February 19, 2005

AUSTIN BAY OBSERVES a historical turning point.


For decades the national conversation in most western countries has been directed by a few talking heads. Newspapers play important roles but all the evidence suggests that broadcasters have possessed the greatest potential to frame public debate. British politicians have known that communicating their message depends upon getting the nod from a small number of powerful figures in the broadcast media.

The editor of BBC1's six o'clock news bulletin can make a minister's day by putting his department's latest announcement at the front of the bulletin. Hearing Huw Edwards say something positive about that afternoon's policy launch will even put a smile on Alastair Campbell's face. . . .

But the blogosphere will become a force in Britain, and it could ignite many new forces of conservatism. The internet's automatic level playing field gives conservatives opportunities that mainstream media have often denied them.

An online community of bloggers performs the same function as yesteryear's town meetings. Through the tradition of town hall meetings, officials were held to account by local people. Blogger communities are going to be much more powerful. They will draw together not only local people but patients who have waited and waited for NHS care. They will organise parents of disabled children who oppose Labour's closure of special-needs schools and evangelical Christians who see their beliefs caricatured by ignorant commentators.

All this should put the fear of God into the metropolitan elites. For years there have been widening gaps between the governing class and the governed and between the publicly funded broadcasters and the broadcasted to.

Interesting, and since the gap is probably wider in Britain than in America, it's certainly possible that the impact will be greater -- though not, I'd imagine, if the establishment media can help it.

PAUL MUSGRAVE has a roundup of developments in East Asia.

I HAVEN'T FINISHED SUPERLUMINAL yet, as events have intervened. But I'm still enjoying it. When I'm done, I'm going to read The Curse of Cain, an alt-history Lincoln-assassination thriller that's blurbed (on the advance copy they sent me) as "Civil War fiction's The Day of the Jackal." It looks as if it ought to be pretty good. Yes, it's "escape reading." But I've always been an escape reader.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING PIECE BY JOSEPH CURL on the Gannon/Guckert affair, featuring interviews with a lot of members from the White House press corps who worked alongside Gannon/Guckert. It makes for very interesting reading.

Here's more from Roger Simon.

UPDATE: More here.

LAST NIGHT wasn't as uncomfortable as I feared. I wound up sharing the bed with Helen. Back when we were single, we often shared twin beds that were smaller than this, and it was actually very nice, and snuggly, despite the regular "wake-up-for-your-sleeping-pill" hospital style interruptions. I don't think we'll trade in the king-sized bed at home for a full, but it was a good way to spend the night, especially at a time like this.

As you can see from the photo to the right, Helen has been keeping herself amused. I'm home at the moment, to pick up some more clothes for her and to rescue the cats from durance vile. I'm heading back over there later, but I'm going to post a few blog entries so that you all won't be totally bored.

And for those who asked about using the Verizon card in the hospital -- given many hospitals' strict anti-cellphone policies -- I asked. They told me that it was OK. The older analog-style cellphones screw up their telemetry, and they don't like to rely on people knowing what kind of phone they carry. But the Verizon card posed no problems, and it definitely makes you feel less isolated -- especially when people are emailing you.

Thanks very much to the many, many people who have emailed. And I have to say -- without taking anything away from anyone else -- that I've been particularly touched by the nice emails and posts from people who are often on the other side of blogospheric disagreements, people like Ted Barlow, Jack O'Toole, Randy Paul, Jeralyn Merritt, and Oliver Willis. Thanks.

A WHILE BACK, I quoted Indian Country Today as saying that Ward Churchill was sought out for his views, which led a few readers to argue that this wasn't necessarily so. But it's looking more and more as if it's the case, though it's also possible that his claimed Indian ancestry was the real attraction. Either way, the University certainly seems to have been anxious to hire and tenure him.

The Rocky Mountain News reports:

Ward Churchill received tenure without the usual scrutiny at a time when the University of Colorado was anxious to add minority teachers, one player in his hiring said Thursday.

Churchill, who claims American Indian heritage, was tenured in the communications department effective the fall of 1991 - a meteoric leap from a job he had held for more than a decade in a program that provides tutoring and counseling for minority students. . . .

Bowers said Churchill was interviewed by every faculty member in communications. Professors in the department read some of Churchill's works, but not all of them, he said.

They concentrated on Churchill's writings about the standoff between the federal government and the American Indian Movement at Wounded Knee, Bowers said.

"He wasn't writing general theory, he was writing specific cases. But specific cases are of interest to academics," Bowers said.

Tenure review typically includes an evaluation of the candidate's published works by scholars from other campuses. That didn't happen in Churchill's case, Bowers said.

More here:

Ward Churchill's quick rise to a tenured position came as a surprise to the former University of Colorado official who suggested him for a temporary faculty position in 1990.

Churchill had been working for more than a decade in a program that helps minority students when then-Vice Chancellor Kaye Howe recommended him for a one-semester appointment teaching Indian studies.

Eleven months later, Churchill leaped to a coveted tenured position.

"This just doesn't compute for me," Howe said Wednesday of Churchill's quick rise to tenure. "I don't understand that."

Tenure is usually granted only after a "laborious" process, she said.

Apparently -- as Indian Country indicated -- they were afraid of losing him:

In 1990, CU officials apparently considered Churchill an expert in American Indian studies.

"Ward is certainly being courted by other universities as a significant Indian scholar and teacher. It would be a shame to lose him because of a standard which may be irrelevant in this case," Howe wrote Middleton in an e-mail, referring to Churchill's lack of a doctorate. . . .

The documents released by CU do not explain why Churchill was able to avoid the normal process for getting tenure, which gives a high measure of job security to faculty. Scholars have questioned Churchill's conclusions for years, and some have suggested he lied about being an Indian to land his job at CU.

I'll bet the CU folks wish they'd lost him to another school now.

UPDATE: Ouch. That smarts.

February 18, 2005

THE VERIZON WIRELESS CARD is great when you're stuck in a hospital. Helen, who is recovering well from her procedure, just finished checking her email and surfing. Checking my own email, I just noticed several readers pointing out that there's all sorts of interesting stuff happening in Lebanon:

The multi-sectarian Lebanese opposition Friday demanded Syria end its military presence and called for dismissal of the government.

"In response to the policy of intimidation and terrorization by the Lebanese authorities and the Syrian authorities, the Lebanese opposition declares the launching of the democratic and peaceful uprising for independence," the opposition said in a statement.

Very interesting. There's also this delightful twist: "Lebanese opposition declares intifada." Heh.

Meanwhile, I observe that hospitals are boring and uncomfortable places, something that I have noticed before, and suggest that every room should have a comfy chair and a high-speed Internet connection. This room, alas, has neither. Fortunately, I brought my own Internet connection. I wish I'd brought a chair, too . . . .

UPDATE: Yeah, one of these, maybe.

TERM LIMITS for Supreme Court justices? I don't know what I think about this idea.

J.D. LASICA LOOKS AT ETHICS, BLOGGING, AND JOURNALISM, and Tom Maguire explores media convergence and the Washington Post.

More on the Post, here. And here's a roundup of media / blog relations that seems to cover all the bases.

HOSPIBLOGGING, CONT'D: I'm back in the cafeteria, while they move Helen to a room. The results, unfortunately, weren't great: Her rhythm problems were worse than expected, and not amenable to ablation. They're keeping her in the hospital until Monday when she'll get an implantable pacemaker/cardioverter. The good news is that those things are available and -- as several readers have emailed me -- quite good. The bad thing is that she needs one. She came through the procedure fine, and is in good spirits. And thanks again to the literally hundreds of people who have emailed their good wishes.


Remember this? "I make the following prediction: In 20 or 25 years (it might not even take that long) all the people who were 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."

Exhibit A, from Jay Nordlinger in NRO:

“I was reading an op-ed piece by Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post, and he began by quoting Jon Stewart, the comedian, who said, "We did it! We had the election. And now we can say to Iraq, 'Goodbye!'"…If it had been up to Jon Stewart and his ilk, that election in Iraq would never have taken place.

"We did it!" indeed.

Heh. Success has a thousand fathers. With people coming forward to claim paternity, I guess we know we're succeeding.

