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September 16, 2006

LOTS OF INTERESTING GUESTBLOGGING over at Protein Wisdom.

At least I think they're guestbloggers. It could just be Goldstein pulling a Greenwald. . . .

UPDATE: Major John Tammes emails:

When the 107 mm rockets landed on my base in Afghanistan: nervous, startled, but not afraid.

When I got stuck in some mines halfway up a cliff near Ashrafkhel: nervous, wary, but not too afraid.

When a large group of men in Qarabaghi-Robat told me they were going to kill my interpreter, then me: moderately afraid.

Being put on the approved list to guest post at Jeff Goldstein's PROTEIN WISDOM, after what I have seen the last couple of days: Afraid, very afraid to go in there...

Smart man.

ANGELA MERKEL is defending the Pope against his critics: "'What Benedict XVI emphasised was a decisive and uncompromising renunciation of all forms of violence in the name of religion,' she said."

Maybe that's what they're really objecting to.

UPDATE: More thoughts here. And Mike Rappaport writes: "As a promoter and beneficiary of modernity, I feel bad for those stuck in the middle ages. Not only are they led to do evil things, but it all seems very confusing for them. After all, they must mix modern claims of victimhood with medieval charges of blasphemy. It is hard to keep your stories straight, as the above quote suggests. It kind of reminds me of a weird movie I saw some years back. About ten peasants from Europe during the black death dug through a hole and came out in 20th century Australia. It was all very confusing for them. But no one thought of allowing them to get nuclear weapons."

EVAN BAYH: "Democrats can't be 'bunch of wimps' on terror.'"

It's like he's been reading Jim Geraghty's new book or something.

MICHAEL TOTTEN INTERVIEWS Yaacov Lozowick, author of Right to Exist: A Moral Defense of Israel's Wars. Well, of some of them, anyway.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS looks at Saddam's man in Niger.

AUSTIN BAY looks at the Axis of Egos.

HELPING WOMEN IN PAKISTAN: Matoko Kusanagi sends this link on efforts to pass legislation in Pakistan.

BLOGGING CAN GET YOU INTO TROUBLE:

A blog has apparently led to the firing of a staffer in the Ben Cardin for Senate campaign.

According to the Washington Times Insider Politics blog, a person labeling herself the 'Persuasionatrix' wrote that she was on the staff of a high profile, contested Senate campaign and was based in Baltimore.

Persuasionatrix wrote that staffers should pose holding Oreo brand cookies under the caption 'devouring the competition.'

Cardin, the ten-term white Congressman from the Baltimore area, is the Democratic candidate facing black Lieutenant Governor and Republican candidate Michael Steele. . . .

The Cardin staffer also allegedly posted statements on her blog about not being able to fire a subordinate whose performance was inadequate because the junior worker was black.

It's kind of like Dog Days, only without the sex.

DAVID CORN DENIES charges that he outed Valerie Plame.

UPDATE: Cliff May isn't convinced. And Bill Hobbs says he was way ahead of this story.

MORE: Related developments here.

MODERN FEMINISM DEFIES GENDER STEREOTYPES with statements like "Ann Althouse is a nasty old crone."

One might almost think that feminism has become nothing more than a subset of the Democratic Party's activist base. Actually, that has become so obvious that even Maureen Dowd managed to figure it out when she famously commented: "Feminism died in 1998 when Hillary allowed henchlings and Democrats to demonize Monica as an unbalanced stalker, and when Gloria Steinem defended Mr. Clinton against Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones."

It's all about supporting the right people politically, even if it turns you into a groper's support group. Which was, of course, the point of Althouse's post.

UPDATE: Reader Patrick Kelly emails:

I think it is now safe to say, after hundreds of comments at Ann Althouses’s blog, Feminisitng, TalkLeft, your wife’s, many others, and your post, that Jessica Lindstrom has the most famous breasts in the portion of the blogosphere to which I admit visiting.

On a related note, I find it appalling that anyone would find it acceptable to dine with a former President in clothes as casual as those in the picture. To paraphrase Kos “would it kill you to wear a jacket?”

I agree with Kos on that. [LATER: I'm not the only one: "I find myself in surprised agreement with Markos Moulitsas: it wouldn't have killed those people to have all dressed more formally. I'd wear a suit and tie if I was meeting former President Clinton. Heck, I'd wear a suit and tie if I was meeting former President Carter. For my own pride's sake, if nothing else."]

MORE: Matt Sherman looks at making the personal political. And vice versa, these days.

STILL MORE: The left blogosphere is starting to sound unhinged over this one. In the comments at Helen's they're calling us "Taliban Republicans." Er, yeah, because we're like, anti-sex and stuff. Riiiight. Tell it to Richard Bennett and Ben Domenech. [Wait, I thought you were libertarian hedonists? -- ed. That would be closer.]

And if Atrios thinks that publishing this photo is embarrassing to either of us, well it just proves he's missing the point as usual. Jeez.

Meanwhile, over at the National Journal's Beltway Blogroll Daniel Glover is calling the Clinton lunch the "the blog lunch that backfired." Yeah, you can't take these people anywhere.

Plus, ouch.

FINALLY: Pretty much the last word: "We thought we were the movers and shakers, so how come everybody is laughing at us?"

THINKPROGRESS'S STORY THAT AIR AMERICA IS GOING BANKRUPT appears to have been too far ahead of the news cycle to be, um, true.

TIGERHAWK looks at The Times, the Pope, and Muslim rage.

Frankly, I'm pretty tired of "Muslim rage." If they're that insecure about their religion, maybe the problem isn't with the critics. I'm also pretty unimpressed with Western commentators who serve as enablers to such juvenile and destructive behavior.

"Baptist rage" certainly wouldn't get this kind of slack from the Times.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker: "The Pope can perhaps be excused for thinking that Islam can be associated with violence. He probably took it personally when an Islamic terrorist group plotted to assassinate his predecessor. If the Vatican ever starts assassinating imams, then they'll really have something to protest."

Meanwhile, Tom Smith offers a lengthy excerpt from the Pope's speech and comments: "The Pope can apologize if he wants to, but I certainly don't think he has anything to apologize for. I suppose he could explain that when he quotes a dialog between a 14th century Byzantine emperor and an educated Persian, he does not therefore endorse the views of either interlocutor. He might even quote something in order to ask, as he does, what are we to make of this? Obviously, the Pope was just putting in context the question the emperor was posing, and that has been posed for a long time, since 1391 anyway -- whether forced religious conversions are religiously justified."

Professor Bainbridge has further thoughts. (And scroll down for several other posts).

And Jacob T. Levy (yes, he's blogging again, now at TNR) says that people are inappropriately treating the Pope as a political, rather than a religious, figure: "surely religious believers are in the business of drawing distinctions with, and denying the truth of, other religions. . . . I don't expect Catholics to take their theology less seriously than Muslims do; I certainly don't expect the Pope to take his theology anything less than wholly seriously. And what is a Catholic, committed to the truth of Catholicism, to think of Mohammed's additions to and transformations of the Christian bible?"

Ed Morrissey sees an imbalance: "People use words to criticize Islam; Muslims use stones, fire, and eventually bombs to protest back. When was the last time Christians threw firebombs at a mosque to protest Muslim imams characterizing Christianity as polytheistic? When have we seen Jews firebomb mosques for Muslim leaders calling them the descendants of pigs and monkeys, a common insult from both religious and secular Muslims in the Middle East? Muslims have proven Benedict prophetic, and don't think for a moment that this wave of violence has peaked."

