March 19, 2005

HERE'S MORE CRITICISM OF THE LANCET STUDY mentioned below, from a statistician-blogger.

GREG DJEREJIAN notes some positive developments in Iraq. And don't miss the P.S.

EUGENE VOLOKH has changed his mind on the advisability of painful punishments -- or at least on the ability of the legal system to mete them out fairly as opposed to their abstract fairness.

I think that's right. I feel somewhat that way about capital punishment. I'm utterly unpersuaded by the argument that there is something uniquely immoral about state-sanctioned killing. (At its core, the nation-state is all about killing; everything else is window-dressing). But I'm quite persuaded, as I've written before, by what Charles Black called "the inevitability of caprice and mistake" in the application of the death penalty.

UPDATE: Some readers wonder what I meant about the nation-state being all about killing. That seemed pretty obvious to me: We have nation-states because they're more effective at focusing violence against those who threaten their authority than other human organizations. That's why nation-states have pretty much taken over the game of doing things via violence. They don't have a monopoly, of course, but they owe their preeminence to their success in this regard, not to their other characteristics. As I say, this seems quite obvious to me.

I FINISHED CHARLES STROSS'S The Atrocity Archives last night, and also read the interesting essay in the afterword about the relationship between Lovecraftian horror and the Cold War spy thriller. (Stross, like me, is a Len Deighton fan.)

For those wondering why I haven't reported on Accelerando yet, it's because I got it in electronic form, and I just haven't been comfortable reading it on the laptop. I guess I need to print it out.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE RECIPES is up! I should post some new ones, too. When I was in Washington last week, several people approached me to say they'd tried the "Insta-Chicken" recipe with good results. I hope I'll be doing more interesting cooking when things settle down here, which I hope will be in the not-too-distant future.

BRAVO TO THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH for taking a sensible position in defense of bloggers:

Whether one has journalistic protections should depend less on job title and more on function. Anyone, like Mr. Ciarelli, who gathers news on a subject of public interest and disseminates it to a waiting audience is entitled to the protection of a journalist. ThinkSecret has 2.5 million to 5 million page views a month.

A few years ago, there was an absurd debate about whether online reporters should have the same status as print reporters. The argument about bloggers will seem as frivolous - and irrelevant - in a few years.

Already, bloggers have played a key role in a number of important news stories, including Sen. Trent Lott's racist remarks at Sen. Strom Thurmond's birthday, CBS's flawed report on the president's military record and Eason Jordan's resignation as a CNN vice president for briefly suggesting U.S. soldiers might have targeted journalists.

The democratization of the news media through the blogosphere is the inevitable product of technological development. The principle of the public's right to know doesn't depend on who is gathering the news. The American people are entitled to read and hear all of the information that enterprising newshounds, including bloggers, legally can pry from the clutches of corporate and government officials.

Like I said, bravo!

I'M QUITE BUSY with family stuff this morning. But Tim Blair has a roundup of interesting items that should keep you from being bored in the meantime. Dennis Raimondo? It doesn't have quite the same ring, does it?

NORM GERAS writes a poem inspired by Wilfred Owen, and Harold Pinter.

March 18, 2005


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is facing a revolt by its employees over new, draconian conflict of interest rules. They ban all consulting (paid or unpaid) for biomedical companies, restrict teaching and service on company boards, place severe limits on the acceptance of prizes, and prohibit senior staff members (and their families) from owning stock in drug, medical device or biotech companies. These are the kinds of strictures that in the past have been applied only to employees of regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and Securities and Exchange Commission.

The new restrictions -- an exaggerated, bureaucratic response to congressional displeasure over revelations that a few NIH employees (out of a workforce of 17,500) had committed minor technical violations -- could ruin one of the world's premier medical research institutions.

That would be bad. And too much attention to appearance issues is a common problem.

THUNDER DOWN UNDER, II: Tim Lambert responds to his critics. And Lambert also faces a dilemma: "It’s like one of those movies where there is a real person and a fake person and you have a gun and you hafta shoot the fake one. How can you tell which one is the real Tim Blair?"

The one with the drink in his hand, is the way to bet.

UPDATE: Andy Freeman emails: "What is Lambert doing defending himself with a gun?"

THAT LIBERAL MEDIA notes the constant repetition of the debunked Lancet study claiming 100,000 civilian casualties in Iraq. Now that they can't say the war was a failure, they'll try to claim it wasn't worth it.

UPDATE: Reader Dave Ujeio emails that it's Fred Kaplan's debunking that's wrong:

Let me firstoff start by saying I love your blog. Though I do not always agree with the ideas presented, they are always thought provoking, and I appreciate that as truly rare in this day and age.

On a side note, I wanted to help a bit with the fact checking - we studied that piece in one of my courses. Slate has the statistical analysis of the piece wrong - though the confidence interval is 8000-194000, the median/mean in this case is actually far more likely to be true than either of the tails. These studies are conducted under the premise that the data fits a standard normal curve (imagine a mountain with low hills leading to a peak, then descending back to low hills.) 8000 and 194000 are the very end of the tails, and are
thus FAR more unlikely to occur than the instances in the middle of the curve. What is most likely, and in this study statistically significant at the 95% level is that 101000 civilians have died as a result of violence attributable to the war.

Another interesting part of the study is that though Fallujah came up in the sample, the authors purposely excluded it because it might bias the data in an unrepresentative way.

If my account of the study sounds wrong, please check with a Statistics professor - I am admittedly a lowly grad student, and I only got an A- in that class. However my understanding is that 8000, and for that matter 194000 would be extremely rare events were the study to be repeated 100 or 1000 times. The most likely (and most likely to be true) count is approximately 100,000 at the time of the study, (remember, excluding Fallujah.)

I am not saying that the war isn't worth it - I think the number of civilian casualties is lamentable, and that is something you and your readers can debate. I just wanted to let you know that the debunking piece is almost certainly wrong.

I certainly don't know, though I'm deeply skeptical of this sort of thing because so many of them (e.g., Marc Herold) have been wrong in the past. Meanwhile, reader Hugh Thorner nets out the analysis and pronunces the war a life-saver!

There's no need to debunk the 100,000 civilian casualty figure being cited so often by war opponents. In progressive circles it's an article of faith that pre-war sanctions killed 5000 Iraqis per month. Cost of the war two years later? 20,000 Iraqi civilians saved! And counting...

So there you are. And you should probably net out the number that Saddam was killing, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Debunking the debunking of the debunking:

Sorry to burst that grad student's bubble, but there are a few problems with his debunking of the debunking of the Lancet article.

1) the distribution of probable dead is not normal. It actually probably resembles a Poisson distribution.

2) the study distribution's 95% confidence range covers so much of the possible range as to be a nearly flat distribution (at least relatively speaking).

3) even if the statistics were acceptable, there are serious questions about the sampling, as pointed out in the original debunking.

4) the author of the original study is known to have biases related to the research.

Aron S. Spencer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, School of Management
New Jersey Institute of Technology

See, this is why I hate "studies" of this sort. Meanwhile, reader John Mattaboni wants more people to look at the numbers:

This needs to be debunked. It is as absurd as it is false. And unfortunately, the media are up to their old tricks: It’s being reported as “fact” on newscasts across the country.

