'M A LAWYER, TOO?" I actually agree with Kerry that the trial-lawyer attacks are a distraction, but I wonder if this is a good slogan.

Bush -- Kerry's a liberal. That's a weak slogan, too, though he does cut into Kerry's dumb Shrumian "I'll fight for you" stuff.

UPDATE: Ernest Castillo emails:

"I'M A LAWYER, TOO?" Yes, you are indeed.

My wife's Doctor pays over 1 million dollars per year in insurance premiums and he's considered one of the best in the are of fertility. He also teaches at the college level but doesn't blog...

Well, there's his problem.


HEH: "Is it just me, or are these questions ridiculously pro-Kerry? I mean, where's Chris Farley's guy saying, 'Senator Kerry......remember when you were in Cambodia at Christmas? That was so awesome.....'"

WHY NO TERRORIST ATTACKS IN THREE YEARS? Kerry is stumbling and stammering; I think he knows this is a weak point for him in his argument that Bush is making America less safe. Talking about tax cuts?

Bush pounces. Notes that Kerry cut intelligence budget after 1st WTC attack. Says we have to stay on the offense.

Looks to me as if Bush is getting stronger, Kerry weaker as this goes on. He's staying on the offense here.

DRAFT: Bush: No draft. The all-volunteer army works. We don't need mass armies anymore. Good answer here. Nice stress on military transformation. We're not going to have a draft so long as I'm president.

Kerry: We're overextended. Sounds like he might want a draft. Wastes a lot of time citing generals who endorse him. Interesting that he has to invoke Reagan and Eisenhower as examples of Presidential toughness.

Bush response: Tell Tony Blair and our other allies we're going it alone. You cannot lead an alliance when you denigrate our allies.

KERRY IS SWEATING. The Iran question isn't helping. What would Kerry do? He doesn't answer, shifts to Iraq -- but the "let the inspectors work" argument doesn't fly given that inspections and sanctions aren't working in Iran.

Now we're onto North Korea? Instead of exasperated, Bush is looking incredulous.

Bush calls him on the "inspectors" bit. Says that Kerry is naive and dangerous about North Korea. Hits on Kerry's bilateral/multilater straddle, says Kerry's following the failed Clinton strategy.

KERRY REPEATS THE "Shinseki fired" story. Will he be called on it?

UPDATE: Reader Carroll Bloyd emails that ABC has nailed him:

On ABC's Fact Check segment after the debate, Jake Tapper explained that Kerry was wrong about Shinseki, gave the facts, and added something like "Kerry must surely know this by now--it's been pointed out everywhere." Must have really stuck in Peter and Jake's craw to have to do this . . .

And all the more credit to him, then.

BUSH turns around the "foreigners hate us" question by invoking Ronald Reagan. Nice answer.

Is it just me, or are these questions leaning pretty anti-Bush?

UPDATE: Reader Amy Lopez emails: "Definitely Not Just You - Softballs Kerry, Tough Q's for Bush."


Within the first 5 minutes of the first presidential debate, I declared Kerry the winner, and “not just in the high-school debate-coach sense of the word.”

And now, within the first 5 minutes of the second presidential debate, I’m saying Bush is cleaning Kerry’s clock.

Bush has the easier task. If he just showed up and didn’t scowl a lot, he’d beat expectations.

But the rout goes well beyond that. Kerry is rattling off numbers and sounding negative, not connecting with his questioner. Bush, on the other hand, is sure, at ease, and scoring hits on Kerry.

There's more.

KERRY'S CRITICISM OF "PUSHING AWAY" OUR ALLIES would be stronger if the Iraq Study Group report hadn't just demonstrated that many of them were on the take from Saddam.

I'VE NEVER CHANGED MY MIND ABOUT IRAQ? I'm not persuaded by Kerry's bit here. And I don't see how Kerry can combine talk about the danger of Iran and North Korea with the bit about how Bush should have focused on Osama.

DOES ABC HAVE A THUMB ON THE SCALES? A rather dubious anti-Bush internal memo on debate spin. Hey, I think Evan Thomas may have been right about the press wanting Kerry to win. . . .

UPDATE: Power Line: "Is it conceivable that President Bush can survive the media onslaught, unprecedented in American history, that has been unleashed against him?"

LIVEBLOGGING THE DEBATE TONIGHT: Hugh Hewitt, with his trademark question/answer grid, now featuring a "camera shot" block, too.

Ann Althouse will be simul-blogging with TiVo backup. (And scroll down for her mystery voice post).

So will N.Z. Bear and Spoons.

If you'll be liveblogging, let me know.

I don't know if they'll give last names, but it might be useful for some people out there to Google the "uncommitted" folks, and check their names against too.

More liveblogging at Alarming News.

Also at The Valkyrie, who should really be working on her thesis. Metallicity, too -- about the blogging I mean. I don't know about the thesis.

These guys just might be liveblogging in actual pajamas. I don't know what they're wearing at The Politburo, but they're liveblogging, too.

Various guests will be liveblogging at Protein Wisdom, probably wearing togas. . . . (Daniel Drezner, who's partying in Milan, is no doubt wearing something stylish, but he won't be liveblogging tonight.)

And if you don't have a blog of your own, LaShawn Barber invites you to live-comment on her blog.

Power Line will be live-blogging,

So will Roger Abramson at The Nashville Scene and the folks at MSNBC's Hardblogger.

And don't forget Where's the Pope?

More here, here, and here, too.

Here's a huge list of livebloggers, too.

And Llama Butchers are liveblogging from St. Louis.

FALLING DOWN (DRUNK?) ON THE JOB: Stephen Green will liveblog the debate -- tomorrow, on TiVo.


So, help spin for John Kerry . . . Vote in Online Polls!
National and local news organizations will be conducting online polls during
and after the debate asking for readers' opinions. Look for online polls at
these news websites, and make sure to vote in every one of them:
*   CBS:
*   CNN:
*   Fox News:
*   MSNBC:
*   Wall Street Journal:
*   Akron Beacon-Journal:
*   Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
*   Detroit News:
*   Los Angeles Times:
*   Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune:
*   Orlando Sentinel:
*   Philadelphia Inquirer:
*   South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
*   Tennessean:
*   Knoxville News-Sentinel:
*   Commercial Appeal:

So there you are!

HUGH HEWITT NOTES that the press is giving Kerry a pass on his false statement that Bush fired General Shinseki. He suggests bias.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Federal authorities said Friday they arrested an Iraqi-born Nashville resident on illegal weapons charges during a sting operation set up after he made threats about "going Jihad."

Ahmed Hassan Al-Uqaily, 33, was arrested Thursday afternoon as he was putting weapons he had purchased from an undercover agent into his car, according to an affidavit from FBI agent Greg Franklin.

Authorities said the suspect paid $1,000 to buy two disassembled machine guns, four disassembled hand grenades and hundreds of rounds of ammunition from the agent, who was working with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. . . .

The affidavit says that during the later conversations with the informant, Al-Uqaily "expressed animosity towards the Jewish community" and discussed "two Jewish facilities in the Nashville area," but made no specific threats, according to a release from the U.S. Justice Department.