UPDATE: Reader Thomas Castle says that the Jon Stewart quote is out of context:

You probably didn't see the episode in question, but you should know that your quoted comments on Jon Stewart are totally out of context. On that episode, which I saw, Jon Stewart basically asks Fareed Zakaria, How can those of us who opposed this thing from day one respond when we see joyous Iraqis casting their first votes? He openly and honestly states he was always against it, yet is happy for them nonetheless. This is a perfectly respectable and refreshingly honest position coming from someone who's been very critical of the Bush administration (and rightly so).

I didn't see it, but if the above quote is misleading I'm happy to correct the record.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Several readers disagree with Castle. Here's the video link, so you can make up your own mind. Watching it myself, I don't think that Stewart's "we" was really taking credit, but I think you could read it both ways, and I'm not at my best in terms of that kind of judgment at the moment.

WAS DEMOCRATIZATION A POST FACTO ARGUMENT for the liberation of Iraq? Norm Geras notes that some people are saying so, but he points out that they're wrong.

MILLIONAIRES AND POLITICIANS: Arnold Kling looks at a conflict in values.


Thirty-seven-percent (37%) of Americans have a favorable opinion of the United Nations. That's down from 44% in a November survey.

Thirty-seven percent (37%) of Americans also believe UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan should resign. A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults finds that 26% disagree and say he should not resign. Another 37% are undecided.

Just 54% of Americans are following news coverage of this story "very" or "somewhat" closely.

Among those following the story very closely, 63% believe Annan should resign. Twenty-eight percent (28%) say he should not.

The oil-for-food scandal is taking its toll on the international institution. Forty-two percent (42%) believe Saddam Hussein used the program to bribe nations such as France and Russia. Just 12% think he did not use it for bribery.

UNScam is taking its toll.

ED CONE notes that Ward Churchill has a bit of a thing for Eichmann.

THEO VAN GOGH'S MURDER: Here's a report that Norwegian Intelligence says there was an Al Qaeda connection.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES is up! And there's still plenty of time to plan dinner.

ROGER SIMON HAS DOUBTS that the Volcker Commission will get to the bottom of the UNScam oil-for-food scandal.

KNOW THY ENEMY: BLOGS! Frank J. offers advice and information for journalists and public figures.


I REALLY LIKE THIS PICTURE from Fletch. But I'm a little suspicious of this one. Er, and this one, too . . . .

HOSPIBLOGGING: Last week it was Ed Morrissey; this week it's me. The Insta-Wife is here for a heart catheterization -- they'll be doing an electrophysiology study and, perhaps, an ablation to deal with some rhythm problems that have been giving her trouble. As usual, this has started at an ungodly hour. She's already back being prepped; I'll get to see her before she goes in.

Blogging may be light, or may not -- it's not like there's much else to do around here, besides read old magazines (Remember "Bennifer?" They live on in hospital waiting rooms . . . .).

UPDATE: It's now about 7:15 and they've wheeled her off. Thanks to all the people who emailed with prayers and good wishes. And thanks to Jeff. Capt. Ed emails that he hopes hospiblogging isn't the next big thing. I agree. Even tireblogging is better!

ANOTHER UPDATE: It's now a bit after 8. I ducked out and grabbed a bit to eat, blogging from the cafeteria, and now I'm back in the waiting room. (Rule Number One in these situations is to seize opportunities to take care of your own needs for food, etc., when you can, since you're often stuck where you can't.) They just called to say that things have started, and that she's doing fine. Thanks again for all the emails with good wishes and support.

MORE: Now it's 9:40. They just said that everything's going well, but that she'll be in for a while longer. I think I'll go get some coffee -- I've been up since before 4 a.m.

BATESLINE has responded to the legal threats from the Tulsa World. This post includes a letter from the Media Bloggers Association's general counsel, Ron Coleman.

February 17, 2005

I'M NOT SURE WHY, exactly, but this week an awful lot of people have sent nice emails, and donations, saying that they appreciate InstaPundit. Thanks. I appreciate them a lot.

I'M QUITE A FEW PAGES into Superluminal, which I mentioned earlier, and liking it pretty well so far.

ED MORRISSEY has an article in The Weekly Standard.

WHAT HAPPENS IN AMERICA, stays in America. And that's how it ought to be.

EAT YOUR HEART OUT, Ward Churchill! That was after my earlier days in the business.

IS IT JUST ME, or does "somewhere between meltdown and release" sound kind of, well, hot?

HERE'S A UKRAINE UPDATE from Le Sabot Post-Moderne.

MICKEY KAUS: "Advantage: VodkaPundit!" Indeed.

COLBY COSH on Arthur Miller: "When I think about the man who wrote plays about how capitalism thwarts human aspirations, and then got married to Marilyn Monroe, I'm afraid about all I can do is giggle."


I THINK THE ANSWER is "fairly typical."

TOM MAGUIRE suggests that Maureen Dowd needs to hire a good blogger.

THE MANOLO TAKES ON the Castro. Heh.

UPDATE: I don't know what The Manolo would say about these shoes. Well, actually, I think I do. . . .

THIS is mostly an example of why finding "links" between people and organizations is an overrated activity.

UPDATE: Okay, well, this makes it pretty funny.

A WHILE BACK, I linked to Megan McArdle's pooh-poohing of the Media Matters claim that Brit Hume misrepresented FDR's statements on social security. Now Al Franken is charged with misquoting Hume.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum says no.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Nick Schulz weighs in:

Lastly, rather than being an attack on the New Deal -- "destroy"ing FDR's America, as Krugman alleged -- the kinds of changes initiated by the Bush administration can just as easily be considered an expansion of the welfare state. Up until now, the welfare state has given Americans only income support. Bush's proposal would have it give Americans the opportunity to accumulate wealth, as well. But it is an expansion of the welfare state that reduces the public's dependence on the state -- which may be why some of FDR's self-styled heirs hate it so.

Of course, none of this would be an issue with my proposal for Social Security reform.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Matthew Henken is excessively optimistic about the state of our political discourse: "My first thought on reading your headline was, 'Al Franken was quoting David Hume?'"

MORE: Steve Verdon has a request for Al Franken.

LIFE ON MARS: Phil Bowermaster wonders why this story isn't getting more attention:

A pair of NASA scientists told a group of space officials at a private meeting here Sunday that they have found strong evidence that life may exist today on Mars, hidden away in caves and sustained by pockets of water. . . .

What Stoker and Lemke have found, according to several attendees of the private meeting, is not direct proof of life on Mars, but methane signatures and other signs of possible biological activity remarkably similar to those recently discovered in caves here on Earth.

If it's not green-skinned alien babes -- preferably with White House press passes -- the Big Media folks probably don't care much. Still, as Phil observes: "If, like me, you suspect that there is probably life elsewhere in the universe, what does it say about how abundant life may be if we just happen to find some on, oh, you know...the next planet over? "

On the other hand, as this report from Jules Crittenden notes (and as Phil suggests, too) it's partly a case of caution lest the story not pan out.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans claiming initial jobless benefits fell unexpectedly by 2,000 last week to the lowest level in more than four years as the U.S. labor market continued to strengthen, a government report showed Thursday.

First-time claims for state unemployment insurance aid dropped for the third consecutive time, to 302,000, in the week ended Feb. 12 from 304,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department said. It said there were no special factors to account for the drop in claims.

Last week's decline marks the lowest level since October 2000, before the economy tipped into recession.

Sounds good to me, anyway. (Via Ace).

MY SOCIAL SECURITY COLUMN YESTERDAY led a couple of readers to recommend Ray Kurzweil & Terry Grossman's book, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever. Summed up, Kurzweil suggests that if you do things we know will help you live longer now -- chiefly diet and exercise stuff, though I think he gets a bit carried away on supplementation, etc. -- you have a chance of lasting long enough to benefit from more significant life-extension technologies in the future.

True enough, at least within limits. It's hard to see how this could be put to work on a society-wide basis, though. And I'd be against efforts to try, as the health-Nazis are already out of control.


WHEN 35 Greenpeace protesters stormed the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) yesterday they had planned the operation in great detail. What they were not prepared for was the post-prandial aggression of oil traders who kicked and punched them back on to the pavement.

