Thursday, March 31, 2005

Terri Schiavo has died

CNN reported Terri Schiavo, the 41-year-old brain-damaged woman who became the centerpiece of a national right-to-die battle, died Thursday morning, nearly two weeks after doctors removed the feeding tube that had sustained her for more than a decade.

Terri is with God now, and regardless of what you thought about her passing, I hope you will agree that she is in a much better place now. I think the lesson we should all learn from Terri is that people should never depend on verbal end-of-life wishes, but that everyone should have a Living Will, such as that available here or here or here or here or here or here.

Michelle Malkin blogged May Terri Schindler-Schiavo rest in peace and God have mercy on us all.

La Shawn Barber blogged Terri Schiavo, 1963-2005. It's all over.

St Wendeler blogged Theresa Marie Schiavo (nee Schindler), R.I.P.

The Political Teen has a video

Bill Hennessy blogged Eternal rest grant unto Terri, o Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon her. May Terri’s soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Resurrection Song blogged As the argument over the subject in the blogosphere has grown increasingly passionate, I’ve stood by and watched. I watched quietly because the arguments have grown increasingly acrimonious and I have no wish to start name calling and picking fights. It also became increasingly clear that no appeals court was going to overturn the original ruling; sadly I watched as the inevitable played out to its obvious conclusion. So, Terri has died and her family mourns. I mourn with them.

Richard blogged Godspeed Terri. If there is anything happy about today's news, it's the fact that Terri Schiavo's suffering is finally over.

Asteroid blogged After over a decade of being kept alive with technology — possibly against her will — Terri Schiavo is dead. I’d like to be able to say that she died with dignity but, unfortunately, the legalistic, religious and hypocritical furor surrounding her death left very little room for anything dignified.

CQ blogged Out of respect for the family and all concerned, I plan on offering no further comment on this issue today, other than to implore CQ readers to please pray for Terri, her family, and all who mourn her passing.

WizBang blogged "Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen."

OTB blogged May she rest in peace

Ex-Donkey Blog blogged It is over and now she is with God. Pray for the Schindler family.


Spending Time at White House Required

WaPo reported President Bush is requiring Cabinet members to spend several hours a week at the White House compound, a move top aides say eases coordination with government agencies but one seen by some analysts as fresh evidence of the White House's tightening grip over administration policy.

Under a directive instituted by Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. at the start of Bush's second term, Cabinet secretaries spend as many as four hours a week working out of an office suite set up for them at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House. There, they meet with presidential policy and communications aides in an effort to better coordinate the administration's initiatives and messages....

Paul C. Light, a professor of public service at New York University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, sees its purpose differently.... "I find it absolutely shocking that they would have regular office hours at the White House. It confirms how little the domestic Cabinet secretaries have to do with making policy."

If the President refused to ever speak to his Cabinet Secretaries one might make that statement, but if they are required to have regular office hours at the White House they certainly have an opportuinty to make their thoughts known, both to the President and to his staff.

Some scholars said the new office-hours requirement continues a trend in which Cabinet secretaries have become less architects of policy than purveyors of initiatives hatched by the political and policy officials in the White House. During the Eisenhower administration, for example, officials hashed out national policy during weekly Cabinet meetings. Now, the Cabinet meets irregularly -- maybe once every 45 days, Healy said -- and those sessions are mostly ceremonial.

And now, rather than meeting in a large room with other Cabinet Secretaries they interface weekly with presidential policy and communications aides

"Power has gravitated to the White House over the past 50 years, and it keeps going," said Bradley H. Patterson Jr., who served in three administrations and has written two books on the subject. "I would say development of all major issues important to the president are centered in the White House."

Gee, the man who was elected oversees development of all major issues important to him. And the surprise is where?

U.S. Constitution, Article II, section 1: The executive power shall be vested in the President of the United States of America.

The Big Trunk blogged The Washington Post article of the day is further to Deacon's point last night about the new media image of President Bush as an executive asserting too much control over the officials charged with implementing administration policy: "Bush is keeping cabinet secretaries close to home." What ever happened to Bush the pawn?

Orrin Judd blogged He's been president for 4+ years and they still haven't figured out that he runs the administration on a business model?


Judge Condems Intervention

NYT reported A federal appeals court in Atlanta refused Wednesday to reconsider the case of Terri Schiavo, with one of the judges rebuking President Bush and Congress for acting "in a manner demonstrably at odds with our founding fathers' blueprint for the governance of a free people."...

The 11th Circuit court's decision, signed by Chief Judge J. L. Edmondson, was only a sentence long. But in a concurring opinion, Judge Stanley F. Birch Jr., appointed by the first President Bush in 1990, wrote that federal courts had no jurisdiction in the case and that the law enacted by Congress and President Bush allowing the Schindlers to seek a federal court review was unconstitutional.

"When the fervor of political passions moves the executive and legislative branches to act in ways inimical to basic constitutional principles, it is the duty of the judiciary to intervene," wrote Judge Birch, who has a reputation as consistently conservative. "If sacrifices to the independence of the judiciary are permitted today, precedent is established for the constitutional transgressions of tomorrow."

I disagreed with Congress intervening, but I also disagree with Judge Birch. The federal courts did have jurisdiction, because

  • the unwise law (Public Law 109-3 PDF file) gave them that jurisdiction
  • The law is not unconstitutional, because no court has declared it unconstitutional. We only have one judge, writing a concuring opinion, which states "I conclude that Pub. L.109-3 (“the Act”) is unconstitutional and, therefore, this court and the district court are without jurisdiction in this case under that special Act and should refuse to exercise any jurisdiction that we may otherwise have in this case
  • how could it sacrifice the independence of the judiciary for Congress to expand their jurisdiction.
The decision is available here (PDF file)


Clerics agree

NYT reported International gay leaders are planning a 10-day WorldPride festival and parade in Jerusalem in August, saying they want to make a statement about tolerance and diversity in the Holy City, home to three great religious traditions.

Now major leaders of the three faiths - Christianity, Judaism and Islam - are making a rare show of unity to try to stop the festival. They say the event would desecrate the city and convey the erroneous impression that homosexuality is acceptable.

"They are creating a deep and terrible sorrow that is unbearable," Shlomo Amar, Israel's Sephardic chief rabbi, said yesterday at a news conference in Jerusalem attended by Israel's two chief rabbis, the patriarchs of the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches, and three senior Muslim prayer leaders. "It hurts all of the religions. We are all against it."

Religious leaders from the three major faiths, all with significant interest in the area, gree on something. Praise God.

Jan Haugland of Secular Blasphemy blogged It really takes something special to bring Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders together. Unfortunately, what brings them together is opposition to the planned gay WorldPride festival in Jerusalem in August. It's touching how common bigotry can bring old enemies together. Not.

Taegan Goddard blogged Quote of the Day - "This is not the homo land, this is the Holy Land." -- Yehuda Levin, of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, quoted by the New York Times in an article about Jerusalem WorldPride 2005, a gay festival to be held in Israel. He also called the event "the spiritual rape of the Holy City."

Orrin Judd blogged Odd that the three great Abrahamic faiths would unite around morality.

Jeff Jarvis blogged Giving God a bad name - The front page of The New York Times today reports that religious leaders from Islam, Judaism, and Christianity came together in a rare meeting and rarer agreement in Jerusalem to unite in a single cause. What cause could that be? Peace in the Middle East? Regaining God-given freedom in the Middle East? An end to economic despair in some parts of the Middle East? A call to condemn terrorism as murder? No. Gay bashing. Bigotry. Hatred. That's what brought them together. They oppose a gay pride event in Jerusalem

Pudentilla blogged old guys in drag peeved at pride event in jerusalem

I repeat. Religious leaders from the three major faiths, all with significant interest in the area, gree on something. Praise God.