Are we honestly to believe that twice as many non-combatants have died as a result of the liberation of Iraq as were American combatants in 8 years of VietNam? In a war designed and fought to minimize civilian casualties with things like GPS guided bombs?

Please, you have the power to unleash the internet on this wholesale fabrication with a call to factual arms. This fraud cannot go unchallenged or in 30 days from now, it will simply be cited as irrefutable “fact” that “George Bush killed 100,000 Iraqis.”

Most people, of course, will either believe such statements because they want to, or assume that, like so many expert pronouncements from war opponents, this is just another lie.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Read "read more" for more.

Read More ?

PUBLIUS ON EGYPT: "It’s not often in the Middle East that you see consecutive protests every week against the government. Well… I would have said that a few years ago, anyway."

WIRELESS LAPTOPS IN THE CLASSROOM: Ann Althouse reports on a discussion.

And, yes, the professor can tell when you're surfing as opposed to taking notes.

A SWEETHEART DEAL for a U.C. Santa Cruz Chancellor? Just call it shrewd negotiation.

"DO TELL," indeed.


JIM GERAGHTY is photo-blogging from Ankara.

EUGENE VOLOKH responds to his critics.

AUSTIN BAY IS LOOKING AT ASIA: "I think the emerging Asian triangle that bears watching is Australia-Singapore-India. Anglophiles may see a historical connection—once again former British colonies find common ground in economics and security."

"NANOSTUFF" VS. NANOTECHNOLOGY: Howard Lovy has the scoop.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF CORDITE IS UP, with lots of gun-related blog entries. Meanwhile, there's something rather different going on at Alphecca.

WAR CRITICS want to mark the anniversary of the war -- there will be an "antiwar protest" at my local mall tomorrow and there are all sorts of events planned worldwide -- but a proper way of marking the date would be with a mass apology to the Iraqi people, and to George W. Bush, for taking the wrong side at a crucial moment in history.


I'm not expecting that. But at least some people are marking the occasion in suitable fashion. It may be premature to gloat, but it's not premature to point out the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the "peace" movement, which has been apparent since the very beginning.

THE HARVARD FACULTY is beginning to realize that actions have consequences:

''I have been at two meetings so far today where all faculty are talking about is how it will be possible to get the business of the university done in this climate," Mary Waters, who chairs the sociology department, wrote in an e-mail yesterday. ''We are all perceiving a slowdown in response time from the university, and we assume that this controversy is taking up a lot of energy that otherwise would go to moving forward things at the university."

Harvard has done serious damage to its reputation -- or, more accurately, a subset of the Harvard Arts & Sciences faculty has done serious damage to Harvard's reputation. This was meant to be cost-free posturing, but it's turned out to be a bit more than that -- and if I were Larry Summers, I think I'd do my best to make sure that a lot of people felt the pain in as many ways as I could manage. It's an educational experience that the Harvard faculty, apparently, needs.

A REPORT FROM BOLIVIA: Things sound rather bad.

WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH TEXAS? A ban on sexy cheerleaders? It's unAmerican!


Cuban President Fidel Castro has criticized Forbes magazine for the "infamy" of listing him among the world's richest people, with a net worth of $550 million.

"Once again, they have committed the infamy of speaking about Castro's fortune, placing me almost above the queen of England," Castro said in a speech to top officials of Cuba's ruling Communist Party, military and police.

Heh. But Cuba has free health care! (Via '08). More background here.


We're at war in Iraq, at war in Afghanistan, threatened by Al Qaeda, mired in budget deficits, faced with gargantuan liabilities in Social Security and Medicare, struggling to sustain the fighting capacity of our military forces--and what does this committee think warrants its urgent attention? Whether a handful of overpaid entertainers are taking forbidden pills to improve their performance.

The hearing rests on two well-worn premises that ought to offend the conservative sensibilities of Republicans, who control this committee and Congress. The first is that absolutely everything is a federal responsibility. The second is that the private sector needs incessant guidance from government.


DAVID ADESNIK remembers George Kennan. I'd characterize Kennan as the Wolfowitz of the Cold War, but with better press.

ROGER SIMON NOTES A SPREADING MASS HYSTERIA: Let's hope that reason reasserts itself before it's too late.

HERE'S VIDEO of Elizabeth Warren and Todd Zywicki debating the new bankruptcy bill.

March 17, 2005

BARBARA BOXER wants to change the Constitution to require a supermajority for judicial confirmation. At least, I think that's what she means.

THUNDER down under.

CORI DAUBER EXPLAINS what to do when the polls don't go your way: Interview people who'll say what you want!


Now you can tell your pajama-bashing friends that the data from last week's blog reader survey indicates that 70% of blog readers are influentials, those articulate, networked 10% of Americans who set the agenda for the other 90%. (RoperASW, the folks who wrote the book on Influentials, have more information on the definition on influentials here.)

I guess the CBS guy just forgot to mention that those pajamas are silk, not rayon.

I'm guessing these.

EUGENE VOLOKH is covering Slate mercilessly.

NIKON D70 UPDATE: As I mentioned a while back, sent the D70 back to Nikon for a minor but annoying problem. It came back yesterday, and now seems to be working fine, though the problem is intermittent enough that it'll be a while before I'm completely sure. They were pretty quick, and the process was painless enough.

Meanwhile, the Dell has the same screen-flicker problem noted here. It's rare, and rebooting seems to solve it, but I could live without it. Otherwise, I remain quite happy.


JAMES Q. WILSON IS DEFENDING LEON KASS, saying that the Bioethics Council is a model of procedural fairness: "I have served on several national commissions and chaired a couple of them, and so I bring some perspective to the matter. I have never encountered a more fair-minded chairman than Kass nor a Council composed of so many truly gifted (though philosophically divided) Council members."

GREYHAWK writes on the role of email in damaging media credibility.


If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals–if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.

(Via this piece on "saving the marriage.")


When debating the views and opinions of Leon Kass, chair of the President's Council of Bioethics, it's rather hard to get past the point at which he says he wants to use government power to ensure medical technology for healthy life extension is never developed or used.

Dubbing Kass's approach "legislated murder" seems rather hyperbolic to me. On the other hand, it's very difficult to call Kass's approach "pro life" either.

IN AN INTERESTING CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION FEATURE, four scholars -- including my Tennessee colleague Jeff Norrell -- look at misunderstood concepts in their fields.

SOME TIME AGO, I had mentioned that science fiction writer Andre Norton (real name: Alice Mary Norton) was ill. Now comes word that she has died at 93. I was quite a fan of her books when I was a kid. She remained productive to the end, and has a new novel, Three Hands for Scorpio, about to come out.

ASTROTURFING CAMPAIGN FINANCE "REFORM:" Ryan Sager has a column and links to video on his blog.

IN THE MAIL: A copy of Jim Powell's Wilson's War: How Woodrow Wilson's Great Blunder Led to Hitler, Lenin, Stalin & World War II. Upside: Amusing blurb by P.J. O'Rourke. Downside: Blurb by the rather dubious Thomas Woods. Not that there's much that's good about World War I, a disastrous episode from which Europe has never really recovered.

READER JEREMY CHRYSLER sends this link to a very cool panoramic photo of a Lebanese freedom protest.

