February 05, 2005

"HARD FACTS HAVE FINALLY CRACKED THEIR ECHO CHAMBER:" Austin Bay responds to a slam from The Guardian.

REUTERS IS WINGING IT again, according to Craig Brett.

ANN ALTHOUSE wants to see Russ Feingold run against Condi Rice in 2008.

We could do worse. And probably will!

NORM GERAS, who has profiled so many bloggers, is profiled himself in the Sunday Times.


Gertrude Walton was recently targeted by the recording industry in a lawsuit that accused her of illegally trading music over the Internet. But Walton died in December after a long illness, and according to her daughter, the 83-year-old hated computers.

More than a month after Walton was buried in Beckley, a group of record companies named her as the sole defendant in a federal lawsuit, claiming she made more than 700 pop, rock and rap songs available for free on the Internet under the screen name "smittenedkitten."

I'm guessing that this was a 'bot-based complaint, and I really think that there ought to be consequences for initiating legal action on such a flimsy basis. Live people sign affidavits on these matters, after all, swearing that they have ascertained the facts. (Via Basil).

TIM BLAIR has a roundup of news brieflets.

And yeah, blogging's been light today. But I've had a lot of domestic chores. It's not all floor-scrubbing, though. At the moment, I'm blogging from the deck, where it's nearly 60 degrees and steak-grilling is about to commence. There are chores, and then there are chores.

Another sort of roundup can be found here.

DVD-BLOGGING: The Insta-Daughter was watching Mulan II, which we picked up at Target today. I was busy cleaning -- the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is great at getting scuffmarks off hardwood floors, so great that I wound up doing a lot more than I meant to when I started -- and didn't pay much attention to the plot. (Something about how it's important to get to marry who you want, I think.) But the DVD autoplays -- no menu to navigate unless you want to, just stick it in, and it goes.

I wish they were all like that. I'm frequently annoyed when whoever programmed the DVD menus was so anxious to show off all the features that I have to actually think about what to do to get it to simply play the damn movie. And fancy menus often confuse kids. Disney's got that figured out, but I wish they all worked that way.

UPDATE: Forget DVD-blogging. The theme for this post is obviously cleaning. My former student Heather Hubbard emails:

I cannot believe you are blogging about the magic eraser. And, I especially cannot believe that I am writing to you about it! Ned's mom gave me some magic erasers as stocking stuffers for Christmas in 2003, and they have changed my life. I have those experiences all the time when I end up doing way more cleaning than I intended. The magic eraser is excellent at getting up scuff marks off of Ned's white linoleum kitchen floor. I start with one little spot, and end up cleaning the entire floor! (In fact, I think I'll go clean right now!) And, since they are kind of expensive, Ned is under strict orders not to use them himself.

Another cleaning product that is great is Tilex soap scum remover. I discovered that one in college. But, one warning: do not combine Tilex soap scum remover with the power of a magic eraser. The Tilex will completely eat away the magic eraser.

Also, I have been meaning to email you about the cult of the ipod and my one problem with my ipod. I love my ipod, and I want everything to be perfect with it, but it is not perfect. I am training for the Country Music Marathon, and I thought that the ipod would make my Saturday long runs go by much faster. (I even have a Marathon training playlist with all of the high-energy songs.) However, I am disappointed everytime I run with it because it freezes up after 1-1.5 miles of running. Then, I have to stop, lay it flat, and press the "select" and "menu" buttons at the same time for six seconds, and it works again. But, it ticks me off so much that now I have switched back to my old armband radio. I am using the ipod in my car and at work (with some great little speakers Ned gave me for Christmas), and that is it. Any suggestion on how to get my ipod to stop freaking out on me?

I hope all is well at UT. I miss being at law school. It was a whole lot more fun than actually practicing law.

Quite a few people feel that way, alas. And if you have any iPod advice for Heather, send it my way and I'll pass it on.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Everybody seems to agree that the problem is caused by the iPod's inability to tolerate a lot of bouncing. Most people recommend an iPod Shuffle or some other flash-based player instead. Some say that carrying the iPod by hand will work. (I use this armband and haven't had any problems, but my running may be less bouncy).

On cleaning, many people endorsed the Magic Eraser. And reader Julie Carlson weighs in on her favorite device:

My latest favorite is the Clorox Bleach pen. I needed to clean the grout in my kitchen floor tiles. We remodeled a few years ago and I noticed the peachy-colored grout was getting dingy. The bleach pen gets the bleach where I want it, and there is even a little scrubber thingy on one end. Grout looks like new!

Mmmm. New grout.


The sense of an organisation unwilling to acknowledge the nasty realities of a changed world has been much in evidence this week after the publication of the first of Paul Volcker's reports on the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal.

Mr Volcker, the 77-year-old former chairman of the US Federal Reserve and no enemy of the UN, stated: "We are not here to tear down, we are here to restore."

Whether that is possible has become the crucial question. With the US television networks and senior congressional figures feasting on the detail of the report yesterday, there was a sense that the inquiry may be getting out of hand.

This week's interim report was commissioned after detailed allegations surfaced following the 2003 Iraq war suggesting that Saddam Hussein's regime had perverted the UN-run scheme by raking off cash that should have gone to Iraq's sick and starving.

An estimated $1.7 billion (Ј900 million) was skimmed off the $64 billion programme and used by the Iraqis to win favours from 270 influential figures abroad.

As the report drily noted: "It is evident that the Iraqi regime attempted to gain favour by granting oil allocations to persons the programme did not recognise as oil purchasers."

Read the whole thing. And read this, too.

UPDATE: Fingers are pointing every which way:

LONDON (Reuters) - Former U.N. head Boutros Boutros-Ghali refused to take all the blame for Iraq's scandal-tainted oil-for-food program on Saturday, pointing the finger at his successor Kofi Annan.


JIM LINDGREN WRITES on academic freedom and the Kalven report.

UPDATE: On the other hand, Richard Posner has these observations on academic freedom, inspired by Larry Summers:

But no one who has spent much time around universities thinks they've ever "encourage[d] uncircumscribed intellectual explorations." The degree of self-censorship in universities, as in all institutions, is considerable. Today in the United States, most of the leading research universities are dominated by persons well to the left of Larry Summers, and they don't take kindly to having their ideology challenged, as Summers has now learned to his grief. There is nothing to be done about this, and thoughtful conservatives should actually be pleased. As John Stuart Mill pointed out in On Liberty, when one's ideas are not challenged, one's ability to defend them weakens. Not being pressed to come up with arguments or evidence to support them, one forgets the arguments and fails to obtain the evidence. One's position becomes increasingly flaccid, producing the paradox of thought that is at once rigid and flabby. And thus the academic left today.

Indeed. (Via The New Editor).

ANOTHER UPDATE: Related story, from UNLV, here.

THE BLOGOSPHERE GETS FEISTY: It's Jonah Goldberg vs. Juan Cole, with Justin Katz chiming in.

Meanwhile, contradictions are noted in other remarks. Moore, Churchill, and Chomsky don't represent the Left -- even when it agrees with them most of the time!

UPDATE: Jon Henke emails to suggest that it's odd to see Max Sawicky complaining about guilt-by-association, when Sawicky himself ran a contest to associate me with the most objectionable thing said by anyone on my blogroll.

Henke observes: "I guess he had a change of heart." I guess he did. Funny, though -- you shouldn't have to scroll past Alterman's name before figuring out that a place on my blogroll isn't necessarily an endorsement, anyway.

ANOTHER UPDATE: David Bernstein sends this link as his contribution to the Cole-fest.

MORE: A reader suggests that Sawicky has succumbed to obsession. Heh. Wouldn't be the first time.

STILL MORE: From someone who pays a lot more attention to Sawicky than I do.

MORE STILL: The Belmont Club on the Cole/Goldberg fracas: "But it was the declining vigor of Marxist thought coupled with new conservative ideas that poured the most fuel on the flames. Discourse between Left and Right could only remain civil for so long as Conservatives remained meek or had no counter-pulpit. . . . What has changed is that, with the decline of the MSM, there is nothing which prevents incivility from becoming a two-way street. And I'm not sure either the Left or the total system can contain the stress."


Manolo says, the Manolo he has little interest in the politics, and tends not to give much attention to the doings of the politicians. but here he must curse the memory of the American President JFK, for having the great head of the hair, and for the killing of the practice of the wearing of the hat.

Except among the hat-wearing elite, whom Manolo calls "the man who is not afraid to wear the hat, and as the consequence, wears the hat well." Indeed.

Interestingly, if you look here, there's not even a category for hats. And if you search for them, you get a page of baseball caps, cowboy hats, and toboggans. Manolo and Roger have a lot of work to do.

UPDATE: More on hats, from the hat man.

TOUR THE INDIAN BLOGOSPHERE: This week's Blog Mela is up.

February 04, 2005




NEW YORK (AP) -- A judge declared Friday that a law banning same-sex marriage violates the state constitution, a first-of-its-kind ruling in New York that would clear the way for gay couples to wed if it survives on appeal.

Gay rights activists hailed the ruling as a historic victory that "delivers the state Constitution's promise of equality to all New Yorkers."

(Via Howard Bashman). I haven't seen the opinion yet, so though I support the outcome I don't know whether the reasoning is persuasive.

UPDATE: Here, via Joe Carter, is a link to the text of the opinion.


Besieged Secretary of State Kevin Shelley resigned today in the face of multiple investigations of his political and professional conduct.

Arnold will appoint his successor. (Via California Mafia).

UPDATE: John Baker emails: "The LA Times never mentions Mr. Shelley’s party affiliation. Is it safe to assume he is a Democrat?" Yes, it is.

ANOTHER UPDATE: BoiFromTroy has more.

UNSCAM UPDATE: The Economist reports on the Volcker investigation:

Mr Volcker’s interim report answered some, though by no means all, of the questions surrounding the scandal. According to the report, Saddam-era Iraqi documents indicated that the programme head asked Iraq to allocate oil to a company called African Middle East Petroleum (AMEP), represented by a friend of Mr Sevan’s, Fakhry Abdelnour (who is also a distant cousin of former UN secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali). In return, Mr Sevan fought to allow Iraq to buy spare parts for its oil infrastructure, as opposed to food and the like, with its oil-for-food proceeds. In doing so, said Mr Volcker, Mr Sevan placed himself in a “grave and continuing conflict-of-interest situation”.

Both Mr Sevan and Mr Abdelnour had claimed to have been in contact just once, at a 1999 conference. But a search of Mr Sevan’s office found two of Mr Abdelnour’s business cards with different addresses, and telephone records showed repeated calls, both directly between the two men and probably through an intermediary. Shown the records, Mr Sevan admitted developing a friendship with Mr Abdelnour: “I came to like the guy. He’s an interesting character, you know.” And Mr Sevan’s explanation of bank deposits totalling $160,000? From an aunt, now deceased, he said. The committee found that she had lived modestly in a plain two-bedroom flat in Cyprus, purchased for her by Mr Sevan.