Sounds like it's a good thing they caught him.

TV-O-RAMA: I'll be on CNBC's Kudlow & Cramer at about 5:20 p.m. Eastern time today, and then on a special pre-debate MSNBC Countdown with Keith Olbermann between 6 & 7. Meanwhile, for those skipping the debate, the Insta-Wife will be on Oxygen tonight, talking about murderous women.

And if TV's not your bag, you can always check out the Carnival of the Recipes. (For those who are drunk-blogging the debates, meanwhile, the Bloody Mary recipe may come in handy tomorrow. . . .) Or if you'd rather watch a different pair of boobs tonight, check out the blogger Boobiethon -- it's for charity!

UPDATE: Both seemed to go OK to me. Take-away point: Wonkette thinks Kerry will lose. I think Bush will win -- but noted that I'm always wrong about this stuff.

SHE'S BAAACK! Susannah Breslin, formerly of "Reverse Cowgirl" blogging fame, now has a page called "Invisible Cowgirl," that she describes as not a blog but "the Mini Cooper version of a blog. A blogini?"

I should somehow tie this to John Bono's old blog, "No Replacement for Displacement," but I'm not up to automotive humor today.

UPDATE: By the way, I should mention that Bono's got a brand new blog. Also with a cool name.


FLIT(TM) HAS AN INTERESTING BLOG-INTERVIEW with Thomas Barnett, author of The Pentagon's New Map. "The historical analogy we need to remember is taming the Wild West, not the British Empire."

THOUGHTS FROM AN AUSTRALIAN BLOGGER, who notes that the Australian press is trying to deliver its 15-point advantage to the challenger there, too. (Via this roundup from Tim Blair).

MISREPORTING THE DUELFER REPORT: There's been a lot of that.

LAW PROFESSOR MICHAEL RAPPAPORT has an article on the constitutionality of recess appointments. "I should note that I do not reach these conclusions happily. I generally support President Bush’s judicial nominations and I also believe that the Constitution confers strong powers on Presidents. In fact, when I first began to look at the recess appointments issue, I was planning on taking the opposite side. But the evidence quickly convinced me that my prejudices were mistaken and I am now firmly persuaded that the original meaning is dramatically different than the current interpretation."


The immense scope of an Iraqi effort in the late 1990s to curry political support for ending an international trade embargo is reflected in a list of more than 1,300 oil "vouchers" that then-President Saddam Hussein gave to more than a hundred corporations, foreign officials and political parties stretching from North America to Asia, according to a report issued on Wednesday by the CIA's Iraq Survey Group. . . .

The report said the recipients made the payments by carrying bags of cash to Iraqi embassies in Amman, Beirut, Moscow, Ankara, Geneva and Hanoi, among other places. The cash was then sent to Baghdad via diplomatic pouches.

"In the late '90s, we understood that lots of shenanigans were going on . . . under-the-table payments and so on, to curry favor and win support for eroding sanctions," said Robert Einhorn, a former assistant secretary of state. "We made various efforts to limit the scope of this," he added. But the report said that U.S. officials were blocked by Russia, China and France in 2000 and 2001 when they tried to clamp down on oil sales outside the oil-for-food program.


UPDATE: A reader notes that the Post buried this story on page A30.

ANOTHER UPDATE: In fairness to the Post, another reader points out that this UNSCAM story ran on the front page. Funny how you tend not to notice stuff like that when you read on the Web -- though in fact it wasn't on the front of the WP website when I looked. I had to click on "print edition."


AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ, in fifty years?

UPDATE: Also read Arthur Chrenkoff's roundup of good news from the Islamic world. (Via The Speculist's roundup of good news from all over.)


The press has been curiously reluctant to report my constant public support for the president's strategy in Iraq and his policies to fight terrorism. I have been involved in the war on terrorism for two decades, and in my view no world leader has better understood the stakes in this global war than President Bush.

The president was right when he concluded that Saddam Hussein was a menace who needed to be removed from power. He understands that our enemies are not confined to Al Qaeda, and certainly not just to Osama bin Laden, who is probably trapped in his hide-out in Afghanistan. As the bipartisan 9/11 commission reported, there were contacts between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime going back a decade. We will win the war against global terror only by staying on the offensive and confronting terrorists and state sponsors of terror - wherever they are. Right now, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Qaeda ally, is a dangerous threat. He is in Iraq.

President Bush has said that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. He is right. Mr. Zarqawi's stated goal is to kill Americans, set off a sectarian war in Iraq and defeat democracy there. He is our enemy.

Our victory also depends on devoting the resources necessary to win this war. So last year, President Bush asked the American people to make available $87 billion for military and reconstruction operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. . . .

Mr. Kerry is free to quote my comments about Iraq. But for the sake of honesty he should also point out that I have repeatedly said, including in all my speeches in recent weeks, that President Bush made a correct and courageous decision to liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein's brutality, and that the president is correct to see the war in Iraq as a central front in the war on terrorism.

I don't find the press's reluctance here especially "curious."

UPDATE: More on an incident that supports the forward strategy against terrorism:

Federal law enforcement authorities notified school districts in six states last month that a computer disk found in Iraq contained photos, floor plans and other information about their schools, two U.S. officials said Thursday. . . . The districts mentioned are in Georgia, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon and California. The officials said last month that FBI agents in charge of those areas alerted local education and law enforcement officials.



THE COMMERCIAL SPACE BILL that passed the House last spring is now dead in the Senate. Alan Boyle reports that this is probably a good thing, as some "poison pill" amendments were added.

RAY KURZWEIL ON LIVING LONGER: Interesting stuff, but there's a somewhat negative take over at "We don't need more sellers of vitamin shakes."

NORM GERAS interviews Joanne Jacobs.

NOSTALGIA: I recently read Bertrand Brinley's The Big Kerplop a "new" release in his series of Mad Scientists' Club books that I enjoyed when I was a kid. That led me to reread some of the other books, too, and I found that they held up pretty well over time. I'm donating them to my daughter's school, which is always looking for new kids' books.

Somebody should (heck, maybe somebody has) look at the influence of those kids' science adventure books, including others like the older Danny Dunn books, on several generations of geeks.

UPDATE: Interesting review at Slashdot, with an observation that occurred to me, too -- the kids in the Mad Scientists' Club stories seem a lot more independent and free-ranging than kids today. And I think that, with allowances for their excessively-easy access to vital items of scientific equipment at crucial story points, these are pretty realistic portrayals of kids in the 1960s and 1970s. (Sounds like my gang o' geeks, anyway.) Lots of interesting stuff in the comments, too, including a reference to the Henry Reed books, which I've mentioned here before.

Can you tell that my mom is a children's librarian?


Only by working longer and moving towards the US social model can Europe hope to attain its Lisbon goals, according to Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, Dutch Minister of Economy, speaking at an event in Brussels on 7 October.

Modernising the European social model is a matter of urgency if Europe wants to maintain its model of choice in the long term and close the productivity gap with the US, believes the minister. . .

