July 16, 2005

YESTERDAY'S ROVE/PLAME POST has been considerably updated, so scroll down or click here.

JEFF JARVIS thinks that Europe is unlearning multiculturalism. He also observes that murder is murder.


AUSTIN BAY COMMENTS on the Palestinian civil war.

THE COUNTERTERRORISM BLOG has a truly appalling story of terrorists sending letters from jail to other terrorists because of a shortage of Arabic translators to review them.



Maybe they've outsourced their hiring to Reuters.

GIVEN HOW INTERESTING THIS STORY IS, and the fact that there's video available, it's surprising that it didn't get more attention:

During a routine patrol in Baghdad June 2, Army Pfc. Stephen Tschiderer, a medic, was shot in the chest by an enemy sniper, hiding in a van just 75 yards away. The incident was filmed by the insurgents.

Tschiderer, with E Troop, 101st “Saber” Cavalry Division, attached to 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was knocked to the ground from the impact, but he popped right back up, took cover and located the enemy’s position.

After tracking down the now-wounded sniper with a team from B Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Iraqi Army Brigade, Tschiderer secured the terrorist with a pair of handcuffs and gave medical aid to the terrorist who’d tried to kill him just minutes before.

Go figure.

HEH. What he said.

STEPHEN ST. ONGE has put together a Plame scandal history and roundup.

Meanwhile, Tom Maguire looks at the role of the press as possible leaker, and related issues, in this post and this one. Also, here's a transcript of Mickey Kaus discussing these issues on the Hugh Hewitt show.

UPDATE: Some errors and omissions in the NYT's coverage are explored.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's John Tierney in the New York Times:

For now, though, it looks as if this scandal is about a spy who was not endangered, a whistle-blower who did not blow the whistle and was not smeared, and a White House official who has not been fired for a felony that he did not commit. And so far the only victim is a reporter who did not write a story about it.

Is it too soon to say "I told you so?" Perhaps. At least, I think I'll show a bit more care than those who have been swearing to one "sure thing" theory after another where this is concerned.


July 15, 2005




Before Democrats had a partisan motive to claim, contrary to all the evidence, that there was no relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and bin Laden's al Qaeda, their close and dangerous relationship was common knowledge. That common knowledge is reflected in this ABC news report, as it was in the Clinton administration's indictment of bin Laden in 1998 for, among other things, collaborating with Saddam on weapons of mass destruction.

Yeah, we heard a lot of that stuff before Bush was President, but now it's all supposed to be something he just made up.

ADRIANA CRONIN rounds up U.N. efforts to take over the Internet.

Slogan: It'll be like oil-for-food, only with electrons!

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

WARTRASH is a new warblog by Fred Lapides.

CNN NOTICES SOME FEMALE BLOGGERS: Trey Jackson has the video.

A BBC REPORTER IS READING THE NEW HARRY POTTER BOOK, and is liveblogging the reading. Liveblogging a book -- why didn't I think of that?

A SAUDI WOMAN GETS A COMMERCIAL PILOT'S LICENSE: I hope she's the face of the future. Heck, one day maybe they'll let her drive a car.

DAVID CORN RESPONDS ANGRILY to claims that he was the Plame-outer. ("And, by the way, Mark Felt was not Deep Throat; it was me.") Given that she never seems to have been outed at all, really, this seems like a non-issue to me. And this roundup of the lefty blogs' response from Slate suggests that the scandal is pretty much over:

Plucky liberal Joshua Micah Marshall offers what he hopes will be the Democratic line on the scandal. "The entire Wilson/Plame story and the Rove/White House criminal probe sub-story are just so many threads thrown off a much larger and more consquential ball of yarn: the administration's use of fraudulent evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program to seal the deal for war on Iraq with the American people," he writes at TPMCafe. Atrios, E Pluribus Unum, Ed Cone, and others on the left are opening up another front in the war on Rove, passing around a New York Times column that attacks the advisor for turning 9/11 into a domestic political opportunity.

When the loudest critics start changing the subject back to their old discredited talking points, well . . . .

UPDATE: Cliff May responds to Corn here -- and scroll up from that post for more.

WHILE YOU'RE HITTING TIPJARS, you might want to hit Michael Yon's. He's doing more worthwhile stuff with the money than I am.

MORE DOCUMENT-SHREDDING AT THE U.N.: It's a wonder that they have any left.

THE BUSH GIRLS GO TO AFRICA: Sounds like the title to a movie.

F.E.C. UPDATE: Allison Hayward looks at the D.C. Circuit decision today.

AT INSTAPUNDIT, WE TAKE A FLOGGIN' AND KEEP ON BLOGGIN' -- Apparently, they've dug up our phone line by mistake, leaving us without phone or DSL. Luckily, the Verizon card is still working. It's slow, but it's faster than dialup.



A Texas federal judge has issued a blistering 249-page order and sanctioned a high-profile plaintiffs law firm, accusing the plaintiffs bar of manufacturing a "phantom epidemic" of the lung disease silicosis.

And at least one legal expert suggests a similar finding might come if courts look closely at recent absestosis litigation.

Judge Janis Graham Jack, in a June 30 ruling, noted that more than 9,000 plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation case had been seen by about 8,000 physicians who diagnosed and treated them for every other health problem, but never noted the presence of silicosis. The silica illness diagnoses came from just 12 doctors, most of whom were in the employ of various mobile-screening operations, doing what she called "assembly-line diagnosing." In Re: Silica Products Liability Litigation, No. 1553 (S.D. Tex.). . . .

Brickman finds it remarkable that "despite the overwhelming evidence of fraud uncovered" in the silicosis cases, no state prosecutor has ever launched an investigation. A representative of the Mississippi attorney general’s office, Special Assistant Attorney General Jacob Ray, says he cannot confirm or deny that his office is investigating the silicosis cases.

Sounds like it ought to be.

YES, IT'S TRUE: You can see me and Steven Den Beste in the Wedding Crashers trailer.



SANDY BERGER UPDATE: Unbillable Hours has looked at the documents and has some thoughts on why the sentencing was postponed.


The Department of Defense won an important legal victory this morning in the Hamdan case. The United States Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. reversed a district court decision that Hamdan, who admits he was Osama bin Laden's driver in Afghanistan, could not be tried by a military commission unless a "competent tribunal" first determined that he was not a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention. The Court concluded that the Geneva Convention is not enforceable in federal court. It also found that a military commission is a "competent tribunal," and thus that such a commission can try Hamdan and, in doing so, decide his claim that he's entitled to prisoner of war status.

No link to the opinion yet.

UPDATE: Link here, via (of course) Howard Bashman. I notice that the case was argued by my law school classmate Peter Keisler.

WITH THE NEW HARRY POTTER BOOK COMING OUT, retailers are resorting to the Dark Arts to get sales.

Well, okay, not that dark.

LONDON UPDATE: "The British-born mastermind of the London attacks had direct links with al-Qaeda, police sources confirmed yesterday."

UPDATE: Another arrest:

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - An Egyptian biochemist arrested Friday in Cairo in connection with the London bombings taught at a British university after taking graduate courses in North Carolina.

Magdy el-Nashar, 33, was arrested early Friday, an Egyptian government official said on condition of anonymity because an official announcement of the arrest had not been made. El-Nashar was being interrogated by Egyptian authorities, the official said.