The Anchoress thinks that Benedict has them exactly where he wants them: "Benedict has managed - in his very scholarly fashion - to apply a very hot drawing poultice to the enormous and festering boils of both radical Islamism and rampant secularism."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Shiite Muslim IraqPundit opines:

I can think of a lot more pressing matters for Muslims to be angry about. How about taking to the street over the murderers who have been disgracing our religion by shedding oceans of innocent blood in its name? On Thursday, a car bomb blew up outside a Baghdad orphanage. In all the wide sweep of the Muslim Street, is there no one sufficiently disgusted to raise his voice over such a thing? It should be easy enough, especially since a common excuse has been that the perpetrators of such evil cannot be Muslims. Surely, if such "non-Muslims" are killing Iraqi Muslims in great numbers, it's worth the attention of the pious.

You'd think.

But was the Pope Dowdified? Plus, much more, here.

REP. JACK KINGSTON (R-GA) replies to his critics in the blogosphere.

Georgia blogger Jason Pye fires back: "Do you realize that you voted with Jim Moran?"

MALARIA UPDATE:

The World Health Organization on Friday called on more developing countries, particularly in Africa, to begin spraying the controversial pesticide DDT to fight malaria.

The difference: DDT, longed banned in the United States because of environmental damage, is no longer sprayed outdoors. Instead it's used to coat the inside walls of mud huts or other dwellings and kill mosquitoes waiting to bite families as they sleep. . . .

"We must take a position based on the science and the data," said Dr. Arata Kochi, the WHO's malaria chief. "One of the best tools we have against malaria is indoor residual house spraying. Of the dozen insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house spraying, the most effective is DDT."

"It's a big change," said biologist Amir Attaran of Canada's University of Ottawa, who has long pushed for the guidelines and described a recent draft. "There has been a lot of resistance to using insecticides to control malaria, and one insecticide especially. … That will have to be re-evaluated by a lot of people."

The U.S. government already has decided to pay for DDT and other indoor insecticide use as part of President Bush's $1.2 billion, five-year initiative to control malaria in Africa.

The cost of malaria in Africa is enormous -- it's hard to do much beyond bare survival when you're sick all the time. Plus, the noneconomic costs are very high, as life sucks when you're sick all the time, too . . . .

I highly recommend this piece by Malcolm Gladwell on DDT, malaria, and mosquitoes. And here's a piece by Ron Bailey on the ongoing political battles over DDT, which tend to pit green correctness against the lives of poor people in the Third World. And yes, this has been an InstaPundit topic for a long time.

UPDATE: Reader Dexter Van Zile emails:

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa in the 1980s.

I served in Zaire (know the DRC).

I got malaria numerous times.

It sucks. I really sucks.

The headache, the exhaustion, the fever are unbelievably debilitating.

If DDT works, use it, use it, use it.

My sentiments exactly.

CLINTON TAKES A LESSON FROM REAGAN:

On Wednesday, more than 1,000 people will gather in New York at the second annual Clinton Global Initiative, a project led by former President Clinton, to tackle problems involving global health, poverty, religious strife and threats to the environment.

Setting the meeting apart from other gabfests, in part, is its steep price: An admission ticket costs $15,000. More than that, most participants -- who include government leaders, corporate executives, heads of nonprofit organizations and an array of big names like Christiane Amanpour, Shimon Peres, Katie Couric and Rupert Murdoch -- must pledge to fund and carry out an initiative to help address one of the problems. And therein lies a dilemma.

A few participants at last year's fest "pledged" to carry out programs that already were under way. In other words, the initiatives weren't specifically generated by the CGI. Moreover, not all participants followed through on their commitments. That's a no-no.

So this year, the Clinton folks have adopted a Reaganesque principle: Trust but verify. "We have an even greater focus on ensuring that the commitments are specifically for CGI and that the commitments are real," says spokesman Jay Carson.

That seems wise.

EARLIER REPORTS of the capture of Afghan terror leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar turn out to be incorrect: "The capture suspect is a high level commander in Hezb-i-Islami, and is said to be a dead ringer for Hekmatyar."

OVER AT OP-FOR, a look at the currently-deteriorating situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some thoughts on how to respond.

Plus, a look at the fall of Waziristan.

September 15, 2006

I MENTIONED DIANE DUANE EARLIER, and she emailed to tell me that she's got a blog now.

MORE RESTAURANT-BLOGGING FROM DANNY GLOVER:

Last week, I talked about the menu at Ruby Tuesday's. This week, I'll tackle the heady subject of kids' meals at McDonald's.

Our 6-year-old son, Anthony, was quite thrilled when Ronald and company decided to feature Hummers in the meals this summer. But environmental bloggers were offended by the promotion of the gas-guzzling vehicles, so they want McDonald's to feature hybrid vehicles in future kids' meals.

I don't own a Hummer, and I don't want one, in part for the very reason that environmentalists hate them. But I also think it's a bit silly to protest the toys in kids' meals. So here's what I think: Hummer owners should unite for one day and conduct drive-through events at their local McDonald's restaurants.

Now that gas prices are down, they might be able to afford to . . . .

ANN ALTHOUSE: "Let's take a closer look at those breasts."

Meanwhile, Extreme Mortman looks at another photograph.

UPDATE: There's a Carnival of the Boobies?

ANOTHER UPDATE: It's a support group!

Plus, a further look at double standards in political sensitivity.

MORE: Somehow, this item from The Onion seems to fit.

MICHAEL LEDEEN remembers Oriana Fallaci.

JONAH GOLDBERG isn't sure it would be so bad if the Republicans lost control of Congress:

The rub of it, from a conservative perspective, is that Republican control of the House doesn’t equal conservative control. It may not seem that way to liberals who think Joe Lieberman is right wing, but from the vantage point of the conservative movement, GOP dominance has been an enormous disappointment . . . . This may be why some of us aren’t contemplating the possible, if not probable, Democratic takeover of the House with too much dread.

If it weren't for the war, and the Democrats' fecklessness on national security, I wouldn't dread it either.

UPDATE: Professor Bainbridge: "Republicans deserve to lose, but the Democrats don't deserve to win."

PEOPLE HAVE BEEN EMAILING ME THE POLLS, but I haven't been linking them because polls are dubious and tend to fluctuate. But now Chris Bowers writes: "Bush's approval is up. Fortunately, it still isn't very good, but you would have to be in denial at this point to not notice the upward trend."

Yes, it's noticeably up from where it was. The question is whether the trend will continue. I suspect that it'll matter less anyway after the '06 elections, when everyone is looking at '08.

To the extent that Bush has improved, I do think that it has to do with security voters, giving more support to Jim Geraghty's thesis. (Rasmussen says that Bush's increase stems from returning base members, though he doesn't make clear if they're "security voters." Seems likely, though, given that it's the week of 9/11 and Bush made a big issue of that). Bush is, however, not doing as well with the "war base" as he was a couple of years ago because he doesn't seem to be pressing as vigorously as Jacksonian voters would prefer.

Bowers, on the other hand, thinks it's all about gas prices. In which case Bush's approval may rise some more, if forecasts are correct.

JAMES SWANSON EMAILS that his book Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer has been nominated for a Quill Award.

You can hear our podcast interview with Swanson here, and you can vote on the Quill Awards here.

I should note that Doktor Frank's novel, King Dork, has also been nominated. You can vote on that here and here.

TOM MAGUIRE has more on Armitage, Plame, and Libby.

MAYOR RICHARD DALEY plays 'em like a fish.

REMEMBERING ORIANA FALLACI.

A DEBATE ON THE NEW NUCLEAR POWER, at Popular Mechanics.

THE BLOGGING FOR BOLTON VENTURE seems to be generating quite a lot of phone calls.

