February 12, 2005

THAT'S GOTTA HURT: A new book on RatherGate, entitled Rather Dumb: A Top Tabloid Reporter Tells CBS How to Do News, by a guy from the National Enquirer. I haven't read it, but I'll bet that CBS won't like it.

SEEMS AS IF SOMEBODY SHOULD BE IN TROUBLE for this Energy Department screwup:

The admission by the Energy Department that two allegedly "missing" secret computer disks never existed -- and the University of California's penalty of $5.8 million -- cap one of the biggest security shake-ups the U.S. nuclear weapons industry in post-World War II years that resulted in a temporary shutdown of all U.S. nuclear research facilities last year. . . .

Eventually, four were fired for security breaches , one chose to resign under the threat of termination and seven others received various formal reprimands.

Only by October were the scientists able to resume their full-scale work.

The confusion, it turns out, was created by inventory bar codes produced for computer disks that have never been written, a department official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Reportedly they did find some security holes, but at the cost of considerable disruption in what I assume is vital national security research.


So what hath the blogosphere wrought? The left blogosphere has moved the Democrats off to the left, and the right blogosphere has undermined the credibility of the Republicans' adversaries in Old Media. Both changes help Bush and the Republicans.

It didn't have to be that way, though.

I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS INTERVIEW OF NEAL STEPHENSON by Mike Godwin in Reason to go online, and now it has. Here's what I think is a key bit:

Speaking as an observer who has many friends with libertarian instincts, I would point out that terrorism is a much more formidable opponent of political liberty than government. Government acts almost as a recruiting station for libertarians. Anyone who pays taxes or has to fill out government paperwork develops libertarian impulses almost as a knee-jerk reaction. But terrorism acts as a recruiting station for statists. So it looks to me as though we are headed for a triangular system in which libertarians and statists and terrorists interact with each other in a way that I’m afraid might turn out to be quite stable.

That, in fact, is why I see it as important to win the war. I think that the best thing for civil liberties in America is that we've gone over 3 years without another 9/11 style attack. (And note an example of Stephenson's dynamic, here.)

I'VE NEVER KIPLED, MYSELF: But Gerard van der Leun has.

UPDATE: Some readers say that Gerard van der Leun is echoing Robert Service's Law of the Yukon, rather than Kipling's Law of the Jungle. But if I'm not mistaken, Service's poem was inspired by Kipling's.

STUART BUCK HAS QUESTIONS regarding Bruce Ackerman's terminology.

I agree that calling Justices Scalia and Thomas "neo-conservatives" is incoherent, unless "neo-conservative" is simply a synonym for "people Ackerman doesn't like."

As Arthur Leff noted, all definitions are permitted the definer, so long as they are stated clearly. But I think that Ackerman could have done better at spelling this one out. I don't think there's much of anything "neo" about Scalia and Thomas's conservatism.

DAVE KOPEL rounds up coverage of the Ward Churchill affair in the Colorado media.

UPDATE: Related thoughts on those "little Eichmanns" at the World Trade Center, from The Belmont Club.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Disagreement from Jeralyn Merritt.

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

ROSS TERRILL WRITES in The Boston Globe:

DEMOCRACY IS FRIEND to the common man and authoritarianism is a crutch for millionaires with a villa in Italy -- right? Maybe no longer. Lady Liberty has acquired a new dancing partner. Politics in both Europe and the United States have unhitched the left from its trusted partner, democracy. American liberals now often spurn blue collar opinion that is democracy's fuel. They mostly reject global idealism that is liberty's post-communism vocation. This has allowed a Republican president to make democracy his cause. On the dance floor of the 21st century, the right embraces Lady Liberty. . . .

What a strange moment for the left to lose faith in democracy. The Soviet Union and other Leninist dictatorships are gone in a puff of smoke. Democracy is taking root in Latin America. South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Mongolia, and Thailand are all newly democratic. Throughout the 20th century, war and authoritarianism were inseparable. For 30 years, democracy and free markets have surged and no war has occurred anywhere on the scale ofKorea and Vietnam, let alone World War I and World War II.

Seymour Hersh recently told "Democracy Now!" radio that America was in a bad way because "eight or nine neoconservatives" have "grabbed the government." Not mentioning that Bush was elected by 51 percent of the voters, Hersh did detect a ray of hope. One "salvation may be the economy," Hersh said regrettably, "It's going to go very bad, folks. You know, if you have not sold your stocks and bought property in Italy, you better do it quick."

A left that sees a lousy economy as political salvation and frets about stocks and a villa in Italy is not the idealistic, worker-respecting left anymore. Certainly it is not a believer in democracy.

Nope. And, as I keep repeating, this is no strategy for building a Democratic majority. Similarly, stuff like this is comforting to the true-believers, but it's not likely to win votes. (Via Peg Kaplan.) And read this, too.

This is where I have to agree and disagree simultaneously with Hugh Hewitt, who writes about Peter Beinart:

Peter is without question the very best face of the Democratic Party. Folks love him because he is earnest and very committed to Harry Truman's Democratic Party, which is a lot like being committed to the Edsel.

But the Edsel was a bomb from day one. No, more like the Nash Rambler -- a good car, popular in its time, that's no longer made. The Truman / FDR style of muscular Democratic thought has been supplanted by the '68-ers in the Democratic party, and their ideological descendants at MoveOn, MediaMatters, etc. They lack the essential faith in America possessed by their predecessors, and by the voters they'd like to win over. Beinart's views are marginal in the Democratic Party -- heck, the kind of patriotism that Barney Frank and Chris Dodd demonstrated in Davos is indiscernible in the MoveOn / MediaMatters end of the Democratic Party -- while the Seymour Hersh Vietnam-nostalgia strain runs strong. That's bad for the Democrats, and bad for America, but it's nonetheless the case.

UPDATE: Reader Mark Gunnion, on the other hand, emails:

Fuck you.

Your side is the Taliban side.

I hope all of you Bush-loving idiots wake up some day to how you have been hoodwinked into empowering 12th century religious fanatics - in OUR country.

But I doubt it will happen.

You got your $32,000 tax cut, so you'll put up with a little preaching.

YOU are the American Taliban.

Nice to see that the Lefties are retaining their sense of perspective.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. I think, actually, that the email from Gunnion above was inspired by this post from Ted Barlow that criticizes me for my post linking to this post by Nelson Ascher from Europundits on the Euro-left.

The problem is that Barlow seems to miss the Euro angle, and proceeds to suggest that I'm calling American liberals terrorists. (To be fair, there's a brief reference to Americans in Ascher's post, which I didn't notice before, but Barlow doesn't mention it, and it's certainly not the main subject of Ascher's argument.) I'm used to having my posts mischaracterized by Crooked Timber folks, but I do think that this is a bit much.

But maybe the emails I get from Oliver Willis, accusing me of thinking that everyone to the left of Joe Lieberman is a traitor, reflect a broader view rather than, as I assumed, just Oliver. So, in the interest of clarity: No, I don't think that. I do think that it's unfortunate that the Democrats decided to make the war their big issue for the election -- I suspect that they do, too, now -- and I think that it was unseemly and wrong for them to embrace Michael Moore, etc. That's hardly the same as calling them terrorists.

The support for terrorism that Ascher describes on the part of the Euro-left is something different. I'm not the only one to note that France has been engaging in a "proxy war" with the United States using terrorists and dictators as surrogates -- Tom Friedman has noted something similar. I think that this hostility is part wounded pride, but also partly the result of the attitudes that Nelson Ascher describes. That my comments on that subject (in a post with a later update [LATER: since Barlow's post, I should note] also linking a British, not an American, journalist calling for our defeat in Iraq) would be seen as representative of the American left seems odd, and perhaps a bit overly defensive, to me. If the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it.

But as I thought things like my repeated praise of Barney Frank illustrate already, I certainly don't think that there's anything necessarily unpatriotic about being a leftist or liberal. I do think that those people who are rooting for our defeat, or showing a strange eagerness for a Vietnam rerun, and so on, are in fact unpatriotic, as surely rooting for your own country's defeat in time of war counts as unpatriotic. (Those people aren't entirely on the left, of course, as you can find some of them in the wackier theocon or isolationist or antisemitic paleoconservative movements, too. Indeed, the term "idiotarian" was coined with reference to Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson among others.)

At any rate, to the extent that there's genuine confusion, and not point-scoring, going on here, I hope that this clears things up. In the meantime, I wonder if people will stop calling me a Taliban or a Nazi. Probably not. In fact, one commenter at Rand Simberg's is calling me a Nazi for not having open comments on my blog: "Some, like Instapundit , do not even allow comments for refutation. In that regard, they are like the mass rallies of the Nazis."

Well, it's true -- there weren't open blog comments at a single Nazi rally that I know of. It's a fair cop!

MORE: Let's cut to the real outrage -- Michael Demmons emails: "You got a $32,000 tax cut????"

Er, no. I don't know where he got that number. Nor was I aware that the Taliban were motivated by a desire for tax cuts. . . .