“We bit off more than we could chew. They were just Cockney barrow boy spivs. Total thugs,” one protester said, rubbing his bruised skull. “I’ve never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view.”

Another said: “I took on a Texan Swat team at Esso last year and they were angels compared with this lot.” Behind him, on the balcony of the pub opposite the IPE, a bleary-eyed trader, pint in hand, yelled: “Sod off, Swampy.”

Apparently, they went in without a plan, and found the inhabitants less receptive than they had expected.

UPDATE: Reader J.P. Hrutky likes the "Sod off, swampy" line: "I think that this is a nice neat rally cry. Bumper stickers, anyone?" Heh.


STAY-AT-HOME DAD JAMES LILEKS Fisks the Newsweek story on stay-at-home moms:

When it comes to expectations about gender and roles and accomplishments and the latest theories about childrearing, I have a secret mantra:

I don’t care.

I know, I know. Easy for me to say. But shout it out loud! I DON'T CARE! Feels good, no? Now meet my hero. Don’t miss the last line. They don’t get it. Even if they ordered it and put it on their platinum Amex, they wouldn’t know where to have it delivered.

You know, in retrospect, I wonder if some will think this is somehow anti-women. Can't help that. But the entire article seems anti-women, to me. I live in a world of moms, and their sense of ingenuity and amusement are a constant source of delight.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: More on the Newsweek article, from a working mom, here.

CANON UPS THE STAKES, and lowers the prices in the Digital SLR competition.

Competition: I love that! More here.


NOBODY TELL ATRIOS, but my secret is out. And James Lileks'.

UPDATE: The Insta-Wife's take: "You look good as a stripper!" Heh. Indeed.

BLOGS AND MEDIA: Elizabeth Spiers has some thoughts inspired by the Popular Mechanics conspiracy-debunking effort.

UPDATE: Related thoughts from Hugh Hewitt -- who seems determined to instruct the Wall Street Journal folks in the error of their ways -- and from Peggy Noonan (no party-line approach at the WSJ!) as well:

"Salivating morons." "Scalp hunters." "Moon howlers." "Trophy hunters." "Sons of Sen. McCarthy." "Rabid." "Blogswarm." "These pseudo-journalist lynch mob people."

This is excellent invective. It must come from bloggers. But wait, it was the mainstream media and their maidservants in the elite journalism reviews, and they were talking about bloggers!

Those MSMers have gone wild, I tell you! The tendentious language, the low insults. It's the Wild Wild West out there. We may have to consider legislation.

When you hear name-calling like what we've been hearing from the elite media this week, you know someone must be doing something right. The hysterical edge makes you wonder if writers for newspapers and magazines and professors in J-schools don't have a serious case of freedom envy.

Heh. Read the whole thing.

ED CONE says that the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is in a state of sad decline.

"ONCE I WENT INTO MY PAJAMAS I felt a strange motivation for writing:" Iraqi blogger Omar proves that the magical power of sleepwear to promote blogging crosses national boundaries . . . .

IT'S SUSAN ESTRICH VS. MICHAEL KINSLEY in the Washington Examiner. And both Cathy Seipp and Charlotte Allen have related thoughts.

UPDATE: Here's the full-length text of Estrich's letter.


For another, it means that the mainstream media would be wise to cultivate relationships with bloggers, rather than attack them. MSM newspapers should encourage bloggers to link to stories, and teevee news stations should make their stories and video packages easily linkable.


UPDATE: Michael Silence says that Bill is comparing apples and oranges. That's right (and he's using Alexa rankings, which I regard as somewhat dubious). But I think his bottom-line point still holds, and in fact I think Michael agrees with that, too.

Meanwhile, it's worth reading these observations by Stephen Green.

LIFE ON MARS: Some further thoughts over at


But it isn’t just administration secrecy that explains why Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo haven’t helped the Democrats politically. Some Democrats say torture may in some cases be necessary, although no Democrat has claimed that the depravity in the Abu Ghraib photos was one of those cases.

Last June, in the immediate aftermath of the Abu Ghraib revelations, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said at a hearing of the Judiciary Committee, “If we knew that there was a nuclear bomb hidden in an American city and we believed that some kind of torture, fairly severe maybe, would give us a chance of finding that bomb before it went off, my guess is most Americans and most senators, maybe all, would say, ‘Do what you have to do.’”

Schumer added, “It's easy to sit back in the armchair and say that torture can never be used. But when you're in the foxhole, it's a very different deal.”

Yeah, when you're to the left of Charles Schumer and Oliver Willis on the torture issue, you're, well . . . aligned with me. And that's not going to get you anywhere politically.

February 16, 2005

BE VERY AFRAID: Jerry Brown is blogging. I think he'll turn out to be well-suited to the medium.

(Via Doc Searls).


I must say I find it utterly repugnant for a political figure to make a big public show of upgrading his marriage to a "covenant marriage." I don't particularly approve of the trend of private celebrations that involve some married couple renewing their wedding vows. (What are you saying about vows if you have to renew a vow?) But for a state governor to participate in a spectacle like this, thrusting his private life into a gigantic rally, is just appalling. . . . How utterly unromantic and tasteless! And what a ridiculous notion of the role of government in the lives of individuals!


UPDATE: John Scalzi has further thoughts.

A "FAKE BLOG" from the Associated Press? Ouch:

AP have obviously and spectacularly failed to understand what 'syndication' means in the blog sense or what a blog actually is. And what's worse, the entries I've read so far are just not very good. Whilst it's true that I have read drivel less interesting in my years as a blogger, this poor copy of Wonkette is written by someone who is supposedly a professional writer and it really should be better.

It's not as easy as it looks . . . . (Via Wizbang).

IN RESPONSE TO JOE CONASON, Professor Bainbridge crunches the numbers. And asks a question about news judgment.

THE OTHER DAY I MENTIONED JOHN GARTNER'S NEW BOOK, The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a little) Craziness and (a lot of) Success in America. Now Daniel Gross has a review in Slate, concluding: "Gartner is right that hypomanic first movers matter a lot, and that we need a few more. But we shouldn't forget the huge contributions of the more sober-minded folks who follow behind and pick up the pieces."


THIS ARTICLE from The Australian on blogs, Eason Jordan, etc., isn't bad, but the headline -- as Reckers notes -- is probably wrong: bloggers were far more interested in seeing the Davos tape than in getting rid of Eason Jordan. But my opening quote on the media reaction is this:

"THEY'RE scared spitless," says Glenn Reynolds. "But they shouldn't be."

They are. And they shouldn't be. I just listened to the WSJ's Bret Stephens on Hugh Hewitt's show, and his basic line seemed to be that everybody screws up, so nobody should be criticized too harshly.

Well, everybody does screw up, and there's nothing unforgivable about screwing up. What's unforgivable is either deliberately misleading, as with the Rather bogus-document story, or following a screwup with denials and stonewalls as with Rather or Jordan. The defensiveness with which a lot of Big Media folks are responding to this topic suggest to me that either they're unable to imagine a swift and open correction, or that their work is even worse than we think . . . . At any rate, as I said on Charlie Rose, they could easily incorporate bloggers as unpaid fact-checkers and assistant editors, improving their product and making friends. All they need to do is get off those high horses for a while.

UPDATE: Davos insider and blogger Lance Knobel weighs in on what's going on:

Although the Forum has long claimed non-plenary sessions are off the record, this is followed far more in the breach than the observance. Much of the reporting from Davos comes out of so-called off-the-record sessions, without the journalist obtaining the consent of all involved. Further, most people recognise that it is futile to claim an event attended by more than a few people can truly be off the record. Larry Summers, when he was deputy Treasury secretary, told me in Davos that the first thing he learned in Washington was that any conversation with more than two participants would never be off the record (a lesson he has had to relearn recently). . . .

What certainly could have happened, shielding the Forum from embarrassment, was for Eason to have asked for the recording to be released. Even in more formal off-the-record situations, if the participants agree after the fact, material can move to on the record.