Thursday, March 31

This Day In History

  • 1492   King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain issued an edict expelling those Jews unwilling to convert to Christianity.
  • 1880   The first electric street lights ever installed by a municipality were turned on in beautiful Wabash, IN.
  • 1889   French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel unfurled the French tricolor from atop the Eiffel Tower to mark its completion.
  • 1918   Daylight saving time went into effect throughout the United States for the first time. Folks would spring ahead an hour allowing for longer early evenings. The time change left enough light for many activities, especially in farming areas. Planting and such could best be done with the sun up an extra hour. And, of course, folks would fall back an hour to standard time in the fall.
  • 1917   The United States took possession of the Virgin Islands from Denmark.
  • 1923   The first U.S. dance marathon, held in New York City, ended with Alma Cummings setting a world record of 27 hours on her feet.
  • 1933   Congress authorized the Civilian Conservation Corps.
  • 1943   The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical ''Oklahoma!'' opened on Broadway.
  • 1945   ''The Glass Menagerie'' by Tennessee Williams opened on Broadway.
  • 1949   Newfoundland entered the confederation as Canada's 10th province.
  • 1959   The Dalai Lama, fleeing Chinese repression of an uprising in Tibet, arrived at the Indian border and was granted political asylum.
  • 1968   President Lyndon Johnson announced that he would not run for re-election.
  • 1976   The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that coma patient Karen Anne Quinlan could be disconnected from her respirator. (Quinlan remained comatose and died in 1985.)
  • 1992   The U.N. Security Council voted to ban flights and arms sales to Libya, branding it a terrorist state for shielding six men accused of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 and a French airliner.
  • 1995   Major League Baseball players agreed to end the sport’s longest strike in history after a judge ordered a preliminary injunction against team owners.
  • 1995   Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez, 23, is shot by the president of her fan club in Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • 1995   Baseball players agreed to end a 232-day strike after a judge granted a preliminary injunction against club owners.
  • 1998   Former New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug died at age 77.
  • 1999   Three U.S. Army soldiers were captured by Serb forces near the Yugoslav-Macedonia border.
  • 1999   Four New York City police officers were charged with murder for killing Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant, in a hail of bullets. (The officers were acquited in 2000.)
Happy Birthday To
  • 1596   Rene Descartes (‘Father of modern philosophy’: “I think, therefore I am.”; died Feb 11, 1650)
  • 1915   Henry Morgan (Henry Lerner Von Ost, Jr.) (comedian: TV panel shows: I’ve Got a Secret; died May 19, 1994)
  • 1927   Cesar Chavez (labor leader: started the National Farm Workers Association, organizing migrant farm workers; died Apr 23, 1993)
  • 1931   Miller Barber (golf champion: holds record for most wins in the Senior PGA Tour [24] from 1981 to 1992)
  • 1934   Shirley Jones (singer, actress: Carousel, The Music Man, Oklahoma!, Elmer Gantry, The Partridge Family)
  • 1935   Herb Alpert (bandleader: Tijuana Brass: The Lonely Bull, Taste of Honey, The Work Song, This Guy’s in Love with You, Rise; record company executive: the "A" of A&M Records)
  • 1935   Richard Chamberlain (actor: Dr. Kildare, The Thorn Birds; Centennial, Shogun, The Towering Inferno, Julius Caesar, The Madwoman of Chaillot, The Bourne Identity, King Solomon’s Mines; environmentalist in Hawaii)
  • 1945   Gabe (Gabriel) Kaplan (actor, comedian: Welcome Back Kotter, The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, Nobody’s Perfekt)
  • 1948   Al Gore (Albert Arnold Gore Jr.) (U.S. Senator from Tennessee [1985-1993]; 45th U.S. Vice President [under Bill Clinton 1993-2000])


Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Newsweek reported Does the blogosphere have a diversity problem? Viewed one way, the issue seems a bit absurd. These self-generated personal Web sites are supposed to be the ultimate grass-roots phenomenon. The perks of alpha bloggers—voluminous traffic, links from other bigfeet, conference invitations, White House press passes—are, in theory, bequeathed by a market-driven merit system. The idea is that the smartest, the wittiest and the most industrious in finding good stuff will simply rise to the top, by virtue of a self-organizing selection process.

So why, when millions of blogs are written by all sorts of people, does the top rung look so homogeneous? It appears that some clubbiness is involved. Suitt puts it more bluntly: "It's white people linking to other white people!" (A link from a popular blog is this medium's equivalent to a Super Bowl ad.) Suitt attributes her own high status in the blogging world to her conscious decision to "promote myself among those on the A list...."

But is there a way to promote diversity online, given the built-in decentralization of the blog world? Jenkins, whose comment started the discussion, says that any approach is fine—except inaction. "You can't wait for it to just happen," he says. Appropriately enough, the best ideas rely on individual choices. MacKinnon is involved in a project called Global Voices, to highlight bloggers from around the world. And at the Harvard conference, Suitt challenged people to each find 10 bloggers who weren't male, white or English-speaking—and link to them. "Don't you think," she says, "that out of 8 million blogs, there could be 50 new voices worth hearing?" Definitely. Now let's see if the blogosphere can self-organize itself to find them.

Heather Mac Donald wrote Bad move, guys. The "diversity" mongers have just brought up the one thing that they should have stayed far far away from: the web. Newsweek's technology columnist Steven Levy has declared that the lack of "diversity" among the web's most popular blogs requires corrective action. The goal? A blogosphere whose elite tier "reflects the actual population" — i.e., where female- and minority-written blogs are found among the top 100 blogs in the same proportion as females and minorities are found in the general population.

Levy's complaint comes on the heels of Susan Estrich's campaign against the Los Angeles Times for allegedly refusing to publish female op-ed writers, a campaign that has caused widespread wringing of editorial hands about male-dominated op-ed pages. For Levy to have mentioned the web at this moment is about as smart as inviting Stephen Hawking to an astrologers' convention: The web demolishes the assumptions behind any possible quota crusade....

These diversity grievances follow the usual logic: Victim-group X is not proportionally represented in some field; therefore the field's gatekeepers are discriminating against X's members. The argument presumes that there are large numbers of qualified Xs out there who, absent discrimination, would be proportionally represented in the challenged field.

If the quota mongers really believed these claims, they should welcome the web enthusiastically, since it is a world without gatekeepers and with no other significant barriers to entry.

PoliPundit blogged is one of the top-25 trafficked blogs on the web. During the election season, we were in the top 10, with over 300,000 unique visitors on election day.

But readers don't know my race or gender! Since I started this blog two years ago, I've made very little mention of my background. Yet, virtually every prominent blogger has linked to this blog, from Power Line in its earliest days, to Slate's Mickey Kaus yesterday. The "diversity" agitators are out of luck.

This entry was also printed at Right Wing News

Captain Platypus commented Expect a lawsuit soon for not allowing equal opportunity since your links do not include enough minorities. Just what the blogosphere needs - Link Quotas!

Captain Platypus commented The only people who make race and gender an issue are the people who want race and gender to be an issue.

Lurking Observer commented Any chance white female bloggers assumed Polipundit is a white female blogger? Or that black bloggers assumed Polipundit was a black blogger?

The point is that Polipundit may be a Hispanic transsexual paraplegic, but his/her ideas are being read.

jtc commented Will sombody please just go ahead and sue Harvard for discrimination on the basis of political affiliation?

Yancey Ward commented The solution to this evil discrimination against female bloggers is this: Sue, in Federal Court, Microsoft. Win the case and get a settlement in which Microsoft provides a version of IE that only allows alternate visiting of male blogger sites with female blogger sites. Also, the software could also be written to prevent one from spending less time at a female blogging site. On the other hand, the female bloggers could start providing nude photos of themselves. That would also increase the numbers of visitors.

I link to bloggers that say something I want to comment on. Usually it is something I agree with, but I also link to blogs that say something I want to criticize. Race and gender are not a factor.