Read the whole thing. I agree that this is just the opening round.


The great silence by left-leaning Western feminists, and other large parts of the left, to human rights abuses carried out in the name of Islam is, to see it as its kindest, caused by an overdeveloped sense of tolerance or cultural relativism. But it is also part of the new anti-Americanism. Look at American Christian fundamentalism, they say.

Dislike of George Bush's foreign policy has led to an automatic support of those perceived to be his enemies. Paradoxically, this leaves the left defending people who hold beliefs that condone what the left has long fought against: misogyny, homophobia, capital punishment, suppression of freedom of speech. The recent reaffirmation by Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie has been met by virtual silence; as has the torture and murder in Iraq of a man who would be presumed to be one of the left's own - Hadi Salih, the international officer of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions. The hard left these days is soft on fascism, or at least Islamofascism.

The religious right in America would, if it could, wind back access to abortion and some other women's rights. But as far as I am aware, no Christian fundamentalist in the US has suggested banning women from driving cars, or travelling without their husbands' permission, or forcing them to cover their faces. Contrary to popular opinion, one is not the same as the other.

This isn't quite fair. Western feminists were happy to condemn the Taliban until it looked as if someone was going to do something about them. And they'll happily condemn the Saudis whenever they look like our allies.

Of course, there are some true Christian theocrats out there. "Christian Reconstructionist" Gary North, for example, supports capital punishment for children who curse at their parents:

Reconstructionists provide the most enthusiastic constituency for stoning since the Taliban seized Kabul. "Why stoning?" asks North. "There are many reasons. First, the implements of execution are available to everyone at virtually no cost." Thrift and ubiquity aside, "executions are community projects--not with spectators who watch a professional executioner do `his' duty, but rather with actual participants." You might even say that like square dances or quilting bees, they represent the kind of hands-on neighborliness so often missed in this impersonal era. "That modern Christians never consider the possibility of the reintroduction of stoning for capital crimes," North continues, "indicates how thoroughly humanistic concepts of punishment have influenced the thinking of Christians." And he may be right about that last point, you know.

Strangely, North is sometimes featured among antiwar "libertarians."

FILI-BUSTED: I think people have pointed out this Chemerinsky flipflop before. It's okay to change your mind, of course, but it's better to acknowledge it.


I want to point out something to everyone who is bashing Senator Kennedy for calling for an immediate withdrawal of 12,000 troops following the elections. That was the Bush administration plan all along, except for the "immediate" part. U.S. forces were increased by 12,000 in the last month or two in order to help with security for the elections. So we will see the troop levels decrease by 12,000 in the very near future. I wonder if when the troops start coming home, the MSM will say that Bush realized that Kennedy was right after all?

Senator [Kennedy] is not stupid. He made a prediction on an event he knew was going to happen. Now he's hoping that everyone will be too stupid to notice.

And voila! Kennedy's plan works.

Of course, timing is everything. By calling the war lost, and calling for the withdrawal of troops, right before the Iraqi election, Kennedy was being tactically "smart" but also giving heart to the enemy. Except that they've probably learned by now that he's not a reliable guide to American political opinion.

IF YOU CAN'T DANCE, I don't want to be part of your revolution.

Fortunately, the Iraqis can. And I love the Nietzsche quote.

MICKEY KAUS is slagging Howard Kurtz for ignoring the Eason Jordan scandal, once again invoking Kurtz's CNN connection as a conflict of interest. And over at my new post on the Jordan scandal, I note Kurtz's silence too.

But on the other hand, if Kurtz's relationship to CNN is what's keeping him quiet then why is almost everyone else in the news media keeping quiet, too?

The real problem here is institutional, I think, and focus on things like personal conflicts of interest merely serves to obscure the larger problem.

UPDATE: Shannon Love has a legislative proposal.

THE ARTFUL WRITER is a blog for screenwriters. Excerpt:

Senator Feinstein may pretend to be a liberal, but all politics is local, and corporate Hollywood has her in their pocket. Indeed, there wasn’t one single senator who felt big business didn’t deserve these latest new protections.

That’s good for those of us making a living in this industry.

I'm not so happy.

BUSH IS SUBTLER THAN I THOUGHT: Vik Rubenfeld notes that the "Syrian Accountability Act" that Bush invoked during the State of the Union speech was originally introduced by Barbara Boxer, back when she was taking a somewhat more hawkish line.

UPDATE: Another blast from the past: Harry Reid used to support Social Security reform: "Most of us have no problem with taking a small amount of the Social Security proceeds and putting it into the private sector."

Interestingly, so did FDR: "In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, 'Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age,' adding that government funding, 'ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.'"

Now that's a real blast from the past. Is it "ultimately" yet?

ANOTHER UPDATE: It looks as if FDR was talking about a different portion of the Social Security plan. This would have involved, essentially, a sort of government-supplied 401k plan.

EVAN COYNE MALONEY AGREES that Ward Churchill shouldn't be fired:

We find these comments reprehensible. But we also believe that the best way to combat Professor Churchill is by opposing him with more speech. Creating an environment where tenured professors can be fired for controversial remarks is a dangerous precedent to set. Academic freedom provides a wide berth, and that’s by design. Sometimes, controversy is merely the result of childish, mean-spirited remarks, but it’s also true that many of mankind’s most brilliant thinkers aroused controversy in their day. If they’d been silenced because others were upset by what they had to say, then we’d all be poorer for it. To ensure that professors can safely pursue the most innovative thinking, academic freedom should be respected.

Shoddy scholarship–not a knack for generating controversy–is the primary reason Professor Churchill shouldn’t be holding his professor position. Still, the University of Colorado should have noticed that and acted when Churchill initially came up for tenure. Instead, low standards on the part of the university allowed him to gain tenure and even to chair a department. By giving Churchill tenure, the university made a tacit promise to stand behind him in the face of controversy. The university should respect that promise and protect his job.

We suspect the University of Colorado is acting not out of principle but a desire to quell a public relations disaster.

This is why tenure decisions are so important. And universities who tenure bad people should have to live with the consequences.

UPDATE: Sounds like they feel differently. Colorado blogger Bob Hayes reports: "I think the University of Colorado is about to sell Ward Churchill down the river. " He reproduces an internal C.U. email that he got, which does sound like it's laying the groundwork for that. I agree with Hayes, and Maloney: They shouldn't have hired him, but they shouldn't take the easy way out now that he's gotten controversial, either.

HISTORY CARNIVAL #2 is up, with history-blogging on a wide variety of subjects.

MORE ON EASON JORDAN: "I notice CNN is no longer using the 'bloggers are taking his comments out of context' line. Now we are told, 'he was not clear enough in explaining his assertion.'"

There's supposed to be video. And why isn't David Gergen talking?

UPDATE: Here's some context for the Eason Jordan affair.

IN THE MAIL, from Oxford University Press, a copy of my colleague Robert J. Norrell's book, The House I Live In: Race in the American Century. It looks quite interesting.

THIS IS INTERESTING: Amazon's Achilles' heel has always been shipping costs. But now they're offering a sort of frequent flyer club where you get unlimited free shipping for $79 a year. (2-day air -- overnight is just $3.99).

I'm sure that would save me money, and it suggests to me that Amazon is trying to get more business from people who are already heavy customers. (It also suggests to me that they have enough buying power to squeeze a hell of a deal out of their carriers.) Is this also a preemptive measure against up-and-coming competitors like People keep telling me that they like Overstock, but I haven't used it much. But though I like Amazon a lot, I'd certainly be happy to see them face competition.


I loved my friends like brothers. They died at the hands of terrorists. Their memory is insulted by this guy. They were not imperialists, or even imperialist dupes. But you know what? The slandering bastard should be allowed to speak.

Yes. Though I think it's the criticism that speech will bring, rather than the speech itself, that University administrators don't want to face.

IN PLENTY OF TIME FOR DINNER: This week's Carnival of the Recipes is up.

ETHNIC WARFARE at San Francisco State University.

SONIA ARRISON WRITES about the mainstreaming of transhumanism. And Alyssa Ford writes that the next big political divide will be between transhumanists and technophiles on one side, and bioconservatives and lefty-Luddites on the other.

I hope not, but as Rand Simberg observes: "If this is the next political divide, I know which side I'm on."

LINDA SEEBACH emails with the news that the National Conference of Editorial Writers is thinking about ethics. Here are some of the questions they're asking their members:

The task force will contact all of the syndicates to go over questions that have been raised on this groupserv and elsewhere. This will allow us to compare how syndicates are set up to deal with issues like those that have come to the forefront this year and also ascertain how we can be effective in correcting factual errors.

Among the questions:

How do you screen columnists and editorial cartoonists?
Do you have an ethics policy?
What policy do you follow if contracted columnists/cartoonists violate standard journalism ethics (regardless of where you have an individual ethics policy)?
Do you have a fact-checking process for columnists? How does it work?
When editorial writers or editors find a factual error in a column or cartoon, what effective means can be used to communicate that error and have a correction made?

It's a start, I guess. Meanwhile, on the ethical front, Patrick Ruffini has some comments on how Big Media folks use blogs:

The Globe takes the White House to task for not distinguishing between conservative and "non-partisan" media. But the Globe does the same in its article, failing to disclose which "Internet bloggers" are fueling the story -- (cough)Hatrios(cough)Kos(cough) -- and any hint of which political party they might be associated with.

With all the discussion about policing the blogosphere, shouldn't there be a journalistic code of ethics for how the blogosphere's work is cited? The Globe glosses over its sourcing by noting that "issue was raised by a media watchdog group and picked up by Internet bloggers" -- which is a euphemism for "I didn't do any original reporting on this. I just cribbed it from Atrios, Daily Kos, and David Brock."

Why would the Globe be hesitant to provide hyperlinks to the two or three key blogs that brought the story to public attention, or mention their names in its print edition? Is it because disclosing what blogs Globe reporters actually read in their spare time might reflect poorly on the credibility of the story?

Indeed it might.

EASON JORDAN GETS HAMMERED FOR HIS DAVOS STATEMENTS, which seem to be untrue in all respects:

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, during a discussion on media and democracy, Mr. Jordan apparently told the audience that "he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by U.S. troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted," according to a report on the forum's Web site ( The account was corroborated by the Wall Street Journal and National Review Online, although no transcript of the discussion has surfaced. Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Christopher Dodd were also present, but calls to their offices were not returned in time for publication.

In any event, it's an assertion Mr. Jordan has made before. In November, as reported in the London Guardian, Mr. Jordan said, "The reality is that at least 10 journalists have been killed by the U.S. military, and according to reports I believe to be true journalists have been arrested and tortured by U.S. forces." This is very serious stuff, if true. Yet aside from Mr. Jordan's occasional comments, there's no evidence to support it. Mr. Jordan's almost immediate backpedaling seems to confirm this. In a statement to blogger Carol Platt Liebau, Mr. Jordan said, "To be clear, I do not believe the U.S. military is trying to kill journalists in Iraq. I said so during the forum panel discussion. But, nonetheless, the U.S. military has killed several journalists in Iraq in cases of mistaken identity." He added, "three of my CNN colleagues and many other journalists have been killed on purpose in Iraq." He didn't elaborate by whom.

