Two things to notice. First, Matthews' introduction of Murtha perpetuates the myth that a renowned hawk has suddenly turned against the war. A renowned hawk is what Murtha is, but as many, many bloggers pointed out immediately after Murtha made headlines, he's been saying exactly the same thing about Iraq for more than a year now. This is a manufactured story.
Second of all, it is remarkably disingenuous for Murtha to talk about how his recent visit to Iraq changed his mind about the war. If you listen to the full interview, he also lists a number of other recent data points as contributing factors. In other words, Murtha himself is now peddling the myth of his sudden conversion from hawk to dove.
That's quite misleading, and Chris Matthews is embarrassing himself by lapping it up.
posted at 10:48 PM by Glenn Reynolds
I NEVER THOUGHT I'D SAY "I'M IN COMPLETE AGREEMENT WITH DAVID CORN" SO MANY TIMES in just a couple of days. But that's been my experience on the Pajamas/OSM editorial board so far. As David writes:
Before the launch, left-of-center bloggers and some visitors to this site were fretting it would be the HQ for neocon shock-troops on the Web. Vanity Fair's James Wolcott and I had a back-and-forth on the subject, with Wolcott comparing the OSM gang to Dr. Josef Mengele. But OSM's startup problems have not been ideological; they've been editorial. The content and presentation have not been sufficiently compelling.
But I have discovered the fun--so to speak--of being on an editorial board. I get to bitch and moan and point out what I see as serious shortfalls and then say to the put-upon folks doing the actual work, "Gotta go; it's up to you to fix this." They've listened to me and to other board members, and we shall see what they do with all that advice.
And in the discussions of what needed fixing, and how, we've agreed on pretty much everything. Stay tuned to see how it works out.
Although these notes from the field don't have all our numbers yet--just first impressions--the Highlander impressed us.
In the heaviest urban driving in our tests it got well over 30 mpg--almost twice the conventional Highlander's mileage. That was better than expected.
The report comes out in our Feb issue (but we'll probably post results sooner).
In fact, we liked the Highlander so much we got one in for our long-term test fleet (which means we keep the car for a year)--maybe we can compare notes.
I've found the Highlander very good on mileage, contrary to some reports, but as I've noted it's very sensitive to driving style. When I drive it without regard to mileage (tempting, as it's pretty quick) I get around 24-28 mpg in town; when I try for mileage I get about 10 mpg better. I've also noticed, now that the colder weather has hit, that it does worse initially because the gas engine runs continuously until it's up to operating temperature. I don't mind that, since it provides heat, but it makes a noticeable impact on mpg on short trips.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A less positive take on hybrids here, and some comments on driving style and mileage from Patrick Bedard of Car and Driver,here. Excerpt:
The other knock on hybrids is that they don't get the fuel economy promised by the EPA numbers. Oh, yes, they do, if you drive them as the government drives them on the standard test. Of course, I drove my own routes at my own speeds during my week in a hybrid Lexus RX400h. About half was on freeways, sometimes at speeds above 80; at least 75 miles were in rain. I measured 25.3 mpg over 468 miles. Maybe that doesn't sound miraculous, but when we tested a conventional RX330 (C/D, July 2003), the C/D-observed fuel economy was 17 mpg.
In fact, neither Lexus matched its EPA rating in our hands. But the hybrid outperformed the conventional version by 8 mpg.
I hope that the over-80 portions and the in-the-rain portions didn't overlap. . . . And here's more on high gas mileage as a hobby.
posted at 08:48 PM by Glenn Reynolds
TROPICAL STORM GAMMA threatens Florida: Kind of sounds like something from futuristic science fiction. Alas, it's fact. StormTrack has more.
UPDATE: The storm seems to be turning away from Florida now.
AMMAN, Jordan -- At least 200,000 persons demonstrated yesterday against the recent bombings of three luxury hotels, while a new online statement attributed to terrorist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi defended the attacks and threatened to cut off the head of Jordan's King Abdullah II.
An anti-terrorist demonstration of such size is unprecedented in the Arab world, where Zarqawi, his mentor, Osama bin Laden, and their al Qaeda organization have attained folk-hero status among Muslim masses.
"Zarqawi, from Amman, we say to you: 'You are a coward,' " protesters chanted while brandishing banners with the names of their tribes from every part of Jordan.
I agree with them. More blog commentary rounded up here.
UPDATE: Here's a lengthy post, with photos. "I was very struck by the young woman wearing the bandanna, because slogan-covered bandanas are usually a marker of the most extremist demonstrators. They are typical of Hamas supporters celebrating suicide terrorism. But Lina tells me that the slogan the young woman here sports says No to Terrorism."
posted at 01:06 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MIKE KREMPASKY thinks that the Miller bill for online freedom, discussed below, is a non-starter. I hope he's wrong, but he's usually right about these things.
posted at 01:02 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A BRIEF HISTORY OF A LONG WAR: The Mudville Gazettte has produced a history of events relating to Iraq going back to 1990. Lots of must-read links and quotes.
posted at 09:53 AM by Glenn Reynolds
YOU WON -- NOW WHAT? That's the title of Taegan Goddard's book on post-election politics, but it's also a question for the GOP, and those supporting our efforts in Iraq generally. Though I agree with Larry Kudlow that the resolution was imperfect, it did produce a valuable moment of clarity, as floor votes, like elections, are supposed to. People may want to talk about whether the war was a good idea, but they don't really want to yank the troops, which pretty much everyone agrees would be a disaster with enormous long-term ramifications,.
But there's still the question of what to do next. As I mentioned earlier, I think that the Administration has probably felt that letting the war take a lower media profile was better -- we've had troops in the Balkans for going on a decade, after all, and there's not much move to pull them out, partly because most people have forgotten they're there. But this is different.
As StrategyPage pointed out in a timely piece a few weeks back, it's long been known that there's a "three-year rule" with regard to the American public's patience with a shooting war. We're coming up on 3 years since Saddam was toppled, but it's already been over four years since September 11 and the liberation of Afghanistan. That means that in the natural order of things we'll see more opposition and disquiet. (Even in World War Two people were getting pretty war-weary by 1945.)