MORE RED-LIGHT CAMERAS SHUT DOWN: Ed Cone notes what he calls a real "mess."

I'VE GOTTEN A LOT OF EMAILS about a possible coup in Syria, but without much backup. Now Publius reports that it's not true.

HENRY COPELAND talks about blogs, advertising, and more, in an interview by John Hawkins.


Iraqi popular opinion has turned against terrorism in a big way. Apparently the key event was the revelation that Osama bin Laden had appointed Abu Musab al Zarqawi as "Emir" (leader) of al Qaeda efforts in Iraq and commanded him to go forth and kill big-time. But as suicide bombing attacks increasingly failed to reach American targets, and killed Iraqis instead, it appeared that a Saudi (bin Laden) was telling a Jordanian (Zarqawi) to kill Iraqis. This attitude never made headlines, but it slowly spread among Sunni Arab Iraqis over the last year. . . .

A big story that the media missed was that American troops operating outside the fortified camps (like the Green Zone) were a lot closer to what was going on than your average reporter (who doesn't get out much because of the danger). The combat troops, and many of the non-combat troops, deal with the danger, and Iraqis, on a daily basis. The troops saw the change in attitude among Iraqis. They also saw, in neighborhood after neighborhood, the sharp decline in attacks on coalition and Iraqi forces.

What's more, the article notes, firsthand reports from the troops via email, etc., have undermined the press's reputation, as the problems with its reporting have become apparent. Indeed.

UPDATE: This post almost immediately caused a reader to forward me a very interesting email. I don't know the sender, but it's certainly consistent with other things I've seen, and goes well beyond the general media coverage outside places like StrategyPage. Click "read more" to read it. [LATER: And to read an email from reader John Lucas about his son's experience returning to Baghdad.]

Read More ?

MICKEY KAUS: "People I trust tell me NPR's behavior in this matter is beginning to stink. Shouldn't NPR President and CEO Kevin Klose (FY 2003 compensation: $377,999**) convene a staff meeting at which he brandishes a stuffed moose?"

March 16, 2005

EUGENE VOLOKH: "I am being perfectly serious, by the way. I like civilization, but some forms of savagery deserve to be met not just with cold, bloodless justice but with the deliberate infliction of pain, with cruel vengeance rather than with supposed humaneness or squeamishness. I think it slights the burning injustice of the murders, and the pain of the families, to react in any other way."

The notion that civilization equals squeamishness is not supported by history.

UPDATE: According to Jon Henke, Volokh sounds downright Jeffersonian.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Notorious Gandhi-quoting liberal Clayton Cramer is disgusted by Volokh's comments.


TREY JACKSON is asking for video advice. I find MPEG files a bit large.

"ELISABETH" -- White House mystery woman? Somebody tell Atrios! I'm sure he'll be right on it.

UPDATE: A reader suggests that it may be Elizabeth Becker of The New York Times, who coauthored this story on Wolfowitz's appointment, which has passages like this:

President Bush said today that he would nominate Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense and one of the chief architects of the invasion of Iraq two years ago, to become president of the World Bank.

The announcement, coming on the heels of the appointment of John R. Bolton as the new American ambassador to the United Nations, was greeted with quiet anguish in those foreign capitals where the Iraq conflict and its aftermath remain deeply unpopular, and where Mr. Wolfowitz's drive to spread democracy around the world has been viewed with some suspicion. . . .

Despite the displeasure of some diplomats who had hoped that the administration would appoint a person without the almost radioactive reputation of a committed ideologue, they said that they expected Mr. Wolfowitz to receive the approval of the World Bank's board of directors in time for Mr. Wolfensohn's departure in May.

Indeed it does. And note that this article isn't even captioned "News Analysis" -- it's supposed to be, you know, straight reporting.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Fred Kaplan writes that "Wolfowitz is not so bad a choice for World Bank boss."

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Eric Pfeiffer says it was Elisabeth Bumiller, not Elizabeth Becker. I guess Becker's just guilty of shoddy pseudo-journalism, not press-conference preening. Or maybe it's her coauthor, David Sanger? Doesn't sound like him, really, but who knows?

Stephen Hayes also credits (if that's the word) the question to Bumiller, and has some observations on Wolfowitz's surprisingly strong base of Democratic support:

Biden said he believes Wolfowitz will enjoy strong support in Europe. "I've had a lot of talks about Paul in European capitals. They know him as a serious intellectual and an engine of change."

Although some Democrats have criticized the selection, notably House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, others have praised the pick. "I know him to be an extraordinarily intelligent, creative thinker who has the potential to do a good job at the World Bank," said Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, regarded as one of the Senate's most partisan members.

But, apparently, less partisan than the two Elis(z)abeths!

MORE: Reader P.S. Malloy observes: "Maybe they are two different people, but if so that just compounds the mystery. They both used the phrase 'chief architect' of the Iraq war. Is that a coincidence or is there some collusion among NYT writers as to how to characterize administration personnel? Does the Times pass around among its reporters suggested monikers for public figures it does not favor?" Probably came from a MoveOn email.

STILL MORE: Related comments here: "Where is Jeff Gannon when we need him?" It wasn't just Bumiller engaging in gratuitous attacks disguised as questions. "If reporters are going to preface questions with a long, hostile preamble, is it too much to expect them to get their facts right?" Yes, it is.

MORE STILL: Showing his usual deft political judgment, John Kerry is opposing Wolfowitz, which gets this rather harsh reaction:

Senator Kerry’s diatribe boggles the mind. The nonsense about “Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz's repeated and serious miscalculations about the costs and risks America would face in Iraq[,]” is ironic, to say the least, on two obvious levels.

First, Senator Kerry himself has made “repeated and serious miscalculations about” every important strategic issue in the last 30 years – wrong about the Vietcong, wrong about Latin America, wrong about the Soviet Union, wrong about defense spending, wrong about terrorism, etc. If he is bent on attacking someone, I’m not sure track record is the way for him in particular to go.

Second, one thing I left off the above list is Iraq – Sen. Kerry was spectacularly wrong about that, too. And Paul Wolfowitz was right. . . . But while Sen. Kerry spent months arguing with himself about Saddam Hussein, Dep. Sec’y Wolfowitz was busy winning the war and holding fast in the belief that Muslims living under tyrannical terrorist regimes yearned for freedom just like everyone else, and that helping them achieve it was the best guarantor of American national security. We are now watching that vision transform the Middle East.


STILL MORE: Several readers note that -- although the Becker link above still works -- the Times is now fronting its International page with this, more muted version of the story, which omits most of the cheap shots.

Is the NYT going to a blog-based model -- publish, then edit?

WELL, WHY NOT: The Carnival of the Carnivals is up. If you want to diversify your blog reading-list, this should do the trick.

I'D RATHER HAVE THE BMW, I think. Even a Bangle-designed one.

MAYBE IT'S SOMETHING IN THE WATER THE VODKA: But the guestbloggers over at Stephen Green's place sure seem to be having a good time.



UPDATE: Chris Nolan: "For the record, I am not a man. Even though I live in San Francisco, I have no plans to become one."