According to information on CPJ's Web site (, between 2003 and 2004, 12 journalists were killed as a result of U.S. fire. None was from CNN. At least a few of those were instances of mistaken identity. In one case, Terry Lloyd of ITV News was in an SUV at the start of the war in March 2003. As CPJ notes, an investigative report in the Wall Street Journal cited accounts of U.S. troops who recalled firing upon cars marked "TV" since it was believed suicide bombers were using them to attack U.S. troops. It appears, however, that Mr. Lloyd's vehicle was caught in a crossfire. Aside from this one dubious case, none of the other reported deaths even remotely resembles intentional targeting by U.S. troops.

Jordan needs to stop hiding behind the PR people and explain what he was talking about. Or resign. There is corruption in Jordan's business, and he looks to be part of it.

SHOULD WARD CHURCHILL BE FIRED? Eugene Volokh has a long and thoughtful post; he agrees with me and with Steven Bainbridge that the answer is no -- except that false claims of being an Indian, under his circumstances, might constitute resume fraud. Read the whole thing.

And here's Bainbridge's take:

This is one of those occasions when those of us on the right need to suck it up and echo the line famously attributed to Voltaire: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." We do not remain true to our values if we are willing to say "free speech for me, but not for thee," even if that is what Churchill likely would say if the shoe were on the other foot.

He's right.

UPDATE: More background on Churchill from Gerard van der Leun. And The Belmont Club wonders why the story is getting so much attention, nationally, concluding: "the attention lavished on a relatively obscure academic recalls the inordinate power of the Scott Peterson and Michael Jackson cases to put more newsworthy subjects into the shade. The fascination may not be with Ward Churchill himself but with the Leftist demimonde glimpsed briefly through him."

APPARENTLY, JAMES WOLCOTT has found a new pseudonym. And an editor.

February 03, 2005


Citizens of Al Mudiryiah were subjected to an attack by several militants today who were trying to punish the residents of this small town for voting in the election last Sunday.

The citizens responded and managed to stop the attack, kill 5 of the attackers, wounded 8 and burned their cars.

Heh. May there be more such responses. (Via GayPatriot).

THE L.A. TIMES IS BUSTED AGAIN for repeating an already-exploded canard. What's next, the return of the plastic turkey?

AFTER YUSHCHENKO, this is going to make a lot of people suspicious:

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) - Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania, who helped lead Georgia's revolution that toppled the corruption-tainted regime of Eduard Shevardnadze, died early Thursday in a friend's apartment from what officials claimed was an accidental gas leak from a heater.

Georgia's interior minister said there was no reason to suspect foul play, but a lawmaker reportedly pointed the finger at ``outside forces.'' His remarks were aimed at Russia, which has ties with Georgia's separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and prompted a terse response from Moscow.

I think that this is likely to hurt Putin's position.

UPDATE: Thoughts on Georgia, and why it matters, here.

DAVID ADESNIK: "Safia al-Souhail was a special guest of the First Family last night at the State of the Union Address. According to al-Souhail, the man who murdered her father on Saddam's behalf just happens to be one of the businessman who made millions off of the Oil-for-Food scam. Al-Souhail even says that the assassin received the oil vouchers as a reward for his work."

YESTERDAY, I noted some math problems at the New York Times and joked that this made me worry about their social security coverage.

Well, it's not the NYT, but the Washington Post had its share of dropped balls on the subject today. More here. To its credit, the Post corrected quickly -- just as a blogger might. Perhaps this suggests a gradual convergence between the two modes.

AUSTIN BAY has more thoughts on Eason Jordan:

I’m waiting for CNN to release the actual audio or a full-written transcript of Eason Jordan’s remarks in Davos, Switzerland. That will clarify and –to pinch CNN’s word—properly “contextualize” Jordan’s alleged anti-US slur. We do know this: Jordan’s statement –whether chitchat or slander– was made before an international audience that included a score of Third World elites. These are the ruling class fat cats who have a big say back home about who gets to do what. They are the movers and shakers who have power to influence industrial concessions and –here’s the kicker in this analysis– with a wink and a nod can grant a news organization access to people and places. These elites are themselves potential news sources, bigshots who can add hardhitting soundbites.

Read the whole thing. And read this, too.

UPDATE: Oil-for-food, RatherGate, Eason Jordan -- Roger Simon sees a common factor.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Michael Totten has more on Jordan.

LEGALIZING ABORTION IN IRAN? Perhaps they're trying to demonstrate that they're progressive.

YOU REALLY CAN buy anything on Amazon!

GAY GROUPS are trying to stop San Francisco from crushing their civil rights.


The American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council representing the National and International leadership of the American Indian Movement once again is vehemently and emphatically repudiating and condemning the outrageous statements made by academic literary and Indian fraud, Ward Churchill in relationship to the 9-11 tragedy in New York City that claimed thousands of innocent people’s lives.

Churchill’s statement that these people deserved what happened to them, and calling them little Eichmanns, comparing them to Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, who implemented Adolf Hitler’s plan to exterminate European Jews and others, should be condemned by all.

The sorry part of this is Ward Churchill has fraudulently represented himself as an Indian, and a member of the American Indian Movement, a situation that has lifted him into the position of a lecturer on Indian activism. He has used the American Indian Movement’s chapter in Denver to attack the leadership of the official American Indian Movement with his misinformation and propaganda campaigns.

That's got to hurt. One can, of course, be of Indian descent without being an enrolled member of a tribe. Churchill, however, appears to have misrepresented his status.

UPDATE: Indian Country Today has much more:

Suzan Shown Harjo, a columnist for ICT who has tracked Churchill's career, said that aside from the in-laws of his late Indian wife, he has not been able to produce any relatives from any Indian tribe.

Beyond the question of his personal identity is the question of his standing to represent Indian opinion, not only on 9/11 but also in his other published works. Mohawk ironworkers helped build the World Trade Center and other monuments of the New York City skyline, and one crew was actually at work in the flight path of the plane that struck the second tower. St. Regis Mohawk Chief James Ransom noted that they joined rescue teams at great personal risk.

Churchill's other writings repudiate not only the U.S. but also most Indian tribal institutions. In one 1994 essay, he described tribal self government as a ''cruel hoax'' carried out by ''puppets'' of ''an advanced colonial setting.'' He equated the status of Indian tribes in the U.S. to that of European colonies in Asia and Africa. His analysis reflected an extreme version of European left-wing ideology.

But wait, there's more:

Far from suffering for his views, Churchill appears to have been sought out by many in the universities as a representative of American Indian thinking. But to many Native intellectuals, he is traveling under false pretenses, both in his ideology and his personal identity.

So Henry Farrell is rather wide of the mark (as usual) when he suggests that I'm being dishonest in noting that Churchill's beliefs are representative of a depressingly wide swath of academia. There's clearly a swath that prefers a fake Indian spouting extreme European leftism when it can get one, so much so that the spouter is actively sought out because of those views. That's no surprise, of course, to anyone who has been paying attention to academia, which Henry apparently has not.

(Via View from a Height).

ANOTHER UPDATE: Boy, Farrell sure picked the wrong week to try to argue that support for hate-filled leftist stupidity isn't really a problem in the academy. Churchill, after all, was an administrator at a major American state university. Now we have the ongoing problems at Columbia, a major private university:

COLUMBIA University is about to host yet another apparent anti-Semite. But President Lee Bollinger is still bent on saving his school's image — rather than grappling with its real problems.

On Feb. 10, Columbia's Heyman Center for the Humanities will host a talk by Tom Paulin, an Irish poet infamous for telling an Arab paper that Brooklyn-born Israeli settlers "should be shot dead . . . they are Nazis, racists, I feel nothing but hatred for them."

Paulin also says that Israel has no right to exist and that he resigned from Britain's Labor Party because it was "Zionist."

Of course, Paulin may be defended -- if that's the word -- as a mere anti-semite, not an anti-American. Except that he seems to have a special hatred for American Jews:

THE Board of Deputies of British Jews is considering making a complaint to the police over a newspaper interview with the poet Tom Paulin in which he is reported as saying that American-born settlers in Israel should be shot dead.

Honestly, the problem seems hard to deny -- unless, that is, you're in denial. Hostility toward America, and the West generally, is far too common in the academy, and members of the academy not only aren't doing much about it, too many of them are trying to pretend it doesn't exist now that people are pointing it out. This is doubly ironic in light of decades of PC efforts to purge the adademy of "hate speech," efforts which seem to be applied with a rather sharp double standard in which the likes of Paulin and Churchill are seen as "provoking debate," rather than as practicing hate speech. This certainly makes it appear that some kinds of hate speech are viewed as acceptable, or even good. (Would C.U. have hired this guy?).

MORE: Matt Bruce says that Churchill shouldn't be fired for his remarks, as that would be a violation of academic freedom. I agree, of course, but academic freedom is no guarantee against criticism. Whether his rather dubious status as an Indian is a firing offense is a different question, and I don't know enough to have an opinion.

And it's nice to see that Brown University is not only admitting the problem, but also trying to figure out what to do about it.

On the other hand, here's another university shutting down efforts to help American soldiers.

IT'S NOT JUST ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS, CONT'D: "NBC Reporter Was on U.N. Lobby Payroll ."

AUSTIN BAY IS ALL OVER THE VOLCKER REPORT: Bottom line: "This is damning. It’s clear Oil For Food was a corrupt mess, that it was used by Saddam’s regime, and that very senior UN leaders benefited from the corruption. Oil For Food boss Benon Sevan has been publicly fingered."

What's more, it's likely to be the tip of the iceberg, as internal investigations usually don't get all the way to the real dirt.

UPDATE: Mark Coffey says it's the Thornburgh Report all over again. Yeah.

IT WAS DENTAL SURGERY THIS MORNING, and I'm now in the window between the sedation wearing off and the codeine pills kicking in. I'll be kicked back watching Gilligan's Island and Lost in Space DVDs, and not blogging for a while.

But in the meantime, Hugh Hewitt and Ed Morrissey are all over the Eason Jordan story, as is Power Line. Reportedly there's a video of Eason's talk -- so let's see it. Now.

And here's an interesting comparison of media treatment of Social Security reform in 1998 vs. media treatment today.

Finally, Jeff Jarvis isn't letting go of the Sarah Boxer scandal. And keep scrolling at The Belgravia Dispatch for some interesting analysis of Bush's foreign policy points last night.

HOPES AND FEARS FOR BUSH'S SECOND TERM: Reason rounds up comments from a lot of smart and famous people. Also me.

And, by the way, this from the Reason folks is also highly recommended.