The Administration needs to deal with this with a more active PR strategy, making clear that in fact the Iraqis are taking over the brunt of the work. (Murtha's statement that U.S. troops are magnets for insurgent attacks is demonstrably untrue -- in fact, those attacks are now almost always against Iraqis, civilian or military or police, and this fact is making the insurgents increasingly unpopular). I suspect that in the normal course of events we'll see a significant number of troops drawn down. That will help, and this resolution will help keep people from spinning it as a cut-and-run.
They also need to generate (and to the extent possible, publicize) more successes elsewhere, deal with Syria, etc. The Administration's "war base" is weakening (and was even before the election) because they feel that it's not fighting the war hard enough, or because they feel that the "war" is over. It's not, but the "major combat" part has been over for a while, and what's left is murky, and -- like all counterinsurgency operations -- takes a while. More elections in iraq will help, but they need to pay attention to this, not keep it off the table and hope people will forget. It's not Bosnia, or Haiti. They're going to have to make their case, strongly and regularly, and not worry that doing so will set off the critics. The critics are already set off.
UPDATE: A dissection of the NYT's coverage of last night's vote.
Murtha has now established exactly the worst context for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. By making his (understandable) teary concern about the injuries to our soldiers his central motiviation, he makes it seem, if we pull out now, that the Sunni/Zarqawi strategy has worked--that we've been run out of Iraq because we couldn't tolerate the casualties the insurgents were inflicting. That will encourage Al Qaeda operatives around the globe. Isn't it a lot better if we start to withdraw, after a successful Iraqi election, while plausibly claiming that we've done our job? That's why Hastert's stunt yesterday to put down Murtha's proposal was amply justified.
Indeed. And Opinionated Bastard has been on the story of pending troop withdrawals for a while, though I believe this was actually announced last spring.
THIS IS INTERESTING: "House Republicans, sensing an opportunity for political advantage, maneuvered for a quick vote and swift rejection Friday of a Democratic lawmaker's call for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq."
Jack Murtha is a decorated Vietnam vet and a good man, a patriot. But his six-month withdrawal idea, even including US forces in nearby bases, is not a good idea.
The terrorist forces who fight against freedom and democracy and in favor of communist-like totalitarianism will not announce a withdrawal schedule.
Therefore I believe that Pres. Bush and Sen. McCain are exactly right: premature withdrawal would be a disaster.
That said, however, I do not like the Duncan Hunter resolution "...that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."
It is not serious. It demeans the House. It totally politicizes the debate. It is a ploy and a rather weak one at that. . . .
Why not state the resolution in the affirmative? " We pledge to deploy troops in Iraq until the mission of liberation, freedom and democracy is satisfactorily completed." And why not seek to gain as much bi-partisan political support as possible? This would truly help the mission, and the troops.
I think that's right. And I think that to the (large) extent that some Republicans are making this a personal issue about Murtha, instead of talking about the absolutely unsupportable nature of his proposal, it's a mistake.
FINALLY: Resolution to withdraw was voted down 403-3.
And reader Tony McKinley writes:
I watched a lot of the “debate” on C-SPAN last night, and it definitely was not a personal attack on Murtha. In fact, I’m proud to report that my own Representative, Curt Weldon, and many, many other Republicans went out of their way to praise Murtha.
I was responding more to the comments in the blogosphere, I guess. But good point.
posted at 04:08 PM by Glenn Reynolds
OVER AT DAILYKOS, Adam Bonin, who's been great on this issue, notes a promising move by House Democrats to protect online speech. Let's hope some House Republicans get on board. "I really like the elegance of this bill, which basically asks the Members of Congress to agree that online news and commentary are just as worthy of protection from campaign finance law as those who practice it in print, on tv or the radio." It looks good to me.
This is because I bought a hybrid that gets great mileage, meaning that I could have laughed at high gas prices. And since it's four-wheel drive, we probably won't get a flake of snow this winter. If I had bought a gas-guzzler, prices would be over four bucks; if it had been rear-wheel drive we'd have blizzards. You're welcome, America. Maybe I should start stockpiling Tamiflu to ensure that the avian flu scare never amounts to anything . . . .
UPDATE: A reader emails:
Good God man, don't buy any umbrellas. The ensuing drought and leftwing environmentalist tirades against you would make the puppy-eating controversy pale in comparison. Or perhaps buy umbrellas and a convertable, those should cancel each other out.
Well, I did re-sod the front yard this year, which was followed by a fine, dry summer that necessitated vast amounts of lawn-sprinkling and the resultant sky-high water bills.
The amount of energy used in the economy per real dollar of GDP, "Energy Intensity", has been steadily dropping and is now about half what it was in 1950. So a barrel's worth of oil in 1950 now stretches to two barrels worth of work.
That's by Sam Dinkin, who predicts that widespread conversion to hybrids will produce another doubling in the efficiency of the transportation sector, too. Let's hope.
posted at 03:33 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THIS IS COOL: "A counterintuitive experiment has resulted in one of the longest recorded life-span extensions in any organism and opened a new door for anti-aging research in humans."
Don't raid your 401(k) yet, though -- the organism in question is yeast. Still big news, though.
Murtha's resolution would force the president to withdrawal the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq "at the earliest predictable date."
Most Republicans oppose Murtha's plan, and even some Democrats have been reluctant to back his position. Republicans were seeking to force Democrats to stand with the respected 30-year congressman or go on the record against his proposal. . . .
"Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency," Murtha, a longtime hawk on foreign and military affairs issues, said Thursday. "They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion."
A day after his comments, a U.S. field commander in Iraq countered the position of the usually pro-military congressman.
"Here on the ground, our job is not done," said Col. James Brown, commander of the 56th Brigade Combat Team, when asked about Murtha's comments during a weekly briefing that American field commanders routinely give to Pentagon reporters.