As several people have commented since the Eason resignation, what was on the tape must have been as bad or worse than reported. I suspect the Forum would have released the recording on Eason's request, but no such request was forthcoming because of what would have resulted.

I suspect the same thing. (Via Dave Winer). And, by the way, I should mention that I have more on the Jordan / blogs fallout over at

MICHAEL SILENCE IS CELEBRATING DIVERSITY: It looks better than when I did it . . .


Red light camera programs in at least 19 cities across the country are likely to be shut down this year following actions taken by courts and legislatures in the past two weeks.

State legislatures threaten programs in Virginia, where 7 cities use the technology; Texas, where one city uses stoplight cameras; and Utah, where there are no cameras, but a strong push to install them. The courts threaten the programs in eleven North Carolina cities and could prompt significant refunds for ticketed drivers in California, where 39 cities use the technology.

These things are a longstanding InstaPundit topic, and I'm glad to see them fading away in so many places. Let's hope this is a trend.

ANOTHER NEGATIVE REVIEW for Thomas Wood's Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, this time from Max Boot in The Weekly Standard. I mentioned some earlier negative reviews here.

STEPHEN BAINBRIDGE has questions for conservatives on Social Security reform: "I'm open to persuasion (and remain ideologically inclined to favor private accounts), but I would really appreciate some serious answers to these questions before making up my mind."

UPDATE: Ramesh Ponnuru responds.

CONSERVATIVES AGAINST THE INDECENCY BILL: You can't question the right-wing credentials of guys whose site used to be named "," but here's post in strong opposition to the legislation:

One of the problems is that politicians get so juiced up to out-moralize one another, they forget this is supposed to be America. There's lots of great countries where the state controls what you are able to watch. Move to one of them if you hate Janet Jackson.

As for me, I use the remote control.

Me too.

LOOKING FOR HEALTHCARE BLOGGING? There's not much of that here, but I do offer a pointer to Grand Rounds, where health care professionals blog about health care.

DANIEL DREZNER HAS A roundup on Syria.

THE L.A. TIMES corrects a correction. Good for them!

MORE COOL WEB VIDEO: Amazon has the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trailer online, which is pretty good. I think Amazon is being very smart, as their video features are bound to lure a lot of traffic.

UPDATE: For some reason that link isn't working for some people. But you can find the video on Amazon's main page.

CARNIVAL-O-RAMA: This week's Carnival of the Vanities is up, with blog posts on all sorts of things, by all sorts of people. And don't miss the second installment of the Carnival of Education. Plus, don't miss the Iraqi bloggers' roundup at the Carnival of the Liberated.

I don't participate in Carnivals -- I just send traffic. I'm sort of a barker, I guess.

UPDATE: And the Red Ensign Standard is a sort of Carnival of Canadians.

INTERESTING PIECE FROM NEW YORK MAGAZINE by Spy founder Kurt Andersen on the new liberal guilt:

But now our heroic and tragic liberal-intellectual capaciousness is facing its sharpest test since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Back then, most of us were forced, against our wills, to give Ronald Reagan a large share of credit for winning the Cold War. Now the people of this Bush-hating city are being forced to grant the merest possibility that Bush, despite his annoying manner and his administration’s awful hubris and dissembling and incompetence concerning Iraq, just might—might, possibly—have been correct to invade, to occupy, and to try to enable a democratically elected government in Iraq.

At a media-oligarchy dinner party on Fifth Avenue 72 hours after the elections, the emotions were highly mixed. The wife of a Democratic Party figure was (like me) unabashedly hopeful about what had happened in Iraq. Across the table, though, the wife of a well-known liberal actor was having none of it; instead, she complained about Fahrenheit 9/11’s being denied an Oscar nomination. And a newspaper йminence grise seemed more inclined to discuss Condoleezza Rice’s unfortunate hairstyle than the vicissitudes of Wolfowitzism. It was the night of the State of the Union speech, but as far as I know, no one (including me) ducked out of the dining room to find a TV. Who really wanted to watch Bush take his victory lap?

Read the whole thing.


AUSTIN BAY looks at the Popular Mechanics debunking of 9/11 conspiracy theories that I linked the other day. The Popular Mechanics folks have done a great service. Their debunking won't persuade the nuts -- but it will make the nuts easier to spot.

PASSIVE RESISTANCE? "When colleges ask applicants about their race or ethnicity, the forms always say that the question is optional. Increasingly, students are exercising their option -- and not answering the question."

Or maybe they just don't think it's that relevant.

HMM: "TEHRAN, Iran - An unknown aircraft fired a missile on Wednesday in a deserted area near the southern city of Dailam in the province of Bushehr where Iran has a nuclear power plant, Iranian state television said."

UPDATE: Now they're saying it was a fuel-tank drop.


But is it true that it is "now documented" that 50% of bankruptcies are caused by health problems?

The conclusion is based on a study in Health Affairs. Reviewing the study, it appears that the estimate that 50% of bankruptcy filings are precipitated by a "serious medical problem" cannot be supported based on what that study actually examined.

He offers a rather lengthy critique.

TOM MAGUIRE WRITES on how the lefty blogosphere can conquer the world.

REAL SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM: My TechCentralStation column is up.

February 15, 2005

THE CHARLIE ROSE blog show is airing now, at least where I am. The Syrian Ambassador comes first, though.

UPDATE: Trey Jackson has posted some video excerpts.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Geraghty liked the show, and has nice things to say about Joe Trippi.

RATHERGATE UPDATE: More disarray at CBS.

UPDATE: Much more here, from the New York Observer:

Five weeks later, the crisis is not yet behind Mr. Moonves. And far from resolving the problem of the network’s credibility, the independent report commissioned by CBS appears instead to be leading to a confrontation, with defenders of both the ousted CBS staffers involved in the debacle and top CBS management asserting two different truths from the same document.

Mr. Howard and two other ousted CBS staffers—his top deputy, Mary Murphy, and CBS News senior vice president Betsy West—haven’t resigned. And sources close to Mr. Howard said that before any resignation comes, the 23-year CBS News veteran is demanding that the network retract Mr. Moonves’ remarks, correct its official story line and ultimately clear his name.

Mr. Howard, those sources said, has hired a lawyer to develop a breach-of-contract suit against the network. Ms. Murphy and Ms. West have likewise hired litigators, according to associates of theirs, and all three remain CBS employees and collect weekly salaries from the company that asked them to tender their resignations.

This seems likely to end badly for all concerned.

A "FIRST AMENDMENT WEDGIE" in Maryland: I think a lot of press folks are discovering the gap between what they think the First Amendment ought to cover, and what it actually does cover.

MORE ON BREDESEN FOR PRESIDENT, from the Tennessean. (Via Bill Hobbs).

MISSING THE POINT: I've gotten a lot of lefty email like this piece from Andrew Moyers:

So you think it is alright to have a gay male prostitute in the WH press room? Where were you when we needed you? You can have done great work in defending Bill Clinton's discretions.

Dude, I think you mean indiscretions. And I did coauthor this book, which was seen as generally pro-Clinton, enough that Lanny Davis used it as a text. But, see, I'm a libertarian -- I've got no problem with gay male prostitutes. Or even gay female prostitutes (they have those, right?). Heck, I'd legalize prostitution -- gay and straight -- if it was up to me, and think of its practitioners as every bit as respectable as other professionals like lawyers, lobbyists and journalists. (Maybe moreso, as I suspect the client satisfaction rate is higher . . . .)

What I don't quite get is when the Left became such a bunch of obsessively puritanical, curtain-peering Gladys Kravitz types. Lighten up, guys! It's only sex, and as we all know, especially post-Clinton, sex, and lying about sex, is no big deal!

UPDATE: Wrong link for "obsessively" above -- fixed now. Thanks to reader Rick Francis for pointing it out!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein slams Howard Kurtz. Ouch! Mickey Kaus can only look on in wonder. And envy.

MORE: Reader Thomas Castle emails:

You are, again, missing the point entirely. The problem with Gannon isn't that he's a gay male prostitute, it's that he's a vetted WH reporter using a pseudonym and masquerading as a journalist when he is, in fact, merely a shill. THAT'S the offensive part. This business that he was booted because he's gay, or a prostitute, or both is bogus, although I'm sure some of the fundies do indeed have a problem with it.

