June 25, 2005

BILL QUICK has a cooking thread. I'm of the do-most-everything-with-a-chef's-knife school myself, though a good fillet knife can come in very handy.

GORDON SMITH on the politics of faculty hiring.

THE KELO DISCUSSION over at SCOTUSblog continues, with the latest post coming from Bob Ellickson, who observes: "In short, the Institute for Justice should be delighted that popular opinion has moved so sharply its way. I actually worry that political opposition to eminent domain may go too far, as it has in Japan, where completion of the second runway at Tokyo's Narita Airport has proved to be impossible."

I think we're a long way from that. Most everyone I've heard opine on Kelo thinks that takings for public works are fine; the opposition is to taking for the sort of "economic development" project that Ellickson agrees tends to be a boondoggle. The danger, however, is that the public may grow sufficiently disgusted with the boondoggles that it stops making that sort of distinction. I don't think we're close to that situation, either, but I don't think this decision is helping.

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs has been asking candidates about Kelo and is posting their responses.



NEW LONDON, Conn. - When a divided Supreme Court broadened the government's right to seize private property this past week, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor painted a grim portrait of what she saw coming.

She said wealthy investors and city leaders had been given the power to run people from their homes to make way for new development. The line between public and private property has been blurred, O'Connor said in her dissent, and no home is safe.

While municipal leaders say O'Connor's view is unrealistic, people who have fought eminent domain say it's already here.

Read the whole thing.

D.C. JOURNALISTS pick their favorite political blogs.


The U.S. Army, scrambling to maintain strength, are now making it easier for reservists to move over to the regular army. This is partly the result of commanders noticing that a lot of reservists are quite enthusiastic about being on active duty, and many are eager to stay on active duty. But by law, unless Congress declares a general mobilization, most reservists cannot be kept on active duty much longer. The maximum time a reservist can be on active duty for the current "emergency" is 24 months. The army isn’t saying how many additional regular army troops it is going to pick up with this program, but it will probably be several thousand, and maybe much more. An important aspect of this is that these troops have a lot of experience, making them much more valuable than newly trained recruits.

It's interesting that retention seems to be going much better than recruitment. Perhaps the view of what's going on that the troops get in the field is more positive than the view that potential recruits get from the media.

GENOCIDE IN ZIMBABWE: Normblog has a report on what the Archbishop of Bulawayo is saying.

BRAD RUBENSTEIN is Roomba-blogging. I hope his experience is better than mine.

ACCORDING TO THE INSTA-DAUGHTER AND INSTA-NIECE, who watched it on DVD last night, this is the best movie ever made. I'm not so sure: I think that this is a stronger candidate.

UPDATE: Roger Simon offers alternate suggestions.


Liberals woke up yesterday morning wondering what happened to their Democratic Party. Literally overnight, the Democrats had become the President's staunchest supporters in the war on terror. As much as we welcome the party's change of heart, we were surprised to see that it was precipitated by the architect himself, Karl Rove.

I told you he was smart. Or maybe he just got good academic advice!

UPDATE: "Karl does know his opponent."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Supporting the troops.

THIS IS SURE TO ENRICH SOME PLAINTIFFS' LAWYERS: Major companies are using spyware.

UPDATE: Reader Rob Beile emails:

It seems to me the advertiser that doesn't condone this practice has about ten minutes to incorporate appropriate language into the contracts they sign with their respective advertising firms. Otherwise they lose any credibility when it comes to a claiming they disapprove of the practice. The clock started in about 1998.



The Leo Burnett advertising agency, which created the iconic macho cowboy, said a new study it conducted found that half the men in most parts of the world don't know what is expected of them in society and three-quarters of them think images of men in advertising are out of touch with reality.

Most ads have lumped men into one of two groups -- the soft, caring type known as "metrosexuals," who are comfortable with facial peels and pink shirts, or the stereotypical "retrosexuals," who remain oafishly addicted to beer and sports. . . .

"Men are far more complex than advertisers give them credit for," said Linda Kovarik, global planning director for beauty care at Leo Burnett, a unit of French ad group Publicis.

Do tell.


It was Hobbes's prescription for "war of every man against every man," and he was echoed by newspaper predictions of a "theater of tragic events" in which "brute force will reign triumphant." But the miners peacefully worked out rules for delineating claims and resolving disputes so well that the system was adopted at later camps like Deadwood.

Roger McGrath, a historian who studied dozens of Western mining camps and towns, found a high rate of homicide in them mainly because it was socially acceptable for young, drunk single men to resolve points of honor by fighting to the death. But other violence wasn't tolerated, he said.

"It was a rather polite and civil society enforced by armed men," Dr. McGrath said. "The rate of burglary and robbery was lower than in American cities today. Claim-jumping was rare. Rape was extraordinarily rare - you can argue it wasn't being reported, but I've never seen evidence hinting at that."

An armed society is a polite society, as Robert Heinlein noted.


British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says there were widespread complaints of security forces and other arms of the government improperly interfering in the first round of voting.

He said many candidates, including all women, were barred by Iran's Guardian Council from running. Many more potential candidates were deterred from participating by the election procedures.

Media accounts seem to be parroting Iranian reports of large turnout, though Publius reports that turnout was very small.

June 24, 2005

AL-QAEDARRRIFIC? I confess, I'm less impressed with Google News than I used to be.

IRANIANS ARE MASSIVELY BOYCOTTING THE RUNOFF ELECTION, reports Publius, with lots more information.

I SHOULD HAVE BEEN PAYING MORE ATTENTION to The Mudville Gazette's series on media coverage of the war. But here's the latest installment. (Sorry, link was bad before. Fixed now.)

I MENTIONED Sandeep Junnarkar's grassroots journalism project on AIDS in India before. Here's the blog.

LINKING TO THIS VIDEO should help me get some Google search action for "Michelle Malkin + Kinky."

MORE ON NANOTECHNOLOGY, from the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology.

HERE'S A ROUNDUP OF STORIES on government taking of private land.

RICH LOWRY: "White House reaction to the Rove controversy in case you're wondering. One word: delighted."

I figured.


POSTWATCH NOTES the Durbin/Rove reporting-lag differential. Thing is, Rove was counting on that.

KELO AFTERMATH: They'll sell a lot of these.

ROGER SIMON wonders why the New York Times isn't covering the biggest terrorism trial since 9/11.

ADVANTAGE: Anglo-Saxon horde.

CHICAGO: Offering free ad space for pimps and violating the Geneva Convention!

CRITICAL NODES: Michael Yon is reporting from the Persian Gulf.

PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE has an article on the Kelo decision in TechCentralStation today. That was fast!

I'm still getting a lot of angry email, and as noted below, the decision seems to have angered people on both left and right. It's true, as Eugene Volokh noted on Hugh Hewitt's show last night, that it was only a modest extension of existing law. But I think that existing law has moved, by gradual increments, to a point where it's out of step with the Constitution and with public sentiment about what's just. Sometimes a Supreme Court decision, even one that doesn't make new law, can bring people's attention to a situation and drive efforts to change it.

Some people are comparing this with Dred Scott, but that's a bit over the top. A better analogy might be the Bowers v. Hardwick decision, which didn't make new law, but which led to a sea-change in public attitudes. One difference is that Bowers was consistent with the law going all the way back, while the 20th Century takings doctrines were not. As Joseph Story wrote in 1833:

It seems to be the general opinion, fortified by a strong current of judicial opinion, that since the American revolution no state government can be presumed to possess the transcendental sovereignty to take away vested rights of property; to take the property of A. and transfer it to B. by a mere legislative act. A government can scarcely be deemed to be free, where the rights of property are left solely dependent upon a legislative body, without any restraint.

And yet that's the law now: The rights of property are left solely dependent upon a legislative body, without any restraint. Small wonder that it's inspiring a lot of unhappiness.

Check out the Kelo topic page at TTLB for much, much more on the decision.

UPDATE: The New York Times is editorializing in favor of Kelo, but has a huge conflict of interest here as it's engaged in self-serving eminent domain procedures itself.

And here's a state legislative response.

Heh: "So according to recent Supreme Court decisions, the government has no business in your bedroom (unless you're growing marijuana), but they can drive a bulldozer right through it?"