Stay tuned.

ANOTHER UPDATE: El-Nahsar bio here.

JOHN TABIN LOOKS FURTHER AT THE PEW POLL on Muslim attitudes on terror and democracy. "Fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq does not seem to have massively radicalized the Muslim world; if anything the opposite is happening." Meanwhile, Austin Bay looks at Al Qaeda's information war.

UPDATE: Andrew Bolt:

IN a selfish way, I'm glad just one newspaper reported just one line of Major-General Jim Molan's speech two weeks ago.

What better proof of what I've argued so often – that you are not being told the good news from Iraq.


TODD ZYWICKI is recruiting law professors to sign an amicus brief in FAIR v. Rumsfeld, the Solomon Amendment military-recruiters-on-campus case. If you're a law professor, and interested, follow the link for more background.

SADDAM / OSAMA CONNECTIONS: Check out this audio clip.

PLAME UPDATE: The leak came from the press?

Chief presidential adviser Karl Rove testified to a grand jury that he talked with two journalists before they divulged the identity of an undercover CIA officer but that he originally learned about the operative from the news media and not government sources, according to a person briefed on the testimony.

Mickey Kaus has more, and Tom Maguire has much, much more. And Orin Kerr has the big question: "I wonder if the Plame story will now play out in an infinite loop of leak investigations."

UPDATE: Joe Wilson seems to be letting more air out of what looks more and more like a grossly inflated story: "My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity."

ANOTHER UPDATE: It's an "I told you so" moment. I have to say that I've been skeptical of theories that this was yet another Karl Rove "rope-a-dope" operation designed to sucker Administration opponents into discrediting themselves. But now I'm not so sure. And Ed Morrissey notes an irony.

And I don't know what to make of this: David Corn not Novak, was the outer?

MORE: Jon Henke has a big roundup post. The rope-a-dope bit is looking more plausible.

STILL MORE: Daniel Larsen emails that Wilson's statement isn't what it seems:

He was responding to Blitzer's charge that "you've sought to capitalize on this extravaganza, having that photo shoot with your wife, who was a clandestine officer of the CIA." What I think he meant was: "It doesn't matter that I had the photo shoot, because she stopped being a clandestine agent the moment that column came out."

I guess I could see that -- except that for that to be the case she would have had to be a clandestine agent up to that point, which doesn't seem to be the case:

A former CIA covert agent who supervised Mrs. Plame early in her career yesterday took issue with her identification as an "undercover agent," saying that she worked for more than five years at the agency's headquarters in Langley and that most of her neighbors and friends knew that she was a CIA employee.

"She made no bones about the fact that she was an agency employee and her husband was a diplomat," Fred Rustmann, a covert agent from 1966 to 1990, told The Washington Times. . . . In addition, Mrs. Plame hadn't been out as an NOC since 1997, when she returned from her last assignment, married Mr. Wilson and had twins, USA Today reported yesterday.

Doesn't sound very clandestine to me.

NON-ERROR CORRECTION UPDATE: Tony Pierce sends this post, which says the CNN transcript of Wilson is wrong. But actually, the story seems to be Wilson claiming that he meant what reader Larsen suggests above -- at least, that's the gist of this Media Matters release. Since it seems as clear as anything in this affair that Valerie Plame was not a covert agent the day before Novak's column either, I think we can chalk this up to Joe Wilson's habitual disingenuousness. But as John Tierney notes, that's not surprising:

The endangered spies Ms. Wilson was compared to James Bond in the early days of the scandal, but it turns out she had been working for years at C.I.A. headquarters, not exactly a deep-cover position. Since being outed, she's hardly been acting like a spy who's worried that her former contacts are in danger.

At the time her name was printed, her face was still not that familiar even to most Washington veterans, but that soon changed. When her husband received a "truth-telling" award at a Nation magazine luncheon, he wept as he told of his sorrow at his wife's loss of anonymity. Then he introduced her to the crowd.

And then, for any enemy agents who missed seeing her face at the luncheon but had an Internet connection, she posed with her husband for a photograph in Vanity Fair.

The smeared whistle-blower Mr. Wilson accused the White House of willfully ignoring his report showing that Iraq had not been seeking nuclear material from Niger. But a bipartisan report from the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that his investigation had yielded little valuable information, hadn't reached the White House and hadn't disproved the Iraq-Niger link - in fact, in some ways it supported the link.

Mr. Wilson presented himself as a courageous truth-teller who was being attacked by lying partisans, but he himself became a Democratic partisan (working with the John Kerry presidential campaign) who had a problem with facts. He denied that his wife had anything to do with his assignment in Niger, but Senate investigators found a memo in which she recommended him.

Karl Rove's version of events now looks less like a smear and more like the truth: Mr. Wilson's investigation, far from being requested and then suppressed by a White House afraid of its contents, was a low-level report of not much interest to anyone outside the Wilson household.

Still, I do want to be fair to the seemingly dishonest and inept Ambassador Wilson, so you can read Tony's rather different take by following the link. But note the uselessness of this correction:

During the early afternoon of July 15, 2005, the Associated Press issued a corrected version of the article noting Wilson's clarification that "his wife lost her ability to be a covert agent because of the leak, not that she had stopped working for the CIA beforehand."

Nobody ever said that she wasn't working for the CIA -- the question is whether she was a covert spy or a paperpusher, and the answer seems pretty clearly to be the latter. And "ability to be a covert agent" isn't the same as actually being a covert agent, though he hopes you'll miss that. This is, sadly, typical of Wilson here, though it seems that she lost her ability to be a covert agent when she married Wilson, really.

MORE STILL: Jerry Pournelle, who was against invading Iraq, offers his explanation of what's going on with Wilson:

Once Wilson wrote his op ed piece, anyone would know that there would be investigative reporters looking into what he was doing. His wife works at Langley, and it's not hard to watch who goes in and out of the gate every day. Analysts don't have very deep cover. The law is specific and says that it is a Federal crime to knowingly and intentionally identify covert CIA employees. That was largely intended to stop the actions of some of the anti-American publications that were rampant back in past times. It was framed in part not to criminalize discussions of common knowledge subjects. When Wilson's wife got him the job going to Niger as an expert, and he then went to the Washington Post with his article denouncing the Administration, it wasn't hard to predict that someone would cotton on to to this, and it would come out.

It became common knowledge that his wife got him the job. Who told that story isn't clear. Possibly CIA people who do not share the anti-administration views. There are some. Quite a few, actually. But it was inevitable that it would come out, and both she and Joe Wilson must have known that.

There are a lot of sticks to beat the administration with. The war was not a good idea. But most of the Democrats who want to beat up the administration over the war voted to authorize it, so an honest analysis of the war decision factors won't work. So, we have this imbecile investigation taking up time. No one is going to show that anyone knowingly and intentionally identified a covert CIA employee. One can make up a lot of plausible scenarios about what happened, including the simplest, that it was common knowledge and no one even thought about her being a covert employee of the Agency. There may even have been someone who did knowingly and intentionally identify her, but you won't find it out at this range, because whoever did that would have been careful to tell the story to others in a way that masks his identity. He was just passing along gossip. But in fact, it was probable that it was just passing along gossip.

Read the whole thing.