I USED TO KNOW DIANE DUANE back in the old days of the CompuServe science fiction forum, and I got her book So You Want to Be a Wizard, (a sort of proto-Harry Potter) for the Insta-Daughter. But the Insta-Daughter has been reading Jane Eyre, so I started reading Wizard myself. It's as good as I expected.

UPDATE: Reader Heather Chambers emails:

I loved her entire young wizard series. My son, now 18 yrs old, still enjoys re-reading them. - We are taking him off to UC San Diego this weekend to begin his freshman year. If he doesn't take them with him, I guarentee he will reread each of them over the 1 month Christmas break. (Sleep is somewhat optional at 18). Each of us read at least 5 books a week. I like the fact that the kids accept consequences for their actions and recognize the profound implications for others. Excellent introduction to philosophy and ethics for teens. Congrats on your niece! Terry Pratchett has a Disc World series. Some of them are written for kids and are exceptional as well. Wee Free Men and its sequel Hat Full of Sky - same theme of choosing to fight evil and to protect others without being preachy or syrupy.

I haven't read those, but I'll check them out.

A NEW JERSEY SWITCHEROO:

For pure entertainment value, not much can compete with the blood sport of New Jersey politics. Last week federal investigators launched a probe into whether U.S. Senator Robert Menendez illegally benefited to the tune of more than $300,000 from a rental-income deal he had with a nonprofit agency that received millions of dollars in federal contracts. Even liberal good government groups agree that the relationship may have violated congressional conflict-of-interest rules.

The allegations have sparked a mini-panic among state Democratic operatives, who not so long ago thought Mr. Menendez -- who was appointed by Jon Corzine to complete his Senate term after being elected Governor in 2005 -- had the November election in the bag. Now they see Republican Tom Kean Jr. surging into a lead. If Republicans were to pick up a seat in this deep blue state, Democrats' chances of winning control of the Senate would be all but slammed shut.

That's why, as reported by the Newark Star-Ledger, there's now widespread speculation that the party brass may decide to throw Mr. Menendez overboard and replace him with an alternative -- nine-term Rep. Rob Andrews, perhaps -- who is regarded as more electable. This has become a familiar practice in the Garden State and has become known derisively as the New Jersey Switcheroo. . . .

If this story seems like dйjа vu all over again, it should. This isn't the first time New Jersey Democrats have nominated ethically challenged candidates for high office. Last year Jim McGreevey resigned the governorship after he hired his gay lover as the state's national security director. In 2002, Senator Robert Torricelli was implicated in a bribery and campaign finance scandal, prompting the party oligarchs to throw him off the ballot and handpick Frank Lautenberg as his replacement on the ticket. Never mind that the deadline for ballot changes had passed. Senator Lautenberg kept the Senate seat from falling into Republican hands.

You'd think that the Jersey Democrats might try nominating people who aren't crooks.

AUSTIN BAY looks at oil prices.

SUNDAY IS A GLOBAL DAY FOR DARFUR.

TOP TEN THINGS ABOUT GUANTANAMO: Al Kamen has a column, and you can see the whole list here. Though, weirdly, it's in Word format.

JOSH MANCHESTER HAS THOUGHTS on counterinsurgency and democracy.

TIM BLAIR: "The International Solidarity Movement denied three years ago it had any connection to Tel Aviv suicide bombers. That denial might be a little harder to believe now that ISM activists have been photographed clowning around with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade."

They're not anti-war. They're just on the other side.

NEW FRIENDS:

Mona Nagger reports on an embarrassing letter of solidarity that Gьnter Grass received from 46 Arab intellectuals. "The signatories see in Grass' confession to having been a member of the Waffen SS (more here) a sign of courage that deserves respect and recognition. The critique of Grass is being interpreted as a campaign 'aimed at diverting attention from the Israeli crimes against Palestine and Lebanon.' The Israelis are depicted as 'Neonazis': 'They kill Palestinians and Israelis, destroy their countries, build a dividing wall around them and put them in camps.' The tone recalls quite clearly the language of the Iranian president Ahmadinejad." Nagger's conclusion: "The document says a lot about the sensitivities of many Arab intellectuals. They live in a world of conspiracy theories, far removed form reality; they mistake populist slogans and rhetoric for intellectual discourse and they see no need to take a serious look at the Holocaust and Nazi crimes."

You're welcome to 'em, Gьnter.

COLOR ME UNIMPRESSED -- WITH THE FCC: "The Federal Communications Commission ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study that suggested greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local TV news coverage, a former lawyer at the agency says."

UPDATE: James Ruhland emails: "I for one wonder how anything could make local TV news coverage any worse. I mean, other than new insect overlords."

GOOGLE IS HIRING A BUNCH OF LOBBYISTS: I'd rather they just quit kissing up to China.

BILL FRIST has done great service on the anti-pork cause, but I can't imagine what he's thinking with this: "Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is trying use a bill authorizing U.S. military operations, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, to prohibit people from using credit cards to settle Internet gambling debts."

Internet gambling seems pretty lame to me, but if people want to do something as dumb as that, well, it's their money. I don't think Washington should tell them what to do. And, for that matter, I don't think that this should be attached to a defense bill.

September 14, 2006

babyojiesm.jpgI SAID EARLIER that this was an excellent day, and it just got more excellent with the birth of my new niece, Ojie Lorraine Reynolds. She's 21", 7 lbs 14 ounces, and she wasn't born yesterday -- she was born today! She came a bit earlier than we had expected, so I wasn't able to be there for the birth, but I look forward to meeting her soon.

I WAS HAPPY that Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN) wound up voting for the earmark reform rule today. Like Georgia blogger Jason Pye, I'm unhappy that Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) voted against it. Kingston has reached out to the blogosphere repeatedly, but this vote shows that he hasn't fully imbibed its spirit.

UPDATE: Kingston should have paid attention to Jeff Flake.

GIZMODO has a post, and video, on how to steal an election with a Diebold voting machine.

While I think that most of the "stolen election" claims are a mix of sour grapes and conspiracy theory, I think that we'd be much better off going to a more secure voting method, in order to forestall such corrosive charges. This isn't perfect, as there are other ways to steal an election, but it can't hurt.

UPDATE: Aziz Poonawalla: "My WordPress blogs have better security than this."

A COUPLE OF RIGHT CHICKS SITTING AROUND TALKING: Michelle Malkin and Mary Katharine Ham offer an alternative version of The View.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: THE EARMARK-REFORM RULES CHANGE has passed the House 245-171. This is an excellent day.

Neither this, nor the passage of S. 2590 this week, means that the problem of wasteful -- and often corrupt -- pork has been solved. But it does mean that a much greater dose of transparency has been applied, and I think that's likely to make a very significant difference.

How big a difference, of course, will depend on the extent to which people continue to pay attention.

UPDATE: Here's a list of how they voted. You might want to let your Rep. know how you feel about his/her vote.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The White House has issued a statement from President Bush on the reform:

I applaud the House of Representatives for voting again this week in support of greater transparency and accountability in government. H.R. 1000 would shine a brighter light on earmarks by requiring disclosure of the sponsors of each provision. This reform would help improve the legislative process by making sure both lawmakers and the public are better informed before Congress votes to spend the taxpayers’ money.

I'm told the White House regards this as "a good first step." Indeed.

OVER AT THE CLUB FOR GROWTH BLOG, they're rounding up Congressional statements on the House earmark-reform rule change.

I'VE BEEN CALLING THE TENNESSEE SENATE RACE CLOSE for a while, and Mark Blumenthal and Charles Franklin, writing in Slate, agree.

I JUST GOT AN EMAIL claiming that Harold Ford, Jr. plans to vote against the earmark transparency rules change mentioned below. I just called his office and was told that he hasn't made up his mind yet.