I don't know. That's not what Moyers was saying, and what I was responding to. But let's see: "Masquerading as a journalist when he is, in fact, merely a shill" would disqualify rather a lot of the poseurs I see shouting at press conferences. As for the gay angle being why he was booted -- that's what Howard Kurtz said, and I believe it. And while you can claim that this isn't really about the gay angle, a quick look at the juvenile gay-themed stuff on the lefty blogs suggests otherwise. I should also note that while Moyers did charge that Gannon was a gay male prostitute, I don't think that's been clearly established. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

For some more serious journalism, here's an analysis of softball press conference questions that names names and quotes transcripts. Five "Gannons" are identified.


VIK RUBENFELD looks at revealed preferences and the left.

"AND YOUR LITTLE DOG, TOO!" And I thought catblogging was the big thing.

NEWSPAPER THREATENS BLOGGER: Seems pretty lame to me.

REGULATING "RECKLESS SEX:" A debate over at Legal Affairs.

UPDATE: Jeralyn Merritt: "We need to stop looking to the criminal justice system to cure every conceivable social ill." Indeed.

WELL, IF BILL CLINTON COULD BE THE "FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT," WHY NOT? More evidence that some people are taking the Gannon/Guckert story farther than the facts warrant: I just got a press release from asking:

Did George W. Bush Have S*x with That Man, James Guckert?

Heh. I wonder if this whole thing is a Karl Rove sting operation? If so, the suckers are now firmly on the hook.

UPDATE: Aaugh! It burns! It burns!

THE BLOGGER PIECE ON CHARLIE ROSE is supposed to air tonight.

IT'S REMEDIAL GEOMETRY at the New York Times. A "lynch mob" of Euclid fans has corrected them.

UPDATE: Reader Joe Zwers emails: "I think this explains why some in the media confuse what is going on in the Sunni triangle with the overall situation in Iraq."


PLAME UPDATE: The subpoenas are out. In the words of Wilford Brimley, "Wonderful thing, a subpoenee."

UPDATE: More here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's the opinion, and Orin Kerr has a post noting that the opinion specifically mentions blogs and their effect on reporters' privilege claims.

IN THE MAIL: Two books by Tony Daniel: Metaplanetary, -- which I've actually read and liked -- and Superluminal, which I haven't read yet, but which looks quite good. (And which wasn't the inspiration for this song by the same name.)

IRAQI ELECTIONS: Patrick Ruffini has a very interesting map and analysis.

JEFF JARVIS RESPONDS to blog critics. And Howard Kurtz has a pretty good roundup, too.

HERE'S A NICE ARTICLE ON BLOGGING from Charlie Madigan of the Chicago Tribune. It stands in pleasant contrast to some of the less-impressive efforts elsewhere:

Shut up with your whining and appreciate the fact that after generations of stagnation, something new has arrived. And like all new things, it's going to take awhile for it to work itself out.

Conventional journalism seems aghast that a whole collection of independent voices from all sides of the political spectrum are popping up now to pick and smear and slander and point accusing fingers, wreck careers, cast aspersions and introduce something besides a century-old sense of entitled hierarchy to the formula for news presentation.

Read the whole thing.


Over the past few days I've been bombarded with e-mails regarding the Ward Churchill scandal. Many have expressed astonishment at how someone like Churchill could have been hired in the first place, let alone tenured and made chair of a department.

It's a good question, but it's not one that any of the academics who've written me have asked. We already know the answer.

Read the whole thing.

HERE'S A BIG COLLECTION of military bloggers.

LIBERTARIAN GIRL has been unmasked as a fraud. But did she get a White House press pass?

UPDATE: Get Tom Maguire on the case!


UNSCAM UPDATE: Looks as if things will be heating up for Kojo Annan and Benon Sevan.

UPDATE: Lots more U.N.-scandal perspective here, from Roger Kimball.

February 14, 2005

YOU CAN SEE VIDEO of the Kudlow & Company segment on Eason Jordan with me, Hugh Hewitt, and John Hinderaker, over at

UPDATE: Here's video of Bob Beckel and Bob Zelnick discussing the subject on Hannity & Colmes, and here's video of Howard Kurtz and Judy Woodruff on CNN.

And here's Rony Abovitz, who originally blogged this story.

JACK SHAFER IN SLATE: "I would have fired Eason Jordan."

Jordan's dereliction is less a mistake than it is proof of brain rot. The supreme editor of a news organization can't expect to make unsupportable inflammatory statements and maintain the respect of his truth-seeking troops at the same time. CNN did the right thing to show him the door. I would have done the same.

It would be nice to see the video.

I DON'T DO A LOT OF EDUCATION-BLOGGING -- but the Carnival of Education is full of links to lots of edublogging posts.

And here's a carnival of new blogs.


Since no one who has wielded unaccountable power is ever happy to suddenly find themselves being held to account, it comes as no surprise that the media is now squealing like a stuck pig.

And so the media has reaped what it sowed. The media legitimated and perpetuated the Sixties radicals' critique of authority. In doing so, however, it sowed the seeds of its own loss of authority. Since some of those seeds turned out to be dragons' teeth, the media is now reaping the whirlwind.

"Question authority! Er, but not us!"


Eric Wesson, a columnist for the Call, an African American newspaper in Kansas City, offered plenty of praise last year for the successful House bid of Democrat Emanuel Cleaver. "Rev. Cleaver," he wrote, "has the experience to get things done and getting people to work together, he unites people. . . . Rev. Cleaver is a master at getting others to see his vision and surrounding himself with role players to make the vision become a reality. . . . I admire his honesty."

Cleaver's campaign last summer paid $1,500 to a firm called One Goal Consultants. And the sole owner of One Goal Consultants, according to state records, is Wesson.

He did some work for the campaign, but it looks like another item that should have been disclosed.

HEY, THIS IS KIND OF COOL: If you go to the Popular Mechanics 9/11 rumor-debunking article that I mentioned earlier, it says: "Welcome InstaPundit, Austin Bay, and Tim Blair readers."

Reader Clay Ranck, who pointed this out to me, observes: "I've seen these things a million times on blogs, but I don't recall ever seeing one on a 'mainstream media' article." I don't, either.

INCONSISTENT STANDARDS? Reader James Lennon sends this:

I read your comments about the Gannon story, and I couldn't agree more- bringing up personal issues is sooo sleazy... the link below, though, is really interesting because it details on myriad occassions when you, Glenn Reynolds, did exactly that. Which I thought you should review before you poo poo the liberal bloggers WHO ARE BRINGING DOWN A MAN WHO COMMITTED TREASON BY OUTING PLAME (And you think anti-war liberals hate America... This gy outed an undercover CIA agent for political retirbution. If Wolf Blitzer did that you'd call it treason, you hack- so let's call a spade a spade).


My, how swift these lefty guys are to level charges of treason. However, the claim that Gannon "outed" Plame -- which I think is what he's referring to -- seems rather weak, as Tom Maguire has noted in this post.

Lennon also sends a link to this blog post, which collects some InstaPundit references to the Kerry intern scandal by way of attempting to demonstrate my hypocrisy. Of course, for these to be comparable, several things would have to be true. First, you'd have to believe that anyone who asks a question in a White House press conference is opening himself up to the kind of scrutiny that Presidential candidates face. I doubt that the press corps believes that, nor do I. (Ironically, some of my links are to Democratic speculation that other Democrats were behind the intern scandal story,and to expressions of glee at it on the Dean and Edwards campaign blogs -- but follow them all, as there's nothing there I'm ashamed of, and I think my tone, and substance, is light-years from the lefty Gannon stuff I've seen).

Second, you'd have to believe that my references are the equivalent of digging up unpublished dirt and publishing pictures of a man in his underwear while engaging in tacky homophobic remarks, all in the process of writing about an unrelated topic.

