Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Watching last night's Republican Convention, gave me at times the urge to imitate William Wallace's dying shout in Braveheart. Almost every other word referenced the freedom gained in the middle east and how we were safer as a result. News flash to Republicans - I like you guys, and I sometimes want to vote for you, but since this is a vast right wing conspiracy, let's at least be honest with ourselves. We don't want a democratic regime if that regime will nuke us or give nukes to our enemies - witness our support for Musharaf in Pakistan. Freedom and Democracy will not make us more secure if covertly aiding our destruction enjoys wide popular support.

Now since this is just between us fellow members of the conspiracy, what is important is not necessarily freedom, but the championing of it. By commending freedom and the rights that come with it on a surface level, we at least provide an alternative world view that has a shot in the battle of ideas. In this age where achieving weapons of mass death has become cheaper by the day, this is seemingly our best in a series of bad options of saving ourselves from the disaster of a nuclear, biological, or chemical attack on our shores.
Beyond Media Bias: Media Incompetence
Glenn Reynolds's makes an argument that has been on the tip of my tongue for a long time - the problem with mainstream media is not just that they are biased - rather it is that they can both lack the intelligence and knowledge base expected of professionals in a field. This is from Glenn's must read column at Tech Central Station.

[T]he quality of the coverage was poor, often substituting hand-waving for facts.. . this piece by Jim Boyd of the Star-Tribune, attacking two bloggers from Power Line does an especially good job of capturing the tone -- lots of complaints about "smears," but few facts. The two bloggers, John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson, replied:

"We wrote that the Kerry campaign has retracted Kerry's oft-told tale of being in Cambodia on Christmas 1968. Boyd did not dispute this. We wrote that there is no record of John Kerry being in Cambodia in December 1968, or at any other time. Boyd did not dispute this. We wrote that Kerry's commanding officers have denied that he was ever sent into Cambodia. Boyd did not dispute this. We wrote that not a single crewman who ever served with Kerry has supported Kerry's claim to have been in Cambodia, and several crewmen have denied that their boat was ever in Cambodia. Boyd did not dispute this. We wrote that there is no record of Swift boats being used for clandestine missions as claimed by Kerry. Boyd did not dispute this. We wrote that Swift boats were unsuited for such secret missions, given their large size and noise. Boyd did not dispute this.

"Gosh, for fraudulent smear artists, we seem to be doing pretty well.

Why did Hinderaker and Johnson do so well? Perhaps because they have actual skills. As Hugh Hewitt observes:

"I have been both a lawyer/law professor for two decades and a television/radio/print journalist for 15 years of those 20. It takes a great deal more intelligence and discipline to be the former than to be the latter, which is why the former usually pays a lot more than the latter. It is no surprise to me, then, when lawyers/law professors like those at Powerline and Instapundit prove to be far more adept at exposing the "Christmas-in-Cambodia" lie and other Kerry absurdities than old-school journalists. The big advantage is in research skills, of course, and in an eye for inconsistencies which make or break cases and arguments."

Or as Hinderaker himself wrote:

"A bunch of amateurs, no matter how smart and enthusiastic, could never outperform professional neurosurgeons, because they lack the specialized training and experience necessary for that field. But what qualifications, exactly, does it take to be a journalist? What can they do that we can't? Nothing. Generally speaking, they don't know any more about primary data and raw sources of information than we do-- often less. Their general knowledge is often inadequate. Their superior resources should allow them to carry out investigations far beyond what we amateurs can do. But the reality is that the mainstream media rarely use those resources. Too many journalists are bored, biased and lazy."

Monday, August 30, 2004

Communists for Kerry?
Feste is reporting on the "lefts true colors" in other words signs that say "communists for kerry". Blogs for Bush is mentioning the same thing.

I am not a 100% sure on this, but I think it is highly likely that the signs are a farce by Protest Warrior as this post on their message board indicates. Additionally the "Communists for Kerry" posters are in the same style as Protest Warriors usual signs which you can view here. Any doubters that this isn't a parody (although a good one) should take a look at the Communists for Kerry website.

Here are some other blogs that reference these "commies"
The Politburo Diktat
Hold The Mayo
Right side of the Rainbow
This Week's Media Bias Reminder
A good read, fowrarded by Polipundit.
Election Futures Market Favors Bush
Q and O is pointing out a spike in prices for options that pay only if Bush wins. I think now may be a good time to buy Kerry.
They Got Me
Apparently some "pseudo" anarchasits (pseudo because their vision of anarchy will just have another level of controlers) have stolen the passwords of the protest warrior list (which I am on) and also the personal information of RNC delegates so that the war against war can be taken to the "orginators". Can anybody say McCarthy?
Counter Protestors Maced?
So says this Protest Warrior post.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Daniel Herriges on Facism
Stanford student Daniel Herriges has given me permission to post an email he sent to me concerning his disagreement over my characterization of the issue of facism. I disagree with him quite strongly, and maybe I'll work up the time/energy to explain why. In any event, enjoy the thoughtful analysis of somebody with a radically different perspective than me.

I believe you're the one exhibiting a "striking ignorance" about the
nature of fascist societies if you see no parallel in modern America.
You define fascism as a political phenomenon, which is true, but it is
also a social phenomenon, because it is the extension of the political
into every realm of life - the subsuming of the individual to a
collective ideology, so to speak. Your two criteria can easily describe
dictatorships which are not in the least fascist or totalitarian. I
would argue that a citizen of a dictatorship can enjoy a large degree
of individual autonomy; and a totalitarian state can in theory be
organized as a democracy. There is no full-blown example of that yet,
but I feel America is on the verge of becoming the first.

Some aspects of fascism/totalitarianism evident in American society
(especially current-day, but much of this basically applies to
post-WWII America, i.e. the age of mass consumerism and corporate

-Mass consumer culture contributing to a collective sameness, as
evidenced by fashion, popular music, the effects of mass media in
general, the whole culture industry which homogenizes American society.
You can go to almost any suburb in America and find roughly the same
social milieu; people who have roughly the same experience of the
world. Homogenization of clothing styles is harmless on the surface;
the more insidious effect of consumer culture is homogenization of

-Mass media destroying the capacity for critical judgment and
individual thought. The media report over and over again "This is what
the experts are saying" and we're expected to line up behind one
ideology or another, or at least place ourselves somewhere on a
spectrum. America experiences a real poverty of diverse political
perspectives compared to most countries. Many people state their
political ideas in terms of inane platitudes, such as "I'm a Republican
because I believe in individual freedom," or "I'm a Democrat because I
have compassion for the less fortunate."

-An observation which I think speaks for itself: recall this year's
Democratic primaries. Kerry won the first one. The news media made a
big deal of it, and said "Looks like Kerry's coming out on top." Boom.
Kerry suddenly wins almost every other state, even those in which he
was behind Dean or someone else by a substantial margin beforehand.

-The centralized power structure of American society. We pay taxes.
Federal government gives half the money to the Pentagon. The Pentagon
doles it out to huge corporations with defense contracts, like Boeing,
Lockheed Martin, GE, etc. Many corporations with defense contracts
happen to own major news media. Put two and two together. To the extent
that fascism is the presence of a national ideology, reinforced by a
steady stream of propaganda, well, we've got that. The ideology is a
curious mix of fear translating into obsession with national security;
pro-capitalist triumphalism and unfailing faith in the ability of some
mysterious thing called economic growth to make us all fitter, happier
and more productive; belief in American exceptionalism and some vague,
undefined thing called freedom which we all enjoy; and especially
troubling recently, belief in a reified "America" which encompasses the
people and the state and makes no differentiation between the two,
allowing politicians to say things like "My opponent hates America."

I could go on for a long time, but I think I've conveyed in a basic
sense how I see a pseudo-fascist collectivism operating in this


Send Israeli Spies to Jail
I agree with Glenn Reynolds on the issue of Israeli Moles in the Defense Department.

Update: Maybe this is a nonstory that has been sexed up.
Where Do They Come Up With This?
I've been away visiting my broter at his yeshiva this weekend with my parents, and I come home to this short email:
Come on Elliot!? What's wrong with that? No country on this planet should possess the kinds of weapons that the USG wields so carelessly around the world. Hitler dreamed of global fascism, the USG is implementing it.

We will never have peace until we take the 'profit' out of war.

Here is my response:
Facism - what the hell does "facism" have anything to do with the U.S.? I'll give you a clue - nothing. Facism can be interpreted as one of two things (1) The crushing of all dissent, clearly not a situation we live under. (2) The term can mean a completely state controlled planned economy a la present day russia, which is not run for the benefit of the masses but those in power. While we are heading towards a more state controlled economy, we are so far from it at this point relative to the rest of the world that use of the term here betrays a striking ignorance.

