July 01, 2006

TOM ELIA looks at changing conceptions of "bigotry" on the left.

ANA MARIE COX reviews Katha Pollitt's new book, Virginity or Death!

There's a certain preserved-in-amber quality to some of the thinking here. For example, Pollitt herself confesses that the opinions that underpinned her most controversial column — against displaying American flags after 9/11 — were formed during the Vietnam War; she despairs that her pro-flag daughter cannot see "the connection between waving the flag and bombing ordinary people half a world away." I'm not sure if she's right about that, but it's significant that Pollitt would see the world outside her window through a scrim of 30-year-old lefty rhetoric. She simply rejects the argument that the meaning of the flag (like the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance, which was composed by a 19th-century socialist) might change.

That 30-year-old (or 40-year-old, really) lefty rhetoric is blinding a lot of people. The reader reviews at Amazon are quite positive, though.

UPDATE: Eric Scheie is defending ovarian independence.

POPULAR MECHANICS HAS A LOOK at NASA's backup plans for the Space Shuttle.

Plus, a risk assessment.

MICHAEL TOTTEN locates some moderate Islamists and publishes an interview. Don't miss the postscript.

A NEW PAPER: Human Rights Atrocities: The Consequences of United Nations Gun Confiscation in East Africa. It's by Dave Kopel, Paul Gallant, and Joanne Eisen, published by the Independence Institute.

BLOG SWEEPS WEEK HAS GOTTEN OUT OF CONTROL, as IowaHawk posts a "Hoosegow Honeys" beauty contest.

Plus, Bill Keller's discarded drafts.

CHINA IS CRANKING UP BLOG CENSORSHIP: Bad enough that they're doing it, worse that they're doing it with assistance from American companies.

ROBERT MAYER is blogging from Honduras. Naturally, he started at a bar.

VIDEOBLOGGING an anti-Israel demonstration in New York.

ANN ALTHOUSE: "It's good to remember the problem with trusting the government. It will want to cover up mistakes. But let's also remember that this is not the case with the recent disclosures."


So far this year, about 20 percent of the nation's oil production (500,000 barrels a day) is off line because of rebel violence in the Delta region. This includes the kidnapping of 29 foreign oil workers, blowing up of pipelines and pumping stations and a bad attitude in general. The lost oil production is worth about $12 billion a year. Some 95 percent of the foreign exchange earned by Nigeria comes from oil exports. No other export even comes close.

There's trouble in an awful lot of oil-producing regions at the moment.

June 30, 2006

ANOTHER BLOG SWEEPS WEEK IMAGE: I've been travelling, but I do intend to spend my holiday weekend drinking beer on the deck, as promised last week.

Sadly, however, the atmosphere won't be quite this festive, though I'm sure we'll have a good time.

Hope you enjoy your long weekend, too.

UPDATE: Phil Bowermaster is shocked, shocked at the whole Blog Sweeps Week phenomenon.

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY looks at Congress's effort to tax pimps: "Wouldn’t that money be better spent on law enforcement agencies that actually have a prayer of shutting them down? This is pandering at its finest–a pretty bandage that does zero to solve the underlying problem."

I also agree with this: "If governments actually cared about the victims of sex trafficking, the logical thing to do would be to legalize and regulate prostitution. A legal, transparent system would make it much easier to ensure both the age and ability to consent of prostitutes. Abuse would go down, disease incidences would go down, and child trafficking would go down. Prostitution will always be with us, so why not ensure that any acts of prostitution occur solely between consenting adults?"

Why, indeed?

IN THE NEW REPUBLIC, Cass Sunstein echoes a point I made yesterday: "Hamdan v. Rumsfeld demonstrates that checks on executive power are alive and well."

THE LATEST BLOG WEEK IN REVIEW PODCAST IS UP, with Daniel Drezner, La Shawn Barber, Eric Umansky and Austin Bay. Don't miss it!


JOHN TAMMES ROUNDS UP news from Afghanistan that you may have missed.

UNSCAM UPDATE: Claudia Rosett is blogging the Tongsun Park oil-for-food trial.

RON CASS WRITES ON HAMDAN: Sorry I haven't had more, but I'm on travel and haven't had time to read the decision myself.

Chester, however, has some thoughts, and so does Shannon Love.

UPDATE: Here's a Hamdan roundup by Mark Moller of Cato.

And more thoughts from Jack Balkin.

MY LAW SCHOOL CLASSMATE PETER KEISLER has been nominated to the D.C. Circuit. He's a nice guy, and he's been head of the Civil Division at DoJ for a while. I doubt he'll prove especially controversial. He's from the Roberts mold, pretty much.

SINCE IT'S BLOG SWEEPS WEEK, I guess I should note that it's the Sixtieth Anniversary of the bikini.

Some people are talking about a bikini explosion, and there's even a special anniversary bikini book. But despite its alluring cover, I urge you to ignore all this commercialism and go beyond Bikini Bottom.

