September 23, 2006

SOME PERSPECTIVE on the press and Hugo Chavez.

TRYING TO SAVE THE TRIPOLI SIX, who are being scapegoated for lousy Libyan infectious-disease policies. Darksyde emails: "Background-- the Libyan was going to shoot some volunteer workers who helped out in a Children's hospital. They're accused of infecting kids with AIDS. In fact, it's common in third world shitholes to reuse the syringes, and infections thus are easily transmitted. We have infectious disease profs and researchers who can back that up with plenty of documentation."

Yes, syringe reuse is common, and disastrous. So is scapegoating.

OUCH: "He’s just another talk-radio host, really — only this time by way of Yale and Mensa."

Plus, an amusing account of the origins of "Laphamization:"

There’s one column that’s conspicuously absent from this collection, and that’s the one from September 2004, which included a brief account of the Republican National Convention. Lapham wrote it as if the convention had already happened, ruefully reflecting on the content and sharing with readers a question that occurred to him as he listened; unfortunately, the magazine arrived on subscribers’ doorsteps before the convention had even taken place, forcing Lapham to admit that the scene was a fiction. He apologized, but pointed out that political conventions are drearily scripted anyway — he basically knew what was going to be said. By this logic, though, I could have chosen not to read “Pretensions to Empire” before reviewing it, since I already knew Lapham’s sensibility, just as he claims to know the Republicans’. But I dutifully read the whole book. And I discovered, with some ironic poignancy, that Lapham did have a point: some people never acquire any more nuance as they go.

Ouch, again.

UPDATE: More on Lapham here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Further thoughts on Lapham from Roger Kimball.

SENSITIVITY: "Bill Clinton has been injecting himself into the news a lot lately, and it inevitably gives his critics a new opportunity to go through the case against him. . . . He wants to be the mellow, above-the-fray ex-president, but he really can't control the presentation. And now that he's shown how raw and angry he is about the criticisms, it's not going to get any easier."

Count me as one of those bored with Clinton criticism -- but surprised that he's restarting it now. So is Tom Maguire, who wonders why Clinton is saying and doing things that ensure that the runup to the 2006 elections will be filled with unflattering looks at the Clinton Administration's antiterror policies.

Tom Harkin isn't helping the Democrats either. I blame Karl Rove's mind-control rays. Democrats: Protect yourselves before it's too late!

UPDATE: More thoughts here. And a related post, here. Those Rovian mind-control rays are powerful stuff!

EDIROL FOLLOWUP: In response to my post the other day, Dale Wetzel emails:

Have you ever used an external microphone with the Edirol? If so, what type, and why did you choose it?

Have you ever used an external microphone with the Olympus besides the stereo mic that you bought with it?

I’m interested in knowing if you’ve ever tried a handheld mic (omni or unidirectional) with either recorder, and if so, what you thought of the results.

I haven't used external mikes other than the above, but I just ordered this one last week. I'll report on its performance when it comes.


HOW MANY EMBEDDED REPORTERS are covering the Iraq war? Take a wild guess.

REPORTS THAT OSAMA BIN LADEN IS DEAD: Gateway Pundit has a roundup. Dying of typhoid in a cave doesn't sound very heroic.

September 22, 2006

THE LATEST ON GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY got covered on CNN tonight. Here's the YouTube video.

SEEING THROUGH CHAVEZ, at The Huffington Post: "What galls even more is how hopelessly naive, and reductive, those of us are who suggest that being the victim of American imperialism somehow exempts one from being corrupt and imperialistic. . . . And, those of us who are ingenuous enough to think that one who is the victim of an imperialism will notthemselves, under the right set of cirumstances, become imperialists have allowed their preoccupation with nationalism, third world or otherwise, to obscure their understanding of human nature." If Chavez can get the HuffPo crowd to stumble (part way) toward reality, he may have a future as an educator. . . .

SPEAKING BACK to Islamists. "Europe, she thinks, is invertebrate."

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: These guys just don't give up, do they:

Over at my site earlier this week, I reported that Trent "Damn Tired of Porkbusters" Lott was holding up a bill to force Senate candidates to file campaign finance reports electronically (S. 1508). It appears he's still doing it, and doesn't want to tell anyone when he might quit quit bucking and braying and move the d*mn bill. Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn he is.

So is Mitch McConnell. Unlike some, I've got no problem with McConnell's opposition to McCain-Feingold. But his opposition to legislation that merely promotes transparency about donations undercuts any free-speech resonance that his opposition to the dumb McCain-Feingold bill might have.

UPDATE: McConnell's office says that, despite reports to the contrary, he does not have a hold on the campaign-finance transparency bill and has no objections to its coming to the floor.

ME, MARK STEYN, AND AUSTIN BAY on this week's Pajamas Media Blog Week in Review podcast.

It's now sponsored by Volvo, as is the Glenn and Helen Show.

A PACK, NOT A HERD: "In U.S. Capitol Police's first confirmation of the events surrounding the arrest of Monday's Capitol intruder, Capitol Police acknowledge that citizens -- not police -- were first to apprehend the suspect." Employees from a flag shop, as it turns out.

ED LASKY LOOKS AT the Democratic Party and the Jews.

CALLS FOR MUSLIM RAGE AT THE POPE seem to be flopping in Iraq.

UPDATE: Actually, they seem to have flopped pretty much everywhere.

NEW YORK'S "HUMAN RIGHTS" COMMISSION goes after free speech. One of a seemingly unending list of reasons to oppose a Bloomberg Presidential run.

IN THE MAIL: Mark Moyar's new book, Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965. The book, advertised as overturning orthodox opinion on the war, gets blurbs by a host of bigshots ranging from Max Boot to James Webb. Moyar has an Amazon blog on the page, too, where he explains where the book is coming from.

JOE GANDELMAN HAS A ROUNDUP on the detainee deal. Plus some valuable cautionary advice from Ann Althouse: "Plenty of people have lots of different motivations to make claims about this compromise. Don't let yourself be spun."

THIS SHOULD MAKE REPUBLICANS HAPPY: "Americans have become more optimistic about the economy, and President Bush is getting some of the credit, a new Times/Bloomberg poll shows."

STRATEGYPAGE OFFERS A RATHER POSITIVE TAKE on what's going on in Anbar province:

Coalition forces in Iraq have suddenly received the manpower equivalent of three light infantry divisions. They did not suffer any repercussions in domestic politics as a result, and now have a huge edge over al-Qaeda in al-Anbar province. How did this happen? Tribal leaders in the largely Sunni province on the Syrian border got together and signed an agreement to raise a tribal force of 30,000 fighters to take on foreign fighters and terrorists.

These leaders have thrown in with the central government in Baghdad. This is a decisive blow to al Qaeda, which has been desperately trying to fight off an Iraqi government that is getting stronger by the week. Not only are the 30,000 fighters going to provide more manpower, but these tribal fighters know the province much better than American troops – or the foreign fighters fighting for al Qaeda. Also, this represents just over 80 percent of the tribes in al-Anbar province now backing the government.

