October 23, 2004


But consider the background music here. "Even within the Democratic Party" is an acknowledgment that a good many Americans don't trust the Democrats to run a war on terror. "Has to be a bipartisan affair" blinks the message that the Democrats, as a national party, often seem detached from that war, not just from the campaign in Iraq.

Many of the doubts that hover over Sullivan's case for Kerry are rooted in the value system widely shared among Democrats: Most people are basically good; wars are caused not by evil motives but by misunderstandings that can be talked out; conflict can be overcome by more tolerance and examining of our own faults or by taking disputes to the United Nations. As a personal creed, these benign and humble attitudes are admirable. As the foundation of a policy to confront terrorists who wish to blow up our cities, they are alarming.

These doubts explain why Kerry's two oddest verbal slips--"nuisance" and "global test" --have resonated.

Read the whole thing.

ANALOG BROWNSHIRTS: These are the headlines at Drudge right now:

Early voting brings cries of bullying...

Bush/Cheney Cincinnati headquarters robbed...

Republican Party headquarters in Flagstaff vandalized...

UK GUARDIAN: 'John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?'...


LAPHAMIZATION UPDATE: Images of the covers of the Evan Thomas election book, which goes both ways.

INSTAPUNDIT CORRESPONDENT DAN CASSARO sends these photos and a report from a Bush rally in Jacksonville, which looks to have been well-attended:

Taken with my Nikon 5700, fyi....

The original site for the rally was the Jacksonville Landing, a riverside location that would hold, at most, a few thousand. Demand for tickets was so high they moved it to Alltel stadium (where the Jacksonville Jaguars play). Attendance was estimated at 40,000. We passed a group of Kerry supporters on the way in, maybe 50 at most.

First is a wide shot of the stadium, they had the top levels blocked off. Not a lot of empty seats anywhere. When GWB came out, the noise was incredible. That's him in the blue shirt at the microphone.

Second is the lone protester I saw leaving the stadium, with a with the word "War" on one side, and moral equivalence on the other. I don't think he was old enough to vote either way....

Finally is the moonbat with the "Utilize Poland!" sign. He wouldn't answer questions, he just kept shouting "Poland!" I don't get it. Nobody else did, either.

PS Air Force One made a low, slow pass over the stadium on the way in... an awesome sight!

[LATER: Air Force One pics here and here]. More photos below.

I don't get the Poland bit either. Maybe he meant this?

UPDATE: ConfigSysBoy has posted a recap ("The Babes for Bush phenomenon is alive and well in Jacksonville. . . Speaking of which, the turnout today among the 18-30 demo was absolutely staggering.") and image gallery from the Jacksonville rally. And for those few who insist on Big Media coverage, here are some pictures from the Times-Union.


SEEMS TO BE A NEW VIRUS: I'm getting a lot of variations on the theme of "something was wrong with my last email, so I put it in this attachment" -- all bogus, of course. Beware, regardless of the purported source, as there's address-spoofing involved.

I HAVEN'T READ IT, but in response to my earlier discussion of Jacksonianism in connection with David Hackett Fischer's categorizations of American culture and British roots, a reader notes James Webb's new book Born Fighting : How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. And thanks to the miracle of Google, I found this NPR interview with Webb from Day to Day a couple of weeks back. It sounds interesting.

UPDATE: Here's a column by Webb.

LIVEBLOGGING AL FRANKEN at Colby College. My admiration for Franken has not been increased by this account.

UPDATE: More liveblogging of the Franken appearance here.


On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?

You know, if a Republican said something like that, it would be hate speech. And, really, if you need a reason to vote for Bush, that it will make people like this miserable for four years surely ought to be enough. (More thoughts at The Daily Ablution).

UPDATE: A reader emails: "The Guardian wants Dick Cheney to be president?" Heh. And who's the big winner out of all this? Paul Krugman, who looks reasonable, if only by comparison!

ANOTHER UPDATE: People are emailing me to say that the Guardian has pulled the article, but actually the entire Guardian site appears to be down at the moment. I suspect that's unrelated to the column, unless Drudge has slashdotted their servers, which seems highly unlikely. To be fair, I should note that the guy who wrote this piece (here's his bio) is just a weekly columnist, and not a Guardian staffer -- though this certainly had to get by an editor to see print. Though Tim Blair wonders. . . .


NORM GERAS OFFERS THE LAST WORD ON THE IRAQ WAR: "There was no persuasive moral case against the Iraq war."

MEGAN MCARDLE: "Surely there's one fair prince among you who holds the key to unlock my weary heart?"

INTENSITIES IN TENT CITY: An Iraq report from The Mudville Gazette.

ROGER SIMON REVIEWS STOLEN HONOR: You can see it yourself online, here. The Internet routes around censorship!

ANGLOSPHERE UPDATE: Jim Bennett has a book out called The Anglosphere Challenge: Why the English-Speaking Nations Will Lead the Way in the Twenty-First Century. I haven't seen it yet, but judging from his earlier writings on this subject, it's sure to be interesting.

October 22, 2004


This is Precious, who likes to look out that window at the birds.

CONGRATULATIONS TO HOWARD LOVY, who won the Foresight Institute's 2004 Feynman Award for Communications.

Lovy's comments are here.


BAGHDAD, Iraq - Preparations for the crucial January election are "on track" and the absence of international observers due to the country's tenuous security should not detract from the vote's credibility, the top U.N. electoral expert here said.

Given the record of the international observers in Venezuela, I think he's got a point.

UPDATE: Hey, that's two days in a row that I've agreed with the pronouncement of a U.N. official! Well, when they're right, they're right.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed Morrissey observes:

Those who claim that George Bush lives outside of reality, as John Kerry put it earlier, because he insists that elections will be held on schedule may find this a shock. However, we saw the Iraqis take back their sovereignty on schedule when everyone said that the US simply could not deliver it. I find no reason to doubt that Bush means to stick to his timetable, but just as in Afghanistan, the doubters likely won't stop claiming the sky is falling until after the balloting starts.


MORE WEB VIDEO: is running video of Jon Stewart on its homepage, promoting his new book.

SEBASTIAN MALLABY has a rather critical take on NGO's and poverty. "A swarm of media-savvy Western activists has descended upon aid agencies, staging protests to block projects that allegedly exploit the developing world. The protests serve professional agitators by keeping their pet causes in the headlines. But they do not always serve the millions of people who live without clean water or electricity."


Has there ever, ever, ever been an election as exciting as this one?

The answer, after some consideration, is: No way, not by a long shot. . . .

Most exciting and most addicting are the blogs — the citizen-journalist news sites. They offer campaign coverage of the highest order, from viewpoints spanning the political spectrum. So when I'm awake in the middle of the night taking care of a baby, I can surf Web sites to see the latest polling — and then do so again five hours later, and again every hour after that.

I think by the time this is over I'll have had all the excitement I want.

UPDATE: A reader emails asking if the above means I'm planning to quit. No, not anytime soon. But I started this blog with the intent of dealing with, um, less intense issues, and I'll be glad to see the election end. I realize that there will still be lots of stuff to worry about, but still. As Steven den Beste wrote, I was tired of this election in November of 2003.

THIS PROTEST AGAINST ROCK-THE-VOTE PARTISANSHIP and in particular its peddling of the bogus draft story seems to have produced some interesting happenings this afternoon. More when it's available.

PROF. BAINBRIDGE looks at "small acts of nastiness and mean-spiritedness."

To which we might add this report: "On Thursday night, an antiwar protestor in Milwaukee spit on a returned Iraqi war veteran, Marine Major Jerry Boyle."