Speaking from a U.S. logistics base at Balad, north of Baghdad, two days before his scheduled return to Texas, Brown said: "We have to finish the job that we began here. It's important for the security of this nation."
I think that's right. I wonder, though, if this business isn't in part based on the expectation that we would have started drawing down troop numbers next year anyway, and now the Dems can claim victory for the 2006 election.
I understand Murtha's point: An endless low-level conflict combined with a murky strategy that makes very little sense in the context of protecting America now from Islamofascist attack has eroded the national will to the point where what might have been a minor setback could now conceivably become a definitive defeat of the sort that Vietnam itself turned into with withdrawal.
I'd differ somewhat with Murtha's prescriptions, however. I don't think what is needed is a land war involving half a million American troops against a small number of insurgents. I think we need to aim our efforts - from our hard-won bases in Iraq - against the outside forces that support those terror-insurgents for one reason or another - the regimes of Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
I actually think that Bush would have more support if he were seen as more active. Right now he's not only getting hit by the antiwar left, but he's lost support from the Bill Quicks.
I sympathize with those in the Administration who want to attack Democrats for their manifold hypocrisy on this issue. I really do. But I've made it clear I think the messengers should be the Ken Mehlmans, Congressional attack dogs, and such--not the President, Vice President, other very senior Administration officials. It makes them look cheap, vindictive and petty--exactly what they are accusing the Kennedys and Pelosis and so on of being. Look, when it comes to Iraq, they should be focusing on devising a winning game plan in Iraq. Period.
I suspect that the White House has felt that the less press the war got, the better in terms of avoiding fatigue on the part of the American public. That's probably true in the short term, but on the other hand it's harder in the long term.
I also suspect that our longer-term strategy -- having an armed and friendly Iraq that's in a position to threaten Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia -- probably isn't something they really want to do a lot of public talking about. But there's no question that the Bush Administration hasn't handled this issue very well.
Meanwhile, reader Marlon McAvoy notes that we have troops in other countries, too:
After six decades, isn't it time we came up with a withdrawal timetable for our troops in Germany and Japan? And didn't we already cover this ground, repeatedly?
As Yogi Berra says, it's deja vous all over again. Apparently these folks think we should only be stationed in nations that aren't in pressing need of our military. A crafty Republican pol would be publicly asking for the doves' opinion about our military presence in other countries.
There is no "peace with honor" when you leave before the job is done.
See the job through to the end despite the obstacles and challenges.
And yes, if it's important, I wore this country's uniform for 28 years as an infantry officer. I believe as much in the oath I took then as I do now. More importantly, I remember the feeling that my country had abandoned me as if it were yesterday, and I vowed if it ever tried it again, I'd speak up loudly and often.
It would be nice to believe you too remember that, and you too had made that sort of a vow.
Read the whole thing. And James Taranto has more on Murtha's somewhat checkered history on the war, which he opposed before he voted for it, only to call for more troops before calling for a pullout. He's got all his bases covered, I guess.
posted at 02:37 PM by Glenn Reynolds
JEFF JARVIS: "Germany seems depressed — not economically but emotionally." You think it's bad now, wait until February. When we lived in Heidelberg we went from November to April with only one sunny day.
posted at 02:34 PM by Glenn Reynolds
SONY'S SOUR NOTE: A wrapup on the Sony CD-spyware debacle.
When I teach Goldberg v. Kelly (welfare recipient entitled to hearing before welfare benefits terminated) and Matthews v. Eldridge (disabled veteran not entitled to hearing before Social Security disability terminated) I often tell my students to imagine how that sort of thing might be treated if we had campaign commercials for the Supreme Court. Like a lot of my reductio ad absurdum hypotheticals, we're getting closer to that situation all the time.
posted at 01:45 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL is hosting an online discussion for its readers on whether Congress is serious about reducing the deficit. It's a free link.
posted at 01:19 PM by Glenn Reynolds
DEFENSE TECH REPORTS that the Pentagon's "Future Combat Systems" program is likely to be axed after major cost overruns.
HERE'S AN A.P. WRAPUP on the Tunisia Internet conference:
Another thread of concern was keeping the Internet a forum for free speech and dissent.
"It is vital that the Internet remain a neutral medium open to all in order to realize that access for our citizens," John Marburger, director of the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy, said in a not-so-subtle swipe at Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Tunisia's selection as the host of the summit has raised eyebrows. On Thursday, the head of Reporters Without Borders was ordered out of the country after arriving at the airport. Earlier this week, human rights groups said Tunisian and foreign reporters had been harassed and beaten.
"It is the role of governments to ensure that this freedom of expression is available to its citizens and not to stand in the way of people seeking to send and receive information across the Internet," Marburger said.
posted at 12:59 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THIS IS COOL: "A web camera in a Norwegian artist's living room in California allowed her sons in Norway and the Philippines to see that she had collapsed and call for help, one of the sons said Friday." The Internet: If it saves just one life, it's worth it!
PERHAPS THE biggest weapon in the arsenal of America’s critics is carefully selective amnesia. Conveniently forgetting important historical facts enables tactical amnesiacs to make claims about US policy that seem to support their contention that the country’s government is uniquely evil.
The latest evidence that George Bush is a war criminal has apparently come this week with the acknowledgment that the US military used white phosphorus (WP) on enemy positions in Fallujah. This is deemed an outrage, something decent countries never do, yet more proof that the Bush-Cheney cabal is sedulously destroying the very foundations of American civilisation. . . .
In fact, WP is not a chemical weapon, not even banned by any treaty to which the US is signatory. It has been used by the armed forces in all countries in wars for decades. Indeed, if you look up the roll of US Congressional Medal of Honour winners, you will discover that quite a few received this highest military decoration precisely because they used “shake and bake” to such successful effect. . . .