Strangely, however, this post of mine is omitted from the list: "MY SO-FAR RATHER UNDERWHELMED TAKE on the Kerry scandal is now up over at Excerpt: 'I have to say that, to me, how Kerry would do on the war is a lot more important than what (er, or who) he's doing in the sack.'" I haven't noticed a similar take on the Jeff Gannon story from the lefties. Maybe there's something bigger there -- though as I noted the other day, people like David Gergen and Howard Kurtz don't seem to think so -- but so far I haven't seen it, and stuff like this isn't doing anything to impress me with the seriousness of the people pushing it.

Neither is the excess capitalization. For a more serious take on these issues, you might want to read this post. Bottom line: "If Jeff Gannon is a hack who shouldn't have been given press credentials, that can be proven by quoting his questions and questioning his qualifications. What the hell does his personal life have to do with the issue?"

Yeah. Why, that's kind of like what I said about Kerry . . . .

UPDATE: Actually, it's worse than that, as the lefty attacks seem to be conflicting with each other. As Mickey Kaus notes: "I'm trying to get up to speed on Gannongate, but I keep getting confused. If 'Gannon' did get a leak of classified documents, would that make him more of a fake reporter or more of a real reporter?" Kaus also accuses me of being too "decorous" about Eason Jordan's personal life. But that's not the story, so I don't care.


And Ed Morrissey has some worthwhile thoughts.

MORE: Reader Joseph Fulvio emails:

Reading your lefty critic’s faux-outrage over Gannon’s ‘treason’ (in all caps, no less) was a lot like watching hipsters trying to be traditional during the holidays. They can’t quite stifle enough of their post-modern ironic tics to make it real. So, too, with concerns about treason and ‘support-the-troops’ head fakes coming from the Left; too calculated, contrived and, ultimately, phony.

Yeah. It's not quite like watching Jerry Falwell fulminate about women losing access to abortion, but still . . . .

I'LL BE ON HUGH HEWITT'S SHOW in a few minutes. You can listen live here.

CONGRATULATIONS to Ed Morrissey and his wife after her successful transplant operation. Send them your prayers and good wishes.

EUGENE VOLOKH: The blogosphere isn't made up of "lynch mobs," but rather of "persuasion bunches:"

Now I realize that "lynch mob" is figurative, and hyperbole at that. Still, figurative references and analogies (even hyperbolic ones) only make sense to the extent that the analogy is apt -- to the extent that the figurative usage, while literally false, reflects a deeper truth.

The trouble is that here the analogy is extremely weak. What's wrong with lynch mobs? It's that the mob itself has the power to kill. They could be completely wrong, and entirely unpersuasive to reasonable people or to the rest of the public. Yet by their physical power, they can impose their will without regard to the law.

But bloggers, or critics generally, have power only to the extent that they are persuasive. Jordan's resignation didn't come because he was afraid that bloggers will fire him. They can't fire him. I assume that to the extent the bloggers' speech led him to resign, it did so by persuading the public that he wasn't trustworthy.

So Jordan's critics (bloggers or not) aren't a lynch mob: If they're a mob, they're at most a "persuasion mob." What's more, since they're generally a very small group, they're really a "persuasion bunch."

Maybe if a persuasion bunch tries to persuade people by using factual falsehoods, they could be faulted on those grounds (though that too has little to do with lynch mobs). But I've seen no evidence that their criticisms were factually unfounded, or that Jordan quit because of any factual errors in the criticisms. (Plus presumably releasing the video of the panel would have been the best way to fight the factual errors.)

We should love persuasion bunches, who operate through peaceful persuasion, while hating lynch mobs, who operate through violence and coercion. What's more, journalists -- to the extent that they love the First Amendment's premise that broad public debate helps discover the truth, and improve society -- ought to love persuasion bunches, too. When the only power you wield is the power to speak, and persuade others through the force of your arguments (and not through the force of your guns, clubs, or fists), that's just fine. Come to think of it, isn't that the power that opinion journalists themselves wield?

Why yes, it is.

UPDATE: Read this post by Jay Rosen, which I mentioned on Kudlow earlier, too.

I'M GOING TO BE ON CNBC'S Kudlow & Company (formerly Kudlow & Cramer) today at about 5:45 Eastern. Hugh Hewitt and John Hinderaker are supposed to be there, too, and we'll be talking about -- what else -- Eason Jordan.

I'd still like to see the Davos video. So would Rand Simberg, who wonders why we're not.

UPDATE: Roger Simon, who's back from the hospital, has thoughts.

IN THE MAIL: The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a little) Craziness and (a lot of) Success in America, by John Gartner. It looks like an interesting thesis: America, a place just crazy enough to work!


As we approach the anniversary of Valentine's own rebellion and denial, shouldn't the nation that pioneered a popular government of the people, by the people, and for the people" be the one that finally stands to assert the pre-governmental primacy of matrimonial privacy?

It is time to privatize marriage. If the institution is really so sacred, it should lie beyond the withering hands of politicians and policy makers in Washington D.C. There should be no federal or state license that grants validity to love. There should be no state-run office that peers into our bedrooms and honeymoon suites. If the church thinks divorce and homosexuality are problematic, it should initiate the real dialogue to address these problems in-house rather than relying on state-sponsored coercion to affirm doctrinal beliefs. And if tax-codes and guardianships need some classification for couples, let's revise civil union standards to reflect those needs.

Yes, the creepiest line in the Goodridge case is the one about there being three parties to every marriage -- the couple being married, and the state.

POPULAR MECHANICS is debunking popular 9/11 conspiracy myths. (Via Austin Bay).


The New York Times media beat reporters got beaten badly on the Eason Jordan story -- by [gasp] weblogs and cable news -- and so how do they react? By catching up their readers on what they missed? Of course not. They react by lashing out at weblogs.

This morning's story by Katharine Q. Seelye, Jacques Steinberg, and David F. Gallagher -- under the headline, "Bloggers as News Media Trophy Hunters" -- is another example of the disdain in which many quarters of The Times -- not all -- hold citizens' media.

There's much more, including an observation that the Times reporters cherry-picked quotes from his blog to give a misleading impression of his views, and an open invitation to the Times' Bill Keller.

UPDATE: Greg Scoblete offers a response to the "salivating morons" line:

Lovelady and the rest of the CJR-set are taking the wrong lesson from Jordan's demise. The lesson is that many heads are better than one. Distributed intelligence and distributed research trump presumed authority every time. Arguments from authority are no longer enough. "This is CNN" is no longer sufficient. Now you need facts to back up your assertions (and not made up ones, either). . . .

The nasty, ad-hominem push back from Mr. Lovelady simply demonstrates just how out of step he is. This is the argument of an insular clergy: "you do not govern us, we govern ourselves."

Well, no longer.

I think that's why they're so unhappy. Meanwhile, in response to the charge that blogs are "trophy hunters," Chuck Simmins emails: "We've never seen this sort of behavior from Old Media, now, have we?"

Perhaps we should call it Earl Butz's revenge . . . . But like most bloggers I would have rather seen the videotape made public than see Eason Jordan resign. CNN apparently felt differently.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Don't miss Tim Blair's take on the Times article.

MORE: Ed Morrissey has much more, including -- as the result of emails back and forth with CJR's Steve Lovelady -- the conclusion that the "salivating morons" quote doesn't really reflect Lovelady's view of the blogosphere. Morrissey also observes: "Read the entire New York Times piece. It tends towards a warning to the blogosphere to take care not to go off half-cocked, and that may not be a bad message."

That's a good message for everyone, of course, and it's a message that Eason Jordan should have heeded, too.

STILL MORE: Tom Maguire looks at who's missing from the Times story:

In the course of emphasizing that the Eason Jordan lynching was engineered by a right wing mob, the Times somehow drops from this story (a) Howard Kurtz of the WaPo, who offers some relatively real coverage here; Rep. Barney Frank, D, MA, who made a cameo appearance in the audience in the Times' Saturday story (yes, of course he was on the panel); and Sen. Chris Dodd, D, CT, who has now failed to appear in both of the stories offered by the Times, despite his expressions of outrage and calls for the release of the videotape. What does a Democrat from neighboring Connecticut need to do to break into the Times?

Read the whole thing for many other useful insights.

I CAN'T BE ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE: But with the miracle of the blogosphere, I don't have to be! If you want economics or business blogging, check out the Carnival of the Capitalists, featuring lots of posts from people addressing a topic that I don't spend much time on.