I THINK THIS REPRESENTS THE FINEST EXAMPLE OF LAPHAMIZATION SO FAR: Evan Thomas has a book coming out on how Kerry won the Presidency!

An extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at the 2004 Kerry presidential victory reported by Newsweek's premier political reporters, including bestselling biographer Evan Thomas. A full year before the presidential election, four Newsweek reporters are detached from the magazine to work fulltime on getting inside the campaigns of the Republican and Democratic candidates. Because Newsweek promises not to reveal any information until after the votes are cast, the reporters receive highly unusual access.

Including, apparently, access to the time machine! Heh. [No wonder the press "wants Kerry to win" -- Ed. Indeed.]

UPDATE: In response to Kevin Aylward's question, I think this is just a mistake, though an amusing one.

ANOTHER 9/11 DEMOCRAT announces for Bush.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Daniel Drezner comes out for Kerry. "Like Laura McKenna, I'm not at all happy about my choice. . . . But in the end, I can't vote for a president who doesn't believe that what he believes might, just might, be wrong."

PHIL BOWERMASTER has thoughts on good news and bad news.

PEOPLE ARE COMPARING THE NEW BUSH "WOLVES" AD to the 1984 Ronald Reagan "Bear in the Woods" ad. You can see both of them at The Daily Recycler and decide for yourself. Roger Simon has thoughts on the new ad.

ADAM KEIPER IS LIVEBLOGGING FROM THE FORESIGHT NANOTECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE in Washington -- with pictures and video, too! He also reports that the conference has drawn an overcapacity crowd. I told you this was a big deal.

UPDATE: Howard Lovy is blogging from the conference, too.

LARRY KUDLOW has a new blog, called Kudlow's Money Politics. Check it out!

THE TRUTH IS OUT! Fortunately, my goon squads will ensure that it goes unreported.

JESSE WALKER LOOKS AT First Amendment hypocrites.

DAVID BERNSTEIN'S BOOK, You Can't Say That! The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws, is now out in paperback.


The centerpiece of John Kerry's foreign policy is to rebuild our alliances so the world will come to our aid, especially in Iraq. He repeats this endlessly because it is the only foreign policy idea he has to offer. The problem for Kerry is that he cannot explain just how he proposes to do this. . . .

He really does want to end America's isolation. And he has an idea how to do it. For understandable reasons, however, he will not explain how on the eve of an election.

Think about it: What do the Europeans and the Arab states endlessly rail about in the Middle East? What (outside of Iraq) is the area of most friction with U.S. policy? What single issue most isolates America from the overwhelming majority of countries at the United Nations?

The answer is obvious: Israel.

In what currency, therefore, would we pay the rest of the world in exchange for their support in places such as Iraq? The answer is obvious: giving in to them on Israel.

No Democrat will say that openly. But anyone familiar with the code words of Middle East diplomacy can read between the lines.

I think he's probably right.

MICHAEL BARONE'S LATEST COLUMN is on the polls, and he looks at the Steven Den Beste analysis I mentioned earlier. His conclusion differs from Den Beste's:

My tentative explanation is this. Bush's most effective opposition this year has come not from Kerry and the Democrats but from Old Media, the New York Times and the news pages of the Washington Post, along with the broadcast networks ABC, CBS, and NBC. Old Media gave very heavy coverage to stories that tended to hurt Bush—violence in Iraq, Abu Ghraib, the false charges of Richard Clarke and Joseph Wilson, etc. And during the first eight months of the year Bush did a poor job of making his case.

Then, suddenly, that case was made with maximum effectiveness at the Republican National Convention in New York—by John McCain and Rudolph Giuliani, by Zell Miller and Arnold Schwarzenegger, by Laura Bush and Dick Cheney and George W. Bush himself. Bush was able to get his message out unmediated by Old Media.

Interesting theory. And -- as always when Barone writes about polling and elections -- you should read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Robert Musil has thoughts of his own on polls.

THEY HIRED OLIVER WILLIS AND ATRIOS -- but I never thought they'd buy off Frank J. I guess George Soros must really be throwing around a lot of cash.

October 21, 2004


Pro-homosexuals like you never bring up issues such as these, and this (1 in 3) is just violence in LGBT relationships, doesnґt even go into numbers about outside relationship violence and harassment, since homos and pro-homos are too dishonest to talk about that, when the perpetrators are homos and bisexuals and the victims are heterosexuals. To how many of these GBLT batterererґs and rapists did you clap at in the latest Pride parade?

Alas, I missed the Pride Parade. I'm more of a Love Parade kind of guy, I guess. . . . Looks like fun, though!


UNITED NATIONS - Britain staunchly defended the right to use human embryos for medical research while the Vaticanbacked a complete ban on human cloning as U.N. members Thursday began two days of debate on the highly contentious issue.

The U.N. General Assembly's legal committee will meet again Friday to discuss two competing resolutions:

Costa Rica's draft calls for a treaty banning all cloning. Belgium's draft calls for a treaty banning the cloning of babies but allowing countries to decide on using embryos for research, which many scientists believe may lead to new treatments for diseases.

Britain's U.N. ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said his country was among the first to ban human reproductive cloning when it passed such an act in 2001.

"However, we cannot support any attempt to ban or unreasonably restrict cloning for research purposes, known as therapeutic cloning. We are convinced that therapeutic cloning holds enormous promise for new treatments for serious degenerative conditions that are currently incurable," he said.

Good for the British -- though, in fact, I don't support a ban on reproductive cloning, either. Meanwhile, Kofi Annan actually gets it right:

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Thursday fired another shot across the bow of US President George W. Bush in backing cloning for medical research, which the United States wants to ban worldwide.

The announcement by Annan, a regular critic of Bush policy, came as the UN's legal committee opened debate on human cloning with hopes of drafting an international treaty to address the divisive issue.

I wonder whether this is on the merits, or just another anti-Bush move? Regardless, Annan's right, and Bush is wrong, on this one. Here's a column I wrote on the subject a while back.

UPDATE: Nikita Demosthenes says I'm wrong about cloning.

CHECK OUT THE IRAQ DEMOCRACY PROJECT at Spirit of America. If you're so inclined, make a donation. I did, as I think it's a worthy cause.

IT'S BUSH V. KERRY in the Hip-Hop Debate. Bush is currently winning, 56-44. Go figure.

IT'S STILL NOT TOO LATE: If you want to attend this weekend's First Annual Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology: Research, Applications, and Policy.

UPDATE: And if you miss the D.C. conference, here's a University of Tennessee conference on nanotechnology in Knoxville next week, cosponsored with Oak Ridge National Lab.


SHOCKINGLY, the film Stolen Honor got a positive review in the New York Times. "It should be shown in its entirety on all the networks, cable stations and on public television." This has inspired some thoughts from Scott Koenig.

UPDATE: More here.

BOIFROMTROY DEBATES KERRY AND BUSH: Advantage: BoiFromTroy! But you knew that, right?

I'VE UPLOADED some of the photos of the UT Campus that I posted earlier this week to the Exposure Manager gallery.

CATHY SEIPP reviews the limited success of The Guardian's Clark County project.

REASON'S PRESIDENTIAL POLL IS UP: I'm in it. So is a guy who illustrates, I think, why libertarianism isn't selling well with the public:

2004 vote: I never vote. I don’t wish to soil my hands.

2000 vote: Had I been forced to cast a ballot for president in the 2000 election, I might have died of septicemic disgust.

Most embarrassing vote: I voted only once in a presidential election, in 1976, and I did so on that occasion only so that I could irritate my left-liberal colleagues at the University of Washington by telling them that I had voted for "that idiot" Gerald Ford.