CAIR's War on National Review

FrontPage magazine reported The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has this week waged a campaign against National Review, seeking an apology and the removal of a book called The Life and Religion of Mohammed from sale by the NR Book Service. This was a bit out of focus, since National Review did not publish the book and is not the sole source for it. In fact, I wrote this ad, although I receive absolutely no remuneration from the sales of the book by NR or anyone else. CAIR’s campaign was revealing of what CAIR wants Americans to know — and not to know — about Islam and Muhammad. And CAIR did succeed in intimidating NR into withdrawing the book, along with Serge Trifkovic’s Sword of the Prophet.

In a press release, CAIR called the book “virulently Islamophobic,” and quoted sections from advertising copy for book that called it a “guide into the dark mind of (the Prophet) Mohammed.” It took issue with the ad copy’s description of the book as explaining “why Mohammed couldn’t possibly be a true prophet, and reveal[ing] the true sources of his ‘revelations.” Above all, CAIR was angered by the ad copy’s assertions that “Mohammed posed as the apostle of God...while his life is marked by innumerable marriages; and great licentiousness, deeds of rapine, warfare, conquests, unmerciful butcheries, all the time invoking God’s holy name to sanction his evil deeds,” and that “Mohammed again and again justified his rapine and licentiousness with new ‘divine revelations.’”

Charles Johnson blogged According to Robert Spencer, National Review decided to cave in to pressure from the Council on American Islamic Relations because they were “choosing their battles.”

While it’s definitely true that National Review has done a great deal to expose the agenda of radical Islam, and I’m not going to stop reading them, I disagree strongly with their decision to remove advertisements for books critical of Islam and I’m very disappointed at their lack of resolve. This is anything but an insignificant battle; it’s a pivotal part of CAIR’s anti-democratic jihad to have all criticism of Mohammed or of Islam declared “hate speech,” and National Review has now set a dangerous precedent that will certainly embolden CAIR to intensify their efforts.

And as Spencer points out in this article, the books that CAIR labeled as “anti-Muslim hate” (and National Review implicitly agreed with them) are indeed highly critical—but they make their case with historical facts and quotations from the Koran

I regret that National Review caved in, but the book is listed (Out of Print--Limited Availability) on Amazon

Nancy commented This is extremely troubling. Islam is NOT just a religion but a political and social ideology --a fact which they stress time and time again. Yet, it continues to be treated as though it were just a religion because organizations like CAIR are willing to use the "religious discrimination" argument when it suits them. My thinking is: we STOP refering to it as a religion and start emphasizing it is a political-social ideology. Within that framework --it deserves no special rights as far as not being criticized.

Spiny Norman commented What CAIR really told NR: If you don't stop telling filthy lies about how Islam is a dangerous, violent ideology, we'll blow up your building and everyone in it!

Michelle Malkin blogged The Council for Arab Islamic Relations (CAIR) successfully pressured National Review to pull ads for two books criticizing Islam. And Google is trying to curb expression of something or other over at the Jawa Report.

CAIR is well within its rights to call for a boycott of National Review rather than critique the books it doesn't like. And Google is well within its rights to drop Jawa Report from its list of news sites without providing even a single example of objectionable speech. And I am well within my rights to tell CAIR and Google to shove it.

Update: Robert Spencer has a whole article about CAIR's war on National Review. Jack Lewis reminds readers that the sensitive souls at Google accepted advertising from Hamas.


Living Wills

NYT reported Laura Bush said on Tuesday that she and her husband have living wills that would guide medical decisions if either of them became incapacitated like the Florida woman whose case has dominated public debate for weeks.

Mrs. Bush, speaking to reporters on a flight to Afghanistan, called it a "very, very difficult time" for the family of the woman, Terri Schiavo, but said she was "encouraged" to hear that the case had spurred others to create living wills.

"I hear the numbers of people inquiring about living wills or writing living wills increased dramatically, and I think that is really good," Mrs. Bush said. "The president and I have living wills, and of course our parents do, and they wanted us always to be aware of it. I think that is important for families to have an opportunity to talk about these issues."

Susan Whitson, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Bush, declined to elaborate on what directives are in the Bushes' living wills. Many include "do not resuscitate" orders in cases where the patient has no hope of recovery or requires extensive medical assistance to stay alive.

Everyone should have a living will.


Medal of Honor

NYT reported Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith, killed nearly two years ago defending his vastly outnumbered Army unit in a fierce battle with elite Iraqi troops for control of Baghdad's airport, will receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award, administration officials said Tuesday.

No soldier who served in Afghanistan or Iraq after the Sept. 11 attacks has yet received the medal. The last conflict to produce a Medal of Honor recipient was in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993; two soldiers were awarded the medal posthumously for actions there, later depicted in the movie "Black Hawk Down."

Sergeant Smith led a defense of a compound next to the airport against a much larger force of Special Republican Guard troops, manning a heavy machine gun, repeatedly firing and reloading three times before he was mortally wounded. Fellow soldiers said his actions killed 20 to 50 Iraqis, allowed wounded American soldiers to be evacuated, and saved an aid station and perhaps 100 lives.

Sergeant Smith's "extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor without regard to his own life in order to save others are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service," a draft of the medal citation says.

President Bush will present the award to Sergeant Smith's widow and children at a White House ceremony on Monday, the second anniversary of the airport battle and the soldier's death.

The story of Paul Ray Smith is that of an ordinary recruit from Tampa, Fla., who fresh out of high school joined the Army not out of patriotism but for a steady paying job, and who 15 years later, as a battle-hardened platoon sergeant, was hurled into an extraordinary test, for which he paid the ultimate price.

See St Petersburg Times

Phillip Carter blogged You can read more about SFC Smith at the St. Petersburg Times' site. Official information, including the citation for SFC Smith, is available at the Army's MOH website. Also see this post

James Joyner blogged The Medal is so revered in the service that anyone wearing it, regardless of rank, is entitled to a salute from any non-recipient, regardless of their rank. The Army has a compilation of the citations for all Medal recipients. It's a chilling read. The Times has a special interactive section on SFC Smith, also linked from the photo above. It's appropriately entitled, "The last full measure of devotion."

Paul blogged In an unsent letter found on his laptop following his death, Sgt. Smith comments on how old the pictures of his kids in his wallet are and how hard it is to picture his kids now that they are older. This prompted me to establish a program at our photography studio called "Operation: Memories From Home" . We offered to photograph the families of service men and women and send a copy of their family portrait to their service member to help them remember their loved ones, all at no charge. It has been a rewarding success.

Saheli Datta blogged Regardless of your opinions on the war, I think it behooves all citizens of the Republic to give a little time and attention to stories like these. Respectful time and attention.

Tom Maguire blogged This honor has been wending its way through the system for a while. Here is a Winds of Change post providing background on the incident; an old NY Times story provides personal and family background.

Joe Katzman blogged Trent Telenko emails me with a heads-up concerning Sgt. First Class Paul Ray Smith, a soldier in Operation Iraqi Freedom 2003. He's about to become the first serviceman to receive the Medal of Honor since MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randall Shughart's "Blackhawk Down" heroics in 1993. SFC Smith was the key player in a firefight at the Baghdad Airport that saw 15 to 20 engineers, mortarmen and medics defeat 50-100 soldiers of Iraq's Special Republican Guard.

In an act that brings to mind Private Audie Murphy's heroics in WWII, Smith's determined defense held off the Iraqi assault almost singlehandedly. Unlike Audie Murphy, however, Paul Smith did not survive. His posthumous medal will be left in the keeping of his wife, son and daughter.

I salute Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith, and I thank him for what he did.


RINO complains

John C. Danforth says in the NYT By a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. The elements of this transformation have included advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research involving both frozen embryos and human cells in petri dishes, and the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube.

Standing alone, each of these initiatives has its advocates, within the Republican Party and beyond. But the distinct elements do not stand alone. Rather they are parts of a larger package, an agenda of positions common to conservative Christians and the dominant wing of the Republican Party.