The current European model is not performing adequately said Mr Brinkhorst pointing out how far the EU had slipped behind the US. 'Since the early 1990s, the US has largely outpaced the EU in terms of economic growth. From 1991 to 2003, the US economy grew by no less than 47 per cent in total, whereas the EU economy achieved only 28 per cent growth.' Mr Brinkhorst also drew attention to the fact that in 2003, the US GDP per capita was 55 per cent higher than the EU's.

55 per cent? I knew the gap was big, but I didn't realize it was that big.

UPDATE: Reader Mateusz Krepicz says it's not that bad, and sends this article from The Economist suggesting that the gap, while real, is narrower. On the other hand, here's an argument that things are worse.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mike Chittenden emails:

I think part of the difference in the expansion of the EU since the Economist article was written in early 2003 to countries in Eastern Europe with much lower GDP per capita than Western Europe. This expansion may have depressed overall GDP per capita enough to explain the difference in the two figures.

Could be.

CATHY SEIPP looks at George W. Bush and John Kerry through two documentary films by Alexandra Pelosi. "It's more an examination of the process, and has all of Pelosi's smart-ass charm — which is sort of like Michael Moore's minus the dishonesty, agitprop, and, of course, about 200 pounds."

NANO-WARS: Ed Regis has an article in Wired on the nanotechnology industry's rather unfair treatment of Eric Drexler. It's also worth reading this for more background.

UPDATE: Daniel Moore thinks that the article is too favorable to Drexler, while I actually think it underplays the intensity and ill-advisedness of the industry's efforts to shape the debate.


October 07, 2004

THANKS to all the people who emailed about my mother-in-law. She's home now and doing OK.

CLIMATE OF FEAR UPDATE: Here's an extensive roundup and commentary on the subject. And there's more here on the drive-by shooting at Bush HQ in Knoxville, including a video report from WBIR TV.

THE ANCHORESS REMEMBERS the woman in the black hijab.



How many times has this happened to you:

You're flying into Baghdad on a C130 along with a lot of other GIs and some members of the Iraq Survey Group whose report will soon be released and while waiting for the plane engines to fire up (after which point conversation becomes impossible) you say: "So what's the bottom line?"

And one responds: "He didn't have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, but he could have reconstituted his programs in a matter of months."

Which is exactly what I've thought for quite a while (ahem) please see my April 6 2003 post here. Really, it's short, go read, and note that the Thunder Run was ongoing at that time, but the media spin had already begun. But given the myriad reasons why the time was right for ending the Hussein regime it's an issue of only minor importance to me - more significant as political strategy than military - but what do I know?

Read the whole thing. Related matters here, too. And there's some useful perspective here.

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus weighs in on the Duelfer Report:

If a man says he has a gun, acts like he has a gun, and convinces everyone around him he has a gun, and starts waving it around and behaving recklessly, the police are justified in shooting him (even if it turns out later he just had a black bar of soap). Similarly, according to the Duelfer report, Saddam seems to have intentionally convinced other countries, and his own generals, that he had WMDs. He also convinced much of the U.S. government. If we reacted accordingly and he turns out not to have had WMDs, whose fault is that?

Bush's! Everything's his fault -- at least until November 3d. . . .

BETTER THAN SNIDE REMARKS ABOUT PAJAMAS: Reporter tells critic to keep blogging.

RAND SIMBERG notes a legislative emergency involving commercial spaceflight.


A federal judge held a reporter in contempt Thursday for refusing to divulge confidential sources to prosecutors investigating the leak of an undercover CIA officer's identity.

U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan ordered New York Times reporter Judith Miller jailed until she agrees to testify about her sources before a grand jury, but said she could remain free while pursuing an appeal. Miller could be jailed up to 18 months.

Hogan cited Supreme Court rulings that reporters do not have absolute First Amendment protection from testifying about confidential sources. He said there was ample evidence that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago, the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case, had exhausted other avenues of obtaining key testimony before issuing subpoenas to Miller and other reporters. . . .

Fitzgerald also has issued subpoenas to reporters from NBC, Time magazine and The Washington Post. Some have agreed to provide limited testimony after their sources — notably Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who is Vice President Cheney's chief of staff — released them from their promise of confidentiality.

Miller and Bill Keller, the Times' executive editor, said they would not agree to provide testimony even under those circumstances.

Hmm. I wonder who the leaker was?

JIM GERAGHTY: "A Tony Blair-style Democrat would probably be trouncing Bush right now. Karl Rove & Co. are very lucky to have the opponents they do." Yes.

Blair seems to have accomplished something in Darfur, too.


The president and I have the same position, fundamentally, on gay marriage. We do. Same position.

(Via Ann Althouse, who has some questions.)

UPDATE: Someone should ask Kerry what he thinks about this:

A state judge Tuesday threw out a Louisiana ban on same-sex marriage overwhelmingly approved by voters on Sept. 18, suggesting its drafters had overreached by making it too broad. . . .

Suggesting he wouldn't be swayed by the huge "yes" vote, Morvant, a Republican, said his "inescapable conclusion" was that the amendment was itself unconstitutional because of its twin purposes, and he struck it down.

I haven't read the opinion, so I can't opine on its reasoning. But at the very least, this may serve to educate those who are inclined to stereotype Southern judges as inevitably prejudiced. . . . (Via GayPatriot).

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tom Maguire notes a significant error in the NYT story linked at the beginning of this post, though the error concerns stem cells, not gay marriage.


I also suggest a new approach for Kerry: "We'll outbid the bad guys!" Hey, it could work.

UPDATE: Powerline has related thoughts.

MAX BOOT has a column on Burt Rutan and the X-Prize that's worth reading. Best bit:

Skeptics will scoff at what Burt Rutan, the designer of SpaceShipOne, accomplished. They will note, rightly, that spending a few minutes in suborbital flight is no more than what Alan Shepard achieved in his Mercury capsule 43 years ago. And the method Rutan used, hauling a cigar-shaped rocket plane into the sky aboard a mother ship, duplicates the approach of the X planes from that same long-gone age.

Rutan's achievement is nevertheless enormous: He rescued manned spaceflight from the dead end that NASA reached after the last of the Apollo moon landings in 1972. SpaceShipOne has shown the way toward the development of a space industry that can pick up where government left off by turning space travel into something approximating airplane travel in the 1930s: an attainable luxury for regular, if well-to-do, folks. . . .

What's NASA's role in all this? The president's space commission, which issued its report in June, had the right idea: NASA needs to get out of the business of hauling cargo into orbit. It should leave that mission to the private sector and concentrate on deep-space exploration and scientific research, sharing the fruits with industry.

The model should be the early days of aviation in the 1920s and 1930s. Washington didn't set up its own airline. Instead, it offered contracts to private carriers to deliver airmail. Many of them began hauling passengers on the side, giving birth to major airlines like United, American and TWA. Likewise, space travel needs to be developed primarily by private companies with some federal subsidies.

That represents a huge change from the government-centric paradigm that the U.S., Russia, Europe and others have been pursuing for decades, and it is sure to be resisted by old NASA hands. But who can argue with success? SpaceShipOne has just blasted a hole in the argument that private space travel can't get off the ground.