This isn't an attitude that's likely to pave the way to political success. And I say this as a guy who's never been overwhelmed with the quality of the choices given me, and who's voted Libertarian for President three times.

UPDATE: Gabe Posey emails:

I think the primary reason for mainstream American not grasping hold of Libertarianism isn't that the party doesn't have great ideals or spokespeople, but primarily that the same upper crust elitism seen so profoundly in the Democratic party is rampant in the academically pious Libertarians. The party that demonstrates they are the party of the people is usually the party that wins. For the last two presidential elections it hasn't been the Greens, Libertarians or the Democrats. I still have hope for the Liberty Caucus of the Republican Party.

As the folks at The Guardian have learned, letting people know you think they're idiots isn't an especially effective way of winning their votes.

More thoughts here. And reader Edward Clark emails:

I would like you to explain a little more on your impressions of libertarianism. I consider myself a libertarian, and not just because of my name. But listening to the libertarian party today leaves me with one reaction. Huh?

Their isolationist stance on security and foreign policy just doesn't make any sense in today's world. It is like surrending for the sake of liberty, which means liberty would end. On most other issues I pretty much agree with them. But on most of those issues they are closer to Republicans (but not very close) than democrats. Why would so many on Reason's poll be mixed between libertarians and democrats? It seems some people just claim to be libertarian because it sounds so independent and thoughtful.

I wish there was a party more along the lines of the Ayn Rand Institute. True Libertarianism. Call it the Objectivist Party.

I'm not an Objectivist, myself, but I have noted that they seem more realistic on foreign relations.

MORE: Here's an Objectivist take on foreign policy and the election.

OLD MEDIA LOSING INFLUENCE? I notice that Evan Thomas has revised his 15 percent estimate downward:

KURTZ: You've said on the program "Inside Washington" that because of the portrayal of Kerry and Edwards as young and dynamic and optimistic, that's worth maybe 15 points. That would suggest...

THOMAS: Stupid thing to say. It was completely wrong. But I do think that -- I do think that the mainstream press, I'm not talking about the blogs and Rush and all that, but the mainstream press favors Kerry. I don't think it's worth 15 points. That was just a stupid thing to say.

KURTZ: Is it worth 5 points?

THOMAS: Maybe, maybe.

I should note that when Newsweek's Steven Levy interviewed me a few weeks back he seemed quite unhappy with my frequent reference to Evan Thomas's earlier 15 points statement, and rather vehemently stated that Thomas didn't speak for Newsweek as a whole. I don't know how he'd feel about the 5 point line. . . .


American teens have spoken, and they want George W. Bush for president. Nearly 1.4 million teens voted in the nation's largest mock election, and the Republican incumbent wound up with 393 electoral votes and 55 percent of the total votes cast. . . .

In an exit poll taken after making their pick for president, teens weighed in on the issues most important to them. A majority of respondents-- 44 percent-- said that the war in Iraq was the most important issue facing the candidates today. The economy was the first priority in the minds of 22 percent of teens, followed by education (14 percent), national security (12 percent) and health care (8 percent).

No great surprise.

TOM MAGUIRE: Channeling Wonkette?

BLOGS BLOCKED: I've had that problem a time or two, and now Eric Muller is discovering that his blog is being blocked some places. He's trying to survey the extent of blog-blocking in general.


BAGHDAD, Iraq--Basking in the sun by the Al Hamra Hotel swimming pool, a Spanish journalist complained to me that "all my editors want is blood, blood, blood. No context. No politics."

Such editors are cruising to be scooped by such local Iraqi blogs as Iraq the Model, which last summer debunked a Los Angeles Times story on the departure of Coalition Provisional Authority head L. Paul Bremer. The Times told its readers that Bremer had fled abruptly, "afraid to look in the eye the people he had ruled for more than a year." In fact, as Iraq the Model reported, Mr. Bremer before leaving delivered a television address that gave a moving account of his tenure and his hopes for the new all-Iraqi interim government.

The bloggers had heard it, the L.A. Times reporter had not. The paper ultimately had to correct its account, though never acknowledging the indignant Iraqis who caught its snide oversight.

Read the whole thing, which profiles a number of Iraqi bloggers.

UPDATE: Yes, the "blood, blood" without context bit above is exactly the kind of thing I was complaining about in this post. Interestingly, I got this email from a Big-Media reporter whose name you'd probably recognize, though I'm asked not to use it:

Personally, I'd never feel so comfortable in my certainty on matters such as Iraq if I hadn't ever been to the place; indeed, even Andrew, who I presume gets his information about Iraq from the MSM, has often turned on a dime and accused those very same news sources of revealing clear biases in their eporting. And it's been apparent from reading reports from many independent sources on the ground - not least the soldiers themselves - that the situation looks far better than it is portrayed in the mainstream press. Look, I don't know what to think, though I'm cognizant of the very reasonable possibility that in 20 years Iraq may be a thriving democracy, that the Middle East may be far less a source of radicalism and terrorism, and that we will all be talking about the miraculous accomplishment of the U.S.-led coalition, which managed to do the job in a couple of years with "minimal" casualties. That's the most optimistic way to look at things right now, but it's also a viewpoint that takes historical perspective into account. It's frankly impossible to imagine what might have happened to FDR's presidency if WWII was covered the way the various news media do the job right now. Someone in the blogosphere recently pointed out that 750 American troops died in a training accident during preparations for D-Day. Can you imagine that? Today such an occurrence would have an almost apocalyptic impact in this country, if you consider the way it would be conveyed to the public through television. (Bear in mind that I'm part of the MSM, so I think I speak with a modicum of authority here.) If the blogosphere has a weakness, it is in its tendency to amplify the significance of current events, often without any sense of proportion or perspective. . . .

Well, though it leads some people to suggest that I "lack fire," I do try to maintain that degree of historical perspective, and to avoid excessive excitability and shrillness. Sometimes I succeed. Meanwhile, I do think that the excitability -- and outright, dishonest partisanship -- of many Big Media outlets in reporting on the war is doing incalculable damage at home and abroad, and I think that the FDR example is a good illustration of why. The "zero defects" approach to war is, I think, born of a combination of military ignorance and partisanship.

MORE: Related thoughts here.

GAYPATRIOT is doing investigative journoblogging. (Via Stephen Green, who finds the Log Cabin Republicans' democratic connection unsurprising).

UPDATE: The Log Cabin Republicans' response.

ANOTHER UPDATE: GayPatriot replies here.

IN HIS LATEST COLUMN, Stephen Green introduces some people to ABC News.

I'M SKEPTICAL of the idea that the Red Sox victory will affect the election. But hey, what do I know?

JIM LINDGREN LOOKS AT antisemitism in the 1930s, while David Bernstein looks at antisemitism today.

ROBERT MUSIL notes some buried poll secrets.

MY GUARDIAN COLUMN for this week is up, in which I look at the prospects for a Kerry Administration.

October 20, 2004

SORRY FOR THE LIMITED BLOGGING TODAY: I had a coauthor in town and spent 12 hours on manuscript revisions.

JEFF JARVIS NOMINATES ME for President. If elected, I promise to nominate Eugene Volokh for the Supreme Court.

UPDATE: Reader Steven Wells emails:

I'm glad to hear that you would nominate Eugene Volokh to the Supreme Court if elected. I think he would do a better job than either of the nominees of the two major parties. Would you consider, though, Randy Barnett? I think his new book Restoring the Lost Constitution shows considerable promise for Mr. Barnett as a Supreme Court justice.