STILL MORE: Donald Sensing -- who has been the recipient of the same "left of Joe Lieberman" charges -- declares a Joe Lieberman meme war. And instead of an Edsel, above, perhaps the best automotive metaphor is the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado -- union-made, still desired by a lot of people, but no longer available from the original source.

Meanwhile, the Progressive Policy Institute offers a diagnosis of the Democrats' problems that isn't so far from mine:

As Democrats, we are proud that our party led the way in crafting America's resolute response to fascism and communism. Far-sighted Democrats like Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John Kennedy fashioned a tough-minded internationalism that eventually won the Cold War and stimulated an unprecedented expansion of liberty and democracy throughout the world.

For too many Americans, however, all this is ancient history. In recent decades, the public has shown a consistent tendency to trust Republicans more on matters of defense and security. We believe the confidence gap on national security played a major, even decisive, role in the 2004 election, and now stands as a major obstacle to building a new Democratic majority.

To persuade the public to entrust us with national leadership, Democrats must offer a more compelling vision for making Americans safer. We believe such a vision must incorporate key pillars of the party's internationalist tradition: the willingness to use force to defend our interests and values; support for open trade and a globalizing world economy; and active promotion of individual liberty and democracy around the world. We recognize that these are contentious issues and that some will want to paper over our internal differences to preserve a semblance of party unity. But we believe Democrats should not fear a vigorous, honest debate on national security -- better to wrestle these issues now than on the eve of the 2008 election. . . .

America's work in Iraq is not yet done. We, therefore, urge you to oppose calls to withdraw troops from Iraq prematurely, before the new Iraqi government is able to consolidate its authority and defend itself against Sunni insurgents and foreign terrorists. This is not the time for casting anxious glances toward the exits. Instead, Democrats should reaffirm our resolve not to leave behind a failed state in Iraq, because to do so would hand our Jihadist foes a strategic windfall, swelling terrorist ranks and lending credence to Osama bin Laden's claim that the United States is a paper tiger with no stomach for a protracted fight. . . .

This new danger tests the mettle of the people and parties that aspire to lead America. No political party will gain or hold power -- nor will it deserve to -- if it cannot provide people with a basic sense of security.

The Jihadist creed, in its bigotry and intolerance, its sanctification of murder and its contempt for liberal democracy, bears a sinister resemblance to the totalitarian ideologies of 20th century Europe. Like fascism and communism, it poses a moral challenge to our liberal beliefs and values. Once again, our foes doubt that we will fight and sacrifice for the ideals we profess to live by. Once again, we must prove them wrong. Moral clarity in this fight is essential. The American people will not trust leaders who will not vigorously defend their ideals.

Indeed. But David Adesnik's comment on this letter also points to the problem:

Does the Democratic party dare associate itself with a phrase such as "moral clarity"? Or will the invocation of a phrase associated with the White House simply persuade the Democratic left that the idealists who drafted this letter are closet Republicans? I hope not, but it wouldn't surprise me if they did.

One should also point out the significance of this letter's suggestion that the American people actually prefer leaders who "vigorously defend their ideals." I can't really recall any instance during the campaign when either Democratic pols or media figures said that John Kerry was hurting himself by not talking about democracy promotion. Unsurprisingly, Kerry didn't even try to insist that he was the real idealist and that Bush was just a poseur. Instead, Kerry simply let Bush take the pro-democracy high-ground.

Although both the pols and journalists knew that Kerry had to present himself as tough, they never seemed to think that American voters also cared about electing a president who is openly idealistic. Nor did the pols and journalists ever argue that being idealistic is part and parcel of being tough.

The bottom line is that there is a massive gulf of perception that separates tough, idealistic Truman-style Democrats from the party's liberal establishment. This isn't just about the war in Iraq or even the occupation.

No, it's not.

STILL MORE: Or, people could just try to blackmail me, as Robert McClelland urges in the comments over at Oliver Willis's. Yeah, that'll solve the problem. Jeez. Perhaps they should start here . . . .

McClelland's obviously one of Karl Rove's provocateurs, implementing his demonically effective "blogpaper" strategy, in which lefty activism is drained off from constructive sources and into obsession with an obscure law professor's personal website. Apparently, it's working pretty well.

MORE: John Cole emails:

You missed the humor in the suggestion that you be blackmailed.

Robert McClelland is a Canadian, or at the very least a resident of Canada, who most recently described the United states as a 'third world hellhole.'

So, to summarize: An America hating Canadian is so incensed by a post in which you assert that some lefties seem to hate America that he travels to a left wing site to recommend the outright blackmail of an American to stifle political speech.

That ought to play well in the heartland. I officially declare irony to be dead.

Heh. And buried. I wonder if that comment counts as "hate speech" in Canada? But, really, I think this kind of frothing -- in response to a post whose actual point is, of course, that some lefties like Barney Frank are showing a spirit I'd like to see more of -- is indicative of how some people have just lost it, and I really do think that it's hurting the Democrats. Maybe we can get a Lieberman / Frank ticket in 2008 to restore some sanity. And though I've thought that by pointing out this problem I'd do some good, I suspect that in some cases the reaction to hearing it pointed out overwhelms any benefit. That's unfortunate, as -- unlike, say, Hugh Hewitt -- I'd be quite happy to see the Democratic Party flourishing in the way that the Progressive Policy Institute, or Peter Beinart, want it to. (Aside from the war, I probably agree with Barney Frank on more issues than I agree with, say, Trent Lott on -- and unlike some, Frank's opposition to the war has been honorable, as his behavior regarding Davos illustrates.) And I think that all this hatred and bitterness and reflexive opposition is deeply damaging to the Democratic Party, and not good for America, either. Those people who engage in it are doing the Republicans a favor (at least short-term) and serving the Democratic Party very badly.

And to go full circle, read this post by Dr. Frank on more of the Euro-Left's nostalgia for communism, along the lines described by Nelson Ascher. For a more sensible leftist perspective, on the other hand, read this piece from Harry's Place.

But look, here's the bottom line on the domestic side: I was a card-carrying Democrat for years. Unlike Hugh Hewitt, I don't want to see Democratic power broken forever, I just want to see a more constructive attitude toward national security. I'd really like to see the party do better, but instead it seems to be trapped in a sort of 1972-style anger that can't possibly be good for its future or for the country. I've hoped that calling attention to that would do some good, but I'm afraid that through a sort of reverse psychology it may actually be doing more harm than good -- when I point it out, some people, at least, actually seem to become more hardened against the idea. Perhaps Hillary Clinton will be able to fix things.

OOPS! The Los Angeles Times' story on Eason Jordan's resignation contains an error that suggests its writer wasn't very familiar with the blogosphere:

Also, a website called, featuring the executive's corporate portrait on its home page, offered a clearing-house of criticism related to Jordan's statements. The website linked to 25 other sites in its "Blogroll," with mainstream columnists such as Roger L. Simon and more obscure bloggers such as "Red State Rant" and "Winds of Change."

As Nationals Review (itself likely to be a fertile source of confusion for the LAT at some point) observes:

There are two people named Roger Simon. One is a columnist for U.S. News and World Report. The other is a popular blogger who I read regularly. The latter is more informative, but the LA Times automatically calls him "mainstream" because they assume he's employed by a mainstream media company. Winds of Change is hardly an obscure blog, but since the LA Times doesn't keep up with the blogs, they're well behind.

Indeed. If, as many suspect, this will be spun by some Big Media outfits as a baying mob out for the blood of conscientious journalists, that spin will lose force when it becomes apparent that many of those describing the "mob" have only the vaguest idea of what they're describing.

WHEN OPPONENTS OF GAY MARRIAGE say that it will lead to incest, I've always pooh-poohed them. So imagine my shock when I read this headline on Andrew Sullivan's site: "A seminary president is fired for marrying his own daughter. Because she's gay." Heh. Following the link, however, eased my mind somewhat . . . .

February 11, 2005


Jordan said he was quitting to avoid CNN being "unfairly tarnished" by the controversy. . . .

"I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise," Jordan said in a memo to fellow staff members at CNN.

But the damage had been done, compounded by the fact that no transcript of his actual remarks has turned up. There was an online petition calling on CNN to find a transcript, and fire Jordan if he said the military had intentionally killed journalists.

I think we know what the video would have shown, now. It wasn't a case of the video not turning up, but of it not being released. I think that Jordan could have quickly defused this by just saying "I screwed up," but -- as with Trent Lott -- he waited days while hiding behind a lame and unpersuasive explanation. He should have read this, and other people who might be in his position should do the same.

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis:

If he had been upfront about what he said from the start; if he had demanded that Davos release the tape and transcript; if he had admitted to putting his foot in his mouth and apologized and said he was wrong; if he'd done that, he'd still have a job. For a lesson, see: Dan Rather. But he released obfuscating statements and didn't level with the public he's supposed to serve and now he's slinking away like a criminal when he should be apologizing for saying something stupid.