This makes an interesting counterpoint to the Bill Roggio post I linked yesterday.

JOHN TAMMES rounds up news from Afghanistan that you probably won't see elsewhere.


K.C. JOHNSON HAS THE LATEST on Mike Nifong and the Duke Lacrosse case.

THE GEORGE ALLEN CAMPAIGN is charging James Webb with dirty tricks and push-blogging. "Push-blogging?" I guess the days of innocence for the blogosphere are all in the past, now.

KIDNEYBLOGGER VIRGINIA POSTREL asks how many people medical ethicist Art Caplan has killed by blocking the creation of a market in donor organs.


"How dare you say Islam is a violent religion? I'll kill you for it" is not exactly the best way to go about refuting the charge. But of course, refuting is not the point here. The point is intimidation. . . .

In today's world, religious sensitivity is a one-way street. The rules of the road are enforced by Islamic mobs and abjectly followed by Western media, politicians and religious leaders.

Those who do not practice tolerance have no right to expect it in return.

HOSNI MUBARAK: Egypt will pursue nuclear energy.

I hope he means safe, clean pebble-bed reactors, but I'm a bit, er, concerned that he might not.

MICKEY KAUS: "You would think the NYT would have learned from repeat, bitter experience that playing up all the anti-GOP aspects of its polls often leads to bitter disappointment in November. You would be wrong."

September 21, 2006

DANIEL DREZNER FINDS AHMADINEJAD "UNDERWHELMING:" I have to say I agree. I saw him as the latest manifestation of a long chain of anti-American losers: Nasser, Qaddafi, Noriega, Ortega, etc. Like them, he may do some harm before he shuffles off. But as Drezner says, " Like Hugo Chavez, Ahmadinejad might be able to stoke his own supporters, but he seems to excel even more at creating and unifying his adversaries. Ahmadinejad too will pass."

Not a reason to ignore or underestimate him. But a reason not to inflate him into more than he is, as some people seem to be doing.

UPDATE: "A one-man Axis of Crazy."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Matoko Kusanagi thinks it's a case of short-man syndrome.

THIS SEEMS LIKE GOOD NEWS: "The Army is ending its best recruiting year since 1997 and expecting similar success in 2007 . . . . the Army will enlist its 80,000th soldier on Friday, reaching its goal for the year with eight days to spare. That is a considerable turnaround from last year when the Army missed its target for the first time since 1999 and by the widest margin in more than two decades."

CORY MAYE UPDATE: Radley Balko reports:

Cory Maye will not sleep on death row tonight. Nor, for that matter, any night for the foreseeable future.

At the conclusion of the hearing today, Judge Michael Eubanks ruled on two of the defense team's battery of arguments. Both rulings from the bench tonight dealt with Rhonda Cooper's competence. Judge Eubanks found that Ms. Cooper was competent for the trial, but incompetent for the sentencing.

I have my quarrels with that ruling, obviously. But in the short run, it means that Cory will at the very least get a new sentencing trial. And until and if that happens, he will no longer be on death row, and for the moment is no longer condemned to die.

Judge Eubanks did not issue a ruling on any of the other defense arguments -- and there were lots of them. It may be a month or more before we hear what he has decided. That said, I am cautiously optimistic.

Read the whole thing. And Radley's piece on the case in Reason -- alas, not available online yet -- is really good. Alas, one thing he reports is that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) won't even consider clemency, which strikes me as a serious abdication of responsibility on Barbour's part.

HAVE THE NETROOTS GONE INSIDER? I don't think there's anything wrong with lunching with bigshots. But it's probably better not to gush about it quite so much.

THERE'S A DEAL on the detainee treatment dispute. Via blogger-spam from the White House, there's a release on the substance in the "extended entry" area. Click "read more" to read it. Here's a news story on the deal, too. Also, there's lots of commentary at The Corner.

UPDATE: Marty Lederman thinks the Bush Administration rolled its critics, and is unhappy. Dan Riehl thinks the same thing, and is happy.

And Atrios comments: "McCain sold out the country and the Democrats look like crap."

Tom Maguire sees Atrios' point: "Since Dems have been hiding behind St. John on this issue, they will have a hard time announcing at this late date that McCain lacks the integrity and judgment to be trusted." It's almost as if McCain and the White House suckered them or something.

Read More ?

HOT RECORDERS FOR COOL PODCASTS: Larry Magid reviews three portable digital recorders, and likes the Edirol R-09 best. My review of the Edirol for Gizmodo is here.

Also, here's my review of the cheaper, but entirely adequate, Olympus DM-20.

HUGO CHAVEZ and his friends. Tom Harkin?


Bigelow announced at lunch that he will be putting up a three-person space station in late 2009 or early 2010, about fifty percent bigger than an ISS module. He is putting up a destination in hopes that the transportation will come along (and in order to spur the transportation providers). Station will last for several years. Will be executing contracts in 2008 for transportation contracts to Sundancer. Expects between four and eight trips (people and cargo) per year, after six-month shakedown. Then trips will commence whenever transportation becomes available. 2012 will see the launch of another module providing 500 cubic meters of habitable volume. Will support sixteen launches a year for full utilization (again, cargo and people). Minimum three-week stay, but market limited at ten million, so wants to establish private astronaut program for other nations (this is not news). Make sixty instead of eleven countries with an astronaut corps. Could represent on the order of a billion a year in revenue. Launch estimates from fifty to a hundred million per flight. About time to take human spaceflight from the exclusive domain of governments. Will be changing that in the next half decade.

He also announced that he and Lockmart have a joint agreement to study what it will take to human rate the Atlas V for commercial passenger transport.

Read the whole thing.


One of the biggest changes, by the way, between college now and then is that Maia already has dozens of new friends and aqaintances through Facebook, some of whom she’s already met in person here in L.A. this summer. This is in stark contrast to my first year at UCLA almost 30 years ago, where in the pre-Internet days it really was very hard entering a giant university not knowing anyone.

Ah, technology.

DON SURBER looks at election fraud and its supporters. As I've noted, it makes no sense to go on about untrustworthy voting machines while opposing efforts to fix the voter registration and identification process. Garbage in, garbage out.


Who in a position of authority at Columbia would daft enough to invite Holocaust denier / genocidal maniac / most notorious and powerful anti-Semite of the current age / etc. Ahmadinejad (who, by the way, I saw on t.v. claiming today claiming that the 35,000 people who protested his speech at the U.N. were actually one hundred paid Zionist stooges) to speak?

Columbia, however, seems to have reconsidered.

BRINK LINDSEY looks at people who are poor-mouthing prosperity.

DEMOCRATIC LEADERS took their smart pills today.

Some pundits, not so much.

UPDATE: Apparently, the smart pills are in short supply. And yes, I realize that Yglesias was goofing, as was I. These people, alas, seem to be entirely serious.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More shortages.