IN THE MAIL: An interesting article by John McGinnis and Ilya Somin: Federalism vs. States' Rights: A Defense of Judicial Review in a Federal System. I think they're absolutely right in drawing a distinction between federalism and "states' rights," and in noting that many people seem to ignore that distinction.


More Iraqis believe their country is headed in the right direction and fewer think it's going wrong than at any time since the U.S. invasion two years ago, according to a new poll.

Sounds good, the usual polling disclaimers aside. (Via GeoPolitical Review).

UPDATE: Okay, some people won't think it's good news.


IN RESPONSE TO MY EARLIER POST with a quote from his book, Charles Stross emails:

Apropos the snippet of dialogue from THE ATROCITY ARCHIVES that you liked, it's not so far from the truth!

Back in the mid 1980's my brother in law was doing a PhD in philosophy of mathematics at Rochester, NY. He's (a) British and (b) a bit naive outside of a seminar room. He was rather surprised to discover that three fifths of the professors in his department were funded by DARPA or some other Pentagon-related body, for research in his field: he was specializing in Bayes' theorem and it seems the US military had a strong enough interest in Bayesian reasoning -- with particular reference to reasoning under conditions of uncertainty, where there are no prior probabilities -- to pay philosophy professors to study it. (Do I need to draw in the dotted line between a theory of uncertainty and the fog of war? :)

Nope. But where's the Office of Strategic Folklore?


SPEAKING OF NOT BEING AFRAID OF CONTROVERSY, here's a transcript of Scalia's speech on constitutional interpretation.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush has tapped Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a lightning rod for controversy as one of the main advocates for the Iraq war, as his choice for World Bank president.

It's almost as if they're trying to smoke people out.

UPDATE: It's working!

ANOTHER UPDATE: It's probably worth reading this interview with Wolfowitz.

RAND SIMBERG LOOKS AT what Airbus's problems teach us about spacecraft design.

UPDATE: More on Airbus here, and some interesting photos here.

DIGITAL CAMERA UPDATE: The Fuji S3, mentioned here before, gets a lukewarm review from Seems a bit pricey, to me, considering.

LOTS OF EDUCATION-BLOGGING: At the Carnival of Education.

MORE UN-REASSURING REASSURANCES on F.E.C. regulation of blogs.

IN THE MAIL: The American Revelation: Ten Ideals that Shaped Our Country from the Puritans to the Cold War. The typo on the Amazon site makes it look like a reggae-influenced history, but it's not actually . . . .

FELONIOUS FUNK: My TechCentralStation Column is up.

OPERATION AMERICAN FREEDOM: It's time to stand up to the new climate of fear in America.

UPDATE: Here's more on the climate of fear and crushing dissent.

JON HENKE IS CONFUSED by the Washington Post poll:

The public overwhelmingly disapproves of 1) the way Bush is handling Social Security (56% - 35%), and 2) "Bush's proposals on Social Security" (55% - 37%).

But the public also overwhelmingly supports — by a margin of 56% - 41% — "a plan in which people who chose to could invest some of their Social Security contributions in the stock market".

Which sounds shockingly like the Bush plan.

FREE HEALTH CARE IN CUBA: A touching photo essay. Well, I was touched.

MORE BLOGGING ABOUT problems with the Airbus.

THE PEOPLE'S DAILY SHAMELESSLY MISQUOTED Washington Post editor Phil Bennett, according to Hugh Hewitt.

Boy, if you can't trust a state-run media outlet, who can you trust?

March 15, 2005

ONE OF MY LEGISLATORS is blogging now. (Via Bill Hobbs).


DAVID HOROWITZ RESPONDS to charges of urban mythology.

IN THE ONLINE JOURNALISM REVIEW, Mark Glaser has more on The Times of India's assault on blogs -- and the Indian blogosphere's response:

"Maybe it's premature, but if this goes where I think it's going, it should go down in history as 'The Great Indian Blog Mutiny,'" Gupta told me via e-mail. "The Times of India has simply shown how far they've come from being a respectable newspaper to being a common school bully. If bloggers can collaborate to provide humanitarian assistance for the greatest natural disaster the living world has seen, they can certainly tackle the Times of India, a man-made ethical disaster." . . .

"In Pakistan, which is a dictatorship, you can't criticize the government but you can criticize the media. In India, which is a flourishing democratic economy, you can criticise the government - but not the media. As a result of prosperity, the guardians of our freedom of expression have become cheap entertainment portals and spin doctors." -- Rohit Gupta, freelance writer and engineer in Mumbai.

I think that the Times of India has managed to blacken its own reputation with people worldwide.

UPDATE: Shanti Mangala is declaring war.


CONSERVATIVES CHORTLE as the Harvard Arts & Sciences faculty votes no confidence in Larry Summers. Stanley Kurtz:

I think the vote of no confidence in Lawrence Summers is a wonderful thing. Harvard continues to discredit itself with the American public. The faculty is trapped. If Summers resigns, this extraordinary example of political correctness will come back to haunt Harvard, and the entire academy, for years. But if Summers hangs on, the faculty itself will have been humiliated–checked by the very fact of public scrutiny. Either way, Harvard is tearing itself apart. So long as the public simply writes of the academy, the mice can play. But the intense public scrutiny in this case puts the captains of political correctness into a no-win situation. Like the closely watched Susan Estrich fiasco, this battle is doing lasting damage to the cultural left. As they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Summers is an awfully smart man. Could this have been his plan all along?

Meanwhile, Richard Bennett looks at one of Summers' critics and asks: "What kind of a man supports the presidency of Babangida but not that of Summers?" A bit harsh, perhaps, but I do think that this will work out badly for the Harvard faculty.

James Joyner piles on.

UPDATE: Power Line: "The vote essentially represents the conviction of President Summers for not believing in the gods of the city."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Chris Bray notes that the vote was close. I suppose that's heartening, but for all I know, the legendary state legislative vote to make pi equal to three was close, too. . . . It's not the vote count that people remember.

IPODDING ALONE: Thoughts in response to Andrew Sullivan.


IT'S A TRANSPARENT TROLLING TWO-FER for John Dvorak, who launches rather weak slams at both bloggers and Mac fans.

BRIAN DUNN'S PREDICTION: "The Chinese will invade Taiwan." I certainly hope not.

UPDATE: Many readers are skeptical of Dunn's analysis, but reader Jim Satterfield isn't:

Think on this possible scenario. The Chinese consider it a very minor possibility that we would do anything to defend Taiwan. But just to cover their bases they won't move until we represent a small enough portion of their foreign trade to where they think they can take the hit by appealing to nationalism. First they will launch a massive distraction by nationalizing every American company in China and simultaneously flooding the world currency markets with their dollar reserves while stopping the acquisition of dollars. The resultant economic crash in the U.S. will pretty much guarantee that there won't be any military action taken except if America was to be attacked directly. Tyrants full of themselves and desirous of retaking what they view as their wayward territory won't necessarily stop long enough to think through the long term economic repercussions even to themselves.

Seems we could short-circuit the possibility by giving the Taiwanese nukes. And it would be payback for Iran . . . .

IRANIAN WOMEN: Two different looks. I think I know which one has more of a future.