Yes. (Lots of blog posts here)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Sisyphean Musings -- who was promised the Davos video, only to see the Davos folks renege -- writes: "I can't understand why Eason Jordan would resign over 'conflicting accounts' of his remarks at the WEF, without first asking that the video of those remarks be released to clear up those conflicts." And is asking for the tape, too: ""A cloud will hang over this issue until the tape is viewed to confirm what has been reported in this affair." Actually, I think it's pretty clear what the tape would have shown, but I'd like to see it released, too, as a matter of historical record if nothing else.

Meanwhile, Jim Geraghty observes:

I still don't understand why Jordan would resign rather than call for the tape's release — there was always a chance that the public reaction would be, "oh, it's not bad as I thought it would be."

Unless, I guess, it was so bad, that cries of outrage would be inevitable... And the release of the tape would have turned this into a natural television story.

I guess that's right.

More roundups here and here.

And Hugh Hewitt observes: "The trouble was the cover-up."

MORE: Here's Howard Kurtz's story:

No definitive account of what Jordan said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 27 has been made public, including the forum's videotape of the off-the-record session. Two Democrats who were there, Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) and Sen. Christopher Dodd (Conn.), criticized Jordan's remarks. Others in attendance, including U.S. News & World Report editor at large David Gergen and BBC executive Richard Sambrook, said Jordan had corrected his initial remarks.

Kurtz also notes that some think CNN is happy to lose Jordan because of a variety of iffy behaviors on his part, going beyond the Davos statement. ("Several CNN staffers say Jordan was eased out by top executives who had lost patience with both the controversy and the continuing published gossip about Jordan's personal life after a marital breakup.") Joe Gandelman thinks Jordan was a victim of his own stonewalling. And Ed Morrissey notes that the networks are in the position of having to report Jordan's resignation over a scandal that they never mentioned to their viewers.


I was completely flabbergasted by this move. In a way, I see it as a threat, and very skillful damage control (though the best would have been to go public, air the tape, retract, recant, and get it over with). I see it as skillful because I doubt the tape will be released now, though a couple of phone calls could probably make that happen.

And I see it as a threat because without the tape, Jordan is free to play the "victim of the angry bloggers" role. If he doesn't, someone will transpose that upon him.

That's probably true. But, you know, if he were a sportscaster who had made a racial remark, nobody would be saying that.

Mickey Kaus observes: "It should also be noted that the controversy was kept alive not just by blogs, but by the refusal of a relatively liberal Democrat, Barney Frank, to sweep it under the rug in gentlemanly fashion." Which is why my original post on EasonGate just said bravo for Barney Frank. And Chris Dodd deserves a lot of credit, too.

HAD DINNER WITH MIKE GODWIN, who spoke at the law school last night, and elsewhere on campus today. We know a lot of people in common, but this was the first time we've met. It's always nice to meet a Net legend of his stature.



Widespread allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of Congolese women, boys and girls have been made against U.N. personnel who were sent to help and protect them — despite a so-called zero tolerance policy touted by the United Nations toward such behavior.

The range of sexual abuse includes reported rapes of young Congolese girls by U.N. troops; an Internet pedophile ring run from Congo by Didier Bourguet, a senior U.N. official from France; a colonel from South Africa accused of molesting his teenage male translators; and estimates of hundreds of underage girls having babies fathered by U.N. soldiers who have been able to simply leave their children and their crimes behind.

Ravaged by decades of civil war, and one of the poorest countries in the world, Congo has relied on the United Nations for both military protection and humanitarian aid.

There will be a story on 20/20 tonight.

THIS SEEMS LIKE A GREAT IDEA: Give Iraq's voters the Nobel Peace Prize:

They have already won the world's peace prize by demonstrating in a single day a commitment not seen in our lifetime to peace, self-determination and human rights--the goals for which the Nobel Peace Prize began in 1901. Formal recognition by the Nobel Committee of what the Iraqi people did on Jan. 30 would do more to ensure the furtherance of these goals, in concrete ways, than any other imaginable recipient this year. Who did more?

The history of the Peace Prize shows as well that Iraq's voters placed themselves squarely at the center of one of the Nobel Committee's enduring, seemingly quixotic, goals--peace in the Middle East.

Makes sense to me.

IT'S ALL ABOUT BUSH: Heh. And read the Walt Whitman quotation in this post for more.

HERE'S MORE on those New Jersey killings, from the Coptics.

HERE'S A REPORT FROM IRAQ, via my secretary, a Marine combat engineer reservist:

The elections required a lot of work in this area but went off without any major violence. From what we have seen, nationwide turnout was very good. One of the constant comments here was that in America, people stay home because of the rain; here people vote in spite of mortars. (Mortars are like the worst hail storm you have ever seen, but a little worse).

Recently, we have gone out and operated with the Army. The particular unit we have worked with is a cavalry unit. Even though they now drive tanks, they still wear "riding" boots, large belt buckles and for formal occasions, cowboy hats. Surely, they think many of our customs and traditions (dating back to naval combat of the 18th century) are just as strange.

The Cav is located at a much larger installation which means KBR chow. It is amazing that food that would be sniffed at in most middle school cafeterias seems like dinner and a beer at El Charro over here. Their installation is a former Iraqi army base, so it feels a lot more like a military base than the poultry processing plant in which I live. In fact the cinderblock barracks are almost as nice as Hess Hall (saying something is as nice as Hess is wierd) and are nicer than the barracks that I stayed in at Camp Pendleton.

Army tours are almost twice as long as Marine tours (13 vs. 7 mos.) and these guys were nearing the end. Their morale was high but needless to say they were looking forward to getting home.

An interesting note about tankers, beware of anyone who refers to you as a "crunchy." That is apparently the sound you make when you get backed over.

The 1/8 Cav were gracious hosts and most professional soldiers. Their Bn. Commander and Sergeant Major presented our sqaud with battalion coins to thank us for a particular weapons cache we found and destroyed with them. We let their medic initiate the explosion; it is never as much fun as the first time.

Out of the ten Marines that deployed out Knoxville with me, two have returned to the States with injuries. While this is not statistically remarkable, consider that they were twin brothers. Further consider that they were both injured, in separate incidents, in the wrist.

Strange. Both of the Gentrys are expected to make full recoveries and as we say of people going home injured, they have a 100% chance of surviving the war.

A note on barracks life. The Jay-Z/ Linkin Park "mash up" album seems to be in constant rotation. This is MTV's brilliant idea of playing two really horrible artists' tracks simultaneously. At least you can get it over with that much more quickly. If video killed the radio star, will someone please kill MTV's head of new program development? Please? Know that if I have nothing worse to complain about than bad rap rock albums that I am doing well.


JAY ROSEN has an Eason Jordan roundup. Can you "break" a story via a private email newsletter? I'd say no. Rand Simberg, meanwhile, looks at the working press's definition of a blog.

UPDATE: Looks like, as predicted, the story's broken out:

CNN on Thursday sought to quell the media frenzy enveloping executive Eason Jordan over remarks he made during a conference last month in Davos, Switzerland, suggesting that he believed U.S. troops were deliberately firing on journalists in Iraq. CNN tried to ease the controversy by clarifying Jordan's remarks. "Unfortunately, he was not clear enough in explaining his assertion," a CNN spokesman said Thursday.

No, indeed.


A group of professors on campus is releasing a report today that is highly critical of the university's handling of charges of anti-Semitism and classroom intimidation — and especially of the committee that Bollinger set up to investigate.

What's more, students who have observed the committee's proceedings are raising their own troubling questions about the direction the inquiry has taken.

"I don't understand why a committee investigating such a sensitive issue would be recruited among people with such blatant conflicts of interest," says Judith Jacobson, an assistant professor of public health and founder of the Columbia chapter of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, the group issuing the report.

As the group's report details, out of five members on Bollinger's committee: two signed an anti-Israel divestment petition, one was the thesis adviser for Joseph Massad (a professor prominently accused of wrongdoing), one has written that Israel is responsible for global anti-Semitism and one is a university administrator who ignored student complaints for months. The man who handpicked the committee, Nick Dirks, is married to a professor who co-teaches a class with Massad.

"If the purpose of the committee is to protect . . . faculty, it seems likely to achieve success," the whistleblowing faculty report concludes. "If its purpose is to conduct a serious investigation, it appears doomed to failure."

Read the whole thing. (Link to the report here, via Ryan Sager).

WHAT IS KIM JONG IL'S GAME? Thoughts, over at Daniel Drezner's.

UPDATE: Donald Sensing has a lot of thoughts.

BOOK REPORT: I finished the Tim Powers book I mentioned yesterday, on the plane. It was quite good, though I found the ending a bit abrupt. My mention of Powers produced a lot of other recommendations from readers; I've read some of the books they recommend but not all of them. I've read The Anubis Gates, which I recall liking pretty well. And I read his Kim Philby sorcerous spy novel Declare, a couple of years back, and found it very good. Lots of other readers recommended Dinner at Deviant's Palace, which I don't think I've read.