MORE: Is one man's terrorist another man's freedom fighter? Not so much. But one man's "sweet hipster style" is another man's "aging high school chemistry teacher." And when "another man" is The Manolo, I know which side I come down on . . . .

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Over at TPM Muckraker, Justin Rood notes that a Democratic victory in the House elections won't do much to end pork and corruption:

Washington has witnessed a storm of "pay-to-play" corruption scandals in Congress over the last year, both admitted and alleged. And on the campaign trail congressional Democrats are charging the GOP with creating a "culture of corruption" on their watch. Yet if they win, they are poised to hand a much-abused spending post to a Democrat with a long reputation for porkbarrel politics and "back room" deals.

If the Dems take control of the House in November, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), now lauded by Democratic activists for his tough stand on Iraq, is poised to retake the helm of an appropriations panel charged with spending hundreds of billions of dollars on defense-related projects, which he last chaired in the early 1990s. He may even ascend to be Majority Leader in a Democratically controlled House.

Yet Murtha -- who U.S. News and World Report once called "one of Capitol Hill's most accomplished masters at the art of pork" -- presides over a tightly connected network of favored lobbyists, former staffers and major campaign contributors that bears a striking resemblance to those maintained by some of the tarnished Republicans he would likely replace.

Read the whole thing, which is full of interesting specifics. This is a bipartisan issue, as the "culture of corruption" is not the culture of a party, but the culture of a political class.

I HAVEN'T DONE MUCH MOWER-BLOGGING in quite a while, but here's a post on "Extreme Mowing" for anyone who's feeling lawncare-deprived.

And, of course, who could forget this classic?

NICK GILLESPIE: "Please don't confuse the voters with facts."

Apparently, Adam Nagourney is following that advice. Tom Maguire offers further Nagourney-roasting.

ANOTHER blog-related firing.

Much more here.

MORE ON THE POPE AND ISLAM, from Michael Novak.

IN THE MAIL: Alice Randall's new book, My Country Roots: The Ultimate MP3 Guide to America's Original Outsider Music. Looks pretty cool.

LOSING ANBAR? Bill Roggio writes:

I've received plenty of questions about the intelligence report that claims Anbar province has been lost. I've talked to several sources in the military and intelligence who have actually seen the entire report (and not been fed excerpts). They are angry over the media's characterization of the report. Basically, the report indicated that the situation in Ramadi is dire, and that the political situation in Anbar as a whole as a result is in danger because of this.

Ramadi has been a problem for some time, but the major problem there has been the Iraqi government's lack ofpolitical will to act over the course of the last year. Even ceding the security situation to the tribes is a form of passing the problem on to the locals.

Since my sources were unwilling to go on the record, I chose not to address this directly. If the military community is unwilling to step up to the plate and defend itself, except in vague terms, about the situation in Ramadi then they will have to deal with the backlash of this decision. Good work has been and continues to be done in Anbar. The military has a problem with public affairs, plain and simple, and fails to realize that the impact on remaining silent on this report far outweighs the need to keep the information classified.

It's an information war, too. Meanwhile, another province is being turned over to Iraqi military control

Also, StrategyPage looks at the declining fortunes of the Taliban.

GAYS WHO WANT TO SERVE IN THE MILITARY: Seems admirable to me. Why not let 'em? (Via Ed Cone.)


But still, you can feel the Western brain cells being rubbed together. . . . The idea that the West's response to the Islamic challenge will only ever consist of the first hasty and opposed responses to 9/11, which were entirely what people already thought - "We all ought to get along better", "We are provoking them", "They must become more democratic", and so on - is very foolish. The West – a vague label I know but it will serve - is the most formidable civilisation that the world has yet seen. It has faced down several recent and major challenges to its hegemony, and it will face down this one, I think, with whatever combination of sweet reason and cataclysmic brutality turns out to be necessary to get the job done. This challenge now seems bigger than the earlier ones. But they always do at the time, don't they?

Indeed. Plus, "Be not afraid:"

The question that keeps popping in my mind - after the response to the Danish cartoons and now after Pope Benedict’s recent comments - is: why are we so afraid?

Culturally and religiously we are on the defensive in this War on Terror. And it makes no sense to me. We accept immoral expressions of outrage by Muslims across the world and yet fail to have any of our own justified moral indignation at their actions. Instead we apologize for causing their reactions. Perhaps I should apologize to my four year old for his little temper tantrum this morning and for the time he slugged his sister in the face with a toy.

We hold the high ground - we believe in individual liberty, we believe in religious tolerance, we believe in women’s rights, we believe in a narrow window for the just use of war - and we should not be afraid to stand tall and to express our outrage at the insane reactions we are seeing across the Muslim world. In fact their actions prove the point made previously in Danish cartoons and the quote from Pope Benedict. It is all well and good to be sensitive but it is quite another thing when Muslims actually manifest what we criticize. It is quite another thing when there is lack of reciprocity in Muslim treatment of Jews and Christians. They have yet to practice what they preach.

Read the whole thing.

G.M. ROPER posts with some good news about his cancer. Or lack thereof.



A week after the primary election was plagued by human error and technical glitches, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) called yesterday for the state to scrap its $106 million electronic voting apparatus and revert to a paper ballot system for the November election.

"When in doubt, go paper, go low-tech," he said.

Couldn't have said it better myself. Does this make us both liberals?

IF 35,000 PEOPLE HAD MARCHED AGAINST BUSH OUTSIDE THE U.N., it would have gotten a lot more coverage. But 35,000 against Ahmadinejad? Not so much.

UPDATE: Blog-reporting, with photos and video from the protests, can be found here. Once again, scooping the Big Media on their very doorstep. (Via Freeman Hunt).

RICK LEE photographs something remarkable.

FRANK WARNER looks at "the increasingly popular Iraq war." I didn't realize it had moved up in the polls -- somehow that hasn't gotten much attention. Judging from Frank's survey of Big Media reporting, I'm not alone.

September 20, 2006

INDEED: "Wow. With one speech, eagerly applauded, Hugo Chavez did more today to show what’s wrong with the United Nations than some of us have managed in years of gumshoe reporting."

LIKE GREG PACKER. Well, sort of.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: "One thing is rather frightening: the political pendulum in Europe always swings much more widely and quickly than here. Unless these legitimate worries about radical Islam are addressed by EU politicians, a frustrated public—note the recent elections in Germany—will address them on their own in ways that are historically scary in their own right. When I go to Europe, I am always struck how at odds the average European’s talk is from what one reads in the newspaper or hears on the television. That degree of frustration and cynicism will only get worse unless there is some honest talk about the dangers Europe faces."

IT'S JUSTIFIED: "The New York Times has a rule about presenting opinions in its news columns: Henceforth, they must all conform to the left."

HEY, MAYBE ANDREW'S RIGHT AFTER ALL: I just saw Harold Ford, Jr. on Kudlow & Company, speaking in support of public displays of the Ten Commandments.

He also said he supports a ban on flag-burning, and that he's closer to the President than to McCain on interrogations.