I like Randy as an Associate Justice, but I see Eugene as a better candidate for Chief -- he's more of a consensus builder. Meanwhile, several readers wonder if I can deliver the necessary Senate votes. My response is simple -- in the face of the massive political breakdown needed to elect me to, well, any elective office at all, who knows? Anything's possible!

MORE: Okay, this email is a bit scary:

I actually think I'm going to write you in for President. As I look at the Republican party, it just doesn't look like me anymore. And the Democrats are even farther away. I consider myself fiscally conservative, socially libertarian (a practical, not loony one), and a hawk on the war on terror, and I worry that there is no one to represent my interests. We desperately need a party that represent these views at a national and local level. So, Glenn, I'm asking for your permission to write you in. I think with your following we can actually effect a small, but real change. If we didn't believe this were the best path, we wouldn't believe it at all. I'll leave you with:

If not you, who? If not now, when? Stand up and unite us all of shared mind and principle.

When it comes to writing me in, I think the appropriate quote is "This calls for a really stupid, futile gesture. . . ." Sorry, but this election we're stuck with the choices we've got, and denial isn't an option. Even though I agree with the non-me-related part of the passage above.

ANOTHER UPDATE: What about this ticket? I'll run on both of 'em. (Reminder via Jay Solo).

NEAL STEPHENSON answers readers' questions over at Slashdot.

BLOGGERS TALK ABOUT blogging and objectivity.

UPDATE: More thoughts on transparency and objectivity here.

PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE is liveblogging Jim Lindgren.

A BUNCH OF PEOPLE have emailed me with the suggestion that Kerry is not qualified to be President under the 14th Amendment. I haven't regarded that as worth blogging about, but Eugene Volokh has a lengthy and interesting post on the subject. The blogosphere: a thousand points of light!

SPEAKING OF BRANCHING OUT IN YOUR BLOG-READING, don't miss this week's Carnival of the Vanities.

AUSTIN BAY'S LATEST COLUMN looks back at the Zarqawi memo from last year:

Zarqawi's intercepted message to his Al Qaeda comrades admitted that his terror band was "failing to enlist support" inside Iraq and was "unable to scare the Americans into leaving."

Zarqawi lamented "Iraq's lack of mountains in which to take refuge," which many commentators read as an echo of his experience in Afghanistan with Al Qaeda.

Zarqawi's document also suggested a strategic solution to his group's failure: launch attacks on Iraqi Shias and start a "sectarian war" that he suggested would "rally the Sunni Arabs" to his cause. This war against Shiites, Zarqawi thought, "must start soon -- at 'zero hour' -- before the Americans hand over sovereignty to the Iraqis."

Despite orchestrating scores of savage attacks, Zarqawi has failed to ignite that sectarian war. Early in the summer, suicide car bombers (presumably under Zarqawi's aegis) began attacking Iraqi police and National Guard soldiers as frequently as they targeted Shias and coalition troops. This suggested to some analysts that Islamic radical Zarqawi was cooperating with elements of the "secular Iraqi resistance" -- former members of Saddam's regime and holdouts in the Sunni Triangle. If that alliance existed, it was one of convenience, not long-term compatibility. That terror offensive, however, has failed to deter recruits. Iraqi security forces continue to grow in size and strength.

Zarqawi lacks political support and is increasingly desperate. His declaration of solidarity with Al Qaeda is both an emergency plea for Islamist reinforcements from Syria and Saudi Arabia, and the shrill cry of a true believer just rational enough to recognize he's caught in a political and military vise.

Read the whole thing. More evidence that the campaign isn't working can be found in this quote:

One of those who survived the blast was a national guard soldier named Qusay Hassan. He spoke with anger following the death and maiming of his comrades, and his spirit seemed unbroken.

"I will not kneel before these terrorists," Mr. Hassan said. "If I don't join the army, who is going to defend the country from the terrorists?"

Indeed. More here:

Foreigners are mystified at how Iraqis continue to join the police and army, despite the car bombings and other attacks directed against them. It's not just for the money. For many of these recruits, there is a dead relative, murdered by some Sunni Arab thug working for Saddam. It's civil war, and the coalition wants to prevent it from turning into an orgy of revenge. What gets little reported in the West is the enthusiasm among Iraqis, and especially members of the government, for just bombing Fallujah into rubble.

That would undercut the "it's Vietnam all over again" story line. And it's not. Does this mean that everything's hunky-dory in Iraq? Nope, and -- as even the rather negative Andrew Sullivan notes, you don't need me to tell you that, when every attack gets headline treatment. But stuff like this, which provides perspective, doesn't get the attention it deserves.

As I wrote a while back, the problem with the constant barrage of coverage on the latest mortar attack or car bombing is that it's not only a ceaseless assault of bad news, but it's both unrepresentative (because it's only the bad news) and, just as bad, it's probably the wrong bad news. If there are serious things going wrong, they're not so much that people who don't like us are trying to attack us, as that more serious things (like the CERP matter I've mentioned here regularly) are going unaddressed. And the ceaseless negativity of the media treatment -- coupled with the media's rather obvious desire to make Bush look bad before the election -- leads to this problem I discussed a while back:

To make an Amartya Sen sort of point, what's unfortunate about the slanted (and lazy) nature of most of the reporting is that it doesn't point out real problems in ways that can let them be fixed, and that will bring them to the attention of people who can fix them. When the coverage continues to come from the same tired Vietnam template, applied to a very different situation, it's not terribly useful and I suspect that it's largely tuned out by folks in the White House who assume (more or less correctly) that it's intended to hurt them.

But that means that they have to rely on the reports of people in the chain of command, who have their own agendas. The press is supposed to be a check on that sort of thing, but it's fallen down on the job in postwar Iraq. Fortunately, the Internet has taken up some of the slack, and is (I'm being hopeful here) spurring the Big Media folks to take a second look at what they're doing.

Sadly, my hopes there have gone largely unfulfilled. Perhaps that will change after the election. More on these issues, and why I report the stuff I do here, in this post.

DUANE PATTERSON looks at the politics of NASCAR and the Bush campaign.

A NEW LAW PROFESSOR BLOG devoted to antitrust law. Very cool.

I MUST BE BIG MEDIA NOW: Howard Kurtz is hosting a discussion on the question of whether I'm biased. Here's the answer: Yes! What's the point of having a blog if you can't spout your own opinions? And why would anyone expect anything else?

UPDATE: Reader Jose Sorzano emails:

Regarding the silly charge that you are not "objective": I read you precisely because of a) your judgment. You selection of items to be highlighted is always interesting. It is obviously not "value-free" but the results of your choices almost always (one exception is nanotechnology) makes me want to follow the links to learn more about it. I can't recall when I was disappointed. b) your analysis. It is also inevitably imbued with your values which is manifested in the resulting product which is clear, sober, balanced, rational, and a pleasure to read. Thanks for the effort you put into it.

I hope most readers realize this. Not everyone is likely to be as happy, but that's okay, too, since there are lots of other blogs out there. I see the blogosphere as a pointillist painting where lots of people are putting up the dots. Or, perhaps, some better metaphor that makes the same point. . . At any rate, I don't try for "balance" in the traditional sense because unlike a broadcast outlet or a newspaper, I'm not a quasi-monopolist, but one of millions of bloggers. You don't like my take on things? When I suggest you go elsewhere, I'm not being hostile -- well, usually. It's just that there are a hell of a lot of good blogs out there, and if you don't like mine there's sure to be another one that's more to your taste. And that's a good thing. It's why I'm always telling people to branch out. And I really mean that.