THOUGHTS on Bush's Iran Strategy.

UPDATE: Max Boot: "George Bush Talks Big, and He Delivers."

DUMB INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAWSUITS are killing the model aircraft and ship business.

WINDS OF CHANGE has a State of the Union roundup. And Hugh Hewitt ties it together with Eason Jordan. Well, sort of.

Meanwhile, Dartblog offers a Tom Shales State of the Union review retrospective. And Mickey Kaus writes: "The NYT's Todd Purdum seems to have heard the grand, 'sweeping' speech he expected Bush to give as opposed to the speech Bush actually gave. ... When the facts go against the safe, hack, preordained CW theme, print the safe, hack, preordained CW theme!"

HARDBALL'S SOTU ANALYSIS wasn't quite this bad, but it was pretty lame -- especially Chris Matthews' recycling of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen as if he were saying something new and profound.

February 02, 2005

EASON JORDAN HAS RESPONDED to his critics, but this doesn't make sense to me. Am I missing something?

UPDATE: Apparently, I'm not. And Steve Sturm has questions about Jordan's numbers.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reportedly, foreign journalists aren't corroborating Jordan.

Meanwhile, I just searched Poynter and there doesn't seem to be any mention of this story at all there. And Ed Morrissey notes that it's being ignored across the big media. I notice, however, that Poynter found time to mention charges that one obscure correspondent might actually like Bush.

Even Wonkette isn't buying this.

IDEALISM ON CAMPUS hasn't died, after all.


ANKLE-BITING PUNDITS will be liveblogging the Democratic rebuttal. They're running an open comments thread, too.

NICE JOB. The inaugural was OK, which for Bush is a success. This, on the other hand, was actually good, making it Bush's best speech ever, I think. He seems much more comfortable and relaxed, probably because of the Iraqi elections going so well. I think we're just figuring out just how much the Administration's plans turned on that. He bet on the Iraqi people, and he won.

UPDATE: Matt Barr emails: "September 20, 2001 is a pretty high hurdle."

Yeah, but in a way this was just the second half of that speech.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Krauthammer calls it "pedestrian." Taegan Goddard, though, observes: "It was very powerful stuff, no matter how scripted," but adds, "I do wonder what some of Bush's base thinks about the kiss he gave Sen. Joseph Lieberman as he made his way out the House chamber, however." Hmm. I must've missed that part . . . .

And Brendan Loy says the quote of the night came from Andrew Sullivan, on CNN. (But there's a pretty good one here: It's not a bug, it's a feature!)

MORE: Here's a transcript of the speech as delivered.

Mickey Kaus: "Not exciting, but highly effective. Or, rather, highly effective because it wasn't exciting." He likes the Social Security treatment, too.

David Adesnik: "Don't the Democrats have something better to offer than telling us the Indians and Chinese are going to steal our jobs?"

The Diplomad: "It's quite an experience sitting in front of a large screen TV in a foreign land surrounded by foreigners -- many of them not friendlies -- listening to the President of United States speak."

Jeff Goldstein offers a summary of the Democratic response that is similar to Andrew Sullivan's. But very nuanced.

MORE STILL: Pelosi is busted not only on style, but on substance: Luckily for the Dems, nobody was watching by then.

Meanwhile, Pejman Yousefzadeh writes: "This speech was infinitely better than the State of the Union address President Bush delivered one year ago." He didn't like the gay marriage stuff, though.

PRAISE FOR THE TROOPS, and a posthumous medal-of-honor winner's parents. Nicely done, and a very long ovation.

UPDATE: Oops. The medal-of-honor winner was SFC Paul Smith. Those were the parents of Sgt. Byron Norwood.

IT'S HOT LIVE STATE-OF-THE-UNION CHAT at The Command Post. Express yourself!

BOBBY JINDAL and some others are holding up purple fingers as Bush talks about the Iraqi vote.

TOUGH ON SYRIA, easy on the Palestinians. Got a big ovation on the Syria part, too. Hmm. But now he's talking about Iran. . . .

To the Iranian people: "As you stand for your own liberty, our nation stands with you." Big ovation -- dems stand too.

UPDATE: Hosni Mubarak may not like it.

"THE ONLY FORCE POWERFUL ENOUGH TO STOP THE RISE OF TYRANNY AND TERROR, and to replace hatred with hope, is the force of human freedom. Our enemies know this, and this is why the terrorist Zarqawi recently declared war on what he called 'the evil principle of democracy.' . . . The advance of freedom will lead to peace."

Gotcher "root causes" approach right here! "Exit strategy," too!

He's spelling out the Bush Doctrine more clearly than he's done before.

"FREEDOM FROM FEAR:" Nice FDR allusion, but I'm still not impressed on homeland security.

THIS SHOULD MAKE JERALYNN MERRITT HAPPY: More for DNA testing to ensure innocent aren't convicted, more for training defense lawyers in capital cases.

GAY MARRIAGE, ABORTION, STEM CELLS, I disagree with him on all of these. Republicans seem to be applauding, Dems remaining seated.

Capt. Ed notes: "He spent ten minutes, by my watch, on Social Security. He spent thirty seconds on the Federal Marriage Amendment. Anyone need an explanation?"

I'M AGNOSTIC about Social Security reform, but pitching it to "young Americans" is a shift. Most talk about Social Security has been aimed at old people.

UPDATE: Interesting cross-generation blog-dialogue on Social Security. Maybe Bush knew what he was doing.

FULL TEXT of the speech, here.

BR'ER RABBIT ALERT: "I welcome the bipartisan enthusiasm for spending discipline." Translation: You called me a big spender -- now don't complain about the cuts.

UPDATE: Ditto the energy stuff, especially the nuclear bit. You complained I didn't have an energy plan -- well, here it is!

LAPHAMIZATION ALERT: The Telegraph is already reporting: "President George W Bush said last night the Iraqi election had opened a 'new phase' in the troubled country, allowing American forces to shift their attention from stemming the insurgency to training Iraqi security forces."

SOTU BLOGGERS: Capt. Ed is liveblogging. So is Stephen Green, and John Cross. Power Line, too. And here's a list with a lot more folks who are doing the same thing. So is WorldWideRant.

Patrick Ruffini will be liveblogging, but he's also preblogging via the prepared text.

UPDATE: LaShawn Barber offers an open comment thread if you want to weigh in.

VIRGINIA POSTREL writes about Andrew Sullivan's blog-hiatus, and I just got an email from a journalist asking me questions about the burdens of blogging. So since it sounds like this topic is coming up, here are some thoughts.

Virginia (and Andrew, and for that matter Mickey Kaus) are all right that there's a tension between blogging and doing longer, more thoughtful work. (As Kaus says, "The short deadline usually beats the long deadline, and a blog is a continuous short deadline.")

I deal with that, because I write two or three law review articles a year, and they're long and require a lot of thinking. I have to block out time to do that, and sometimes I find it helpful to use a computer that's not on the web.

But it works the other way, too. The Insta-Wife has been having a lot of health problems lately -- this is an intermittent thing -- and when that happens I'm really not in the right mental and emotional state to engage in that kind of big-project concentration anyway, and when I try there's usually some sort of interruption. I can blog from the cardiologist's waiting room -- and I have -- but I couldn't get much work done on a book or a law review article in that setting. And when you're in a cardiologist's office, you'd lots rather blog than pay attention to what's around you . . . . (I notice there are a lot of bloggers with sick wives, like Capt. Ed and Bill Hobbs, to name just two, so I must not be the only one to feel that way).

There are two downsides to blogging. One is that it can fill up your time, one five-minute chunk after another. The other -- much worse -- is that it forces you to pay attention to the news, which is usually depressing, infuriating, or frightening, or some combination of all three.

But the upside to blogging is that it can be done in five-minute chunks. My usual strategy is like the old story about filling the can with rocks and sand -- if you put the big rocks in first, there's plenty of room for the sand to flow around them, while if you put the sand in first, the rocks won't fit. I try to schedule the big stuff first, and blog around it. And when the rocks won't fit, even by themselves, there's still room for the sand.

JUST GOT AN EMAIL FROM CNN ON THE EASON JORDAN SCANDAL (the new one, not the old one). I'll be frank -- I don't believe it. Here's what it says:

Many blogs have taken Mr. Jordan's remarks out of context. Eason Jordan does not believe the U.S. military is trying to kill journalists. Mr. Jordan simply pointed out the facts: While the majority of journalists killed in Iraq have been slain at the hands of insurgents, the Pentagon has also noted that the U.S. military on occasion has killed people who turned out to be journalists. The Pentagon has apologized for those actions.

Mr. Jordan was responding to an assertion by Cong. Frank that all 63 journalist victims had been the result of "collateral damage."

Pardon me if I don't fully trust Jordan in light of his past behavior. And it sounds like there's more than just context involved. I'll believe it when I see the video, or a transcript.

UPDATE: Roger Simon comments: "A full and direct explanation from Mr. Jordan himself is needed here, not corporate spin, especially given the rather different accounts from eyewitnesses."

JIM LINDGREN: "Incredibly, the European Union has come out against human rights activists in Cuba and in favor of Fidel Castro."

It's not that incredible. But Vaclav Havel is unhappy with the E.U.:

I can hardly think of a better way for the EU to dishonor the noble ideals of freedom, equality and human rights that the Union espouses -- indeed, principles that it reiterates in its constitutional agreement. To protect European corporations' profits from their Havana hotels, the Union will cease inviting open-minded people to EU embassies, and we will deduce who they are from the expression on the face of the dictator and his associates. It is hard to imagine a more shameful deal.

Cuba's dissidents will, of course, happily do without Western cocktail parties and polite conversation at receptions. This persecution will admittedly aggravate their difficult struggle, but they will naturally survive it. The question is whether the EU will survive it. . . .

It is suicidal for the EU to draw on Europe's worst political traditions, the common denominator of which is the idea that evil must be appeased and that the best way to achieve peace is through indifference to the freedom of others.

Indeed it is.


UPDATE: Shannon Love writes:

The whole ActionFigureGate episode really makes me think about the standards applied by international major media(IMM) to the stories they disseminate. Why was major media so quick to disseminate pictures of an action figure as a genuine hostage photo?

More to the point, why are major media so quick to disseminate anything that a terrorist group, or purported terrorist group, releases?

The quickest way to get the prime spot in IMM today is to release a picture of somebody with a gun to their head. The IMM will immediately disseminate the picture and all your demands and statements!

For the terrorist, it is like being given millions of dollars in free advertising.

Back in the 20's and 30's, businesses tried to advertise themselves by pulling dangerous publicity stunts. They used human flies, faked car crashes, exploding buildings or anything they thought would get them free media attention. After a time, however, the media developed a consensus standard that such events would not be reported and the stunts for the most part stopped .

The media stopped covering the events for two reasons: (1) they sold advertising so giving away free advertising hurt the bottom line and (2) people were getting hurt and they were getting hurt only because the media was paying attention. When they stopped paying attention, people stopped getting hurt.