I was wise not to take Charles Stross's The Family Trade with me, as I was pretty far along -- so much so that I finished it last night before going to bed early. It's good, though not, to my mind at least, in a league with Iron Sunrise or Singularity Sky.

RYAN SAGER WRITES that free speech seems to have no defenders left in Congress.

YESTERDAY, I linked to a Media Matters claim that FDR was being quoted out of context on social security. But Megan McArdle observes:

I see that I am supposed to be outraged by Brit Hume's allegedly egregious misquotation of FDR, to claim FDR's mantle for George Bush's privatisation plan.

But then I actually, y'know, click the link, and find out that FDR's plan looks a lot like Bush's, except that it wasn't nearly so generous.

The Bush Administration: More generous than FDR! Related post here.

February 10, 2005

IF YOU'VE GOT AN INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION, does that mean you've got an industry?

America's top rivals in the private-sector space race are now on the same side, in a federation newly formed to advance their infant industry's interests.

The Personal Spaceflight Federation, whose establishment was announced Tuesday, brings together a who's who of space entrepreneurs, including SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan, whose team won the $10 million X Prize last October, and video-game genius John Carmack, whose Armadillo Aerospace team was among the leading contenders for the prize.



Here's the truth: There is no single action we could undertake anywhere in the world to reduce the threat of terrorism that would have a bigger impact today than a decent outcome in Iraq. It is that important. And precisely because it is so important, it should not be left to Donald Rumsfeld.

Democrats need to start thinking seriously about Iraq - the way Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton have. If France - the mother of all blue states - can do it, so, too, can the Democrats. Otherwise, they will be absenting themselves from the most important foreign policy issue of our day.

Democrats do not favor using military force against Iran's nuclear program or to compel regime change there. That is probably wise. But they don't really have a diplomatic option. I've got one: Iraq. Iraq is our Iran policy.


THE CHARLIE ROSE SHOW, with me, Wonkette, Joe Trippi, and Andrew Sullivan, will air tonight. It's at 11:30 -12:30 in my area, but you'll need to check your schedule to be sure when it runs in yours. They say we'll be the second segment. Blurb here. It's one of the few places where you'll see my picture right next to Ted Kennedy's.

They also sent along this group picture,, though I don't believe that I'm the standout member of the photo cast.


UPDATE: Now it's showing Ossie Davis instead of us. Did we get bumped? Beats me. The email telling me it was tonight was just a few hours ago, but with TV who knows?

ANOTHER UPDATE: They just emailed and said it'll be next week, not tonight. Good -- I'm exhausted after the late night / early morning combo and all the travel. I'd rather stay up late some other time, especially as my daughter's school will make me wake up early tomorrow anyway. Schools, as one of my colleagues says, are an evil conspiracy of morning people.


LARRY KUDLOW on Eason Jordan:

Last night on K&C, I asked three influential US senators about the CNN News scandal regarding Eason Jordan’s traitorous remarks at the Davos economic forum. George Allen, Jeffrey Sessions, and Norman Coleman all agreed with Michelle Malkin’s characterization that Jordan and his CNN defenders have “slimed the military.” They were furious at the whole story, with each expressing anger at Jordan’s liberal anti-US-military bias. Senator Sessions pointed out that episodes like this show why the mainstream media has lost so much credibility in recent years. Senator Coleman was not ready to open up an investigation, but he indicated it was worth looking at. Senator Allen was strong in his defense of both the moral character and the visionary mission of our troops in Iraq.

He notes that the Senators were aware of the story largely because of its blogosphere coverage.

BOOTS ON THE GROUND: Austin Bay looks at the debate in August of 2001.

TARGETING REPORTERS: LT Smash is an eyewitness.

LYNNE STEWART CONVICTED: "Veteran civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart was convicted Thursday of helping terrorists by smuggling messages of violence from one of her imprisoned clients -- a radical Egyptian sheik -- to his terrorist disciples on the outside."

UPDATE: A personal angle, from Scott Johnson.


NORTH KOREA SAYS IT HAS NUKES. Bill Quick blames Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. I guess they deserve some of the blame, but honestly there hasn't been all that much we could do about North Korea, short of nuking them, anyway. The Clinton-Carter deal didn't help, but I don't think it really did a lot of harm, either.

TOM MAGUIRE REPORTS that Chris Dodd is calling for the Davos folks to release the Eason Jordan tape.

THE FOLKS AT MEDIA MATTERS CLAIM that an FDR quote by Brit Hume, which I linked here a while back, is out of context and misrepresents what FDR really meant.

I'M ON THE PLANE NOW -- a different plane than I had planned on. But the Delta people were really good about switching flights when the original one was delayed. (I want to get home on time because the Insta-Daughter has her karate belt ceremony tonight.) Security at LaGuardia was swift, cheerful, and efficient, too. Is this just a fluke?

Blogging will cease shortly as they make me shut off the laptop. I am, by the way, not reading the Charles Stross book I mentioned below. I realized that I was far enough into it that it wouldn't last the trip, so I set it aside and brought Tim Powers' The Drawing of the Dark. It's very good so far, and I like the notion of beer being at the center of the moral universe.

BREDESEN IN 2008? I've got a piece in today's Wall Street Journal that looks at the prospects.

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs says I'm a shill for the Democrats.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Doug Weinstein, who'd like for me to shill for the Democrats, stresses that he thinks Bredesen's workers' comp. bill is bad for workers, not just trial lawyers. I'd said that in the sentence before, so I didn't include it in his actual quote, since the piece was already running up against the length limit. That's one of the downsides of writing for dead-tree publications.

A LATE NIGHT AND AN EARLY MORNING: Taped a segment of Charlie Rose last night with Joe Trippi, Andrew Sullivan, and Ana Marie Cox. Then went to a party at Nick Denton's. It was a lot of fun, and I wish I got to do this sort of thing more often, but now I have to catch the plane home.

UPDATE: Gawker has photos, though I suspect that most people will prefer the ones of partying supermodels to the ones of partying pundits . . . .

And sorry, no Michael Totten style tell-all posts, even with caveats like "This is all from memory, and I was drunk part of the time."

EASON JORDAN UPDATE: Bret Stephens reports:

By chance, I was in the audience of the World Economic Forum's panel discussion where Mr. Jordan spoke. What happened was this: Mr. Jordan observed that of the 60-odd journalists killed in Iraq, 12 had been targeted and killed by coalition forces. He then offered a story of an unnamed Al-Jazeera journalist who had been "tortured for weeks" at Abu Ghraib, made to eat his shoes, and called "Al-Jazeera boy" by his American captors.

Here Rep. Barney Frank, also a member of the panel, interjected: Had American troops actually targeted journalists? And had CNN done a story about it? Well no, Mr. Jordan replied, CNN hadn't done a story on this, specifically. And no, he didn't believe the Bush administration had a policy of targeting journalists. Besides, he said, "the [American] generals and colonels have their heart in the right place."

By this point, one could almost see the wheels of Mr. Jordan's mind spinning, slowly: "How am I going to get out of this one?" But Mr. Frank and others kept demanding specifics. Mr. Jordan replied that "there are people who believe there are people in the military" who have it out for journalists. He also recounted a story of a reporter who'd been sent to the back of the line at a checkpoint outside of Baghdad's Green Zone, apparently because the soldier had been unhappy with the reporter's dispatches.

Read the whole thing. And as I said when this story first appeared: Bravo for Barney Frank.

UPDATE: Hmm. Bret Stephens wasn't there "by chance," and he wasn't there as a journalist, either. Which doesn't undercut his factual reportage, but seems worth noting.

February 09, 2005

JUST RAN THE CNET BANDWIDTH SPEED TEST on the Verizon wireless EVDO card and got 483 Kbps. Not bad for go-anywhere wireless.

STORIES ON TARGETING JOURNALISTS IN 2003: I had forgotten the BBC story, and my take on it. But Jim Geraghty remembered. If that's the basis of Eason Jordan's statement, well, that's incredibly lame.

UPDATE: Here's some real targeting of journalists in Iraq. No word on whether it will be discussed at Davos next year.

JOHN TABIN looks at post-election events in Iraq and finds them encouraging. More to the point, he notes that even longtime critics seem to find them so. Democratization is a process, not an event. But this is good news.

ADAM KEIPER BLOGS from the Congressional Nanotechnology Caucus press conference today. Some interesting observations.

I HAVEN'T PAID MUCH ATTENTION to the Jeff Gannon / Talon News story, but Rip-n-Read podcast has a roundup, available in audio or text. There seems to be some rather unsavory behavior going on here. More on the subject here.

DAVID CORN is looking for "honest and responsible conservatives" who will criticize Bush's budget. I think I may have found one.

UPDATE: On the other hand, I don't think that this counts.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Arnold Kling writes that Corn should get out more.

OBJECTIVIST SEX NO-NOS and gay penguin voyeurism. Back to back! It must be sweeps week over at Reason. . . .

JONAH GOLDBERG has a column on monsters. They're not quite the same monsters that I addressed in this column, but I think that the two pieces can profitably be read together.