THOU SHALT NOT CRITICIZE LEFTY BLOGS if you want to work at The American Prospect.

UPDATE: Stephen Spruiell has more thoughts on the Nyhan defenestration.

DAVE WEIGEL SOUNDS TAPS for the "culture of corruption" campaign plan.

Though the culture of corruption is still there, alas, on both sides of the aisle. Which, as Weigel notes, is why the plan never had much of a chance.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS vs. the blogosphere.

In reading this, bear in mind Austin Bay's point about terrorist/media co-dependence.

TOM MAGUIRE: "Personally, I am all in favor of seeing a wealthy economist like Paul Krugman appear in public and ranting to the middle class that their lot has not improved. These performances make him appear to be an out-of-touch Ivory Tower academic without actually changing any minds; we can only hope that John Kerry, to pick a name at random, will amplify the effect by joining in."

MORE ON THE BUSH POLLS, from Mystery Pollster Mark Blumenthal.

EUGENE VOLOKH has thoughts on Michiko Kakutani's review of Richard Posner's book. And via the comments to Eugene's post, I found this critical review from Daniel Solove, which in my opinion is much better than Kakutani's. (And, unlike many critics of Kakutani's review -- and, for that matter, of Posner -- I've actually read Posner's book.)

UPDATE: In a somewhat-related item, Emily Bazelon argues that Congress shouldn't write interrogation rules. I think I disagree with that. Her arguments are reasonable but I think that it's important for Congress to take responsibility on this topic. In the short run, the executive can deal with things like this on an emergency basis, perhaps, but this is the long run now, and I think it's a good idea, both practically and politically, to make Congress -- and Congress members -- take a position and live with it.


Defense lawyers argued today that Cory Maye should be taken off death row and given a new trial.

On Jan. 23, 2004, a Marion County jury sentenced Maye to die by lethal injection in the 2001 killing of Prentiss Police Officer Ron Jones during a drug raid.

Statements by a confidential informant, Randy Gentry, led authorities to raid the duplex where Maye lived. Authorities found only remnants from a marijuana cigarette in Maye's duplex.

In a hearing today in Pearl River County Circuit Court, defense attorneys attacked Gentry's credibility. Gentry took the stand and said he wasn't prejudiced. But then he admitted on the stand that in a message left on defense attorney Bob Evans' answering machine he used profanity and the "n" word, repeatedly saying "those f--- --- n------" and referred to Maye a "c--- s-----."

Gentry testified he bought, as a confidential informant for Jones, two rocks of cocaine from Jamie Smith, 21, who lived in the other side of the duplex from Maye. He said he saw Smith go into Maye's house. Gentry said he saw a drug transaction between the two through a thin window curtain in Maye's house. But he acknowledged it wasn't "as plain as day."

Smith was charged but never prosecuted, Evans said. He skipped bail and has never been found.

Maye, who had no prior criminal record, insists he killed Jones in self-defense and had no idea he was an officer. He had been watching his 18-month-old daughter when officers burst in his side of the duplex.

A classic example of why paramilitary drug raids, especially based on the tips of confidential informants, are a bad idea.

ANDREW SULLIVAN responds to my comment that Bush Administration policies haven't exactly been theocratic by quoting (former) Republican House leader Tom Delay talking about religion. It's a bit of a non sequitur.

At any rate, having now actually spent some time with Sullivan's book, I think that Ryan Sager's The Elephant in the Room does a much better job of addressing the split between evangelicals and non-evangelicals in the Republican Party. I'm clearly on the Sager / Libertarian side of that split (and I got the hatemail during the Terri Schiavo affair to prove it), but I don't think the country is in danger of theocracy in the way Sullivan keeps proclaiming. I'm not sure what side of that split to put Sullivan on anyway, as he's often claiming a religious basis for his own principles, and drawing up sides in a fashion every bit as apocalyptic as Tom Delay. But maybe "side" is the wrong term for Andrew, as I think he's more of a one-man circular firing squad these days . . . .

UPDATE: Writing in the non-theocon American Prospect, Peter Steinfels is as skeptical as I about cries of impending theocracy.

ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, here's a potential theocon who I had as a guest in my own home!

And I still like him, no matter what Andrew might say.

KARL ROVE'S "BLOGPAPER" STRATEGY IS WORKING, as lefty activists obsess over blogwars instead of, you know, getting their candidates elected. That guy is a genius.

PLAME UPDATE: Now they tell us:

Far from being part of an orchestrated plot or a vast White House conspiracy, Plame's unmasking was simply the handiwork of that Washington, D.C., staple, an insider with a big mouth. The culprit was gossip, not political gunslinging.

It should be noted that the left is not giving up on this one, continuing to point ominously at Bush aides' behavior vis-а-vis Plame and Wilson. But there's little doubt that Armitage's role is a body blow to the conspiracy theorists.

It was, as they say, a "stunning reversal," the kind of development Ben Bradlee loved to half-kiddingly call "a correction." It stood the official narrative of Plamegate completely on its head.

Not only was it a fascinating development, it was the kind of story that cried out for attention for fairness reasons. But that wasn't destined to happen.

No, it wasn't. And the American Journalism Review offers an excessively charitable explanation: "Maybe it's simply a matter of embarrassment. After so much breathless coverage of supposed White House character assassination, maybe the MSM just kind of hoped the whole thing would go away."

They should be embarrassed, all right, but I think it's more a case of losing interest in the story once it was clear that no one was going to be frog-marched from the White House.

UPDATE: Jim Treacher emails: "Thank you for gloating. About the Plame thing. They really slammed the brakes on that, didn't they? And then blamed us for the whiplash."


DAIRYBLOGGING: This is much, much better than the "Raging Cow" blog.

POPULAR MECHANICS LOOKS AT THE NEXT ATOMIC AGE, with an extended discussion of new technologies that promise safe, inexpensive, greenhouse-friendly nuclear power.

HUGO CHAVEZ FLIPS OUT AT THE U.N.: I can't help but feel that the Chavez and Ahmadinejad speeches are likely to benefit the Republicans this election cycle, by reminding people of what's out there.

FRIST ON A FENCE: "There's no doubt that physical barriers can make a real difference."

Somewhere, Mickey Kaus is saying "I told you so." Okay, not just somewhere, but here. . . .


THE former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton has issued his own challenge to “violent” Islam in a lecture in which he defends the Pope’s “extraordinarily effective and lucid” speech.

Lord Carey said that Muslims must address “with great urgency” their religion’s association with violence. He made it clear that he believed the “clash of civilisations” endangering the world was not between Islamist extremists and the West, but with Islam as a whole.

“We are living in dangerous and potentially cataclysmic times,” he said. “There will be no significant material and economic progress [in Muslim communities] until the Muslim mind is allowed to challenge the status quo of Muslim conventions and even their most cherished shibboleths.”