In fact, media organizations were held liable for injuries that resulted. Read the whole thing.

BILL FRIST will not be running for reelection in 2006. Here's a look at the race for his seat, which is already shaping up.

A VICTORY in the War on Terror -- brought to you by G.I. Joe and his friends!

OPERATION PHOTO lets you donate your used digital cameras to the families of servicemembers serving abroad, so that they can email family photos. Sounds worthwhile to me.

ARE THOSE REAL INSURGENTS, or "action figures," on this week's Newsweek cover?

I'm just, you know, asking.

REACHING OUT TO THE OPPOSITION: A nice exchange at LT Smash's place.

SARAH BOXER UPDATE: JEFF JARVIS DELIVERS A WITHERING RESPONSE to Daniel Okrent over the Times' publication of unfounded and potentially life-threatening speculation about Iraqi bloggers.

JON HENKE WONDERS where Howard Kurtz is getting his numbers. I hope he's not getting them from New York Times editorials!

YESTERDAY, I recommended this book as a partial cure for journalistic ignorance concerning matters military so as to avoid embarrassing mistakes like calling an armored personnel carrier a "tank." But this correction from The New York Times suggests that the problem is worse than I realized. Note especially the last sentence:

An editorial on Monday about the new jumbo Airbus misstated the weight of the airplane. Its takeoff weight, fully loaded with passengers, freight and fuel, is hundreds of thousands of pounds heavier than the Boeing 747, depending on the configurations, not 30,000 tons heavier. It's an aircraft, not an aircraft carrier.

Ouch! And the truly colossal weight-error (30,000 tons is 60 million pounds) makes me wonder how much I can trust their numbers on Social Security. (Thanks to reader David Gerstman for the pointer).

UPDATE: Reader Brad Spencer recommends this book by John Paulos, instead: Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences.

INTERESTING ARTICLE on progress in nanomedicine, in The Washington Post.


Skeptics of President Bush's attempt to bring democracy to Iraq have been largely silent since Iraqis enthusiastically turned out for Sunday's elections.

Billionaire Bush-basher George Soros and left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore were among critics of the administration's Iraq policy who had no comment after millions of Iraqis went to the polls in their nation's first free elections in decades.

Heh. (Via the Democracy Project).

UPDATE: On the other hand, here's news from Fallujah.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ouch. Now that's gotta hurt.

And then they'll still need American help.

DARFUR UPDATE: This editorial cartoon from the new D.C. Examiner says it all, doesn't it?

Meanwhile, the folks at are telling the U.N. "don't hide from genocide."


UPDATE: At the risk of blowing my own horn, I have to note that InstaPundit has featured actionfigureblogging for a long time, going all the way back to October of 2001. And why not? This war will be won on the rec-room floors of suburbia!

I PICKED ON HOMELAND SECURITY A LOT for a while, then I just kind of gave up. But Homeland Security is still a joke, and the Bush Administration needs to do something about it. If there's a major attack, all this stuff will be out there, and they won't have the excuse that it never happened before.

I realize that organizing all those bureaucratic functions into a new department is hard -- which is why I thought it was a lousy idea to begin with -- but having decided to go that route, the Administration has to devote the effort to making it work. And Congress, which overwhelmingly supported the move, needs to help, too.

UPDATE: An example of Congressional failure, here.

JIM GERAGHTY: "Is my sense of what is newsworthy off, or did the insurgent's bold 'capturing G.I. Joe plan' deserve a little more play than two sentences on page A18 of the Washington Post?"

I don't think it's Jim's news-sense that's off, here.

How he got into my pajamas, I'll never know.

THIS MORNING, I BLOGGED AN ELEPHANT IN MY PAJAMAS: Tanzanian reader Nic Steenekamp sends this elephant picture, taken with a Sony.

HONOR THY FATHER -- OR ELSE! Europe needs to pay more attention to this kind of thing. Sadly, the paralysis seems to continue.

AUSTIN BAY on the Iraqi elections:

I spent the summer of 2004 on military duty in Iraq, and the January elections were a constant subject of discussion. Iraqis told me the election was their "big chance," the opportunity to escape the legacy of dictatorship. One Shia I met in Baghdad told me to beware of "your American view of us." He insisted that "you divide us in ways we do not divide ourselves."

He attacked the "American" view that Iraq's Shia, Sunni and Kurd would inevitably clash along ethnic and religious lines. "We are more nationalistic than you think," he warned me. "You will see that in the election."

Another Iraqi (a well-heeled Sunni) told me he agreed with that assessment. He said Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his terrorists would fail to ignite a Shia-Sunni war. "We have a more secular tradition than other Arab countries," he said. Neither man thought elections were magic -- they were an opportunity, not a guarantee.

Read the whole thing. Austin has further thoughts on his blog.

February 01, 2005


UPDATE: Tim Blair: "We were warned that Bush would turn Iraq into a puppet regime, but none of us suspected that he’d use actual puppets."

HAVING KEPT HIS MOUTH SHUT on things he knew were true, it would behoove Eason Jordan not to blather about things that he doesn't know are true. Really.

BEST TAKE on Howard Dean's candidacy for DNC chairman, from The New York Times:

"I think it's a scream," Mr. Bond said.


DAVID AARONOVITCH: "Now it's time for the war critics to move on."

HEH: "9 names the UN would PREFER we give to the 'not genocide' in Darfur."

PATRICK RUFFINI and W.C. Varones are unhappy with a couple of my blogads.

UPDATE: Reader Patrick Songsanand emails: "As a regular reader of your blog, I must say i agree with your critics about accepting blogads from the UN or its related agencies." Well, they're not criticizing me for taking the ads, they're criticizing the ads.

But I have a very broad ad-acceptance policy, for two reasons. (1) The money does more good in my hands than in the U.N. Foundation's or George Soros's; and (2) If I only took ads from people I agreed with, soon critics would say that my opinions were following the ads, rather than the other way around.

The Spirit of America ad, though, is a freebie.

HOW TO SAVE YOUR OWN LIFE: Donald Sensing offers some useful advice.

MY "CULT OF THE IPOD" OBSERVATION is being echoed by USA Today:

With its high-tech decor and clubby feel, Apple's flagship store here doesn't look like a creepy cult headquarters. But there's some kind of mind-noodling going on: Everyone exiting its glass doors is ready to spout the gospel of iPod. . . .

"With the iPod, the Buddha is in the details. The finish and feel are such that you want to caress it.

"And when you do, wonderful things happen."

Well, yeah. What I've noticed -- echoing an observation made in the article -- is that when I listen in public places women often come up and ask what I'm listening to. I guess if I were single that would be a big selling point. But then, people often join a cult to meet women, right?

NEWSWEEK: Months behind The Belmont Club!

Which is why I'm more inclined to rely on The Belmont Club, despite the occasional complaint that I'm not paying enough attention to Newsweek. Especially as The Belmont Club also explains what Newsweek missed.

COMING UP NEXT: "Islamic Hostage Barbie." But will the media fall for it again?

Good thing they have editors and fact-checkers and stuff.

UPDATE: Photographic evidence of Osama bin Laden's capture!

And there's this exclusive report: "Zarqawi quits al Qaeda, joins C.O.B.R.A."


Reader Steve Smallshaw emails: "Is it just me, or does everyone find it both comical and reassuring that the terrorists have been reduced to 'kidnapping' action figures and pawning them off as the real thing?"

Yes. And I find it comical -- but not reassuring -- that so many big media organizations fell for it.

Unfortunately, as Power Line informs us, it's worse than we thought!

Someone save me!  Oscar?  Anybody?

I blame Evil Bert!

MORE: A big-media report on the hoax.

STILL MORE: Cool, Charles-Johnson-style animated graphic overlay here. [LATER: Jordan Golson emails that the image is originally from here.]

Heh. More press coverage here.

And reader Mark Dunn asks: "Any bets on whether Poynter picks it up?"

But Cody will be avenged. The action-figure-American community sticks together.

LAST UPDATE TO THIS POST: Behind the curve, The Guardian is sucked in, repeating the bogus story with a dateline of 2/2.

TO CELEBRATE HIS BLOGGIVERSARY, Bill Ardolino offers the year in pictures.


MY EARLIER POST on Confederate nostalgia and neo-secessionist movements generated a lot of email. Several emailers noted that secessionist sentiment isn't limited to neo-Confederates, sending links to articles like this one from the L.A. Weekly:

Count me among those who woke up on November 3 and thought: secession!

My turn toward the idea that California should secede from the Union was based on some bedrock logic that my father used to admonish me with as he suspiciously eyed my derelict teenage friends: You can tell a lot about a person by the company he keeps. That Wednesday morning, I looked at the sea of red in between the coasts and in the South, and I listened to the hypocritical crowing by misogynists and homophobes about values and strength and "the real America" and thought: If these were my friends, I’d try to get new ones. . . . When I was arguing the merits of seceding recently, a friend finally said, "But, but, we live in America." I thought — we do? I live in California.


Sigh. Robert E. Lee couldn't have said it better. Another vein was that things like the Confederate flag aren't necessarily a sign of neo-secessionist sympathies: many people in the South see the flag as an emblem of regional pride, rather than as an endorsement of Confederate ideology. That's certainly true, and after getting that email I noticed the bumpersticker pictured at right, which certainly doesn't seem to embody much in the way of nostalgia for the Old South.

That said, I'm not a big fan -- though no one who displays Communist paraphernalia, however allegedly ironic the display, has any room to criticize the badges of an obsolete and murderous regime -- and it's not the sort of thing I'd endorse. But the point of my post was the absurdity, and worse, of neo-secessionist thinking, and the oddity that some of the more lunatic fringes of allegedly libertarian thought are so enamored of the Confederacy. Whatever you say about the Confederate States of America, it was no libertarian paradise.

UPDATE: Another reader notes that it would be just part of California seceding . . . .

"WHO GETS CREDIT IN IRAQ?" asks an article in the Washington Post. That people are fighting over credit tells you most of what you need to know about how things are going . . . .

Meanwhile, liberal columnist Mark Brown is asking What if Bush was right about Iraq?

UPDATE: But on the other hand, the reliably wrong James Carroll writes: "IN THINKING about the election in Iraq, my mind keeps jumping back to last week's train wreck in California." Jeez, this guy hasn't a clue. But, then, we knew that already.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jon Stewart is starting to wonder if Bush might have been right, too.

On the other hand, some people are still looking for an exit strategy. Heh.

THE EXAMINER: A new newspaper debuts in D.C.