I mean, what's crasser than using bikini imagery to pump up circulation and sell stuff? Right?

Instead, let's return to a simpler, more wholesome time.


Many have criticized this decision, claiming that it was reminiscent of the same kind of “launch fever” that destroyed the Space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, with their crews. There are two differences, though.

First, the previous decisions were made out of the public eye, with dissent against them discouraged by management. This decision was made in the open, with an explanation publicly provided by the administrator, and ample opportunities for discussion and disagreement.

Second, the risk of concern (more foam falling off the external tank, and striking the orbiter in a manner similar to that which doomed Columbia) is to the vehicle, but not necessarily to the crew, despite hysteria on the part of some of the critics. Even AA O’Connor agrees with this, which is why he has accepted his boss’s decision to go forward. This is because in the event of damage to the Thermal Protection System, unlike the ill-fated Columbia, Discovery will be going to the International Space Station (ISS), where they will have more options: Potential damage can be inspected and possibly repaired, and if not, the crew can stay there safely until a rescue vehicle can be brought up to return them to earth.

It’s not likely that this will be a problem — we flew over 100 flights previous to the loss of Columbia, and we probably lost foam every time — we just weren’t looking for it — so last July’s “close call” isn’t necessarily as worrisome as some would make it out to be. But if this does occur, it would likely represent the end of the shuttle program (an eventuality that can’t come soon enough for some, even some space enthusiasts). It is no secret that Dr. Griffin would like to end it as soon as possible, to free up money for the president’s new lunar/Mars initiative, and has basically stated that he would end it if there’s another accident, not just because it would be yet another indicator of the system’s unreliability, but because it’s probably impractical to complete ISS construction (the only purpose for which shuttle survives at all) with a fleet of only two orbiters. And the dirty secret, of course, is that despite talk about using the ISS in support of the new exploration programs, the only real reason we’re spending the many billions of dollars and years that it will take to complete it is (uncharacteristically, in the thinking of many reflexive opponents of this administration) to meet our obligations with our international partners in Europe and Japan. But even that reason wouldn’t be good enough in the face of another major shuttle mishap.

Read the whole thing.

IT MUST BE SOME KIND OF A SWEEPS WEEK: Christopher Hitchens is offering a social history of the blowjob. Is it really "the specifically American sex act?"

June 29, 2006

I GUESS IT IS BLOG SWEEPS WEEK: Nude Britney Spears photos and a comment on the Hamdan decision, all in one post.

PUBLIUS REPORTS on an anti-communist freedom rally in Bolivia that attracted over 100,000 people. There are pictures.

Bolivia seems like a nice place.

UPDATE: Reader Bart Hall writes:

It IS a nice place -- actually one of my favourites in all Latin America, and I've spent a lot of time there. If you ever get the chance to go there (and a strongly recommend you do) you'll find that each region is different.

My personal favourite is Cochabamba and environs. The area around Santa Cruz is the heart of free-enterprise libertarianism, and FWIW has a large Japanese community as well as many Mennonites.

The best part of the Altiplano is on the Peruvian side, but I must warn you that Andean cuisine generally sucks (lots of old sheep, potatoes, stringy beef and not a lot else). In Cocha and Sta. Cruz it's a lot better.

Santa Cruz sounds like the place to be. Unless you enjoy Scottish food. . . .

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON really doesn't like Hillary.

Neither, apparently, do Peter Daou's friends.

I still maintain hopes that she might turn out to be "the most uncompromising wartime President in United States history." After all, she argued that President Bush had "inherent authority" to go to war against Saddam!

Plus, we might see the tough-talking Secretary of State Atrios!

MAN CHARGED AFTER VIDEOTAPING POLICE: I think it should pretty much always be legal to videotape police, but this is particularly silly as it was in his own home:

Michael Gannon, 49, of 26 Morgan St., was arrested Tuesday night, after he brought a video to the police station to try to file a complaint against Detective Andrew Karlis, according to Gannon’s wife, Janet Gannon, and police reports filed in Nashua District Court.

Police instead arrested Gannon, charging him with two felony counts of violating state eavesdropping and wiretap law by using an electronic device to record.


MAUREEN DOWD PRAISES BLOGGERS: "Politicians are courting the best bloggers because they bring donations, volunteers and goodwill to their campaigns. . . . It's a very healthy situation: blogs lead me to try to be better every day."

Surely the end times are nigh.

UPDATE: The Anchoress comments: "I knew she’d come around, sooner or later!"


AEROTREKKING: Sounds pretty cool.

VERIZON WIRELESS SUCKAGE: Okay, I've been happy with my Verizon EVDO card. But now the credit card it bills to has expired, and they're bombarding me with emails to renew it. Trouble is, the emails are from a don't reply address, and the phone numbers for renewal require you to enter a phone number before you can proceed. (Entering "0" just gets you dropped.) My wireless card has a phone number, but I don't know what it is, and can't seem to find it via the application screen, and the technical support number requires me to enter the phone number before I can get past it to ask how to . . . find the phone number. Jeez. No doubt there's a way around this, but I'm too irritated to proceed at the moment.