I KNOW JOHN LUCAS, who's a partner at the Hunton & Williams office in Knoxville. You may recall I've posted email from his son, who's serving in Iraq. Now The Mudville Gazette notes a case of his son's heroism, and how it was, ahem, reported by Reuters.

I'M AIRPORT-BLOGGING from the Cincinnati airport. It's the first time I've used the Verizon card where there was broadband access and it's quite zippy. Seems as fast as any high-speed connection.

I'LL BE TRAVELLING this morning, going up to New York on business. (I'm taking this Charles Stross book to read on the plane). Blogging will be intermittent, though I'll have the laptop and the go-anywhere wireless card.

In the meantime, you can amuse yourself with the many excellent blog posts linked at this week's Carnival of the Vanities. Branch out in your blog-reading!

AUSTIN BAY looks back.

TOXIC BOT-SUITS: My TechCentralStation column is up.

N.Z. BEAR has done a traffic analysis that suggests that quite a few people are reading about Eason Jordan despite the comparative silence of the big media.

More background here.


I prefer to speak of "liberty" or, as Bush says, "freedom", or, as neither of us is quite bold enough to put it, capitalism - free market, property rights, law of contract, etc. That's why Hong Kong is freer than Liberia, if less "democratic". If I had six or seven centuries to work on things, I wouldn't do it this way in Iraq or Afghanistan. But the "war on terror" is more accurately a race against time - to unwreck the Middle East before its toxins wreck South Asia, West Africa, and eventually Europe. The doom-mongers can mock Bush all they want. But they're spending so much time doing so, they've left themselves woefully uninformed on some of the fascinating subtleties of Iraqi and Afghan politics that his Administration turns out to have been rather canny about.

Nelson Ascher:

Those whom the fall of the Berlin Wall had left orphans of a cause, spent the next decade plotting the containment of the US. It was a complex operation that involved the (in many cases state-sponsored) mushrooming of NGOs, Kyoto, the creation of the ICC, the salami tactics applied against America’s main strategic ally in the Middle-East, Israel, through the Trojan Horse of the Oslo agreements, the subversion of the sanctions against Iraq etc. I’m not as conspiratorially-minded as to think that all these efforts were in any way centralized or that they had some kind of master-plan behind them. It was above all the case of the spirit of the times converging, through many independent manifestations, towards a single goal. Nonetheless we can be sure that, after those manifestations reached a critical mass, there has been no lack of efforts to coordinate them.

And so, spontaneously up to a point, anti-Americanism became the alternative ideology that came to fill in the vacuum left by the failure of traditional, USSR-based communism and its Maoist or Trotskyite satellites. Before 1989, the global left had something to fight for: either the strengthening of the communist states or the correction of what they called their bureaucratic distortions. To fight for something is simultaneously to fight against whatever threatens it, and thus, the leftists were anti-Western and anti-Americans too, anti-capitalistic in short.

Now, whatever they wanted to defend or protect doesn’t exist anymore. They have only things to destroy, and all those things are personified in the US, in its very existence.

Sigh. I wish he were wrong. (Via Roger Simon).

UPDATE: Sigh again:

The United States needs to lose the war in Iraq as soon as possible. Even more urgently, the whole world needs the United States to lose the war in Iraq. What is at stake now is the way we run the world for the next generation or more, and really bad things will happen if we get it wrong.


ANOTHER UPDATE: Ted Barlow thinks that this post means I think all leftists are terrorists. That's hardly the case, and I respond here.

THANKS TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO'VE HIT THE TIPJAR this week. It's always a pleasant antidote to the hatemail.

February 08, 2005



Meanwhile, Investor's Business Daily editorializes: "It's time for him to go."

Somebody should have given Jordan one of these.


HERE'S A TRANSCRIPT of Hugh Hewitt's appearance on Kudlow & Cramer, talking about Eason Jordan.

UPDATE: "What happens in Davos, stays in Davos." Heh.

THE LONG GAME VS. THE SHORT GAME, on Social Security. Ron Brownstein thinks that Bush is likely to lose on Social Security reform. Mickey Kaus thinks that Bush had better lose, and fast: "That is why the reports that Bush is pushing for an ambitiously expedited consideration of his proposal aren't necessarily a sign of strength, or of a cunning high-pressure Rovian strategy for victory. They may be a strategy to lose quickly, with minimal harm done to the Republican majority."

That's the short game. Bush may, in fact, lose there, too. But the long game is based on the fact that Bush has taken the "scaring seniors" bit off the table -- except for those who haven't gotten the news that people over 55 aren't affected -- and that younger voters tend to regard Social Security as somebody else's retirement program, not their own. As 20-something writer Laura Thomas noted recently in The Washington Post:

People my age are as likely to believe in Social Security as they are in Santa Claus. And, if you ask me, it would be equally naive for a twenty-something to believe in either one.

They're putting their faith in 401k plans. Bush won't win their votes in large numbers by promising to give them a bit more to invest. But by maneuvering the Democrats into becoming the party of the status quo yet again -- or maybe "the party of the AARP" is a better term -- he helps cement their minority status, and makes them send the message that they don't care about younger voters. As the long game progresses, that can only help the Republicans, and hurt the Democrats. But the real point here is that a lot of people are having trouble understanding what Bush is doing, because they haven't figured out the difference between the long game and the short game. And he's pretty clearly playing the long game.

[Speaking of long games, this was posted late because I saved it as a draft, and just noticed it had never appeared. D'oh!]

A HANDSOME APOLOGY FROM BILL MOYERS, and perhaps a lesson for some other people.

SHANTI MANGALA has some cool stuff.

HUGH HEWITT will be on CNBC's Kudlow & Cramer in a little while, talking about Eason Jordan. Kudlow also has a column on the subject.

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty has a good, sober summary of where things stand:

We’ve got two dramatically different interpretations here – the account of Rony Abovitz and Rebecca MacKinnon and Barney Frank, and the account of Eason Jordan. (Dodd’s statement appears to confirm Rony & Company but is brief; Gergen mostly confirms Rony but is sympathetic to Jordan; Richard Sambrook’s account is pretty close to Jordan’s.)

These accounts are so contradictory on so many key elements that one has no choice but to conclude one side is dramatically misrepresenting what happened.

The videotape that the Davos authorities are sitting on would solve this issue immediately.

Either Rony, MacKinnon, and Frank are passing on inaccurate accounts that will trash Jordan’s reputation, or Eason Jordan’s denial is a lie. . . .

Either Jordan said it, or he didn’t. Right now, the reputations of the five “he said it” witnesses (Rony, MacKinnon, Frank, Gergen, Dodd) – are on the line on one side, and Jordan and Sambrook’s reputation is bet on the other side.

Davos authorities, this cloud cannot hang over each side’s reputation forever. You can settle this by releasing the tape. Help us learn who’s telling the truth.

And everybody else in the media – blogs, mainstream, left, right, big, small – can help add to the pressure by politely but firmly calling on the World Economic Forum to release the tape.

Yes. Austin Bay, recently returned from Iraq and thus I guess one of those military guys (allegedly) charged with slaughtering journalists, has more thoughts.

KERRY: Can't shake "Senate-ese."

I really think the Democrats could have done better.

THE EASON JORDAN SCANDAL: Not an isolated event, according to Ed Morrissey.

THE LONG GAME VS. THE SHORT GAME: Gerard van der Leun thinks that CNN has, for the moment at least, successfully defused the Eason Jordan scandal: "The Eason Jordan vs The Bloggers match ended its first set today with a high lob set-up from Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post put away by an overhand smash by Mr. Adams of Davos who announced that the videotape of the Davos meeting, in which Jordan claimed the US Military was deliberately killing journalists in Iraq, would not be released to the public. . . . In this world, if it doesn't happen on television it doesn't happen, and without the videotape this will not happen on television."

I hate to accuse Gerard of old-media thinking, but I think that's what's going on here. It's true, of course, that without video the story won't get a lot of play on TV. But that's the short game, in which the goal is getting rid of Eason Jordan. Or hanging on to him.

The long game is different, and Jim Geraghty gets it:

What we need from the Davos conference organizers is simple - the tape of what Jordan said. It would be good to get the entire event, but really, what is at issue here is what Jordan said, and how much he backtracked.

If the Davos organizers refuse to release it, and CNN refuses to call for its release, and the BBC refuses to call for its release, and every other news agency refuses to call for its release...

...then remember this, the next time the media gets up on a high horse about the public's right to know. Remember this the next time Dick Cheney has a meeting with energy executives. Remember this the next time reporters complain about Bush not holding enough press conferences, and not doing enough interviews. Remember this the next time they talk about the importance of a free press, and an informed citizenry.

Because it's all conditional. None of this applies when the situation includes a media executive says something in a big forum that he later realizes he doesn't want the public to hear. Then all of a sudden, none of this matters, because it's bad form for other news agencies to look into the story if he wants it to go away. "Bad manners, old chap. We journalists have to stick together."