July 14, 2005


MAXINE McKEW: Prime Minister, if as you say you can't rule out that possibility that we could have potential bombers right here in Australia, what if today's announcement, this redeployment to Afghanistan and our continued presence in Iraq is all the provocation they need?

JOHN HOWARD: Maxine, these people are opposed to what we believe in and what we stand for, far more than what we do. If you imagine that you can buy immunity from fanatics by curling yourself in a ball, apologising for the world - to the world - for who you are and what you stand for and what you believe in, not only is that morally bankrupt, but it's also ineffective. Because fanatics despise a lot of things and the things they despise most is weakness and timidity. There has been plenty of evidence through history that fanatics attack weakness and retreating people even more savagely than they do defiant people.

(Via Art Vandelay). Ms. McKew needs to read this column by Max Boot.

JEFF JARVIS comments on the Steve Lovelady / Mark Yost discussion of media coverage on Iraq:

What is amazing about this is that Lovelady is the managing editor of the friggin' Columbia Journalism Review Daily. You'd think that he would welcome intelligent, reasoned, two-sided discussion about media's coverage of this controverial story. Instead, he acts like the fat kid on the playground egging on the bullies in a fight.

And we certainly know where the Columbia Journalism Review stands on war coverage, don't we now?

I think we already did.

CHIRAC IS DISSING THE BRITS AGAIN, saying that the French are better. But will he have the guts to quote Daniel Pipes?

UPDATE: Chirac won't have to quote Pipes, whose piece has just been reprinted in Le Figaro!

DON SURBER is hosting the first Hillbilly Blog Carnival.

DONKLEPHANT is a new centrist group blog. This essay by Michael Totten there is worth reading. And his blogmates have posts on centrism, and the explanatory value of Josey Wales, that are also worth your time.

FORGET OLIVER STONE: Greg Gutfeld has the perfect director for the 9/11 movie. But will he take their calls?

IS IT TIME for me to say I told you so yet?

Yes, I think it is. And the politicization and hysteria on this issue has made things even worse than I feared.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh wonders if things are really any different.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Is this the Golden Age that Andrew is talking about?

IN RESPONSE TO POPULAR DEMAND, the Insta-Wife's documentary, Six, is now available on DVD. It seems that VHS is really going out of style.


Osama bin Laden's standing has dropped significantly in some key Muslim countries, while support for suicide bombings and other acts of violence has "declined dramatically," according to a new survey released today.

In a striking finding, predominantly Muslim populations in a sampling of six North African, Middle East and Asian countries are also as alarmed as Western nations about Islamic extremism, which is now seen as a threat in their own nations too, the poll found. . . .

Compared with previous surveys, the new poll also found growing majorities or pluralities of Muslims surveyed now say democracy can work in their countries and is not just a political system for the West. Support for democracy was in the 80 percent range in Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco and the highest score at 43 percent in Pakistan and 48 percent in Turkey, where significant numbers were unsure.

"They are not just paying lip service. They are saying they specifically want a fair judiciary, freedom of expression and more than one party to participate in elections. It wasn't just a vague concept," said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center and director of the project. "U.S. and Western ideas about democracy have been globalized and are in the Muslim world."

That's really a big deal. (Via Ed Morrissey, who has more thoughts.)


DUST IN THE WIND: Noah Shachtman reports from Iraq.

I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S SILLIER: Sending the feds after Grand Theft Auto and similar videogames, or the notion that doing so might violate international law.

Anyway, as I've suggested before, the case against videogame violence is pretty thin. Don't we have more, um, pressing issues before us?

THE EVER-GENEROUS TOM MAGUIRE OFFERS answers to Josh Marshall's questions: With lots of links.

ANN ALTHOUSE on Supreme Court nominees:

Presidents should not use trivial, political grounds to select the person who will interpret the law for us all for a generation. That we ought to see as an outrage -- a shocking abuse of power. But "the person with the biggest brain"? I know a lot of big-brained people in law. I'm not sure which one has the biggest brain. Maybe we could sit them in a room and grill them with a series of tests. But there's a damned good chance the person with the biggest brain would be a disaster on the Court.


EVERYBODY SEEMS TO BE DOGPILING ON JUAN COLE AGAIN. I would feel sorry for him, but once you call for "opposition research" on other bloggers, well, it's hard to be that sympathetic.

UPDATE: The love won't stop.

Well, it's more "tough love," really.


The London bombings have occasioned many comparisons with the 1940 Blitz. This is usually cited as evidence of British fortitude — the attitude exemplified by cockneys in the heavily bombed East End who told Winston Churchill, "We can take it, but give it 'em back." That is indeed the dominant British (and American) attitude, then and now, but it is important not to ignore a streak of timidity there (and here) that may get stronger in the years ahead and that was present even when civilization faced an existential threat from Nazism.

Appeasement did not end with the German invasion of Poland in 1939. Even afterward, many in Britain (and even more in the U.S.) opposed active resistance. Conservative worthies like Lord Halifax sought a negotiated settlement. Fascists like Sir Oswald Mosley sought to bring Nazism to Britain. And communists and their fellow travelers opposed fighting Stalin's ally until Hitler invaded Russia. . . .

Orwell's words, written in October 1941, ring true today: "The notion that you can somehow defeat violence by submitting to it is simply a flight from fact. As I have said, it is only possible to people who have money and guns between themselves and reality."

Indeed. More historical perspective here.

And Tim Blair notes the phenomenon in the present, from Phillip Adams.

AUSTIN BAY thinks that Europe may be waking up.

IN THE MAIL: A copy of Bernard Goldberg's new book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America : (and Al Franken Is #37). The Insta-Wife immediately stole it, so I can't report on it, but she was laughing a lot while reading. The flamewars in the Amazon reviews are amusing, too.

SEVERAL READERS HAVE WRITTEN to ask whether Sandy Berger was sentenced as scheduled on July 8. The answer is no, because the sentencing has been postponed until September, but this news account, which is all I could find, isn't very informative as to why.


When is a terrorist not a terrorist? When he is on the BBC, of course. Where - according to the corporation's editorial guidelines - "the word 'terrorist' itself can be a barrier rather than aid to understanding". . . .

Within hours of the explosions, a memo was sent to senior editors on the main BBC news programmes from Helen Boaden, head of news. While she was aware "we are dancing on the head of a pin", the BBC was very worried about offending its World Service audience, she said.

BBC output was not to describe the killers of more than 50 in London as "terrorists" although - nonsensically - they could refer to the bombings as "terror attacks". And while the guidelines generously concede that non-BBC should be allowed to use the "t" word, BBC online was not even content with that and excised it from its report of Tony Blair's statement to the Commons.

A row has now broken out with a handful of the corporation's most senior journalists and news executives, fighting what one described yesterday as a "disgusting and appalling" edict. He was particularly angry, he added, because most World Service listeners don't even pay a penny for the BBC.

Biased BBC comments:

I wonder which parts of the World Service audience might be offended by calling a terrorist a terrorist? And why should the BBC pander so desperately to the sensibilities of people who might be thus offended anyway? Surely the BBC's job is to tell it like it is, as understood by the highest standards of British common-sense and decency, whether or not it offends those who are so backward or primitive that they regard the random murder of civilians (in London or anywhere else) as anything less than terrorism.