It seems like a no-brainer to me, and he certainly spoke in favor of transparency in the podcast interview we conducted a few months back.

UPDATE: Ed Frank emails: "CQ reporter Liriel Higa just repeated on C-Span that Harold Ford and Dennis Cardoza told her earlier today that they plan to vote against the earmark-reform package."

That's a big disappointment to me, and I suspect it's a big campaign-issue opportunity for Bob Corker.

ANOTHER UPDATE: As it turned out, Ford voted for the rule change. I'm delighted to discover that, as I found it hard to reconcile his enthusiasm for transparency when we spoke with a "no" vote on this measure.

MEGAN MCARDLE AND STUART BUCK have an op-ed in The Examiner on media coverage of the economy:

It often gets dicey for readers when journalists, who are rarely math majors, play with numbers and then publish misleading or mistaken conclusions. It happened Labor Day when the Detroit Free Press published a horrifying map showing huge losses in household income across America. Horrifying and totally wrong, that is.

Read the whole thing.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The earmark reform legislation has passed the House and Senate, but there's also an important House rules change up for a vote today, and House Appropriators are balking because it is likely to undercut their power by making them more accountable.

Tim Chapman has some background on this, and House Majority Leader John Boehner has a post on this stuff, over at RedState.

Meanwhile, I'm told by the folks at Americans for Prosperity that these members of Congress ought to hear from concerned constituents on the subject. You can call (202) 224-3121 and ask for them by name if you're from their district:

Jerry Lewis, CA (R - Chairman)
C. W. Bill Young, FL (R)
Ralph Regula, OH (R)
Harold Rogers, KY (R)
Frank R. Wolf, VA (R)
Jim Kolbe, AZ (R)
James Walsh, NY (R)
Charles H. Taylor, NC (R)
David L. Hobson, OH (R)
Ernest J. Istook, Jr., OK (R)
Henry Bonilla, TX (R)
Joe Knollenberg, MI (R)
Jack Kingston, GA (R)
Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, NJ (R)
Roger F. Wicker, MS (R)
Todd Tiahrt, KS (R)
Zach Wamp, TN (R)
Tom Latham, IA (R)
Anne Northup, KY (R)
Robert Aderholt, AL (R)
Jo Ann Emerson, MO (R)
Kay Granger, TX (R)
John E. Peterson, PA (R)
Virgil Goode, VA (R)
John Doolittle, CA (R)
Ray LaHood, IL (R)
John Sweeney, NY (R)
Don Sherwood, PA (R)
Dave Weldon, FL (R)
Michael K. Simpson, ID (R)
John Abney Culberson, TX (R)
Ander Crenshaw, FL (R)
Dennis R. Rehberg, MT (R)
John Carter, TX (R)
Rodney Alexander, LA (R)

If one of 'em is yours, you might want to let them know how you feel.

UPDATE: Here's more on the various earmark reform efforts. And here are some photos and video from yesterday's anti-pork rally on Capitol Hill.

A MAN-BITES-DOG STORY THAT SHOULD BE A DOG-BITES-MAN STORY: "Amnesty International has announced that in its opinion, Hezbollah is guilty of war crimes. Hezbollah purposefully and indiscriminately targeted Israeli civilians."

JOHN MCCAIN will back the RightRoots campaign.

The Glenn and Helen Show: Bill Frist on PorkBusting, the Bolton Confirmation, and the Joys of the Blogosphere

The House and Senate have passed landmark legislation imposing transparency on earmarks in the appropriations process. The Senate is also looking at the John Bolton confirmation, and legislation aimed at trying terrorists before military tribunals.

We managed to catch up with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist this morning and talk about all of these subjects, Frist's new Blogging for Bolton venture, and the joys of blogging and podcasting.

It's shorter than usual -- less than 20 minutes -- but I think you'll find it interesting.

You can listen directly without downloading by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. Or you can download directly by clicking right here. A lo-fi version for dialup is available here, and you can subscribe via iTunes by clicking here.

Music is by Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere, from their album Heartbreak and Duct Tape.

And here's an editorial on the passage of the earmark-reform legislation.

UPDATE: The nice folks at eScribers sent us another free transcript. You can see it here.

If we can work out a deal, we'll start doing this regularly.

ALAN DOWD: "NATO is learning that Afghanistan is not a peacekeeping mission in Europe."

AMIT VARMA DISCOVERS SOMETHING INTERESTING about the Montreal school shooting.

UPDATE: Gunblogger Tamara from Coal Creek Armory says "I ain't goin' out like that."

Additional background here.

INTERESTING, how things often look different from a different perspective:

At the imposition of the UN Security Council cease-fire resolution, the West almost unanimously considered the war in Lebanon a disaster for Israel. Most analysts insisted that Israel's failure to destroy Hezbollah amounted to a humiliation and worried about the energizing Seffect Hassan Nasrallah's victory would have on radical Islam's popularity in the region. These analysts would be surprised to learn that Arabs increasingly view Hezbollah's war as a disaster as well -- but a disaster for Arabs. . . .Western commentators and no shortage of Israeli pundits pointed to Nasrallah's claims to have prevailed as a devastating propaganda offensive that would make Israel and the West look weaker than ever. Arabs have taken a more realistic view of the war's results, including the fact that Nasrallah has to make those claims from undisclosed locations to this day.

Some of us had noted the problem with the whole undisclosed-location thing ourselves. Of course, there's no reason why it can't be bad for both. But there's a good point about Western journalists being rather credulous with regard to Hezbollah's propaganda.

AIR AMERICA: The strong, silent type. "One might have thought that the same tsunami of voter anger that is going to sweep away the Republican Party and all its works this fall might have prompted a few people to tune in."

NIDRA POLLER REPORTS on the Al Dura trial in France.

September 13, 2006

BILL FRIST LAUNCHES BloggingforBolton.com, a site designed to get John Bolton confirmed.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The earmark reform legislation has passed the House (identical legislation was already passed in the Senate) so it's now heading to the President's desk. Here's an email from the Majority Whip's office:

WASHINGTON---Legislation championed by House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) to increase budget accountability and transparency by establishing a public database to track federal grants and contracts passed the House tonight by voice vote. . . .

The federal government awards approximately $300 billion in grants to roughly 30,000 different organizations annually. Each year, roughly one million contracts exceed the $25,000 reporting threshold. The Blunt-Davis bill will ensure that those expenditures are readily accessible to the media, the public, and Members of Congress.


The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act will:

Eliminate Wasteful Spending by empowering everyone with access to the internet to begin reviewing federal grants and other forms of taxpayer assistance for waste, fraud, and abuse;

Ensure Compliance with Federal Law by requiring grantees to also disclose their subgrantees, and

Ensure Compliance with Lobbying Restrictions by identifying entities receiving federal grants that would be subject to lobbying restrictions in existing law.

With House passage of S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, and the enrollment correction containing the House-Senate compromise agreement, the final bill will now go to the president for his signature.

It's not the end of the fight against pork, but it's certainly a very significant step. Congratulations to everyone involved!

A TRANSCRIPTION FIRM sent us a transcript of our Bob Corker podcast as a "free sample." I've added it to the original post, if anyone's interested.

If this is the sort of thing you'd like to see on a regular basis, let me know.

WHAT'S IN A NAME? Pajamas Media is looking for a name to describe voters who don't fall into conservative / liberal pigeonholes. There's a contest, and a cool prize. Details here.

MONTREAL SCHOOL SHOOTING: Sari Stein was in the area and has been live-blogging. "It seems from the initial reports that the today's episode bears more resemblance to the Columbine shootings and to the subsequent and oft-forgotten shooting at a high school in Taber, Alberta than to the previous Montreal shootings, but that probably won't stop anyone from drawing parallels and from suggesting that school shootings are something of an epidemic here in Montreal, despite the rarity of these episodes." And there's a big blog roundup here, too.