Indeed. There's a bill that would accelerate this process -- it passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate -- but it could use some help.

UPDATE: Read this, first.

TAKE A TOUR of the Indian Blogosphere (well, part of it) by visiting Blog Mela, a roundup of posts by Indian bloggers.

HAVING EARLIER MADE THE HAWKISH CASE FOR JOHN KERRY, Michael Totten now makes the liberal case for George W. Bush.

JAMES LILEKS is photoblogging, and, as usual, his efforts are far more profound than mine.

A COUPLE OF READERS wrote to ask why I didn't post anything about the elections yesterday. Hey, if Kerry could take the day off, why not me?

And although people make fun of Kerry for his vacations and days off, I think it's smart. Running for President is exhausting and miserable. (Hell, blogging about people running for President can be that way.) Like Ronald Reagan's naps, these breaks are a good thing, even if people make fun.

UNSCAM UPDATE: Is this a surprise?

SADDAM HUSSEIN believed he could avoid the Iraq war with a bribery strategy targeting Jacques Chirac, the President of France, according to devastating documents released last night.

Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France - having been granted oil contracts - would veto any American plans for war. . . .

Saddam was convinced that the UN sanctions - which stopped him acquiring weapons - were on the brink of collapse and he bankrolled several foreign activists who were campaigning for their abolition. He personally approved every one.

To keep America at bay, he focusing on Russia, France and China - three of the five UN Security Council members with the power to veto war. Politicians, journalists and diplomats were all given lavish gifts and oil-for-food vouchers.

Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, told the ISG that the "primary motive for French co-operation" was to secure lucrative oil deals when UN sanctions were lifted. Total, the French oil giant, had been promised exploration rights.

Iraqi intelligence officials then "targeted a number of French individuals that Iraq thought had a close relationship to French President Chirac," it said, including two of his "counsellors" and spokesman for his re-election campaign.

I'm shocked, shocked. But wait, there's more:

Focusing his attention in particular on France and Russia, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, Saddam awarded oil exploration contracts and financial inducements to individuals.

The bribes were at first funded by the Iraqi government, but later derived from Saddam's illegal misuse of the oil-for-food programme, which was supposed to provide food for the poor and medicine for the sick.

Some US estimates have suggested that the Iraqis siphoned off $10 billion (Ј5.6 billion) from the scheme.

"He [Saddam] targeted friendly companies and foreign political parties that possessed either extensive business ties to Iraq, or held pro-Iraq policies," said the report.

Of course, the story that's getting big play is the WMD angle:

But the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), which returned its full report last night, said Saddam was telling the truth when he denied on the eve of war that he had any weapons of mass destruction (WMD). He had not built any since 1992.

The ISG, who confirmed last autumn that they had found no WMD, last night presented detailed findings from interviews with Iraqi officials and documents laying out his plans to bribe foreign businessmen and politicians.

Although they found no evidence that Saddam had made any WMD since 1992, they found documents which showed the "guiding theme" of his regime was to be able to start making them again with as short a lead time as possible."

So this is perhaps something less than a complete vindication for Saddam. Me, I'll just quote something that a prominent Kerry supporter said back in the day:

[W]e don't know for certain whether the reports of defectors are completely true and our satellites cannot determine with complete accuracy whether new buildings and construction are designed to build weapons of mass destruction. So the question becomes: who gets the benefit of the doubt? A dictator who has used such weapons and declared the United States as an enemy or a democratic country that has already experienced terrorist catastrophe?

[LATER: A couple of people wonder if it's fair for me to call Andrew Sullivan, who's the one quoted here, a "Kerry supporter," rather than "Bush opponent." Hmm. I've certainly thought of him that way recently, but I take the point. LATER STILL: Lo and behold, I just opened the latest issue of Reason and it says that Andrew isn't supporting anyone this election, so I guess he's anti-Bush, not pro-Kerry. I regret the error.] Personally, I find it hard to fault the Bush Administration for thinking this way. And had they failed to engage Saddam, we'd be hearing -- from many of the same critics of the war -- that their failure to do so was evidence of ineptitude ("How could you leave such a vicious dictator free to cause us trouble, smack in the middle of the mideast?") along, probably, with claims that it was somehow a way of enriching Halliburton.

UPDATE: Reader Terry Gain emails: "So how do you pass the Global Test when those marking the test have been bribed to give you a failing mark?"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Nathan Lanier emails:

It's truly remarkable. The Duelfer Report seems to make the most compelling case yet that war was the necessary and last option at the time of invasion last March. But somehow the mainstream media feels it's necessary to put the fact that no WMD's were found as the headline for the 487th time. Hopefully the general public gets the full picture this time. Hopefully.

Funny that the press hasn't been playing this up. It's almost as if the media "wants Kerry to win."

LEFT, RIGHT, AND RELIGION: My Guardian column for this week is up. Among other things, it looks at why politics are so vicious this election cycle.

UPDATE: Reader Stan Brown emails:

Liked your Guardian article, but any comment on religious or quasi-religious fervor making politics more bitter since Reagan was elected in 1980 should at least mention Krauthammer's point - Republicans think Democrats are wrong and Democrats think Republicans are evil. I don't think anyone can begin to understand politics over this time period without it.

I hadn't heard that one, but it sounds about right -- though perhaps less true than it used to be.

UNSCAM UPDATE: Tom Maguire notes an effort by some Democrats and cooperating journalists to recast the oil-for-food scandal as something that's all about (drum roll please) Halliburton. Sheesh. Absolutely pathetic.

Plus, he looks in the Vault and finds, well, more than Geraldo did!

BUSH HQ SHOOTING UPDATE: The Knoxville News-Sentinel has more, including this quote:

Jim Gray, chairman of the Knox County Democratic Party, deemed the vandalism as "just unbelievable."

"I've gone there personally to express my outrage that something like this could happen," Gray said.

On the one hand, Gray noted it's "a big assumption that it's a Democrat" responsible for the shooting. On the other hand, he said, Republicans "could be happy that at least one Democrat supports the Second Amendment."

"Obviously, there's no way of knowing now who did it," Gray said. "But I mentioned it could be someone mad that their yard sign was stolen."

WBIR has photos, here. Meanwhile, it's a thug-o-rama over at Professor Bainbridge's as he rounds up similar incidents around the country. It's a climate of fear out there!

UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

October 06, 2004

TOOK A WALK AROUND CAMPUS TODAY, while waiting for the symposium to start. It was another one of those beautiful East Tennessee fall days, and since I'm always getting emails from alumni asking for more photos of campus, I took a few more.

Strolling around campus always reminds me that there's more to life than surfing the Internet and thinking about politics and the war. I should do it more often.

If looking at these pictures makes you feel that you should get away from the computer and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine, well, maybe you should take the hint.

There's a whole world out there that's not rendered in pixels. (Er, except for these photos, I mean. . . ) When stuff on the Internet starts seeming too real, or too important, it's worth taking a little while to remember that. The blogosphere will still be here when you get back.