Whether funded through the telly-tax or the taxpayers money given to the World Service, the BBC is supposed to be the British Broadcasting Corporation - it is high time for the BBC's voluminous news output to reflect and represent the views, values and standards of those who are forced to pay for it - the great British public - particularly since the BBC's enormous tax-funded dominance stifles all but the most hardy of alternative news providers, thus perpetuating the BBC's distorted White City Goldfish Bowl view of the world throughout Britain's broadcast media.

Read the whole thing. And there's more commentary at USS Neverdock, which observes that the BBC isn't taking the criticism very well.

UPDATE: "Very well?" Who am I kidding? They're lashing out desperately.

JOSEPH WILSON ON THE TODAY SHOW: Jim Lindgren has some questions and observations.

UPDATE: Bob Shrum gets some flak. Really, it's hard to believe that Joe Wilson is nonpartisan.

SHOCKINGLY, this is currently the most-emailed photo on Yahoo.


The US government has suggested wealthy Saudi individuals remain "a significant source" of funds for Islamic terrorists around the world, despite widely-publicized efforts by the desert kingdom to shut down these channels.

The statement by Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey before the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, contrasted with earlier upbeat assessments by US officials that Saudi Arabia was making good progress in stemming the flow of private money to terrorist groups.

Yeah, that's probably not the best approach. But we certainly need to be putting more pressure on the Saudis somehow.

At least they're getting bad publicity:

For many Iraqi police, shutting down al Qaeda has become something of an obsession. Iraqi television and radio cover this battle with the terrorists intensely. The deaths of Iraqi civilians and security troops are given front page coverage, as are the operations against the terrorists. Much to the dismay of Iraqi Sunni Arabs, the media keeps pointing out that nearly all the Iraqi supporters of the al Qaeda terrorists are Sunni Arabs. The leaders of the Iraqi Sunni Arab community are working hard to prove their loyalty, before popular opinion against Iraqi Sunni Arabs gets out of control, and widespread attacks on Sunni Arabs begin. . . .

These kinds of attacks have made the terrorists very unpopular in Iraq, just as similar attacks in Egypt and Algeria (during the 1990s) turned the population against Islamic terrorists there. Tangible examples of that hatred are seen daily as more and more Iraqis report terrorist activity. This has led to more arrests of terrorists, and the capture of bomb making materials, workshops and the bomb makers themselves.

The Saudis may come to regret not cleaning up their act sooner.

UPDATE: Some useful perspective, from The Belmont Club.

VIRGINIA POSTREL: "Because of a brain defect, I'm unable to spend my time surfing the Web and writing blog posts and still get any real work done."

It's a good thing the rest of the country isn't like that, or the economy would be in the toilet.

MICKEY KAUS: "Tom Maguire has praised a 2003 Web article by Howard Fineman so often he finally pushed me into reading it. It's good--too good to actually publish in Newsweek, apparently!"

July 13, 2005

SHUTTLE UPDATE: Ben Chertoff of Popular Mechanics will be on Fox & Friends tomorrow morning at 6:45 talking about the pros and cons of the Space Shuttle. My own thoughts are below, and I suspect that Rand Simberg, who's sounding rather grumpy tonight, will have more to say tomorrow, too.



CONGRATULATIONS TO EUGENE VOLOKH, who just received a chair at UCLA.

No, not one of these, though that would be a nice touch.

UPDATE: Reader Tucker Goodrich thinks that Volokh should have gotten one of these chairs. Well, yeah.

JOHN HINDERAKER: "I've been surprised at how Britons have reacted to the news that the subway bombers were native British Muslims. Home Secretary Charles Clarke is just one of many who expressed "shock" at this revelation. It's not clear why anyone should be surprised that British citizens could also be terrorists." Certainly no one who was paying attention.

UPDATE: Norm Geras is unsparing on terrorist apologists:

It needs to be seen and said clear: there are, amongst us, apologists for what the killers do, and they make more difficult the long fight that is needed to defeat them. (To forestall any possible misunderstanding on this point: I do not say these people are not entitled to the views they express or to their expression of them. They are. Just as I am entitled to criticize their views for the wretched apologia they amount to.) The plea will be made, though - it always is - that these are not apologists, they are merely honest Joes and Joanies endeavouring to understand the world in which we all live. What could be wrong with that? What indeed? Nothing is wrong with genuine efforts at understanding; on these we all depend. But the genuine article is one thing, and root-causes advocacy that seeks to dissipate responsibility for atrocity, mass murder, crime against humanity, especially in the immediate aftermath of their occurrence, is something else.

Read the whole thing.

SUPREME COURT JUSTICE KARL ROVE? Well, he's getting mentions on both the left and the right!

ANOTHER BREDESEN-FOR-PRESIDENT MENTION: He's certainly getting better press than our previous governor.

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs is less impressed.

MORE VIDEO FROM AUSTIN BAY, this time from Bagram.

ROBERT BYRD IS SHOUTING BUSH'S NAME FROM STEEPLE TOPS -- which is quite a gesture for a man his age.

AT THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE, some thoughts on suicide bombers killing children:

Some day you may hear someone describing the virtues of the "resistance" or "freedom fighters" in Iraq , or claiming moral equivalence between these animals and coalition soldiers. You may even hear someone say we're on a "crusade" against Muslims. When you do, send them here.

I will.

UPDATE: Here's an article on suicide bombing from The Atlantic Monthly, made free to non-subscribers.

RON BAILEY LOOKS AT PROPERTY RIGHTS AND POVERTY, and offers advice to the Friends of the Earth:

Amusingly, while the FOE report insists on all kinds of rights for the world's poor, including environmental, human, political, collective, legal, and women's rights, there is in the report not a single mention of the word "property," as in "property rights." While FOE is to be commended for its support for restoring stolen land to poor people around the globe, it just cannot bring itself to permit individual poor people to own land. Consequently, most of the "sustainable development" schemes endorsed by FOE involve collective ownership of land and natural resources. (By collective ownership, FOE most emphatically does not mean corporate ownership.) Collective ownership by a defined group is better than government theft, but it limits the options of the joint owners who are subject to the tyranny of generally conservative majorities who stifle entrepreneurship. Evidently, FOE would prefer that poor people sit around voting all day rather than getting rich. Think church vestries or condo association meetings.


THE DISCOVERY LAUNCH has been scrubbed. Is it a case of too much caution, or not enough?

Regardless, the Shuttle's future is limited, and we need to be moving on something better -- which probably shouldn't be another government-monopoly Big Rocket. Related thoughts here and (with a cool Webb Wilder quote to open) here.

A LOOK AT THE L.A. TIMES ethics code.

CLAUDIA ROSETT has more on connections between Saddam and Al-Qaeda. I know it's an article of faith -- in the most literal sense -- of the antiwar crowd that no such connections exist, but assertions to that effect mostly serve as a time-saver, by making clear who doesn't know what they're talking about.

A WHILE BACK, quite a few readers recommended this book by Peter Hamilton, and I'm reading it, and enjoying it, now -- though alas my rather high workload at the moment is limiting me to a half-hour or so before bed most days. I need to do less writing, and more reading.

Maybe next year.

SHRINKING DEFICITS: The trade deficit is down:

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed unexpectedly in May to $55.3 billion as exports rose slightly to a record and imports retreated a bit from the record set in April, a U.S. government report showed on Wednesday.

The smaller-than-expected trade gap suggested stronger-than-expected U.S. economic growth in the second quarter and could help persuade the Federal Reserve to remain on a path of steadily rising interest rates.