Rod Dreher:

I'll tell you why the Kelo ruling hits especially close to home this week. The other day, FBI agents raided the Dallas City Hall offices of two city council members, as well as the office of a rich and politically well-connected developer who has built lots of housing in their districts. The FBI is being quiet about what they were looking for, but news reports say it's part of a federal investigation into bribery and suchlike. Nobody has been charged -- yet, anyway -- but if the speculation proves out, this stands to be an infuriating example of what businessmen with money can get done when they have corrupt pols in their pocket. I know, I know, this stuff happens every day, all over the place. But the FBI raids on Dallas City Hall have been front page news here all week, and the nefarious potential connection between private and public power and corruption has been on everyone's mind here in Chinatown, I mean Big D.

Yep. There's a lot of corruption in local government, particularly where development plans are concerned.

Zach Wendling:

Now that development interests officially trump property rights, I think it's natural to wonder, "What trumps development interests?"

Follow the link for the answer. Here's more suggestion of left-right agreement on this decision. And there's more here.

COMMENTING on the increased number of cellphones in Iraq, Mickey Kaus writes:

I would just suggest that, in the kind of war we are fighting, the proliferation of cell phones and other means of fast communication may not be an unalloyed good--e.g. if the cells are used to efficiently spy and coordinate bomb attacks.

Well, nothing's an unalloyed good. But as the terrorists become less popular all the time, the proliferation of cellphones becomes more and more useful. As StrategyPage notes:

While these improved communications have aided the terrorists, it has hurt them more. People reporting terrorists via phones or Internet, often get a very swift response. As more Iraqis die from terrorist attacks, more phone calls are made reporting terrorist activity. There have been cases where terrorist gangs have tried to seize all the cell phones used in a neighborhood where their hideout was.

My own sense is that when you're dealing with a small and unpopular group that depends on concealment and intimidation to survive, more communications are likely to be better, not worse.

June 23, 2005

LINDA FOLEY HAS BACKED DOWN. I credit Hiawatha Bray.

But there are a lot of ifs in her apology. And she seems clueless as to why her comments made people angry, or why people don't trust journalists like they used to, though the tone of her piece might provide a clue . . . .


Okay FOX, you win. It worked. I won't kidnap any young, blonde, blue-eyed, upper class, teenage, all-American girls. Your round the clock mega-hyped coverage of this tragic but nonetheless non-story is working. It's a brilliant deterrent. Who in their right mind would think suffering through incessant, overblown, 24/7, E! True Suburb Tragedy was worth it?

Like the guy says, it's a brilliant deterrent.

UPDATE: And so is this!


In the Summer 2005 Issues in Science and Technology, two of the primary White House advocates for the original U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative, Neal Lane and Tom Kalil, issue a warning: “We are concerned that lukewarm support for nanoscale science and engineering (S&E) puts U.S. technological leadership at risk and might prevent the country from realize the full potential of nanotechnology."

If you missed it, you may want to read this nanotechnology post from Tuesday, too.

HEH: The P.S. is the best part.

UPDATE: More mockery here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The mockery continues.


Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is the latest Tennessee politician to weigh in on the Cocke County cockfighting raid. Frist, R-Tenn., said in an interview Wednesday that the practice of gambling on razor-armed roosters often fighting to the death "is wrong and irresponsible."

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Knoxville, said he opposes cockfighting and may support a stiffer state or federal penalty for participants. But Duncan also echoed recent comments by U.S. Rep. Bill Jenkins of Rogersville that the FBI should have left enforcement against cockfighting and gambling violations in Cocke County on June 11 to state and local law enforcement.

"Congressman Jenkins told me they spent $400,000 to conduct that raid," Duncan said in an interview. "I understand there were helicopters and machine guns and all that kind of stuff. I think they went way overboard on that."

Until they can secure the borders and stuff, it seems to me that cockfighting should be a pretty low priority. D'ya think?

SOMETIMES I WONDER if Karl Rove is as smart as everyone says. But just as the Durbin affair was dying down, he makes a comment about liberals and the war that leads Democrats -- itching for payback -- to angrily demand his resignation.

Trouble is, those demands just provide an excuse for Republicans to repeat every single stupid or unpatriotic thing that every Democratic politician ever said. And there are a lot of those. Examples can be found here, and here, and here. And, of course, there's this. And because the usual suspects in the media could be expected to pick up on the Rove story much faster than the Durbin story (as they did) now there's a news hook.

Yeah, he's pretty smart.

UPDATE: Michael Totten, on the other hand, thinks Rove is deranged.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mark Eichenlaub sends this transcript from Hardball as evidence that what's going on is "Rove-a-dope."

It certainly seems to be working.

Tom Maguire is looking at the story in more detail, and it looks as if the Democrats are taking the bait with disastrous results. One observation: Democrats don't usually embrace the "liberal" word these days, but they seem to regard Rove's comments about "liberals" as being aimed directly at Democrats.

Some people have figured it out:

I'm as angry and eager to froth at the mouth as anyone over Karl Rove's recent statements. But after reading back-to-back posts over at TAPPED working up a chorus to that effect, I got a sinking feeling. Turn back. It's a trap!

Too late.

GayPatriot: "Rove said 'liberals'... not necessarily Democrats. But wow, the Democrats who, in the 2004 Presidential Election couldn't run fast enough from the word 'liberal' now seem to be embracing it wholeheartedly in their 'outrage' I also never saw a Democrat refuse to take campaign money from and their ilk. . . . Karl Rove was spot on... and the Dems fell for the bait: Hook, Line & Sinker."

Read the whole thing. And there's still more here.

MORE: A reader notes this liberal reaction on 9/11, and this one. But I doubt that they made Karl Rove's reading list. On the other hand, this probably was:

Of course the initial response of left-wing intellectuals to Sept. 11 was one jerking of the collective knee. This was America's fault. From Susan Sontag to Michael Moore, from Noam Chomsky to Edward Said, there was no question that, however awful the attack on the World Trade Center, it was vital to keep attention fixed on the real culprit: the United States. Of the massacre, a Rutgers professor summed up the consensus by informing her students that "we should be aware that, whatever its proximate cause, its ultimate cause is the fascism of U.S. foreign policy over the past many decades." Or as a poster at the demonstrations in Washington last weekend put it, "Amerika, Get a Clue."

Less noticed was the reasoned stance of liberal groups like the National Organization for Women. President Kim Candy stated that "The Taliban government of Afghanistan, believed to be harboring suspect Osama bin Laden, subjugates women and girls, and deprives them of the most basic human rights--including education, medicine and jobs. The smoldering remains of the World Trade Center are a stark reminder that when such extremism is allowed to flourish anywhere in the world, none of us is safe." The NAACP issued an equally forceful "message of resolve," declaring, "These tragedies and these acts of evil must not go unpunished. Justice must be served."

Left-wing dissident Christopher Hitchens, meanwhile, assailed his comrades as "soft on crime and soft on fascism." After an initial spasm of equivocation, The American Prospect magazine ran a column this week accusing the pre-emptive peace movement of "a truly vile form of moral equivalency" in equating President Bush with terrorists. Not a hard call, but daring for a magazine that rarely has even a civil word for the right. . . .

The left's howls of anguish are therefore essentially phony--and they stem from a growing realization that this crisis has largely destroyed the credibility of the far left. Forced to choose between the West and the Taliban, the hard left simply cannot decide. Far from concealing this ideological bankruptcy, we need to expose it and condemn it as widely and as irrevocably as we can.

But now TAP is angry at Rove.

MORE STILL: Yep, I think this was carefully planned. Daniel Aronstein sends a link to a Pew Internet survey that shows that in 2004 51% of Democrats thought the 9/11 attacks might have been caused by American wrongdoing -- though in Sept. of 2001 that number was 40%. But as Aronstein notes, not all Democrats are liberals.

I'LL BE ON HUGH HEWITT in a few minutes, talking about the Kelo case. And there are, by the way, a lot of interesting posts over at SCOTUSblog. [LATER: Audio here. Transcript here.]

UPDATE: Charles Fried:

The court might have reined in local governments from bulldozing private property rights by at least demanding some heightened legal inquiry into the government's claim that its action will bring about a public benefit. But Justice John Paul Stevens, writing the majority opinion for the court, would have none of that: While intoning the formula that a pure grab to favor cronies of the state would not be tolerated, he refused to consider even the mildest boost to judicial scrutiny. Justice Anthony Kennedy seemed to see this point. In a concurrence, he expressed hope that the court would not be powerless to curb abuses of government power—but then unaccountably he joined Stevens' opinion holding that the state can do no wrong. . . .