INSTAPUNDIT'S AFGHANISTAN PHOTO-CORRESPONDENT, Major John Tammes, sends the above picture, with this report:

What better way to get ready for the historic Presidential election here than a girl's school. The people here are interested in the election, and all have told us how wonderfully different it is to be involved in choosing a leader. However, security concerns regarding the election and such will not get in the way of their fierce determination to provide a better life for their kids - not by one day. School repair or construction is the number one request for assistance we get. And now, these girls will get schooling the same as the boys, here in Aibat Khil.

Sounds like a good thing to me.

OFF TO A SYMPOSIUM on Jeffrey Stout's new book, Democracy and Tradition. Blogging may or may not continue over the next few hours, depending on whether I feel I can blog and pay attention or not.

In the meantime, Bill Whittle has an essay posted, which should ensure that you do not lack for reading matter.

UPDATE: Well, it seemed as if blogging would have been both distracting and discourteous, so I didn't. I did take a picture (sans flash) though, as you can see.

Several readers want to know what I think. I'm not sure. I think Stout was definitely right in saying that efforts to remove talk of religion from public discourse, though largely the result of leftists, have in fact weakened the left morally, intellectually, and politically. (In fact, my Guardian column for tomorrow is not unrelated.) And his notion of a civil civic conversation in which people argue about such things is appealing to me.

I wonder, though, how it would play out in reality. Stout was very critical of talk radio, cable news channels, Time magazine, and the presidential and vice presidential candidates. There's certainly plenty of room to criticize all of them -- God knows, I do -- but I think Stout's case would have been stronger had he presented examples of good contemporary discussions. I also felt that his talk would have been easier to follow had he made clear why invocations of religion by Lincoln and Martin Luther King were good (as he seemed to think), while the singing of "God Bless America" by members of Congress on the Capitol steps after 9/11 was bad. Stout seemed to regard it as self-evidently bad, and many in the audience seemed to agree, but I think that point would have done better with more explanation.

Meanwhile, in response to the pre-update part of this post, reader Jenny DeMonte from the University of Michigan emails:

If you like Stout, consider Jonathan Zimmerman at NYU. He's written a book that works in the same area, Whose America? Culture Wars in the Public Schools. He argues that public schools have throughout history included teaching in morals and ethics that encompass many backgrounds, but religion is thornier. He also argues that America's civic nationalism is moral and ethical, and because it is inclusive and usually tolerant, should supercede religious and ethnic moral systems. Hard to explain, but good to read.

After 9-11, Zimmerman wrote an interesting column for the NY Post. He had taught HS history, and at one point told students he would call on them to read essays they had written. He called on a female student, who declined to read. She said that because she was Muslim, she couldn't read first, that she had to read only after a boy had read.

The question he asked is: how should he have responded as a public school teacher?

His answer: The girl reads first, because in the US our civic, national morality does not allow gender bias and discrimination. Girls and boys are equal in our public schools. What happens at home is not in the public domain, and therefore, the state doesn't reach in and force the girl to recite first at home. But in a public school, she does.

Interesting, I think.

Yes, especially in light of the post, and photo, from InstaPundit's Afghanistan correspondent, just above this one. It strikes me that Afghans are having precisely the kind of public conversation and engagement regarding religion and politics that Stout wants us to have, and with far higher stakes.

HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT BLOWBACK: I suspect we'll see a lot more of this, coupled with a sudden increase in academics' regard for free speech . . . .

A VERY GOOD EXPERIENCE WITH DELL: The computer crashed. I called their customer service guys Monday. They shipped the parts that day, and this morning the tech came in -- showing up precisely when promised -- fixed the computer (new hard drive and motherboard required) and departed with me up and running. I guess the extended-service was worth it.

Anyway, I'd surely be complaining if this hadn't worked out right, so it's only fair to give them credit when things have gone so well.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: Following in the footsteps of the New York Times, CNN has filed a DMCA complaint trying to shut down the National Debate over its CNN parody.

CNN should be ashamed. And perhaps they should read this.

BULLETS, MONEY, AND BALLOTS: Austin Bay, recently returned from service in Iraq, has a column on our strategy there. He has thoughts on Afghanistan, too. It's very much worth reading.

UPDATE: Read this column, on the troops, too.

IF YOU'RE JUST READING INSTAPUNDIT, you need to branch out. Check out this week's Carnival of the Vanities and see if you don't find some other blogs worth reading regularly.


October 05, 2004

JUST GOT BACK from taking my mother-in-law to the hospital again. I don't think I'm in the right frame of mind to liveblog the debates tonight. Stephen Green and Ann Althouse will be liveblogging, I believe, and if you're going to be liveblogging it too, you can leave a link here. Back later.

UPDATE: PoliPundit, who called the last debate for Kerry within five minutes, has declared Cheney the winner of this one.

Jim Geraghty: "The single most devastating drubbing since Lloyd Bentsen smacked Dan Quayle all around the stage in 1988."

Stephen Green: "I changed the channel back to Fox, and their 'All-Star Panel' looks happy tonight. After the Bush-Kerry debate last week, they looked like they'd been through the wringer. That speaks volumes about who the commentariat will probably view as tonight's winner."

Ed Morrissey: "Edwards got buried." He doesn't think it'll make a lot of difference, though. (Well, Quayle getting buried didn't.)

Ann Althouse: "I'm beginning to feel a bit sorry for Edwards."

This, however, may overstate things a bit.

Jeff Jarvis, meanwhile, thinks Edwards won. His commenters think the questions were lame.

Hugh Hewitt: "A Cheney win, but no disaster for Edwards . . . Key thing is that Kerry's record is back on the table." He's done the question-by-question scorecard thing again, too.

Mickey Kaus: "Edwards at times looked like a yapping ankle-biter." Hey, I didn't know Edwards had a blog!

Andrew Sullivan: "I think Edwards won easily."

Transcript here. And another good review for Gwen Ifill, who seems to have made a much better impression than Jim Lehrer did last week.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Did Edwards meet Cheney before? Photos here.

RealClearPolitics has more on that, and the debate in general.

LAST UPDATE to this post: Jonah Goldberg offers some meta-analysis on the debate punditry: "I think the disparity between pro-Bush and anti-Bush pundits (there are so few pro-Kerry pundits it's silly to create a category for them) might be partially explained by an interesting dynamic. Principled conservatives and principled liberals like their Veeps better than their presidents."

CLIMATE OF FEAR UPDATE: I dropped by the bullet-riddled Bush-Cheney HQ mentioned below on my way home from work. It wasn't bullet-riddled anymore, as the shot-out window panes had been removed. Nor, I have to say, was there much of a climate of fear in evidence, as the place seemed pretty crowded with people picking up Bush-Cheney signs and bumperstickers, children in tow.

This being East Tennessee, of course, I suppose that many of them were armed, which no doubt bolstered their courage. (Best line from one of the campaign HQ staff, which I heard secondhand from the news director of a local TV station: "We support their right to have a gun, just not their right to use it in that fashion.") [LATER: I misunderstood -- this was a joke, and no one at the Republican HQ actually said that. Sorry; my mistake.] There was also a substantial media presence, suggesting that this whole effort is likely to backfire, as it should. More here via USA Today.