And so is the budget deficit:

Based on revenue and spending data through June, the budget deficit for the first nine months of the fiscal year was $251 billion, $76 billion lower than the $327 billion gap recorded at the corresponding point a year earlier.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated last week that the deficit for the full fiscal year, which reached $412 billion in 2004, could be "significantly less than $350 billion, perhaps below $325 billion."

The big surprise has been in tax revenue, which is running nearly 15 percent higher than in 2004. Corporate tax revenue has soared about 40 percent, after languishing for four years, and individual tax revenue is up as well.

Most of the increase in individual tax receipts appears to have come from higher stock market gains and the business income of relatively wealthy taxpayers.

Hmm. Weren't people telling us just recently that the budget deficit was growing because wealthy taxpayers were paying less? Apparently they were in error.

BORING FROM WITHIN: But not boring!

"EMPTY-HEADED TELEVISION PEOPLE:" I have video of Ana Marie Cox and Hugh Hewitt talking about press coverage of the Plame scandal, plus a few comments of my own, over at

UPDATE: This is funny: "The Times is keeping silent because the public has a right to know."


MARTIN KRAMER charges Juan Cole with error. And with airbrushing in the correction of same.

STEM CELL UPDATE: People wondering why Arlen Specter has been less-than-helpful to the Bush Administration on judicial matters may want to note Specter's anger over the Administration's stem-cell policy:

The President's Council on Bioethics laid out several options in a white paper in May.

Bioethicists and scientists testified Tuesday regarding the theories outlined in the white paper before the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. Arlen Specter, (R-Pennsylvania), who is suffering from cancer and authored a competing bill, chairs the subcommittee.

Specter's voice was rough from chemotherapy treatments. He said he is angry that stem-cell research is still being delayed by lack of funding.

"I've been waiting too long already," Specter said.

Specter has introduced a bill that would overthrow President Bush's executive order, which limits federal funding to a small number of human embryonic stem-cell lines. Specter's bill would open up funding to unused embryos donated by couples after in vitro fertilization. The House has already passed the bill, and the Senate was expected to do the same.

But the president has promised to veto it.

Read the whole thing, which includes discussion of several other bills. There's also a roundup on the legislative battles in this article in the Los Angeles Times. The Bush Administration's stem-cell policy has seemed deeply misguided and wrong to me, but it would be ironic if this comparatively minor bow to pro-life politics messed up Bush's chances to appoint a conservative Supreme Court justice, a far more significant matter.

It's certainly easy to see why this would make Specter mad:

Some Republicans said the White House goal was to get several of the alternative measures passed, so that even if the embryonic stem cell research bill opposed by the White House were approved, Bush could sign the other measures into law while vetoing the measure that would undermine his policy.

"I think the point is to confuse the issue," said Rep. Michael N. Castle (R-Del.), co-sponsor of the House embryonic stem cell bill.

If I were Specter, it would make me feel uncooperative, too.

NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Chris Phoenix is blogging the Nano Bootcamp. "At the sub-micron scale, watching paint dry is one of the most fascinating things I've ever seen."

WHY IS JUDITH MILLER STILL IN JAIL? I've wondered that too.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker notes that the New York Times is in a rather awkward position.

MICKEY KAUS remains on top of the all-important Oliver Stone story. With help from Oliver Stone!


ANTI-ARROYO PROTESTS in the Phillipines. Gateway Pundit has a roundup.


China's military build up has been big news for the last few months. This development was known all along by the military and defense industry journalists, but the story never broke big, until recently, in the mainstream media. Before that, it was something defense geeks were going on about, and not worth paying much attention to. The Chinese made little effort to hide their military buildup, with civilians, and tourists, able to move past bases where the new weapons, and military units, were in plain sight. As the Internet, and email, became more common in China over the last five years, more details of the Chinese buildup got out to more people in the West. Many Chinese scientists and engineers cultivated email contacts in the West, and freely talked about the military developments in China. They also talked about all the books being published in China that talked of the coming wars with the United States. These developments were reported in the West, but few news directors were connecting the dots. Now they have, and the story of China's military buildup is considered quite a scoop.

Well, it is, for those who don't read StrategyPage . . . .


The Muslim Council of Britain has expressed "shock and anguish" that their youth may have been involved in the London terror attacks. Secretary General Iqbal Sacranie pledged the council's "absolute commitment" to bringing those responsible to justice. . . .

Earlier, the Muslim Council of Britain said it was considering a plan for a national demonstration of protest against the terrorists behind the London bombings. The inter-faith event, which has yet to be agreed, would involve marches in the capital and other cities across the UK.

At least it will be, if it happens.

IS THE WASHINGTON POST making up news?

July 12, 2005

YEAH, took the night off, pretty much. It was my grandmother's 91st birthday party. We hung out, I helped my sister feed her horses, we watched old home movies. Back tomorrow.

GROWING PROTESTS IN IRAN: Publius has a roundup.

AUSTIN BAY is back from hiatus, and looking at changes in opinion in the wake of the London attacks.

MICKEY KAUS: Oliver Stone has ideas of his own!

Meanwhile, InstaPundit moves from the right to the center in under 100 words! (But without Les Nessman . . . .)

SECURITY, REAL AND IMAGINARY: Some thoughts over at


UPDATE: Lorie Byrd has more thoughts.

BRIAN NOGGLE says that I'm overlooking some obvious benefits of surveillance cameras.

BRENDAN O'NEILL has thoughts on the London bombings and the reaction of some Britons.

MEDBLOGGING: This week's Grand Rounds is up!

ARRESTS in the London subway bombings -- which appear to have been suicide bombings:

LEEDS, England — Four bombers, each believed to have been armed with a separate bomb, died in last week's terror attacks on London, Sky News reported Tuesday, quoting police sources.

The latest development gives weight to the theory that the blasts were carried out by homicide bombers. There had been earlier speculation that the explosives were detonated remotely, with timing devices.

Earlier Tuesday, authorities detonated explosives while raiding one of several residences in northern England as sources said police in London identified the body of the bomber of a bus destroyed in multiple blasts last week.

Sky News also said a number of arrests had been made in Yorkshire.

Scotland Yard planned to hold a press conference at noon EDT.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Lots more news at the Counterterrorism Blog.

REGULATING BLOGGERS -- some possibly good news from the FEC:

The commission, which is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats and needs a majority vote to approve new policy, is expected to decide the issue this fall. Ellen L. Weintraub, one of the Democratic commissioners, said the FEC appears to have all but decided against regulating bloggers and is now hashing out what, if anything, it needs to do to protect them against government oversight. The FEC could give all bloggers the media exemption, or it could massage other provisions in the law to provide what some said would amount to similar protections.

But some bloggers said they won't be satisfied with anything other than the media exemption. To do otherwise, Moulitsas of Daily Kos said, would be "creating artificial distinctions between what should be media."

"Keep in mind, this isn't the unbiased, free and fair journalist exemption. It's the media exemption. It applies as much to 'The Daily Show' as much as it applies to partisan pundits as much as it applies to you at The Washington Post," he said, referring to Jon Stewart's satirical news program on cable's Comedy Central. "There's no reason why bloggers should be treated any differently."

I agree with Kos.