Christian activists, eager to take credit for recent electoral successes, would not be likely to concede that Republican adoption of their political agenda is merely the natural convergence of conservative religious and political values. Correctly, they would see a causal relationship between the activism of the churches and the responsiveness of Republican politicians. In turn, pragmatic Republicans would agree that motivating Christian conservatives has contributed to their successes.

High-profile Republican efforts to prolong the life of Ms. Schiavo, including departures from Republican principles like approving Congressional involvement in private decisions and empowering a federal court to overrule a state court, can rightfully be interpreted as yielding to the pressure of religious power blocs.

In my state, Missouri, Republicans in the General Assembly have advanced legislation to criminalize even stem cell research in which the cells are artificially produced in petri dishes and will never be transplanted into the human uterus. They argue that such cells are human life that must be protected, by threat of criminal prosecution, from promising research on diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and juvenile diabetes.

It is not evident to many of us that cells in a petri dish are equivalent to identifiable people suffering from terrible diseases. I am and have always been pro-life. But the only explanation for legislators comparing cells in a petri dish to babies in the womb is the extension of religious doctrine into statutory law.

Barbara O'Brien blogs there is an enormous difference between allowing your religious beliefs to inform your judgments -- that slavery is wrong, for example -- and enacting purely sectarian religious doctrine into legislation, like banning stem cell research. The only reason to ban stem cell research is that it violates the religious dogmas of some Christians. If you don't happen to believe that human DNA is, literally, sacred, then the stem cell ban makes absolutely no sense. Slavery, on the other hand, is wrong on a humanist basis as well as a religious basis. And, the fact is, in the antebellum South a lot of slave owners defended the peculiar institution by citing their religious beliefs.

I don't know what the Missouri legislature is working on, but as far as I know, the only thing the Republican party has advocated is not having the government fund research on stem lines other than the ones that existed when Bush was the first President to allow government funding of any stem cell research. There is NO federal restriction on privately funded research on stem cells.

Since you recognize that stem cell research violates the religious beliefs of some Christians, I would hope that you would agree that they should not be forced to pay for such research.

Hugh Hewitt blogs He (Senator Danforth) decries a "fixation on a religious agenda," and declares grandly that "as a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around."

Perhaps that is why super-majoritarian opinion on marriage got rolled, Senator, because you and your colleagues were asleep at the wheel. Perhaps parts of today's agenda seems to you so "religious," because courts in California, New York and Massachusetts have unilaterally decreed a massive rewrite of the country's shared tradition on marriage, obliging those who want to defend marriage as it has existed for all of the country's history to advocate for a Constitutional amendment.

I agree completely. It would be one thing if the legislatures in California, New York, or Massachusetts had acted, but to have a small handful of judges seek to change the law is WRONG

Hugh also says Perhaps people of faith see in the Schiavo case a move towards euthanasia --the article in today's Times on Vermont's new bid to allow "doctors to prescribe suicide drugs for terminally ill patients who request them" certainly underscores what is sure to be the next act in the end-of-life drama.

At least the effort in Vermont is being made in the legislature, not in the Judicial branch. If a majority of the Vermont legislature sees fit to pass legislation like Oregon did, and if the Governor signs it, that is fine with me. But I would not want the Vermont Supreme Court to try to change the law.

Steve Clemons blogs John Bolton is just a symptom of a larger problem which Danforth highlights -- but progressives and moderates need to know that they can win these battles. But one has to start somewhere -- and John Bolton's candidacy is the right issue on which to push back.

You are wrong. The UN needs to make some drastic changes, and John Bolton is the man we need there to see those changes are made. If the UN does not change, then we need to get out of the UN, and we need to get the UN out of the USA.

Dale Franks blogs Danforth makes a valid point. The republicans have morphed into large-government conservatives. They've accepted, at least tacitly, the Democratic idea that the purpose of government is to Do Something about things that concern them. And the things that concern Republican politicians today tend to be the issues that the religious Right is concerned about. Hence, the push for a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage, or state efforts to ban all stem-cell research.

In doing so, they have abandoned much of what made the republican party attractive to the electorate in the first place: The idea that government wasn't the solution, it was the problem; that you are better qualified to make the rules for your own life than a politician or bureaucrat thousands of miles away in Washington DC; that you deserve to keep more of your own money, rather than sending it in to the government.

Republicans may come to find out that, no matter how powerful the Religious Right may be as a party caucus, it isn't enough to comprise an electoral majority.

I agree the Republican Party needs to return to supporting smaller government, and I would like to see them return to supporting states rights. I like the idea of constitutional ammendments to prevent Activist Judges from changing the law when there is not enough demand for the law change to get the legislature to pass it.

Pejman Yousefzadeh: blogs Of course, the latter editorial is precisely what one would expect from the New York Times. But as a larger point, these dueling editorials reveal how to get ahead in American politics: Portray yourself as a curmudgeon loyal to your party, but somehow outside of the party system. Then let people praise you for speaking truth to power. Danforth does that with policy. Bradley does it with process.

The NYT is so far to the left that the only way to get printed in their pages is to attack the Republican Party


Wednesday, March 30

This Day In History

  • 1822   Florida became a U.S. territory.
  • 1842   Dr. Crawford W. Long performed the first operation while his patient was anesthetized by ether on this day.
  • 1856   The Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Crimean War.
  • 1858   Hyman L. Lipman of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania patented the writing device we call the pencil.
  • 1867   Secretary of State William H. Seward reached agreement with Russia to purchase the territory of Alaska for $7.2 million (approximately two cents an acre), a deal roundly ridiculed as ''Seward's Folly.''
  • 1870   The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect, guaranteeing the right to vote regardless of race.
  • 1870   Texas was readmitted to the Union.
  • 1909   The Queensboro Bridge, linking the New York boroughs of Manhattan and Queens, opened.
  • 1945   The Soviet Union invaded Austria during World War II.
  • 1964   The game show Jeopardy debuted on television.

  • 1981
      U.S. President Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest by a would-be assassin as the President walked to his limousine in Washington DC. Press Secretary James Brady and two police officers were also wounded in the attack. John W. Hinkley, Jr. was convicted of the crime.
  • 1986   Actor James Cagney died at age 86.
  • 1995   Pope John Paul II issued the 11th encyclical of his papacy in which he condemned abortion and euthanasia as crimes that no human laws could legitimize.
  • 1998   German automaker BMW bought Rolls-Royce for $570 million.
  • 1999   A jury in Portland, Ore., ordered Philip Morris to pay $81 million to the family of a man who died of lung cancer after smoking Marlboros for four decades.
  • 2002   The Queen Mother Elizabeth of England died at the age of 101.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1853   Vincent van Gogh (post-impressionist artist: The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, The Night Cafe; died July 29, 1890)
  • 1929   Richard Dysart (actor: L.A. Law, Wall Street, Back to the Future 3, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, The Day of the Locust, Pale Rider, The Terminal Man, Wall Street)
  • 1930   John Astin (actor: The Addams Family, The Pruitts of Southampton, Operation Petticoat, Night Court, I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., National Lampoon’s European Vacation)
  • 1930   Peter Marshall (Pierre LaCock) (TV host: Hollywood Squares)
  • 1937   Warren Beatty (Henry Warren Beaty) (actor: Splendor in the Grass, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, Bonnie and Clyde, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Parallax View, Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait, Reds, Dick Tracy, Bulworth, Town and Country; Academy Award-winning director: Reds [1981]; Heaven Can Wait, Dick Tracy, Bulworth; Irving G. Thalberg Memorial [Academy] Award [2000])
  • 1945   Eric Clapton (Eric Patrick Clapp) (rock guitarist: group: Yardbirds: For Your Love; song writer: Layla, score for The Hit; Grammy Award- winning singer: Bad Love [1990], LPs: Tears from Heaven and Unplugged [1993], I Shot the Sheriff, Lay Down Sally, Promises, I Can’t Stand It, Wonderful Tonight)


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Google News Drops Jawa Report

LGF reports Rusty Shackleford’s excellent blog The Jawa Report has been dropped from Google News because according to Google, it contains “hate speech.”