Perhaps tonight someone should ask John Edwards how he feels about such violent behavior.

UPDATE: More violence here: "ORLANDO, Fla. -- A group of protestors stormed and then ransacked a Bush-Cheney headquarters building in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, according to Local 6 News. . . . Local 6 News learned that most of the protestors were from the AFL-CIO and were taking part in one of 20 other coordinated protests around the country."

Video here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: These peace movement folks seem happy with the drive-by Bush HQ shooting.

Patterico "Does anyone have any doubt, any doubt at all, that if it were a Democratic campaign office that was attacked, it would be all over the news? That it very likely would have been the topic of a question at tonight's debate?"

I don't know, but here's more violence in Wisconsin: "More than 50 demonstrators supporting Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry stormed a Republican campaign office in West Allis at mid-day today."

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE LIBERATED, a roundup of posts from Iraqi bloggers, is up.

JAY ROSEN has thoughts on bloggers and Big Media.

THOUGHTS ON THE KERRY DOCTRINE, and a prediction of what John Edwards will do in tonight's debate, from Tom Maguire.

Plus, a Dick Cheney mystery. Or maybe two, I'm not sure.

FINANCIAL DATA ON 527 GROUPS: TaxProf has an interesting roundup.

More fruits of financial disclosure here.


An unknown suspect fired several shots into the Bearden office of the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign Tuesday morning.

The headquarters are located at 4618 Kingston Pike, next to Nouveau Classics and in the same shopping plaza as Long's Drugstore.

According to Knoxville Police Department (KPD) officers on the scene Tuesday, it is believed that the two separate shots were fired from a car sometime between 6:30 am and 7:15 am.

One shot shattered the glass in the front door and the other cracked the glass in another of the front doors.

I blame Michael Moore.

UPDATE: More fear here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ryan Bowers sends this.

IN THE MAIL: Reader Derrick Story sends a copy of his book, Digital Photography Hacks.

Hey, I am a digital photography hack. . . .

VOTE FOR ME OR YOU'RE CRAZY: Sounds like bad salesmanship to me.

SOME ADVICE: Suffered a catastrophic hard drive crash on my main computer over the weekend. I had backed up all the directories that matter to a firewire hard drive, and I had separate backups of important stuff, like articles in progress, so the data loss wasn't awful -- but I still lost a lot of stuff that's important in the aggregate even if not individually.

I'm switching to an automatic full-backup system, as my data-backup habits go back to an obsolete era when I didn't have nearly so much stuff stored as bits. You may want to think about that yourself, if you haven't already done so.

GOTCHER HEALTHCARE BLOGGING RIGHT HERE: This week's Grand Rounds is up, featuring healthcare providers blogging about health care.

SOME THOUGHTS ON KERRY'S TRADE POLICY, from a former GATT representative.

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE has polls from Iraq. Meanwhile Hugh Hewitt thinks that Kerry's debate "bounce" is a media phenomenon:

The ABC News tracking poll has Bush's lead at 5% points, "essentially unchanged" after the debate. Pew Research also has a steady 5% point lead among likely voters for Bush, and a seven point lead among registered voters --a one point gain for Kerry. Kerry's no bounce debate follows his no bounce convention, and the exploitation of Kerry's incredibly strange and dangerous foreign policy views articulated Thursday night has just begun.

I think Kerry's performance was better than that, but I also think that it wasn't as good as the media's predictable hyping would suggest.

UPDATE: Okay, Kerry's done well in the national polls, but Slate -- no bunch of GOP shills -- is showing it Bush 348, Kerry 190 in the electoral vote count. I'm confused.

DOUG KERN looks at blogging in the Sixteenth Century.

JOE KATZMAN wonders if John Kerry would rise to the challenge if elected. " I get a vision of Owen Wilson's character in Shanghai Knights." Read the whole thing.

THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR: Halloween? "Halloween gives you all the license of Mardi Gras along with the candy of Easter – only without all the icky pastel Barbie & Ken hues."

October 04, 2004

INTERESTED IN NANOTECHNOLOGY? Who isn't? So check out the Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology, October 21-24.

THE RATHERGATE DOCUMENTS: Not reliable enough for Michael Moore. Ouch.

A PASSAGE FROM THIS POST leads reader Michael Gebert to write:

"I'd be delighted to live in a country where happily married gay couples had closets full of assault weapons."

Surely that needs to be on your masthead, as an instant response to people who pigeonhole you as "conservative"....

Heh. I doubt it would do much good.

UPDATE: Er, sorry about the collateral damage, dude.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oops, the masthead idea's already taken!

ANN ALTHOUSE HANGS UP ON JOHN KERRY: I think she should have done him the courtesy of listening to his pitch.

LOTS OF GOOD ECONOMIC NEWS here; surprisingly, this seems not to have gotten much attention.


The government of Charles de Gaulle held hundreds of foreigners, including at least three Britons, in an internment camp near Toulouse for up to four years after the second world war, according to secret documents.

The papers, part of a cache of 12,000 photocopied illegally by an Austrian-born Jew, reveal the extent to which French officials collaborated with their fleeing Nazi occupiers even as their country was being liberated. They also show that, when the war was over, France went to extraordinary lengths to hide as much evidence of that collaboration as possible.

There were Americans imprisoned, too, and it's not clear whether they were released or "lost." I'm shocked, shocked.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT at Concordia University in Montreal, which once again seems to have a problem with Jews.

More on Concordia here, here, here,and here, though, sadly, the problem goes further back than even that.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has further thoughts: "A sad day for Canadian higher education."


Costa Rica's president said Monday he is asking Miguel Angel Rodriguez to resign as secretary-general of the Organization of American States because of alleged payments from a government contractor. . . .

Pacheco said Rodriguez has not adequately explained money that a former colleague said came from the French telecommunications company Alcatel as a ``prize'' for a $149 million contract in 2001 for 400,000 cellular telephone lines.

An anonymous tip early this year alerted banking authorities to almost $10 million in transfers last year from an Alcatel account in New York to a Bahamian account in the name of a law firm, Servicios Notariales Q.C.

Investigators say $2.4 million was transferred from the law firm to the Panamanian bank accounts of Jean Gallup, wife of Costa Rica's telephone and power company director, Jose Antonio Lobo.

You know, we should try this bribery thing ourselves. Apparently, it gets results.


ELECTORAL VOTE TALLY: BUSH 295, KERRY 243 -- which, reportedly, represents a widening of the gap in Bush's favor from last week. Go figure.

UPDATE: Hmm. Reader Daniel Cohen notes that the gap has widened since September 30, but narrowed since September 28. He also writes: "In addition, starting today, the site changed the way the state polls are used. instead of always using the latest polls, he is now using an average of the three most recent polls... so data starting today can't be compared to the data from previous to today."