KEEP YOUR GRUBBY MITTS OFF MY HARD DRIVE: My TCS Daily column is up.

SONG OF MYSELF: Patterico looks at sock-puppetry.

JIM MEIGS AND DAVID DUNBAR OF POPULAR MECHANICS appeared on PBS to debate the Loose Change folks regarding 9/11 conspiracy theories.

You can see the video here.

ANDREW STUTTAFORD: Buy Afghan opium.

MICKEY KAUS looks at Republicans on the march to stop Bush.

LT SMASH visits with Code Pink and reports that they don't really like soldiers that much.

September 12, 2006

DID SYRIA FAKE THE DAMASCUS EMBASSY ATTACK? Regardless, why are we putting up with these bozos?

BRAD SMITH TO RUSS FEINGOLD: Yes, you're censoring political speech. Somebody send a copy to John McCain, too.

IS NORTH KOREA NEAR COLLAPSE? "North Korea's potential for anarchy vastly exceeds that of Iraq's. Iraq is not going to suffer a general breakdown of its urban economy—sending millions into the surrounding country-side to live and die as hunter-gatherers. But North Korea has somehow survived at the edge of that nightmare scenario for nearly two decades. And it has nukes."

UPDATE: Skepticism, and further information, here. Also here.

LICENSE TO KILL: A look at military contractors in Iraq and elsewhere. Plus, robots in the operating room.

TAEGAN GODDARD notices the Tennessee Senate race, which at a statistical dead heat is closer than you'd think from the small amount of attention it's gotten.

I'm on the road, by the way, and will be blogging and responding to email at a slower than usual pace.

UPDATE: Here's more polling on the race from RealClearPolitics. Ford is ahead by 3 in the latest poll, the first time he's outpolled Corker by any margin.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The NRA has endorsed Corker. SayUncle is a bit hard on Corker's second amendment statements -- he was taken by surprise when we asked him about nationwide concealed carry, but I'm not shocked that he wasn't ready for that question, and he was positive, though a bit tentative, in his support for it.

BRADFORD PLUMER DEFENDS PORK: "Without pork, activist government would wither and die."

Color me unpersuaded, on a number of levels. . . .

UPDATE: Capt. Ed observes: "Plumer's argument amounts to an admission that the kind of big-government, intrusive spending that will come from perennial policy stands of progressives has no chance of succeeding through democratic means. The only way in which single-payer health care and greater federal protections for unions can ever pass is to have a built-in bribery mechanism to sway enough votes . . . I agree with him on that point, and it demonstrates the corrosive nature of pork better than anything I've previously written."

JIM MEIGS ON 9/11: "In every single case, we found that the very facts used by conspiracy theorists to support their fantasies are mistaken, misunderstood or deliberately falsified."

More here.

RYAN SAGER LAUNCHES The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians and the Battle to Control the Republican Party, with an impressive array of blurbs. (Blurbers?)

You can read the first chapter for free here.

The Glenn and Helen Show: Tennessee Senate Candidate Bob Corker

corker.jpg
With Senator Bill Frist retiring and leaving his seat open, Tennessee is one of the handful of states where Democrats have a chance of picking up a Senate seat this fall, making it crucial to Democratic efforts to recapture the Senate. (According to recent polls, it's very close). Earlier this year we interviewed the Democratic candidate, Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., of Memphis.

Now we've got the other side of the story, with Republican candidate Bob Corker. Corker answers questions on Iraq, the war on terror, the Second Amendment, immigration, and more. Plus, questions about earmarks and pork!

You can listen directly -- no download needed -- by clicking right here and then clicking on the gray Flash player. Or you can download the file directly by clicking right here. A lo-fi version for dialup, etc., is available right here, and you can subscribe via iTunes here.

A complete archive of show episodes is available at GlennandHelenShow.com. And as usual, my lovely and talented cohost (and producer) is taking comments and suggestions.

Music is by The Opposable Thumbs.

UPDATE: A transcript of this interview is now available. Click "read more" to see it.

Read More ?


AVOIDING WORLDWIDE CATASTROPHE: James Lovelock thinks that nuclear power is vital. "We live in a nuclear-powered universe. We’re the oddballs by getting energy from burning carbon."

STEPHEN GREEN says I'm underestimating the Islamist threat. I don't know -- I'm just tired of all the bloggers going on about how we're doomed. We're not. See the comment by Major John.

UPDATE: James Joyner joins the discussion.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More from Dadmanly.

BUSH, SADDAM, AND 9/11: William Sjostrom asks, "Is the Guardian really this incompetent, that neither its reporter nor its editors pay attention to their own stories, or is something else going on?"

MORE ON AFGHANISTAN, from Michael Yon.

And Bill Crawford reports on events in Iraq.

UPDATE: StrategyPage has more on Iraq and Afghanistan, too.

MORE: Greg Pellowitz wants to pay Afghan farmers to raise ethanol crops.

IT'S A WIDESPREAD MYTH that the Bush Administration "squandered the world's goodwill" after 9/11. Anne Applebaum reminds us that it wasn't that way:

Certainly it's true that, five years ago, Tony Blair spoke of standing "shoulder to shoulder" with America, that Iain Duncan Smith (remember him?) echoed him, and that Jacques Chirac was on his way to Washington to say the same.

But it's also true that this initial wave of goodwill hardly outlasted the news cycle. Within a couple of days a Guardian columnist wrote of the "unabashed national egotism and arrogance that drives anti-Americanism among swaths of the world's population". A Daily Mail columnist denounced the "self-sought imperial role" of the United States, which he said had "made it enemies of every sort across the globe".

That week's edition of Question Time featured a sustained attack on Phil Lader, the former US ambassador to Britain – and a man who had lost colleagues in the World Trade Centre – who seemed near to tears as he was asked questions about the "millions and millions of people around the world despising the American nation". At least some Britons, like many other Europeans, were already secretly or openly pleased by the 9/11 attacks.

And all of this was before Afghanistan, before Tony Blair was tainted by his friendship with George Bush, and before anyone knew the word "neo-con", let alone felt the need to claim not to be one.

The dislike of America, the hatred for what it was believed to stand for – capitalism, globalisation, militarism, Zionism, Hollywood or McDonald's, depending on your point of view – was well entrenched. To put it differently, the scorn now widely felt in Britain and across Europe for America's "war on terrorism" actually preceded the "war on terrorism" itself. It was already there on September 12 and 13, right out in the open for everyone to see.

Yes, anti-Americanism has been around for decades, and it was quite prevalent on September 10, actually.

MARIO LOYOLA: "Conservatives these days are dejected that the president's rhetoric appears less-than-reinforced by the decisions and actions of the national -security establishment. But viewed from Tehran, Washington has continued to raise the stakes—and quite skillfully united the international community—against Iran's nuclear program. Nearly 60% of the public in France would approve the use of force before allowing Iran to have nuclear weapons."

THE CONSERVATIVE ARGUMENT for life extension.

MILKING THE DRY COW: A look at post-Berlusconi politics in Italy.

A FOILED ATTACK on the U.S. Embassy in Damascus: Omri Ceren has a roundup.