MY EARLIER POST on why I like Charles Stross's writing goes nicely with this post by Stephen Bainbridge. He says he's pre-ordered The Hidden Family. And he offers a cogent explanation of why he likes Stross even though Stross's politics differ sharply from his. (And he offers wine advice for Stross's next work . . . .)

I'm probably in between the two, both politically and in terms of wine knowledge(I had actually noticed the same mistake Bainbridge points out), but I'm still enjoying this book, which is starting to remind me a bit of Tim Powers' Declare. Which is a good thing.


Recently, I wrote a column here calling on Dr. Rajendra Pachauri to resign as Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change because he was using his position to push a political agenda. Sadly, I now must bring the same argument against a scientist I otherwise very much admire, Dr. Leon Kass, Chairman of The President's Council on Bioethics. His recent decision to draft a political strategy aimed at achieving certain policy goals renders his position as an honest broker on the issue untenable. Yet there is a lesson to be learned from these unfortunate incidents: Science and politics cannot be separated as neatly as scientists and policy makers think.

According to The Washington Post, Dr. Kass has teamed up with Eric Cohen, editor of the excellent journal of science, politics and philosophy The New Atlantis, to devise "a bold and plausible 'offensive' bioethics agenda…[aimed at] tak[ing] advantage of this rare opportunity to enact significant bans on some of the most egregious biotechnological practices."

The merits of Dr. Kass's preferred policies are irrelevant here. The problem is that by hitching his star to a particular set of policies he has breached the trust set in him by the President, whose executive order creating the council asked it to "explore specific ethical and policy questions related to these developments; [and] to provide a forum for a national discussion of bioethical issues." At the very least, by sheer virtue of his position, his favored policies are more likely to get a hearing than those of other well-qualified bioethicists who do not have the authority of such an office (a point well made by Roger Pielke Jr of the University of Colorado here). Such a prospect would seriously undermine in the principle of "procedural justice" -- the right of all sides of a political argument to be heard without fear or favor.

You can read an earlier column of mine on Kass, here.

UPDATE: And read this post by Virginia Postrel, which suggests that Kass is just coming out of the closet, now.

ANOTHER UPDATE: James Q. Wilson, who serves on the Kass Council, emails to say that he thinks I, and other Kass critics, are being unfair, and that the Council, while not "objective," is procedurally fair. So is Wilson a dupe, or am I an idiot? Faced with that choice, you'd be wise to bet on me being an idiot, of course. . . .

IN THE MAIL: Jerome Corsi's new book, Atomic Iran: How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians. Looks pretty, um, explosive.

BIG MEDIA CRUSHES A BLOGGER: IN INDIA. I suspect that this will simply encourage a lot of anonymous gossip-blogs to form, and pay close attention to the goings-on at The Times of India and its corporate affiliates.

And it'll serve 'em right if it does.

HOW TO SPOT A flourishing political movement.

JEFF JARVIS: "I'm white. I'm male. I blog. You got a problem with that? Tough. . . . Levy challenges the blogosphere to find 50 new voices to link to. I'll turn it around, Steven: Let's see you and Newsweek find and quote and listen to and link to 50 new voices never heard before in mainstream media every week."

THE IMPRISONED BAHRAINI BLOGGERS have been released, as Bahrain makes some pro-democracy moves.

INSIDE HIGHER ED has more on the Horowitz story. The Gloria Reynolds in the story is no relation.


HEALTHCARE BLOGGING! This week's Grand Rounds is up. And, just in case that's not enough for you, here's a blog entirely about colonoscopies!

CARNIVAL OF THE CANADIANS: This week's Red Ensign Standard is up.


GEORGE W. BUSH: Hero of the Arab Street?

March 14, 2005


AUSTIN BAY: I told you so!

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF posts his regular roundup of good news from Iraq and observes:

Is the situation in Iraq getting better? It's not really up to me to answer that question, but I can try to answer another one: is reporting from Iraq getting better? To find out, I decided to look back at the past installments of this series and do a little count. For the sake of simplicity I started with Part 6, which happened to be the first one to be also published by the "Opinion Journal". When printed out, that July 19, 2004 edition of "Good news from Iraq" is 10 and a half pages long, and contains links to 71 "good news" stories. Since then, the length of each installment has fluctuated, but the overall trend has been up. So much so that the "Good news from Iraq" you're reading now is 23 and a half pages long and contains 178 links to "good news stories."

The same trend is evident in my "Good news from Afghanistan". The first installment published by the "Opinion Journal" (and second overall in the series) of July 26, 2004, was 6 and a half pages long when printed out and contained 55 links. The latest one, number 10 of March 7, 2005, is 19 pages long and contains 124 links.

Either there is more and more good news coming out of both Iraq or Afghanistan, or the reporters are getting increasingly optimistic about the situation there, or both. Whatever's the answer, it's good news.

Read the whole thing . . . if you have time!

WHO KNEW? Apparently, I'm a shill for the Ward Churchill crowd. "Glenn Reynolds is a university professor with a vested interest in this issue."

UPDATE: Or maybe not -- see his response in the comments. And there's no reason to be nasty to him, anyway.

CLAUDIA ROSETT POSTS a report from Beirut.

THOMAS LIPSCOMB WRITES IN EDITOR AND PUBLISHER about why RatherGate and EasonGate are still open:

Whatever CBS and CNN may have done wrong originally, both organizations compounded it by going into a coverup mode worthy of the Nixon White House or Bernie Ebbers’ Worldcom board room. The “suits” simply ran a classic corporate crisis-management operation to prevent the important news about what had really happened in their organizations from ever seeing the light of day.

Both The New York Times and USA Today, faced with their respective newsroom fantasists, Jayson Blair and Jack Kelley, felt obliged to send their news teams back to re-report the stories in question. They then detailed their errors in full. What should CBS and CNN have done? . . .

Whatever CNN wanted to do, like Dan Rather, it didn’t do it. Like CBS it did serious damage to a brand name that had taken decades of fine work to establish. And so CNN’s latest February Nielsen ratings, post-Jordangate, dropped 21%, to about one-third of Fox’s. And this is in a day when even flagship sinecures of indispensable information like The New York Times Co. and Dow Jones are projecting hard times.

Readership and audiences of the mainstream media are dropping like a stone, but the reporting by the mainstream media on Rathergate and Easongate give little sign that anyone understands why. CJR Daily managing editor Steve Lovelady gave a pretty accurate consensus of the mainstream media's view of what the real problem was: the bloggers did it! Rather and Jordan went down, he said, because: "The salivating morons who make up the lynch mob prevail."

If it takes “salivating morons” to get major news organizations to clean up their acts and remember Journalism 101, may they slobber on -- before the American people stop paying any attention to big media at all. In the end, as The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz points out, Jordan only resigned “following a relentless campaign by online critics but scant coverage in the mainstream press.” Those of us in mainstream media had better ask why we didn’t do a better job ourselves.

Read the whole thing.

REPRINTING PRESS RELEASES: More fake news of the sort I mentioned below.

UPDATE: Aaron Brown discusses journalism with The Baron.

ANTI-JORDANIAN PROTESTS IN BAGHDAD: "Thousands of Iraqi Shi'ites protested on Monday after hearing reports that relatives of a Jordanian suicide bomber suspected of killing 125 people in the town of Hilla celebrated him as a martyr. After breaking into the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad and tearing down the flag, protesters called on all foreign Arabs to leave the country and denounced Jordan's King Abdullah." Zarqawi, of course, is a Jordanian. Very interesting. (Via The Corner).