UPDATE: Problem solved. I had to call their main number and pretend to be prospective customer; that got me through to a human being.

BILL ROGGIO REPORTS ON negotiations in Iraq.

FIVE YEARS OF THE WAR ON TERROR: Austin Bay starts a retrospective series.

HAMDAN CASE DECIDED: And Marty Lederman at SCOTUSBLOG says the press coverage is missing the biggest part of the story:

More importantly, the Court held that Common Article 3 of Geneva aplies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda. That is the HUGE part of today's ruling. The commissions are the least of it. This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely," and that "[t]o this end," certain specified acts "are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever"—including "cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." This standard, not limited to the restrictions of the due process clause, is much more restrictive than even the McCain Amendment. . . . If I'm right about this, it's enormously significant."

Indeed. At the very least, this should serve as a rebuke to those who have been proclaiming that we live in an era of lawless fascism and rubberstamp courts. And that's (another) good reason for Bush not to follow advice from some quarters to disobey the ruling, a la Andrew Jackson.

Pajamas Media has a big roundup of blog reactions. And there's an open discussion thread at Tom Maguire's.

UPDATE: Andrew Cochran thinks this is a "huge political gift" to the Bush Administration.

Hot Air has video of Bush's reaction.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More from Ann Althouse.


June 29, 2006: Although "Supreme Leader" the Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khameini has basically told the world to buzz off regarding the country's nuclear ambitions, relations between him and radical President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be deteriorating. Apparently, Ahmadinejad's frequent arch-conservative ranting on foreign policy and domestic issues runs contrary to a more nuanced, pragmatic approach favored by Khameini and the circle of conservative clerics who are his principal advisors. Khameini has on several recent occasions spoken far more moderately on certain issues than has Ahmadinejad. As a result, Ahmadinejad reportedly has recently told Khameini to button his lip about certain diplomatic matters, as an intrusion on the president's authority. In a sense, this can be likened to the complexities of the "Red Guards" phase in Maoist China during the 1960s, when various factions in the Communist leadership tried to out-do each other in radicalism in order to firm up their control.

How such a scenario might unfold in Iran will be interesting to see. Iranian politics is considered a blood sport, with the losers getting themselves dead. Unrest among the nations minorities (Azeris, Arabs, Kurds, and Baluchis), continues, with evidence of insurgent activity by some groups (Kurds and Baluchs). More importantly, however, is that there appears to be growing unrest among the country's Iranian majority population, which has been suffering under increasing religious restrictions and is considered generally pro-American by many analysts.

I keep hearing reports of unrest in Iran, and I'd certainly like to see the mullahs overthrown. What I remain skeptical of, though, is whether the discontent is going to reach critical mass any time soon.

Meanwhile, Scott Norvell -- fresh back from two weeks in Iran -- recommends a book, We Are Iran : The Persian Blogs. I haven't read it, but it got a good review here.

He also sends these impressions:

Iran was fascinating. They hate us [FoxNews]. They think we are a branch of the Pentagon. I'm sure they are not the only ones, but they have the excuse of being somewhat detached. The rest don't.

Population is far more secular than I expected. . . . Tehran's like Mexico City in terms of traffic, energy and bustle. The expats brave enough to have gone home are making boatloads of money.

He also says that many Iranian elites view Ahmadinejad the way many American elites view Bush, as a not-very-bright guy who's using saber-rattling to secure power. I'm not sure what that means in terms of the future, though.

TOM MAGUIRE CREDITS THE NEW YORK TIMES with accurate reporting on how much damage the SWIFT program story did. "The Times reporting is clear - this is a good program; ending it would harm national security; publicity may kill it."

KUWAITI WOMEN VOTE FOR THE FIRST TIME in parliamentary elections. Gateway Pundit has a roundup.

LEGENDARY SCIENCE FICTION PUBLISHER JIM BAEN has died. It's a major loss. David Drake has posted an obituary.

WIRED EDITOR CHRIS ANDERSON has a piece on the power of "peer production" that seems right to me:

Now we have armies of amateurs, happy to work for free. Call it the Age of Peer Production. From to MySpace to craigslist, the most successful Web companies are building business models based on user-generated content. This is perhaps the most dramatic manifestation of the second-generation Web. The tools of production, from blogging to video-sharing, are fully democratized, and the engine for growth is the spare cycles, talent, and capacity of regular folks, who are, in aggregate, creating a distributed labor force of unprecedented scale. . . . But it’s a mistake to equate peer production with anticapitalism. This isn’t amateurs versus professionals; it’s each benefiting the other. Companies aren’t just exploiting free labor; they’re also creating the tools that give voice to millions. And that rowdy rabble isn’t replacing the firm; it’s providing the energy that drives a new sort of company, one that understands that talent exists outside Hollywood, that credentials matter less than passion, and that each of us has knowledge that’s valuable to someone, somewhere.