Meanwhile, I'm sorry to disappoint Andrew Sullivan by not being "more abusive." But I've actually tried quite consciously to moderate my tone in the run-up to the elections, because I think that there's quite enough abuse out there. I realize that this only serves to underscore complaints that I lack fire. To which I can only respond that if you're coming to a blog written by a law professor in search of "fire," well, you really need to read some other blogs. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Various people weigh in, here and here.

PEOPLE WONDER why I'm not writing more about the polls. The answer is that I don't know what to think about them. I'm inclined to agree with Stephen Green: "The more I read the polls, the less I know. . . . I don't know how this thing is going to pan out. Neither do you. But right now, I feel as though the electorate is going to play all of us pundits - amateur and professional - for fools."

EUGENE VOLOKH has been increasingly critical of Slate, lately. Here's his latest comment.

THE BLOGOSPHERE GROWS UP: First of two pre-election columns on this subject, over at TechCentralStation.

FEARMONGERING on Social Security and the draft: William Safire thinks the Kerry campaign is looking desperate. Then again: "Ethicists, pundits and other goo-goos can all tut-tut about scare tactics, but the big question for political strategists is: do they work? We'll know in two weeks." There's then a rather odd segue to the Judith Miller case.

Read this column, too. The trouble with stuff like this is that if it does help Kerry win, it leaves him in a weak position. Kerry's platform consists of a few things he probably can't deliver on, like national health care, and of one big thing: not being George W. Bush. Neither is likely to wear well over the course of a term in office.

UPDATE: It seems the Kerry campaign has discovered the strategic uses of vaporware: "Now it turns out that some of the Kerry commercials are being written, edited, produced and put on satellites for the purpose of generating news articles. They have not actually aired on any network or local station -- except in reports about the Democrat's campaign."

As many tech companies have learned, this works best when you have cooperative folks in the press.

UNSCAM UPDATE: Claudia Rosett finds Kofi Annan's huffy denials of corruption unpersuasive:

In dealing with Saddam, Mr. Annan no doubt had a lot to keep track of. There are many questions yet to be answered about Oil for Food before final blame is parceled out. But if the idea is to save the U.N. itself from becoming the world's biggest banana institution, there are serious and important questions to be asked about why Secretary-General Kofi Annan finds it "inconceivable" that in the U.N.'s core debates, rampant graft might matter.


BILL STUNTZ WRITES on terrorism and the Mob:

By now, everyone in America knows that John Kerry has compared fighting terrorism to prosecuting organized crime figures for gambling and prostitution. The comparison has attracted a lot of criticism. Actually, it's a pretty good analogy -- but it leads to a different lesson than Kerry believes.

Read the whole thing.

JOHN HAWKINS has a Kerry quote roundup that's very interesting.

October 19, 2004

JOHN KERRY'S BAND, THE ELECTRAS, has a new music video out, featuring John Edwards.

LOOK WHO SEEMS TO BE MISSING AND UNACCOUNTED FOR. I'm not shocked, but it's surprising that we're not hearing this kind of analysis from Peter Jennings.

WEB VIDEO AND THE ELECTIONS: Some thoughts over at

SPEAKING OF ALTERNATE HISTORY: SunnyBlog looks at a world where we hadn't invaded Iraq:

Democrat Presidential nominee John Kerry delivered a speech today condemning President Bush for failing to invade Iraq in the follow-up of military action against the Talaban and Al Qaeda in Afghanastan. "Leaving this tyrant in power in contravention of numerous United Nations resolutions is unconscionable," Kerry told the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "He has left available a base of operations and a source of supply and money."

Kerry went on to criticize the war against terror as "stalled" while the real threat to America, "Saddam Hussein’s Iraq goes untouched." Kerry said, "People are murdered daily in Baghdad and throughout the country. Rape rooms are a tragic reality. Torture chambers are full as Saddam’s sons carry out their sadistic impulses on the helpless and hapless victims of this regime. President Bush has done nothing as this brutal dictator takes the money from the Oil for Food to build palaces while his people go without food...

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: More alternate history, here.

EFFORTS TO KEEP STOLEN HONOR off the air would seem to be backfiring: "John Kerry Tried to Stop You From Seeing This Film."

CARNIVAL OF THE LIBERATED: This week's Iraqi blog roundup is up.

JOHN LEO looks at journalism at The New York Times.

EVERYBODY KEEPS SENDING ME THIS JOHN EDWARDS VIDEO FROM SLATE. I'm not quite sure why people see it as such a big deal, but you can look at it and judge for yourself.

INTERESTING OPED: "Blogs can help democracy, especially in partisan times."

THE BIGGEST AD BUY OF THE CAMPAIGN: (Via PoliPundit.) You can see the ad online here, if you're interested.

TOMMY FRANKS CONTRASTS BUSH AND KERRY on the terror war. It's worth reading this together with the Jim Dunnigan piece linked below.

SPANISH BLOGGER BARCEPUNDIT has surveillance video from the Madrid bombings. As he says, not gory, but very disturbing.

MY ANALYSIS OF bumper-sticker aesthetics from last month is echoed by people with more credentials here. I still think the Kerry-Edwards logo is a winner, though some experts disagree.

UPDATE: Jeez, everybody's a critic. Reader Barbara Grogan emails:

Why are you wasting space on the bumper-sticker gap?

If the election is lost, the pro-war Blogosphere will deserve some blame. You have not been filling in the spaces left by the weak rhetorical style of President Bush. What are these spaces? [1] the role of Iran as Middle East terrorist puppet master since 1979; [2] the consequences of Kerry's pacifying of elites rather than pushing forward with new Middle East democracies; [3] the enfranchisement of the European laissez-faire attitude toward terrorism as the
approach least suited to combating it; [4] the consequences of being liked in the world, rather than feared or respected.

Please link to themes like these, and leave the bumper-sticker jive to less worthy sites.

I do support Bush over Kerry, but I don't see getting Bush reelected as my job. If it were, he'd be several percent higher in the polls. Sorry. If you want that, go to BlogsforBush or something. Heck, I don't even see blogging as my job.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Gabe Posey emails:

People relying on you to get Bush reelected is like people relying on Lileks to give Minnesota a normal political atmosphere. Sure, you might contribute, but the situation just is what it is.

Yeah, that's how I see it. I think my influence is overstated by both fans and critics.

HERE'S MORE on the flu vaccine shortage.

UPDATE: Andrew Lloyd, meanwhile, thinks he's figured out why Chiron is getting a pass on the whole thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here from Chris Kanis.

INTERESTING INTERVIEW with new Economics Nobelist Edward Prescott:

Prescott, speaking from Minnesota, where he advises the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, described Kerry's plan to roll back tax cuts for top wage-earners as counterproductive.

"The idea that you can increase taxes and stimulate the economy is pretty damn stupid," he said.

Bush's campaign on Monday released a letter signed by Prescott and five other Nobel laureates critical of Kerry's proposal to roll back tax reductions for families earning $200,000 or more.

In The Republic interview, he said such a policy would discourage people from working.

"It's easy to get over $200,000 in income with two wage earners in a household," Prescott said. "We want those highly educated, talented people to work."

Prescott also gave Bush the nod on another controversial campaign issue, dismissing Kerry's claims that outsourcing of jobs is damaging the economy. . . . Prescott also backed the idea, espoused by Bush, to reform Social Security by allowing some workers to place a portion of their payroll taxes into private savings accounts.

I'm surprised this hasn't gotten more attention.

DID KERRY CHANGE AFTER 9/11? Not that I can see. Thoughts on that here, and on Kerry's own remarks on the subject here.