I SAY, IF YOU'VE GOT IT, FLAUNT IT: After all, isn't living well the best revenge?

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has more thoughts:

What do you think is more snobbish, more of an assertion of your own superior standing over the common folk -- (1) posting a picture of your "smiling famil[y] at the beach," or yourself with your car, van, or even "a white sports car," or (2) writing a New York Times article that faults such behavior as "brutish flaunting of wealth and leisure"?

Another lame effort at the NYT, I'm afraid.

THE TRIAL OF THEO VAN GOGH'S KILLER is underway, and Dutch blog PeakTalk is covering it. Don't miss this post:

One of the absolute benefits of the Van Gogh trial is the fact that in Mohammed Bouyeri we have pure, unrefined jihadist material at our disposal like we have never had it before. The 9/11 hijackers perished together with their innocent victims, many hardcore al-Qaeda and Taliban members have been killed in Afghanistan, the al-Zarqawi division in Iraq is decimated regularly, a number of the Madrid bombers equally perished to the afterlife, and there’s no sign of the London attackers as of yet. What we have been able to incarcerate so far in my opinion is second-tier material, a number of the residents of Gitmo have started talking and some of them have even been released. Not so with Bouyeri, who is likely to remain behind bars forever, silently. And although he won’t say anything and refuses to co-operate, just by observing him we can paint a pretty scary picture, one that reminds us again of what we're actually fighting.

Just keep scrolling.


BILL QUICK experiments with a new, cheap compact video camera by reporting on a fire.


PANOPTICONS, OLD AND NEW: My TechCentralStation column, on terrorists and security cameras, is up.


The end of June marked the deadline for independent Chinese bloggers to register with the government. That requirement is another sign, along with Microsoft's recent admission that its Chinese blog site would block titles like "freedom" and "democracy," of the country's efforts to control the Internet. . . .

China's long-term vision is clear: an Internet that feels free and acts as an engine of economic progress yet in no way threatens the Communist Party's monopoly on power. With every passing day the Chinese Internet reflects that vision more closely. It portends a future for the Web that we're only beginning to understand—one in which powerful countries refashion the global network to suit themselves.

The ramifications go well beyond China, and the complicity of American companies like Microsoft and Cisco is disgraceful.

NOAH SHACHTMAN is blogging from Iraq.

MICHAEL DEMMONS notes that the already-meager Hurricane Dennis death toll seems to be exaggerated. This will serve as a further disappointment to those who root for the hurricanes.


BILL ROGGIO AND MARVIN HUTCHENS have put together a Flash presentation on Al Qaeda attacks since 1998.

PORPHYROGENITUS is being deployed to Iraq.

THE COTILLION rounds up posts by women bloggers.


Britain's first bus bombing took place barely half a mile from the BBC's central London headquarters, and for a day or so after last Thursday's multiple bomb attacks the BBC, the influential leftist daily Guardian and even the British-based global news agency Reuters all seemed suddenly to discover the words "terrorism" and "terrorist." In Saturday's Guardian, for example, one or other of these words appeared on each of the first 11 pages.

In marked contrast to BBC reports about bombs on public transport in Israel – bombs which in some cases were even worse than those in London since some were specifically aimed at children and most were packed with nails, screws, glass and specially-sharpened metal shards in order to maximize injuries – terms like "guerrilla," "militant," "activist" or "fighter" were suddenly nowhere to be seen. . . .

BUT THE hope of many of the British taxpayers forced to fund the BBC that it had finally come to its senses and would henceforth call terror by its proper name turned out to be short-lived. By Friday, the BBC's World Service was slowly reverting to its old habits, both on air and on line. (Its domestic news broadcasts have for the time being continued using the word "terrorist.")

Presumably hoping that no one would notice, the BBC subtly and retroactively altered its initial texts about the bombs on both its British and international Web sites. Unfortunately for the BBC, however, previous versions of its webpages remained easily accessible to all on Google, and enterprising British bloggers, long-fed up with the BBC's bias, recorded the changes.

I don't mind people making minor changes or corrections without noting it -- it seems a bit pretentious to me when bloggers note that they changed a comma, as if this will matter to historians of the 25th century -- but this was a big deal, and lots of people commented on it at the time. Changing things stealthily after the fact seems a bit, well, creepy, and certainly doesn't enhance my trust for the BBC.

NANOTECHNOLOGY is bringing great strides in toilet freshness.

DEVELOPMENTS REGARDING NORTH KOREA aren't getting a lot of attention right now, what with the important shark attacks, etc., but Gateway Pundit has a roundup, with video.

DEREK LOWE: "I've known some pretty good Brazilian scientists, but the country isn't up to being able to discover and develop its own new ones. (Very few countries are; you can count them on your fingers.) So I've saved my usual justification for last: if Brazil decides to grab an HIV medication that other people discovered, tested, and won approval for, who's going to make the next one for them?"

July 11, 2005

SKIPPY WANTS A MILLION HITS -- follow this link if you want to help him achieve his goal.

TIM CAVANAUGH: "While the more ideological anti-Rovians comically pretend to be motivated by a newfound concern for the CIA's integrity, I just want to see the fur fly."

There's certainly a lot of something flying, but I'm not sure it's fur. Tom Maguire has a roundup.


MY BROTHER TURNED 25 TODAY (this brother, not this one), and we had a party for him. But for reasons that the photo at right should make clear, we didn't fire up the grill as planned. The rotisserie notch in the grill lid made a perfect birdhouse entrance, I guess. I don't know when the eggs will hatch, but there was plenty of mom-and-dad bird traffic as we watched.

HUGH HEWITT INTERVIEWED NAN ARON about judicial confirmations tonight. Radioblogger has the transcript.

HERE'S A YEAR FIVE PROGRESS REPORT on the National Nanotechnology Initiative, from the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.

Background and summary here.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF REVOLUTIONS is up, with posts on the pro-democracy movement worldwide.

CHANA'AD BAHRAINI has photos from an antiterrorism protest in Bahrain.


We know very well what the "grievances" of the jihadists are.

The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way.

FOR a few moments yesterday, Londoners received a taste of what life is like for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, whose Muslim faith does not protect them from slaughter at the hands of those who think they are not Muslim enough, or are the wrong Muslim.

It is a big mistake to believe this is an assault on "our" values or "our" way of life. It is, rather, an assault on all civilisation.

Read the whole thing, in which Christopher Hitchens explains the facts of life to the clueless.

JOHN FUND NOTES that opposition to Kelo spans the political divide.

As it should. Excerpt:

In 1954 the Supreme Court declared in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. But that same year it also ruled in Berman v. Parker that government's power of eminent domain could be used to seize property in order to tear down "blighted" areas.

It soon became clear that too often urban renewal really meant "Negro removal," as cities increasingly razed stable neighborhoods to benefit powerful interests. That helps explain why 50 years later so many minority groups are furious at the Supreme Court's decision last month to build on the Berman precedent and give government a green light to take private property that isn't "blighted" if it can be justified in the name of economic development.

I'm surprised at how much resonance this issue has. I think some smart politicians will make it an issue in 2006 and 2008, and I think it will come up in Supreme Court confirmation hearings, too.

UPDATE: Here's a report on legislative responses to Kelo around the nation. (Via Volokh).