Lord Carey’s address came as the man who shot and wounded the last Pope wrote to Pope Benedict XVI to warn him that he was in danger. Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who tried to murder John Paul II in 1981 and is now in prison in Turkey, urged the Pope not to visit the country in November.

Benedict is also getting some Greek Orthodox support.

Jeff Jacoby writes:

If it weren't so sickening, it would be farcical: A line in the pope's speech suggests that Islam has a dark history of violence, and offended Muslims vent their displeasure by howling for his death, firebombing churches, and attacking innocent Christians. One of the points Benedict made in his speech at the University of Regensburg was that religious faith untethered by reason can lead to savagery. The mobs denouncing him could hardly have done a better job of proving him right. . . .

But the real insult to Islam is not a line from a papal speech or a cartoon about Mohammed. It is the violence, terror, and bloodshed that Islamist fanatics unleash in the name of their religion -- and the unwillingness of most of the world's Muslims to say or do anything to stop them.


AUSTIN BAY ON THE CBS AMBUSH -- with further thoughts at his blog. His point on the mutually-supporting relationship between terrorists and the news media is well taken.

IN THE MAIL: Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups. Theatrical/academic politics at its, er, best.

SO IF GEORGE ALLEN'S MOTHER IS FROM TUNISIA, doesn't that make him the African-American candidate in the Virginia Senate race?

UPDATE: "Macacawitz?"

A SCANDAL OVER ACADEMIC FREEDOM at the University of North Carolina. More here.

UPDATE: Various embarrassed faculty and alumni of U.N.C.-Chapel Hill stress that this is at U.N.C.-Wilmington.

ONE VIRTUE OF RICHARD POSNER'S NEW BOOK is that it is causing liberals to appreciate the dangers of a "living Constitution" approach to an extent never before achieved.

The latest such is Michiko Kakutani, who reviews the book in the New York Times. Lawprof Mike Rappaport thinks the review looks like a "hatchet job." Me, I just love the irony.

Our podcast interview with Posner on his book can be found here.

MICHAEL STEELE BLENDS PUPPIES! Heh. Are Maryland Democrats going to start channeling Frank J.?


UPDATE: The belief on the part of many Guardian commenters that concern about genocide in Darfur is just some sort of Zionist plot is . . . disturbing.


September 19, 2006


MAIMON SCHWARZSCHILD: "Given the present climate of liberal opinion, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised to see historical revisionism in praise of Neville Chamberlain."

CLAUDIA ROSETT: "Kofi Annan has finally agreed to fill out one of the financial disclosure forms now required of UN senior staff." But there's a catch.


Is the Specter bill a good idea as a matter of policy?

I haven't blogged on this question before, mostly because I find the question essentially impossible to answer. Almost no one knows what the facts of the NSA program are, what it does, and whether and how much it works, so I don't know how we're supposed to know whether it's a good idea for Congress to endorse it legislatively. It's like me telling you, "I'm thinking of a government program. Do you want to allow it or prohibit it?"

Lots of people could answer that question, if you just told them whether Bush was for it or against it. . . .

NELSON ASCHER WRITES on the media, NGOs, and paranoia.


UPDATE: Rob DeJournett says the LAT is wrong about the crime.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Several Houston readers say that DeJournett is wrong, and crime rates are up. Reader Gus van Horn writes: "The LA Times is, I am afraid, correct about Houston crime. You cite the bioscientist whose calculations are based on crime stats hear the Astrodome, which is merely where the refugees were initially housed for a short time. (They were also required to report to the dome for curfew.) They eventually landed in low-income apartment complexes in other parts of town, most notably Southwest Houston." He sends a link to this post from his blog, too.

And Laurence Simon writes to the same effect.

MORE: Kinky Friedman blamed "crackheads and thugs" from New Orleans for Houston's increase in crime and got some blowback. More on the story here.

ANNE APPLEBAUM: Enough apologies:

None of the radical clerics accepts Western apologies, and none of their radical followers reads the Western press. Instead, Western politicians, writers, thinkers and speakers should stop apologizing -- and start uniting. . . .

True, these principles sound pretty elementary -- "we're pro-free speech and anti-gratuitous violence" -- but in the days since the pope's sermon, I don't feel that I've heard them defended in anything like a unanimous chorus. A lot more time has been spent analyzing what the pontiff meant to say, or should have said, or might have said if he had been given better advice.

All of which is simply beside the point, since nothing the pope has ever said comes even close to matching the vitriol, extremism and hatred that pour out of the mouths of radical imams and fanatical clerics every day, all across Europe and the Muslim world, almost none of which ever provokes any Western response at all. And maybe it's time that it should.



Armoured units of the Thai military blocked the area around Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's offices with tanks, witnesses said today.

Rumours of a military coup swept the Thai capital after an army-owned television station suspended regular programming and played patriotic songs.

On a government-owned TV station, Thaksin - now abroad on a visit to New York - declared a state of emergency.

Newley Purnell is posting lots of news. He emails that he's in Kuala Lumpur right now but will be heading to Thailand shortly.

UPDATE: More from Paul Lukacs. Excerpt: "The city of Chiang Mai, in the north, appears unaffected. I am in an internet cafe surrounded by the usual complement of teenagers playing video games. I don't think most of them know."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Much more in this roundup from Pajamas Media.

IN THE MAIL: Andrew Sullivan's new book, The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back. Having never made any pretense at being a conservative, my interest in this topic is pretty much academic, but I'm pretty sure that this passage in the publisher's blurb is wrong: "They have substituted religion for politics, and damaged both."

In fact, there has been plenty of politics, and not all that much religion, out of the Bush Administration and the Republican Party over the past six years. There are theocrats and theocrat-wannabes out there, but they're really not much in evidence in the Bush Administration's policies, and the rest of the blurb certainly seems to suggest that Sullivan thinks otherwise. Perhaps the blurb doesn't accurately reflect the argument in the book, which I haven't read yet, obviously.

ARRRH! Don't forget that it's Talk Like a Pirate Day.


This show, on the other hand, has real potential . . . .

HOSSEIN DERAKSHAN: "I believe Iran needs to produce nuclear weapons as a defensive mechanism, to deter the U.S. today and the ever-expanding and equally energy-hungry China tomorrow."

I disagree, though the response is obvious.

JOE GANDELMAN looks at the Bush/GOP polls and observes: "It is no longer a 'given' that the Democrats will gain at least one house of Congress in the November elections — and the latest poll shows trend that should make Democrats nervous." It was never really a given that the Dems would take back Congress, and these polls certainly don't make it a given that they won't. Beware of poll fever!

In the short term, however, these polls may reduce the extent of GOP defection from Bush's legislative agenda, which may actually help the Republicans hold on to Congress.

MEET THE BLOGGERS: Me, James Lileks, and quite a few others on the BBC. You can get the audio here.

GAS PRICES KEEP TUMBLING: "Gasoline prices continue to tumble briskly, dropping Monday to a U.S. average of less than $2.50 a gallon for the first time since March. Service stations even are beginning old-fashioned gas wars to avoid losing customers to price-cutting rivals."