I haven't read his new book, The Long Tail, yet, but I think I'm going to like it.

YESTERDAY AT THE CHURCH OF OPRAH: So if Oprah is a church, what is The View? Or do I even want to know?

HUGH HEWITT IS ON THE WARPATH about the New York Times' publication of national security secrets.

And Robert Cox is, if anything, even angrier:

We will never know the full extent of the damage caused by The New York Times in disclosing the SWIFT monitoring program but have no doubt it was not a benign act. Whatever agony Keller may have gone through in deciding to publish the story will pale in comparison to the agony of the victims of the next terror attack, an attack that might have been prevented save for Keller’s choice.

Playwright David Mamet once wrote of elites “you’re all the same … It’s always ‘What I’m going to do for you.’ Then you screw up and then its ‘we did the best we could. I’m dreadfully sorry’ and people like us live with your mistakes the rest of our lives.”

We may be living with Keller’s mistake for a long time to come.


June 28, 2006

WHY AREN'T POWERLINES UNDERGROUND? I've wondered about that myself, and there's a discussion at Slashdot.

TOM MAGUIRE: "I would be thilled to read a Times editorial explaining that, until they intervened, Bush was trampling European privacy laws merely to protect American lives. Until they write that, I still have the Comedy Channel."

UPDATE: Lileks says that the Times has its limits:

If the Times learned that US troops were force-feeding Gitmo detainees with Coca-cola, they wouldn’t publish Coke’s secret formula. They might get sued. If there’s a CIA program that uses offensive cartoons of Mohammed to communicate with agents, they’ll keep mum, lest they have to publish the images. They might get stabbed. But secret law-enforcement-type programs as classified as the access code to the Times top-floor elevator? Fair game. You’ve the right to know.

He also offers an advance look at future scoops, which will really irritate them. Some secrets are sacred!

BARACK OBAMA thinks that Democrats should engage evangelicals. This gets him a Bronx cheer from Firedoglake: "[T]his bullshit from Barack Obama is Bill Clinton’s fault. The greatest victory of the radical right wing has been to train Democratic politicians to disrespect, mischaracterize and run against their base in the progressive movement. And that is Bill Clinton’s fault."

Of course, as I've noted before, Hillary's pretty religious herself.

ROGER SIMON WONDERS ABOUT getting Osama for the Glenn & Helen Show.

Apparently, he missed that episode. . . .

VIRGINIA POSTREL WRITES ON "The National Kidney Foundation's bad math and guilty conscience."

MORE ON KOS from Kaus.

Plus, "Job title: Blog Advisor!"

SAW MY BROTHER-IN-LAW THIS AFTERNOON: He started the chemo yesterday. He's doing pretty well, considering: no big side effects, as feared, just major league boredom as he's doing it in-patient for four days. He'll have to repeat this several times, and the worst part is that it may help, or it may not. Just more reasons to pull for better medical technology. Bring it on.

GEEKS OF THE WORLD, BEWARE: Sarah Pullman warns of poor computer posture, and the havoc it can wreak on muscles and joints:

What probably scared me the most was the description of the earliest warning signs of repetitive stress problems – because almost everyone I know experiences them. These include tightness and soreness in the upper back and shoulders, and unfortuantely people tend to carry on as usual until they have symptoms down into their wrists and elbows.

Most geeks I know describe pain around their shoulder blades and upper back. Almost everyone has this pain right where your arm joins to your back, kind of around the back of your armpit on your mouse arm. (You know the one. And you know what it's from.)

So what are we doing to ourselves!? Are we all going to end up crippled down the road?

She recommends yoga, which isn't a bad solution. Take it from me -- I've been fending off RSI since Reagan's first term -- it's worth paying attention to this stuff.

HUGH HEWITT: "How can the Congressional majority be this lame?"


ANDREW SULLIVAN is calling me passive aggressive for linking this post by Jeff Goldstein. I didn't really think it was about Andrew, but it seems that these days, everything is about Andrew. Except Andrew's blog, which seems to devote a disproportionate amount of attention to me.

It's funny, though, that Kos called me "passive aggressive" in an email to the Townhouse email list and now Sullivan's repeating the phrase. (Of course, compared to Kos, everyone's passive-aggressive). But then, Jeff Goldstein was announcing Sullivan's transformation into a Kos diarist ages ago. I guess he was just ahead of the curve. . . .

That's okay, I'm used to abuse.

UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein responds to Sullivan.

WHITE MEN can't clap.

NORM GERAS looks at wanton murder and press hypocrisy.

EUGENE VOLOKH: "Would the Supreme Court uphold a 'spending limit' for abortion?"

Of course not. That's an important right, not something trivial like political speech.

UNSCAM UPDATE: Oil-for-food hits a New York courtroom, and Claudia Rosett has the story.

THE NATIONAL JOURNAL'S DANNY GLOVER comments on John McCain's Porkbusters post.

A LOOK AT THE Herpes theory of the Commerce Clause.