But the “Bush lied to us” whine is much worse when it comes from the mouths of those who insisted only three years ago, in voting for the war, that they were taking a heroic stand in defence of national security. Half the Democratic members of the Senate — oddly enough, including all those with serious presidential aspirations — John Kerry, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden — voted for the war in 2002. The awful truth about many of these people is that their cynicism in distancing themselves from their support for the war is only matched by their cynicism in originally supporting it.
Let me be clear: some Democrats — Joe Lieberman springs to mind — supported the war for the right reasons, and continue to do so. Others — Ted Kennedy, Russell Feingold — opposed it all along. But most of those now recanting made a straight political calculation in voting to authorise force in the first place.
House Republicans sweated out a victory on a major budget cut bill in the wee hours Friday, salvaging a major pillar of their agenda despite divisions within the party and nervousness among moderates that the vote could cost them in next year's elections.
The bill, passed 217-215 after a 25-minute-long roll call, makes modest but politically painful cuts across an array of programs for the poor, students and farmers.
They'd be in a much better position to respond to that sort of criticism if they had, you know, been willing to cut pork in their own districts.
Marc did a great job. I laughed out loud. My favorite line was "He pissed on us. We liked that too." Still, why should the Post be angry at Woodward for doing to them what the rest of the MSM has been doing to us for years?
I'd say "heh," again, but . . .
posted at 08:12 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MICKEY KAUS on the Murtha foofaraw: "The press is pretending to be surprised by Murtha's views ('An Unlikely Lonesome Dove' ... 'a fierce hawk') even though he's been a known, public Iraq War skeptic since at least a year and a half ago. . . . I'm ready to be convinced that U.S. troops are doing more harm than good in Iraq, but Murtha's speech is not convincing. He doesn't even try very hard." He doesn't have to, with all the help from the press.
WHY IS MURTHA'S STATEMENT ON THE WAR NEWS when he said basically the same thing a year and a half ago? This is from May 6, 2004:
Signaling a new, more aggressive line against the Bush administration’s policy on Iraq, Rep. John Murtha (Pa.), the House Democrats’ most visible defense hawk, will join Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) today to make public his previously private statements that the conflict is “unwinnable.”
I live in SW Pennsylvania in a district that adjoins Rep. Murtha’s 12th congressional district. It seems odd no one has mentioned how the year 2000, Pennsylvania re-districting plan, pushed Murtha into a much more left leaning district. I believe he had to do this, just to avoid a primary fight.
I think a lot of the antiwar and "Bush Lied" stuff is about keeping the base happy.
SO I'M IN THE CINCINNATI AIRPORT, and though I was a bit worried about flying Delta on this trip, the flights have been smooth, pleasant, and on-time. Plus, the ticket was dirt-cheap. Given Delta's problems lately, it's been a pleasant surprise so far. Let's hope the last leg is as nice.
UPDATE: Jeez, I shouldn't have spoken so soon. My flight's delayed now. Thanks, Delta!
posted at 06:24 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MICHAEL BARONE: "I recall that some years ago Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued that the CIA should be abolished, and I argued that that was a ridiculous and irresponsible position. As usual when Pat and I disagreed, Pat turned out to be right."
posted at 06:15 PM by Glenn Reynolds
RIGHT SIDE REDUX is blogging -- and videoblogging -- from the Capitol Hill blog fest, and has a list of other bloggers participating.
"AIDING AND ABETTING:" John McCain rips into those calling for a troop withdrawal.
UPDATE: For the benefit of those who don't follow the link, I guess I should stress that McCain is ripping a lot of Republicans, too. And they deserve it. Hugh Hewitt isn't very happy with them, either.
posted at 02:34 PM by Glenn Reynolds
I DIDN'T KNOW that Richard Clarke worried that Osama would "boogie to Baghdad" if we invaded Afghanistan. Interesting. "Clarke’s opinion was based on intelligence indicating a number of contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq, including word that Saddam had offered bin Laden safe haven."
Funny that we haven't heard more about this.
UPDATE: Reader Robert Toups emails:
Of course we knew that Osama would "boogie to Bagdad"! Back in 1999, CNN reported that Saddam granted Osama bin Laden asylum.
He's right: "Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to bin Laden, who openly supports Iraq against the Western powers."
I don't know how much this matters now, except as a reminder that the revisionist nobody-could-imagine-Saddam-and-Al-Qaeda-in-alliance claim isn't exactly supported by the history.
UPDATE: Here's more, from Congressman Mike Conaway's blog. Also some strong words from Tammy Bruce.
posted at 02:08 PM by Glenn Reynolds
AVIAN FLU UPDATE: So far there's no sign of human-to-human transmission in China, according to the W.H.O.
posted at 01:28 PM by Glenn Reynolds
OKAY, it's not quite the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer from Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, but the impact of this $100 laptop for kids may be pretty revolutionary in the less developed world. I'd like one!
OK, maybe miracle is a stretch but something rare and needed has occurred on Capitol Hill in the past day. Senate and House negotiators agreed last night on a 2006 $142 billion HHS-Education Appropriation bill that has no earmarks, or pork barrel projects.
Is that progress? Well, the 2005 HHS-Education Appropriation bill contained nearly a billion dollars worth of pork.
He suspects that it's a trick, with pork simply relocated to other bills yet to come. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: The House voted against the pork-free conference report. In an update, Tapscott notes:
On the GOP side, 209 voted for the conference report, 22 voted with 201 Democrats and Bernie Sanders against the report. Not a single Democrat voted for the report. Looks like "GOP-led House" is a thing of the past. This is the reverse of the 1960s when coalitions of Republicans and conservative Democrats were a major road block to liberal proposals for more government programs.
posted at 01:18 PM by Glenn Reynolds
GET YOUR POSTS READY: OSM will be hosting a Carnival of the Pre-War Intelligence. What did we know, or should we have known, when? There'll be a post on the OSM site later, but here's some advance notice. Get your posts ready, and send the links to [email protected]
Peacekeepers are increasingly encountering a new kind of problem; feuding NGOs (Non-Government Organizations). We should have seen this one coming, but many were surprised when over 300 NGOs showed up last January, in the wake of the December earthquake and tidal waves that killed over 160,000 people in Aceh (the westernmost area of Indonesia.) Many of the NGOs were soon working at cross-purposes, arguing with each other and, in some cases, being a threat to those they were there to help.