Over the last 15 years or so—in decisions like Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, Dolan v. City of Tigard, and Pallazolo v. Rhode Island—the court has shown some backbone in protecting property rights from the insatiable appetite of the regulatory state. Unlike some other rights that get the fullest measure of the court's protection, these property rights are explicitly mentioned in the Constitution's Fifth Amendment. Kelo, however, is the latest example of the court's faltering will in this and several other areas. . . . The Rehnquist Court has done its greatest work in reversing the excesses of the years of Justice William Brennan's ascendancy. But in its recent decisions in the areas of federalism, religion, affirmative action, the death penalty, and now property rights, the court seems to be losing its grip.

I'm already calling it the "Emily Litella court" in an in-progress article on Raich.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader George Zachar says I have the wrong allusion -- it's really the "Andy Warhol court":

This court won't you let you use something you've grown on your land ON your land because somehow that's "interstate commerce".

Now, a govt planner's fancy report is deemed adequate reason to force a property owner to sell out.

Under this court, the law has become what Andy Warhol said art is: What you can get away with.


MORE: A potent tool for shutting down unpopular businesses, like abortion clinics, gun ranges, nude bars, unpopular religous congregations, hostile newspapers, etc.?

Wal-Marts? ("We think this hemp-based boutique will generate more tax revenues. And we commissioned a report that says so!")

And Ann Althouse is savaging Justice Kennedy for falling into "the most obvious spelling pitfall in all of law." That really hurts . . . .


UPDATE: Funniest comment, from reader Stephen Herdina:

This ruling leaves open the possibility that the City of Detroit can take away the factories of General Motors (who knows how to lose money) and award them to Toyota (who knows how to make money). Given GM's woefull book value, the factories could be had for literally a steal, and the tax revenues would be immense.

Heh. Makes sense to me.

GATEWAY PUNDIT has more on genocide in Zimbabwe, with video.

A ZIMBABWE ROUNDUP at Norm Geras' place.


MORE ON KELO: Judging by my email, and the reactions I've seen around the blogosphere, I think the political impact of this decision is going to be very large. Here are a few thoughts on the impacts it may have:

Bad for Bush: A lot of conservatives -- especially the small-government, libertarian-leaning kind -- are already deeply unhappy. This may cause them to either withdraw from politics, or at least lose vigor in supporting the Republicans. It's been a steady stream of bad news for them this year, and the Bush Administration hasn't exactly thrown them any bones. Passing Social Security reform might have fixed that, but the less said about that subject, the better.

Good for Bush: The White House spin will be "This is why we need to confirm our judges." Nice, if they can make it work. But will they be nominating people who would have voted the other way in this case? And -- more to the point -- judges aside, are they willing to support legislation to address this issue? If they are, they may get some traction. If they aren't, then the comments about judges will look like an effort to change the subject and escape responsibility.

Other Impacts: I suspect that this decision -- somewhat like Bowers -- will cause a lot of activists to shift their focus to state legislatures and state courts. One difference: State legislatures, and sometimes state courts, are in the pockets of real estate developers and corrupt local politicians in a way that they weren't beholden to anti-gay-rights activists. So it'll be a lot harder. This may also lead to a greater focus on local politics by political activists (and bloggers!) of all stripes. That, at least, would probably be a good thing.

UPDATE: This is not as big a deal for the left, but maybe it should be. As Julian Sanchez notes:

Now that the "liberal" justices on the court have sided with the drug warriors against cancer patients, and with a plan to rob people of their homes for the benefit of wealthy developers, will some court-watchers on the left begin to question the wisdom of having let economic freedom become the red-headed stepchild of modern jurisprudence?

My guess is no, but I'd love to be wrong.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. This post at Kos is supportive of the decision, but the commenters seem to think that it's a giveaway to Wal-Mart at the expense of the poor. Which is certainly true.

Meanwhile, here's a proposal from Right-Thinking that even the Kossacks might get behind:

Here’s a thought: How about the GOP-controlled Congress puts the flag desecration amendment on the back burner and gets to work on an amendment limiting the power of the state to seize private property from citizens?

I think it's a great idea.

MORE: Reader Eric Cowperthwaite has surveyed the blogosphere reactions linked below and observes: "If this is how the normally GOP leaning libertarians and minarchists feel, the GOP is in deep trouble right now."

Depends on what they do. But if they do what I expect -- not much -- then, yeah. Meanwhile, reader Matt Ness emails:

Just wanted you to know that I'm a proud liberal who reads your blog on occasion, and I've always appreciated your even-handed regarding most subjects, even though I tend not to agree with you on many of them.

I was really happy to see that you acknowledged that not all liberals out there favor the Kelo decision. My wife and I were both horrified when we read the news about it. It didn't seem like a left-wing decision to us at all--it seemed crazy. And it was quite obvious that this decision would ultimately favor folks like Wal-Mart and business park developers over the poor and middle-class.

I think you'll find that many self-described "liberals" and "left-wingers" do not support this turn of events. None of us want to see our hard-earned homes handed over to Best Buy or whatever.

Perhaps we'll have a political Perfect Storm, then. Nothing would please me more.

MORE: A reader who prefers anonymity thinks this is the end of the real estate bubble:

Some of the luster attached to dirt has been severely diminished for the small investor class. I've made a few dollars in real estate and now I'm gong to have to look elsewhere. Having the capriciousness of government looming over my property takes all the safety out of the equation. On an even more serious note, the three pillars of prosperity for emerging nations are free markets, rule of law, and private property rights. We just got busted down to third world status.

Ouch. Realistically, I don't know how much this should affect investment decisions, at least in the short term. But psychologically it may have more of an effect, and the long-term point is apt if perhaps a bit overstated.

STILL MORE: Slashdot: "Needless to say, the little guy loses to the commercial developer this case... "

Inevitable followup comment: "All your homes are belong to us."

Jonah Goldberg: "I don't see any downside whatsoever in George W. Bush going before the cameras and delivering a sober but stern denunciation of this ruling. The principles are obvious."

TAPPED calls it an "illiberal ruling" and observes:

Loose interpretations of a government's right of eminent domain is the sort of thing we expect in Harare -- not New London.

Plus, Ry Cooder has thoughts. Hey, maybe it is a Perfect Storm!

Still more here. And, er, here . . . .

Jonathan Adler: "There are a few problems with President Bush going out and attacking the Supreme Court's Kelo decision. First, the Bush Administration had the opportunity to intervene on the side of the homeowners, and they decided not to. Indeed, it was pretty clear to those watching the case that if the Solicitor General's office participated at all, it would have been on the side of the city government seeking to use eminent domain." Oops.

Jeff Goldstein: "This is nannystatism at its most cynical. And if the Bush administration were to use this ruling to push for the kinds of conservative justices who strongly object to what amounts to outright thievery and municipal bullying, I think they’d have a real winner on their hands. . . . Personally, I’m for starting a cyber support group for the New Londoners who are planning a show of civil disobedience when the bulldozers tractor up to the doors of their homes. Anybody else?"

Michelle Malkin has another roundup.

Donald Sensing, meanwhile, thinks that churches will make especially attractive targets for eminent domain: "[T]here is no kind of building more vulnerable than a house of worship, for the simple reason that cities do not collect property taxes from houses of worship, nor any other kind of tax. . . . In every city and town in America you will find churches sitting on what is now some the most valuable land there."

We'll see.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: Tunku Varadarajan looks at the case of Oriana Fallaci.

UPDATE: Roger Simon has some thoughts.


In Iraq, it’s the state of the economy, more than anything else, that drives politics and stability. The economy stagnated from 1990 to 2003, because of the UN embargo following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The invasion in 2003 caused another major hit to the economy, causing it to contract 21.2 percent. Since then, the Iraqi economy has had no place to go but up. The economy grew 54 percent in 2004, and is headed for a 34 percent increase this year. Most of this growth is not reported, the violence in Sunni Arab areas being considered more newsworthy. But in the south and north, the economic boom is very visible, just from the growing number of traffic jams, satellite dishes and new construction.