Also, stop throwing this "profit" term around with war. In case you haven't noticed, there is no profit in this - it is costing us $100 billion a year. As I have mentioned multiple times, if we cared about profit, it would have been cheaper to leave Saddam in power and just take the oil bribes he was giving out like candy. You could argue that Haliburtun is making a killing through screwing around with the government reimbursements, but the same is true for almost any government programs, not just military ones (take a look at road or school construction for example, or doctors who used to game medicare). Ironically, given the costs of wars, one could say you have the argument exactly backwards - that we will have no peace until we wage wars ONLY for profit - but that idea could use more flushing out.
Explosive Residue Found on Russian Planes
I received this email from DC Rybicki Friday, but as I was away, I did not have time to post it.
Interfax is reporting that trace amounts of the chemical compound hexogen have been found in the wreckage of the Tu-154 (the Dzhjebirkanova flight).

Hexogen was used in the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings and is common component in bombs and bomb fragments recovered from sites of previous Chechen terrorist attacks.

FSB has officially declared the Tu-154 to have been downed by a terrorist act, but has not made any statements regarding evidence of explosive residues on the Tu-134 the Nagejeva flight), nor has it found evidence of a coordinated attack, or prior contacts between Dzhjebirkanova and Nagajeva.

Dzhjebirkanova's body was found this morning. That is, bits of her body were found: this is significant, since all of the other victims' bodies are accounted for--and are in one piece, according to gazeta.ru. Authorities do not anticipate finding Nagajeva's corpse intact.

There are conflicting stories about how and when Dzhjebirkanova bought her tickets, but all are consistent regarding the total lack of her passport data in Sibir's records or other confirmation of her ticket purchases. Dzhejebirkanova was born in 1977 and is registered with the MVD as a resident of Groznyj. She had no documented criminal history. Nothing new has been uncovered related to Nagejeva's identity or history of connection to Chechen terrorists or rebels. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Russia Explosions Part III
Stanford Law School's Moscow Correspondent DC Rybicki reports from Russia (see his earlier posts on this subject here and here):
Kommersant, kommersant.ru, the Russian daily which most closely approximates western journalistic standards, leads today with an article morosely (and crassly)entitled "Passengers Collectible On Demand: terrorism suspects have surfaced in the air-catastrophe investigation."

But, dear reader, don't take my Putin media-embargo-theory email and rip it to shreds quite yet! A claim that the planes were brought down by terrorists represents such a massive insult to Putin and an indictment of his Chechnya policy, that without a smoking gun, there will be no admission of foul play by the government.

The official line by Minister of Transportation Igor Levitin remains a refusal to admit that there is any connection between the two crashes: "these were different air companies, flying to different cities and I think that this [a coordinated 9/11-style attack] is not the correct theory" said Levitin. He cited as more plausible theories both human and mechanical error. Authorities have added that it could be months before a definitive statement regarding the contents of the in-flight recorders from both airplanes can be made.

Keep these claims in mind when reading what follows and then evaluate their plausibility.

As I wrote two days ago, the first two problems for the authorities in the double-crash investigation were the premature and unilateral release by the air companies of their passenger lists and the report of the Tu-154's alleged distress call shortly before impact. The trail continues on from those lists: Kommersant reports that of the 93 dead, only 2 passengers, one from each flight, are yet to be 'claimed' by any grieving relatives.

Shocker: the passengers are two Chechen women named Ms. "S. Dzhjebirkhanova" and Ms. "Amanta Salm. Nagajeva" (the "Salm." is her patronymic and turns out to have been a misspelled abbreviation for "Sulejmanovna", i.e., her father's name is "Suleiman").

Recent history has demonstrated that the vast majority of suicide attacks in Russia have been carried out by the so-called Shakhidki, Chechen widows, mothers, sisters or other lunatics whose husbands, sons, brothers have been killed by federal troops in the carnage of the last 12 years. They've got a score to settle and they like killing civilians. The Avtozavodskaja subway explosion last February which killed 40; the Hotel Natsional explosion last winter; the Tverskaja bombings; last summer's attack at the "Krylja" Rock Festival killing 20; Nord-ost's terrorists with two kilos of TNT strapped to their bodies; all Shakhidki. They've earned the ignominious nickname "Black Widows" in popular speech.

And no one has called the victim hotlines inquiring as to their whereabouts, no one has claimed either of them. Sure, the feds questioned some hapless Chechen family by the name of Dzhjebirkhanov in Moscow yesterday, but the Chechens claim no relation to the suspect passenger and added "they [FSB] come around here after every attack anyways."

Apparently Dzhjebirkhanova filled out her ticket paperwork in Roman letters (which is in itself a weird thing to do for a girl born in back-country Chechnya), and didn't present any official documents when buying the ticket: Sibir' Airways has no record of her passport number or any other more specific information which could assist in determining her identity. Bravo, Russian airport security, really, nice job guys. That's right: don't bother checking the papers of the world-weary Chechen girl wearing the bulky winter coat in late August. Of course, both the East-Line Company, which runs Domodedovo Airport, and Sibir' Airways both claim that it is "impossible" for her to have either gotten tickets or cleared passport control without the required documentation. Whatever.

She was originally scheduled to fly on the 9.20 am flight, which, according to the air company, is the most popular Moscow-Sochi route and is always filled to its 300+ passenger capacity. For reasons yet unknown, Dzhjebirkhanova changed her flight, in the process paying a penalty fee of 500 RUR (ca. $17), not an insignificant sum (pensioners get something like 1700 RUR a month), and was reticketed to fly twelve hours later on the 9.25 pm flight, an unpopular and relatively empty route carrying on average ca. 40 passengers. She sat in seat 19F, near the end of the tourist-class cabin and 9 rows in front of the airplane's tail, which holds the toilets and engines. Russian experts claim this is the optimal location for maximizing damage by explosion.

The second suspected Shakhidka is Amanta Suleimanovna Nagajeva; authorities have determined that she was born in the village of Kirov in the Vedenskij District of Chechnya, but had subsequently moved to Groznij. She was never married, had not previously crossed paths with MVD or FSB, but is obviously now suspected of having ties to Chechen terror cells. No connection between Nagajeva and Dzhjebirkanova has yet been uncovered.

Needless to say, there are hundreds of reasons why neither of these girls' families have yet to contact the authorities: their families were killed in the wars, they don't have a phone, families hate or fear federal authorities and won't call, daughters ran away years ago and didn't maintain contact, daughters are Shakhidka suicide bombers, etc. In spite of these developments, I still maintain that the Russian authorities will not admit that this was a coordinated, 9/11-style attack. They will claim that "data do not support any unique theory" or that "no conclusive statements can be made" regarding the crashes or that "there is no physical evidence to suggest a bomb was carried on board." Everybody will still know that this thing is way beyond coincidence, and that knowledge is in no way contingent on confirmation by an official report, which will not be forthcoming.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Kerry v. Bush - Death Penalty and Innocence Project
By this point most of you who read my blog have figured out my distaste for Kerry. But there are a few issues, if I could trust him to be consistent, that I think he is far superior to Bush on. One is his vision of the death penalty and the innocence project. As TalkLeft points out:

In the past two weeks, Wilton Dedge left jail after 22 years. Robert Coney was freed at 76 after serving 41 years. And Michael McAllister, who served 18 years.

How many more of them are there? What can we do to find them? Pass a real Innocence Protection Act, for one. Bush won't do it. Kerry will.

Sen. John Kerry: "I oppose the death penalty other than in cases of real international and domestic terrorism. We know we have put innocent people to death; 111 innocent people have already been released from death row. As president, I'll enforce the law but I'll also have a national moratorium on federal executions until we use DNA evidence to make sure those on death row are guilty."

Read the whole thing, with links.
More Swirling Confusion
Patterico is trying to get the LA Times to admit that they screwed up. On a front page story. Of "intense national interest." Screwing over conservatives.

Coincidence? Let's take a walk down memory lane -
Remember this?
Yet despite its neutrality, The Times ran a merciless series of stories attacking GOP front-runner Arnold Schwarzenegger, largely for sexual harassment against women, though more recently his admiration of Adolf Hitler. No one begrudges the Times the right to report the news. But the extent, timing and vitriol of attacks raise alarming concerns about media bias and the egregious use of a daily newspaper for political purposes. “Here’s a newspaper that pretty much doesn’t like Arnold Schwarzenegger, so they put this on Page 1 five days before the election,” said Bernard Goldberg, author of “Bias,“ a bestseller exposing liberal bias at CBS News. Going for the jugular, LA’s best newspaper has crossed the line.

Or how about this?
Field Poll Blasts Times Poll: The people who run the Field Poll not only think the L.A. Times poll (showing Davis on the verge of beating the recall) is full of it, they think the L.A. Times' defensive explanation for why its poll is different is also full of it! And they make a powerful case.
Twenty Questions for Kerry
Well, there are subparts. But it is still a good read.
You Can Trust the International Community
Keep your eyes on this:
The US claims Infobank was central to Saddam Hussein's scheme to divert more than $10 billion from the oil-for-food deal to the Iraq government...