Photo here.

UPDATE: Even Madonna is getting into the act . . . .

CATHY SEIPP WONDERS what's wrong with Susan Estrich. She does seem to have gone over the top. Seipp says the real question is, "Why are Kinsley and his team only going after East Coast names for the West Coast's biggest paper?"

AUSTIN BAY says it's the era of the armed liberal. Indeed. [LATER: A predictable "heh."]

UPDATE: Lebanon in one sentence. Pretty much!

THE PROTESTS IN LEBANON seem to be just enormous.

I hope that they're getting the attention they deserve from world media, and especially from Arab media.

There certainly seem to be a lot of them. Crowd counts are notoriously uncertain, but the reports of over a million are certainly going to get attention, especially from people in other Arab countries. (And here's a comparison of last week's Hizbollah rallies with the final pro-segregation demonstrations in Mississippi.)

This is exactly the sort of thing we need to see. I hope that the Syrians are wise enough to beat a hasty retreat.

Lots more pictures here.

APPARENTLY, DAVID HOROWITZ IS NOT RECYCLING URBAN LEGENDS AFTER ALL, as Jonathan Dresner suggested in the Cliopatria item I linked earlier. But as Dresner noted, it's good to have this cleared up, so it won't serve as a lingering distraction.

HERE'S MORE ON KYRGYZSTAN, while Sam Jaffe observes that Lebanon is looking more and more like Ukraine.

PEOPLE HAVE WONDERED BEFORE why I like Charles Stross. Perhaps this bit of dialogue from The Atrocity Archives will illustrate:

I play dumb: suddenly my heart is hammering between my ribs. "And is this useful?"

She looks amused. "It pays the bills."


The amusement vanishes. "Eighty percent of the philosophical logic research in this country is paid for by the Pentagon, Bob. If you want to work here you'll need to get your head around that fact . . . . They're looking for a breakthrough. Knowing how to deconstruct any opponent's ideological infrastructure and derive self-propagating conceptual viruses based on its blind spots, for example."

If only the Pentagon did have a section devoted to offensive philosophy and "strategic folklore". . . . But then, it is science fiction. Or is it? Heh.


The University of Wisconsin-Madison's health services division has been publishing newspaper ads encouraging students to have emergency contraception - the so-called morning-after pill - on hand during spring break, a move that is rankling abortion critics in the state.

You'd think that anti-abortion folks would approve, unless they just don't like the idea of people having sex, which certainly seems to be the issue in the article. My own criticism -- not echoed in the article -- is that they should be encouraging students to take non-emergency contraceptives with them. I mean, if you're going to be prepared, why not be properly prepared?

UPDATE: Clayton Cramer emails:

Is that it isn't a contraceptive. It works by preventing implantation AFTER conception. If you believe that life begins at conception (a position that even the Catholic Church didn't take until pretty recently--the medieval Church believed that life began 40 days afterwards), then opposing the morning after pill is completely consistent.

That's true, but there's nothing along those lines in the article. Instead there's stuff like this: ""an insult to women. It trivializes the marriage act to begin with, and I think it's insulting to the self-esteem and dignity of women."

Could they have left out the part where she says "it's abortion!" and kept the rest? Maybe, but even for Big Media that seems rather extreme. And, of course, it's an argument that I find unpersuasive, since I don't believe that a zygote is a person. Then again, I don't find the "trivializing the marriage act" bit very persuasive either.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen St. Onge points to this passage:

The pills work in complex ways, including preventing sperm and egg from joining and altering the lining of the uterus, which would keep a fertilized egg from implanting. The latter is what many abortion opponents find objectionable.

Jeez, if that was there before I don't know how I missed it, as I was looking for just that sort of thing. But I could have, I guess; I've been a bit distracted today. My apologies, if so. Meanwhile Kevin Menard emails with a criticism that I agree with:

The other problem, and the part that annoys me with this ad, is it encourages unprotected sex. This is true of many methods but the whole pitch here is act stupidly and then take this and fix it. Okay but what about the rest of the problems? One college clinic I know of spends spring break stocking up for what is unofficially and politically incorrectly called STD week. Following spring break, they see more STDs than in the rest of the semester. A lot of people come home from spring break with more souvenirs than they realized. STDs are a bigger issue than we admit: 30-50% of sexually active young women have one. The military has 10% of female recruits have untreated Chlamydia. Pushing the morning after pill like that is medically irresponsible as it encourages risky behavior. After all some STDs are forever. Getting knocked up is not the only issue.

Use a rubber, folks. You'll be glad you did.


ECONOBLOGARAMA: This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up!


At 35 000 feet above the Caribbean, Air Transat flight 961 was heading home to Quebec with 270 passengers and crew. At 3.45pm last Sunday, the pilot noticed something very unusual. His Airbus A310's rudder -- a structure over 8m high -- had fallen off and tumbled into the sea. In the world of aviation, the shock waves have yet to subside. . . .

One former Airbus pilot, who now flies Boeings for a major United States airline, told The Observer: "This just isn't supposed to happen. No one I know has ever seen an airliner's rudder disintegrate like that. It raises worrying questions about the materials and build of the aircraft, and about its maintenance and inspection regime. We have to ask as things stand, would evidence of this type of deterioration ever be noticed before an incident like this in the air?"

He and his colleagues also believe that what happened may shed new light on a previous disaster. In November 2001, 265 people died when American Airlines flight 587, an Airbus A300 model which is almost identical to the A310, crashed shortly after take-off from JFK airport in New York. According to the official report into the crash, the immediate cause was the loss of the plane's rudder and tailfin, though this was blamed on an error by the pilots.

Not encouraging. Meanwhile, Billy Beck, who sent the link, also notes another aviation-related item that seems a bit, well, lame.

PUBLIUS has a huge Lebanon roundup. They're estimating 1.3 million anti-Syrian protesters.

Meanwhile, in the mail is this book on Hizbollah in America -- I'm no fan of coauthor Tom Diaz's work on guns, and efforts to tie domestic gun-control agendas to antiterrorism, but I don't know how this book stacks up. Despite his gun-control leanings, Diaz is a smart guy, and the Publisher's Weekly review promises "a minimum of political ax-grinding," for whatever that's worth.

A BIG ANTI-SYRIAN MOBILIZATION IN LEBANON, according to this email from Walid Phares.

HEH: "You know it's a dictatorship when . . . ."

MICKEY KAUS: "It's not nice to scam Tim Russert!"

THIS is interesting:

Liberal Bloggers Reach Out to Mainstream Media

The bloggers, who describe themselves as liberal or progressive, say the conference calls are intended to counter what they regard as the much stronger influence of conservative pundits online. Bob Fertik, president of, the host of the two calls so far, views them as a step toward getting their reports out to mainstream news organizations.

While there is no way to know precisely who dialed in, reporters from news organizations including CBS, The Washington Post, Newsweek, MSNBC and The National Journal asked for a call-in number, according to one participant.