SOME READERS WANT a followup commentary on John Birmingham's alternate-history novel Weapons of Choice, which I mentioned I was taking on the plane with me last week. I enjoyed it very much, though I wouldn't put it in the absolute top rank of such novels. It's not quite Harry Turtledove -- though Turtledove makes a cameo.

The most interesting bit is the culture clash between the folks from our time and the folks from the World War II era. It's a good reminder of just how much things have changed. And they really have changed -- just read the passage from Jack McCall's World War II history quoted here for an example.

WANT HEALTH CARE BLOGGING? Check out this week's Grand Rounds, where health care professionals blog about . . . health care!

Note in particular this post by Sydney Smith, comparing Kerry's national health care plan to Tennessee's "TennCare." Take it from me, TennCare is nothing we want to emulate on a national level.


Al Qaeda no longer exists. Al Qaeda means “the base” in Arabic. It’s an accurate name for an organization that sought to replace the Cold War era terrorist sanctuaries and support services that made possible the first wave of Arab terrorism in the 1960s and 70s. Back then, the Soviet Union established training camps, and university level instruction, for Arabs wishing to commit terrorist acts in the West. The Soviets also provided sanctuary. In addition, the Soviets helped Arab nations, like Syria and Iraq, establish terrorist training camps, and provided advice on how to support terrorism without getting caught by the victims. For about ten years, Al Qaeda replaced the former Soviet terrorism support. But now, without a sanctuary to operate from, “the base” is no more. . . .

Al Qaeda was always feared for the loose relationship the many small Islamic terrorist groups, spread all over the planet, had with each other. What made these many groups (mostly composed of eager amateurs) really dangerous was their access to professional terrorists via al Qaeda. The eager amateurs no longer have an easy to find base. In fact, since September 11, 2001, the police have been more successful at finding these terrorists, than the terrorists have been in finding the many bits of al Qaeda out there. The base is no longer the base.

The end of Soviet support was a major blow to terrorism, which was nowhere near as much an authentic and spontaneous phenomenon as many have believed, or pretended. I hope that this will play out the same way.


JAMES JOYNER: "While a five percent recidivism rate is better than we get from our criminal justice system, it's rather poor for a counter-terrorism program." (Via Stephen Green.)

LT SMASH has a roundup of blog commentary on Team America.

JIM LINDGREN thinks that Kerry is closer to a win than most pundits do. Meanwhile, Nick Schulz writes:

That this election may be as close as the last is a stunning fact. How can two elections that have been nothing alike produce such a comparable result? How could two campaign seasons that focused on such radically different issues leave the electorate just as evenly divided?

It's as if people's political loyalties have more to do with self-image than with the issues.

CHRIS SUELLENTROP NOTES a dubious Kerry move:

Let's see: Your opponent is characterizing you as an effete internationalist willing to "turn America's national security decisions over to international bodies or leaders of other countries." In particular, he suggests, in all seriousness, that you want to call up Jacques Chirac for permission before deploying the military. At the Republican National Convention, you were portrayed as a beret-wearing poodle named "Fifi Kerry." How should you defend yourself against these slanders?

By speaking French on the stump, of course.

Though not terribly well, according to the report. Maybe he was speaking Creole!

October 18, 2004

I DON'T KNOW MUCH about the flu vaccine shortage, but this post by Kevin Drum seems to make sense.

90 DAYS TO MARS? Sounds good to me, especially because it's cheap.


American prosecutors are preparing charges against Benon Sevan, the former head of the United Nations oil for food programme, who has been accused of accepting millions of dollars in kickbacks from Saddam Hussein's regime.

That could wake some people up. (Via TMG).

INTERESTED IN NANOTECHNOLOGY? Of course you are. So why not check out the First Annual Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology: Research, Applications, and Policy, starting Thursday in Washington, D.C.?

UPDATE: Yes, I realize that you may be busy with other worthy events.

ANOTHER BLOG SYMPOSIUM over at Hugh Hewitt's.

IN RESPONSE TO A COMMENT BY TONY PIERCE following this post by Jeff Jarvis, I want to make the following disclaimer for the benefit of any readers who haven't been paying attention:

1. InstaPundit is not an unbiased news service. It consists entirely of my opinions and such links to factual items as I find interesting. Its whole purpose is as a vehicle for my biases, in fact. It is not unbiased and objective in any fashion, but rather is opinionated and slanted, much like other, more respectable, outlets such as The New York Times and

2. I do, in fact, support the reelection of George W. Bush, for reasons that should be clear to long-term readers. While I'm not overjoyed with Bush (I'd prefer Lieberman/Cheney, or Cheney/Lieberman), I think that electing John F. Kerry at this juncture would be like electing the ugly bastard child of Jimmy Carter and Millard Fillmore -- in 1940. (I could be wrong, of course, and if Kerry should happen to be elected, I fervently hope to be proven so. But that's how it seems to me. I mean, Jesus, just look at the guy.)

3. If this bothers you, please sod off and go read Atrios or Kos.

That concludes this disclaimer.

UPDATE: Hey, compare InstaPundit to Wisconsin Public Radio.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Dierk Meierbachtol emails that the above comparison is unfair to Millard Fillmore. Sorry, Millard! (Maybe Bill Maher's take is better: "John Kerry is like a Frankenstein of other Democratic candidates that they have pieced together. He is a droning bore, like Al Gore. He is a Massachusetts liberal, like Dukakis. He is a policy wonk, like Jimmy... Jimmy Carter. Right. And he is a sap, sapling tree like Gore. They put all these together and made this one guy." Mostly, he's just a guy I find it impossible to imagine as an effective commander in chief, and that's what matters to me.)

Meanwhile, further down in the comments, Oliver Willis calls me "partisan." In the sense of supporting a candidate, sure, since I pretty much gave up on Kerry quite a while ago, but not in the sense of supporting a party regardless of candidate. I'm not, you know, a paid flack for one party like, say, Oliver, and part of my disgust with the Democrats stems from their stubborn unwillingness to be serious about the war, or to tolerate candidates who are. If the Democrats had put forth somebody decent on this front I'd likely have voted for him/her. But it's not as if I pretend not to have opinions. I think that Oliver mistakes a reluctance to engage in name-calling with a facade of above-the-fray I-have-no-opinions "nonpartisanship." But in fact, it's possible to have opinions, even strong ones, and to express them in a non-abusive fashion. That's probably easy to forget when you work for David Brock, but I hope that he'll grow out of this confusion, eventually.

MORE: Reader Holger Uhl emails:

Hey is your disclaimer copyrighted, or can I send it to my local newspaper? ;)

Every media outlet should have one like it:

[Put name of your prefered media outlet] is not an unbiased news service. It consists entirely of opinions and such links to factual items as we find interesting. Its whole purpose is as a vehicle for our biases, in fact. It is not unbiased and objective in any fashion, but rather is opinionated and slanted.
We do, in fact, support the [re ]election of [insert candidate], for reasons that should be clear to long-term readers.



DAVID ADESNIK reviews Team America.

JEFF JARVIS: "Welcome to the future of TV." I think he's right.

DARFUR UPDATE: "'If this isn't genocide, then what on earth is?"

THE PROTEST WARRIOR APPROACH has spread to France. Heh.

HERE'S A ROUNDUP on the United Nations effort to ban therapeutic cloning. I don't know what the Kerry Campaign thinks about this.

POLITICIANS "PIMPIN' THE PULPIT:" Ambra Nykol isn't impressed. (Via

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF has news from Afghanistan you're likely to have missed.