Oil-for-food was supposed to reduce the impact of UN sanctions on Iraqis by allowing the country to sell oil on condition that the proceeds be used to provide food and medicine. It began in 1996 but is now under intense scrutiny after allegations that Iraqi officials demanded massive bribes from contractors running the scheme, while the UN took no action.

Carnival of the Vanities
Take a look!
CNN Down in SBVT Controversey! Cleland to the Rescue!
The controversy keeps going! Are the Swift Boat Veterans liars? Is the Kerry campaign trying to hide from their story by having the media distort it? Is this mess intended by some to suck us all into a a swirly mass of confusion?

Yesterday, CNN spoke briefly about a possible contradiction in one of the Swift Boat Veterans, John O'Neil's, previous statements. Glenn Reynolds, as linked to above, gives a good explanation that could resolve that question that was brought up.

Also yeseterday, Kerry sent former senator and recent democrat icon Max Cleland to Bush's Crawford ranch. A little bit of background - Cleland is a triple amputee senator who is beloved by many on the left because he was booted for office in ads they feel were overly hostile. Anyway, Cleland was, newspaper cameras in toto, to deliver a letter to Bush criticizing him for not condemning the SBVT.

What was this visit and this attacks on the credibility of the SBVT designed to accomplish? Simple - To make Bush look bad while preserving Kerry's hide. The real question is whether these objectives are succeeding.

Well, let's look at some different perspectives. First off, Steve Gilliard has these general comments after the stunt
My feeling is that Kerry and his team timed this perfectly. They let O'Neill spread his lies, and then just ambushed him like he did the VC. Everyone is now all in his shit, looking at his past. I think Rove thought he would jump Kerry, and Kerry would just blow this off as nonsense. Well, he's not Al Gore. He's coming back hard at Bush, and having two decorated Vietnam Vets land on his doorstep to be turned away is perfect. Maybe they can kick Cleland's wheelchair as well.

Bush walked right into a trap, all the idiot nervous nellies who think that Kerry should have attacked weeks ago, have no taste for the finer things in life. Bush is called a liar in the media, Rove's dirty tricks machine is being unraveled as we watch, and he's limited Bush's actions in the future. They really blew their wad with this Swift Boat attack.

Maybe they ought to come on horseback and really scare the shit out of Bush. Too bad they have to go to Central Texas in the middle of August, but that's where Bush is.

However, Powerline has a very different take on some of this:
The Bush camp apparently had word of Cleland's approach, and were prepared. They had a representative poised to deliver a responsive letter to Cleland. Here is what happened:
A Texas state official and Vietnam veteran, Jerry Patterson, said someone from the Bush campaign contacted him Wednesday morning and asked him if he would travel to the ranch, welcome Cleland to Texas and accept the former senator's letter to Bush.
"I tried to accept that letter and he would not give it to me," said Patterson. "He would not face me. He kept rolling away from me. He's quite mobile."

Patterson, who spoke with the president on the phone, said the campaign asked him to give Cleland a letter for Kerry written by the Bush campaign and signed by Patterson and seven other veterans.
"You can't have it both ways," the letter said. "You can't build your convention and much of your campaign around your service in Vietnam, and then try to say that only those veterans who agree with you have a right to speak up."

November can't come too soon; neither can the day when we see the last of Max Cleland on the public stage.

Update (via Drudge): Dems are now asking Ashcroft to look into whether there was "illegal" (i.e. criminal) activity in links between the White House attorny and Swift Boat Veterans for truth. My take - the fact that this friviolous charge is getting press is more evidence of the desire to confuse the public with irrelevant facts.
Russian Explosions, Continued.
DC Rybicki sends this email concerning the two crashed airplanes in Russia earlier this week. To see his earlier post, click here.

As always in Russia, two questions out of this incident:

"What is to be done?" and "Who is to blame?"

Question 1: In retrospect, I was silly to have repeated the claim from gazeta.ru that the Russian authorities were on the verge of declaring the accident a terrorist event yesterday. They obviously were about to do no such thing. No negative coverage of the president, people under his protection or his policies is ever permitted through mass media channels in Putin's Russia. And it doesn't take a George Kennan to figure out that if it turns out to be terrorism, it makes Putin look weak, it makes Putin's Chechnya policy look ineffective, it makes people wonder about the efficacy of further military operations in Chechnya, it makes people scared to fly, etc. There's a lot of Chechnya fatigue over here already and the last thing Putin needs is a "Russian 9/11." "No 9/11 analogies, please" is going to be the line to the media. You get a lot of Chechnya coverage on the TV of fountains and flowers and teenage Chechen girls in sundresses smiling and buying oranges. Flashback to old Soviet-period episodes of the newsprogram "Vremya" which featured cutting-edge stories on jolly Ukrainian peasants exceeding last month's grain-production quotas.

The acceptable media position to take is that Putin is WINNING the war on terror in Russia, and winners don't have setbacks like this. Great Powers don't have Chernobyls either, and there would never have been government admission of the meltdown had the Swedes not gone public with the massive increases in ambient atmospheric radiation that couldn't be explained away by "solar flares".

It never happened. Like Kursk, and the aftermath of the Nord-0st theatre seizure, the goverment will be so miserly with revealing any new information that, in the course of a few weeks, people will forget about this one too. Besides, Kursk and Nord-Ost were prolonged, dramatic, national tragedies which held the public's attention; people were clammoring for answers, results, save them before it's too late!

This situation has none of those characteristics and will be much easier to hush up or whitewash. Frankly, people here were more anxious about the pipe bomb that exploded at a south-Moscow bus stop (four injured) than about the planes (ninety? dead). In 6 months, some half-assed report will be written that attributes the crashes to "poor maintenance" and "freak weather conditions" and will not address the possibility that this was a coordinated event. The planes both exploded in mid-air and crashed at the same time because their fuel tanks were hit by lightning bolts or whatever.

It doesn't have to make sense, it just has to explain away the problem. It's like this work colleague of mine who is obviously a heavy drinker and always complains that "magnetic storms" or "atmospheric pressure" are really making him feel rotten; it couldn't possibly be that liter of rotgut he drank yesterday at the train station.

Question 2: Low-level ministry of transportation bureaucrats will have their knuckles rapped for incompetence or callousness, some mild punishments will likely be meted out to airport higher-ups and the air companies themselves. Domodedovo is the new showpiece airport and its reputation can't be tarnished by accusations of bad security. Security will be tightened, but no admissions regarding fault will be made. Since what we're seeing here was an "accident", I don't think that this event
will have much impact on Russian terrorism policy (I can already hear the dulcet tones of some chinovnik repeating ad nauseam "this is a matter for internal aviation oversight"), Chechnya policy or US-Russia bilat relations. And the guy from Sibir' Airlines who went public with the Tu-154 terrorist signal report before getting a greenlight from the government will be dealt appropriately.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Blog are Worse than the Traditional Media?
Jesse Taylor at Panadong has this to say:
The problem with blogs isn't gossip and innuendo. The problem with blogs is the goddamned triumphalism that pervades many of them on a roughly biweekly basis every time they find a story that they think isn't being covered enough and pound the hell out of it. Sometimes it's deserved; much more often, it's not.

And, to be quite frank, much of that comes from the right, largely because they've build up an entire separate media sphere which prides itself on not being the mainstream media.
(bolding added by me for emphasis)

Now I like Jesse's writing - he's clearly an articulate fellow. But while the blogsphere clearly pounds a story into the pavement, can anybody honestly say that the traditional media does not do the same thing?

In Jesse's defense, he does say mostly the same thing:
The mainstream media screws up a lot. And it's good that bloggers are there to call them on it - when they do a fair and accurate job of it. However, "the media sucks" doesn't imbue a blogger with righteousness and validity in their pursuit of stories the media isn't (and shouldn't be) covering. It shouldn't be a badge of honor that the nonsense you're peddling isn't being covered by people who have professional credibility to maintain.

The question then is whether the old media is any different in its triumphantalism then the new. Does anybody honestly think that the editors of the NYTimes won't be celebrating in the event of a Kerry win? That glee will not be detectable the day after in their stories? That the reporters will not take it as a "badge of honor" that they have made a difference?

Now I may have misread Jesse's argument. I frequently do that in my absent mindedness. But I think Jesse and I disagree on this point. And I don't think it is a trivial one either. It goes to the heart of whether the old Media is as neutral as many would like to believe it is.
Russia Explosions
Backcountry Conservative has more on this here.
Adding to the discussion, I received this email from David Rybicki who is in Moscow
IF you haven't already heard about the airplane explosions in Russia, I'm
your in-country correspondent here to give you the freshest update straight
out of Moscow:

The Russian authorities are on the verge of declaring the two plane explosions last night over southern Russia a coordinated terrorist attack.

Both planes exploded almost simultaneously, with confirmation by ground witnesses that the Tu-134 exploded in midair. Both planes took off from the same runway, Domodedovo airport.

The wreckage of the Tu-154 is being examined, but they're talking explosion. Also, the Tu-154 crew managed to send out a signal shortly before explosion that the plane had been seized by terrorists. 88 dead in both explosions with passenger lists already distributed publicly.