Hmm. Maybe that explains this phenomenon. But the best bit is here:

Asked what lessons liberal and progressive bloggers could learn from the experience of FreeRepublic, Mr. Taylor replied that while "I'm loath to give them advice," they might have to outgrow the conspiracy-theory stage of blogging to produce reports that are credible and relevant to a wider audience.

"In the old days of FreeRepublic," he said, "we had all kinds of black helicopters" and speculation about the effect of the Y2K problem. After the world did not end on Jan. 1, 2000, he said, "We tried to be more realistic."

Words of wisdom.

March 13, 2005

"I GENERALLY VOTE REPUBLICAN, AND I'M ASHAMED OF THE REPUBLICANS:" Here's video of Dave Ramsey savaging the bankruptcy bill. "You've got a bad business model because you give dead people, dogs, and people who shouldn't have credit cards, credit cards -- then quit giving them credit cards! . . . This is bought and paid for by the bankers, baby, and it is anti-consumer -- a real bad plan. I am positive that the backers of the plan had their back pocket in mind. . . . It's wrong."

A LOT OF PEOPLE are noticing this story from the New York Times about prepackaged fake news from the Bush Administration. But if you read the whole thing, to coin a phrase, you come upon this passing acknowledgement:

The practice, which also occurred in the Clinton administration, is continuing despite President Bush's recent call for a clearer demarcation between journalism and government publicity efforts.

Funny, but I don't remember much of a stink about it when it happened during the Clinton Administration. However, Peter Morgan and I wrote about the practice in The Appearance of Impropriety and you can read a slightly-different version online here:

Those who followed the uproar of Senator Biden’s speech, or for that matter the more recent flap over Joe Klein’s false denial of authorship with regard to the novel Primary Colors, might have been surprised to know how little of the content in their daily newspaper or newscast actually originated with the producers and editors.

News stories, to a degree seldom appreciated by the general public, are often the product of press releases generated by trade associations and interest groups. Often those releases are converted into news stories by the simple expedient of placing a reporter's byline on top. Television news stories (especially those appearing on local stations) are often supplied fully produced, with blank spots left for the local news reporter to insert commentary that makes the story appear his or her own. Opinion columns are often "placed" by businesses or interest groups to support a particular point of view -- often, they are even written by those groups and then run with the byline of distinguished individuals, or even regular commentators, who have barely read the piece, much less written it. Indeed, the Sasso "attack video" was something of this sort, for the journalists who broke the Biden/Kinnock story did not at first disclose their source.

Most readers and viewers have small appreciation of how little of what they see on television or read in newspapers and magazines is original with the reporters, editors, and producers involved. Yet in fact news organizations are highly dependent on predigested information from public relations firms, government officials, and advocacy groups, information that is often passed on to their readers and viewers with no indication that it is not original. That problem is not new, but it has gotten worse in recent years. . . .

Although a "video news release" is still more expensive to produce than a standard paper press release, they have become much more common. According to a recent poll, seventy-five percent of TV news directors reported using video news releases at least once per day.

These releases, with their high quality images and slick production, are produced by companies and groups who want to get their message across, but don't want simply to purchase advertising time. They are designed so that television producers at local stations or (less often) major networks, can simply intersperse shots of their own reporters or anchors (often reading scripted lines provided with the release) to give the impression that the story is their own. Their use has been the subject of considerable controversy within the journalistic profession, although some commentators have claimed that they are used no more often, or misleadingly, than written press releases are used by the print media.

A recent scandal in Britain involved network use of a video news release produced by the group Greenpeace that some considered misleading. But of course for every video news release, or VNR as they are called in the trade, that comes from an environmental group there are hundreds that come from businesses or government organizations. Though a keen eye can usually spot a VNR (hint: the subject matter wouldn't otherwise be news, and it usually involves experts and locales far from the station that airs it) most viewers probably believe that today’s story on cell-phone safety or miracle bras is just another product of the news program's producers – and hence, implicitly backed by the news people’s public commitment to objective journalism. The truth, however, is different.

It is fair to say that the wholesale use of others' work is a major part of modern journalism. But news officials are quick to distinguish that from plagiarism. In a mini-scandal at the San Diego Tribune, a reporter's story was cancelled when editors noticed that it looked very much like a story that had already appeared elsewhere. At first, presumably, it was thought that the story had been taken from the other publication. Then it turned out that both stories were simply near-verbatim versions of a press release. According to the Tribune's deputy editor, that wasn't plagiarism. "If you look up the definition of plagiarism, it is the unauthorized use of someone's material. When someone sends you a press packet, you're entitled to use everything in there."

Follow the link, if you want more, including a quote from Daniel Boorstin demonstrating that fake news goes back a long way. Suddenly, however, it's controversial. Perhaps if "real" news were, well, better, it would be harder to pass off the fake stuff . . . .

UPDATE: Here's an earlier column of mine on this phenomenon, in the non-profit context.

ROGER SIMON quotes Moon Zappa.


HEH. Indeed.

JOHN HAWKINS SHILLS FOR AN ADVERTISER: More than they thought they were buying, I suspect.

INTERESTING ARTICLE ON LIFE EXTENSION in Sunday's (London) Times. Aubrey de Grey and Leon Kass are featured; you can read my interview of de Grey from a while back here. Meanwhile, Dr. Tony looks at medicine in 2030. Bring it on!

STEPHEN GREEN JOINS THE CULT, having purchased a 30G iPod Photo.

Quoth Stephen: "Did I mention how tiny, shiny and pretty it is?"

UPDATE: How can you resist when Nostradamus predicted the iPod? Or was it the "iSpud?" [The "iSpud" could be a powerful anti-terror weapon! -- Ed. Just call 'em "Freedom Fries."]

GREYHAWK OF THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE has put in his 20 years. In an email, he observes:

As an Active Duty guy this means I can retire and get half my pay (or from another angle, that I'm now actually working for only half my pay) - a figure that can be called 'modest' at best. But that and some small advertising income may allow me to devote full time energies to blogging, and I'm seriously considering it.

I wouldn't quit my dayjob for blogging, but then I'm not eligible for retirement. If you'd like him to go fulltime, be sure to patronize his blog advertisers, buy things via his Amazon links, hit his tipjar, send him positive email, etc. In other words, do what you'd do for any blogger you like.

He's certainly on a hot streak -- just keep scrolling. Maybe pro-blogging will suit him!

I STILL MISS WILL VEHRS' PUNDITWATCH, whose hiatus appears to have become permanent. But this roundup of the Sunday shows from RedState is pretty good.

A RATHER NEGATIVE REVIEW of the CBS RatherGate report, in the New York Review of Books.

TODD ZYWICKI continues to defend the bankruptcy bill.

OUCH: Lance Frizzell photoblogs some reasons to keep the U.N. out of Iraq.

STEVEN LEVY SAYS that the blogosphere needs more diversity:

Law professor Susan Estrich has been hammering Michael Kinsley, the editorial-page editor of the Los Angeles Times, for not running a sufficient number of op-ed pieces by women and minorities. Though the e-mail exchange between the two deteriorated into a spitting match, both agreed that extra care is required to make sure public discussion reflects the actual population.

The top-down mainstream media have to some degree found the will and the means to administer such care. But is there a way to promote diversity online, given the built-in decentralization of the blog world?