Amazing. So because they were forced to remove National Vanguard, for Pete’s sake, a white supremacist site that everyone agrees is a racist sewer, Google News apparently will now sanitize everything—including sites that try to tell the truth about radical Islam. And all without ever disclosing how they are reaching these judgments.

Private Radio has a list generated by a script, of Google News sources for the United States. Since they’ve now dropped Jawa Report, can we assume they will also be dropping Electronic Intifada, Jihad Unspun,,,,, and many other hard-core Islamist and anti-American sites that feature prominently in their news search results?

They just added news sources for other countries.

Who comments Shouldn't get dropped, since their leadership is a self-proclaimed hater of the right?

OnlyInIsrael comments If you think including the National Vanguard was bad, you should know that until a few months ago GoogleNews included the HAMAS OFFICIAL WEBSITE, Palestine-info as a news source until they got complaints about it. The hamas official website was used as a newssource there for a couple of months. It's not a one time error. It's their regular behaviour.

Luigi comments The megacapitalists who own Google used to have a wonderful news service. It wasn't much more than a year ago. They had a page chock full of every media outlet you can think of, from all over the world. You just go down the list and click on whichever one you wanted. Now that was a news service. Everything you wanted was right there. If you wanted the news of the moment you could just click on AP or CNN or FOX or whatever you wished to get your news from. Then they had to go screw it up with their liberal politcally correct editorial policy. Maybe they liked the technical challenge. Maybe they're control freaks. Personally, I see two reasons why the megacapitalists who own Google need to show how liberal they are. Either they want to open the China market, or they want to show themselves as media moguls because they think they'll get laid more often.

mojoey comments I saw an a google easter egg link off of lifehacker that shows how google indexes web pages. Maybe they use the same logic to pick news sites?



Redmond Mag reports Microsoft is working on a technology for Windows Longhorn called "Info-cards" that is designed to return control of personal data, such as credit cards and Social Security numbers, to users, according to a report published this week.

If the technology works and consumers, merchants and other partners adopt it, Info-cards could reduce the need for big merchant-side databases of personal information that are the juiciest targets for hackers, such as in the recent ChoicePoint data breach. Elements of the technology could also deter "phishing" attacks, in which users are lured to bogus bank or other Web sites to enter their personal financial information.

As laid out in an article in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Info-cards would store personal information locally on a personal computer in an encrypted file. Computer users could then selectively disclose information about themselves to businesses or others online.

Only trusted Web sites would be able to decode the encrypted messages, and the sites would not need to store, and therefore secure, the information in a database. As a side benefit, the encrypted communication between users and back-end merchant software could reduce the need for insecure username/password combinations.

According to the Journal, Info-cards would use standard protocols that will be open to any Web site and could run on Unix or Linux as well as Windows. The details of such protocols are key to understanding how open they would actually be, but Microsoft executives did not provide extensive product plans for the article. reported The technology proposed by Microsoft is reminiscent of two software tools detailed by the Redmond, Washington-based company in 2001 called Passport and Hailstorm.

Hailstorm was quietly shelved after privacy advocates said it put too much sensitive information into the hands of a single company and partners expressed similar reservations.

Passport, used to provide a single log-in for multiple Web sites and store basic personal information, did not gain the wide audience that Microsoft hoped for. Online marketplace eBay Inc., an early Passport adopter, stopped using the service for its users in January.


The Perils Of P2P

Michelle Malkin warns about the perils of file sharing software (P2P): A guy who used a peer-to-peer file-sharing system inadvertently publicized a lot more on his hard drive than music files, WTOC 11 reports

Don't believe it? Download LimeWire and type in "federal return" or "1040" and see what pops up. I did it, and within a few minutes, I had access to scores of tax returns that included names, addresses, social security numbers, and bank account numbers.

Among hundreds of tax returns I saw, here are three I downloaded (note: sensitive information has been redacted): 1, 2, 3.

It's not just tax returns. During the past nine months, Rick Wallace, editor of the See What You Share blog, has used P2P to obtain all kinds of confidential government reports, including more than 25 classified military documents.

Don Bodiker's experience is a much-needed reminder for ordinary citizens and military personnel alike who use P2P: Be careful what you share. You never know who's snooping around.

BigSurf blogged Keith rightly points out in a comment: "Ironic that when stealing something you must becareful that you too are not being stolen from."

BizzyBlog blogged Taking all sensitive files off of your hard drive is nice but IMHO impractical advice, simply because if you take it off your hard drive, you have to back it up TWICE in case one of the backup media fail. In the case of taxes, the current year return relies on info from the previous year’s return, and depending on how you do backup, this year’s program may not be able to read in last year’s info.

Two better ideas:

  • Purge ALL P2P from all of your computers (Kazaa, Limewire, Bit Torrent, etc.).
  • If you must do P2P, turn off all sharing from your computers to the outside world. Purists might say you’re being “selfish,” but I say you’re practicing self-defense.
Also, be aware that anyone who uses P2P, especially on a Windows-based machine, opens themselves up to any virus, spyware, or malware that a mischievous file-sharer might incorporate into an innocent-looking music or other file.

Dave Lucas blogged check out Dvorak's post "Phishing Morphs into Pharming." Funny thing is, P2P software usage in US is decreasing. According to the information from the Pew Internet and American Life Project the usage has dropped by 10 per cent within the past year. For over two years, Canadians have enjoyed a freedom that US residents do not - the ability to download p2p media files legally...that's about to change. (Read MORE).

CLICK HERE if you'd like to learn more about to learn about Internet safety awareness. CLICK HERE to learn more about Phishing. Curious about P2P? Read "Decembrists Release Video Via Bit Torrent" and CLICK HERE for a link to read an article on Bram Cohen, the creator of BitTorrent. If you are a "TechnoBloggie" click on THIS LINK.

Peter blogged Just remember when you see the internet the internet sees you. If you are putting key files on your computer make sure they are NOT in a shared folder. You never know who might be watching.

Tim blogged Take this as yet another lesson in the internet is not a toy category.

Banana Oil! blogged The trouble here is not P2P file sharing, it’s the damn fools who do it without a care for their own security. This Bodiker fool not only kept his personal and financial information on the same hard drive (and partition) as his shared files — unencrypted! — he didn’t even check to see where the data was being stored. That’s not a P2P problem. That’s not even a computer problem. That’s an ignorant jackass problem. Of course, when selling such a story to other ignorant jackasses, it pays to make it seem like a software or hardware problem. But it isn’t. You play with fire before learning what fire does, you’re probably going to get burned.

I disagree with Banana Oil. One would have to be very greedy to download everything they can regardless of copyright restrictions to devote an entire hard drive to it, and to encrypt all personal data is a lot of extra work.

Rob Dejournett blogged P2P isn't all that great anymore. With the record companies now getting smart and spamming P2P networks with song spoofs (files that look like popular songs but just contain white noise), and the huge amount of bogus, junk, and virus containing files, P2P hasn't been worth it for years now. Smart people go elsewhere for their needs.

Update: See What You Share - a blog dedicated to P2P woes, drives home the point of how easy it is to get child porn from P2P. And yet these stories never make news, until an Amber Alert appears. So, let me get this straight. Download a song and you'll get fined or get a lawsuit. Download kiddie porn, or release kiddie porn, and there's no recrimation? I've been saying this for a while. The hypocracy of RIAA and it's ilk is astounding, and the public should be chastized for believing that song downloaders are the next Hitler. Clearly we need more public attention to these horrid matters.

The Unknown Professor blogged On file sharing software (like Limewire), you define a folder or folders on your hard drive as shareable. Unfortunately, the default sharable folder has the same name that a popular personal tax preparation software uses to store your tax returns. As a result, many people end up inadvertantly making their tax returns (which contain their social security numbers). The morals to this story:
  1. Be careful about what's in your shared folder
  2. Think twice before you use the default option on software installations.
  3. Make sure you know what's on your computer - it's possible that another family member has installed software that you're not aware of (particularly important if you have younger children).