MARTIN PERETZ ON THE PLAME FIZZLE:

No one is interested in the case of the "outed spook" and her "outer" any longer. And that is because we now know who exposed the lady to Robert Novak, and he isn't and never was part of the Cheney White House. He was part of the anti-Cheney State Department, liberal heroes, sort of. That man is Richard Armitage, latterly deputy secretary of state and multi-lateralist par excellence. He has now expressed his soulful contrition for the leak. One thing everybody in Washington knows about Armitage is that he doesn't take another kind of a leak without asking Colin Powell first. So there is now added to this weird case the question of what were Armitage's--and Powell's--motives in this exposure. And they should also be asking about Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Powell's chief of staff at State, and his possible role in this affair. None of these men were especially taken with the Bush administration's war in Iraq. So they are, so to speak, off the hook with the anti-war folk with regard to the leak. The fact is that neither Armitage nor his associates ever told the president who was responsible for the leak. If I were George W. Bush, I'd be ripshit. And, since Armitage two weeks ago unambiguously admitted to being the culprit, should he not now face charges?

I doubt he will be, though. It serves no one's political agenda.

September 11, 2006

I DIDN'T SEE BUSH'S SPEECH TONIGHT -- busy putting together a podcast -- but the text, and video, are here.

ansari.JPGBIN LADEN WOULDN'T LIKE THIS: The first female Muslim in space. And she paid her own way.

PLAYING Ostrich.

WHY THEY HATE US -- INDEED: "Miracles in science and technology, astonishing advances in communication, the empowerment of millions to experience freedom of thought independently of big corporations, governments or expensive printing presses: these achievements of free people have expanded the possibilities of human freedom still further. The attack on the West by Islamism was not a function of the West's weakness, but a nihilistic, embittered swipe at a success that cast the dreary failure of so much of the Muslim Middle East into a shaming shade. It turned out our flaw was not our softness, but our strength."

Yes. To read some blogs today, you'd think that this was the 9th century, with camel-riding Jihadis ready to descend on helpless American towns, swinging unstoppable scimitars. It's not that way; it's more like the Ghost Dance or similar movements borne of frustration at losing, movements that do their damage all right, but that are doomed to fail. I don't mean to understate the threat, which is real enough. But it's not on the order of the Cold War, you know, and we won that one.

BILL ROGGIO:

On the day of the fifth anniversary of the 9-11 attack, Coalition forces score a high value target in Afghanistan. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the commander of Hezb-i-Islami and ally of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, has been captured during a joint U.S. and Afghan Army raid in “eastern Afghanistan.” Hekmatyar, contrary to his rhetoric gave up to the Coalition forces without a fight. Hekmatyar's arrest is said to be part of an 'ongoing operation.'

Hekmatyar has been designated by the U.S. Department of State as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist“ and “has participated in and supported terrorist acts committed by al-Qa’ida and the Taliban.”

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Maj. John Tammes emails:

I cannot tell you how delighted I am to hear that S.O.B. Hekmatyar Gulbuddin has been caught. His bunch, the HIG or Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin (The Party of Islam, Gulbuddin faction) was a royal pain in our butt, up in the Northeastern part of Afghanistan.

I know everyone at Bagram AF will be happy about it - that guy's bunch shot a whole bunch of 107mm rockets into the base. He also had issued threats to civilian authorities working with the Coalition. My very brave friend, the District Attorney of Bagram District, Kabir Ahmad, was one of them.

This is a very good day for Afghanistan.

I hope they keep up the good work, in this "ongoing operation."

ORIN KERR:

During the week following the September 11 attacks, most major newspapers ran stories on the very plausible prospect that 9/11 could lead to a radical overhaul of civil liberties in the United States. The articles included sober discussions by law professors of whether we would have internment camps for Muslims, citing the camps for Japanese during World War II, or whether there would be a suspension of habeas corpus, citing the precedent of the Civil War. Fortunately for all of us, this didn't happen. While there were some aggressive law enforcement steps taken, particularly with regard to immigration offenses, for the most part the changes in existing statutory and constitutional law have been minor. . . .

Where does that leave us? To me it suggests that the impact of 9/11 on the law is still largely an open question, but that as a general matter the impact has been notably less significant than most of us would have predicted on the afternoon of 9/11. Maybe this will change in the future: Senator Specter's NSA bill is still pending, and a few Supreme Court vacancies might alter the picture. But on the five-year anniversary of 9/11, I'm struck more by how little the law has changed than by how much.

I think that's right. It's certainly true that the civil-liberties violations I feared in the fall of 2001 have not come to pass. It's also true that, critical as I have been, and remain, of Homeland Security efforts we have gone five years without a major attack, which is something I certainly didn't expect. There seems to be a fair amount of gloom around the blogosphere today,which is appropriate on an anniversary like this one, I suppose, but those seem like two very bright spots.

INSTAPUNK HAS THOUGHTS on responsibility and the war on terror.

Read 'em.

A LOOK AT WIKIPEDIA and blended puppies.

WALES VS. THE COMMISSARS: "The founder of Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia written by its users, has defied the Chinese government by refusing to bow to censorship of politically sensitive entries. Jimmy Wales, one of the 100 most influential people in the world according to Time magazine, challenged other internet companies, including Google, to justify their claim that they could do more good than harm by co-operating with Beijing."

STRATEGYPAGE looks at how things have gone since 9/11.

LOTS OF 9/11 VIDEO AND PHOTOS at Brendan Loy's.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON is now blogging at Pajamas Media.

KHATAMI GOT SERVED WITH A SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT while attending a CAIR function.

CHICAGO'S MAYOR DALEY has vetoed the city's "Big Box ordinance."

JAMES JOYNER ROUNDS UP thoughts from the left on the 9/11 anniversary.

THE CIA REPORTS SUCCESS:

More than 5,000 terrorists have been captured or killed in the five years since the 9/ll attacks, CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden said today.

Hayden's remarks were made in a videotape statement distributed to CIA employees around the world.

Hayden called the 9/ll attacks "an unforgettable blow" from a "plot we had not been able to prevent."

Since then, he said, "Al-Qa'ida's core operational leadership has been decimated, and their successors are in hiding or on the run."

They were regarded as highly credible during the Plame affair, but presumably their fans there won't be as accepting of this news.

IN THE MAIL: Andrew Greeley and Michael Hout's The Truth about Conservative Christians: What They Think and What They Believe. Emphasis, I think, on the "they."

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The (subscription-only) BNA Daily Report for Executives reports on the passage of S.2509:

The House is expected to tweak the Senate bill's language to reflect the compromise language during consideration in the Sept. 11 week and then send the measure back to the Senate for final passage the next week, aides said.

If the measure makes it to President Bush's desk, it would mark one of the few concrete results of efforts in 2006 to overhaul legislative earmarks and reform lobbying rules. Legislation to curb earmarks has been stalled after gaining momentum in the wake of revelations about lobbyist Jack Abramoff that lead to a scandal, including criminal prosecutions, early in the year (172 DER A-21, 09/6/06 a0b3f6t1q3). With Democratic criticism of budget deficits mounting, passing the database bill could also give Republicans a politically useful accomplishment on the fiscal front as well.

But the bill's supporters on Sept. 7 and Sept. 8 gave much of the credit to outside groups and especially Internet bloggers instead of to their fellow lawmakers. After being hung up for weeks in the Senate under a procedural block known as a "hold," the bill was dislodged and the holds removed after Web sites and bloggers from across the ideological spectrum sought to identify who was blocking the bill.

On Sept. 7, after Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) had removed one hold, another one, from an undisclosed Democrat, remained. But the hold was lifted early in the evening, and its author never publicly identified. Hart said Coburn staffers did not know the hold had been lifted and the bill had been passed until they got home that evening.

"The group that deserves credit for passing this bill, however, is not Congress, but the army of bloggers and concerned citizens who told Congress that transparency is a just demand for all citizens, not a special privilege for political insiders. Their remarkable effort demonstrates that our system of government does work when the people take the reins of government and demand change," Coburn said in a statement Sept. 8.