Iraq needs about $100 billion to rebuild. Most of this is not repairing war damage, but doing maintenance of infrastructure that Saddam did not do for two decades. He stopped work on roads, schools, hospitals, and utilities when he went to war with Iran in 1980. . . .

In May, 2005, 1.9 million barrels a day were being produced. Current maximum production capacity is 2.5 million barrels a day. Reconstruction and expansion of the oil industry will take 2-3 years, but will get production up to four million barrels a day. Maximum production of the Iraqi oil fields is believed to be about six million barrels a day. At current prices, that’s over $110 billion a year, which is over $4,000 for every man, woman and child in Iraq. In the past, the Sunni Arabs, about 20 percent of the population, grabbed some 80 percent of the oil income for themselves. The Sunni Arabs continue to attack the oil fields and pumping facilities, to make sure that they eventually get their share of the oil wealth, and maybe a little more. If you want to understand what causes the violence in Iraq, follow the money.

This is why I wish that the "oil trust" idea I was pushing before had gotten more traction. Perhaps there were good reasons for not taking that approach, but I certainly never saw any sign that the Administration was mulling the issue seriously to begin with. I think that might have prevented some of the violence.

On the other hand, the BBC reports that the terrorists' violence is generating some blowback:

Al Jazeera - often accused by the Americans of stirring anti-US feeling - has adopted less of an "Us and Them" approach.

The militants are no longer referred to as the "resistance" but as gunmen or suicide bombers.

Eyewitnesses are shown denouncing them as "terrorists" - condemnations that are echoed by a parade of Iraqi officials and religious authorities.

One recent attack drew this comment from the al-Jazeera reporter: "Most of the time it's civilians who pay the price for the violence that has cost thousands of their lives".

Al-Jazeera's main rival, the Dubai-based al-Arabiya, has also shown little sympathy for the bombers - a recent report, instead, painted a favourable picture of British soldiers patrolling Basra.

Our PR efforts may be inadequate, but they're better than deliberately blowing up innocents. As some people keep saying, you can't win hearts and minds with random bombings.

JONATHAN ADLER: "I think a constitutional amendment to prohibit flag burning is an abomination."

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: Does Nancy Pelosi agree with Karl Zinsmeister? Somehow I doubt it.

OUR STATIST SUPREME COURT STRIKES AGAIN: They've had quite a run lately.

UPDATE: In my stack of reprints-by-mail at the office is one from Lino Graglia with this already-obsolete title: "Lawrence v. Texas: Our Philosopher-Kings Adopt Libertarianism as Our Official National Philosophy and Reject Traditional Morality as a Basis for Law."

Not so much. They may be rejecting traditional morality -- if "a man's home is his castle" counts as traditional morality -- but they certainly aren't close to adopting libertarianism as our "official national philosophy." Quite the contrary.

Professor Bainbridge: "So much for private property rights."

Blake Wylie is rounding up some other reactions.

David Bernstein:

[C]onsider the lineup in Raich and Kelo. Then consider the legal gymnastics it takes to consider local medical pot part of "interstate commerce," and to consider taking people's home and giving them to Pfizer a "public use" in the face of two hundred years of precedent that A to B transfers are illegitimate.

I'm unimpressed with this term of the Court.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's an even bigger roundup of reactions. Lots of people are unhappy.

PAMELA NOTICES SOMETHING that a lot of people missed. In response, she gets sexist comments on her makeup from a lefty commenter.

I FINISHED THE ERIC FLINT BOOK that I mentioned a while back. It's obviously the start of a series, but I thought it was quite good. The characters are three-dimensional, with virtues and vices displayed in all complexity -- Flint doesn't paint the Cherokees as traditional cardboard victims, but shows their flaws and doesn't shy from the fact that many owned slaves. Andrew Jackson (whom I've never liked) appears as a rounded character, too, and Sam Houston is fun.

And with all the Scots-Irish talk (including the parallels between many of them and the Cherokees in terms of culture), I suspect that Flint has read James Webb, or more likely David Hackett Fischer.


TECH EDITORS: SOMEBODY HIRE HOWARD LOVY so that he can get back to blogging!

ED MORRISSEY says that the flag-burning amendment would put us on the road to being like the E.U. Ugh.

WORSTALL'S LAW: "Any Organization Will, In the End, Be Run By Those who Stay Awake in Committee."

FOODBLOGGING: If you like Indian food -- and, well, you should! -- check out N.D. Rai's Indian recipe blog.

IS THERE A HOUSING BUBBLE? In a word, yes. Not everywhere, but both David Bernstein and Bill Quick have some potent indications.

June 22, 2005

VIA CATHY SEIPP, I've discovered that Bewitched is out on DVD now. (That's the original black-and-white -- there's also a colorized version that will no doubt sell well but infuriate purists.)

I leave the argument as to who made a better Darrin -- Dick York, or Dick Sargent -- for others.

UPDATE: David Gulliver emails:

Dick York owned the role of Darrin! He and Elizabeth Montgomery had a real chemistry, like a real husband and wife. Dick Sargent may have been a better actor and a more likeable fellow, but he never had a spark with his leading lady. It was like watching an actor play a husband instead of watching a husband. Dick York also had an incredible talent for making extreme facial gestures—the sort you would expect of a person witnessing supernatural phenomena. As for the movie… Will Farrell???? What the heck???? They should have begged, pleaded, and shelled out the cash for Jim Carrey. Carrey could have had me believing I was watching Dick York. Farrell will be lucky to pull off Dick Sargent.


INTERESTED IN GADGET BLOGS? Check out Gadget Madness.

IF YOU'RE A BLOGGER, consider taking the MIT blog author survey.

HEH. Don't trust -- but don't verify, either . . . .

WELL, THIS SHOULD PUT AN END to flag-burning, at least in the Middle East: White House Proposes Printing Q'uran On American Flag.

MELISSA SCHWARTZ is photoblogging Brooklyn.


AUSTIN BAY has more reporting from Afghanistan.

DURBIN UPDATE: A Salon article on apologies says:

"I'm sorry I was rude" is good.

"I'm sorry if I was rude" is not. It weasels. It implies that maybe you weren't rude. It implies that the person being apologized to has a twisted little worldview if they think "Oh, shut up, frog-lips" is rude.

An apology should give the sense that you actually feel some form of regret. "Sorry if" is a conditional apology. Conditional apologies make things worse, not better.

Words to the wise, but usually unheeded. Compare to Durbin's apology:

"I'm sorry if anything that I said caused any offense or pain to those who have such bitter memories of the Holocaust, the greatest moral tragedy of our time," he said, adding, "I'm also sorry if anything I said in any way cast a negative light on our fine men and women in the military."

Kind of iffy, I'd say. . . . (Thanks to Wagner James Au for the tip).



Q: What is Gitmo?

A: Contrary to what some suggest, it does not stand for "Git mo' Peking chicken for Muhammad, he wants a second portion." It stands for "Guantanamo," a facility the United States built to see if the left would ever care about human rights abuses in Cuba. The experiment has apparently been successful.

Hysteria and political point-scoring have turned this into a joke. That happens when you overplay your hand. As Ryan Sager observes:

There's an important debate to be had in this country about just how far we're willing to go in our interrogations. But it's a difficult debate to even get started when one side thinks that we should be extremely concerned with the possibility that someone, somewhere might have desecrated the Korans of the people responsible for the murders of Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, three-thousand Americans and now hundreds upon hundreds of Iraqi civilians. . . .

While it would be extremely easy to gloat over this continued meltdown, there's simply nothing here to be happy about, unless one is among the most partisan of Republican partisans.

For those who have supported the war all along -- or at least want to see us win -- it's sad not to have a loyal opposition to help keep the administration honest.

Indeed. Marc Danziger offers some perspective. So does Donald Sensing. Unfortunately, some people are taking a different line.

Interestingly, only 20% of Americans think that the Guantanamo prisoners are being treated unfairly, which is pretty astonishing given the colossal amount of uniformly negative Guantanamo-related coverage. This suggests that overplaying their hand has been as big a mistake as I thought.

UPDATE: Don Surber offers political perspective.

THE "FLYPAPER STRATEGY" is getting strange new respect.

UPDATE: Read this post by Tigerhawk, too.

MILBLOGGER DOWN: But he'll be okay, according to this update from his wife. Send him your prayers and good wishes.