Bixby Police Notify Residents reported The Bixby Police Department is the first in Oklahoma to use a telephone service that can alert a thousand residents a minute to sexual offenders moving into their neighborhood.

The program made its debut this month when police alerted residents within a half mile of the new addresses of two sexual offenders, police Lt. Paul Tryon said.

Bixby police are using a free service provided by the Florida-based nonprofit organization A Child Is Missing. A recorded message from the police department says: ''We have an important message for you. We want you to be aware that there is a sexual predator living in your neighborhood.''

The message then gives the offender's name, address, age, race, height, weight, gender, eye color and hair color. The recording also indicates the person is not wanted and that the information shouldn't be used to harass anyone, vandalize property or commit any crimes.

Tryon said the department goal is to notify neighbors within 10 days of the offender's move.

''If they feel they have a right to know, well, that's good,'' said Agustus Christenson, 26, a convicted sex offender who moved in with his family about two months ago. ''It also creates an uneasiness with me and to an extent it does anger me. I can see their side of it, needing to have a desire to protect their child.

''My side of it, well, it's like, I don't have the bubonic plague.''

Christenson served prison time for first-degree rape and indecent proposal to minor children, records show. Records also show he had sex with a 13-year-old girl five or six times and made the proposals to boys ages 6, 10 and 11.

He said he has a job working in the kitchen of a Tulsa restaurant. He's also in counseling.

Calls in Bixby also have been made to neighbors of Bassil Abdi, 51, who was convicted of sexual battery of a person over 16 in 2001.

''We weighed the public safety issues with issues that the offender might be targeted,'' Tryon said. ''If the offender is harassed or targeted then we will take steps to protect the offender.

Tina Izadi, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, said although the ACLU is not opposed to providing information about dangerous sex offenders, she thinks the real solution is to dedicate adequate resources to treating offenders and educating the public.

''Everyone cares about keeping children safe,'' Izadi said. ''But alarmist notification messages, for example referring to offenders as 'sexual predators,' are not the answer because they are ineffective.''

Sixteen states are using the service to alert residents of neighbors with sexual records, said Sherry Friedlander, founder and chairman of A Child Is Missing. She hopes to expand the service, which federal and private funds pay for, to other Oklahoma cities. Some already use the company to locate missing children.


College more liberal than thought

WaPo reported College faculties, long assumed to be a liberal bastion, lean further to the left than even the most conspiratorial conservatives might have imagined, a new study says.

By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative, says the study being published this week. The imbalance is almost as striking in partisan terms, with 50 percent of the faculty members surveyed identifying themselves as Democrats and 11 percent as Republicans.

The disparity is even more pronounced at the most elite schools, where, according to the study, 87 percent of faculty are liberal and 13 percent are conservative.

"What's most striking is how few conservatives there are in any field," said Robert Lichter, a professor at George Mason University and a co-author of the study. "There was no field we studied in which there were more conservatives than liberals or more Republicans than Democrats. It's a very homogenous environment, not just in the places you'd expect to be dominated by liberals."

And this came as a surprise?

I wonder if they will do another study and find that the MSM leans very far to the left.

Hugh Hewitt blogged "By their own description 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative." Which makes universities and colleges significantly more inclusive of conservatives than major media.

Betsy Newmark blogged Gee, what a surprise this study's result is. Maybe universities will decide that they need to have a "critical mass" of conservatives on campus just like they need such numbers of minorities so that people feel comfortable.

Rickheller @Centerfield blogged Being a sometime fiction writer, I've noticed that English lit departments have a heavy representation of Marxist ideas long discredited in Marx's original domains of economics and politics. As far as religious studies departments, I assume that the conservatives are all in seminaries.


A strange way to say thank you

NYT reported The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups.

"These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler's legal battle to keep Terri's estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri," says a description of the list on the Web site of the firm, Response Unlimited, which is asking $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Ms. Schiavo's father. "These individuals are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia and are pro-life in every sense of the word!"

S.Z. blogged Remember when I said that I was cynical enough to believe if you signed a petition or donated money at RightMarch to "save Terri," you would be added to Phil Sheldon's mailing list, which he rents out to other groups and to politicians? Well, per the NY Times, this has already happened.

Pudentilla blogged Everyone copes with his grief in his own way. Perhaps next the religious radicals could sell her clothes on ebay, citing John 19:23-24. or would that, at last, be a sacrilege.

Whatever you believed should have happened with Terri Schiavo, i.e. whether you thought Michael was right, and that she would not want to live that way, or whether you thought the parents should have been allowed to take care of her, and whether you are on the left (like the above two bloggers) or whether you are on the right (as I am) I would assume you would agree that this is absolutely outrageous.


Don't Fear the Blogger

Jack Shafer reported In yesterday's (March 27) Los Angeles Times, media reporter and critic David Shaw demonstrates Oscar Wilde's maxim that modern journalism is important—if only because it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.

Giving every indication that he's read a lot of stories about bloggers but not that many actual blogs, Shaw disparages the form as the error-filled rants of amateurs in his piece, "Do Bloggers Deserve Basic Journalistic Protections?" It's a "solipsistic, self-aggrandizing journalist-wannabe genre," Shaw writes.

Without naming a specific offender—except Matt Drudge, who he acknowledges really isn't a blogger — Shaw generalizes about bloggers for 1,300 gassy words. He writes:

Many bloggers—not all, perhaps not even most—don't seem to worry much about being accurate. Or fair. They just want to get their opinions — and their "scoops" — out there as fast as they pop into their brains. One of the great advantages of the Internet, many Web lovers have told me, is that it's easy to correct an error there. You can do it instantly, as soon as the error is called to your attention, instead of having to wait until the next day's paper.

These nameless bloggers don't deserve the "same constitutional protections as traditional print and broadcast journalists," Shaw writes. Specifically, he opposes their right to use state shield laws to protect their confidential sources when subpoenaed, as are three bloggers who are facing down Apple Computer in a trade secret case.

By wanting to get their opinions — and their "scoops" — out there as fast as they pop into their brains, would he include Dan Rather and his urge to get his story about memos (which subsequently proved to be false) on CBS in time to try to influence the 2004 Presidential Election?

Michelle Malkin blogged I have only one point to add--namely, that the neat division between "bloggers" on the one hand and "journalists" on the other is not as cut and dried as Shaw seems to think. As Radley Balko has noted, most of the top bloggers have one foot firmly planted in traditional print or broadcast media:At the same time, a number of TV commentators--e.g, Keith Olbermann, Linda Vester, Greta van Sustren, and Larry Kudlow--have blogs, as do an increasing number of newspapers and magazines, such as the New Republic, the Seattle Times, and the Dallas Morning News.

Rich Glasgow blogged I have no delusions that my little baby blog has any influence whatsoever on anyone, but of course, the Times piece lumps all blogs into a wishful little lump of irrelevance. The arrogant MSM would love it if Drudge (8 to 11 million visits/day, depending on the news cycle) were irrelevant. They hate him. They would love it if the big bloggers like Power Line, Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, Captain's Quarters, Hugh Hewitt, and so many others, (not to mention the talk radio power houses a la Rush who paved the way for the countless internet sites) weren't breaking stories and causing iconic anchors to leave in ignominy, or actually calling to account the Old Gray Lady when bogus stories appear.

CQ blogged Shafer also notes that the so-called legitimate press makes plenty of mistakes that never get prominent corrections. In fact, Shafer takes his examples from such prominent stories as 9/11, Monicagate, and the granddaddy of all press achievements, Watergate -- and shows how the revered Walter Cronkite and CBS ran a seriously misleading story without checking the facts. Does anyone remember the white van with the bomb on 9/11 that the FBI supposedly found on an NYC bridge? Jack Shafer does, even if the newspapers and broadcasters who pushed that story have forgotten it.