True -- here are the changes, which I hadn't noticed. Meanwhile, though, this tally from Tripias seems to agree with the above state-by-state scoring. And so does this one. I have no idea how reliable this stuff is, but it's interesting that it's not really in accordance with the general sentiment regarding the polls.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's Larry Sabato's page, which calls it Bush 284, Kerry 254. I have to say that I remain skeptical of all of this stuff, and think that Daniel Moore's observation is on-target:

I suspect that polls are interesting and somewhat useful for us to follow the election by (though I tend to only put stock in them in that I can brag to friends), but I suspect that the best way to tell if Kerry picked anything up from the debate is if he starts spending money in any of those swing states that he had pulled ads from.

Good point. Anybody know how that's going?

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that Kerry is abandoning Virginia and putting the resources to work in Wisconsin and Minnesota, which I would have thought should have been fairly safe states for him.

MORE: Stephen Green calls it 295 Bush, 243 Kerry.

And there's even a contest, for money.

I'M NOT A BIG ECONO-BLOGGER, but the Fannie Mae scandal seems to be falling through the cracks. At least, judging by this it's not getting the attention it deserves:

For years, mortgage giant Fannie Mae has produced smoothly growing earnings. And for years, observers have wondered how Fannie could manage its inherently risky portfolio without a whiff of volatility. Now, thanks to Fannie's regulator, we know the answer. The company was cooking the books. Big time.

We've looked closely at the 211-page report issued by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (Ofheo), and the details are more troubling than even the recent headlines. The magnitude of Fannie's machinations is stunning, and in two key areas in particular they deserve to be better understood. By improperly delaying the recognition of income, it created a cookie jar of reserves. And by improperly classifying certain derivatives, it was able to spread out losses over many years instead of recognizing them immediately. . . .

Fannie Mae isn't an ordinary company and this isn't a run-of-the-mill accounting scandal. The U.S. government had no financial stake in the failure of Enron or WorldCom. But because of Fannie's implicit subsidy from the federal government, taxpayers are on the hook if its capital cushion is insufficient to absorb big losses. Private profit, public risk.


UPDATE: More on problems with Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, here. Apparently people have been warning of this for a while.

GLOBAL TEST UPDATE: Tom Maguire has the score.

ALAN BOYLE HAS A REPORT on the successful X-Prize launch today. There's video, too.

LAWYER sworn into the Iowa Bar while in Baghdad, via videoconference hookup. Kinda cool.

GUNS AND GAYS: It's often struck me that opposition to gay rights, and opposition to gun ownership, have a lot in common. Most people opposed to each are concerned as much with symbolism as with practical effects (you often hear comments prefaced with "I don't want to live in a country where people are allowed to do that") and it seems more an aspect of culture war than anything else.

Personally, I'd be delighted to live in a country where happily married gay couples had closets full of assault weapons. The Nashville Tennessean feels otherwise.

But here's a question. We're often told that Congressional efforts to repeal the D.C. gun ban are an affront to D.C. citizens' right to self-rule. (See this post by Andrew Sullivan.) But those efforts are in support of an explicit Constitutional right to keep and bear arms -- and since D.C. isn't a state, there's none of the usual argument about whether the Second Amendment should apply to its efforts or not.

So would a Congressional effort to overturn state bans on gay marriage in support of an unenumerated right to marry constitute a similar affront to local autonomy? I'm just, you know, asking. . . .

UPDATE: A law student reader from Yale (or at least one with a Yale email address) emails:

I'm in the midst of a Criminal Law class and my professor is very much into the "expressive" theory of law. He makes the very same point you do in the guns and gays post, but brings up several other examples as well, including "hate-crimes" legislation ("we don't want to live in a place where we don't adequately protect oppressed minorities"), partial birth abortion bans they only affect some minuscule percentage of all abortions, so it's unlikely that the motivation is to save lives), or any other example where people are rabidly for or against something despite evidence that laws will have very little effect on the behavior in question.

InstaPundit -- enhancing law school experiences since 2001!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Gay gunblogger Jeff Soyer has thoughts here. I should note, for those who haven't been reading InstaPundit long, that I have no problem with unenumerated rights. I do, however, find it odd that they so often seem to receive more judicial (and interest-group) solicitude than do rights explicitly enumerated in constitutions.

SPACESHIP ONE has reached the necessary altitude, and if it lands safely in a few minutes it will be the X-Prize winner, according to Peter Diamandis of the X-Prize foundation on Fox News just now. Diamandis: "We're all the winners. . . . We're all getting a chance to go." Let's hope so.

UPDATE: A successful landing! Reportedly, other teams in the competition plan to launch anyway -- and the planned "X-Prize Cup" series of launches in New Mexico will encourage further efforts.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Note that this is the Sputnik anniversary.

ALPHECCA'S weekly roundup of gun bias in the media is up.

RAND SIMBERG IS LIVEBLOGGING THE SPACESHIPONE X-PRIZE FLIGHT and correcting the TV talking-heads as he goes.

Why doesn't someone put him on TV?

ECONO-BLOGGIVERSARY: The 52d weekly Carnival of the Capitalists is up, featuring business and economic blog posts from all over. If you've been skipping these links in the past, why not check it out? Diversity in blog-reading is good.

IN THE MAIL: Well, actually they were in my mailbox at the office when I went in on Sunday, but they probably came earlier. First, Scott Ott's new book, Axis of Weasels, and second, the DVD of Fahrenhype 911, the documentary about Michael Moore's rather loose approach to the truth.

A QUAGMIRE IN HAITI: "Peacekeepers won’t solve Haiti’s problems. A solution will have to go a lot deeper."

SUCCESS IN SAMARRA: But see this earlier post for a cautionary note about follow-through.


Under the Taliban, you used to be awakened just before dawn by the howling of wild dogs. Today it's the racket of bulldozers. Kabul is undergoing a building boom, and in a city mostly composed of single-storey, flat-roof buildings it really shows.

Three years after the Taliban were chased out, Kabul has returned to the real world. The streets are jammed with cars, the shops are full of goods. Last year Afghanistan's economy grew by 30 per cent. The weirdest thing about Kabul under the Taliban used to be its unnatural silence. Now it's as noisy as anywhere on earth.

I thought it was supposed to be a hopeless quagmire. . . .

UPDATE: Historical perspective. Heh.


DARFUR UPDATE: More news here, plus talk of an international boycott of Chinese products.

BIG MEDIA CIRCLING THE WAGONS? Here's a Washington Post puff piece on Mary Mapes, the RatherGate CBS producer who put together a story based on obviously forged documents in the hopes of swinging the election for Kerry. Only the Post piece is rather light on the political-manipulation angle, preferring to tell us that according to friends she's "'funny,' 'smart' and 'very talented.'"

You'll have to go elsewhere to learn that the talent doesn't seem to extend to journalism:

Former employees of KIRO, the CBS affiliate in Seattle where Ms. Mapes got her start in the 1980s, agree. Some told me that the seeds of CBS's current troubles may have been planted more than 15 years ago when Ms. Mapes was a hard-charging producer at KIRO. Before she left Seattle to become a producer at Mr. Rather's "CBS Evening News," Ms. Mapes produced a sensational report on a killing of a drug suspect by police that rested on the shoulders of an unreliable source whose story collapsed under cross-examination. Sound familiar?