It's official: Larry Ellison is walking away from a promise to donate $115 million to Harvard University.

The Oracle Corp. founder and chief executive, the world's 15th-richest person, made headlines in 2005 when, in an interview with The Chronicle, he pledged to make a major donation to Harvard to study world health. But Ellison decided against the donation after Harvard President Lawrence Summers announced his resignation earlier this year. Summers will leave the university on Friday.

And yet, I think the biggest damage to Harvard wasn't economic.

FOR MY NEXT TRICK, I'LL DO IT WHILE DRINKING WATER: Kos, Lamont, and political ventriloquism, at Hot Air.

TERRORISTS ENCOUNTER BLOWBACK: "President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia's special services to hunt down and 'destroy' the killers of four Russian diplomats in Iraq, the Kremlin said."

Just as long as he doesn't send them to Guantanamo or anything.

UPDATE: Bill Quick: Is "hunt down and destroy" in the Geneva Convention?

THE CARNIVAL OF HOMESCHOOLING is up. So is the Carnival of Education.

THE NETROOTS AND THE JOHN BIRCHERS: Josh Trevino explores a historical parallel.

CAM EDWARDS REPORTS FROM THE U.N. GUN-BAN SUMMIT: Here's Day One, and here's Day Two, where he reports: "A remarkable thing happened at the United Nations yesterday. We, the United States, told the world 'no'."

IN THE MAIL: Disrobed, by Mark Smith. As you'll see if you follow the link, it's not quite as racy as the title suggests. . . .


porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Over at Porkbusters, it's a guest post from Sen. John McCain:

So why has my party, the party of small government, lately adopted the practices of our opponents who believe the bigger the government the better? I'm afraid it's because at times we value our incumbency more than our principles. We came to office to reduce the size of government. Lately, we have increased the size of government in order to stay in office. The editors of National Review have argued -- and I agree with them -- that unless Republicans curb government spending by reforming the budget process, we may lose our majorities in the House and Senate. I will go one step further and say that if Republicans do not reform our budget process, we will deserve to lose our majorities.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Freeman Hunt looks at the big picture: "I am not a McCain fan, however, at least if McCain is getting behind efforts like Porkbusters, you can guess that there is a shift in momentum going on somewhere in Congress."

June 27, 2006

DELL NON-HELL: The Dell Laptop was dead as a doornail tonight. Wouldn't boot, even in safe mode, producing a stop code and an "Unmountable Boot Device" error message. Called Dell Support, expecting it to be a bad hard drive. Waited more-or-less patiently as they got me to insert the recovery disk and run some diagnostics, and a nice man from Mumbai named (I think) Raktish helped me repair the bad boot sector and then noticed my computer was booting too slowly and took remote control and cleaned up some junk that was slowing things down. Total elapsed time (including about 8 minutes on hold at the beginning): less than an hour. Seems to be working fine now.

A SITE UPGRADE at The Truth Laid Bear.

JONATHAN ADLER looks at the D.C. Circuit and limits on federal power after Raich.


DO THEY HAVE "SWEEPS WEEK" FOR BLOGS? Ana Marie Cox has thoughts on breasts.

ARMED LIBERAL on The New York Times, et al.:

I don't think that the newspapers are treasonous, or doing this solely in an effort to thwart President Bush (i.e. I don't think that a Democratic president would be getting a free ride right now). That doesn't mean that the impacts of what they are doing doesn't damage the country, put lives at risk, or negatively impact President Bush's effectiveness.

I think, in simple terms, that they have forgotten that they are citizens, and that they have an obligation to the polity that goes beyond writing the good story. I don't think they are alone; I think that many people and institutions in the country today have forgotten they are citizens, whether they are poor residents of New Orleans defrauding FEMA or corporate chieftains who are maximizing their bonuses at the expense of a healthy economy.

I think that they're offended at the notion that citizenship might involve obligations to do something other than what you want to do anyway. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Jon Henke: "My question is: is there any legal line, any classified information at all, that the press could/should be prevented from, or held legally accountable for, disclosing? And if so, how and where do we draw that line?"

I think we've done it already, by statute. We've then modified that, rather harsh, line with a lot of unwritten understandings that used to work, but that don't anymore. I suspect that the New York Times is in theoretical violation of those statutes, but I also doubt that it's likely to actually be prosecuted. Its reporters may well be subpoenaed and ordered to identify the leakers, but the press enjoys no special privilege against such things. I think the New York Times will also experience considerably more general hostility, and further erosion of its former position as the "newspaper of record" as a result of this behavior, but that seems fair to me.

In the meantime, revoking their press credentials is a far cry from the Gulag. Related thoughts here.

THE FLAGBURNING AMENDMENT has failed, by one vote. Allah: "Now Congress can get back to the important stuff. Like catching pimps." Or taxing them, anyway.

MICKEY KAUS: "Who said that when it comes to immigration reform it's the 'Senate bill or nothing'? It sure looks like Senate conference leader Arlen Specter is moving rapidly, if not desperately, in the House's 'enforcement-only' direction." He offers suggestions for a face-saving compromise.