Adam Hughes, director of federal fiscal policy with OMB Watch, said the hunt for senators with holds against the bill--which are not currently required by Senate rules to be publicly identified--showed how veteran Washington advocacy groups and the new world of Web bloggers can coordinate their efforts. The site porkbusters.org asked its readers to ask each senator's office if their senator had blocked the Coburn-Obama bill.

"I do think it says a lot about a new system for the way public advocacy will work," Hughes said.

"The bloggers mobilized the Senate. No one in the Senate mobilized the bloggers," Hart said.

Let's hope we manage some more mobilizing along these lines.

ROY HERRON EMAILS to tell me about his new site, FaithfulDemocrats.com.

THERE'S A HUGE AND ONGOING 9/11 ANNIVERSARY ROUNDUP over at Pajamas Media. Just keep scrolling.

And if you were offline this weekend, don't miss this video by Richard Miniter and Andrew Marcus on Khatami at the National Cathedral.

LOOKING BACK TO September 11, 1565.

JONAH GOLDBERG: "While I don't subscribe to so-called ass-brained theories that Bin Laden never existed, I am coming around to the view that he's dead as Michael Ledeen has suggested. I mean why wouldn't Bin Laden issue a video for the five year anniversary of 9/11?"

BLOGOSPHERE LEGEND STEVEN DEN BESTE writes on the disunited states of America.

MARK STEYN, JAMES LILEKS, JUDITH KLINGHOFFER, FRANK GAFFNEY, and more: A 9/11 symposium.

Plus, a huge 9/11 roundup at Wizbangblog, and another from LaShawn Barber.

UPDATE: Eric Muller, and his readers, look at what stands out about 9/11.

WIRED NEWS says that 9/11 was the birth of the blog.

That's right, in a way. I was happily blogging before 9/11 and would rather things had continued in that vein. But this post from that morning was in some senses the first true InstaPundit post. It's help up pretty well over time, which is a mixed thing. . . .

THANKS TO THE MIRACLE OF THE INTERNATIONAL DATELINE, reader Deanna Heaven has seen the rest of "The Path to 9/11:"

Part 2 just finished here in New Zealand. It was harder than I realized it would be to watch the portrayal of the attacks. Frankly, the last 20 minutes dwarfed all of the rest of it, underscoring, I suppose, your point that what happened afterwards is what’s important. I actually felt less inclined to indulge in recriminations having just watched plane number 2 smash through the tower again. On the politics though – Condi does not look good, but as a consequence of cluelessness rather than being a jerk. On the other hand, there are some scenes with Albright and Ambassador Bodine (in Yemen where the Cole was attacked) which I hope are true because if they are not, would be really unfair. (At one point Bodine chastises a female FBI employee for wearing clothing inappropriate for a Muslim country, and then proceeds to roughly pull at said clothing.)

I think the overall effect of the movie, however, absent the left-wing frothing, would have been to concentrate the mind on the nature of the threat and what they are capable of. Secondarily, it should have been seen as a critique of the bureaucracy, in general.

Yes, watching it last night I was repeatedly reminded of Keith Laumer's Retief novels. Ambassador Grossblunder, alas, has soulmates in both parties -- which is why I think it was a big mistake for the Democrats to make such a stink.

UPDATE: Dean Barnett is crying foul:

As a historical document, its rampant inaccuracies both bothered and distracted me. Osama bin Laden did not fund Ramsi Yousef. Al Qaeda did not control the Taliban. The film’s implication that the Taliban was bin Laden’s puppet is absurd. Al Qaeda was not awash in riches; the organization was chronically impoverished. In other words, it really disturbed me how the film magnified and exaggerated the capabilities, reach and power of Al Qaeda.

Okay, now a word on THE SCENE, the one where the Northern Alliance and a few intrepid CIA men were ready to snatch or kill bin Laden only to have gutless Washington bureaucrats thwart their efforts. Nothing like it ever happened.

Actually, I believe that Al Qaeda pretty much did control the Taliban, at least with regard to stuff that Al Qaeda cared about. As for THE SCENE, I had never heard this story before the film, and have no reason to doubt Barnett's characterization.

MORE: Further thoughts on the film, and especially on George Tenet's problems, from Blue Crab Boulevard.

MICHAEL LEDEEN ON 9/11: "I am still angry."

Ed Cone is still sad.

Kenneth Anderson, meanwhile, notes how 9/11 has affected his daughter.

September 10, 2006

MESSAGE: EVERYTHING SUCKS! The teaser for my local news was "Concern over falling oil prices -- what this could mean for you!"

Uh, cheaper gas? Yeah, I'm really concerned.

HERE'S MORE on the Khatami protests at Harvard.

And here's a report from the Boston Herald.

UPDATE: Miss Kelly has still more on the Harvard protests.

More here.

I'M WATCHING "THE PATH TO 9/11" NOW: Ed Driscoll offers an interesting quote from a 2001 New Yorker article:

Soon after Freeh received these reports, he went to Berger's West Wing office to tell him that they might finally have the evidence necessary to bring indictments. Freeh told Berger that he was looking into whether the United States could take testimony in Saudi Arabia for a grand jury in the States; it was a novel legal concept, and the Saudis had not yet agreed to it. Almost before Freeh could finish, Berger demanded, "Who else knows about this?" Did the press know? This was the last question that Freeh expected from a national-security adviser. Not many people knew, Freeh replied. The information was very closely held. Berger also questioned some of the statements linking the bombing to the Iranian government.

"That's just hearsay," Berger said.

"No, Sandy," Freeh replied. "It's testimony of a co-conspirator in furtherance of a conspiracy." Berger, Freeh later thought, was not a national-security adviser; he was a public-relations hack, interested in how something would play in the press. After more than two years, Freeh had concluded that the Administration did not really want to resolve the Khobar bombing.

When I asked Berger about this, he seemed baffled by Freeh's interpretation.

After the pants incident, its hard for me to respect Berger, and easy for me to see him as overly concerned with how things will play in the press. Read the whole thing and form your own opinions.

UPDATE: Austin Bay is watching it too: "I see why Clinton is afraid of it. The movie serves as a reminder of all of the terrorist attacks and attempted attacks. Clinton went eight years and Bush eight months playing cops and robbers while Al Qaeda was implementing unrestricted warfare."

Yes, the Democrats have shown their usual instinct for the capillary. While worrying about minor bits, they've missed that the real harm is simply the reminder of the terrorist threat, which they've tried to downplay, but which they've magnified in people's minds by making a stink. Going on the offensive like this just reminds people that they've been downplaying it for over a decade.

If they'd kept their mouths shut, this would be about the terrorists, which would be bad enough. Now it's about the terrorists and the Democrats.

MORE: Best line so far: "War is about killing the enemy and destroying his property. It's not about sitting around in a conference room and covering your own asses." From 1998.

Clinton looks very bad. So does Sandy Berger.

Massoud: "Are there any men left in Washington, or are they all cowards?"

Madeleine Albright looks pretty bad, too, on the question of informing the Pakistanis that we were trying to kill bin Laden in time for him to get away. Easy to see why she's unhappy. Is that bit true? I'm not sure.

Tenet looks like an ass-coverer. So, so far, I'd say it's pretty accurate . . . .

Upside for Clinton: Osama's jihadis emptying pistols into a TV screen showing him, and shouting "Clinton is Satan!"

FINALLY: I'll try to roundup critiques tomorrow. But I think it was a big mistake for Democrats to draw attention to this film by attacking it and trying to block its broadcast. I wouldn't have watched it without the hype, and I'll be that's true for a lot of people.

Meanwhile, Richard Clarke seems to be ass-covering in the after-show news segment. But George Tenet is getting hammered.

And Hot Air has a side-by-side comparison of edited and unedited scenes.