Some of the more established NGOs are now calling for regulation.
posted at 08:57 AM by Glenn Reynolds
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: "What do you have to believe in order to keep alive your conviction that the Bush administration conspired to launch a lie-based war?"
In "Our School," Ms. Jacobs brings to life the experience of particular kids and teachers but also, rightly, raises the big questions about charter schools: Do they work? Do they divert resources from conventional public schools?
Judging from the review, she should be talking about selling the movie rights.
THE OPEN SOURCE MEDIA LAUNCH went well. I'm a bit tired -- I sent the book revisions back to the publisher Monday night, sent corrected page proofs of an article back to a law review Tuesday, and read rough drafts of student papers on the plane up here last night, sending them back to my secretary via FedEx this morning for distribution to the students tomorrow. Hey, I can use time efficiently, it's just . . . tiring.
But Ed Driscoll ("Unlike Jeff Goldstein, I'm actually here.") liveblogged it, as did Dave Johnston and LaShawn Barber. I would have, but they had me seated right down front, where it would have been too obvious . . . .
More later, but Senator Cornyn said all the right things about bloggers and McCain-Feingold and reporters' shield laws.
The unrest buffeting France the past three weeks has further undermined the already weakened presidency of Jacques Chirac, but he is far from alone on a continent with pressing problems and few strong leaders to tackle them.
Britain, Germany and Italy also have troubled governments, leaving the European Union in limbo as U.S. President George Bush's administration increasingly shows interest in a cohesive Europe to help with difficult diplomatic tasks in the Middle East and elsewhere.
"The whole Western world lacks leadership at the moment," said Guillaume Parmentier, director of the French Center on the United States. "I cannot see any leader who can seize the mantle of the EU and move it in this or that direction."
I guess Europe is the sick man of Europe, now. This is actually a very bad thing, but I don't see any quick remedy.
posted at 07:27 AM by Glenn Reynolds
I'LL BE AT THE OPEN SOURCE MEDIA conference today, debating shield laws with Judith Miller. I'll try to blog during the conference, but I'm not sure about the logistics. Here's an AP story on Open Source Media. Live audio/video streaming of the conference starts at 10 a.m. Eastern, here.
Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed.
In a more than two-hour deposition, Woodward told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive, according to a statement Woodward released yesterday. . . .
Woodward's testimony appears to change key elements in the chronology Fitzgerald laid out in his investigation and announced when indicting Libby three weeks ago. It would make the unnamed official -- not Libby -- the first government employee to disclose Plame's CIA employment to a reporter. It would also make Woodward, who has been publicly critical of the investigation, the first reporter known to have learned about Plame from a government source.
(Via Ed Morrissey). Tom Maguire, call your office! And don't miss the Pincus angle.
UPDATE: But they have to be disappointed about this:
A summit focusing on narrowing the digital divide between the rich and poor residents and countries opened Wednesday with an agreement of sorts on who will maintain ultimate oversight of the Internet and the flow of information, commerce and dissent. . . .
Negotiators from more than 100 countries agreed late Tuesday to leave the United States in charge of the Internet's addressing system, averting a U.S.-EU showdown at this week's U.N. technology summit.
These things just keep coming. Did they hire Ken "fact-check your ass" Layne or something? We'll know if one of these White House posts concludes: "We have computers. It is not difficult to Find You Out, dig?"
UPDATE: Meanwhile, Matt Welch is dissing me and Stephen Green for having the temerity to suggest that it's wrong for the press to peddle falsehoods about the war. I'm literally on the plane, waiting for them to close the door and make me shut off the computer, so my response will have to be brief. But first, I think my prediction that press irresponsibility and bias would have repercussions for press freedom has been borne out. The Times, still thinking (as in so many things) that it's 1978, initially expected a huge pro-First Amendment backlash on behalf of Judy Miller, and was surprised when it got no more from its repeated editorials than Howell Raines and Martha Burk got in the way of protesters at Augusta National. Why? People don't think of the press as a secular priesthood of truth any more, even if some segments of the press still do. As for my linkage to a blog post on how the military sees the press's role in the war, well, a more diplomatic, but not that different, take can be found in this article from Parameters, the journal of the Army War College, where the media are referred to as "simplistic," "pejorative," and biased, and generally regarded as an obstacle to getting the job done right.
As I've said here before, I don't mind reporting about problems. (I've done it myself, with regard to the war crimes originally reported by Zeyad, problems with CERP, etc. Reporting on things taht are actually going wrong, without the "see, Bush is horrible!" spin, and false facts, that we're getting elsewhere, is actually helpful, and we could use more of it. It would, however, be work, and it might help Bush out, which is apparently unforgivable.) Reporting that is dishonest, or deliberately misleading -- and there's a lot of that -- is different. By treating complaints about dishonest and politically motivated reporting as the equivalent of complaints about simply reporting bad news, Welch is attacking a straw man.
posted at 04:50 PM by Glenn Reynolds
REMINDER: The House will vote on ICANN tonight, in a way that, I hope, will displease those hoping for a U.N. takeover of the Internet.
WELL, THAT DIDN'T TAKE LONG: "U.N. Reinstates Joseph Stephanides, the Only U.N. Official Fired Over Iraq Oil-For-Food Scandal."
posted at 03:30 PM by Glenn Reynolds
AVIAN FLU UPDATE: Michael Fumento thinks that there's too much avian-flu hysteria. I certainly hope he's right. Meanwhile, this article in Scientific American makes a useful point:
Some mysteries do remain as scientists watch the evolution of a potentially pandemic virus for the first time, but the past makes one thing certain: even if the dreaded H5N1 never morphs into a form that can spread easily between people, some other flu virus surely will. The stronger our defenses, the better we will weather the storm when it strikes. "We have only one enemy," CDC director Gerberding has said repeatedly, "and that is complacency."