NEW GOINGS-ON IN SOMALIA: Austin Bay is paying attention.

SCOTT OLIN SCHMIDT: "By-and-large political campaigns—and even Kos himself—are missing the boat on how political campaigns can leverage the blogosphere."

UPDATE: On the other hand, there's this: "I'd say in this little Net Skirmish the final score would be Kos 1 - Hillary Zip."

FLAGBURNING IDIOCY: I agree with James Taranto:

No doubt you are dying to know where this column stands on the flag-desecration amendment. The answer is, we are against it. Our view is that the Supreme Court got it right in 1989: Insofar as desecrating the flag is an act of political expression, it is protected by the First Amendment. (The objection that it isn't "speech" is overly literal. What we're doing now--causing pixels to form meaningful patterns on thousands of computer screens--isn't exactly speech either, but we like to think the First Amendment protects it from government interference.)

Burning the flag is a stupid and ugly act, but there is something lovely and enlightened about a regime that tolerates it in the name of freedom. And of course it has the added benefit of making it easier to spot the idiots.

Or, to put it more succinctly: "I notice it and just think ugh, they're doing that again." Indeed. On the other hand, people who are more upset about a ban on flagburning than about McCain-Feingold are on shaky free-speech ground. Michael Barone looks at that contradiction.

SENATOR PAT ROBERTS, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has written John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence, and requested a damage assessment regarding the effects of journalistic leaks on national security.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey: "We don't need a report from Negroponte. We need our elected representatives to start taking national-security leaks seriously. This isn't even a good start towards that end."

RYAN SAGER: Beware the Wal-Mart voters.

I wonder if those are anything like the Lou Dobbs voters?

MATT STOLLER defends Jon Stewart.

PATTERICO: "Do you think the editors of the New York Times and L.A. Times are starting to realize what a big mistake they’ve made in publishing classified details of a legal and effective anti-terror program?"

ROGER SIMON: "In all the brouhaha over the New York Times' publishing top secret information on financial surveillance, one thing amuses me in a dark comic way: from my point of view the Big Scoop is one of the great myths of our post-Watergate times. Almost always it is simply handed to you. It takes no guts whatsoever or even, in many cases, much legwork."

DAVID BERNSTEIN: "I've noticed in a variety of contexts that there are some rather well-educated, articulate individuals out there who have what seems to me to be a fanatical, quasi-religious belief in 'international law,' and the idea that it should trump any other conflicting consideration."

ARMY OF DAVIDS UPDATE: [email protected] reports:

The leadership of the National Chamber Foundation (the educational arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) recently recommended to its board of directors a list of 10 “Books that Drive the Debate.”

One of them was, you guessed it, An Army of Davids. Another was Arnold Kling's excellent book on health care, Crisis of Abundance.

I'd be interested in hearing what Kling thinks about Andy Kessler's book.


Also the Blawg Review, the Carnival of the Cats, and the Second Amendment Carnival. And if you're tired of my hit-and-miss approach you can keep up with the carnivals at

MAX SAWICKY reports that the Harrisonburg Kurds have had their sentences suspended.

JIM PINKERTON WRITES on Stephen Hawking, Edmund Burke, and humanity's survival.

MALARIA: lessons from the TB struggle? Interesting article with this depressing passage:

The war on malaria — in theory more winnable than the war on AIDS because a cure exists — is instead being lost, Dr. Kochi says. In the 1960's, malaria was considered potentially eradicable: DDT and chloroquine, a synthetic form of quinine, had been invented, and much of the tropics were under colonial rulers who, whatever their other faults, were good at killing mosquitoes.

Since then, DDT has been withdrawn because of its environmental damage, chloroquine and its successor, Fansidar, have become all but useless and the health systems in most of Africa and parts of Asia and Latin America have collapsed.

The body count is now at least one million a year, most of them children and pregnant women. There are 350 million cases of malaria each year; people may catch it repeatedly in hot seasons and be too weak to work, so it cripples rural economies.

The plan is to attack things differently, which seems like a good idea to me. Alas, though, there's only so much you can do in the face of dreadful governments in the most affected areas. And that's not a problem the WHO, or the UN, can solve. Indeed, it's not a problem that the UN even wants to solve.

A KOS KONSPIRACY? "Earlier today as I wondered boldly through left blogistan, if occurred to me that, rather than the hissy fit I mentioned below, what we're really seeing is coordinated attack on the progressive bloggers."

Meanwhile, Robert Wright is defending Kos against David Brooks.

UPDATE: Hillary hires Peter Daou from Salon, and Dan Riehl is questioning the timing.

Jim Geraghty asks: "Has any prominent potential Republican candidate hired a 'blog guy'?"

He also weighs in on Wright's defense, which relies on his Kos timeline.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Heh: "Nowadays, you have to hire a blogger to fend off the bloggers. This blogging game is playing out nicely."

Plus, defending Kos from inaccurate puns.