No foreign citizens on either plane, but who care's since Chechens, Dagestanis and North Ossetians all carry Russian passports! Presence of Saudi citizens is not the sine qua non of airplane terrorism.

Normally, Russian planes just dropping out of the sky can be pretty reliably tagged on the embarrassing, gradual rust-out of post-Soviet infrastructure and poor maintenance (e.g., the Kursk nuclear sub sank due to explosion of a faulty torpedo, not due to collision with a phantom American submarine, as was initially reported in Russian media). These explosions, I think, cannot rationally be attributed to a coincidental event. Also, I know from personal experience that Russian airport security for domestic flights is basically non-existant.

My theory, which may be total bullsh#$: Chechen presidential elections are scheduled for this Saturday (Chechnya's first president Akhmad Kadyrov was killed in a terrorist explosion at a soccer match in May, a death which represented a major blow to Kremlin authority in Chechnya). Russian media have bombarded the country over the weekend with a Kadyrov love-fest: program featuring Putin's personal musings on the great man Kadyrov on the occasion of the late president's birthday; hour-long Kadyrov encomium on Rossia TV channel; every baby in Groznyj hospital born last Sunday named Akhmad (I think there were maybe 4, but it's still symbolicaly significant when it makes the national NTV 7pm news, don't you think?); unveiling of Kadyrov monument in Groznyj; renaming of main street in Gudermes (Chechnya's second city) in honor of Kadyrov; renaming of street in Moscow, contrary to city ordinance requiring a minimum ten-year period between death and renaming, in honor of Kadyrov; Kadyrov museum opened in Groznyj; Putin meets with Kadyrov, Jr. in Sochi. I.e., all part of Moscow's "get out the vote" campaign for "our new man in Groznyj who will continue Kadyrov's Kremlin-friendly policies and get the bad guys." Chechen terrorists, like their Al Qaeda instructors, are strategic about timing terrorist attacks and I think it's reasonable at this point to postulate that this is another timed challenge to the flexing of federal muscle in the upcoming election. Last huge attack in Chechnya (van full of TNT driven into government building and detonated) was in Dec 2002 in antipation of a referendum.

Don't we have an election coming up in Nov.?
Losing a Parent
This account of losing a parent sent chills down my spine.
I step out of the room again, only to re-enter moments later. I don't know how many times I did the ritual, or for how long. From her side, to another room, and back to her side again. Maybe I thought it'd be different when I came back each time and she'd improve. Maybe I just couldn't stand to see her like that. Perhaps it was a mixture of the two. Hours pass as the organs slowly lose their fight.

I don't think she can feel me caressing her head, but at least it comforts me. I lean over to her ear again, "Mom, I love you." Her eyebrows raise, and her eyes widen. That's when the tears came. Only this time they were her tears, and I know she heard me. She couldn't talk, but the tears said enough.

My sister, brother, and myself held her cold blue hands as she took her last labored breaths. I can't really describe the pain, the emotion of seeing your mother take her last dying breaths. And I don't want to try, because I might succeed.

Read the whole thing. And send your sympathy to Josh.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

You Can't Pick and Choose
The Kerry Spot has this to say today:
The irony here is that a main reason Mr. Kerry has focused so much on Vietnam is to avoid debating Iraq and the rest of his long record in the Senate. He wants Americans to believe that a four-month wartime biography is credential enough to be commander-in-chief. But a candidate who runs on biography can't merely pick the months of his life that he likes — any more than a candidate who makes Vietnam the heart of his campaign can confine the resulting debate to his personal home video.
Bush - Stronger on the Issues? What Issues?
Those of us (like me) who are against Kerry (as opposed to being pro-Bush) argue that in lieu of arguing on any issue, or putting forward any concrete policy, Kerry has been speaking in truisms and telling tall tales of Vietnam heroism. However, as this post from Pandagon points out, the view from the other side of the fence is that Bush may not be doing all that much better.

George W. Bush's site has an issues section. It has no actual proposals for any second-term policies. Not one. The closest any section comes is national security, which reprints a brief summary of a 2002 speech that declares we will do good stuff, at least 2/3 of which Bush has fundamentally failed at.

Now I'll disagree with the author of this post about whether Bush has failed at foreign policy. However, the author certainly makes a strong point - exactly what is Bush going to claim he is in favor of during a second term? And a different question - exactly what will he actually be in favor of?

Why do I ask these questions? Well, since those on the right attack the Mooreistas for sheer hatred of Bush, unless Bush articulates a set of proposals in essence his supporters will be voting for him out of a similiar hatred of Kerry.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Truth About The Ovetime Law Change
Bush is coming under criticism for changing overtime laws. However, from some stuff I saw while working labor and employment at a law firm, I knew there was more to the story - I just haven't had the time to condense my thoughts into one post. Mark at Polipundit just saved me the trouble with this thoughtful post. Here is the key excerpt, although I urge you to read the whole thing:

The old regulations were completely antiquated, having been written in 1949, additionally the last time the pay scale was adjusted was 1975. So what do the new regulations do? They "raise the salary threshold -- below which workers would automatically qualify for overtime -- from $155 a week to $425 a week, or $8,060 per year, to $22,100 per year The impact of this revision will be to increase the wages of 1.3 million lower-income workers and reduce the number of low-wage salaried workers currently being denied overtime pay." Additionally, under the new rule, any worker receiving a salary of less than $20,000 will be eligible for overtime, regardless of his or her job duties.

So why the opposition from the Democrats and their cronies in the AFL-CIO? Look no further than John Edwards. The current regulations are so complex and Byzantine they provide a small industry for trial lawyers looking to sue businesses who categorize their employees mistakenly. These can be turned into class action suits which in turn mean a hefty profit for lawyers.

Good job Mark.
My Problem with Working at Law Firms
Stated wonderfully by a blogger. . . Here is an excerpt:
We were sitting at dinner with most of the firm one Friday night. Our London office employs a chef, you see, to make sure we have something moderately nice to eat when we're there past seven, and we're always there past seven anyway. I joined a group of young women lawyers (all married, sadly!), and began scooping some surprisingly good teriyaki salmon onto my gilded fork. One of them glumly plunked an obviously expensive purse onto the table - it immediately attracted the attention of the other two. "That", one said, "is Louis Vitton". "When, exactly, did you go shopping for it? I know for a fact that you haven't left the office before three in a month". The answer struck me in a way the question hadn't, shocking though it was - "I bought it online at 4 in the morning a week ago. I was feeling so depressed, you know? I hadn't been home in three days, taking showers down the hall. I just had to buy something. Isn't it nice?".

And that, to me, is the law firm in a sentence. Sure, the hours are incredible, and the work sometimes depressing. But the real problem is that the firm creates people who assuage their angst with money, like some people eat to feel better.

Read the whole thing.
What's the Big Deal About Conspiracy Theory Hatchet Job Ads Anyway?
So Bush is now calling for an end to the Swift Boat Ads. Make that all 527 political ads. Well at least he is being fair about it - Kerry didn't start to complain about these tactics until he was the one being attacked. Nor do some of his apparent supporters who denounce SBVT for being "inappropriate" pause to denounce MoveOn for their attacks.

At the same time, I am quite disturbed by the debate over the "appropriatness" of these ads. In my opinion, unless a political ad is inciting violence, it is only "inappropriate" if it doesn't work. An ad that "goes to far" is the ad that backfires on its creator/funder. If an ad is distorting in a political debate, then air an ad that takes the original admaker to task, instead of taking the "high horse" that negative ads are bad. For if you have to take the high horse, the probability is that you do not have anything persuasive to say in response.

So here's a proposal. Let's stop this nonsense about inappropriatness. Let's stop restricting what people can say in an election season. Let's let the sparks fly, and the most persuasive candidate come out on top. Anybody with me? At least I think I can count on Greg Ransom. Can I count on you? If not, why not? I'm open to persuasion.
Just Another Day in the Fladen House
As a kid, I got a kick out of calling my mother’s secretaries, and posing as a judge or client. Conversations would frequently transpire as such.

Secretary - “Attorney Sharon Fladen’s Office”
Me – “This is Judge Hopp. Ms. Fladen was due in my court ten minutes ago. I suggest you tell her to get over here right now.”

Fifteen minutes later
Mom – “Elliot you are grounded”

Well, I’m back in Canton, so while writing my paper, I’m back to old my tricks. My grandmother’s nurse was in the house when her daughter called and I picked it up - so I of course told her it was a collection agency. Improvising on the fly, she picked the phone up and started arguing with the “collection agency”. Of course my mom was right there, and grabbed the phone from her, and announced in her sternest voice – “This is Attorney Sharon Fladen. You are berating my client…”

At which point the rest of us cracked up laughing……
Now Here's a Brilliant Idea.....
A friend sends a link to this site, Who's A Rat, that describes itself as
a database driven website designed to assist attorneys and criminal defendants with few resources. The purpose of this website is for individuals and attorneys to post and share all information that has been made public at some point prior to postin...