That's right. These two points aren't necessarily at odds, of course: Hysteria in the short term can too-easily shift to complacency over the long term. We really need the kind of accelerated antivirus program, aimed at developing antiviral drugs and rapid vaccine production techniques, that Ray Kurzweil has called for.
Meanwhile, Tyler Cowen has much more on the subject.
posted at 03:29 PM by Glenn Reynolds
SOME QUESTIONS FOR E.J. DIONNE: But of course, the point of columns like his is to keep such questions from being asked. Guess it's not working . . . .
UPDATE: If only the press corps could muster as much outrage about, say, Walter Duranty as about Judith Miller.
posted at 09:17 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MORE PUSHBACK: The GOP has rolled out this TV commercial featuring leading Democrats talking about Saddam and WMD as far back as the 1990s. Whether the use of Traffic's The Low Spark of High-heeled Boys as the soundtrack was deliberate or not, I don't know, but I think we're seeing another Karl Rove sucker-punch unfold.
UPDATE: Reader Sylvia Lutnes makes an interesting point:
Two days after 9/11 78% of Americans thought Saddam had something to do with the attacks according to a Washington Post poll (note prior polls at the bottom):
Could it be that Clinton and the Democrats had led us to believe Saddam was dangerous and capable of such a thing? Nah. They'd rather blame Bush.
I think it's about time the 'Bush led Americans to believe Saddam was connected to 9/11' meme has to die.
As I say, interesting point.
MORE: Reader Rob Collins says Firefox can't handle the embedded video, and suggests this direct link to the video for Firefox users.
STILL MORE: Reader Matt Nettleton emails: "How is playing somebody's actual words, IN CONTEXT no less, a sucker punch?"
Welcome to the next installment of the continuing saga: Mary Mapes vs. the Blogs, in which, for good measure, she takes on reality, too. And at the same time, we can consider the rise, fall -- and possible comeback -- of Mapes as part of the ongoing power-struggle between the MSM (Main Stream Media) and the New Media (NM).
France was not always opposed to the American invasion of Iraq. One persistent Pentagon rumor, however, might explain why the French came to oppose the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. In December, 2002, a French staff officer visited the Pentagon with a proposal from his government. France would send 18,000 troops (about what they contributed in 1991) to join the Iraq invasion force. However, France wanted a specific area of occupation after the war, with full authority in that area for as long as Iraq needed to be occupied. The American State Department backed the French proposal, but the Department of Defense didn’t trust the French, and were suspicious of their motives. So the French officer went home empty handed, and the French government decided that invading Iraq was really an evil thing to do.
What exactly were the French up to? No one is sure, but the most plausible theory was that the French wanted to be in Iraq, after Saddam fell, to make sure no embarrassing documents, or witnesses, showed up.
Read the whole thing. I suspect that there's a lot of interesting diplomatic history yet to come out.
posted at 08:24 AM by Glenn Reynolds
HAVING CHANGED THEIR MIND about delinking me for excessive ACLU-love, the folks at Stop the ACLU have posted this interview.
posted at 08:20 AM by Glenn Reynolds
November 14, 2005
VARIOUS READERS want to know why I'm not going after Sen. Jay Rockefeller for this remark:
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: No. The – I mean, this question is asked a thousand times and I'll be happy to answer it a thousand times. I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq – that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11.
This hardly reflects well on Rockefeller's judgment, and it may well have had some bad consequences, but in fact Senators, for better or worse (usually worse) do this sort of thing a lot. I don't think it's in a league with the Bonior / McDermott lovefest with Saddam (which Andrew Sullivan called "perilously close to treason" at the time). Rockefeller wasn't giving PR cover to the enemy. It was just irresponsible behavior, which sadly is nothing unusual where the Senate is concerned. Nor do I think it did much harm -- if I recall correctly, Saddam nonetheless didn't think we'd invade until we did, and I don't think this tipped him off to anything. Indeed, had Saddam taken Rockefeller's advice to heart, it might have helped.
If you want really bad behavior, on the other hand, there's always George Galloway.
posted at 10:36 PM by Glenn Reynolds
I FINISHED the latest Harry Turtledove book last week, before my current crunch began, and a good thing, too. Jim Bennett, meanwhile, has some thoughts on Turtledove and alt-history though, due to Turtledove's fecundity they're actually inspired by a different recent Turtledove book.
posted at 08:56 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE PUSHBACK CONTINUES: N.Z. Bear has posted Bush's latest remarks on revisionist history. Key bit: "Some of our elected leaders have opposed this war all along. I disagree with them, but I respect their willingness to take a consistent stand. Yet some Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force are now rewriting the past. They are playing politics with this issue and sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. That is irresponsible."
UPDATE: Dan Froomkin offers pushback on the pushback, but Paul Mirengoff calls Froomkin's piece "deeply misleading," and notes an important omission.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I should have linked this column by Fred Hiatt earlier. Excerpt:
"Iraq's is a life-or-death agenda -- how to build a democracy," Mahdi said. "Others' are political agendas."
Whether Iraqis are in fact committed to a life-or-death struggle for democracy will become clear as its army does, or does not, continue to shoulder a greater burden. But the aptness of Mahdi's view of the United States is already evident in Congress, which pours most of its Iraq-related energy into allegations of manipulated intelligence before the war.
"Those aren't irrelevant questions," says Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.). "But the more they dominate the public debate, the harder it is to sustain public support for the war."
What Lieberman doesn't say is that many Democrats would view such an outcome as an advantage. Their focus on 2002 is a way to further undercut President Bush, and Bush's war, without taking the risk of offering an alternative strategy -- to satisfy their withdraw-now constituents without being accountable for a withdraw-now position.
HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-CRAZED BUREAUCRACY: My colleague Ben Barton has a Harry Potter review coming out in the Michigan Law Review books issue (his email: "am I a salesman or what? Now Harry Potter is a book 'related to the law'). He argues that J.K. Rowling is a strong libertarian, and suggests that Rowling's disrespect for politicians and bureaucracy comes from her experience as a welfare recipient. Excerpt from the abstract: "The most cold-blooded public choice theorist could not present a bleaker portrait of a government captured by special interests and motivated solely by a desire to increase bureaucratic power and influence. . . . The critique is even more devastating because the governmental actors and actions in the book look and feel so authentic and familiar."
CLAUDIA ROSETT: "What does it take to get promoted by Kofi Annan at the United Nations? For longtime U.N. staffer Abdoulie Janneh, it took less than two weeks after his recent testimony to investigators helped clear Annan of any role in his own son's alleged misuse of the name and privileges of the secretary-general to ship a Mercedes duty-free into Ghana — at a savings of more than $14,000."
EGYPTIAN BLOGGER ABDAL KARIM SOLIMAN has been released from jail. "Thanks to everyone who sent an e-mail or a letter to the egyptian embassy or their elected representitive over AbdalKarim's arrest, thanks to everyone who signed the petition, who went and protested in the US in front of the egyptian embassy, who put up a banner, who wrote a post on it."
ANDREW SULLIVAN IS TAKING THE BOEING: According to a press release I got from Time: "TIME contributor and essayist Andrew Sullivan will begin posting his blog, The Daily Dish, on TIME.com starting in January 2006, TIME managing editor Jim Kelly announced today. . . . Sullivan will continue writing his blog throughout the week, just as he does today, only it will be posted on TIME.com. He will maintain full control over the content of his blog."
Seems like a good model.
posted at 11:30 AM by Glenn Reynolds
JEEZ, I'm busy even for me at the moment, which is producing lighter than usual blogging. Sorry about that, but I've got to get the book revisions back to the publisher before I leave for NYC tomorrow night. On that trip I'm taking the rough drafts of all my students' seminar papers to read on the plane (they're turning those in today) so that I can return them with comments before the weekend, so that they can get to work on their final drafts. And I just got page proofs of a law review article via email, which I have to get back by tomorrow, too. So blogging may continue to be light. . . .
Fortunately, this gadget is picking up some of the slack, even more than before. I'm cooking the Insta-Chicken for dinner tonight even as I work. Thank goodness for technology. Though, of course, if all these gadgets didn't make the work easier, I'd probably do less of it. Hmm . . .
posted at 11:18 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MORE PUSHBACK: The White House raps the Washington Post. I wonder if they're going to start doing this sort of thing daily? It would be smart.
Maybe the press should learn to use Google. Instead of, you know, hoping that we don't. . . .
UPDATE: Tom Maguire has been doing some research, too, and reproduces the speech that Senator Rockefeller doesn't want you to hear. "How can he show his face?" Long political experience, and an unshakable faith in the press's short memory, is my guess.
You know, the 2006 and 2008 campaign commercials are writing themselves. Expect lots of animated weathervanes. Hey, why wait?
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's national security adviser defended the administration Sunday against accusations that it misled the nation about the need for war with Iraq as Democrats stepped up their attacks on the president's candor.
Stephen Hadley told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" that those claims were "flat wrong."
"We need to put this debate behind us," he said. "It's unfair to the country. It's unfair to the men and women in uniform risking their lives to make this country safe." . . .
Hadley said the intelligence Bush used for those arguments "was roughly the same intelligence that the Clinton administration saw."
"They drew the conclusion that Saddam Hussein was a threat to peace, that he had weapons of mass destruction. They acted against him militarily in 1998," Hadley said, referring to the administration of Bill Clinton, a Democrat.
No, really, why not start running those TV ads now?
JOEL SHEPHERD REPORTS FROM PARIS, where riots continue: "Unbeknownst to some critics, Nicolas Sarkozy is not entirely unpopular in the affected regions -- he’s actually quite popular with many who aren't rioting. He’s also been the only senior politician for quite some time trying to do something about it."
posted at 06:45 AM by Glenn Reynolds
November 13, 2005
BEHIND THE CURVE: Reader Mark Winburne emails:
Don't know if you saw Doonesbury today, frankly I'm not sure who still reads it. But in my Commercial Appeal I noticed the whole strip was about Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination as if she were still the nominee. I know he has to do them in advance but don't you think he could have them pull the strip and run something else instead. Maybe if more, make that any, papers would run Day by Day they wouldn't have that problem.
I didn't see today's comics, but according to the Doonesbury website the Miers strips were withdrawn, and replaced with a timeless strip on Zonker's competitive tanning career. I guess not everybody got the word.
YES, BLOGGING HAS BEEN LIGHT this weekend. I got back the chapter revisions from my editor on Friday and I've been working my way through them. It would have been lighter still, except that I'm doing the revising at the computer, and you only have to switch screens to put up a post . . . .
posted at 10:29 PM by Glenn Reynolds
ED MORRISSEY on McCain's response to the "Bush Lied" charges:
Having McCain on national television backing up George Bush on his counterattack against this tired allegation signals that even the man who loves to have the press love him has his limits. When McCain slaps down Schieffer on FTN, McCain watchers sit up and take notice.
posted at 08:58 PM by Glenn Reynolds
JESUS CHRIST, policy wonk? I think he invented the earned-income tax credit. It's in Accountants 4:15.
posted at 07:13 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE U.N. AND THE INTERNET: Bizzyblog has a long, detailed, link-rich post about next week's World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia -- which has set the tone by shutting down dissident websites.
UPDATE: Here's an oped by Arch Puddington of Freedom House that lays out the issues. Excerpt:
While ICANN functions on a charter from the Commerce Department, the U.S. government has followed a strict hands-off policy; ICANN's actions are transparent and decisions are made only after extensive consultation with Internet companies, governments, techies and freedom-of-expression organizations. ICANN has contributed to the unique nature of the Internet as a creative and innovative means of communication that links people and ideas across national boundaries -- for the most part outside the control of government.