February 1, 2005: Apparently the Sudanese government is once again using its An-24 transports as bomber aircraft in the Darfur region. The An-24 is a two engine Russian aircraft, developed in the 1960s to replace pre-World War II American DC-3s. An-24s can carry up to 50 passengers, or five tons of cargo. Sudan have some of the An-26 versions of the An-24, which has a rear ramp, which bombs are rolled out of. The African Union and various relief agencies report that Sudanese planes bombed the village of Rahad Kabolong in North Darfur state. The attack took place on January 26 and left more than 100 people dead. Some 9000 people fled the village and the surrounding area after the air attack. A monitoring team reported that most of the dead were women and children. As of January 31, the government continued to deny that the air raid took place. The United Nations called the attack a major ceasefire violation-- which of course it was. The UN, however, still refuses to call the Sudanese war in Darfur a genocide.

But good news in Afghanistan:

February 1, 2005: In the last week, at least 13 arms and munitions caches have been found throughout the country. The largest of them contained more than 10,000 mortar rounds, 500 122 mm artillery rockets, as well as fuses. In the last four months, 236 weapons caches have been found, and destroyed, throughout the country. More importantly, 99 of those were found because local Afghans reported the location to coalition forces. . . .

In 2003, ten percent of the caches found were because of tips from Afghans. This increased to 31 percent in 2004, and was 42 percent in the past four months. Afghans know that these munitions will be used against them, if any of the local warlords get into a major quarrel. The usual drill is to fire mortars, rockets and artillery at the other warlords villages and towns. More Afghans feel secure enough with the new police force and army to trust them with this information.

Both of these items are from Jim Dunnigan's StrategyPage, which I highly recommend. (You can also subscribe to their email service, which I get).

Dunnigan has also written quite a few books on warfare -- I haven't read all of them, but I've read several and found them quite good. Journalism on military matters would certainly improve if the journalists read some of them, particularly this one, which offers a good introduction to important concepts, and is likely to help readers avoid embarrassing mistakes, like calling Armored Personnel Carriers "tanks."

UPDATE: The U.N. on Darfur: A Jedi mind trick? It's not working.



"Eastern Ukraine is heavily ethnic Russian. The main industry is coal. The miners are rough, tough, and hate Yushchenko for wanting to take Ukraine away from Russia and toward the West," writes Wheeler. "It was arranged for more than a thousand of them to be taken from Donetsk, the capital of the coal-mining region, by bus and train to Kiev, where, armed with clubs and blunt tools, they would physically beat up the Orange Revolutionaries. Such mass violence was not only to disperse the demonstrators but serve as an excuse for the government to declare martial law, suspending the Ukrainian Parliament (the Rada) and elections indefinitely."

Now comes the secret weapon: vodka.

"When the miners got on their buses and trains, they found to their joy case after case of vodka – just for them. When they arrived in Kiev, trucks awaited them filled with more cases of vodka – all free provided by 'friends' of the Donetsk coal miners. Completely soused, they never made it to Independence Square. Too hammered blind to cause any violence at all, they had a merry time, passed out and were shipped back to Donetsk." . . .

Wheeler's column goes on to explain who provided the liquor: teams of Porter Goss' CIA working with their counterparts in British MI6 intelligence.

I certainly hope that this story is true. I wonder if they used any of this stuff? That would be just too sweet . . . .

UPDATE: Reader Randy Chapman emails:

I don't want to bring down the high level of discourse on your fine site,
BUT... wasn't the CIA contributing to the delinquency of miners???

It's hard to lower the tone around here, but that may have done it. Heh.

JAMES LILEKS responds to Bill Moyers.

ANOTHER FINE MOMENT for the Star Tribune:

I talked to Commentary Editor Eric Ringham today, and he acknowledged that the Strib didn't do any fact-checking at all before they accused us of not fact-checking. That's right: None. Zilch. Zippo. Nada.

Memo to the professional journalists: When lawyers start talking about how you've repeatedly libeled them, that's bad.

DARFUR UPDATE: Calling it genocide means you have to do something. The U.N. isn't calling it genocide. Problem solved! And with the added advantage that it can be spun as a defeat for the U.S., which has called it genocide.

I should be angrier, but true anger at these things comes from disappointment, and I'm long since past being capable of disappointment where the U.N. is concerned.

GREG DJEREJIAN IS ON A ROLL: Just keep scrolling.

ONE OF MY COLLEAGUES, an Air America fan who's quite anti-war, was nonetheless glued to the television with excitement on Sunday. I told her that I was glad that the election had given other people a taste of what those of us who have been in contact with Iraqi bloggers have known for a while.

My TechCentralStation column explores a similar theme.

ANDREW SULLIVAN is going on hiatus. He'll be back.

THE IRAQI ELECTIONS inspire poetry, here and also here.

And sort of here.

January 31, 2005

THIS occurred to me, too. Jeez.


UPDATE: And bravo for Barney Frank.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oops, for the BBC: "The BBC has apologised for incorrectly broadcasting figures which suggested more Iraqi civilians had been killed by coalition and Iraqi forces than by insurgents."

MORE: Roger Simon notices a pattern in the BBC's mistakes.

THE 2008 RACE IS HEATING UP: There's already a Draft Condi website.

THE DENTON BLOG EMPIRE continues to grow, with GridSkipper (a travel blog) and LifeHacker (a software blog sponsored by Sony). I guess that means that Sony has more software ambitions, as evidenced by their takeover of the Sonic Foundry product lines.

BIRMINGHAM'S LEGACY: Scott Johnson writes on the Martin Luther King / Condi Rice connection.

UPDATE: Related thoughts here, from Varifrank.

TOM MAGUIRE REMAINS hot on the trail of the Plame affair.

UPDATE: A reader emails: "I still wonder why the Valerie Plame story still keeps getitng kicked around, but Sandy Berger's alleged theft of classified documents seems to be off the radar?"

DAVE KOPEL: "Bill Moyers' new column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune is stunning for both its mean-spiritedness and for its departure from elementary standards of opinion journalism." Here's the column.

NORM GERAS has posts on the impact of the Iraqi elections, -- and also on places where they didn't have an impact.


HEH: "Hey Crown Prince Abdullah, that's a nice regime you've got there. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it . . ."

SOME IRAQI ELECTION PHOTOBLOGGING from a guy who doesn't like Bush, but who listens.

DAN DARLING writes that Zarqawi gambled -- and lost. He also looks at what might come next.


Every cycle has a mission in Iraq. The units we relieved, the first cycle, were called upon to defeat the major war elements of the Iraqi army, and oust Saddam. The ones that relieve us, the third cycle, will build up the strength of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Our job as the second cycle was to see that Iraq took over its own affairs, and kept the peace intact while they were doing so. Soldiers of this cycle were in Samara and Falluja to do just that. We have built schools and poured money into the infrastructure of this country, trying to get them to ready to stand on their own. To me, that has always been the visible aspects of our mission. That is the stuff that never seems to make CNN. . . .

For all the talk of this being a war for oil, I've seen hundreds of thousands of dollars of oil burn in industrial accidents without being ordered to lift a finger to help. For all the talk of being a tool of the imperialist powers trying to take advantage of a little country, I've spent hours in the hot sun training the local forces to replace me, and endless hours waiting for our command to come out of local meetings where they hear the local problems and try to assist them. And now, our last mission is complete, the elections went through and Iraq has taken another step toward its own freedom. We can pass this country to the next unit knowing we have done the job. This has been my Iraq and, someday, I want to look back and be proud.

I think he'll have more to be proud of than some other people.



After a visit with the governor of Parwan province, my group went by the single gym in Charikar. Our Force Protection Officer, Squadron Leader William “Jamie” Kendall of the RAF Regiment met an Afghan who had represented his country as wrestler at the Olympics. After a playful challenge (the Squadron Leader said the other fellow was quite strong) the two emerged to show us the true Olympic Spirit.

Nice image.

THE ELECTIONS IN IRAQ: A big victory for Bill Clinton? I discuss the question, over at My editor: "I wonder which side will send the most hate mail over this one."

ECONOBLOGGING FOR THE MASSES! This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up.

YOU CAN ORDER AN iPod Shuffle now -- but Chris Anderson, who calls it a "value-subtracted" product, thinks that you probably shouldn't.


ERIC MULLER REPORTS that the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History appears to be a neo-Confederate secessionist.

That's a bit too politically-incorrect, don't you think? I have to say that while I understand, to a degree at least, people's fascination with the Civil War, I've never understood the romanticization of the Confederacy. It didn't last very long, it was horribly run and governed, it accomplished nothing but disaster and defeat, and it existed in the service of a horrible cause. I once angered an alumnus of Washington & Lee by suggesting that Robert E. Lee, however personally admirable he might have been in some ways, bore huge responsibility -- if he had honored his oath to the Union, the war probably would have been over in six months, leaving everyone (and especially the South) better off.

One suspects that for a certain sort of infantile mind, pro-Confederacy statements provide the same sort of thrilling sense of nonconformity that Marxism has provided. This, I guess, explains the weird strain of pro-Confederate sympathy that one finds among a certain segment of libertarians. Or, of course, there's always racism as an explanation -- an explanation you'd rather believe didn't apply, but that clearly does sometimes. Muller makes a pretty persuasive case that it applies here, and author Thomas Woods seems to have connections to some of those fringe libertarians.

As a political force, neo-Confederate sentiment is pretty trivial at the moment, even compared to the decaying remnants of Marxism. But that's no reason not to smack it down when it appears. That's particularly true because -- as Muller's discussion of Wood's belief that the War on Terror is the product of a Jewish conspiracy illustrates -- the overlap between crazy-left and crazy-right is getting more significant. (Indeed, there are people on the Left talking about secession, in terms that Woods might find congenial). And there's no place for either one, especially these days.

Way back when the term "idiotarian" was coined, it was quite explicitly aimed at the idiots of the Left and Right equally. The idiots of the Right have been somewhat quieter lately, but they're no less idiots for that.

UPDATE: Power Line notes that the book is getting bad reviews on the right, too:

This is not really a conservative take (“arch” or otherwise) on American history, after all. At its core, The Politically Incorrect Guide (or PIG) is more wheezy propaganda from the Old Confederacy. . . . On the most important matters, it weaves together all the familiar fictions: the sovereign states reserved a Constitutional right to secede, the so-called Civil War was really the War of Northern Aggression, Lincoln was a smooth-talking lawyer bent on tyranny. Blah, blah, blah. Some people never learn.

No, apparently they don't.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Raimondo appears in Muller's comments to defend the book. But of course!

MORE: A reader sends this:

This reminds me of the time in 1966, I (aged 6) sat on my grandmother's porch in a small farming town in Missouri. As the "yahoos" drove by in their el caminos with Confederate flags painted on the hood and horns that played Dixie on the way to the "Dog Prairie Tavern", my grandmother clucked disapprovingly. Asking her what was wrong, she (in her late 70's) replied: "My father fought in that war. If I could catch one of them boys, I'd give 'em a piece of my mind. I'd tell 'em: THEY LOST."

Sally Haney
Cary, IL

Heh, indeed.