My friend sends the following comments....
I'm speechless. Note also that the site carries agent profiles, as in a
picture of a (potentially undercover) DEA agent.

When these people get whacked, will the site's owner be found guilty of
depraved-indifference murder, or just manslaughter?

I'm not a an expert on this point, but I'll try and find out.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

9/11 or 9/18?
An interesting theory in the Washington Post that the attacks of September 11th, 2001 were supposed to fall on September 18th, which would have been the first day of Rosh Hashana, which is a holy day to those of the Jewish faith.

A Sept. 18 timetable would account for one of the most mystifying and disturbing incidents that occurred after the attacks: The spread of the assertion, widely reported in parts of the Arab and Muslim world, that "4,000 Jews" had been absent from the World Trade Center and that their absence was evidence of "Zionist regime involvement" in planning and carrying out the plot.

Since the allegation was clearly ludicrous and demonstrably false -- there was nothing to indicate that there had been a warning to anyone to stay away on Sept. 11 -- it was quickly dismissed in the West as predictable propaganda from anti-Israeli ideologues.

It was the sheer absurdity of the story that made me wonder about its origins. During more than 30 years in the Foreign Service, including several assignments that schooled me in the inner workings of terrorist organizations, I learned that even ridiculous claims don't arise out of nowhere. Why didn't this allegation surface immediately after the attacks, but rather appear nearly a week later, right around Sept. 18? The answer I kept coming back to was that these stories were likely timed to fit with what was expected to be the reality at the time. For had Mohamed Atta and his conspirators struck on Sept. 18, a large percentage of Jewish employees who would normally have been present in the World Trade Center buildings would likely have been absent in observance of Rosh Hashanah, and would have escaped death when the planes struck.

In retrospect, these spurious accounts may have been an integral part of the plan devised by Osama bin Laden: a clever psychological warfare effort that was intended to create resentment toward Israel and Jews in America, while simultaneously impeding moderate Muslims and Arab governments from condemning the terrorist attack (since to do so could make them appear to their populations that they were defending Israel).

So why did the attacks then occur on September 11th if the theory were correct? Read the article and find out the author's theory.
Swiftboat, Part CMLXVI
The story that will not die continues here.

I published this comment on Bo Cowgill's site.
Whether you find the ads to be persuasive or offensive, Kerry's quick use of legal tactics betray a thin skin that will have to thicken if he is to be effective on the international stage. Even worse, they show a disrespect for the right to free speech that is surprising for somebody claiming that he will restore civil liberties.

Paul at Wizbang has reasons for why the SBVT should be optimistic after this Washington Post piece.

Here are some of them (I encourage you to read the rest)
The spin of this single story is not nearly as important, politically, as its mere existence. The WaPo (Washington Post) running this story legitimizes the issue and forces other news organizations to do the same. The Swifies' have what they want, a real political issue. Make no mistake, no matter what your political stripe, this story is bad news for Kerry. In the perfect Kerry world, he was every veteran's hero. Obviously he can't make that claim.
Divide and Conquer
Texans can ensure Republican domination by dividing their state into 5 pieces, as it was given that right in return for it surrendering its sovereignty when it joined the union. Read about this idea which will probably not be implemented here if you wish.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Kerry has filed an FCC FEC Complaint suggesting that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is linked to the Bush campaign. As evidence the Kerry campaign is citing a flier for the group found in a Bush campaign office. This flier appears much ado about nothing. So a flier was found. Big deal - most likely that was the work of the campaign workers and not the Bush campaign. I actually think Lorie at Polipundit has a good idea when suggests that if Kerry wants an FCC Complaint filed against Bush, Bush may want an FCC FEC complaint filed against MoveOn.org.

As usual QandO are all over everything on this and are providing exaustive coverage of all these issues.

Not a Good Sign.........
Many were happy when the Iraqi Soccer Team upset Portugal, as it was taken as a good news in increasing morale over there. However, not all Iraqis are approving of the United States.

Iraq's successful Olympic football team has launched an outspoken attack on US President George W Bush.
Midfielder Salih Sadir said the team - which won its group stage in Greece - was angry it had been used in Mr Bush's re-election campaign ads.
One accused the US leader of committing "many crimes", and another said he would be fighting US troops if not for Athens.
Salih Sadir said he was angry at Mr Bush's campaign adverts showing pictures of the Afghan and Iraqi flags with the words: "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations - and two fewer terrorist regimes".
"Iraq as a team does not want Mr Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," said the Iraqi player.
"He can find another way to advertise himself."
He called for US troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. "We don't wish for the presence of the Americans in our country. We want them to go away."
Another star player, 22-year-old Ahmed Manajid, asked: "How will [Mr Bush] meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women? He has committed so many crimes."

Read the whole thing.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Mike Zummer Gives His Reasons
Earlier I posted about Mike Zummer, the Stanford Law Student who chose to take a leave of abscence and go to Iraq. He now sends this email about why he is going.

With the posts going up about my decision, I feel I should say a few words about it. First, I would like to thank everyone for their posts and their extremely kind words about me. I wish I deserved it. The people who deserve it are the servicemembers who are out there now and those who are going with me. Men and women leaving families behind are people who truly deserve praise. However, because of the posts, I will try to express how I came to my decision.

Before Stanford, I was an FBI agent. Before that, I was in the Marine Corps. Leaving the FBI and the Marine Corps were the two most difficult days of my life. I was leaving organizations that I loved with all of my heart. I was leaving the service of my country which I love more than anything in the world. However, I left both because I felt there was something else for me to do. I left the Marine Corps to join the FBI. I left the FBI, because I felt that I could do more as a prosecutor with a degree from a school with a reputation as great as Stanford's.

While leaving Stanford was not an easy decision, staying did not make any sense to me. I did not volunteer because of any sort of death-wish. I did not volunteer because I'm homicidal. I volunteered because Marines are in a fight. When Marines are fighting, it is a fellow Marine's duty to help them. That is our ethos. I couldn't stay protected while my Marines were doing their duty. Our country will survive with one less lawyer, but we need as many Marines as we can get. Especially now. Semper Fidelis.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

More Dahlia
I'm driving to Ohio tomorrow, so I am not sure how much I'll be able to post (maybe one of my cobloggers will put something up?), but in the meantime, I have another email from [name deleted]. Enjoy!

Here's more of the DL [Dahlia Lithwick] on DL.

I assume that Dahlia's Bill Pryor animus is rooted in her suspicion that once on the federal bench he'll hear the voice of God saying that Roe was decided incorrectly, i.e., that Pryor is a wild-eyed fundamentalist Christian bent on turning the 11th circuit into the Spanish Inquisition and making mincemeat of the civil rights of women, minorities and other Democrat core constituencies. For sure, Dahlia doesn't much care for fundamentalist Christians or, for that matter, religious people in general:

Quoth Lithwick, again using the Jeffersonian wall metaphor:
"There is a doctrinal tension built into the long tradition of walling off church from state, and also in the claim that this wall evinces no hostility toward the church. Of course chasing religion from the public square is hostile. The point is that it's [presumably the act of chasing]
the only means of avoiding a theocracy."
In case the phone rang while you were reading that, or you were thinking about what's for dinner and didn't catch it, again, please:

"...Of course chasing religion from the public square is hostile. The point is that it's the only means of avoiding a theocracy."
Why, "Of course"! THE LYNCH MOB IS JUST CONSTITUTIONAL LAW BY OTHER MEANS. OK: Just let that sink in for a sec. In the hearts of these religious zealots lurks a danger to society so imminent that they represent the one group to be singled out and silenced (or worse) by "chasing" them out of the public square.

Dahlia's enflamed secularism was no doubt partially satiated by Rehnquist's majority opinion last term in Locke v. Davey, a decision which protects a state public benefits program that facially discriminates against religion. (What's next, taking professional clergy off the Medicare roles?) Davey, winner of a Wash. scholarship was barred from using state monies in pursuit of a double major in "pastoral ministries and business management" at a private institution. Justice Scalia sums up the substance of the ruling:

"When the State makes a public benefit generally available, that benefit becomes part of the baseline against which burdens on religion are measured; and when the State withholds that benefit from some individuals solely on the basis of religion, it violates the Free Exercise Clause no less than if it had imposed a special tax." (Locke v. Davey, Scalia J. in dissent 540 US __ (2004)).
Con Law 101: laws which place burdens on religion, like ones that encumber race, are subject to strict scrutiny. (Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye Inc. v. Hialeah 508 US 520 (1993)), i.e., prinicple at work here is FORMAL NEUTRALITY OF TREATMENT. DL prefers hostile chasing.

And this EP summation by Justice Blackmun (indeed not a right-wing zealot):

"[w]hen a law discriminates against religion as such,...it automatically will fail strict scrutiny." (Lukumi at 579).
Now, I don't think Dahlia REALLY meant what she, as is often the case, carelessly (here, wrecklessly, I think) communicates in her column. But how to get around this inattention to phraseology?
The Confusion Between the Truth and the Law
The Supreme Court has held that a father has absolutely no say as to whether his child should be born. Once his child is born, however, the father is socked (and rightfully so) with all kinds of obligations. California, that well-spring of "progressivism," has even taken to socking men with obligations for children they did not even father (see story here).