And, strangely, Bush's poll numbers are up.

UPDATE: John Wixted is skeptical of claims that Bush's approval is tied to gas prices, and says it's something else: "as concerns about the war and immigration go up, Bush's approval rating goes down."

JOHN HAWKINS IS UNIMPRESSED with arguments that we need to observe the Geneva Conventions in order to protect our troops:

Exactly what protections are our troops being provided by the Geneva Convention? No enemy we've ever fought or are fighting has abided by it. So, in real world terms, the Geneva Convention provides no protection for our troops whatsoever. If we completely withdrew from the Geneva Convention tomorrow, it would have no impact at all on how our troops are treated.

Granted, the Geneva Convention could be of use in the unlikely event that we were to get into a war with Belgium, Italy, Spain or some other Western European nation. However, isn't the argument we're hearing from Europeans and American liberals that we should treat the terrorists we've captured by the rules of the Geneva Convention (as a matter of fact, better than the rules require) despite the fact that they haven't signed onto the treaty? Since that's the case, why wouldn't the same rules apply to any signatories of the treaty that we fought with? Even if, theoretically, we were doing something as evil as kicking their captured soldiers into industrial paper shredders for fun, shouldn't they give our soldiers every benefit the Geneva Convention requires?

What's that, you say? If we don't do it for their soldiers, why should we expect them to treat our troops with respect? Great! Now why doesn't that apply to our troops and Al-Qaeda? If Al-Qaeda is torturing and murdering our troops, why should we treat their captured prisoners as well as, say, American soldiers that are thrown into the brig? Why should we treat some terrorist from Saudi Arabia who wants to kill American citizens like he's a uniformed soldier who follows the rules of war or worse yet, like he has the same constitutional rights as an American citizen?

There are arguments for treating terrorists as if the Geneva Conventions applied, but reciprocity isn't one of them and, as Hawkins notes, the argument from reciprocity actually cuts the other way.

NO BLACK BLOGGERS IN HARLEM or New York City? Who knew?

More on this story here.

BLOGGINGFORBOLTON.COM seems to be generating a lot of calls.


YOUTUBE, VIRAL VIDEO, AND THE FUTURE OF TELEVISION: Kurt Loder and I talk about this with the Popular Mechanics folks in the latest Popular Mechanics podcast. Plus, the problems with electronic voting.

MALARIA UPDATE: Here's more on the WHO's turnaround on DDT. (Via Jonathan Adler, who notes that the Sierra Club is on board.)

MICKEY KAUS: "Senate Majority Leader Frist will bring the bill for a 700-mile border fence to the Senate floor for an 'up or down vote.' That's the sort of non-'comprehensive legislation the pro-'comprehensive' press (which is most of the press) has been assuring us will never pass."

NOBODY EXPECTS the Virginia inquisition.

September 18, 2006


Any intelligent human being understands that one does not - in the 21st century - publicly touch on the subject of Islamic jihad and religious compulsion, no matter how delicately or distinctively, unless one wants to deal with a reaction that is both primitive and intimidating, by a group demonstrably closed to dialogue.

And yet Benedict, clearly an intelligent man, has done so. He has, in essence, dared to say to Islam, “Is this really what you want to be doing, in this century? The rest of the world’s religions have put away the swords…how about we talk?”

Up to now, no one has come out and said that to Islam. The Pope is the first.

Matoko Kusanagi has a somewhat different perspective. Though to be honest, I haven't noticed her taking this kind of advice herself . . . .

CRACKERJACK SECURITY: Open your Diebold voting machine with a minibar key? Jeez.

PORK BECOMES A CAMPAIGN ISSUE, as challenger Mike Bouchard goes after Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow.

THIS STINKS: "Lieuwe van Gogh—thirteen-year-old son of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was murdered by Islamists—is finding his life in increasing danger in his native Netherlands, while the Dutch police do nothing."

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The next blogger transparency swarm has begun:

Bloggers played a central role in Congress' quick action over the past two weeks in passing a bill that would create a database on federal grants and contracts. President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law soon.

The conservative-oriented Porkbusters coalition started that effort, but blogs of other political leanings, including GOPProgress and TPMMuckraker, eventually joined the fight and pushed it to completion.

Transparency fostered the nonpartisan unity in the blogosphere, and that same goal is behind the new effort that surfaced today. A column in The Washington Post about the lack of electronic access to the campaign filings of Senate candidates prompted a quick reaction from bloggers in both parties, including two who were key players in the 2005-2006 blog swarm over campaign finance rules.

Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters was first out of the gate in arguing that the blogosphere's next bipartisan demand should be forcing Senate candidates to file electronically, just as House and presidential candidates already do.

"For some reason, Trent Lott and a number of our elected representatives in the Senate want to keep us from accessing that information in a timely manner," Morrissey wrote. "Usually that means they either have something to hide or see the clunky, slow process currently in use as a hedge for their incumbency. We need to remind them that they serve at our pleasure, and that playing games with full disclosure does not please us in the least."

Within hours, both Mike Krempasky of RedState and Adam Bonin, a lawyer who represented three Democratic bloggers before the FEC, were on the case. "There's a bill to fix this, of course. And unfortunately for our side, it's one of our guys holding it up," Krempasky said of Senate Rules Committee Chairman Lott, R-Miss.

"So please, get on the phone and call Senator Lott's office. ... Make sure they know that [the bill] deserves a hearing -- and deserves a vote."

Bonin posted his thoughts at MyDD. "There is not much on which the left and right blogospheres agree, except, perhaps, on the ability of the Internet itself to transform politics," he wrote. "It empowers the masses and provides for greater transparency in government, allowing citizens to have a greater understanding of and power over what's going on in Washington."

That same belief also explains a new blog entry at Dollarocracy, a blog of the Sunlight Foundation, which has been working with Porkbusters to expose the lawmakers who are behind earmarks in spending bills.

Read the whole thing. And there's more here. If you'd like to call Trent Lott, call 202.225.3121 and ask for his office.

JONAH GOLDBERG: "I don't think the Pope's original comments have elicited nearly as much authentic rage as the images on TV would suggest. But I do think those driving these protests and whipping up anger know what they're doing. The West wants to be loved. It can't stand the idea that somebody — anybody — doesn't like us. This is doubly so in Europe and perhaps triply so at the Vatican. So much of European — and American liberal — foreign policy is based on the idea that being disliked is an enormous indictment, a sign of serious moral failings on our part, rather than resentment, envy or scapegoating on the part of those fomenting anti-Americans."

Meanwhile, Sam Harris writes:

Perhaps I should establish my liberal bone fides at the outset. I'd like to see taxes raised on the wealthy, drugs decriminalized and homosexuals free to marry. I also think that the Bush administration deserves most of the criticism it has received in the last six years — especially with respect to its waging of the war in Iraq, its scuttling of science and its fiscal irresponsibility.