You don't need TV for those ideas to spread. And when they do -- and they are -- getting rid of Eason Jordan doesn't matter so much. Because neither does Eason Jordan. On the other hand, if the Eason Jordans of the world are all untrustworthy, self-interested boobs, and seen as such, it's going to be hard to sustain public support for press freedom. Unless, perhaps, enough people are blogging that the public sees its own face on "press freedom" and not the likes of Eason Jordan's.

JOE GANDELMAN has an Eason Jordan roundup.

ACADEMIC FREEDOM UPDATE: Are you a professor who criticizes the military or the war? Watch out -- you may be creating a hostile environment for veterans!

This is idiotic, of course, but it's the natural consequence of hostile-environment theory, and I suspect that we'll see a lot more of these shoe-on-the-other-foot complaints.

UPDATE: Some wise thoughts from a lawyerly perspective, from Beldar.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ is highly critical of Columbia University.

ANTEDILUVIAN NANOBOTS: Less than compelling.

JAMES LILEKS presents one of his rare, but always worthwhile, Fiskings of pretentious punditry.


David Rockefeller, the former chairman of Chase Manhattan and grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, who received 99 times more subsidies than the median farmer;

Scottie Pippen, professional basketball star, who received 39 times more subsidies than the median farmer;

Ted Turner, the 25th wealthiest man in America, who received 38 times more subsidies than the median farmer; and

Kenneth Lay, the ousted Enron CEO and multi-millionaire, who received 3 times more subsidies than the median farmer.

Not exactly the Joads, here.

UPDATE: Josh Claybourn doubts that the proposed cuts will ever happen.

IS GUN CONTROL DEAD? Read this from The Hill:

The expected election of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean as chairman of the Democratic National Committee this month will strike a crippling blow to the gun-control movement, lobbyists and political observers say.

Like Dean, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is a strong supporter of gun rights. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supports gun control but rarely mentioned the issue before the 2004 election. . . .

In November 2003, the Brady Campaign lambasted Dean for saying the issue of guns crossing state borders had been resolved. The group said the remark was “totally untrue and unsupportable.”

The group last year said it did not support Dean because “he has chosen to run to the right of the Democratic Party on gun issues.”

Gun-control advocates were heartened last year when Dean’s bid for president crumbled.

Read the whole thing.

CNN: "The most busted name in news." Heh.

IN THE MAIL: Peter Huber and Mark Mills' new book, The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy.

Just as I hoped that the predictions in J.D. Lasica's Darknet were wrong, I certainly hope that Huber & Mills' rather optimistic view turns out to be right.

WARD CHURCHILL UPDATE: University of Colorado Law Professor Paul Campos says that Churchill has problems with academic fraud:

To the extent that Churchill was hired because he claimed to be a Native American, he would seem to be guilty of academic fraud. But the situation is worse than this.

Thomas Brown, a professor of sociology at Lamar University, has written a paper that outlines what looks like a more conventional form of academic fraud on Churchill's part. According to Brown, Churchill fabricated a story about the U.S. Army intentionally creating a smallpox epidemic among the Mandan tribe in 1837, by simply inventing almost all of the story's most crucial facts, and then attributing these "facts" to sources that say nothing of the kind.

"One has only to read the sources that Churchill cites to realize the magnitude of his fraudulent claims for them," Brown writes. "We are not dealing with a few minor errors here. We are dealing with a story that Churchill has fabricated almost entirely from scratch. The lack of rationality on Churchill's part is mind-boggling." (Brown's essay can be read here:

Similar charges have been leveled against Churchill by University of New Mexico law professor John Lavelle, a Native American scholar who has documented what appear to be equally fraudulent claims on Churchill's part regarding the General Allotment Act, one of the most important federal laws dealing with Indian lands. (Lavelle also accuses Churchill of plagiarism).

At my institution, we don't hire people without reading their publications. We don't tenure people without reading them and sending them for outside review by leading scholars in the field. Yet Churchill was both hired and tenured -- and made department chair -- in the ethnic studies program at Colorado. I'm not sure what's more damning: If they didn't perform these checks first, or if they did, and if people on that faculty, and in that field, thought Churchill's work was just fine. As with the Bellesiles scandal, this suggests some serious problems with peer review in the discipline.

EASON JORDAN UPDATE: Roger Simon has more.

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE offers a news quiz. I wonder how Eason Jordan would do?

FARM SUBSIDY UPDATE: Fritz Schranck looks further at where the money's going. And Virginia Postrel, who challenges Hugh Hewitt and others to pay some attention to this issue, observes:

I remember when Barney Frank and Dick Armey used to team up on this issue, for all the good it did. Beating back the welfare queens of agribusiness takes more than a couple of congressional iconoclasts. For one thing, it requires senators.

Indeed. Meanwhile, farmer Kieran Lyons says bring it on.

OVER THE WEEKEND, I mentioned that the Insta-Daughter was watching Mulan II, but that I hadn't paid much attention to the plot. Blogger Kate Marie did, though, and wasn't impressed.

HEALTHCARE BLOGGING: Lots of it! Over at this week's Grand Rounds.

EASON JORDAN, QUOTE UNQUOTE: Howard Kurtz has a story on the Eason Jordan scandal in today's Washington Post.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who attended the World Economic Forum panel at which Jordan spoke, recalled yesterday that Jordan said he knew of 12 journalists who were killed by coalition forces in Iraq. At first, said Frank, "it sounded like he was saying it was official military policy to take out journalists." But Jordan later "modified" his remarks to say some U.S. soldiers did this "maybe knowing they were killing journalists, out of anger. . . . He did say he was talking about cases of deliberate killing," Frank said.

Read the whole thing, as there are some disagreements. But the stonewall seems to have cracked. Where's the video? And La Shawn Barber has noticed some interesting aspects, and Ed Morrissey thinks that Kurtz is trying too hard to give Jordan the benefit of the doubt. And Mickey Kaus, who has a lengthy analysis of Kurtz's piece, thinks so too.

UPDATE: Here's another news story that's far less kind to Jordan, from the New York Sun:

Mr. Jordan's remarks might have shocked the American attendees, but they certainly played well among some in the audience. The Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens, who covered the panel for his paper, told the Sun that after the panel concluded, Mr. Jordan was surrounded by European and Middle Eastern attendees who warmly congratulated him for his alleged "bravery and candor" in discussing the matter.

And this question from Barney Frank goes to the heart of things: "Did he have proof and if so, why hadn't CNN run with the story?"

This also goes back to the question that, as Kaus notes, the video could answer:

If the tape shows a CNN executive willing to distort the truth in the course of pandering to and inflaming unjustified anti-U.S. sentiment, then I'd say there is more than a benefit of a doubt involved.

So where's the video? The Davos people are now saying that they won't release it unless everyone there gives permission. Hmm. Would they be dragging their feet if this tape exonerated Jordan? It's hard to imagine.

There's a roundup here and an observation that Eason Jordan is re-backtracking (front-tracking?) on his accusations, here. Gerry Daly has more thoughts, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Power Line: "For now, at least, CNN undoubtedly hopes that this story has ground to a halt with the 'limited, modified hang-out' facilitated by Kurtz."

February 07, 2005

THE EASON JORDAN SCANDAL was discussed at some length on Kudlow & Cramer tonight. I've got video clips, plus a roundup, over at

And Kaus reports that Howard Kurtz will have a story in tomorrow's Washington Post.

UPDATE: And another Davos witness appears.

JACK BALKIN looks at constitutional theories of same-sex marriage.

THE PLAGUE YEARS: Local schools have been closed because of flu since Thursday. The Insta-Wife has flu. The Insta-Daughter is just over it. (I'm okay, but taking Tamiflu as a preventive measure, since I have a trip planned later this week.) My classes are notably empty, and many of the students who are there are hacking, coughing and looking miserable.

It's February.


UPDATE: Fritz Schranck has comments, too.

GARRY KASPAROV WRITES that Russia is relapsing:

Illegal expropriation is becoming institutional policy. The Duma rubberstamps Putin decrees. In the criminal courts they have brought back an old Soviet law allowing the state to confiscate the property of the convicted. Not to be outdone, tax authorities can now seize money and property from corporations or individuals without a court decision.

What is remarkable is how little official reaction there has been to Russia's slide into despotism, while institutions such as the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) and human rights organizations are openly critical of Mr. Putin. It's hard to think of a time and place in which there has been such a disconnect between NGO outrage and governmental silence.

Sigh. Europe has other priorities.

READER MELISSA ASHBURN notes that Iowahawk has done it again.

EASON JORDAN UPDATE: Chris Dodd comments:

Senator Dodd was not on the panel but was in the audience when Mr. Jordan spoke. He – like panelists Mr. Gergen and Mr. Frank – was outraged by the comments. Senator Dodd is tremendously proud of the sacrifice and service of our American military personnel.

So I guess we don't need the video, now. Do we?

PROF. BAINBRIDGE looks at UCLA's faculty diversity problems.