YESTERDAY, I noted the following paragraph in a New York Times story on the Iraqi elections:

But if the insurgents wanted to stop people in Baghdad from voting, they failed. If they wanted to cause chaos, they failed. The voters were completely defiant, and there was a feeling that the people of Baghdad, showing a new, positive attitude, had turned a corner.

Reader Chris Fountain also noticed that it was moving steadily downward in the story as the day went on. Today he emails:

Glenn: as predicted, the offending paragraph was missing from this
morning's hard copy. New lede: "Bombs Kill 35."


Indeed. And as Ann Althouse noted, the headline has changed on the web, too. Sigh. They just can't help themselves.

UPDATE: On the other hand, they're not pumping this story about a lot of missing money at the CPA. Does that mean that there's not much to it, or that they don't want to look too negative? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

DARFUR UPDATE: "A keenly awaited U.N. investigation into human rights abuse in Sudan's Darfur region does not describe violence against villagers there as 'genocide,' said Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail."

ALPHECCA'S WEEKLY REPORT on media bias regarding guns is up.

GORDON SMITH: "If I were George Bush, I would hold up an ink-stained finger in the State of the Union address this week."

(Via Ann Althouse, who observes that the inked finger -- seen as a risk factor a few days ago -- is now a triumphant symbol of democracy. Quite a transformation.)

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF rounds up good news from Iraq -- and there's more of it than usual. Arthur does a great service by compiling these reports, and the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal does a great service by publishing them. Read the whole thing, and you'll be amazed how much gets left out of the usual media reports. Maybe that'll change now.

UPDATE: Reader Gerald Boisvert emails:

In your Chrenkoff post this morning you end by saying "Read the whole thing, and you'll be amazed how much gets left out of the usual media reports. Maybe that'll change now."

Well, 6:00am MSNBC news leads with .... Michael Jackson. For two years they've come out of the chute with Iraq and all that's wrong with it and our administration, but today Iraq just doesn't seem that important. Go figure.

Yeah, go figure.

VOLOKH CONSPIRATOR TODD ZYWICKI is running for Trustee of Dartmouth College. If you're an alumnus, you may want to support him.

CAN'T SAY I'M SURPRISED: "Arab broadcasters report more positively on Iraq election than German broadcasters."

JOHN J. MILLER looks at the NRA's successful pro-gun-rights election work:

In the new Congress, the NRA has a realistic hope for the first time in a decade that it can enact pro-gun legislation. There are about 50 pro-gun Democrats in the House and about a dozen in the Senate. With this dynamic, the NRA believes President Bush may soon have an opportunity to protect gun manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits and repeal the District of Columbia’s gun ban.

But has the broader Democratic party learned a lesson from the Gore and Kerry experiences?

Good question.

MICKEY KAUS offers an explanation for the Democrats' political tin ear this week: Internet fundraising is tilting their message toward the fringe. Sounds plausible.

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty offers an alternative explanation, though not really an inconsistent one.

IS THIS A GREAT COUNTRY, OR WHAT? Our drunks are more lethal than their insurgents.

January 30, 2005

HERE'S A REPORT from a counterterror protest in Los Angeles.

WE'RE WATCHING THE ARNOLD BIOPIC that's advertised to the right (hey, they bought an ad, I can at least give 'em a couple of viewers). It's not bad. The guy who plays the young Arnold is excellent. The guy who plays the current Arnold is only so-so. Arianna Huffington is the heavy, and is, er, played to perfection. The L.A. Times is repeatedly hammered as dishonest and biased.

UPDATE: Not bad. The Insta-Wife -- a huge Arnold fan -- liked it a lot. It ended with not one, but two, references to amending the Constitution so that Arnold could run for President. They're getting that meme out early . . . . (And, yes, I know it was already floated in Demolition Man back in 1993, but that wasn't serious. Or was it . . . .? ).

AXIS OF EVIL UPDATE: "In interviews for this article over many months, western policymakers, Chinese experts, North Korean exiles and human rights activists built up a picture of a tightly knit clan leadership in Pyongyang that is on the verge of collapse."

But this is the best part: "According to exiles, North Korean agents in Beijing and Ulan Bator are frantically selling assets to raise cash — an important sign, says one activist, because 'the secret police can always smell the crisis coming before anybody else'."

I MENTIONED IT EARLIER, but Steve Stirling's comment-Fiskings over at Democratic Underground deserve their own post:

"All the media keeps talking about is how happy the Iraqis are, how high turnout was, and how "freedom" has spread to Iraq."

-- that's because Iraqis, like other people, want a democracy.

You know, like the Germans and Japanese, countries that are also democratic thanks to American military occupation.

In those cases, conquest and occupation were undertaken during the great Democratic administration of FDR, who understood that American power was the world's main force for good.

My father-in-law, a working stiff, lifelong Democrat, and BAR gunner in the 2nd Infantry who fought all the way from Normandy to Bohemia in WWII, also understood this.

Plenty of Democrats do -- Joe Liebermann, for example.

A little examination of history would show you that occupation by the US is the best thing that can happen to a badly governed country; contrast and compare North (mass famine with 2,000,000 dead) Korea and South (obeisity problem) Korea, if you want an example.

al-Zawqari, leader of the Iraqi "resistance" (he's a Jordanian, btw.) has made plain that he doesn't like democracy.

Quote "We have declared fierce war on this evil concept of democracy", unquote. He's also declared that the Shia majority of Iraq are "idolators and apostates" who deserve to die.

Nice guy.

Now, here's a question: are you for the people who want votes and democracy, or for the fascists?

"I had to turn off CNN because they kept focusing on the so-called "voters" and barely mentioned the resistance movements at all."

-- the one trying to kill the people who want to vote and chose their own government? The one that's declared "fierce war" on democracy, and said they want to kill anyone who votes?

Fortunately, their threats turned out to be mostly empty.

"Where are the freedom fighters today? Are their voices silenced because some American puppets cast a few ballots?"

-- 8,000,000 ballots. Turns out most Iraqis are... "American puppets?"

"I can't believe the Iraqis are buying into this "democracy" bullshit."

-- sorry, fellah, down here on Planet Reality, most people want democracy. Including Arabs.

"Maybe they're afraid and felt they had to vote. That's the only way I can explain it to myself."

-- since they were threatened with death if they _did_ vote, there's a bit of a contradiction there.

In fact, they put on their festive clothes and in many cases danced to the polls, elevating their fingers to defy the "insurgents" who'd threatened to kill anyone whose finger was marked with the ink showing they'd voted.

"Becuase if it's not--and if the Iraq vote is seen as a success that spread "freedom"--the world is screwed."

-- let's see... the world is screwed if democracy spreads among the theocrats, kleptocrats, and general tyrants characteristic of the Middle East.

Run that one by me again?

Now let's sponsor elections in Saudi Arabia. I would just love to see the Saudi princelings in exile, clipping their coupons and complaining about how the Americans betrayed them.

"they only increase the fight and take down those who betrayed their country today by voting in this fraud election."

-- you want to kill off 8,000,000 Iraqis? Awesome, dude.

We Democrats obviously have some work to do before we can expect to win any national elections. I think I'll toodle on over to "The New Republic" and see what the sensible people are saying.

Nice to know that somebody's making good points over there. He has a bunch of posts (start at the top and search "joatsimeon" on the page to read them all -- better hurry before the moderators take them down!) Maybe there's hope for the Democrats yet, if Steve's still in there swinging.

I would buy one of his books in gratitude, but I already own 'em all!

DEMOCRATIZATION IS A PROCESS, NOT AN EVENT, of course -- though it's mostly the predictable carpers who are making that point. But here are some useful comments from some non-carpers. Here's one:

The process by which we succeed in Iraq (if we do) can be thought of as a series of events by which one party keeps faith with the others. First, we kept faith with the people of Iraq by remaining in force to rebuild the country after we toppled Saddam and carried out our search for WMD. Then, the Shiite majority kept faith by rejecting the radical elements when they rose up against the occupation. We then kept faith with the Shiites by scheduling elections and seeing them through as scheduled. And today, the Iraqi people kept faith by turning out and voting.

Further acts of faith will be required. The Shiites must now keep faith with the U.S. and the Sunnis by developing a consititutional system that respects (both on paper and in practice) Sunni interests. The Sunnis must keep faith by participating in that system. The U.S. must keep faith by continuing to provide security, train Iraqi forces, and assist with the reconstruction. Even if these things happen, the insurgency probably will not end. But Iraq will develop the institutions and the forces that should enable it to deal with the insurgency with far less help from us.

Will the parties continue to keep the faith? I don't know. But so far, every time a party has needed to rise to occasion, it has. And never more spectacularly than today.

And then there's this:

Viewed as an end in itself, establishing democratic forms of government in Afghanistan (you remember the vast quagmire of Afghanistan, right? The one that swallowed the Soviet Union and was going to swallow us, according to the America-hating lefties?) and Iraq is not the ultimate solution to the problem of Islamofascist terrorism, but as part of an overall strategy that includes the destruction of those regimes actively supporting, financing, and using Islamofascist terrorists, then the establishment of workable democracies in that region becomes a superb weapon aimed at the heart of our enemies.

Look. It's simple. Freedom works.

Indeed. Or in these words: "To borrow from Churchill, the capture of Baghdad was the end of the beginning. The national vote was the beginning of the end."

JOHN COLE emails with this request: "Could you please explain to readers that John Cole and Juan Cole are not the same person?" I think if they read the blog, they'll know.

GREG DJEREJIAN WONDERS why there's not more support for the Iraqi elections on the Left.

UPDATE: It was my understanding that there would be no math.

MORE: The Arab press seems to think the Iraqi elections are important.

STILL MORE: Here's a comparison of Iraqi voter turnout with that of other countries where no one was threatening to behead the voters.

THE INSTA-DAUGHTER AND I are watching the Simpsons Fifth Season DVD. There was just a very amusing Garrison Keillor parody.

UPDATE: Actually, the Simpsons parody was meaner than this one.

QUICK -- CHANGE THAT HEADLINE! "Really, that is one of the most pathetic things I've ever seen the New York Times do."

A BLOG OF ONE'S OWN: For famed blog-commenter Dennis the Peasant.


Yeah, this is no time for "buts". I mean, whoever is advising him politically made a terrible mistake.

"Whoever is advising him?" Blame the staff!

GREG DJEREJIAN: "Professor Cole, alas, can't quite bring himself to come out and state the obvious. Which is that the insurgents suffered a major blow today--because Iraqis courageously came out in droves to vote and because there were far fewer insurgent attacks than anyone dared hope."

Or as a commenter to this post observed: "The vaunted Arab Street finally speaks."