Former colleagues of Ms. Mapes agree that she was a passionate practitioner of advocacy journalism. "She went into journalism to change society," says former KIRO anchorwoman Susan Hutchison. "She always was very, very cause-oriented." Lou Guzzo, a former KIRO news commentator who served as counselor to the late Gov. Dixy Lee Ray, a Democrat, says advocates in journalism are fine, "but if you're as liberal and activist as Mary and work on the news rather than the opinion side, it creates problems."

Yes, it does.

UPDATE: Related thoughts on journalists as activists.

October 03, 2004

SOMEBODY IN THE COMMENTS over at Ed Cone's blog asked how I do corrections:

When Glenn gets something wrong, how does he handle the situation: Leave the post as is? Silently rewrite/delete it? Rewrite/delete, marking it as Updated? explaining why it was updated?

How does his approach to error handling compare to rowback and other means by which mainstream media sets the record straight?

Minor errors on spelling, phrasing, etc., will just be fixed. (I often correct typos, etc., in reader email, too, as they bug the hell out of me.) For more substantive errors, my basic rule is that I always put in an update correcting the post where the original error was, so that anyone who follows a link to it (or finds it on Google) will see the correction. If the item has scrolled down, and the correction seems significant, I'll note it again in a separate post so that the correction's at the top of the page. And I'll link the new post to the old one so that people can see clearly what was being corrected. I'll even do that when I'm not certain that the original item was in error, but think the issue has been made significant enough to make sure people hear both versions. (A recent example implicating most of these considerations is here.) On the other hand, your belief that a particular set of facts supports a different conclusion than the conclusion that I draw from those facts doesn't constitute a factual error on my part, but rather a difference in interpretation. I might indicate it, if I think it's interesting or possibly persuasive, but I don't generally treat that as a correction.

Other bloggers are, of course, free to do it their way. But once or twice I've been fooled when they posted a later correction but didn't update the original post. Also, posting corrections in comments rather than as an update to the post itself is probably a bad idea, as lots of people don't read comments. Those are my thoughts, anyway. Others may feel differently. As to how this compares with Big Media, well, I leave that comparison to the reader.

UPDATE: Here are some thoughts from Rebecca Blood that are worth reading.

BLOGGER SCHEDULED TO argue before the Supreme Court. I'll bet he won't wear pajamas.


HERE'S MORE BLOGGING from the Liberty Film Festival in Los Angeles.

X-PRIZE UPDATE: Another SpaceShipOne launch is scheduled for tomorrow. Burt Rutan seems unconcerned about the rolls on the last flight. I certainly hope he's right, and that everything goes well.

DEBATE CHEATING? Drudge has video.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, this ought to be against the rules.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I should note that the cheating story was originally broken by INDCJournal and The Daily Recycler.


MORE: Jim Geraghty doesn't think it matters: "The predictable explosion of enthusiasm for Kerry and the optimism about his chances in the mainstream media will not be interrupted by a mere breaking of the debate rules."

Not just predictable, I should note, but predicted. Meanwhile, reader Barry Dauphin sends a list. Click "read more" to read it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a report that it was just a pen.

MORE: INDCJournal says it's a pen, too, and adds: "The debate rules were violated in letter, but not intent, and any charges of cheating against the Kerry campaign are undeserved and inaccurate."

Read More ?

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAS ENDED THE GENOCIDE IN DARFUR: Just a few weeks ago it was a massive humanitarian disaster. Then the United States condemned it, called it genocide, and threatened to act.

Result: There's really no problem in Darfur at all! It's all a fiction! The people in the camps are happy, and healthy, and grateful! Next we'll hear that it's all about oil, no doubt.

UPDATE: Rajan Rishyakaran is still posting the Sudan genocide roundup. Guess he hasn't gotten the word that the whole thing's just another neocon BushLiedTM plot.

ANOTHER UPDATE: On this turnabout, Inoperable Terran observes: "That would be hilarious if it weren’t so predictable."

Er, yeah, and if people weren't dying, and stuff. But I take the point.

TOM MAGUIRE HAS QUESTIONS about the "Global Test" approach and Israel.

UPDATE: Plus, Cheney-Edwards debate prep!


The issues don't change much from decade to decade, and it's fascinating to watch how arguments pro or con a particular point go back and forth between parties depending upon the current occupant of the White House. One thing that has changed between those halcyon pre-chad, pre-9/11 days and our Fahrenheit 911/527's/MoveOn, campaign-finance-reform-loophole era is the tenor of the debate. C-Span rebroadcast Cheney's and Lieberman's oh-so-civilized and -- in Donald Rumsfeld's term -- helpful debate last night. Low key, measured and rational.

Things aren't really that way now. Campaign finance "reform" has been enormously destructive to civil society, in my opinion.


UNSCAM UPDATE: The Times of London reports:

A LEAKED report has exposed the extent of alleged corruption in the United Nations’ oil-for-food scheme in Iraq, identifying up to 200 individuals and companies that made profits running into hundreds of millions of pounds from it. The report largely implicates France and Russia, whom Saddam Hussein targeted as he sought support on the UN Security Council before the Iraq war. Both countries were influential voices against UN-backed action.

A senior UN official responsible for the scheme is identified as a major beneficiary. The report, marked “highly confidential”, also finds that the private office of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, profited from the cheap oil. Saddam’s regime awarded this oil during the run-up to the war when military action was being discussed at the UN.

The report was drawn up on behalf of the interim Iraqi government in preparation for a possible legal action against those who may have illicitly profited under Saddam. The Iraqis hired the London-based accountants KPMG and lawyers Freshfields to advise on future action.

It details a catalogue of alleged bribery and corruption perpetrated by Saddam under the UN programme, revealing how the regime lined its pockets and those of influential politicians, journalists and UN officials.

Not shocking to blogosphereans, of course, but still news. And certainly more support for this thesis.

And, of course, there's more evidence here.

UPDATE: Thoughts on what this means for Kerry's "global test" approach to diplomacy here.

I don't think the "Global Test" approach is going to help him. Maybe he can fall back on Richard Holbrooke's statement:

Asked what the Kerry Doctrine actually is, Holbrooke, in a conference call with reporters, replied: "There is no Kerry Doctrine."

Or maybe not. . . .

THE GLOBAL TEST business seems to be catching on.

This one is still funnier, though.

AN INTERESTING ARTICLE IN WIRED NEWS on space warfare. And here's a link to the Air Force paper on "counterspace warfare" that it references. (And read this article and this earlier Air Force paper too, if you're really interested.)

Contrary to uninformed opinions expressed elsewhere, there's nothing about space militarization or even warfare in space as such that violates international law. Whether these particular plans are good ones, however, is something I can't venture an opinion on at this point. However, I'm writing an article on new developments in space law for the Chicago Journal of International Law later this fall, and I'm sure I'll arrive at an opinion before I'm done.

UPDATE: Here's a very recent Congressional Research Service report on military space issues.

SOME OBSERVATIONS on allies and military spending. More here.