THE OPEN MEDIA 100: Why not?

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: Both Rand Simberg and Stephen Bainbridge have thoughts.

SOUNDS COOL TO ME: A wireless network covering all of New York City. Bring it on! (Thanks to Micah Sifry for the headsup).

JON HENKE on the Administration's plans for postwar Iraq. He's discovered some shocking secret documents.

UNSCAM UPDATE: In the latest oil-for-food casualty, U.N. procurement official Alexander Yakovlev has resigned. (Via Roger Simon).

MICKEY KAUS thinks that Michael McConnell might not be as supportive of campaign finance "reform" as some others have suggested.

WARS, BUDGETS, CONFIRMATIONS: But there's time to pass a flag-burning amendment. Sigh.

UPDATE: The Anchoress doesn't like the flag-burning amendment either: "I cannot support this amendment. I think it too is stupid. And moronic. . . . Couple years of that, and you'll see a Democrat in the White House again before you know it."

ANOTHER UPDATE: It's worth linking to this post by Eugene Volokh from last year, on why this is a lousy idea.

"RIGHT-WING HACKERY" at The Economist?

ANN ALTHOUSE: "Durbin apologizing. I saw this on TV and found it ... icky. What are you really crying about, Dick? Your own miserable little career?"

CONDI RICE is earning her pay.

VIRGINIA POSTREL points to this editorial by Steve Forbes on immigration policy. Forbes is right: It's asinine.

We have the worst of all worlds in our current immigration system -- it's demeaning, unpredictable, and contemptuous toward would-be legal immigrants, while being porous toward illegals. And it's the main experience most foreigners have of dealing with the United States government. When my Nigerian sister-in-law, before she married my brother, passed her citizenship test, my brother said he was glad that the person who swore her in was so nice, because it was the first time in the entire process that the process wasn't run by a jerk.

This is a mess, and the Bush Administration isn't fixing it. It should.


Sen. Durbin has finally apologized for his Guantanamo remarks. Readers trapped in Timesworld will never know that some leading Dems may have provided the straw that broke the Senator's back (we are assuming that the mayor of Chicago still has some swing in Senator Durbin's home state of Illinois; Mayor Daley's criticism of Sen. Durbin did not make the Times.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the Times presents Sen. Durbin as the victim of insensitive Republicans. . . .

Oh, you already guessed - the Times is ignoring the comments of the Anti-Defamation League on this topic as well. Evidently, inapt use of Holocaust comparisons is not a subject of interest to Times readers. Who knew?

Read the whole thing, especially if you've been trapped in the NYT coccoon.

TERRY HEATON has thoughts on TV news in a post-modern world. And the folks being left behind.

"THE VAGINA MONOBLOGS:" Really, the post is worth it just for that line. But then there's the eternal question: "How many tasteless dick jokes can I crack before a lynch mob comes knockin'?"

Judging by this guy, the answer is "rather a lot, really."


REBECCA MACKINNON REPORTS that China is blocking all TypePad blogs.

Another reason not to buy Chinese products, I guess. Though Cisco comes in for some blame, too.

OUCH: (Via Roger Simon).

THE SKBUBBA-OUTING STORY is picked up in the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Katie Granju also has some thoughts on her pop culture blog for WBIR.

Conley's email certainly sounded like a threat to me, but Conley may not have meant it to -- which is one of the dangers of email. Judging by experience, it's especially dangerous to sound like you're threatening bloggers.

UPDATE: Now someone else is trying to out a blogger. Seems like bullying to me.


Somebody tell Meryl Yourish about this.

REGULATION OF ADULT WEBSITES: There's a lot of stuff going on that I didn't know about. I think that it's a first amendment violation, as well as a waste of government resources.

UPDATE: Blogging IP lawyer Ron Coleman had a post on this subject last week. I'm less supportive of this legislation than he is, though I certainly note the irony that the Supreme Court seems to grant porn more First Amendment protection than it does political speech.

CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES: I guess it was only a matter of time before this happened.

DAVID HARDY has some thoughts on Supreme Court nominees and the right to bear arms.


NEW MINDS IN OLD BOTTLES: My TechCentralStation column -- which is about Dan Pink's new book, A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age -- is up.

HIAWATHA BRAY continues to follow the Linda Foley story, which has Foley and the Newspaper Guild digging the hole deeper. Waiting out the news cycle isn't really an option where the blogosphere is concerned, and squandering your public trust in a defensive crouch is never a good move.

If Foley keeps her job, but nobody trusts the journalism of Newspaper Guild members, that's not a victory.

UPDATE: Trey Jackson suggests that this video will help keep things in context.

KARL ZINSMEISTER says the war is over and we won:

Your editor returned to Iraq in April and May of 2005 for another embedded period of reporting. I could immediately see improvements compared to my earlier extended tours during 2003 and 2004. The Iraqi security forces, for example, are vastly more competent, and in some cases quite inspiring. Baghdad is now choked with traffic. Cell phones have spread like wildfire. And satellite TV dishes sprout from even the most humble mud hovels in the countryside.

Many of the soldiers I spent time with during this spring had also been deployed during the initial invasion back in 2003. Almost universally they talked to me about how much change they could see in the country. They noted progress in the attitudes of the people, in the condition of important infrastructure, in security.

This will come as news to many people. Austin Bay noted similar progress in his most recent column, but was also quite hard on the Bush Administration for not explaining what is going on with the war, and why.

UPDATE: G-Scobe thinks that Zinsmeister is being irresponsibly optimistic.

More comments on Zinsmeister here.

ANN APPLEBAUM IS WRITING ABOUT THE SMITHSONIAN, but the problem she describes goes much, much deeper than that:

Just about the only thing that the Museum of American History does not do, in fact, is teach anyone American history. That is, it doesn't tell the whole American story, or even chunks of the American story, in chronological order, from Washington to Adams to Jefferson, or from Roosevelt to Truman to Eisenhower. When the museum was built in 1964, this sort of thing probably wasn't necessary. But judging from a group of teenagers whom I recently heard lapse into silence when asked if they could identify Lewis and Clark, I suspect it's now very necessary indeed.

This ties in neatly with David Gelernter's piece from last week on the schools' failure to teach American history. It's a problem that isn't really about museums.

June 21, 2005


The Cosmos solar sail is missing shortly after its launch from a Russian nuclear submarine.

The $4 million Cosmos 1 spacecraft blasted off atop a converted Russian missile at approximately 12:46 p.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday, but ground tracking stations failed to pick up its signal after an initial burst of data, according to mission controllers.

Cross your fingers.

JEFF JARVIS is having a bad experience with Dell. Mine has been much better.


My favourite headline last week was in the International Herald Tribune: "EU leaders and voters see paths diverge." Traditionally in free societies, when the paths of the leaders and the voters "diverge", it's the leaders who depart the scene. But apparently in the EU this is too vulgar and "Anglo-Saxon", and so the great permanent Eurocracy decided instead to offer up Euro-variations on Bertolt Brecht's jest about the need to elect a new people. Whatever the rejection of the European constitution means, it certainly doesn't mean the rejection of the European constitution.

Read the whole thing.

HOWARD KURTZ HAS A ROUNDUP on discussions of the difference between left and right blogs. I think a lot has to do with different purposes. As I wrote a while back:

What the September 11 attacks were to the warbloggers, though, the Democratic losses in the 2002 Congressional elections were to the left. Up to that point, though there were plenty of lefty blogs, the blogosphere tilted pretty solidly to the center-(libertarian) right.

But after that, the left worked hard to catch up. It didn't hurt that the Democrats faced a contested primary season, which drew lots of Internet activists into the blogging fray. Between the Howard Dean campaign and the activism associated with anti-incumbency, the lefty side of the blogosphere expanded. And the character changed. When my own InstaPundit blog was newer, people sometimes wondered who would be the "InstaPundit of the left." But what the left wanted more than punditry was activism, and sites like DailyKos are more like miniature political machines, concentrating on fundraising and get-out- the-vote efforts in a way that few right-wing sites do. Though talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt is starting to fill that niche, and no doubt others will, too, the right doesn't have anything to match Kos this election cycle.

Since the media tilt heavily left, people on the right wanted alternative media. Since Republicans are better at grassroots organization, people on the left wanted grassroots organization. People on the left now have more political communities, while people on the right now have more freestanding pundits and alt-news sources.