EASON JORDAN UPDATE: David Gergen, who was there, weighs in:

Gergen confirmed that Eason Jordan did in fact initially assert that journalists in Iraq had been targeted by military "on both sides." Gergen, who has known Jordan for some 20 years, told me Jordan "realized as soon as the words had left his mouth that he had gone too far" and "walked himself back." Gergen said as soon as he heard the assertion that journalists had been deliberately targeted, "I was startled. It's contrary to history, which is so far the other way. Our troops have gone out of their way to protect and rescue journalists."

Gergen mentioned that Jordan had just returned from Iraq and was "caught up in the tension of what was happening there. It's a raw, emotional wound for him."

Gergen said he asked Jordan point blank whether he believed the policy of the U.S. military was to sanction the targeting of journalists. Gergen said Jordan answered no, but then proceeded to speculate about a few incidents involving journalists killed in the Middle East--a discussion which Gergen decided to close down because "the military and the government weren't there to defend themselves."

Read the whole thing.

COMMENT SPAM FROM CNN? They really are getting desperate . . . .

HOMER SIMPSON AND THE LAW: Amusing, but it leaves out my favorite bit, the capital-punishment video game. Punch line: "I could have made it if I'd shown more remorse."

HERE'S YOUR CHANCE TO win Tom Maguire's money! By betting on Paul Krugman . . . .

DANIEL DREZNER NOTES AN INSTANTLY PULLED SUPER BOWL AD -- something he discovered via a blog!

DAVID CORN: I am not a Bush mole.

I believe him.

UPDATE: Tim Cavanaugh makes the case for Corn's being a counterrevolutionary wrecker, while the Myopist takes a far-sighted approach.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Robert W. Davis emails: "Maybe we should ask Eric Alterman if David Corn is a CIA plant . . ."


ANN ALTHOUSE WRITES that The Nation is "not helping the argument for separating Church and State."

ARE HOLOCAUST VICTIMS BIGOTS? Depends on who you ask, apparently.

EASON JORDAN UPDATE: Barney Frank is talking:

Rep. Frank said Eason Jordan did assert that there was deliberate targeting of journalists by the U.S. military. After Jordan made the statement, Rep. Frank said he immediately "expressed deep skepticism." Jordan backed off (slightly), Rep. Frank said, "explaining that he wasn't saying it was the policy of the American military to target journalists, but that there may have been individual cases where they were targeted by younger personnel who were not properly disciplined."

Rep. Frank said he didn't pay attention to the audience reaction at the time of the panel, but recalled that Sen. Dodd was "somewhat disturbed" and "somewhat exercised" and that moderator David Gergen also said Jordan's assertions were "disturbing if true." I have a call in to Sen. Dodd's office and sent an e-mail inquiry to Gergen.

I asked Rep. Frank again if his recollection was that Jordan initially maintained that the military had a deliberate policy of targeting journalists. Rep. Frank affirmed that, noting that Jordan subsequently backed away orally and in e-mail that it was official policy, but "left open the question" of whether there were individual cases in which American troops targeted journalists.

After the panel was over and he returned to the U.S., Rep. Frank said he called Jordan and expressed willingness to pursue specific cases if there was any credible evidence that any American troops targeted journalists. "Give me specifics," Rep. Frank said he told Jordan.

Rep. Frank has not yet heard back yet from Jordan.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: More, including conflicting stories, here. And there's this observation: "The blogosphere is effectively being stonewalled." Of course, that stonewalling is necessary probably tells us something important about what's going on.


MORE: This seems a fair inference on the facts so far:

Well, nobody has heard from Jordan, and the reason is that he doesn't have any evidence to back up his charges. Instead, he and CNN want to withdraw the charges, claiming that he was misunderstood.

This certainly seems like a serious embarrassment for CNN already.

IN THE MAIL: An advance copy of J.D. Lasica's Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation. Looks pretty good, though I hope that Lasica's dark view of the digital future is wrong.

OUR "FRIENDS" THE SAUDIS: Fomenting hatred in the United States.


When I left office, there was enough money to keep Social Security going till 2053, enough money to keep Medicare going tail 2027, through half the life of the baby boomers. I don't know what the latest numbers are going to show but they won't be good. If we don't modify the tax cut to have more tax cuts now but we reinstate fiscal responsibility over the long run, we're going to be in real trouble there. So, what's our option? If you don't like privatizing Social Security and I don't like it very much, but you want to do something to try to increase the rate of return, what are your options? Well one thing you could do is to give people one or two percent of the payroll tax, with the same options that Federal employees have with their retirement accounts; where you have three mutual funds that almost always perform as well or better than the market and a fourth option to buy government bonds, so you get the guaranteed social security return and a hundred percent safety just like you have with Social Security.

(Via Jon Henke)


LONGTIME READERS OF INSTAPUNDIT know that for a while I spent a lot of time on the Michael Bellesiles / Arming America fraud scandal. One of the things that burned me about that affair was that when professors of constitutional law started raising questions about Bellesiles' book, professional historians responded rather snootily that legal scholars didn't know anything about real scholarship, in real peer-reviewed journals. In light of that, this review by David Garrow in The Wilson Quarterly (of Peter Hoffer's Past Imperfect) sounds a cautionary note for historians:

In context, then, the most troubling questions concern not Bellesiles’s intentions or mental processes but the unquestioning credence other historians accorded his work. Hoffer, a history professor at the University of Georgia, states that it’s “almost impossible” for any journal or book editor to “double-check manuscript or archival reference notes” so as to confirm the content, or indeed the existence, of cited records. But anyone who has ever written for an academic law review knows that unpaid student editors at those journals painstakingly review photocopies of every footnoted source. A leading history journal supported by a major university could well do the same, even if a similar practice would be prohibitively expensive for most university presses and commercial publishing houses.

The same statistical presentation of supposed colonial-era probate records that proved to be the most fanciful part of Arming America appeared in Bellesiles’s earlier article, but no professional historians raised warning flags. When questions about his book finally mushroomed, Bellesiles magnified and compounded his misdeeds by concocting a succession of increasingly implausible excuses for why he could not produce supportive documentation. The many historians who had unquestioningly jumped to Bellesiles’s defense quietly slithered away as the conclusion that Bellesiles had “manipulated them and betrayed their trust” became inescapable. The Bancroft Prize was rescinded, and Knopf withdrew Arming America from publication.

"Painstakingly" is the word, as anyone who has written a law review article can probably attest.

A RATHER NEGATIVE TAKE on the Columbia Journalism Review, in the new Washington Examiner.

YOUR WEEKLY ECONOBLOGGING ROUNDUP: This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up!


Two years ago, the Federal Flight Deck Officer program began training pilots who wanted to carry guns on flights to protect the cockpit.

Aviation sources tell Time that more than 4,000 pilots are authorized to carry guns, and each day they fly armed on more flights than do air marshals. The gun-toting pilots, who fly unidentified, now constitute the fourth-largest federal law-enforcement group in the U.S. Pilots in the program, as well as the Transportation Security Administration (tsa), which runs it, claim it has been a big success.

And the bad news:

But some pilots complain that the tsa has never embraced the idea, providing little follow-up after training and denying them basic intelligence data like the weekly suspicious-incident reports. "The government wants it both ways," says one pilot. "They want us to protect aircraft, but they don't want to pay much for it, cover us for injuries or even really treat us as law-enforcement officers." tsa officials insist they are proud of the program and are reviewing how to offer more assistance and training.

I think it's pretty clear that the bureaucrats never really liked this program, and haven't moved any faster than they had to. And -- as Bush's failure to mention the program when rounding up security improvements in the State of the Union suggests -- it hasn't been a very big priority with the White House, either.

UPDATE: A reader from the Hill emails:

The opposition at TSA is much stronger than indicated by TIME. TSA has set up so many roadblocks for this program and even sent an email to pilots more than a year ago threatening them to stop complaining to Congress. Some of the highlights: They setup only one training site in the entire US, forcing pilots to take leave and pay their own way to get there. Rules in place require pilots to put their guns in lockboxes (even though Air Marshalls can carry them on their person) and force them to check them as regular baggage when they are not piloting a flight, leading to hundreds of lost guns at baggage claim. Also, pilots who sign up for the program (80% of whom are former military or law enforcement) must complete an intrusive psychological exam, on top of the one they take to be a commercial pilot. If the pilots fail the exam, the results can be given to their employer, but the pilots are not allowed to see them. The original number of pilots that signed up for the program was in the tens of thousands, but most dropped out after seeing all the hurdles and hassle that TSA has thrown up...

Sigh. That's pretty lame. But that's the TSA.

So how about a little White House leadership on this? Anyone? Bush? Anyone?

JAMES LILEKS: "This really is the future I wanted. Although I expected longer battery life."

UPDATE: Maybe he needs one of these!

LONG TAILS AND HIGH TRUST: Ed Driscoll looks at the blogosphere in light of Chris Anderson's formulation.


AS MICKEY KAUS ONCE SAID, never lie to a man with access to NEXIS.

UPDATE: It's probably a bad idea to libel a man with access to Google, too . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: For some reason the second link isn't working. It's at Volokh, currently the top item.