UPDATE: Reader James V. Somers emails:

Glenn: For most of the past two years, the debate on how well Iraq is going seems to boil down to this: one group says that it's a complete disaster, the only successes are tactical, not strategic, and the insurgency is gaining strength. The other group says that it's going quite well, thank you, and the insurgency's successes are only tactical, not strategic. In short, you either believe that Iraq is mostly a success, or you believe it's mostly a failure. (Andrew Sullivan appears to be in both groups.) In any case, weren't today's elections the biggest test yet of whether the glass is mostly full or mostly empty over there? Yeah, there were some attacks by the insurgents that met with some tactical success, but a whole lot of people showed up all over the country and voted. It seems to me that after today, there can no longer be much debate about who's in control of most of Iraq, or as to whether most people there want to participate in a democratic process that moves the country forward from where it's been.



The Afghan election worked so well that, there being insufficient bad news out of it, the doom-mongers in the Western media pretended it never happened. They'll have a harder job doing that with Iraq, so instead they'll have to play up every roadside bomb and every dead poll worker. But it won't alter the basic reality: that today's election will be imperfect but more than good enough. OK, that's a bit vague by the standards of my usual psephological predictions, so how about this? Turnout in the Kurdish north and Shia south will be higher than in the last American, British or Canadian elections. Legitimate enough for ya?

But look beyond the numbers. When you consider the behavior of the Shia and Kurdish parties, they've been remarkably shrewd, restrained and responsible. They don't want to blow their big rendezvous with history and rejoin the rest of the Middle East in the fetid swamp of stable despotism. The naysayers in the Democratic Party and the U.S. media are so obsessed with Rumsfeld getting this wrong and Condi getting that wrong and Bush getting everything wrong that they've failed to notice just how surefooted both the Kurds and Shiites have been -- which in the end is far more important. The latter, for example, have adopted a moderate secular pitch entirely different from their co-religionist mullahs over the border. In fact, as partisan pols go, they sound a lot less loopy than, say, Barbara Boxer. Even on the Sunni side of the street, there are signs the smarter fellows understand their plans to destroy the election have flopped and it's time to cut themselves into the picture.

Read the whole thing. Though actually, as noted below, the coverage has been better than most of us expected.

SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE found at the Democratic Underground!

UPDATE: Intelligent, but short-lived -- an update says the posts have been erased. Down the memory hole!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Steve Stirling is administering comment-Fiskings (he's JoatSimeon). In response to the claim that Saddam was our creature, he observes: "Incidentally, Saddam was consistently aligned with the USSR during the Cold War. Did you wonder where all those T-72 tanks came from? This is the sort of nonsense that gives Democrats a bad name."


The turnout in Iraq was really like nothing that I had expected. I was glued in front of tv for most of the day. My mother was in tears watching the scenes from all over the country. Iraqis had voted for peace and for a better future, despite the surrounding madness. I sincerely hope this small step would be the start of much bolder ones, and that the minority which insists on enslaving the majority of Iraqis would soon realise that all that they have accomplished till now is in vain.

Another surprise was to see some Iraqis who had fled the country in fear of reprisals, such as the families of ex-regime figures and ex-Ba'athists, actually voting and encouraging others to vote! I know some of those from school and college and I imagined they would be bitter about the whole process, but many were not.

Jordanians were wishing Iraqis luck these few days everywhere on the streets. One young man at a mall, on recognising my Iraqi accent, asked me who I would be voting for. I politely told him that I would vote for who I believe is sincere. Strangely, he said that he personally preferred Allawi and hoped most Iraqis would be voting for him. I wished his country luck as well since the King had promised direct elections for municipal councils as a first step. He dismissed that as nothing much and said that "One should start from the 'Head' down, not the other way around".

Heh. No wonder Abdullah was down on the elections. Kings usually are.

NORM GERAS reports from Manchester:

Here's a story for our time and it's from my neck of the woods. Demonstrators against the Iraqi election were chased off by people who weren't too impressed with their demonstration. The demonstrators were from an Islamic group; the ones who got upset with them were... Iraqis.


THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (free link) is rounding up election-blogging from Iraq.

UPDATE: Adam Keiper has put together a slideshow of photos from the elections. And Scott Koenig offers some historical perspective.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: "Arabs Mesmerized by Iraqi Elections."


LOTS MORE ELECTION-BLOGGING FROM IRAQ, HERE, with photos. Just keep scrolling.

UPDATE: More photos here. And Jeff Jarvis is all over the story -- just keep scrolling.


I've been reading the coverage, and watching the pundits. This appears to be the new line of dissent:

"Yes, Iraqis voted today in massive numbers. But voting isn't democracy."

I agree. But that's also like saying that the best college basketball team didn't win the NCAA championship. It may be true, but they ARE wearing the rings. Wanna see my purple finger?

Meanwhile, one of Andrew Sullivan's readers suggests: "Why not ask people to wear blue marker on their index fingers this week, as a sign of solidarity and a tip of the hat to the courage of the Iraqis today?"

Good suggestion. I hope that the meme spreads. And read this post on turnout by Roger Simon: "Before the spin doctors get a hold of the 'how big was the turnout' question in Iraq (60%? 70%?) and use that to denigrate this great step forward that has just taken place, let's remind ourselves that turnout in recent US Presidential elections is barely over 50% of eligible voters and that in the nascent days of our democracy, 1824, it was 26.9%."


THE son of the United Nations secretary-general has admitted he was involved in negotiations to sell millions of barrels of Iraqi oil under the auspices of Saddam Hussein.

Kojo Annan has told a close friend he became involved in negotiations to sell 2m barrels of Iraqi oil to a Moroccan company in 2001. He is understood to be co-operating with UN investigators probing the discredited oil for food programme.

The alleged admission will increase pressure on Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, who is already facing calls for his resignation over the management of the humanitarian programme.

I suspect that the new Iraqi government will not be amused.

FRIENDS OF DEMOCRACY will be on C-SPAN at 2:00 Eastern and invites questions. And be sure to check out their whole site, which offers lots of on-the-scene reports from around Iraq.



AUSTIN BAY notes that the profusion of Iraqis with inked fingers represents a major blow to the terrorists:

That’s an identifying mark – one that almost literally shoves a finger in the eye of terror.

Yep. The terrorists have been revealed, not as "minutemen" but as, well, terrorists.

Meanwhile, here's a look at some of the people who are trying to throw a wet blanket on this accomplishment.

Brian Dunn offers a prediction of what the next round of negative talk will be.

UPDATE: And more wet-blanketry -- actually, it's a lot worse than that -- over at the ironically named Democratic Underground:

All the media keeps talking about is how happy the Iraqis are, how high turnout was, and how "freedom" has spread to Iraq. I had to turn off CNN because they kept focusing on the so-called "voters" and barely mentioned the resistance movements at all. Where are the freedom fighters today? Are their voices silenced because some American puppets cast a few ballots?

I can't believe the Iraqis are buying into this "democracy" bullshit.

Sigh. More along those lines here. Jeff Goldstein is deeply disappointed in some of the critics.

MORE: "Those who churlishly denigrate today's vote really do identify themselves as blind ideologues of the worst sort."

ANOTHER UPDATE: More on churlish denigration here.

And here's a roundup of Democratic Underground comments. Sigh.

MOHAMMED AND OMAR: "The people have won." Read the whole thing.

ANOTHER IRAQI VOTER proudly displays an ink-stained finger.

Sissy Willis observes: "You know what? This is the best thing ever for freedom and human happiness since the fall of the Berlin Wall."

It's certainly good news.

The ink-stained finger seems to becoming a potent image. Here's another photo by Iraqi blogger Alaasmary.

And here's one from Rose in Baghdad. (Both via The Corner).

UPDATE: The New York Times is even reporting a "party atmosphere" in Baghdad.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Chris Fountain notes that this paragraph keeps moving downward in the NYT story above, and he's right -- I've still got the old window open and it's dropped several paragraphs. So here it is, in case it disappears:

But if the insurgents wanted to stop people in Baghdad from voting, they failed. If they wanted to cause chaos, they failed. The voters were completely defiant, and there was a feeling that the people of Baghdad, showing a new, positive attitude, had turned a corner.

At least give 'em credit for leading with it initially.

The ink will wear off, but the results will remain.

CIGARS IN THE SAND is photoblogging from the Baghdad polls. Here you see Iraqi men proudly displaying their inked fingers after voting. (Via Chester, who has lots of election coverage).

The Belmont Club has an interesting post, too, responding to predictable negativism from Juan Cole.

I'll observe, as James Taranto did last week, that high turnout among the Afrikaners wasn't seen as the test of the South African elections' legitimacy. Likewise, high turnout in pro-Ba'ath areas shouldn't be the test here.

Reader Peter Ingemi, meanwhile, offers a prediction:

I'm remembering the coy saying about the French resistance. "If everyone who claimed to be in the resistance really had been, there would have been nobody left to collaborate."

I make the following prediction: In 20 or 25 years (it might not even take that long) all the people who where saying that the war was wrong and Iraq was wrong will talk about how America brought democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan and how they were a part of it due to their protests and desire for democracy and the end of tyranny. (of course they will not mention that the tyranny that they meant was us.) If the same people who write the current history books write them again be sure that this will happen.

Heh. Yeah, just like everybody pulled together during the Cold War.

CNN is reporting a 72% turnout. [Later: Some readers think that will turn out to be high, with the final number more like 60%. Still a lot, in the face of widespread death threats. We don't to that well, very often, and the worst we have are long lines.]

Power Line: "Somehow, I had missed the fact that Iraqi expatriates are voting in Syria. Thus, Iraqis living in Syria can participate in a democratic process, but Syrians can't. A bit odd, that, but it's another example of the impact this election could have in the Arab world." Yes, I imagine some Syrians are noticing.

Meanwhile, Robert Fisk appears in his usual role as punching bag. And he remains well-suited for it.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg is giving the media coverage a thumbs-down:

So far, I think the coverage has been moderately scandalous. This morning CNN kept its regularly scheduled medical show (though last night they were better, if mostly pre-taped). The major nets seemed to treat this like a fairly ho-hum story. I just walked over to my computer after seeing that the Today Show was offering viewers a segment on new shaving technologies for men.

If things were going badly, they'd be all over it, of course. More evidence that the elections are a success!

MORE: James Dwight:

The polls just closed, and there was 72% turnout with mimimal sporadic violence. The ball is now in the MSM's court. Or, to use perhaps a more appropriate cliche, the Iraqi people have given the MSM plenty of rope.

John Cole, meanwhile, says that the "Damning But" was shut down by Iraqi voters and offers a challenge to bloggers.

And RantWraith has four words, while Yellowdogblog notes that even Reuters is having trouble generating negative spin.


(Basra) People have been literally streaming towards polling stations. I have never witnessed this huge turnout for long time.

(Fallujah) A number of polling stations have opened in the city in the north, north-east, and inside the public park. The turnout to all these stations is very low.

(Baghdad) We have seen voting here in the capital, and in the streets close to the BBC office the atmosphere was almost euphoric.

One elderly Shiite man told us his two sons had been executed under Saddam and he was voting now to make sure there was no return to the old days.

Lots of interesting stuff there.

HEH: "Iraqi Voting Disrupts News Reports of Bombings."