A REPORT ON INTERNET CENSORSHIP IN IRAN was released today by the Open Net Initiative. Here's the direct link.

IT'S FUNNY THAT THERE'S AN UPSURGE IN DEFEATIST RHETORIC even as we see the terrorists in Iraq fighting among themselves, and even as -- surely a key indicator -- Kofi Annan is trying to take credit for progress in Iraq.

I've got some thoughts on that phenomenon over at

DURBIN APOLOGIZES: Trey Jackson has the video. But is it -- like Trent Lott's eventual apology, which took just about as long -- too little, too late?

UPDATE: Michael Ubaldi files a negative review: "It was an unmusical recital. Durbin hit all the notes but had nothing of feeling or sincerity behind his complete-with-choke-up performance."

Meanwhile, Will Collier observes:

The damage is done, and al-Jazeera isn't likely to tout Dickie's retraction with much vigor. But I can guarantee you that Dickie's energetic defenders in the MSM and leftie blogosphere are awfully unhappy right now. He just cut them off at the knees.

At least now they have some idea of how the troops felt a week ago.

Ouch. And yes, things have been spinning awfully fast on this subject.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader J.P. Dawson thinks that Mayor Richard Daley deserves credit for pushing Durbin to do the right thing:

Mayor Richard Daley said Tuesday that even though U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is a good friend, the fellow Democrat should apologize for comments comparing the actions of American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, Soviet gulags and Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot.

"I think it's a disgrace to say that any man or woman in the military act like that,'' Daley said.

Good point.

POWER AND CONTROL has an Iran roundup.


A privately-backed solar sail soared into space Tuesday on a mission to use sunlight to fly through space.

A Russian Volna rocket was used to loft the solar sail-propelled spacecraft, known as Cosmos 1 to its builders. The converted Cold War missile shot skyward at about 3:46 p.m. EDT (1946 GMT) from its Russian nuclear submarine launch pad positioned beneath the Barents Sea. . . .

The $4 million solar sailing project is an undertaking of The Planetary Society, a public space advocacy group headquartered in Pasadena, California. The effort is sponsored by Cosmos Studios, a science-based entertainment company located in Ithaca, New York.

It'll be a while before we know if the satellite works, but at least the launch has gone off properly.

WOULD A REHNQUIST RETIREMENT MAKE A DIFFERENCE? Rick Hasen says yes, and in the process offers a reason not to like Michael McConnell: "McConnell seems more willing than Rehnquist to consider upholding novel campaign finance arrangements."


WELL, THIS is heartwarming:

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) -- A 12-year-old girl who was abducted and beaten by men trying to force her into a marriage was found being guarded by three lions who apparently had chased off her captors, a policeman said Tuesday.

Can we clone those lions?

RED ON RED: Iraqi insurgents battling the foreign fighters, while Marines look on.

UPDATE: More here.

ZIMBABWE UPDATE: It just gets worse:

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Zimbabwe police have extended a demolition campaign targeting the homes and livelihoods of the urban poor to the vegetable gardens they rely on for food, saying the crops planted on vacant lots are damaging the environment. . . .

The crackdown on urban farming -- at a time of food shortages in Zimbabwe -- is the latest escalation in the government's monthlong Operation Murambatsvina, or Drive Out Trash, which has seen police demolish the shacks of poor city dwellers, arrest street vendors and smash their kiosks.

Amazing that Mugabe has any support left.


UPDATE: More on populism and Fascism here, from PeakTalk, and here, from Clayton Cramer.

BELTWAY BLOGROLL is a new blog by Daniel Glover of The National Journal. It looks interesting, and unlike most of their content it's open to nonsubscribers.

NORM GERAS: "I have never seen, in all the voluminous discussion since the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein's rule, anything from the anti-war camp (perhaps I just haven't read widely enough) that made a distinction between mistakes and avoidable mistakes, or mistakes and culpable mistakes. . . . it suggests one of two things: either that the undertaking could have been carried out altogether smoothly and unproblematically; or that the criticism of mistakes is motivated more by an impulse to oppose than by a desire for the undertaking to succeed."

"RUN, DO NOT WALK:" Rick Brookhiser loved Cinderella Man. Judging by these customer reviews, so did a lot of other people.

FIGHT CENSORSHIP: Adopt a Chinese blog.

UNSCAM UPDATE: It's another oil-for-food victory for Claudia Rosett, and the pressure is still on.

TEXT-MESSAGING and the Iranian elections.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I call on those who question the motives of the president and his national security advisors to join with the rest of America in presenting a united front to our enemies abroad." Guess who?

ONE OF MY COLLEAGUES says that schools are "an evil conspiracy of 'morning people'." Given the ungodly start times at Knox County Schools (I have to have my daughter there by 7:40) I've always agreed. Now there's reason to think it's hurting kids.

PRAWFSBLAWG offers some thoughts on Saddam and international law.

I have to say that I think these unheeded warnings have been borne out.

TV UPDATE: I never bought the subject of this TV advice bleg. Instead, the Insta-Wife and Insta-Daughter fell in love with one we saw at Circuit City (I think it's this model slightly rebadged for Circuit City). I wasn't crazy about it, but (1) it was on sale and cheap; and (2) they're the ones who watch TV in the bedroom, so their opinion counts more. (See the advice from reader Ben Ziller). It's a pretty good TV, but then most of them are. Did I mention it was (relatively) cheap? So I'm not complaining.

A SOLDIER IN IRAQ WRITES THE STAR-TRIBUNE: It almost seems as if there are more people writing the Strib than there are reading it . . . .

BILL COSBY SPOKE IN ST. LOUIS: Jim Hoft was there.

DOG RAPE -- A DIALOGUE: Jonah Goldberg and Rand Simberg weigh in. Those who have accused me of ignoring this vital subject now know where to go.

BILLY JACK IS BACK, which should have Jeff Goldstein overjoyed.


Foresight Nanotech Institute, the leading nanotechnology think tank and public interest organization, and Battelle, a leading global research and development organization, have launched a Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems through an initial grant of $250,000 from The Waitt Family Foundation. The group is assembling a world-class steering committee to guide this groundbreaking project, and has garnered the support of several important industry organizations as roadmap partners.

Productive Nanosystems are molecular-scale systems that make other useful materials and devices that are nanostructured. The Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems will provide a common framework for understanding the pathways for developing such systems, the challenges that must be overcome in their development and the applications that they can address. The Roadmap will also serve as a basis for formulating research and commercialization agendas for achieving these capabilities. Productive Nanosystems will drive research and applications in a host of areas, providing new atomically-precise nanoscale building blocks, devices and systems. The intended audiences for the Roadmap include governments, corporations, research institutions, investors, economic development organizations, public policy professionals, educators and the media.

This report from CNET has much more:

So far, the road map organizers have gathered many of the early proponents of nanotechnology in North America. Steering committee members include Jim Roberto, chief research officer at Oak Ridge National Laboratories; Clayton Teague, director of the National Nanotechnology Coordinating Office; Steve Jurvetson, a partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a leading nanotech venture capital firm; and John Randall, CTO at Zyvex.

The project is also endorsed by the Electric Power Research Institute and the Biotechnology Industry Organization. The project will initially be funded by a $250,000 grant from the Waitt Family Foundation, established by Gateway founder and nanotech investor Ted Waitt. . . . Richard Smalley, the Nobel Prize winner who discovered the buckyball molecule, said he believes that nanotechnology will play an important role in weaning civilization off of fossil fuels and in purifying water.

I think that this is going to be quite important. (For those who've forgotten or didn't know, I'm on the Foresight Institute's Board of Directors, so I guess it's natural that I'd think that). On the ethical, as opposed to technical front, see also the Foresight Guidelines on Molecular Nanotechnology and this article from the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology.

UPDATE: Read this post on "irresponsible nanohype," too, and follow the links!

THE REAL STORY OF THE IRANIAN ELECTIONS: Nobody showed up, because people knew they were bogus. Publius has the photos.

E.F.F.: "Rumor is afoot that Hollywood is taking another crack at the Broadcast Flag on Capitol Hill, this time by sneaking a Flag provision into an appropriations bill before the Senate."

I don't know why they're bothering, when they're having so much success with Plan B: Making movies that nobody would want to watch anyway . . . .