A metaphorical drought also has broken throughout Afghanistan. As Kim Hart of the American Journalism Review writes, "with the establishment of a new government and building of infrastructure, a continuing U.S. military presence and the hunt for terrorists, Afghanistan is rife with stories of long-term consequence." Unfortunately, as Hart notes, there's hardly anyone left in Afghanistan to report it.

As the old saying goes, all dressed up and nowhere to go. Just when, after decades of bloodshed and despair, Afghanistan is finally getting back on its feet, the media have already moved on. But as citizens of countries whose servicemen and -women liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban yoke and continue to help rebuild of the country, we deserve to be told when all that blood, sweat and money is bringing good results.

Fortunately, Arthur Chrenkoff is rounding up what reporting is available.

February 06, 2005

PROPOSED CUTS IN FARM SUBSIDIES: Good idea. The Nebraska Guitar Militia will be pleased that there may be a bit less "Farming the Government" in the future. Though I wouldn't bet the, er, farm just yet.

UPDATE: Virginia Postrel:

Will other Republicans stand up for fiscal responsibility and market principles? Will conservative pundits make a big deal of this issue? Will the libertarians and liberals who've scored the Bush administration for its earlier fiscal (and trade) foolishness? In other words, is there any kind of vocal, principled coalition to balance the concentrated interests of subsidized agriculture?

We'll find out, won't we?

YES, IT'S A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT GAME THEY'RE PLAYING: SKBubba notes something that I had noticed -- that the Bush Administration let news of Rumsfeld's offer to resign after Abu Ghraib leak out now, when it was too late to help them before the election, and observes:

I thought that the Gonzales nomination was being offered up as a sacrificial lamb for Abu Ghraib to take the heat off of Bush and Rumsfeld and that his confirmation defeat would put an end to the whole sordid affair.

Now that he's confirmed, and apparently nobody gives a damn, Rumsfeld comes out and takes responsibility. Go figure. Maybe he was Plan B? These guys are playing a level of 3-D Vulcan chess that I can't even comprehend.

I think they're playing the long game, not the short game. And here's another example: the retroactive increase in death benefits paid to the families of servicepeople killed in action. They waited until after the election, when doing it sooner might have gotten them some votes. At a guess, I'd say that they want the troops to know it's genuine, and not just political -- and that's why they waited.

Stephen Bainbridge notes that Michael Kinsley is confused, too. Well, if SKB is confused, I'd expect Kinsley to be flummoxed.

THOUGHTS ON THE WARD CHURCHILL STORY, and the future of academic freedom, over at

Meanwhile, Churchill is showing his usual diplomacy: "A professor who likened World Trade Center victims to a notorious Nazi suggested to a magazine that more terror attacks may be necessary to radicalize Americans to fight the misuse of U.S. power."


GEORGIA was yesterday plunged into crisis after it was revealed a political associate of dead prime minister Zurab Zhvania had apparently committed suicide.

There were fears of a return to the old Soviet ways of dispensing with political foes by alleged accident or suicide after the third death in the government in as many days.

Zhvania, a moderating force in the Georgian government, and a colleague died apparently of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty heater last week.

Next somebody will fall down an elevator shaft or something. (Via Publius Pundit).

THEY'RE LIVEBLOGGING THE SUPER BOWL at AnkleBitingPundits and at Capt. Ed's.

UPDATE: Hey, they're blogging it at USA Today, too!

ANOTHER UPDATE: More liveblogging here (focusing on commercials) and here. And a list of livebloggers here, courtesy of

MORE PRAISE for John Scalzi's book, Old Man's War, from reader Al Reasin:

I just finished reading Old Man’s War. What an entertaining and engrossing book. I couldn’t put it down until I was finished reading it. I hope Mr. Scalzi writes again with the same characters. Ah, what an amazing universe he weaves.

I liked it very much, and so far I don't think I"ve heard from anyone who didn't agree.

ORANGE REVOLUTIONS IN CENTRAL ASIA: I'm not sure those can be pulled off just yet. But we should be supporting them.

UPDATE: Plans for elections in Haiti, too. It's even harder for me to be optimistic there, but it's worth a try.

MY GOODNESS: There's now an entire blog devoted to the Eason Jordan matter, which seems like a big deal to me. I wonder how this will fare in comparison to the unwritten blacklist that Gerard Van der Leun describes.

It seems to me that if Jordan was misunderstood, he should be working hard to get the video of his presentation out. That would clear up any misunderstanding, wouldn't it?

UPDATE: Interesting comparison of how much attention the James Dobson / SpongeBob story got in relation to the near-blackout of Eason Jordan's remarks.

JACK BALKIN IS UNDERWHELMED with the reasoning of the New York gay marriage opinion I linked the other day.

UPDATE: Related thoughts from one of Balkin's students.

BELDAR is blogging again.

WHY DON'T I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY about Max Schmeling's death? Er, why would I? It's not really my kind of subject. Schmeling comes off pretty well in my law school classmate Chris Mead's book, Champion Joe Louis: A Biography, which was excerpted as a cover story in Sports Illustrated when it came out. But I don't know much more than that.

MICKEY KAUS writes that it's not about the nipple:

I watched the game with a group of non-evangelical, non-moralistic dads who were uniformly horrified. The problem for them wasn't sex--their kids see flesh all the time in videos--but a form of sexism, not prudery but piggishness. Surely there are some types of behavior--homophobia, perhaps, or racism, or Republicanism--that even Frank Rich wouldn't want implicitly endorsed during a telecast watched by most of the country's teens and pre-teens. Yet the press has effectively recast this complicated issue as an uncomplicated case of "Nipple-gate," of blue-noses overreacting to the sight of a breast. No wonder red staters respond negatively when New Yorkers call them simplistic.

The only two forces in American politics are joyless religious prudes and the brave cosmopolitans who resist them. Everyone knows that! At least, everyone who reads Frank Rich, and nothing else . . . .

WINDS OF CHANGE has some questions for antiwar progressives. Here's one: "What would have been the best, most legitimate way for Iraq to achieve democratic elections? Can it be applied to Burma, North Korea, Iran, and other dictatorships?"

UNSCAM UPDATE: Closing in on Kofi?

ACADEMIC FREEDOM UPDATE: Jim Lindgren has a lengthy post on professor Hans Hoppe of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, whose story I linked earlier. Lindgren: "As with so many of these stories of supposed academic misconduct, one must be careful not to assume that the whole story has been told, since usually only one side is talking publicly. But if Hoppe indeed said what he says he said and no more, then I think that it is the administrators at UNLV who deserve reprimands. They should have explained to the student that such claims are clearly within academic freedom, whether true or false. I have no doubt that what Hoppe said would be offensive to some students—and indeed, he is probably wrong on the merits of most of his claims—but his claims are empirical ones. The proper response of someone who is angry with Hoppe is to gather evidence tending to show that he is wrong, and to challenge Hoppe to offer his own evidence to support his claims."

Judging by Hoppe's online teaching evaluations (a dubious source, I'll admit) not everyone is offended. Though why students should have a right not to be offended -- and why only certain types of "offense" count -- is beyond me.

UPDATE: Power Line, meanwhile, features a skeptical email claiming that "academic freedom" is largely illusory these days. And Roger Kimball writes that Ward Churchill is not the problem.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Evidence for the weakness of academic freedom, here: "A graduate student at LeMoyne College has been expelled for writing a paper on his opinion that corporal punishment should be allowed in the classroom. "

NORM GERAS has transcribed some Iraqis' comments on the election from the BBC. Interesting reading.

ED MORRISSEY remains Eason Jordan central. Just keep scrolling, as he offers quite a few links suggesting that the story will hit the Big Media next week. Meanwhile, here's a column on the subject from Jack Kelly in the Toledo Blade. And Hugh Hewitt is all over this story, too.

WALTER OLSON WRITES that Mayor Bloomberg's overreaching is likely to backfire:

In January, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed a bill passed by the City Council making gun makers and dealers liable for crimes perpetrated with their products unless they adopt a "code of conduct" that, among other things, would limit the number of handguns they can sell to one person and require background checks on prospective buyers at gun shows. The strange thing about this new law is that it applies not only to sales within New York City, but also to sales in other states and cities. . . .

When the issue returns in this year's (more pro-gun) Congress, Mr. Bloomberg's new law is likely to serve as a prime exhibit of the case for federal pre-emption on the issue of gun liability. The new city law makes it absolutely clear that anti-gun enclaves intend to inflict their will on other states. Lawmakers from the rest of the country will then, appropriately, move to defend their states' preference through federal legislation.

The mayor and City Council of New York seem to think they can make laws that bind the rest of the country. That's an arrogant stance - and when the rest of the country is heard from, it's apt to be a losing stance as well.


EUGENE VOLOKH: Who benefits from academic freedom? You do!

Meanwhile, I agree that this Ohio legislation is a bad idea, but I also agree that it's a warning shot that shouldn't be ignored.