And here's an amusing summary of the reaction in some quarters:

Steve Lovelady, managing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review Daily Web site, blasted Jordan's Internet critics in an e-mail to New York University professor Jay Rosen's blog PressThink: "The salivating morons who make up the lynch mob prevail."

Also on Rosen's site, reader William Boykin fumed: "Jordan has just been tire-necklaced by a bloodthirsty group of utopian, bible-thumping knuckledraggers that believe themselves to be bloggers but are really just a street gang." And these unhinged heavy-breathers accuse bloggers of being a lynch mob?

The ad hominem hysterics of Jordan's defenders stand in stark contrast to the way the vast majority of bloggers approached the search for truth in this matter. Veteran journalist and blogger Jeff Jarvis ( got it right when he said on CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday: "We didn't want his head — most of us didn't. We wanted the truth." We're still waiting.

It was Jordan who tossed out reckless remarks about American troops deliberately targeting journalists. It was bloggers, starting with American businessman and Davos eyewitness Rony Abovitz, who asked that Jordan back up his bombshell assertion with facts.

Demanding facts -- the most unforgivable act of all . . . . (Emph. added)

MICKEY KAUS says that I'm too decorous. That's me! (What's more, I lack fire. Well, there are plenty of other places you can go if you want less decorum . . . .)

THE PINTO PROPHECY: Reader David Gerstman emails:

Remember this?

Doesn't it seem prophetic now?

Why, yes, yes it does.

February 13, 2005

THE BRUTAL AFGHAN WINTER: InstaPundit's Afghanistan photo-correspondent, Major John Tammes, sends this report:

The end of the 10 year drought has been a boon to most here in Afghanistan. However, for some it has not been so great. We are helping the Afghan government with aid for those snowed in up at the higher elevations. Down here at 5000 feet above sea level, the roads have been taking a bit of punishment. On a patrol yesterday, we came across this truck mired in a section of “road”. A couple of minutes hooking up to a winch on one of our HMMVs and a quick pull got them out.

I guess this is that "silent genocide" that Noam Chomsky was talking about. Or maybe it was a transcription error, and instead of "genocide," he said "roadside assistance" . . . .



UPDATE: Say, you know, for all the talk about blogs not featuring reporting, I'll bet I've got more correspondents in Afghanistan than most U.S. newspapers. Which is to say, one . . . .

I DON'T BLOG MUCH on energy policy, leaving that to people like Lynn Kiesling. But a reader asks what I think about this column by Tom Friedman today. Excerpt:

As a geo-green, I believe that combining environmentalism and geopolitics is the most moral and realistic strategy the U.S. could pursue today. Imagine if President Bush used his bully pulpit and political capital to focus the nation on sharply lowering energy consumption and embracing a gasoline tax.

What would that buy? It would buy reform in some of the worst regimes in the world, from Tehran to Moscow. It would reduce the chances that the U.S. and China are going to have a global struggle over oil - which is where we are heading.

This is all fine with me -- I'd like to see big honking nuclear plants (possibly of the much-touted pebble-bed design) producing hydrogen to run clean cars. On the other hand, Friedman's own policy proposals are a bit less ambitious, involving a gas tax plus a bit of what looks like cultural warfare:

I would like to see every campus in America demand that its board of trustees disinvest from every U.S. auto company until they improve their mileage standards. Every college town needs to declare itself a "Hummer-free zone." You want to drive a gas-guzzling Humvee? Go to Iraq, not our campus. And an idea from my wife, Ann: free parking anywhere in America for anyone driving a hybrid car.

This sort of moralistic-but-ineffective posturing -- based more on dislike of SUVs and their owners than anything else -- is the 21st Century equivalent of Jimmy Carter's cardigan, and it's why most Americans roll their eyes when people say the words "energy policy." If Friedman wants to make a difference on this subject, he needs to look at technology -- and at what people actually want and will tolerate -- and try to put the two together. The "energy policy" discussion on The West Wing was better than this. OK, except maybe for the free-parking idea, which is actually not bad in a small-scale Clinton-initiative kind of way.

UPDATE: Ron Bailey notes that energy policy has been a presidential quagmire for decades.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Now this idea is a lot better than the free-parking one.

MORE: Speaking of nuclear power, I seem to remember Friedman endorsing it -- a modestly brave action for an NYT columnist -- a while back. But this article on nuclear energy is worth reading.

IT'S A SORT OF TRIBUTE TO MICKEY KAUS: Bill Quick's Assignment Desk!

TARGETING JOURNALISTS -- IN CANADA: But the tac-radio literary criticism has got to hurt the most.

GRANDMOTHERBLOGGING: Went out to visit my grandmother at the home Skilled Nursing Facility. I hadn't been able to see her for a while -- the flu epidemic meant that the place was closed to visitors for the past couple of weeks. And I was the only one who went today, as the Insta-Wife and Insta-Daughter, still somewhat sick, were a bit iffy. (Not me. Tamiflu rocks.)

She's doing well, as the physical therapy has brought back most of the use of her arm already, though it's still not strong enough to let her walk with a cane, which is key. But she's pretty tired of being there, as you might imagine. She has some cronies that she enjoys, but it's basically like living in a dorm without getting out for classes or weekend partying.

The secret to popularity there, though, is food. I took barbecue sandwiches for four, meaning that the cronies who eat with her got barbecue instead of the usual institutional food, which is, well, about as good as dorm food. I also took her a box of Godiva chocolates for Valentine's day, and -- on the "did you bring enough for everyone?" principle -- I took small Godiva boxes for the cronies, too. One in particular, who doesn't have much in the way of family, seemed especially pleased to be remembered.

Though, at 90, she's one of the older people there, my grandmother is doing better than most. She's grateful for that, but it's still hard on her being there instead of being in her own home, where she's lived for nearly fifty years. When people say "old age isn't for sissies," it's not just a joke. I admire how she and her friends deal with it, but it's still a lousy thing to have to deal with.

Is there a point to this? Not really, except that I really do think that aging is a disease, and I wish we could do something about it. Everybody in that place used to be healthy and strong; even the best of them now are sadly declined from their previous state. Yeah, it's "natural" -- but so is smallpox.

UPDATE: Reader Paul Havemann emails:

Do you talk to her about her life, her parents, her grandparents, and the times they lived in? I have no idea whether you are into genealogy, or even family history, but someone down the line would certainly love it if you preserved some of the memories your grandmother carries. That stuff is golden.

I regret not having done that with my grandparents (and my great- grandmother; she could have told me so much), but it didn't occur to me until after they were gone. It would have meant a lot to them, too.

I'm not very much into genealogy -- see the Heinlein piece about the lizard -- but I do like to listen to the family stories.

CATS AND DOGS, LIVING TOGETHER: Patrick "Patterico" Frey has a column in the L.A. Times in which he explains how to correct errors.


UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. diplomats, deadlocked for years over the drafting of treaty to ban the cloning of human beings worldwide, open negotiations on Monday on an alternative that would instead urge each government to adopt its own laws on human cloning. . . .

The U.N. project dates back to 2001, when France and Germany proposed a worldwide ban on human cloning by way of a binding global treaty.

That attempt failed after the George W. Bush administration fought to broaden the ban to all cloning of human embryos, a step many scientists and governments argued would block some promising avenues of medical research.

The U.S. campaign to persuade the 191-nation U.N. General Assembly to approve a broad anti-cloning treaty ran out of steam last November when the assembly's treaty-writing legal committee, after years of debate, remained deeply divided on the issue.

This is one case where I'm glad the U.N. isn't listening to the Bush Administration.

WATCHED JEFF JARVIS ON RELIABLE SOURCES a little while ago, and I thought the show's treatment of the Eason Jordan / Jeff Gannon / Bloggers-as-journalists issues was quite good. Best Jeff quote: "Bloggers didn't fire Jordan. CNN fired Jordan." [LATER: Well, I was close. Transcript here.]

I'm speculating, here, but I wonder if part of the delay in responding wasn't because CNN wanted to look at the tape, and if Jordan's departure was a result of what they saw when they did. We'll never know, unless somebody writes a tell-all, but if the tape is released we'll probably be able to make a pretty shrewd guess.