Jay Rosen blogged

Stirling Newberry blogged Shafer's piece takes on the naked fear of people who are paid to write opinions have of peopel who are not paid to write opinions. This is an example of the analog/digital dynamic. The analog world protected soft property by making it hard to copy, by placing large capital barriers in the way of entry. The digital world breaks down the barrier to entry, without necessarily providing the values that the soft property had. In journalism the capital intensiveness is gathering news - one must truck the protons in real people around the world and get them to observe, interview and write. This capital intensiveness protected the soft virtue of getting the story right.

Kent blogged I have a lot of ideas for how to create a new model for journalism, but it doesn't seem like the newspapers are in any rush to fundamentally change their business practices. Jay Rosen comments "No R & D rush. No large investment in the future. No siren call to find the new model."

I've been independently doing this R&D work through the process of making my documentary on the failures of the mainstream media leading up to the war in Iraq. I hope to provide a proof of concept of these models through the production of my film. I submitted the following comment to Rosen's site in the hopes that I can gain more awareness and institutional support for what I'm doing. I'm working on an implementation roadmap.

Jim Romenesko blogged Jack Shafer spanks David Shaw for saying bloggers don't deserve the same constitutional protections as traditional print and broadcast journalists. Shafer writes: "I suggest that he ... research the history of the First Amendment. [He'll] learn that the Founders wrote it precisely to protect Tom, Dick, and Matt, and the wide-eyed pamphleteers and the partisan press of the time. The professional press, which Shaw believes so essential in protecting society, didn't even exist until the late 19th century."

Dean Esmay blogged Jack Shafer gets it right. Thanks for understanding and respecting the first amendment, Jack. Unlike some people.

Patterico blogged Jack Shafer whacks David Shaw. And deservedly so. I have whacked Shaw once or twice (or thrice) myself. But I am happy to see Shafer pile on. Shaw deserves no less.

People that work for newspapers assume
  • That they are journalists
  • No one who does not work for a newspaper can be a journalist
Neither assumption is true all the time.

I dont know whether one can call my blogging Journalism, but at least I try to link to my sources whereever I can (so my readers can check for themselves whether or not I have distorted what others have said, and I try to use TrackBacks whereever they are available, so that the site quoted will know I have quoted something they said, and they have a chance to see whether I am quoting them properly. Fellow Tulsa blogger Michael D. Bates trys to do the same thing, and the local print newspaper did not like him quoting what they said when he criticized them.


Tuesday, March 29

This Day In History

  • 1790   John Tyler, the 10th president of the United States, was born in Charles City County, Va.
  • 1847   U.S. forces led by Gen. Winfield Scott occupied the city of Veracruz after Mexican defenders capitulated.
  • 1848   For the first time in recorded history, Niagara Falls stopped flowing. An ice jam in the Niagara River above the rim of the falls caused the water to stop.
  • 1867   The North America Act was passed by the British parliament, creating the dominion of Canada.
  • 1882   The Knights of Columbus was chartered in Connecticut.
  • 1914   Seven papers joined together to distribute the first newspaper rotogravure section. This meant that the first picture section was developed.
  • 1917   Man o’ War, the famous American race horse, was foaled.
  • 1932   Comedian Jack Benny appeared on radio for the first time. He agreed to join then newspaper columnist, Ed Sullivan, on his radio interview show. Benny got a real taste of radio two months later when he got his own show on the NBC radio network.
  • 1943   Rationing of meat, butter and cheese began during World War II.
  • 1951   Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were found guilty of passing atomic secrets to the Russians and were sentenced to death.
  • 1962   Jack Paar left his highly successful late night TV talk show after five years. He left behind a salary of $250,000 and an estimated audience of eight-million people. Fill-in hosts were used, including one who would ultimately win the coveted position of host of "The Tonight Show". He was Johnny Carson.
  • 1971   Army Lt. William L. Calley Jr. was convicted of murdering at least 22 Vietnamese civilians in the My Lai massacre. (He spent three years under house arrest.)
  • 1971   A jury in Los Angeles recommended the death penalty for Charles Manson and three female followers for the 1969 Tate-La Bianca murders. The sentences were later commuted.

  • 1973
      The last U.S. troops left South Vietnam.
  • 1974   Eight Ohio National Guardsmen were indicted on charges stemming from the shooting deaths of four students at Kent State University. The guardsmen were later acquitted.
  • 1992   Democratic presidential front-runner Bill Clinton acknowledged experimenting with marijuana ''a time or two'' while attending Oxford University, adding, ''I didn't inhale and I didn't try it again.''
  • 1995   The House of Representatives rejected a constitutional amendment that would have limited terms to 12 years in the U.S. House and Senate.
  • 1999   The Dow Jones industrial average closed above 10,000 for the first time, at 10,006.78.
  • 2002   Israel declared Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat an enemy and sent tanks and armored personnel carriers to fully isolate him in his Ramallah, West Bank headquarters.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1790   John Tyler (10th U.S. President [1841-1845]; the first president to marry while in office; married to: L. Christian, J. Gardiner [8 sons, 7 daughters]; nickname: Accidental President; died Jan 18, 1862)
  • 1927   John McLaughlin (TV host: McLaughlin [CNBC Network]; editor, columnist)
  • 1945   Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier (Basketball Hall of Famer: Southern Illinois Univ. All-American; NY Knicks [1967-1977/NBA championship teams: 1970, 1973/NBA all defensive first team: 1969-1975/all-star: 1970-1976/MVP: 1975], Knicks’ all-time assists leader: 4,791; Cleveland Cavaliers; lifetime average of 18.9 points per game in 825 regular-season games, 20.7 points per game in 93 playoff contests; nickname [Clyde] taken from the folk-hero robber Clyde Barrow)


Monday, March 28, 2005

Blog Advertising

WSJ reported Well-placed blog ads can boost a company's image as cutting-edge. Plus, they're inexpensive: $350 a week, for instance, for premium positioning on Nick Denton (Gawker's founder) high-profile inside-Washington blog, Wonkette, which got 2.2 million "page views" last month, a measure of how many times a single visitor looks at one Web site page.

But many companies are wary of putting their brand on such a new and unpredictable medium. Most blogs are written by a lone author. They are typically unedited and include spirited responses from readers who can post comments at will. Some marketers fear blogs will criticize their products or ad campaigns. And, like all new blog readers, companies are just learning how to track what's being said on blogs and which ones might make a good fit for their ads....

The vast majority of the 8 million or so blogs currently in existence have few if any ads. Many are run by hobbyists or armchair commentators, some of whom sign up to carry tiny text ads from a large pool of advertisers through a service from Google Inc. The ads generate revenue only when a visitor clicks on the ad. Most bloggers, like Ronni Bennett, a former television producer who lives in New York's Greenwich Village and writes about aging on, can't even offset the cost of her Internet access. Her site gets between 1,200 and 1,500 page views a day, bringing in all of $50 since December 2004.

Ideoblog blogs Maybe the big problem is that blogging is still too “unpredictable,” and that advertisers will come around when the risks look more manageable. Then, of course, advertisers will sort according to market niches. A nice thing about blogging is that it permits micromarketing, as I discuss here. There might also be sorting between the “cable” approach of no-advertising blogs (like mine) and the “broadcast” approach of advertising blogs.

BlogAds did a survey, and if you are interested in Blog Advertising, you should check it out.

There can be dangers in accepting blog advertisements. Initially Captain's Quarters thought that Google had dropped his blog from their search engine, but later SayAnything revealed that he had been fooled into accepting $300 a month for the use of a subdomain off of his “” domain. He would point the subdomain to a page of advertising hosted on their servers and they’d send him the money via Pay Pal. He checked out the advertising and there was no porn or anything involved so he agreed. Seemed like a good deal to him and with hosting costs rising as his page gets more and more popular he was not much inclined to turn down opportunities to make money from this page.