UPDATE: Jonathan Gewirtz emails:

Gov. Blagojevich is merely exercising his interpretation of the Second Amendment, which of course concerns the rights of states rather than individuals. Reminds me of a law review article I once read. . .

Heh. Indeed.

I'M SCHEDULED TO BE ON CAM EDWARDS' SHOW at about 4:20, talking about genocide, the U.N., and the right to arms as a nascent international human right.

THE HOTLINE'S BLOGOMETER feature is up and running. It's free to non-subscribers, too.

IN THE FUTURE, every cat will be famous for fifteen minutes.

UPDATE: But there's a downside.

CARNIVAL-O-RAMA: This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up. So is the latest Carnival of Personal Finance. There's also the Carnival of Liberty, and the fledgling Carnival of Music.

Meanwhile, the Indian blogosphere weighs in with the latest Blog Mela. If you've been looking to diversify your blog-reading, now's your chance!

UPDATE: I forgot the Carnival of the Cars!

ANOTHER UPDATE: And the Carnival of Cordite!

THE INSTA-DAUGHTER is sitting next to me on the sofa, reading The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, a book that I liked a lot when I was 9. Our tastes aren't the same, but it's always cool when they overlap.


I'm in NYC this week, covering the UN's 2nd Biennial Meeting on Small Arms and Light Weapons. We'll have extensive coverage at, including interviews with folks like Bob Barr, Tony Bernardo from the Canadian Institute for Legislative Action, Dave Kopel, Tom Kilgannon from the Freedom Alliance, and hopefully yourself.

I'm supposed to be on about 4:20 Eastern time. It's worth noting the role that small arms confiscation has played in the run-up to genocide in several parts of the world. I recommend this forthcoming article by Dave Kopel, Paul Gallant, and Joanne Eisen, along with this article from the Washington University Law Quarterly by Daniel Polsby and Don Kates. And here's my column from a couple of years ago suggesting that the right to arms should be an international human right.

The U.N. seems to feel differently, of course, but given its record of supineness -- if not outright complicity -- in the face of genocide, that isn't much of an objection.

PODCASTING from Tehran.

MORE ADVICE for aspiring law professors. And if you missed it over the weekend, read this post. It occurs to me that the wider availability of this kind of information from academic bloggers -- information that used to be available mostly to people who attended a few top schools that groom their graduates for academic careers -- will serve to weaken the relative position of the top schools. Just another example of the Internet's hierarchy-flattening effect.

UPDATE: Thoughts on blogs and academia -- making hiring committees look kind of bad -- can be found here.

GOOD NEWS for independent filmmakers.

ANGRY GAIA WORSHIPPERS will be disappointed in Dennis's meager damage toll. But take heart:

An elderly man seeking shelter from Hurricane Dennis was found dead at the Pensacola Civic Center about 1:45 a.m. today, Escambia County Sheriff Ron McNesby said.

The 77-year-old man, whose name has not been released, was found in a restroom, according to sheriff's reports.

Initial indications are that he died of a heart attack. Family members were at the shelter with him.

Also, Florida officials reported the first fatality tied to Hurricane Dennis was a 3-year-old boy who died Friday in Walton County.

The child fell out of a van during evacuation preparations. Florida Highway Patrol Col. Chris Knight said he had no further details.

Take that, decadent Western materialists!

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF posts another roundup of underreported news from Afghanistan.

A WHILE BACK, I noted Nick Schulz's worry that in-flight wi-fi could benefit terrorists. Apparently, the feds are worried, too. I still think that on balance easier communications by passengers hurt terrorists more than they help.

ARNOLD KLING on terrorism lessons from 1870:

A lack of social capital, or what James Bennett calls "civil society," means that the Muslim community's circuits are overloaded. Like the Native Americans living in Montana in 1870, Muslims are confronted with too much change happening too quickly.

We live in a "can-do" society. If a terrorist group arose from within Western culture, after one or two atrocities it would be strangled by a myriad of networks, community organizations, and political entities capable of enforcing group norms.

Perhaps Muslim society cannot address radical terrorism with its existing institutional base. If so, then it will take time for new organizations to emerge within the Muslim world that are capable of effectively promulgating and enforcing prohibitions against terrorism.

Read the whole thing.

I GUESS this is another example of reporting what you expected to hear and not what was actually said, but it's kind of embarrassing.

GATEWAY PUNDIT HAS A REPORT ON THE KYRGYZSTAN VOTE, with video. Things seem to have gone fairly well, but remember that democratization is a process, not an event.

Nathan Hamm at Registan has a roundup, too.

PLAME-O-RAMA: Tom Maguire is all over the latest developments, as is Mickey Kaus.

UPDATE: Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal folks, here's a free-to-nonsubscribers link to their story on the subject.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bill Quick: "Keep this building fiasco in mind whenever you are tempted to view Karl Rove as an invincible political genius."

July 10, 2005

IT'S A KIND OF MICROFICTION: 100 Words or Les Nessman.


HURRICANE HYPE: I'm watching some woman from Fox trying to make a big deal out of 30 mph winds on Lake Pontchartrain. Jeez.

UPDATE: The Mudville Gazette has been turning a critical eye on the hurricane coverage.

MORE VIDEO FROM IRAQ: Check out Faces from the Front, which has lots of cool stuff. Meanwhile, Michael Yon has posted more reporting.

JUST REMEMBER, IT'S A PROCESS NOT AN EVENT: Gateway Pundit has more on democratization in Azerbaijan.


SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR as Chief Justice? Seems unlikely to me.

I think that Eugene Volokh would be the ideal pick for Chief, given his ability to manage the often-fractious collection of constitutional law professors on his Conlawprofs list. 8 other justices would be a walk in the park by comparison.

UPDATE: It looks like the Draft Eugene movement is taking off!

JOSEPH BRAUDE WRITES IN THE NEW REPUBLIC about Muslim groups' slow and inadequate response to the London bombings:

Yesterday's attack on the British people gave Muslims everywhere a chance to distance themselves from the radical Islamists who claim to have perpetrated it. While Muslim governments have taken the opportunity to speak out against the killing of innocents, Muslim Brotherhood offshoot groups failed to rise to the challenge. What they offered instead were statements full of equivocation--in marked contrast to other Arab politicians.

Not impressive at all.

UPDATE: Of course, as Nick Cohen notes in The Observer, lots of people have been unimpressive on this front:

In these bleak days, it's worth remembering what was said after September 2001. A backward glance shows that before the war against the Taliban and long before the war against Saddam Hussein, there were many who had determined that 'we had it coming'. They had to convince themselves that Islamism was a Western creation: a comprehensible reaction to the International Monetary Fund or hanging chads in Florida or whatever else was agitating them, rather than an autonomous psychopathic force with reasons of its own. In the years since, this manic masochism has spread like bindweed and strangled leftish and much conservative thought.

All kinds of hypocrisy remained unchallenged. In my world of liberal London, social success at the dinner table belonged to the man who could simultaneously maintain that we've got it coming but that nothing was going to come; that indiscriminate murder would be Tony Blair's fault but there wouldn't be indiscriminate murder because 'the threat' was a phantom menace invented by Blair to scare the cowed electorate into supporting him. . . .

But it's a parochial line of reasoning to suppose that all bad, or all good, comes from the West - and a racist one to boot. The unavoidable consequence is that you must refuse to support democrats, liberals, feminists and socialists in the Arab world and Iran who are the victims of Islamism in its Sunni and Shia guises because you are too compromised to condemn their persecutors.