GERHARD SCHROEDER will be in America on June 27. Medienkritik is planning a protest against his anti-Americanism. (Via co-sponsor No Pasaran!).

TAKE BACK THE MEMORIAL: Jeff Jarvis has the latest on the 9/11 memorial controversy.

A CHANCE TO CUT IS A CHANCE TO CURE: This week's medical blog carnival, Grand Rounds, is up. And so is this week's Carnival of Music.

UPDATE: And don't miss The Carnival of the Liberated!

ERNEST MILLER HAS AN L.A. TIMES WIKITORIAL POST-MORTEM: "Reporting that the wiki has been shut down is the easy part. Letting people know whether the experiment was otherwise successful is the hard part, and no one in the traditional press seems eager to confront it."

ANYSOLDIER.COM is a cool support-the-troops site. But as Susanna Cornett notes, the items posted by soldiers are kind of, well, blog-like, and very interesting.


I served here as a soldier, and returning as a writer in part explains the change in perspective. This trip my job is assessment and analysis, not action. Even with a fast-paced itinerary that takes us to Fallujah, Tal Afar and Kirkuk, there is more time to reflect.

Today, the summer heat is just as hard as it was a year ago, the sand haze in the air just as thick. But the Baghdad of June 2005 is not the Baghdad I left in September 2004.

Read the whole thing.

June 20, 2005


Glass: Was there any kind of limit to your gayness?

Guest: The limit was that I really couldn't bring myself to sleep with women.

Glass: So that seems like that would be kind of a problem.


UPDATE: It seems that there ought to be a connection to this discussion somehow.


POPULAR MECHANICS CONTRIBUTING EDITOR LESLIE SABBAGH is touring medical facilities in Iraq. And PM has her blogging while she's there.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Austin Bay is now blogging from Afghanistan.

J.D. LASICA reports that a top Intel guy managed to violate the DMCA without knowing it.


In an effort to promote space exploration, a private group plans today to launch the first spacecraft to sail in Earth orbit on the solar wind.

If successful, the mission will provide scientific proof for a concept that has captivated science fiction for decades - that ships can travel great distances across the heavens under the power of giant solar sails nudged by the faint energy of light itself.

The "today" in this story is actually tomorrow, Tuesday. Let's hope it works!

A CLASSIC UNDERSTATEMENT: "I find the idea that American academics at large are too afraid to criticize the Bush Administration to be quite laughable." Quite.

HOWARD LOVY has some rather cool nano-imagery.


BRING IT ON: "Faster, please."



SHANGHAI, China -- Twenty-eight floors above the traffic-choked streets of China's most wired city, blogger and tech entrepreneur Isaac Mao sums up his opinion of Microsoft and its treatment of the Chinese bloggers with one word. "Evil," says Mao. "Internet users know what's evil and what's not evil, and MSN Spaces is an evil thing to Chinese bloggers." . . .

The Chinese version of MSN Spaces is linked to the new MSN China portal, launched last month in partnership with Shanghai Alliance Investment, a company funded by the city government here. Last week that partnership plunged Microsoft into the long-standing controversy surrounding the Chinese government's internet censorship policies, after Asian blogs and news reports revealed that MSN Spaces blocks Chinese bloggers from putting politically sensitive language in the names of their blogs, or in the titles of individual blog entries.

The words and phrases blocked by Microsoft include "Taiwan independence," "Dalai Lama," "human rights," "freedom" and "democracy."

Read the whole thing.

KAUS LOOKS AT THE PLUSES AND MINUSES of the Mazda 3. My brother has a Mazda 6 and loves it, but (1) 6 is twice as much as 3, so it's probably twice as good! and (2) My brother, who used to race cars, is one of those "very good drivers (who drift and brake at the last minute)" that Mickey says love the car.


TOM MAGUIRE SAYS THE NEW YORK TIMES is cold-shouldering Howard Dean. Or maybe "quarantining" is a better term:

What is their congressman going on about, Times readers must be wondering? Like Howard Dean, NYC congressman Jerry Nadler has denounced the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic comments made at a recent Democratic event hosted by John Conyers.

NY Sun readers are being kept abreast of developments; however, although NY Times readers were apprised of Conyer's event, the Times has sheltered them from news of the anti-semitic comments, as well as any news of either Dean's or Nadler's denunciation.

In fact, Howard Dean seems to have disappeared from Timesworld since he was spanked by Capitol Hill Dems in the June 10 edition.

Fortunately, people don't have to rely on the NYT for all their news these days.

INTERESTING OVERVIEW OF THE WAR ON TERROR from Oxford Analytica, at Excerpt:

The arrests on June 9 of two Pakistani citizens in California on charges of planning terrorist acts in the U.S. comes at a time when the Bush Administration and the U.S. public believe that the "war on terror" has successfully reduced direct threats to the homeland. Despite the fact that the country remains vulnerable to major terrorist incidents, there have been no such attacks since September 2001.

As a result, the focus of attention in Washington, D.C. remains on the offensive portions of the national strategy for countering terrorism. This is believed to have partially broken up the al Qaeda network, sharply reducing its global reach. With these perceptions in mind, the Administration is moving toward a new phase in its anti-terror campaign. It is likely to embark on developing a new Presidential Decision Directive.

Via ATC, which has some further thoughts. And Dean Esmay is looking at the Iraq theater.

CONDI RICE IS PUSHING DEMOCRACY IN EGYPT: As usual, Gateway Pundit has the scoop, and video.

A PUBLIC HEALTH APPROACH to preventing genocide.

Not bad as far as it goes, but they're missing some risk factors. More here and, especially, here.

IN THE MAIL: Steven Malanga's The New New Left: How American Politics Works Today. It's all about interest-group fundraising, apparently.

Also Marci Hamilton's God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law. Thoughts on the separation of church and state.

WITH JOE BIDEN RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, we're likely to hear more about the rather lame plagiarism scandal that sunk him in 1988.

You can read a defense of Biden in that role, from my book (with Peter Morgan), The Appearance of Impropriety, if you like. I think that Biden was shafted by the Dukakis campaign, with help from the press, and that the whole flap was silly.

Biden's candidacy ought to be sunk by his sponsorship of the "R.A.V.E. act," targeting electronic music performances as havens for drugs, and by his shameless water-carrying for the entertainment industry on copyright issues. But since those are issues of substance, I suspect we'll hear more about the plagiarism story.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS is up! It's all about money, so what's not to like?

SIGNS OF PROGRESS: Brendan Loy asks:

Which is a bigger surprise: the anti-Syrian candidates' victory in the Lebanese election, or the New York Times's statement (in the third paragraph of the day's top story, no less) that the result is "perhaps an example of a greater yearning for democracy in the Arab world"?

I'm going with number two. Story here. Excerpt:

Opponents of Syrian domination claimed a stunning majority victory in the final round of Lebanon's parliamentary elections on Sunday night in a rebellion touched off by the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri four months ago.

An anti-Syrian alliance that tried to bridge religious lines and was led by Mr. Hariri's son, 35-year-old Saad Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, won at least 21 of 28 contested seats in northern Lebanon, the last polling area in the elections that have been staggered over the past four weekends. That gave the alliance a majority in the next 128-seat Parliament.

It was a startling change in the way politics have usually been carried out here - along strict clan and religious lines and long under the control of Syria - and perhaps an example of a greater yearning for democracy in the Arab world.

Heh. Indeed.

PROTESTING THE IRANIAN ELECTIONS: Publius has a roundup, with photos.

FRED PHELPS UPDATE: Anti-Americanism and idiotarianism don't have to go together, I guess. But it sure seems that way sometimes.

UPDATE: Here's a firsthand blog report to the effect that Fred Phelps is, indeed, an "asshat."

I can report that they appeared to be mono-gastric, bi-pedal, and carbon-based; other than that, I really couldn't see even a glint of humanity in their eyes. As I left, one of them shouted at me, "Make sure lots of people see those pictures."

Wish granted. Asshat.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Yes, it's fairly unusual for me to be calling someone an "asshat." I'm not big on name-calling. But if you can't call Fred Phelps an asshat, there's really no reason for the word to exist.

More background on Phelps here, from Clayton Cramer.

MORE: Agreement on the whole asshat thing. And there's more at The Mudville Gazette, too.