Manuel Navarro was ordered in 1996 by California court to pay $247 a month in child support for two boys. The rub, DNA testing later proved that he was not their father. Too bad said the Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department. Mr. Navarro had a judgment against him, and by the time he found out about his DNA results it was too late to appeal, time had run out, so just keep on paying.

Thankfully, in a moment of rare clarity, the California Court of Appeals for the 2nd District came to Mr. Navarro's rescue and overturned the decision. Sounds sensible, but not to everyone. Lori Cruz, Deputy Director of the Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department has petitioned the California Supreme Court to "depublish" the decision because it may create "confusion."

Where's the confusion you ask? Well, when it comes to the law, never let the truth get in the way. You see, Ms. Cruz thinks that since Mr. Navarro had a legal judgment against him, that should be the end - DNA evidence be damned. Accordingly, for all the other putative fathers with judgments against them she doesn't want them getting any ideas that they can get out of paying child support for kids that aren't even theirs. In fine, Ms. Cruz doesn't want anyone confusing the truth with the law.
The NAACP - Has its time passed?
This blog I just found thinks so. I am not sure, although I would like to see a debate of why the rest of us Americans who are not black should view it as having some moral authority. Anyway, check out the blog I linked to. She has funny pictures.
Washington Post, Reporting for Duty
The Washington Post is running a story supposedly refuting one of those who attack Kerry's record.

National Review's The Kerry's Spot has this to say in response:

This front page post story about the Swift Boat Vets blows it, or at least the headline writer does. The Post declares, "Records Counter A Critic Of Kerry; Fellow Skipper's Citation Refers To Enemy Fire." But a central point of "Unfit for Command" is their contention that Kerry lied about what happened on his missions, thus putting false information into the military records. Citing records that the Swifties charge Kerry wrote himself does not prove that the Swifties are lying. Reporter Michael Dobbs concludes:

Thurlow and other anti-Kerry veterans have repeatedly alleged that Kerry was the author of an after-action report that described how his boat came under enemy fire. Kerry campaign researchers dispute that assertion, and there is no convincing documentary evidence to settle the argument. As the senior skipper in the flotilla, Thurlow might have been expected to write the after-action report for March 13, but he said that Kerry routinely "duked the system" to present his version of events.
Besides that, the story doesn't recount all the testimony from other witnesses Chenoweth, Odell, and Pease in "Unfit for Command," or the wound in Kerry's buttocks from the grenade in the rice bin. It's a he said/he said story, with a headline that implies that the Kerry critic is lying.

Still, this sort of story does suggest that the news media is now paying attention to the Swift Boat Vets, and feels the need to write something about them.

If you want to see more on this, go to Jon Henke's coverage at Q and O.
Alternatively, you can read somebody who takes a different view of things here.
Beware of New Yorkers
Get a load of this:
Rejecting ex-mayor Ed Koch's call to "make nice" with the party that used the deaths of 2,801 New Yorkers--most of them Democrats--for everything from tax cuts for the rich to building concentration camps at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib to invading Iraq to enrich Dick Cheney and his fellow Halliburton execs, some groups are encouraging liberal-minded New Yorkers to volunteer for the city's squad of official greeters. Creatively altered maps of streets and subways will be handed out to button-clad stupid white men. Other saboteurs wearing fake RNC T-shirts will direct them to parts of town where Bush's policies have hit hardest. Rumor has it that prostitutes suffering from sexually transmitted diseases will discourage the use of condoms with Republican customers.

I'm speechless.
(link via Drudge)
Carnival of the Vanities
Is up. I have a post listed, and there are some other good ones as well. Check it out!.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Stanford Law Student Going to Iraq By Choice
Mike Zummer is not your typical Stanford Law Student. Besides being one of my former co-bloggers, he's also in his thirties - making him older than average. Also, being a conservative former FBI agent gives him a different political persuasion than all but a few. What truly sets Mike apart though is that he is giving up his position of privilege at perhaps the most desirable place to study law in the country, voluntarily, to serve in Iraq. Yes, voluntarily. Mike enlisted and has taken a leave of absence from Stanford Law School. He was not part of a reserve or a national guard unit - he recently CHOSE to go to what is said by some cynics to be a killing zone.

Over the next few months, we are hoping to have Mike post from Iraq, pending clearance from his superiors, of course. But before Mike ships off, I think it is important to point something out. It is the common tripe of the left that the priveleged, or elite, do not serve in wars. That they get the poor, uneducated masses to be misled into fighting for causes that supposedly do not benefit them. Another line is that our "volunteer army" which is supposedly of such high caliber, is in reality stupid kids pressured outside of a shopping center by professional soldier-recruiters, who in a different time would easily be confused for used-car salesman - as documented by Michael Moore.

To those say such things, I personally can only point them in the direction of my friend Mike. Who is capable. Who is elite. Who is brilliant. And who chose to serve not because of any pressure from the outside, but because of an internal pressure of a duty he felt he owed to his country. Now that is just one example. But if we all look around, I'm sure we'll find others.

The truth is that our soldiers are not a bunch of misfits. It takes somebody with guts and a sense of both duty and honor to sign up. And there are no better examples of that than those who walk away from amazing opportunities to give something back not just to their country - but to their friends, families, and loved ones, who are the citizens of the country they serve.

UPDATE: If you wish to give Mike Zummer your thanks, please email him at mzummmer (at) stanford (dot) edu

UPDATE: If you want to read Mike's reasons for going, click here.
Dahlia Lithwick = Anne Coulter?????
There is a nice little debate going on at Professor Tung-Yin's blog, which was instigated by DC Rybicki's email which was posted here. Just make sure to keep scrolling down so that you read the article and the comments.
This explains alot...
Like why I get a headache whenever I talk on a cellphone. Coincedence? I hope so.
(thanks to Tom Brennan Jr. for the link)

You'll love this or hate it depending on your political persuasion.
Posted by Hello

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Ilya Somin on Volokh Conspiracy
I just had lunch with Ilya today, so I it is a pleasant surprise to see his post on the Volokh conspiracy this evening. In all seriousness, Ilya is a very smart guy who did good work in helping to pare down the Poletown decision. Don't know what Poletown is? Click here. If you are still to lazy to click, Poletown was a case which gave citiies the right to condemn private property and give it to private businesses so long as their was some far off, mystical, hypothetical (etc.) economic benefit.
Beware the Librarian, For She is the Gatekeeper
Frontpage Magazine has a nice little piece on librarians, and their biases. All the more reasons to make me wince when somebody says that conseratives/libertarians would want to take free library books away from poor kids - if the books are all slanted anyway, is it that much of a sacrifice?
The NY Times on Deployment
The New York Times argues against Bush's plans for redeploying (or removing 70,000 troops from Europe and Asia) here

I want to give my take on a few of their arguments.

The Bush administration justifies these movements by pointing to fundamental changes in the geography of threats since the end of the cold war. In Asia, however, that geography has not changed all that much.

The most dangerous threat still comes from North Korea, which is now thought to be building nuclear weapons. At a time when negotiating a halt to that buildup is imperative, Washington has inexplicably granted Pyongyang something it has long coveted - a reduction in American troop levels - instead of building those reductions into a bargaining proposal requiring constructive North Korean moves in return. The Korean pullback also sends a dangerous signal to the North that America is devaluing its alliance with South Korea.

To be honest, when South Koreans are bent on appeasing their hostile northern neighbor through a sunshine policy, all while protesting the presence of American troops in their homeland, and condemning us in the UN, why should we be using our scarce resources to defend an ally who doesn't act either like an ally or somebody who wants our support? At least this is the common perception. However, the New York Times is right to point out that South Korea acts more like an ally than many may want to believe - it has put quite a few troops in Iraq.

In Europe, the withdrawals are less immediately dangerous, but they will be expensive because Germany pays a hefty share of the costs for the American military bases located there.

Why again do we need bases in Germany in today's day and age? In the past there was the fear of scores of divisions of Soviet tanks bursting through the open plains of Europe, but that danger isn't present currently. Besides, why shouldn't Germany provide for its own defense? Why are our scarce troops needed there?

While sending military personnel back to Kansas or Colorado may avert some base closings and make local politicians happy, it will cost the taxpayers money. Furthermore, the military will also lose the advantage that comes with giving large numbers of its men and women the experience of living in other cultures.

Yes are soldiers will now lose the chance to learn German culture. But is that really a strong enough reason to condemn moving troops for national security purposes? Besides, one criticism of our education system has been that we spend too much time learning about strictly European cultures. If the New York Times is so concerned about this potential cultural deficiancy, I'm sure quite a few people would be delighted to see them call for American soldiers to receive a cultural education in new bases in Syria or Iran.