MORE: Still more questioning of the timing.


The Sunlight Foundation, a new nonprofit committed to transforming citizens' relationship to government, is hiring a new staff person for outreach and organizing. The ideal candidate would be a highly organized overcommunicator, good at both building spreadsheets and developing relationships with bloggers, local activists, and budding activists.

The candidate must be passionate about open government and a natural extrovert, but experience is not required. Sunlight is nonpartisan.

Send resume, 2 references, and a one paragraph description about why you think the job suits you to [email protected]

They're in DC and probably would want you to be, too.

June 26, 2006

MORE CHAIRBLOGGING, from Michael Demmons.

JEFF GOLDSTEIN has a question: "How do you feel about revealing the names of those on the Townhouse email list?"

Seems to me that it's a matter of "public interest!"

A TRAINING VIDEO FOR BILL KELLER, courtesy of Frank Capra and Dr. Seuss, over at Hot Air.

UPDATE: A big roundup on the New York Times issue, from Pajamas Media.

The Glenn and Helen Show: Andy Kessler on the Revolution in Medicine

We talked with Andy Kessler, author of The End of Medicine: How Silicon Valley (and Naked Mice) will Reboot Your Doctor, about how Moore's Law will revolutionize medicine. Kessler explained how more and more of medicine is driven by technology, and how dramatic changes in electronics, DNA chips, and treatment are likely to make medicine improve as much in coming decades as computers have improved in the past several decades. Helen and I -- but especially Helen -- say "bring it on!"

You can listen directly (no iPod needed) by clicking right here, or you can subscribe via iTunes (we like that, because it moves us up their charts) by clicking right here. There's a lo-fi version for dialup here, and there's a complete podcast archive here.

Music is by Mobius Dick -- it's excerpts from the soundtrack to the movie Six.

As usual, my lovely and talented cohost is soliciting comments and suggestions.

MORE ON "KOS VS. THE CLINTONS:" It's the battle of the century, or at least the election cycle.

The Columbia Journalism Review weighs in with "Kos: Yesterday's hero, today's goat."

SOCK-PUPPETRY AT THE HUFFINGTON POST: Tom Maguire comments: "Is it possible that my wild guess that the Times is detemined to trivialize lefty blogs is actually on the mark? Has all this burbling about new media and storming the (star)gates really triggered some territorial impulse at an institutional level?"

His answer: "Yes."

BLOGGER ROB "ACIDMAN" SMITH has died. He was a difficult guy, but a sometimes brilliant writer, and I wish I'd met him in person.

ANN ALTHOUSE on astrology.

UPDATE: Much, much more on the whole astrology/blogging issue at Blogometer. I have to say I agree with the Althouse take: "I don't think writing about astrology means you're nutty, though it's great material for people to use if they want to portray you as nutty."

BUSH CRITICIZES THE NEW YORK TIMES for publishing classified material: Gateway Pundit has the roundup.

Meanwhile, Michael Barone asks: "Why does the Times print stories that put America more at risk of attack? They say that these surveillance programs are subject to abuse, but give no reason to believe that this concern is anything but theoretical."

Tim Chapman is calling for a Congressional resolution condemning the Times. And Andrew McCarthy comments: "The Times prattles on about what it claims is a dearth of checks and balances, but what are the checks and balances on Bill Keller?"

UPDATE: Tom Maguire asks: "Tell me again whether there are any checks at all on this 'power that has been given us.' Where is the accountability at the Times - can We the People un-elect Bill Keller? . . . Or, if there is no accountability, is that really how we want to run our democracy? Don't We the People have the right to decide that some national security secrets need to be kept secret? Or can any bureaucrat with an agenda overrule his elected superiors? Let me re-phrase that - can any bureaucrat with an agenda with which the Times is comfortable overrule his elected superiors on national security issues?"

OVER THE WEEKEND, I read Tom Nagorski's Miracles on the Water : The Heroic Survivors of a World War II U-Boat Attack, and enjoyed it very much. It's the story of the sinking of the City of Benares, a liner carrying children being evacuated from the Blitz to Canada and the United States in 1940. One of the survivors said that he had never imagined that women and children were capable of such heroism. I shared no such preconceptions, but it's still a terrific story.


BILL KELLER ISN'T VERY BRIGHT, or else he thinks you aren't. How else to explain this passage in his apologia for the Times' publication of classified information about the terrorist financial surveillance program:

Some of the incoming mail quotes the angry words of conservative bloggers and TV or radio pundits who say that drawing attention to the government's anti-terror measures is unpatriotic and dangerous. (I could ask, if that's the case, why they are drawing so much attention to the story themselves by yelling about it on the airwaves and the Internet.)

I realize that the Times' circulation is falling at an alarming rate, but it hasn't yet reached such a pass that its stories are only noticed when Rush Limbaugh mentions them.

A deeper error is Keller's characterization of freedom of the press as an institutional privilege, an error that is a manifestation of the hubris that has marked the NYT of late. Keller writes: "It's an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. . . . The power that has been given us is not something to be taken lightly."