I don't think I like the mainstream media method of achieving diversity, though:

I remember visiting Bob Berger, the op-ed editor, back in the early '90s. An old-style newspaperman, Bob didn't like the paper's demands that he demonstrate "diversity" on the op-ed pages. I especially remember his complaint that he not only had to find gay writers but gay writers who would mention that they were gay. No gay foreign policy experts need apply.

Of course, you don't get to be an editor in a giant, bureaucratic newspaper if you don't do what you're told. Bob not only complied but posted a chart on his door to prove what a good job he was doing. It showed each day's op-ed page as a line of five boxes, one for each article slot. The boxes were colored either blue or pink.

That's the LAT! Think inside the box! But if you look at the kind of hate that Zephyr Teachout got from her fellow Deaniacs (see the comments to this post), and if you believe, as Ann Althouse seems to, that women are more sensitive to that sort of attack than men are, then more politeness might help.

But is there really a difference there? If I were a woman, would I have been more hurt when Steven Levy called me an "ankle biter?" Should I have been?

I know that a lot of women feel that men are clamoring to get ahead of them, but on the other hand, I know that a lot of men are afraid that women will pile all over them -- and play the double-standard "you're hitting a girl" gender card -- if they say the wrong thing. (And there's evidence for this -- ask Larry Summers.) That's gender dynamics.

Christine Hurt has thoughts on this phenomenon, and observes:

In the blawgosphere, one thing that I have noticed is that a lot of disagreement goes on among fellow blawgers. I was initially uncomfortable with this and would get nervous, "Oh, no -- X just criticized Y's post! What is Y going to do?" Then I realized that life would go on, and next week Y might agree with X. This is the way of intellectual discourse, but I don't think it comports with the way that women build relationships.

So, we do we change law school and legal practice and the blawgosphere to conform to the way that women are raised to be sweet and build consensus? No. I think we should teach our girls to speak up without fear. To raise their hands and volunteer, even though they may be completely wrong. To disagree with each other without fear of losing respect or friendship. To not fear having others disagree with them. I have noticed that although there are few female law professor blawgs, there are plenty of female law student blawgs. I think the tide is turning.

Me too. This issue seems to appear more or less annually in the blogosphere. At the very least, we're doing a better job of dealing with it than Bob Berger.

UPDATE: LaShawn Barber has thoughts on the power of email. Don't be a pest (there's one guy who emails me every time he updates his blog, which as a consequence I've never visited) but don't be too shy, either. I try to get around, but there are a lot of blogs. I'm more likely to discover your blog if you send me a link to a post that I'll be interested in. For more useful advice, I recommend Ambra Nykol's How to Blog Like a Rock Star, which I mentioned a while back.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Chris Nolan blames Big Media: "Big Media reporters prefer to deal with the 'top-tier' bloggers and folks in their own part of the world – the East Coast. That's who they call for TV. That's who makes it onto dial-a-quote lists. Those appearance reinforce Big Boy Bloggers' bigger numbers. On Charlie Rose' blog show, the guest were Glenn Reynolds, Anna Marie Cox and Andrew Sullivan, no one west of the Mississippi. No minorities. Now that's diversity Big Media style." I'm an "East Coast blogger?" This is starting to sound like rap . . . .

Meanwhile, Sissy Willis says I am Blogger, hear me roar . . . "

MORE: Reader Anthony Forte thinks that Levy's view of diversity is too narrow:

I thought that Steven Levy's complaints about gender and racial diversity were kind of interesting, considering how diverse the "white males" that "dominate" the top bloggers are. A look at, say, the TTLB Ecosystem reveals people with very different political opinions, life experiences, day jobs, and perspectives. To complain that that this is meaningless because they are the same race/gender seems rather narrowminded.

He's got more on his blog, with an amusing post title.

STILL MORE: Roxanne is merciless. She's not afraid to speak out! And Gerard van der Leun notes that it all comes back to the Law of the Blogger in the end.

HERE'S A COOL PHOTO BLOG FROM IRAQ, by a civilian who's working there.


Egyptian blogger Big Pharaoh is happy, but also reports that the Mubarak regime is responding with a barrage of anti-American propaganda in government media.

Thanks, Hosni, for playing into our hands. When your regime is toppled, people will give us the credit, now, instead of blaming us for propping you up!

I'M AT THE CAR WASH (FREE WI-FI!) watching Henry Kissinger and Richard Holbrooke talk about Syria and Lebanon on CNN. Kissinger expects Syria to play "cheat and retreat," while Holbrooke seems a bit more hopeful.

MORE BOLIVIA NEWS AT PUBLIUS: "The people have spoken. Thousands of Bolivians in many cities have come out and rallied behind President Mesa. Gratifyingly, the news photos showed lots of Indian faces. President Mesa’s victory from his ‘resignation’ seems to have forged a fragile consensus across the country in favor of freer markets, foreign investment and more openness to the world."

But what will Hugo Chavez say? Or do?

MORE NEWS from Kyrgyzstan and Riyadh.

SUNNY AND IN THE 60S: Went for a walk in Sequoyah Park (pictured here) with the Insta-Daughter. I didn't get as much exercise as I would have if I had gone alone, but there were other rewards.

BUT I THOUGHT BLOGS DON'T DO ORIGINAL REPORTING? Austin Bay interviews Benazir Bhutto.


INSTAPUNDIT'S AFGHANISTAN PHOTO CORRESPONDENT, Major John Tammes, has come to the end of his deployment. That's good news for him, but bad news for InstaPundit readers, as his photos and reports have provided a view of Afghanistan that Big Media folks haven't. (And they've wound up in some big media outlets!) Please join me in thanking him for his service to the nation, to the world, and to the blogosphere. Meanwhile, here's his final report:

I actually got a chance to go “outside the wire” one more time – so this will be my last report before redeploying home. On the way back from Charikar, I saw this remnant of the old “Hippie Trail” days. I gather that hippy-types used to stumble off of Chicken Street in Kabul into buses like this, and head up to Charikar for further “enlightenment”. As I leave here, I hope Afghanistan can one day be a tourist destination again – if for more, er…sober type individuals. . . .

I could not believe that 20 years and one day ago, I had enlisted as a private in the Illinois Army National Guard – and now here I was, one last time, staring out over the Afghan countryside. There is so much more I could tell - I have seen so many things here that break your heart, and many that gave renewed hope – but that will be for another time. I will limit myself, in conclusion, to thanking you for letting one citizen-soldier tell the world at least some of what is happening here.

As I said, thanks are due to you, Major Tammes, and not the other way around. And we'll see tourism sooner than it seems now, I predict. It's fitting, perhaps, that an Afghan blog has appeared just as Major Tammes is leaving.

Here's a self-portrait that Major Tammes sent me a while ago, along with a few of his photos. In most cases you can click on them for the original report.



UPDATE: Some people wonder what kind of camera Major Tammes was using. As I mentioned before at some point, he's been using an Olympus C-750. I resized his photos, and applied a bit of color-correction and sharpening sometimes.

And at the risk of being snarky regarding the "blogs don't do original reporting" claim, I'll note that thanks to Major Tammes, InstaPundit had more correspondents in Afghanistan than most major U.S. newspapers.