I think I disagree with Jeff Jarvis about nothing being off the record any more, even though the line about "Wolf Blitzer in sheep's clothing" is pretty good. Erving Goffman wrote about the importance of a "backstage," and this sort of thing makes it impossible to have one. But on the other hand, the press has been denying that to everyone else for years.

The interesting part was that neither Howard Kurtz nor David Gergen thought there was much to the Gannon story, with both noting that White Houses usually try to seed press conferences with friendly journalists. I think that Bill Press was right that if this was a false-flag operation by the White House that's a fairly big deal but there doesn't seem to be much evidence of that. Personally, I never paid much attention to the Talon News site, even though people did send me links from time to time, because it seemed a bit amateurish and was rather obviously a partisan outfit. (No Maureen Dowd jokes here, please). It seems to me that a genuine effort to pass it off as a nonpartisan news agency would have been slicker, and lacked the obvious GOP connection. Another good question from Bill Press: If this guy was fake, how come none of the mainstream journalists in the press room ever said anything about him?

I also agree with Kurtz that it was the stuff about Gannon's personal life that led to his resignation, and that there's something rather sleazy about that. Backstage or not, targeting parts of people's lives that don't have to do with the story -- like, say, Eason Jordan's love life -- seems inappropriate to me, and likely to lend support to the bloggers-as-lynch-mob caricature.

UPDATE: On the "targeting" question, The Mudville Gazette features a dialogue with journalist Jules Crittenden, whose work is often misquoted in support of the idea that journalists are being targeted. Excerpt:

GH: So you were there?

JC: I was about 100 yards or so from the Jumhuriyah Bridge, down at the intersection of Haifa and Jaffa, when Staff Sgt Shawn Gibson fired on the Palestine. All of us were highly concerned at the time about reports an Iraqi FO had eyes on our position from a tall building in the vicinity. After the big counterattack that morning was fought back, we continued to receive sporadic mortar fire and RPG fire all morning, taking and returning fire from several tall buildings. The tankers on the bridge reported that numerous RPG teams were operating up and down the opposite bank of the Tigris. Gibson saw what he thought was the spotter and fired. He was distraught when he learned his mistake.

GH: And following the events the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders also wrote up reports?

JC: Yes. I was quoted in the reports, selectively and/or inaccurately, and had RWB remove my remarks, which they reported inaccurately and without permission. CPJ, while casting aspersions on the soldiers based on speculation, neglected to include remarks I made on the character of Gibson and CO Capt. Phillip Wolford, whom I knew as professionals who went to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties. I lived with them, rode with them into a series of actions and have great respect for them. The Palestine was an accident by well-intentioned men who had been under fire, some of it intense, since dawn the day before.

Read the whole thing.

MORE: Interesting Gannon backstory here from Tom Maguire.

STILL MORE: Here's more from Crittenden via Poynter and John Cole.

INTERESTING ROUNDUP on "extraordinary rendition."


BAGHDAD, Iraq Feb 13, 2005 — Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims won nearly half the votes in the nation's Jan. 30 election, giving the long-oppressed group significant power but not enough to form a government on their own.

The Shiites likely will have to form a coalition in the 275-member National Assembly with the other top vote-getters the Kurds and Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's list to push through their agenda and select a president and prime minister. The president and two vice presidents must be elected by a two-thirds majority.

This seems like good news. Turnout was also somewhat higher than previously estimated.

I'M PRETTY SURE that nobody would be interested in this idea.

ANN ALTHOUSE is blogging on Christo's "The Gates," and the reaction thereto.


WASHINGTON, DC—A new videotape of Osama bin Laden broadcast on the Arab satellite news channel Al-Jazeera Monday beseeched Allah to grant all Americans a "crappy Valentine's Day." . . .

"Allah willing, embarrassment and tearful rejection shall rule this day," bin Laden said. "Paper hearts shall be rent and trod upon, and dreams of love delivered stillborn. Body language shall be misinterpreted, crushes unrequited, and sincere expressions of affection mocked. Invitations to dinner will be rejected, just as Americans have rejected Allah, the one true God."

During a speech before the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, President Bush condemned the al-Qaeda leader's remarks.

Pretty funny.

CONTRASTING VIEWS on the Eason Jordan story:

Some suggest that Jordan got a bum rap. Former CNN News Group Chairman Walter Isaacson wrote in an e-mail to the AJC that Jordan was dedicated to "the value of hard reporting by real journalists who braved going out into the field, like he so often did, rather than merely opining. It's ironic that he was brought down partly by talk-show and blogging folks who represent the opposite approach and have seldom . . . ventured out to do . . . frontline reporting."

But contrast that with this one:

Deborah Potter, a former CNN reporter who heads NewsLab, which does research on TV news, said even honest misstatements "are always exacerbated by delay and obfuscation, and I think both of those happened in this case."

Online blogs "are becoming a force to be reckoned with," she said. "The questions that were raised were good journalistic questions: 'What exactly did he say?' The way you deal with this kind of controversy is by being transparent, by being open."


UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Singer emails:

"Walter Isaacson wrote in an e-mail to the AJC that Jordan was dedicated to "the value of hard reporting by real journalists who braved going out into the field, like he so often did, rather than merely opining... talk-show and blogging folks who represent the opposite approach and have seldom . . . ventured out to do . . . frontline reporting."

The CJR Daily managing editor had a similar "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" response -- which I'm sure is a sincere reflection of how journalists see themselves.

What they seem to be oblivious to is that, as far as the rest of the US population is concerned, *they're* the ones "merely opining" on the people who really "braved going out in the field". Remember when a Marine exhausted from days of combat in Fallujah made a snap decision (and probably a correct, if tragic one) to shoot a man he thought was playing dead? And was made out to be the new Lieutenant Calley by all the journalists sitting in New York and Atlanta? Well, I have him in mind when I'm told to regard myself as unworthy to judge Eason Jordan.

Indeed. We're not talking Perry White here. In fact, this quote at the end of the story is especially revealing:

But Bob Furnad, a former president of Headline News, said he considers Jordan "a very serious journalist in the purest form."

"He never pulled any punches."

But he did, of course, when -- as he himself admitted -- he refrained from reporting on Saddam's atrocities in order to retain "access" in Baghdad. Why doesn't that count, to this guy?

Tom Maguire notices, meanwhile, that the New York Times has finally gotten around to this story and observes:

A "journalistic tempest"? This is the first story to appear in the Times! Geez, fashionably late to a party is one thing, but fashionably late to a journalistic tempest?

Read the whole thing.


Today’s troops are from a generation that grew up with PCs and video games. They prefer to get their news off the Internet, and play cards via a web site, or on their laptop. Military psychologists are trying to figure out what, if anything, this all means. For example, for generations, troops spent hours playing cards with their buddies. Now, the favorite form of interaction is playing against another GI on a video game, or putting together a network and doing a multiplayer session of a violent video game. The army and marines even provide modified versions of commercial games for training purposes. The commercial games often depict incorrect combat procedures. The modified versions show how to do it right, and not make a mistake that could get you killed in combat. . . .

In fact, the armed forces are quite pleased with the new skills their PC savvy recruits have brought with them. Moreover, the military does not allow booze or prostitution for the troops in combat zones these days. So compelling electronic entertainment solves a potentially serious morale problem.

Video games: Is there anything they can't do?


Ning Wen and his wife were arrested last fall at their home office in Manitowoc, Wis., for allegedly sending their native China $500,000 worth of computer parts that could enhance missile systems. As these naturalized citizens await trial, similar episodes in Mount Pleasant, N.J., and Palo Alto, Calif., point only to the tip of the iceberg, according to FBI officials keeping tabs on more than 3,000 companies in the U.S. suspected of collecting information for China. A hotbed of activity is Silicon Valley, where the number of Chinese espionage cases handled by the bureau increases 20% to 30% annually. Says a senior FBI official: "China is trying to develop a military that can compete with the U.S., and they are willing to steal to get [it]."

Well, of course. I'd rank this as lower priority than rounding up people who are currently trying to blow up Americans, but it's a significant issue.