But my correspondence with liberals has convinced me that liberalism has grown dangerously out of touch with the realities of our world — specifically with what devout Muslims actually believe about the West, about paradise and about the ultimate ascendance of their faith.

On questions of national security, I am now as wary of my fellow liberals as I am of the religious demagogues on the Christian right.

This may seem like frank acquiescence to the charge that "liberals are soft on terrorism." It is, and they are.

Read the whole thing. And read this column by Cliff May, on what our enemies believe. Norm Geras thinks that blindness to Islamic terror is producing a liberal debacle.

Finally, Wretchard writes:

But the really harmful consequence of not recognizing proxy warfare and addressing it openly is that it creates a subterranean world of countermeasures. A black market in defense. The present war is one no one wants to know anything about; that polite society wants to pretend doesn't exist.

Read the whole thing here, too.

THE ALLEN-WEBB DEBATE: It's all about the Jews.

MARTIN LINDESKOG has thoughts on the Swedish elections.

UPDATE: A couple of readers warn that there's a not-safe-for-work blogad on Lindeskog's site. It seems pretty tame to me, but if you work for the Corporate Taliban, be aware.


Peter A. Thiel, co-founder and former CEO of online payments system PayPal, Founder and Managing Member of Clarium Capital Management, a San Francisco-based hedge fund, and angel investor in social networking site Facebook, has announced his pledge of $3.5 Million to support scientific research into the alleviation and eventual reversal of the debilities caused by aging, to be conducted under the auspices of the Methuselah Foundation, a charity co-founded and Chaired by Dr. Aubrey de Grey.

Bring it on.

TAEGAN GODDARD reports from the Iowa steak fry. Reportedly it was "Barack Obama's coming-out party."


YESTERDAY I WAS WONDERING if Iran already had nukes, and if the United States is already being quietly blackmailed. Now Austin Bay offers his thoughts.

The Glenn and Helen Show: Jim Geraghty on Politics and National Security.

Jim Geraghty talks with us about his new book, Voting to Kill: How 9/11 Launched the Era of Republican Leadership. Geraghty talks about "security voters," the Democrats' problems and what they can do to address them, and whether Hillary can save the Democratic Party. Plus, Bush's own problems with his "war base." (One thing that would help with the war base: "this maniac Al-Sadr, hanging from a lamppost.")

You can play it through your browser with no downloading by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. You can download the file by clicking right here, or get it in lo-fi format suitable for dialup right here. (Select "lo-fi"). You can subscribe via iTunes by clicking here.

Music by The Mr. T Experience.


Last week, the lefty bloggers maladroitly focused attention on the issue of whether Clinton mishandled the terrorism threat, which caused many people to watch a film they wouldn't have bothered with and to marshall the evidence that he, in fact, had screwed up. Then, the bloggers who performed that dubious service were lured by lunch in the presence of the ex-president, and when they went back to their blogs and enthused about his blue eyes and how delightfully charmed they were by his aura and, doing so, provoked a tiny sprinkle of mockery, they flipped out for days on end. Their freak out just got everyone talking about Bill's old sex problems again.

Restraint is not their strong suit. Or maybe the whole thing is clever maneuvering by Kos to undermine the Clintons . . . .

MICKEY KAUS: "Do fatal doubts expressed in a corner of The Corner shape opinion more than an op-ed in the Times? I don't think we're there yet!"


TORTURING SOURCES -- well, their quotes, anyway -- at Newsweek.

BRENDAN LOY has photos and a report from yesterday's Darfur protest in New York City.

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: John Fund looks at earmarks and corruption:

If Republicans lose big in November, one reason will be their tardy response to public outrage over profligate spending. The guilty pleas of former GOP Rep. Duke Cunningham and lobbyist Jack Abramoff prompted demands for reform of the earmarks--pork projects members often secure in secret--that were prominent in both scandals.

On Thursday, the House did finally pass a rules change that will force sponsors to attach their names to projects. The Senate isn't expected to follow suit, meaning earmark reform there must wait until next year. On the plus side, both houses this month did pass the Federal Transparency Act. It creates a public Internet database that will allow Google-like searches of the $1 trillion in federal grants, contracts and loans. The "shame factor" the bill will heighten is needed, given that earmarks grew tenfold between 1990 and 2005.

As modest as it is, the transparency bill spent much of August in limbo after Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens of Alaska, chief defender of the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," put a hold on it, using the tradition allowing any senator to secretly block a bill. These games feed the perception of an out-of-touch Congress and demoralize many GOP voters. "Every event I go to, someone complains about overspending and pork," says Rep. Chris Chocola of Indiana, one of the most embattled GOP incumbents. "They still don't think we get it."

Many members simply don't believe the political costs of pork can ever exceed the benefits. Democrats have been largely silent. After all, they get about 45% of them even as a minority. "One man's pork is another man's steak," is how many members dismiss reform.

The reforms passed this year were modest, but helpful. (The lame criticism that they don't go far enough is true, but lame, especially when offered -- as it usually is -- by members of Congress who didn't actually work for any reform.) It's important to keep the pressure up, though.

Fund has this to say, too, which should be required reading in the White House:

President Bush could also do more. Republican Sen. Jim DeMint notes that the Congressional Research Service has found that 95% of recent earmarks were slipped into committee reports and not written into law. "These non-legislated earmarks are not legally binding," he says. "President Bush could ignore them. He doesn't need a line-item veto."

The federal government is now an astounding 185 times as big in real terms as it was a century ago. A general sense that Republicans have forgotten why they were sent to Washington is a big reason why only 43% of Republicans approve of Congress in this month's Fox News poll. If Republicans can't better explain how they plan to get a grip on spending, many voters will conclude they both deserve and need a time-out from power.

Agencies won't stand up to Congress on that committee report language, unless the President makes them, as they fear budgetary retribution. Bush needs to show some backbone on this, or Republicans will lose. And deserve to.

UPDATE: Here's more from The Examiner:

Now with Coburn-Obama, every citizen with access to the Internet will be within a few mouse clicks of knowing where their tax dollars are going and who is benefitting from them. Such access moves our democracy beyond Government 1.0 web sites that mainly just provide passive information and encourages more active and informed citizenry. Call it the dawn of Government 2.0. It is especially fitting that a database of federal spending — the blood flow of governance — marks the opening of the new era. . . .

The experts will do well to study the campaign for Coburn-Obama closely for several reasons, not the least of which are that from the beginning it included people and groups from across the political spectrum and the fact that the Internet gave them unprecedented power to assess the situation at any given moment, distribute key information throughout the ranks of supporters and media and generate highly focused action wherever it was most needed. Old media was mostly on the sidelines throughout.

Indeed, though CNN and the Wall Street Journal provided some excellent ongoing coverage, as did the National Journal blogs -- though I guess those are more new media than old.

WELL, I'm reassured.

September 17, 2006

PODCASTING on sex and politics.

CARNIVAL-O-RAMA: The Blawg Review is up. Also the Carnival of the Recipes. And the latest Carnival of Personal Finance is up, too.