BECAUSE I'M AN IDIOT understandably absent-minded professor, I forgot my office key when I came in on Sunday. I got some work done in the library anyway, but finished up early there and took an hour or so to walk around campus on a beautiful day. I took a few pictures -- some are in the "extended entry area" so you'll have to click "read more" for them. Interestingly, these were taken with the 3-megapixel Toshiba instead of the 5-megapixel Sony, because the Toshiba was what I had with me. But viewed full-size there wasn't a lot of difference. I think that the better lens on the Toshiba (which sadly accounts for its bulk) makes up a lot of the difference.

Read More ?

RYAN SAGER ON JOHN KERRY'S TERRORISM-AS-NUISANCE REMARK: "For his honesty, Kerry has been subjected over the last week to no end of abuse in the media -- and not just on the conservative side. . . . There's a way to run for president, criticizing the present while providing a vision for the future, without sounding like the head of the Yale Political Union. But Kerry hasn't hit on it yet."

GREG DJEREJIAN EXPLAINS why he's voting for Bush. "In short, Bush's record has been mixed--but he gets the existential stakes at play. I would only vote for Kerry if: a) he got the stakes too and b) assuming 'a', that I thought he would prosecute the war in materially more effective fashion. I don't believe either."

Read the whole thing, which is thorough, thoughtful, and -- despite the conclusion -- unsparing in its criticism of the Bush Administration.

MORE PROBLEMS WITH KERRY'S MULTILATERAL APPROACH: First the "get NATO involved" seems to have flopped. The Germans and the French have made clear that they're not sending troops to Iraq. Now the cheap-drugs-from-Canada approach seems to have gone belly-up, too:

More than 30 Canadian internet pharmacies have decided not to accept bulk orders of prescription drugs from US states and municipalities.

The move delivers a potentially serious setback to US politicians most notably Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry campaigning to give Americans easier access to cheap drugs from Canada. . . . But growing concern in Canada that growing exports to the US could lead to rising prices and shortages north of the border has prompted the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (Cipa), whose members include several of the biggest internet and mail-order drugstores, to act.

It's always seemed obvious to me that we can't generate much in the way of real savings by sending drugs from America to Canada and then reimporting them. That's not real cost-lowering but the sort of regulatory arbitrage that -- as the Canadians have figured out -- is more likely to raise Canadian prices than lower American ones in the long run. (And as Tom Maguire notes, other people have figured that out, too.) Still, the Kerry Campaign might wish that the Canadians had waited a couple of weeks.


With John Howard, you don't need that: just get him on the phone.

In the run-up to the Iraq war, he didn't bother flying in to Camp David for the Bush-Blair photo-op or to the Azores for the Anglo-American-Spanish-Portuguese one. He could have gone, but he didn't feel he had to. After all, he's got a real alliance, not like the Franco-American "alliance", which exists only at summits and ends as soon as Bush and Chirac have got on their respective planes.

The result is that, even though he's hardly ever in the souvenir photo line-up, Howard's a more consequential figure in world affairs these days than Chirac. Indeed, he's a transformative figure. I know this, because my nation has been on the other end of the transformation. I'm Canadian and, for those who remember when the Royal Canadian Navy was once the third largest surface fleet in the world, it's sobering to hear Australia spoken of as the third pillar of the Anglosphere.

Under Howard, Australia is a player while Canada is a global irrelevance. Given geography and the Islamists' ambitions in Indonesia and South Asia, that might be true whoever was in power. But, if this is simply a reflection of regional realities, Howard expresses them better than anyone else.


THE INSTA-WIFE'S FILM SIX will be showing next Sunday night at the IndieMemphis Film Festival.

BLOG-O-RAMA: This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up, presenting posts on business and economics from a wide range of bloggers. And speaking of blog roundups, don't miss Simon World's Asian blog survey.

MARTIN PERETZ is very unhappy with the look of Kerry's mideast policy:

I've searched to find one time when Kerry — even candidate Kerry — criticized a U.N. action or statement against Israel. I've come up empty. Nor has he defended Israel against the European Union's continuous hectoring. . . .

This muddled foolishness reflects Kerry's sense of politics as desperate theater. . . . Kerry seems to have nostalgia for the peacemaking ways of Clinton. But what Clinton actually bequeathed to George W., says Benn, was "an Israeli-Palestinian war and a total collapse of the hopes that flourished in the 1990s…. The height of the peace process during the Clinton era, the Camp David summit in July 2000, was a classic example of inept diplomacy, an arrogant and rash move whose initiators failed to take into account the realpolitik, misunderstood Arafat and brought upon both Israelis and Palestinians the disaster of the intifada."

Ouch. Read the whole thing.


MADRID -- Seven months after bombs exploded aboard morning commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people, the precise motives of the attackers remain unclear. But new evidence, including wiretap transcripts, has lent support to a theory that the strike was carefully timed to take place three days before a national election in hopes of influencing Spanish voters to reject a government that sent troops to Iraq. . . .

People familiar with this fast-moving sequence of events say it suggests the attackers wanted to make certain that Spanish voters knew that Islamic radicals -- and not the Basque separatist group ETA -- were responsible when they went to the polls so they would punish the ruling party.

Maybe we should be. Fortunately, widespread early voting makes such an attack more problematic.

UPDATE: Speaking of targeting the elections:

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin says terrorist attacks in Iraq are aimed at preventing the re-election of U.S. President George W. Bush and that a Bush defeat "could lead to the spread of terrorism to other parts of the world." . . .

"Any unbiased observer understands that attacks of international terrorist organizations in Iraq, especially nowadays, are targeted not only and not so much against the international coalition as against President Bush," Putin said.


October 17, 2004

BLOG VIDEO: I've been experimenting with my cheap Sony digicam and Windows Movie Maker 2. That's because I really think that the video-with-sound capabilities of digital still cameras are the key to success with blog video -- it's just so much easier to carry one of those around. Movie Maker 2 is pretty decent for rough-and-ready video in that setting, too -- it supports exposure control, which I used, and titles, which I didn't, and while I'm all for fancier video software, I believe in relying on stuff that's simple and ubiquitous whenever possible. Here are two short segments that I shot with the Sony as examples. The first involves the InstaWife shooting at the range recently. (Small version for dialup here -- no complaining about her form, gun geeks, because although she's riding the recoil a bit, it was toward the end of the second box of ammo and she was tired; she was rock steady for the first several magazines' worth).

The second was shot in my neighborhood sushi bar (small version here). In both cases the lighting wasn't great, and neither was the sound situation, but I think the product is pretty decent. And these were shot on the "standard" setting, not the high quality setting. It seems to me that a local news-blogger with a couple of big memory cards could do some interesting stuff with this kind of a setup. For example, if I'd had the Sony with me instead of the Olympus, I would have done some video interviews along with the still pix when I visited the bullet-riddled Bush/Cheney HQ in Knoxville last week. And that would have been kind of cool. Those with ambitions toward news-blogging, take note.

UPDATE: Reader John MacDonald emails:

The video and sound came out pretty well albeit it was a short clip, but then nightly news isn't much better. If someone wants to go to a lecture or a protest or fire, this will give readers a good idea of what's going on. Now that you're unleashing hundreds of thousands of videographers, how do they get it on a news feed or yahoo? MSM may not be able to do too much more filtering if there are hundreds or thousands countering their spin on a story.Now you just have to work out a few logistical kinks.

Well, blogs are okay for distributing video, but I agree that we need something better. One step at a time. . . .

SOMEBODY WROTE to ask for photos of fall foliage. It hasn't gotten here yet, though I suppose the upper altitudes in the mountains are turning. But, sadly, I'm way too busy to get to the mountains. [I thought you were on leave? -- Ed. So did I.]

Fortunately, the fall foliage has come to Wisconsin, and Ann Althouse has pictures.