But demands are growing for the "internationalization" of Internet governance. To this end, a number of countries are pressing to remove oversight from ICANN and place it under the auspices of a new organization that would be part of the U.N. system. Advocates of this arrangement make no claims that the current system is flawed. Instead, they focus on the supposed "injustice" or "inappropriateness" of a system overseen by an American agency. And there is an ulterior motive behind the clamor for change. . . .
Although U.N. officials deny any intention to broaden ICANN's mandate, past U.N. experience suggests that a limited mission can gradually expand into unanticipated territory under the relentless pressure of determined member states. Some of the most shameful U.N. episodes -- particularly regarding freedom issues -- have occurred because the world's democracies were outwitted by a coalition of the most repressive regimes -- the very coalition that is taking shape over Internet control. Working with determination and discipline, this alliance of dictatorships has already left the U.N. Human Rights Commission a shambles, something that Annan himself has deplored.
Indeed. Read the whole thing, and keep the Internet free. Read this, too.
SO, AT THE GYM they were for some reason running Face the Nation this morning where they usually show CNN or FoxNews. But that means I caught this very interesting statement from John McCain:
SCHIEFFER: President Bush accused his critics of rewriting history last week.
Sen. McCAIN: Yeah.
SCHIEFFER: And in--he said in doing so, the criticisms they were making of his war policy was endangering our troops in Iraq. Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy?
Sen. McCAIN: No, I think it's a very legitimate aspect of American life to criticize and to disagree and to debate. But I want to say I think it's a lie to say that the president lied to the American people. I sat on the Robb-Silverman Commission. I saw many, many analysts that came before that committee. I asked every one of them--I said, `Did--were you ever pressured politically or any other way to change your analysis of the situation as you saw?' Every one of them said no.
I think the "Bush lied us into war" meme is in trouble, and the GOP pushback seems to be a general effort, not a one-off. And I also think that the reason that so many antiwar people want to move from discussion of whether specific behavior is unpatriotic, to the strawman question of whether any criticism of the war is unpatriotic (note Schieffer's question -- "Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy?" -- and how it differs from what Bush actually said) is because they know they're on weak ground on the specifics.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Chris, there's always the same conversation. You know it was not the Congress that sent 135,000 or 150,000 troops.
WALLACE: But you voted, sir, and aren't you responsible for your vote?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: No.
WALLACE: You're not?
Heh. Read the whole thing.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails: "The patriotism thing is getting a little ridiculous. My impression is that what the left really wants is to make it out of bounds to describe anything as either patriotic or unpatriotic. Thereby making the word, and the concept, obsolete."
And there's this: "Let's hope that McCain's vigorous defense of Bush is a sign of much more to come."
ON THE OFFENSIVE: Bush is thumping Ted Kennedy for his irresponsible statements on the war. "It is also regrettable that Senator Kennedy has found more time to say negative things about President Bush then he ever did about Saddam Hussein." Kennedy deserves it.
And I note that the most public faces of the Democratic Party lately have been Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter. It's hard for me to see how that can work out well for the Democrats.
Left unexplained - how the Democrats' unrelenting focus on the use of pre-war intelligence is going to substitute for a plan to resolve the situation in Iraq. Was it really only two weeks ago that Harry Reid forced the Senate into a closed session to discuss that?
Perhaps Sen. Reid was simply intending to commemorate the second anniversary of the leak of the strategy memo explaining how the Democrats could politicize the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings for maximum benefit.
This political posturing by the Dems is understandable - their party is pretty well united around the desire to have a mulligan on the decision to go to war against Iraq.
However, on the slightly more topical question of where we go from here, the problem that crippled John Kerry continues to vex the Democrats - their anti-war base wants to declare Bush beaten and leave Iraq, while many of their leaders continue to argue that defeat is not an option. This conflict leads to such spectacles as the Sheehan v. Clinton showdown. . . .
And my point is what? Bush did what he believed in, Democrats chose to vote expediently rather than lead, and here we are. Three years later Bush is still doing what he believes in, and Democrats are still looking to evade the Iraq issue.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: InstaPunk is waiting for members of Congress to resign.
posted at 08:46 AM by Glenn Reynolds
THE MOVIE JARHEAD IS GETTING A LOT OF BAD PRESS, and according to the Los Angeles Times, it's not likely to make much money:
Not only did critics offer a mixed response to the film, audiences did, too. The picture earned a "B" grade from CinemaScore, which polls opening night moviegoers. A "B" may sound okay, but people tend to be kind in such polls. . . .
Marketing made "Jarhead" look like a profound war movie, with action and dark humor — an image buttressed by the use of rapper Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" in the trailer — as well as a perceived social relevance to the current war. The only thing "Jarhead" delivered on was the dark humor. Whenever there's a disconnect between what the audience expects and what the movie actually delivers, poor word-of-mouth will ensue.
They might also have named it, “Clichй: The Movie” because it was basically the Gulf War edition of “Platoon” recycling tired military urban legends and patently false anecdotes. . . . This movie wasn’t so much a slander as it was a farce.
Marine Corps veteran Tom Neven has a similar take. And Donald Sensing isn't terribly impressed, either: "Perhaps as a retired Army officer I am at a disadvantage since I sat there mentally scoffing at some of the baloney. . . . Jarhead fails to meet Alfred Hitchcock’s number one requirement for a good movie: 'You have to have a story.'"
You know, I think Hollywood has been making cynical movies about the military -- movies that are supposed to be a corrective to the gung-ho John Wayne-era films about the military -- for longer than the gung-ho John Wayne era lasted. It's not fresh anymore, folks. (Some of Jarhead, apparently, is so stale that it came from someone else's book).
These viewer reviews are pretty unfavorable, too. I think I'll skip it.
Sure Jarhead will tank in the US, where that big swatch of flyover country (AKA the Red States) dominates box office receipts. I wonder if it will make money overseas though, where anti-American sentiment remains high, in part due to the horrible image of America cranked out by Hollywood itself.
Good point, and worth remembering when Hollywood types talk about how sad it is that people abroad are rude to them. Driscoll has more in this post.