Lots more carnivals at, and in the carnival directory here over in the right sidebar.


LOOKING FOR A nuclear terrorist?

CLAUDIA ROSETT: "It’s a good rule of thumb that there is no one more easily offended than your average despot and surrounding acolytes. Tyranny by nature requires grand fictions, and when anyone dares point out that the emperor has no clothes, or the emperor is living it up while dressing his minions in suicide belts, or the emperor is murdering his own subjects and honing technologies and methods to blackmail, subjugate or kill anyone else in reach, then the emperor and his cohorts take huge offense. If you happen to live under their sway, they chuck you in prison. If you are outside the immediate reach of their secret police and terror squads, they do what they can to maneuver the debate onto their terms. They — who apologize for nothing — demand apologies."

Question is, why do we listen?

UPDATE: An open letter to the Pope.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mike Rappaport: "In his book on democracy, Natan Sharansky speaks of fear societies like the Soviet Union and much of the Middle East. Everyone there is required to give the accepted answers, to Westerners and to one another, but that does not imply they believe it. Indeed, this phenomenon accounts for the sudden transformation of such societies when the threat of coercion is reduced or eliminated. But Sharanksy also notes that Westerners are often oblivious to these threats and treat the statements at face value, much as some commentators treated elections of Saddam with 100% as reflecting his support. There may not be much that the West can do about these threats. But one thing is essential and largely risk free: refuse to treat statements that may be coerced as genuine. It was worthwhile for people in the West to point out that the Prime Minister of Lebanon's statements were possibly coerced and to question whether he meant it. Let us and others never forget the man behind the curtain."

He's got a gun aimed at the speaker's head. Related thoughts here and here.

More thoughts from Jeff Jarvis.

MICHAEL CROWLEY: "How determined is Harold Ford to win over Tennessee's culturally conservative independents and Republicans? He's filmed his newest ad inside a church."

Donald Sensing has much more, and wonders why Americans United for the Separation of Church and State isn't making noise.

ANOTHER RATHER DRASTIC CORRECTION from the New York Times. It's nice that they're correcting these mistakes, but it would be nicer still if they didn't make them quite so often.

MORE KIDNEYBLOGGING from Virginia Postrel.

AUSTIN BAY writes on fiddling and twiddling with Iran. The loss of momentum in the war reminds me of something that I believe Napoleon (or maybe it was Talleyrand) said: "You can do anything with bayonets except sit on them." Much of the problem in Iraq comes from Iran, and we seem curiously unwilling to do much about it. I wonder -- does Iran already have nuclear weapons, and are we being successfully blackmailed?

MARTIN LINDESKOG REPORTS ON THE SWEDISH ELECTIONS: "The opposition center-right alliance has narrowly won the Swedish elections." He has lots of interesting links and background, including an explanation of why this matters beyond Sweden.

THE NEW YORK TIMES reports on global gun rights. The opening is typically tendentious, but the story can't help but report some interesting news:

At first, the group openly fought gun control abroad, but that enabled gun-control advocates to accuse local gun lobbies of selling out to America. In Brazil, the N.R.A. tried a new approach. Brazil has the most gun deaths annually of any country, and last October it held a referendum on a nationwide gun ban. In the run-up to the vote, polls suggested that more than 70 percent of Brazilians supported the ban. Then the Brazilian gun lobby, which previously had emphasized the desirability of gun ownership, began running advertisements that instead suggested that if the government could take away the right to own a weapon (though Brazilians have no constitutional right to bear arms), it could steal other civil liberties. This argument took gun-control advocates by surprise, and on voting day, 64 percent of Brazilians voted against the gun ban. “We gun-control groups failed to anticipate this idea of focusing on rights,” admits Denis Mizne of Sou da Paz, a Brazilian public-policy institute. As a report in Foreign Policy revealed, the National Rifle Association lobbyist Charles Cunningham had traveled to Brazil as early as 2003 to impart strategy to local gun advocates, teaching them to emphasize rights instead of weapons.

Around the world, the N.R.A. is finding that a rights-based approach translates into many languages. As the N.R.A.’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, says: “They made the rights argument [in Brazil.] They made the argument that this was being taken away from the people.” He pauses. “It caught Iansa” — the International Action Network on Small Arms — “by surprise. They already had the Champagne on ice.” In the mid-1990’s, the N.R.A. became a nongovernmental observer at the United Nations and helped form a global coalition of pro-gun groups to match disarmament coalitions. At U.N. conferences, this coalition then uses success in national referendums to argue against global treaties. “The vote in Brazil on last Oct. 23 was a mandate,” the head of one gun-advocacy group argued at the U.N. conference this July. “The international anti-gun community, especially powerful NGO’s, was intimately and extensively involved in supporting the gun-ban referendum. They lost. They did not receive the mandate.”

The notion that an individual right to arms might be included within international human rights law is, of course, a compelling one.


THE WEBB/ALLEN DEBATE: Dean Barnett says it was a major win for Webb: "For conservatives wishing for Allen to retain his seat, their best hope is that Virginians were otherwise occupied this morning or that the state’s NBC outlets were having technical difficulties."

The Allen Campaign liveblogged the debate, and says that Webb was routed. "Jim Webb was simply out of his league — he’s not up to the complex array of issues facing Virginia, so he’s piggy-backing on the Kennedy/Kerry wing of the Democratic party."

I link, you decide.

UPDATE: Tom Bell emails to note that the futures market seems largely unmoved, with a modest uptick in Webb's position but nothing dramatic. You mean TV events don't decide elections? That's a rout for the pundit class, anyway. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Yet another take on the debate, from Decision '08.

And Slate's John Dickerson weighs in.


AUSTRALIA'S Muslim leaders have been "read the riot act" over the need to denounce any links between Islam and terrorism. The Howard Government's multicultural spokesman, Andrew Robb, yesterday told an audience of 100 imams who address Australia's mosques that these were tough times requiring great personal resolve.

Mr Robb also called on them to shun a victim mentality that branded any criticism as discrimination.

"We live in a world of terrorism where evil acts are being regularly perpetrated in the name of your faith," Mr Robb said at the Sydney conference.

"And because it is your faith that is being invoked as justification for these evil acts, it is your problem.

"You can't wish it away, or ignore it, just because it has been caused by others.

"Instead, speak up and condemn terrorism, defend your role in the way of life that we all share here in Australia."

We need more of this common-sense variety of multiculturalism.

DARFUR UPDATE: Ian Davis looks at the U.N.'s failure to prevent the slaughter of civilians, despite much talk.

BARACK OBAMA SAYS THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY "has become the party of reaction." I think he's onto something.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON remembers Oriana Fallaci and thinks about the Pope.


ED KOCH: "I believe that the U.S. is faltering in the current war against international terrorism, and we are losing our will to prevail. We are losing our fighting spirit as a result of the fighting between Republicans and Democrats on just how to prosecute the war."