MEDIENKRITIK REPORTS that George Soros is airbrushing things on his blog. That's not cool.

I, FOR ONE, WELCOME OUR NEW SPIDER OVERLORDS: And I'd like to remind them that popular bloggers may serve as trusted voices in helping to recruit workers to toil in their underground fly caves. . . .

Is it just me, or are people making a bigger deal out of Halloween than they used to?

It sure seems that way, anyhow. Anybody got some Raid?

UPDATE: Many readers say that Halloween seems to be a bigger deal. And not everyone' s happy about it. Shortly after posting this I noticed an announcement hanging on my doorknob, for an "alternative to Halloween" festival sponsored by some Baptists. There does seem to be this anti-Halloween backlash, too, which I regard as rather silly. But if people want to have alternative parties, it's okay with me. Even if there are no giant spiders. Though you've got to love the giant spiders.

WELL, YEAH, BUT WHAT'S YOUR POINT? A comprehensive approach to the big issues of this election.

WALTER OLSON REVIEWS Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s new book, Crimes Against Nature, and finds much to dislike:

There's a rich market for Bush-bashing books these days, but Kennedy's jackhammer style leaves one yearning for Michael Moore's suavity, Molly Ivins' balance and Paul Krugman's lightness of touch. If you find it novel and illuminating to compare today's highly placed Texans with Hitler and Mussolini, then RFK Jr.'s your man. . . .

The man's lack of ironic self-awareness is a marvel. In his media-criticism chapter, he has the nerve to blast the press for its absorption with celebrity culture. Yet this book, like Kennedy's entire career, is nothing if not an artifact of that culture. It would never have been acquired by a major publisher, or sent out in quantity to bookstores or reviewed in this newspaper today, if its author's name were Robert F. Snicklethwaite, Jr.

Ouch. The Amazon reviews are considerably more positive.

UPDATE: Reader Ernest Gudath says that a book is going nowhere until the prolific Henry Raddick has reviewed it. Um, his tastes are certainly eclectic. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

TIM BLAIR PRESENTS the terrifying face of forgiveness. Put down all liquids before following this link.

UPDATE: Response here. Heh.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST? James Miller wonders if InstaPundit will be better off if Kerry wins. Henry Copeland thinks my traffic would increase dramatically, and he's pretty much always right about these things. Nonetheless, I think a Kerry victory would likely be much worse for the country.

UPDATE: We may never know: Latest Gallup likely-voter poll shows it Bush 52, Kerry 44, Nader 1. Of course, the polls have seemed unusually, um, volatile this year. Make of it what you will. Drudge has more, including the information that Bush's favorables, in this poll at least, are up to 55%.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Power Line is skeptical of the Gallup poll. I'm skeptical of all of them, at this point.

A WHILE BACK, I wrote this:

I think it's fair to say that if Kerry wins, he'll win based on anti-Bush sentiment among Democrats and swing voters. But although the anybody-but-Bush vote might be good enough to get him into office, once he's elected it will evaporate: the dump-Bush voters will have gotten what they wanted, and they won't have any special reason to support any particular policy of Kerry's -- or even Kerry himself. . . .

So Kerry might find himself elected, but with support that rapidly fades away, leaving him subject to Washington crosswinds and a slave to his party's interest groups. That's pretty much what happened to President Jimmy Carter. He owed his election to backlash over Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon, and the lingering residue of Watergate. But that turned out to be an insufficient base on which to govern. Carter's own party (especially, though not only, rivals like Ted Kennedy) cut him to ribbons. We lost ground both at home and abroad as a result.

This week, The Economist wrote (via Prof. Bainbridge):

Because the election is largely a referendum on Mr Bush, he can claim, if he wins, a clear mandate for his policies—particularly cutting taxes at home and smiting terrorists abroad. If Mr Kerry wins, the only mandate he will have will be for not being George Bush. In 1993, Mr Clinton had a difficult enough time holding his party together despite laying out a compelling vision of a new Democratic Party. The singularly unvisionary Mr Kerry will have to deal not just with the same struggles (for instance, between health-care reformers and deficit hawks) but also with a new civil war between the party's rabid Michael Moore faction and its more sensible Tony Blair wing.


UPDATE: Great minds think alike. Matt Welch, who probably never read the post above, wrote this at the close of the DNC:

I can't begin to fathom how that lack of specificity might play to the sliver of a minority of swing-state voters who haven't already made up their minds. Maybe they just needed to know that John Kerry was 6'4", served in Vietnam, and never much liked commies. Whatever the efficacy, this anti-Bush unity is almost certain to dwindle if and when the Dark Lord is dethroned, and I'll bet the hot political story in 2006 and 2008 will be about how the governing coalition is in disarray while the Republicans are newly unified against the haughty, chin-secreting liberal. This may be deeply unsatisfying to my tiny and incoherent demographic of non-partisan internationalist free-market Bush opponents, but within this projected disunity lies a silver lining -- if John Kerry presides over a divided government, backed by a bickering party that doesn't have George Bush to kick around anymore, then we will see endless new variations on the concept of "gridlock." Aside from not being slaughtered by Islamicist madmen, this may be the best thing we can hope for.

Well, that not-being-slaughtered bit is pretty high on my list, and it strikes me as Kerry's big weak point.

A BLOGGER'S SPEECH at a convention of newspaper editors. It's Alan Nelson of The Command Post, speaking to the Associated Press Managing Editors. Worth reading.




A President Kerry certainly would punish those who want us dead. As he pledged, with cautiously calibrated words, in accepting his party's nomination: "Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response." Bush, by contrast, insists on taking the fight to terrorists, depriving them of oxygen by encouraging free and democratic governments in tough neighborhoods. As he stated in his National Security Strategy in 2002: "The United States can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. ... We cannot let our enemies strike first."

Bush's sense of a president's duty to defend America is wider in scope than Kerry's, more ambitious in its tactics, more prone, frankly, to yield both casualties and lasting results. This is the stark difference on which American voters should choose a president.

There is much the current president could have done differently over the last four years. There are lessons he needs to have learned. And there are reasons--apart from the global perils likely to dominate the next presidency--to recommend either of these two good candidates.

But for his resoluteness on the defining challenge of our age--a resoluteness John Kerry has not been able to demonstrate--the Chicago Tribune urges the re-election of George W. Bush as president of the United States.

I must say I'm surprised by this. Be sure to read the whole thing. (Via The Glittering Eye).

UPDATE: Several readers email that the Trib endorsed Bush in 2000, so that I shouldn't be surprised. They're right, and I apologize for attributing to the editorial page the slant of the paper's news operation. I should have recognized that there's a wall of separation between the two. . . .


China is trying to stop the United Nations imposing sanctions on Sudan over the crisis in the Darfur regionto protect its oil imports from the country, say western diplomats.

For the past six years Beijing has been the Sudanese government's main backer, buying 70 per cent of its exports, servicing its $20bn debt and supplying the Khartoum government with most of its weapons.

Beijing oil imports jumped 35 per cent this year and its reliance on a growing number of rogue states to meet its needs is putting it on a collision course with the United States. Sudan and Iran together supply 20 per cent of China's oil imports, and if economic sanctions were applied to either, Beijing would be unable to sustain its high growth rates.

Another reason why multilateral diplomacy via the UN is unlikely to address either problem.

NADER VOTE DOUBLES: No, really. The good news for Kerry -- this may be an indicator that some voters are finding his tougher talk on the war credible!

Or, of course, it could be bad news for Kerry.

THE CLUB FOR GROWTH wants your opinion on a "draft" of a forthcoming TV ad.