Islamism stops being an ideology intent on building an empire from Andalusia to Indonesia, destroying democracy and subjugating women and becomes, by the magic of parochial reasoning, a protest movement on a par with Make Poverty History or the TUC.

Again, I understand the appeal. Whether you are brown or white, Muslim, Christian, Jew or atheist, it is uncomfortable to face the fact that there is a messianic cult of death which, like European fascism and communism before it, will send you to your grave whatever you do. But I'm afraid that's what the record shows.

Yes, and were it spread by Christians, these people woudl have no trouble recognizing it for what it is. It's only the peculiar strain of anti-Westernism that infects so many people in the West that makes it hard to notice, I think.

Meanwhile, Charles Moore wonders, "Where is the Gandhi of Islam?" Read the whole thing.

THIS IS OLD NEWS TO MOST BLOG READERS, but the Washington Post has a lengthy article on how London has become a haven for radical Islamists. Excerpt:

Abu Hamza Masri, for years a blood-curdling preacher at a North London mosque allegedly visited by shoe bomber Richard Reid and hijacker trainee Zacarias Moussaoui, listened silently Friday as his lawyer argued about his indictment last January on nine counts of incitement to murder for speeches that allegedly promoted mass violence against non-Muslims. In one speech cited in a British documentary film, Masri urged followers to get an infidel "and crush his head in your arms, so you can wring his throat. Forget wasting a bullet, cut them in half!"

Masri's case is just one of several dozen that describe the venom, sprawling shape and deep history of al Qaeda and related extremist groups in London. Osama bin Laden opened a political and media office here as far back as 1994; it closed four years later when his local lieutenant, Khalid Fawwaz, was arrested for aiding al Qaeda's attack on two U.S. embassies in Africa.

As bin Laden's ideology of making war on the West spread in the years before Sept. 11, 2001, London became "the Star Wars bar scene" for Islamic radicals, as former White House counterterrorism official Steven Simon called it, attracting a polyglot group of intellectuals, preachers, financiers, arms traders, technology specialists, forgers, travel organizers and foot soldiers.

Today, al Qaeda and its offshoots retain broader connections to London than to any other city in Europe, according to evidence from terrorist prosecutions. Evidence shows at least a supporting connection to London groups or individuals in many of the al Qaeda-related attacks of the past seven years. Among them are the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; the assassination of Afghan militia leader Ahmed Shah Massoud on Sept. 9, 2001; outer rings of the Sept. 11 conspiracy, involving Moussaoui and the surveillance of financial targets in Washington and New York; Reid's attempted shoe bomb attack in December 2001; and the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002.

I suppose that some British authorities have thought it better to keep these guys where they can watch them, but I suspect they'll be rethinking that approach. I think that we should treat Islamic hate groups the same way we've traditionally treated Nazi or racist hate groups: With reluctant tolerance, but with a willingness to bring the hammer down fast and hard if they cross the line, and without even pretending that there's anything admirable about them. It's hard to imagine the British government tolerating Christian preachers who called for the murder of Muslims in such terms for long.

Here's more on the subject from the New York Times, which is now only about 3 years behind, say, Charles Johnson on this topic . . .

UPDATE: Dan Gillmor notes the gleeful response from many young British Muslims.

Immigrant groups used to be anxious to prove their patriotism, in part because they feared the consequences if they were thought disloyal. That seems not to be the case today.


JEFF JARVIS wants advice on video-on-a-chip for blog newsgathering. I've had excellent results using this cheap Sony, which produces 640x480 30fps video, and can put about 15-20 minutes on a 512MB memory stick. (This newer model is probably better, but it's more expensive and doesn't take AA batteries). I demonstrated this to some folks from the Knoxville News-Sentinel last week and they were pretty impressed -- and put up on a projection screen at full resolution it still looks quite good. Knocked down to web-quality -- as here -- it's fine and more is overkill.

Another reason for using video-on-a-chip is that it's easier to deal with. Video from tape has to be captured at realtime speed; video from a chip can just be copied to a hard drive. And the lower capacity of the chips is actually something of an advantage as it forces you to be selective. Austin Bay shot some cool video on his recent trip to Iraq, Djibouti, and Afghanistan, but he's finding it a pain to sort through the 7 hours of tape and find what he wanted. A half dozen memory sticks might have been easier.

The thing that everyone ignores, but that is very important, is sound quality. Some cameras take an external microphone (my Toshiba does) but the quality of the builtin mike is key, because using an external microphone is a pain. Best advice: Get close to your subject! I'm very impressed with the high quality that my Sony's matchhead-sized builtin microphone produces, even against considerable background noise. Try to test that out with anything you buy.

Related thoughts on this subject here. Some earlier reflections here.

UPDATE: Reader Andrew Cohill emails:

I've discovered that my Canon A85 takes astoundingly good video clips, and I just bought a 512 meg card a couple of weeks ago so I could take video. And like you, I think the limited space forces you to focus on what is really important, rather than just turning on the camera and letting it fill up an hour of tape.

As you pointed out, the post processing is where this really pays off. I plug the A85 into my Mac, and iPhoto automatically grabs the video just like still shots and stores it, ready for viewing or sorting.

One click and I can export an editable version that goes straight into iMovie for titles, edting, etc.

Yes, Windows XP does the same thing, and the Canon cameras are excellent. The downside of the Canons -- and lots of other cameras -- is that they don't use AA batteries, meaning that if your rechargeables run out you're screwed until you can recharge 'em. It's nice to be able to pop in some alkaline AAs, available anywhere, in a pinch.

ERROR-CORRECTION UPDATE: Reader Mara Schiffren writes that I'm wrong, and that some of the Canons -- including the one mentioned above -- do accept AA batteries. She's right, I'm wrong. I had read the contrary somewhere a while back, and either it was always wrong, or Canon has changed. Anyway, I should have noticed. Sorry.


One of the biggest failures in the war on terror is rarely heard about. This is the inability of the U.S. government to do prompt background investigations for newly hired translators, analysts and investigators. This investigation procedure was always long and cumbersome, and often the target of ridicule and calls for reform. After September 11, 2001, this problem was recognized, but the solution was to move the work from the Department of Defense to the Office of Personnel Management. That just made the situation worse, as the Office of Personnel Management was not prepared to handle the flood of new work. Currently, there is a backlog of 185,000 background investigations.

The number, and intensity, of complaints from counter-terrorism organizations (both government, and civilian contractors), makes it clear that the problem is bad, and is not getting any better. Desperate for skilled personnel, many are allowed to work on sensitive material without security clearances. Officially, this is not done. But, with lives at stake, corners are being cut to get the work done. Meanwhile, the Office of Personnel Management has made little progress in doubling the number of investigators (another 4,000 are needed), in order to clear up the backlog.

That's troubling.

INTERESTED IN BECOMING A LAW PROFESSOR? You might want to read this post, and also this one (and this one) over at PrawfsBlawg. And Christine Hurt has more advice that's worth reading, too.

If you're interested in applying this coming year, it's already late, though there's still time -- the first deadline to sign up with the AALS as a faculty candidate is August 5, and you're well-advised not to miss it. Go here for more information.

And this article provides a useful overview of the process, which is quite different from what's followed in many other academic disciplines.