Judging from the way he’s dug himself in, Dick Durbin, the Number Two Democrat in the US Senate, genuinely believes Gitmo is analogous to Belsen, the gulags and the killing fields. But he crossed a line, from anti-Bush to anti-American, and most Americans have no interest in following him down that path.You can’t claim (as Democrats do, incessantly) to “support our troops” and then dump them in the same category as the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge. In the hermetically sealed echo chamber between the Dem leadership, the mainstream US media, Hollywood, Ivy League “intellectuals” and European sophisticates, the gulag cracks are utterly unexceptional. But, for a political party that keeps losing elections because it has less and less appeal outside a few coastal enclaves, Durbin’s remarks are devastating. The Democrats flopped in 2002 and 2004 because they were seen as incoherent on national security issues. Explicitly branding themselves as the “terrorists’ rights” party is unlikely to improve their chances for 2006.

Indeed. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: If you haven't read it already, this piece by Tom Bevan on Durbin is a must-read.


This is not to say that there isn't a possible terrorist link to the thefts of the shipping containers or the uniforms, or the alleged increase in the use of bogus credentials, but rather that no one is responsible for determining what constitutes a "normal" rate of such incidents, and given that, it's impossible to tell if there's been a significant change in the rate of incidents.

Not entirely comforting. In fact, it fits the bigger good news / bad news story on the Bush Administration and terrorism. Good news: The "forward strategy" has done a lot more than most anyone expected to keep terror from American shores. Bad news: Despite huge amounts of money and lots of new legal powers, the "homeland security" apparatus is largely useless at dealing with any who get here.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE REVOLUTIONS IS UP, with lots of information on the Iraqi and Lebanese elections, among other things.

MORE CONFLICT between antidiscrimination law and free speech:

Two former editorial writers at The Indianapolis Star have gone to court, charging that top newsroom managers "consistently and repeatedly demonstrated ... a negative hostility toward Christianity."

James Patterson and Lisa Coffey have sued the newspaper and its owner, Gannett Co., claiming religious, racial and age discrimination in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court. . . .

According to a story in the Star today, Patterson and Coffey claim in the lawsuit that Ryerson and Henry were hostile toward Christianity and Christian employees at the paper. They also assert that Henry and Ryerson strongly disagreed "with anyone who had a biblical view of homosexuality."

I suspect that we'll see more complaints like this. I also hope that they'll lead to a considerable pruning-back of "hostile environment" doctrine.

EUGENE VOLOKH EXPLAINS what to do when you get leaked government documents.


But the treatment of Alberto Coll of the U.S. Naval War College (a Bush 41 official-turned-embargo-critic prosecuted for having an affair on an otherwise apparently legal trip to Cuba) seems a geniuine outrage.

I confess I haven't followed the story closely, but it looks that way to me.

[LATER: Quote corrected from "arrested" to "prosecuted" to reflect correction by Mickey.]

June 19, 2005


What's up on the screen is a simple, hard truth: it is possible for two healthy young Americans (a) to virtually immediately find living quarters and work in an unfamiliar city (b) at or around minimum wage, and (c) to live on same with certain hardships for 30 days thereafter.

Spurlock (Super Size Me) and his producers designed the show as propaganda for minimum wage hikes, socialized child care, and expanded social insurance. The realities of the situation dilute the purity of the intended message in interesting ways.

First and foremost all those minimum wage jobs are scarcer than the producers apparently thought. All the easily-found jobs pay more than minimum wage. Spurlock signs on with a temp agency at $7/hr; his companion Jamieson dickers her wage down to minimum so as to not cheat the show's premise. (Spurlock quits when he finds deductions bring his take home down to a measly $4.26. This is important. We return to the puzzle of his deductions shortly.)

Read the whole thing, for some questions that other reviewers seem to have missed.

More story ideas for Spurlock, at Michael Duff's place.

IN DEFENSE OF STARBUCKS, David Adesnik launches a full-frontal Fisking of the Washington Post.

UPDATE: More here.

SKBUBBA UNMASKED: I've known who he was for years, and even had dinner with him. I think he's a good guy even though we disagree on some things (but hey, I disagree with everybody on some things), and I'm sorry to see his anonymity busted.




In the early 1940s, a politically ambitious butcher from West Virginia named Bob Byrd recruited 150 of his friends and associates to form a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. After Byrd had collected the $10 joining fee and $3 charge for a robe and hood from every applicant, the "Grand Dragon" for the mid-Atlantic states came down to tiny Crab Orchard, W.Va., to officially organize the chapter.

As Byrd recalls now, the Klan official, Joel L. Baskin of Arlington, Va., was so impressed with the young Byrd's organizational skills that he urged him to go into politics. "The country needs young men like you in the leadership of the nation," Baskin said.

The young Klan leader went on to become one of the most powerful and enduring figures in modern Senate history. Throughout a half-century on Capitol Hill, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) has twice held the premier leadership post in the Senate, helped win ratification of the Panama Canal treaty, squeezed billions from federal coffers to aid his home state, and won praise from liberals for his opposition to the war in Iraq and his defense of minority party rights in the Senate.

Despite his many achievements, however, the venerated Byrd has never been able to fully erase the stain of his association with one of the most reviled hate groups in the nation's history.

Well, no. As David Gelernter says, we are our history; don't forget it.

MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING: "Increasingly grotesque." That seems about right to me.

NEW YORK TIMES: Iranian elections rigged. "The race for the presidency in Iran was thrown into turmoil on Saturday when the third-place finisher accused conservative hard-liners of rigging the election and cutting him out of the runoff vote next week, which will be between a former president and the conservative mayor of Tehran."

Of course they're rigged. Nice that people are noticing, though.

BURMA / MYANMAR UPDATE: Democracy activists rally on Aung San Suu Kyi's birthday. Gateway Pundit has photos and video.

SLASHDOT READERS COMMENT on the Los Angeles Times' Wikitorial experiment.

AMAZON IS GOING TO HOST A FREE CONCERT WEBCAST featuring Bob Dylan and Norah Jones. My earlier thoughts concerning Amazon's move into original video look to have been right.

UPDATE: Reader John Kranz doesn't like the host. Well, me neither. But I didn't think that was the story.



Throughout the last campaign season, senior Democrats had a standard line in their speeches, usually delivered with righteous anger, about how "nobody has a right to question my patriotism!" Given that nobody was questioning their patriotism, it seemed an odd thing to harp on about. But, aware of their touchiness on the subject, I hasten to add that in what follows I am not questioning Dick Durbin's patriotism, at least not for the first couple of paragraphs. Instead, I'll begin by questioning his sanity. . . .

Every third-rate hack on every European newspaper can do the Americans-are-Nazis schtick. Amnesty International has already declared Guantanamo the "gulag of our times." But I do believe the senator is the first to compare the U.S. armed forces with the blood-drenched thugs of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. Way to go, senator!

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Roger Simon wonders if the Democrats are "breeding a new generation of Father Coughlins." Actually, I think it was bred 40 years ago; it's just reaching maturity now.

BlackFive has collected some military reactions to Durbin, too. And here's another from a Vietnam POW.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A call for the Senate to censure Durbin for his remarks. Reader Monica Moncrief remarks:

I find the censuring idea interesting since Senators would have to vote on it, and therefore take a position on the comments. It would be fascinating to hear the opposing Senators' positions.

Yes, it would certainly put them on the spot. Meanwhile, Dave Kopel injects a note of critical reason lacking from discussions by Amnesty and Sen. Durbin.

MORE: More on censuring Durbin here.

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE has a roundup on the Amnesty International debacle.

CANADIAN ESPIONAGE SCANDALS? For years I've been getting emails from Canadian readers about the ineptitude and denial that characterize Canadian authorities' approach to questions of terrorism and national security. It looks as if the problems are beginning to get some attention.

UPDATE: Oops -- had the wrong link before. Fixed now.

JOE BIDEN'S PLAGIARISM SCANDAL was once dismissed by an expert who wrote: "At worst, Biden purloined piffle."

Now people are saying that the Downing Street memos may be fake, in which case all I can say is that whoever faked them is guilty of faking piffle. You'd think that a fraud would at least contain something interesting.

UPDATE: Some different observations here.

And it's worth linking this take from Tim Cavanaugh.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A similar view from Power Line "If they were fakes, they'd say more."