C.J. Burch emails:

I didn't watch it, but let me make a bet with you. Over the next couple of weeks the networks will do so many stories "debunking" the show that I'll feel like I have to see it just to get a fair look at all the facts. And I won't be the only one. Look for this to be a huge seller on DVD for just that reason. Oh, and Sandy Berger will be on television alot over the next couple of weeks as well which will lead to booming business for the blogs willing to take another look at his pants stuffing incident. Becuase the networks sure won't. The Democrats have a huge problem here. The problem is that people are beginning to wonder what the hell they're hiding. With the AP thing and the Rueters photos thing and the Rathergate thing and the Eason Jordan thing and the Censorship for access thing and the staged photos thing the networks have the same problem. Look for some surprises come November.

You think?

ANTI-KHATAMI PROTESTS AT HARVARD: Robert Mayer has photos and video. "From the beginning, I noticed that there were two sides to this protest. The first is outrage that Khatami is in the United States and speaking about tolerance and a dialogue of civilizations when there is no dialogue of any kind within his own civilization. The other is that Harvard is giving him the venue to do so." The turnout seems to have been rather large.

Teresa Hummel has a report with more photos, too.

AMAZON'S NEW UNBOX VIDEO SERVICE gets a bad review on Slashdot. I haven't tried it myself, but services loaded with restrictions and spyware aren't going to fly. That's the Sony lesson, and others need to catch on.

WHAT HE SAID THEN:

MR. ROCKEFELLER: Mr. President, we are here today to debate one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my 18 years in the Senate. There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein is a despicable dictator, a war criminal, a regional menace, and a real and growing threat to the United States. The difficulty of this decision is that while Saddam Hussein represents a threat, each of the options for dealing with him poses serious risks, to America’s servicemembers, to our citizens, and to our role in the world. . . .

As the attacks of September 11 demonstrated, the immense destructiveness of modern technology means we can no longer afford to wait around for a smoking gun. September 11 demonstrated that the fact that an attack on our homeland has not yet occurred cannot give us any false sense of security that one will not occur in the future. We no longer have that luxury.

September 11 changed America. It made us realize we must deal differently with the very real threat of terrorism, whether it comes from shadowy groups operating in the mountains of Afghanistan or in 70 other countries around the world, including our own.

There has been some debate over how "imminent" a threat Iraq poses. I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11, that question is increasingly outdated. It is in the nature of these weapons, and the way they are targeted against civilian populations, that documented capability and demonstrated intent may be the only warning we get. To insist on further evidence could put some of our fellow Americans at risk. Can we afford to take that chance? We cannot!

For some, the change brought about by September 11 was short-lived.

UPDATE: It's the return of unfrozen caveman Senator!

DAILYPUNDIT'S WEEKEND COOKING THREAD IS UP, and I agree with this offhand remark: "There should also be a little nook in Hell reserved for the son of a bitch who invented those little stickers that get put on fruit and vegetables."

SO I WENT TO THE SHOOTING RANGE but had to come home. It was too crowded, and I didn't have time for the hour-plus wait. Business has been better since Guncraft Sports became Coal Creek Armory (slogan: "Automatics for the People") but I was still surprised.

The explanation: "Tomorrow is September 11th." Come to think of it, that's how I observed the anniversary last year.

WOMEN NOT TO MESS WITH: This cluebat is actually even scarier than this one. I mean, that's harsh.

UPDATE: Starting up a chapter of "Women Against Violence Against Men"?

TIGERHAWK: "The Left is virtually begging people to see 'Path to 9/11'."

I agree. I agree with this part, too: "This strikes me as an extremely unwise strategy on a number of levels."

WHEN TINFOIL HATS ATTACK: Another positive review for the Popular Mechanics book, Debunking 9/11 Myths.

Judging from the Amazon reviews, though, the tinfoil crowd hasn't given up. Oh well, who am I to complain?

A HARVARD protest against Khatami tonight. If you go, email me some pics!

CAIR'S CONGRESSMAN: Doing what the Star Tribune apparently can't, Joel Mowbray reports on Minnesota Congressional candidate Keith Ellison here and here.

TECHNOBABBLE: That's me!

SADDAM HUSSEIN'S mole in the Associated Press.

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll: "After Eason Jordan's 'The News We Kept To Ourselves' admission, and Reuters' cozy relationship with assorted freedom fighters terrorists, I'm not at all surprised."

READER DEANNA HEAVEN emails that she just watched The Path to 9/11 in New Zealand:

Seeing all the attacks of the 90s laid out and dramatized (with a couple of screwed-up attempts to get Bin Laden thrown in) was kind of shocking, even for someone who is already familiar with the facts. I understand why the Clinton people do not want this to air. About the two disputed scenes: Berger does not slam down the phone but he comes of very very badly anyway. The scene with Albright doesn’t look to have changed at all (from descriptions I heard earlier). I tend to share Lileks’ (and your) view about pre-9/11 actions getting a pass, but I must say, seeing one incompetent act after another does make me angry with the Clinton Administration. I imagine it might have the same effect on other viewers.

It is not the most exciting or well paced film, but it is nonetheless completely riveting. Watch it.

Well, we certainly could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble if we'd acted more vigorously in the 1990s. But hindsight is always 20/20.

UPDATE: Best take yet: " It's too late to decide to attack Bin Laden, so let's attack this TV show." Don't miss the "prurient right-wing video."

And Howard Mortman reminds us of this review by Richard Posner on the 9/11 Commission report.

MORE: I agree with this comment: "This firestorm is a lose-lose for Dems. Any rational voter can compare the Bush reaction to Farenheit 911 and the current Clinton reaction, and draw appriopriate conclusions."

More on the film and the controversy, including another viewer report from Down Under, here.

CORY MAYE UPDATE: Radley Balko has been pursuing this story indefatigably, and he's now identified the informant whose call led to the wrong-house no-knock raid:

After the guy realized the investigator was working for the defense team, he clammed up. When Bob Evans -- Cory Maye's lead attorney -- called to tell him that if he didn't talk, they'd compell his testimony with a subpeona, the informant flipped out. He called Evans, and left a rant on Evans' answering machine that, when Evans played it for me the other night, blew my mind. It's a 45-second clip of absolute fury, brimming with f-bombs, anger, hate, and -- by my count -- at least four utterances of the word "nigger."

This is the "trustworthy" informant whose tip led to the raid on Cory Maye's home. An unabashed bigot. Makes you wonder how many other black people have been raided, arrested, and imprisoned based on this guy's tips.

Jeez. You have to have informants for some law enforcement tasks, of course, but the peculiar dynamics of the Drug War lead to much more reliance on these usually unsavory types, and drastically higher risks of tragic outcomes when, as here, they're paired with no-knock raids on what turns out to be the wrong house.

Another reason, among many, for getting rid of the Drug War, of course.

MARTIN AMIS on The Age of Horrorism:

I will spell this out, because it has not been broadly assimilated. The most extreme Islamists want to kill everyone on earth except the most extreme Islamists; but every jihadi sees the need for eliminating all non-Muslims, either by conversion or by execution. And we now know what happens when Islamism gets its hands on an army (Algeria) or on something resembling a nation state (Sudan). In the first case, the result was fratricide, with 100,000 dead; in the second, following the Islamist coup in 1989, the result has been a kind of rolling genocide, and the figure is perhaps two million. And it all goes back to Greeley, Colorado, and to Sayyid Qutb.

Things started to go wrong for poor Sayyid during the Atlantic crossing from Alexandria, when, allegedly, 'a drunken, semi-naked woman' tried to storm his cabin.

Read the whole thing. (Via Amit Varma, who has some further thoughts.)