The founders gave freedom of the press to the people, they didn't give freedom to the press. Keller positions himself as some sort of Constitutional High Priest, when in fact the "freedom of the press" the Framers described was also called "freedom in the use of the press." It's the freedom to publish, a freedom that belongs to everyone in equal portions, not a special privilege for the media industry. (A bit more on this topic can be found here.)

Characterizing the freedom this way, of course, makes much of Keller's piece look like, well, just what it is -- arrogant and self-justificatory posturing. To quote Keller: "Forgive me, I know this is pretty elementary stuff — but it's the kind of elementary context that sometimes gets lost in the heat of strong disagreements."

Or institutional self-importance. As Hugh Hewitt observes, at the conclusion to a much lengthier critique: "He doesn't have any defense other than his position as editor of a once great newspaper."

And the Constitution does not permit titles of nobility.

UPDATE: Austin Bay comments: "The Times, apparently, told the story because it could and because it thinks it can get away with it."

June 25, 2006

THE KHOBAR TOWERS: A tenth anniversary retrospective.

MORE THOUGHTS on the Maliki reconciliation plan discussed below, from Mohammed at Iraq the Model.

GILLIARD-GATE: Jason Zengerle writes:

Steve Gilliard claims that he did not write the email I attributed to him in this post. After doing some further investigating, I'm afraid to say that he is correct. He did not write that email. I apologize to Gilliard for not checking with him before publishing my post, and I regret the error.

He provides some explanation on what happened, too.

TERRORISTS MURDER Russian diplomats.

ROBERT KENNEDY REDUX: "Despite the hype, the Times seems to have brought up the Rolling Stone article mainly to mock the lefty blogs. . . . We shall not let the NY Times paint with too broad a brush - although I am sure there were plenty of lefty blogs that rallied to Kennedy's fantasy, plenty of other top lefties stayed away (Odd how the Times missed that in describing Kennedy's critics - one might almost think they would like to discredit the lefty blogs as a class in order to preserve their own ascendancy in the liberal pantheon). "

It's almost as if there's some sort of coordinated Big Media effort underway, or something.

"AXIS OF ABUSE:" Austin Bay is very unhappy about the New York Times' close relationship with leakers of classified information.

So is Jim Dunnigan.

Hugh Hewitt is calling for Congressional condemnation.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: More revolving doors and close friendships:

When defense contractor Nicholas Karangelen launched a political action committee directed by the stepdaughter of the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, he added another dimension to a tight circle of Capitol Hill relationships that is under federal investigation.

The relationships revolve around Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, who leads the Appropriations Committee and has extraordinarily close ties to lobbyists Letitia White and Bill Lowery.

White worked for Lewis for 21 years before joining Lowery's lobbying firm in 2003. Lowery, a former San Diego congressman who sat on the Appropriations Committee, is one of Lewis' closest friends and his principal fundraiser.

Read the whole thing (via TPM Muckraker). Actually, the most damning part may be this statement: "A spokesman for the lobbying firm defended its work as typical of Washington advocacy in an era of explosive growth in earmarking."

ANN ALTHOUSE: "I assume there is a conspiracy and a strategy to investigate Kos. And it's so easy to do because it can succeed even if it fails to turn anything up, because it will provoke him, and when he reacts, they'll all say he's paranoid, belligerent. Escort that man back outside the gate."

UPDATE: Rogers Cadenhead is digging deeper.

THOUGHTS ON FRIENDSHIP AND ISOLATION, over at the Insta-Wife's blog.

ANDY ROTH looks back to 1896, and a speech that got less attention than William Jennings Bryan's famous "Cross of Gold" effort.


The 24-point plan offers an amnesty to some insurgents, but not those from groups who have targeted Iraqi civilians, such as al-Qaeda.

It outlines plans to disarm militias and beef up Iraqi security forces ahead of a takeover from coalition forces. . . .

But the BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says there are concerns that the plan will not work as it does not seek reconciliation with those at the heart of the insurgency - the radical Islamists, many of them foreigners, who want Iraq to be the centre of a new Islamic empire.

Muir doesn't seem to provide suggestions on how you achieve reconciliation with those guys. But the Sunnis seem to be on board with this deal, and if the native Sunni part of the insurgency drops out, the foreign terrorists will be left pretty isolated, I expect.

UPDATE: Arthur Chrenkoff emails:

Not only that, but notice the moving goal-posts - hasn't the media been telling us in the past that "at the heart of the insurgency" there are the native Sunni nationalists who want the foreign occupiers out of the country, and that "the radical Islamists, many of them foreign terrorists" are merely a marginal phenomenon? Is that because there's a chance that the new strategy of reconciliation will actually work to diminish the insurgency, so the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government have to be set up for failure according to a new and more demanding (if not an impossible) standard? On the positive side, it's good to see that the BBC finally acknowledges that at least some of our enemies want to create "a new Islamic empire".