Although it is certainly true that American troops no longer have to sit in Germany to protect Western Europe from the Red Army, many of today's battlefields, like Iraq and Afghanistan, are in fact closer to Germany than they are to the United States.

True, but when the Germans or other countries in between don't let us use their airspace or impose other restrictions in conducting missions that we feel (rightly or wrongly) are needed for national security purposes, the value of such German bases is questionable at best.

Despite the Pentagon's denials, it seems deliberate that the two largest withdrawals have been proposed for countries that the Bush administration has had serious differences with in recent years, over Iraq in the German case, and over negotiating strategy with North Korea in the case of Seoul. Both countries have been working hard to patch up relations - South Korea is one of the few American allies with troops in Iraq - but the Pentagon does not seem interested in reciprocating.

So we have a big stick. Do we really lose more than we gain by using it?
Dahlia Lithwick
[name deleted] sends this funny take on Dahlia. Some parts, per his request have been redacted, but on the whole it is classic DC. Quick Disclaimer - By posting this, I am neither agreeing or disagreeing with DC. I just think his writing can be fun to read. Enjoy!

How many of you have read SLS grad Dahlia Lithwick's regular column on Slate?Well, she's movin up in world, and is temporarily filling in at the moment for Maureen Dowd at NYT and boy, does Dahlia need to do some fact checking. Her column last Sunday, entitled "Activist, Schmactivist", was a frothing diatribe against Bush's "re-activist" judges (she invented this cutesy term for judges who just don't get that the Constitution is a living, breathing, politically protean blob of legal protoplasm that can and should be remoulded by the Yale Law School every semester depending of course on what Bruce Ackerman had for breakfast). Doesn't the English language already have the perfectly good word "reactionary"? Is "reactionary" not capacious enough even for Lithwick's pen?

After slamming Justices Scalia and Thomas, Judges Owen, Brown, she comes to every liberal's favorite CROSSBURNIN' BORN-AGAIN REDNECK TORMENTOR OF COLORED FOLK and recent recess apt-ee to the 11th circuit, Bill Pryor, whom she accuses of "expend[ing] energy as attorney general of Alabama to support Judge Roy Moore in his quest to chisel the Ten Commandments directly into the wall between church and state."

First, this damned phrase of Jefferson's, "wall between church and state," has been so promiscuously misinterpreted and pimped out by secularists that I don't know where to begin--but I don't want to weigh your inboxes down anymore than necessary, so I'll save this discussion for another time (doesn't even Rehnquist use in his Locke v. Davey opinion last term?!)

More importantly, however, Lithwick's version of the Alabama Supreme Court Commandments dust-up so fundamentally mischaracterizes Pryor's actions as AG that it verges on a lie, or at least a misrepresentation born of gross journalistic incompetence. WTF does "EXPENDED ENERGY" mean anyway? Very slippery language, Dahlia; looks like calculated bowdlerization to me.

Fact is Pryor absolutely and categorically enforced the federal court ruling mandating removal of the monument: Pryor, a Republican, has said he believes the Ten Commandments display was constitutional, but he said Thursday federal court orders must be obeyed.
(CNN, Nov. 14 2003)

"At the end of the day, when the courts resolve those controversies, we respect their decision," he [Pryor] said. "That does not mean that we always agree with their decision." Pryor, a Republican who has been nominated for a federal judgeship, applauded the justices' order. "The rule of law means that no person, including the chief justice of Alabama [i.e., Moore], is above the law," he said.
(CNN, Aug. 23 2003)

Summary: Judge Pryor enforces the law, unlike our friend Mayor Gavin "civil disobedience" Newsome. (Sorry, forgot, breaking the law to further the gay agenda is a NOBLE deed, whereas breaking the law to further a fundamentalist Christian agenda is UNAMERICAN.)

So, I suppose if "EXPEND ENERGY" is a phrase meaning "an individual's personal eliefs about a legal controversy before him/her IN NO WAY AFFECT OR INTERFERE WITH HIS/HER CAPACITY TO UPHOLD THE LAW AND DO HIS/HER JOB IN AN IMPARTIAL MANNER", then Judge Pryor did certainly "expend energy" in support of Moore, as Dahlia writes. What a magical phrase! So much meaning in just two modest words!

Dahlia, you're obviously not ready for the big leagues.
Stick to writing about dildos on Slate.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Life Under Chavez: A Story
Instapundit is covering it here. Quite a few thought that the opposite was going to occur when exit polls showed Chavez losing. More on this story can be found here.

A few years ago, I was traveling back from Mexico. In a mixture of Spanish and English, the guy next to me on my flight explained why he was not in Venezuela by telling me stories of how life had deteriorated under Chavez who preached open class warfare.

The worst story concerned a mother and her three year old child. Outside a shopping area, after dark, a robber accosted her. He demanded that she, at gunpoint, surrender her expensive earings. Scared for her life and holding her child closely, she did just that. The robber than gave her a look of scorn as he said "The President is right when he says that you rich people have so many possessions that you do not care if you lose one. Well, I am going to take something from you that you do care about it." With that he put the gun to the three year old's head, and blew his brains out.

Instapundit: Faster than a Speeding Bullet
I read a story on Instapundit on how Chavez in Venezuala has lost. I then see another story that Chavez is claiming victory. I send Instapundit an email to tell him to update his link, but by the time the email is out, the link has been changed. Does Glenn do the news manually, or does he have an elaborate computer program that can surf the news and update his stories automatically? Given his fascination with Nanotech and other technological advances, it would not surprise me.
Posting will be Light
I have come down with something today and feel quite ill - it will be a struggle just to get through work - so I probably will not have the chance to post.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Disqualify Iran
An Iran judo master is refusing to face his Israeli counterpart, which squarely violates the games mission not to allow exclusion of contestants based upon race, creed, nationality, etc. So what should be done? Tung-Yin has some good ideas.
More on Shearman's Fired Associate
The rumors continue (see my earlier post on them here) - JD2b links to this post on infirmation:
"Shearman’s Diversity Committee sponsored a luncheon featuring a guest speaker who was to discuss the topic. Following his remarks, [the person in question] inquired about the tension, if any, between the quest for diversity and the pursuit of excellence. he cited three specific sources [stanford and yale journals] charging that pressures for diversity and the concomitant lowering of standards were largely responsible for pre-9/11 intelligence failures, diminished effectiveness of emergency responders, and the death of one of the first female fighter pilots as she attempted to land on an aircraft carrier. he closed by asking the speaker something along the lines of “are you concerned about these types of situations and if so how do you resolve the tension?”

If what the speaker said is true, I still think that the Summer Associate should have known what was coming to him. A law firm is a zone where any action you make will be hyper analyzed, justly or not.

However, just because the question of whether the summer should have known what was coming to him is independent of whether we, as a greater society, should tolerate such behavior from organizations through giving them a pass in the press. Personally, I find this behavior, IF TRUE, by Shearman disgusting, and I think it should rightly be excoriated for it.
New Sport: Weathering Hurricanes
Philip Caston has a humorous account of sitting through hurricane Charlie beachside. Add it to the list of things I'd like to do in life.
Did I Know This Girl?
Wizbang has something about Jessica Cutler who has some dirty stories about Hill life you'll want to read. Here's the thing though . . . she looks familiar . . . Did she go to my high school? I think she was from Ohio....couldn't be? Anybody know where this girl was from? I should check my old year books soon....
Corrupt Lefties
The Irish Lass is making a list of lefties mired in corruption. I'd like to see her add Al Sharpton to the list. Bill Clinton would be nice as well. Joseph Galloway of Great Britain would be fun to see. Oh yeah - some stuff about Kofi Annan's kid and the oil-for food program might spice it up a bit. And how can you leave out the Daleys of Chicago......

Saturday, August 14, 2004

New Petition For Google
I received this in the mail:
Dear Google,

I am a regular user of Google News and find it to be an invaluable
resource. Because people like me value credible, reasonable reporting,
please consider eliminating Islam Online as a source for Google News. The
following headline and article should show why it is not even remotely

US Offensive In Najaf 'Genocide': Law ExpertsAssuming that Google employs Armenians, Jews, or Rwandans, it would be
wise to place their dignity above the dubious value of cynical, hateful
propaganda. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

[author withheld]

I have trouble agreeing with the author here, because I have never been able to understand the difference between news and opinion. Isn't all news opinion in some sense? And isn't it best to get incorrect news out in the opinion so it can be criticized. I think the complaint many may have is that yes, bad news should be criticized, but there hasn't been enough of that done recently, so the effect is to have the public begin to believe in lies. While that may be true, I think the solution may be to spend more effort getting the truth out (perhaps though media ads?) than to begin silencing critics. But I am open to persuasion otherwise.
Carnival of the Vanities Up
This a bit delayed due to my absent mindedness, but better late than never. The 99th carnival is up, with many good pieces. Take a look here.