Turns out this was a mistake. This company is involved in something called link farming, a practice Google frowns upon. They frown upon it so much, in fact, that Say Anything has now been removed from that search engine’s indexes.

As NetMechanic said A link farm consists of sites that link to other sites for the sole purpose of increasing their link popularity score. Unlike perfectly valid links to sites with related information, sites that participate in link farming contain links to totally unrelated sites. This practice is also referred to as link stuffing.

Google hates link farms and labels the links they generate as spam. In fact, Google gates them so much that some sites get removed from the index if they're affiliated with link farms. Spooked, some webmasters are considering removing all outbound links from their sites.

That's an overreaction that decreases the site value to visitors and hurts the Web in general because cross-linking is a basic tenet of the Internet. Links are fine - even encouraged - if they are related to your topic, but link farms rarely provide useful content to visitors.

Coinciding almost exactly with SayAnything's removal from Google was an email from Business Barn stating that they were ending the arrangement together. Which makes perfect sense. They were after his Google page rank. Now that he have no Google page rank his blog is of no use to them.

The strange thing is that as likwidshoe commented If you got delinked from Google because of this episode, ask them why the company in question is still linked

GoogleGuy said Hi, I can confirm that it was spammy urls like .... that led to this spam penalty triggering for your site–and it looks like there were links from your main site to this info subdomain. It looks like these urls have been removed or the DNS has been updated for, so I’d expect your site to return into Google index quite quickly (probably within 1-2 days).

PowerPundit was targeted by the same scam, but they did not agree to it, because when they checked there were links to porno sites. The advertiser removed the links, but fortunately PP did not fall for the offer.

Blog Ads can bring in revenue to offset hosting fees, but a blogger needs to be very careful what sort of ads they accept. One alternative would be Google AdSense, however it's payout depends on the uniqueness of the material on a blog (or on a website). For example, if you are the only one with a blog (or webpage) on a particular subject, and if there are advertisers that want to reach people interested in that subject, they may pay a lot per click with AdSense, but if there are thousands of blogs (or webpages) covering a subject, the amount per click paid by AdSense is much much lower. For example one day I had 116 people see a particular page, and 1 person clicked on it, and I earned 3 cents, but another page had 71 page views, and 1 click through, and I earned 43 cents. I have a friend that reported that his site (which is much rarer than mine, sometimes earns $1.00 or more per click through

Update 3/28 9:26 CQ said I received an e-mail from Business Barn ending our current relationship -- perhaps because my Google ranking disappeared overnight -- but offering me a new deal with free hosting and unlimited bandwidth. I have turned it down and deleted the subdomains that caused the problems with the Google search engine. I also replied to the comment that Google left on my original post explaining what happened -- and they were kind enough to send this response: "Thanks for letting us know; I'd expect to come fully back into the index within 1-2 days."

So just to make sure everyone knows, Google didn't delete CQ from their search engines for political reasons, and they've actually been very good about letting me know what the problem was and responsive to my solution. I'll be looking forward to visitors from Google searches later this week ...


Economics of Blogging

ProfessorBainbridge blogs Larry Ribstein offers a typically interesting series of posts on the economics of blogging, which starts here. The subsequent post on, inter alia, why people blog is particularly provocative.

I highly recommend all bloggers, and potential bloggers, read Larry's posts on The law and economics of blogging on Ideoblog, whose motto is "A blog about ideas. Ideas are not beliefs or opinions":

It is not a part of the above mentioned series, but I recommend you also read McCain-Feingold and bloggers


Left Feels Left Out

Sean Paul blogs on The Agonist: We, the undersigned bloggers, are very concerned about how liberal bloggers are being systematically under-represented in the mainstream media, academic settings and media forums. By being segmented away from these venues, we are effectively pushed out of the discourse of opinion-leaders. The result is that the conventional wisdom becomes a feedback loop framed by the Conservatives and their media allies.

RawStory reports Seeking to bypass government-pre-packaged news and the mainstream media’s lack of substantive reporting, a group of news sites and blogs have teamed up to asks citizens to print, copy, and leave news wherever they go from Mar. 27-Apr. 9–leaving the leaflets in doctors’/dentists’ offices, the DMV, subway walls, bulletin boards, community centers and anywhere else someone is likely to read them.....

The Paper Chase was created as an antidote to the lack of critical information making its way to average Americans. Although the Internet has proven a useful tool, there remain millions of people who either have no Internet access, are unaware of the sites that promote such information, or do not refer to the Web for their daily information needs. The goal of the Paper Chase is to show them that what they are missing is the truth....

The Paper Chase is currently sponsored by The Raw Story, BradBlog, Watching the Watchers, Newsfare, Political Strategy, The Agonist, A la Gauche, Radiofreeblogistan, Rayne Today, and Radio Left.

The article said “Nothing could be more important than the truth,” says Watching the Watchers’ Anthony Levensalor. “Regardless of your political leaning, background or history, we must base our decisions on real news, not trumped up propaganda.”.

I am happy to see they say we need to do this "regardless of your political leaning", but it certainly appears to me that the participants range from the left to the far left. Why are they concerned about getting the MSM to listen to them? They have the MSM in their hip pockets.


A New Site for Anyone, Anything

WSJ reported Four years ago, Jimmy Wales launched a free online encyclopedia that anyone could edit. Now, Wikipedia is one of the most popular sites on the Web, and Mr. Wales is building on its success with a new venture. This time, he intends to make a buck.

Mr. Wales's closely held company Wikia Inc. has begun promoting its first for-profit endeavor, an ad-supported site called that is based on the concept behind Wikipedia. Through Wikicities, groups of Web users can create their own free Web sites and fill them with, well, nearly anything. Among the topics being discussed on the nascent site: Macintosh computers, college hockey and real-world cities like Los Angeles, Beijing and Calgary.

Any visitor can easily change a wiki's appearance or the information it contains using tools included on the site. Later, if another user disagrees with a change, he can cancel it just as easily with the click of a mouse. Changes appear instantly and are tracked in a "history" tab on the page. Each topic is overseen by an administrator, who has the power to block users who have records of contributing little more than vandalism. Still, for the most part, democracy rules.

To the uninitiated, that free-for-all approach to editing sounds like a recipe for chaos. But it's a model that has made Mr. Wales's better-known project, Wikipedia, one of the most-visited sites on the Web. In the past year, traffic to Wikipedia has doubled to 5.3 million unique visitors in February, topping such well-known destinations as the Drudge Report, and, according to research firm ComScore Networks Inc.

Wikipedia now has more than 1.3 million articles in several languages and is constantly updated by its visitors, from addicts who spend hours a day adding pages to casual Web surfers who correct spelling errors, then move on.

Jeff Jarvis blogged It's just starting so it's hard to tell whether this will work as well as Wikipedia. I think that wikis work best when they try to gather the ongoing wisdom of the crowds on lasting topics; they work when they hit a critical mass of interest, people, contributions, and time. That's why I remain dubious that Wikinews will work; it's too transient: By the time enough people swarm around a topic to add their collective wisdom, the world has moved on. Wikipedia did, in fact, do a good job collecting news during the tsunami, but that had enough interest, people, and time to make it work. WikiCities is a third model: A portal where people can create free, ad-supported special-interest wikis. On the one hand, I wonder whether people won't just do that on their own sites, in their own communities. On the other hand, perhaps special-interest wikis need a portal to gather that critical mass of contributors. We'll see...

On this blog Derek commented Seems to me that one of the more under-utilized functions of blogs is the local blog---a blog writ small. I live in Ann Arbor, MI. A local blog of events, politics, and news, etc., with reader reviews and reporting, would be a great service and widely read in a blog-friendly town like this. Certainly less centralized an approach than wiki....

But how does a local blog get attention and recognition in the wider, louder blogoshpere? Certainly word-of-mouth. But a portal for local blogs with links would be more effective. Suggestions?