Friday, August 13, 2004

What to Expect
I figured I'd put one more post in before taking tonight and probably tomorrow off:

Hugh Hewitt, a blog I hadn't read before, had this interesting prediction of what may soon happen in the campaign:
I expect a pro-Bush 527 to produce an ad shortly with ominous music, quoting John Kerry in 1979, 1986, and 1992 about his Christmas-Eve-in-Cambodian adventure, (Glenn's post has the details from those three episodes), followed by more ominous music and quotes from his "magic hat" interview in June of 2003, followed by a script read of his spokesman's recanting the excellent adventure story, followed by a close: "John Kerry wasn't telling the truth about Vietnam for 30 years. Now he's asking you to believe him when he says he's ready to be the commander-in-chief. But we know you can't trust John Kerry, can you?"

The reason such an ad will be so effective is that it will force the big papers to end their media blockade of the issue, because they always run "truth" boxes on the ads that have been produced. Thus far folks like Chris Matthews have diverted discussion from the Kerry lies about Cambodia onto the medals controversy, which cannot be won by either side, but which does lead to a lot of outraged rhetoric from Kerry's bench. An ad that focuses on the now discredited "seared, seared" speech in the Senate won't allow such room for maneuver.

Interesting thoughts. Maybe I should check that blog out more often....

(thanks to Powerline for the referral)
Crushing of Dissent or Just a Rumor?
Supposedly the Esteemed Law Firm of Sherman and Steerling has fired a Summer Associate for questioning affirmative action. I say supposedly, because at this point my source is a message board post. Not exactly the most authoratative source, so believe at your risk. For the curious, here it is:

Just heard from a friend who's summering at Shearman & Sterling that they fired a summer with a week to go in the program for his comments at a diversity lunch. Apparently there was some speaker extolling the benefits of affirmative action, and this guy argued that it dumbed down institutions.

Anybody else heard anything about this?

Referral courtesy of JD2B

UPDATE: Still unable to confirm officially, but things are getting strange. At the popular law school student site of xoxohth.com, a huge thread on the subject has started with many people claiming that not only they are Sherman Associates, but also they were there.
There seems to be versions of what happened illustrated by two seperate posts. Keep in mind that I cannot vouch for the veracity of this, and this remains somewhere between gossip and probable on the realm of plausibility:
Date: August 13th, 2004 12:33 AM
Author: Andrew from LI (why don't you purify yourself in the waters of lake minnetonka)
Subject: for your edification
From jd2b/infirmation:
"Just heard from a friend who's summering at Shearman & Sterling that they fired a summer with a week to go in the program for his comments at a diversity lunch. Apparently there was some speaker extolling the benefits of affirmative action, and this guy argued that it dumbed down institutions.
Anybody else heard anything about this?"
"This is definitely legitimate, and there is a lot more to the story (half of it personally witnessed and the other half on good authority). I don't want to defend the firing, but I understand why it happened, as do the other 100+ summers who got offers (everyone, I believe, except this guy).
First, it was an important client who gave the talk at which the now-infamous summer speech occurred. This occurred in front of about 150 people, including the senior partner and hiring partner, among others. In arguing against the value of diversity, he stated that the CIA's attempt to diversify created a deterioration in the quality of its agents which ultimately led to 9/11. Needless to say, this did not make the partners happy.
As rumor has it, the summer was given an opportunity to write a letter of apology to the client after the lunch, which he refused to do. That is when he was told to clean out his desk.
But this was not the first time he had spoken out at diversity events. There were 2 talks prior to this one at which he gave lectures of approximately 3-5 minutes each, often coming prepared with notes. In addition, when a New York state judge came to the firm to talk about death penalty legislation, the summer referred to one of his opinions as a sham and intimated that he was a political puppet, really pissing him off.
It's not that the guy was so ballsy that he thought he could get away with anything; it's that he didn't know he was doing anything improper. That's the kind of judgment I think people fear most, since you can't correct it.
I have my own views on these issues, and parading clients in front of summers to create a love fest out of a contentious issue may not be the best idea. But the ability to follow the golden rule of "don't f--k up" is about all that is asked of summers, and it is ignored surprisingly often."

For a different view, see this post:
Date: August 13th, 2004 3:23 PM
Author: Jkor
i spoke to some friends at shearman and they disagreed on whether his comments were offensive/appropriate or not.
One said they were, and that he went on for too long, another said that he sounded very persuasive, and made good points that seemed perfectly appropriate for this event.
One thing they both agreed on is that he didnt fight with the speaker or interrupt him. He asked a question (that was a little long), along with specific studies cited (a stanford study and a yale study), and didnt respond or continue after that. One friend told me that it was all phrased in the form of a question and never specifically mentioned his opinion.
In my opinion the firm went a little far. It was supposed to be an open discussion about diversity.
As long as he didnt yell or argue, and didnt say anything racist, the firm should not have fired him.

So what really happened? Beats me. But it looks like that this is going to get really messy soon.
Kerry in the Special Ops?
Presto Pundit thinks he may well have been. An informative piece.
The Republican ads on African American Media Are Not All That Bad
Staunch Bush supporter, and one of the bloggers who has influenced me most, Jon Henke, does not feel it was appropriate for a Republican 527 group to run an ad on Black radio stations blaming Kerry for the failure of an unemployment benefit vote, when all the Republicans voted against it. Jon also takes issue with the group running an ad criticizing Teressa Heinz for calling herself an African American.

For once I am going to disagree with Jon. When African Americans vote for Democrats over Republicans by a nine to ten margin, it is appropriate for any group to ask them if they are getting value out of their vote. For if a key Democrat wasn't responsive to an issue of deep concern to african americans, why should that group continue to turn out? Additionally, if they feel that Democrats are as clueless to their values as Republicans by posing as black, why should they be so quick to come to the polls?

Now I don't agree with either of these views. But this is going to be an election with the gloves off - and in any contentious struggle, demoralizing the other side often leads to victory (provided it doesn't backfire). And if the Republicans think that this tactic will work, I don't necessarily see a problem with them trying it.

As such, I view the ad as at least a well thought out attack - it won't win Republicans any more votes, but if it hits the spot it may lower the turnout for a group that the Democrats must have come heavily to the poles to win.
Jon Stewart - Punidt or Operative for Democrats?
LinBlog has the goods.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

The Political Fallout in NJ
So the Governor Resigns. If you want to know why, read QandO or Wizbang. My job tonight is to explain the fallout. Actually its not a job done by me. This is courtesy of my good friend Ellis Oster, former RNC insider and current President of Cornell Federalist Society.

Here's the deal. In 2005, only two states have governors up for reelection - Virginia and New Jersey. The Republicans had high hopes in picking up New Jersey - as the incumbent, McGreevey was unpopular. Phenomonally unpopular. So unpopular that the Republican's were licking their chops and wealthy NJ Democrat Senator Corzine was rumored to be considering a primary challenge against McGreevey. Now McGreevey is out, and the Republicans have lost the advantage of running against an unpopular governor who was going to probably face a tough primary.

In terms of succession NJ does not have a Lt. Governor so the successor would be the president of the Senate - Richard J. Codey, 57, and a Democrat. A democrat without experience campaigning statewide.

Going against the Dems may be Schundler - former mayor of Jersey City Schundler won primary against the former Gov. Bob Franks, and ran as a hard core pro-life, social conservative. He became quite popular for his proposal to eliminate the tolls, but still lost by a good margin to McGreevy in the next eleciton. Since then however he has been gathering strenght for a retry in 2005.

Now comes the interesting part. In a head to head campaign, Schundler would likely beat Cody, as Schundler, the Republican who lost in the last election, is the one who has proven he knows how to run a statewide campaign. But if Cody puts party loyalty ahead of personal ambition by stepping aside and convincing Corzine to run, things change. Corzine has enough money to self finance a campaign so large that it would be difficult for Schundler to win.

So this can come out either way for the Republicans - having lost the chance to run against McGreevy they might either get a weaker Cody, or a stronger Corzine.

Thanks also to Bo Cowgill for helping me put this together.

Update: This piece here comes to different conclusions then Ellis:

Just last month, Quinnipiac pollster Clay Richards had described McGreevey as re-electable.
"With Election Day more than a year away, Gov. McGreevey is beginning to look like the comeback kid," said Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Richards made that statement after his poll showed McGreevey had pulled off a better approval rating -- 45 percent -- than the 39 percent of respondents who disapproved of the governor’s job performance......
That was newsworthy because McGreevey hadn’t seen a higher approval rating in 19 months


"Only 34 percent want to see him re-elected, while 51 percent would prefer someone else."

The article also speaks on who would likely be on top of the ticket for the Dems

Sen. Jon Corzine and U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews are the two names most mentioned as possible replacements for McGreevey, if that scenario develops.

Also, Pollster Richards disagrees with Ellis about the electability of Schundler or of any Republican for NJ Governor for that matter.
Meanwhile, Republicans have yet to produce a viable statewide candidate who appeals to the populace.

"The Republicans haven’t found that someone else to beat McGreevey. And you can’t beat someone with a nobody," Richards cautioned last month.