Saturday, June 18, 2005

Schools for Muslims

joannejacobs has a very good article on Schools for Muslims which seems to indicate that there are a lot of Muslim schools that are trying to reduce the emphasis on jihad.

She ends with the statement Madrassas teach students to memorize the Koran and obey their religious superiors. They're not big on teaching "critical thinking" skills.

With the exception of the religious teaching, it sounds like Public Education in the USA. Student are taught what to think (i.e. liberalism), and they are not big on teaching :critical thinking" skills.


Blogs for HomeSchoolers

topleft.jpg width=202 height=154 align=right>HomeSchoolMagazine is offering free blogs for home schoolers. At the time I am posting this, they have 384 blogs, with a total of 1948 blog entries, 3355 comments, and 38 different templates.

This would seem to me to be a very good way for homeschooling parents to network with each other.

Titles of some of the blog postings include I've just added our Curriculum Choices, Why Study the Classics??, Making Disciples - A Homeschool Mom's Great Commission, and Should Girls Go to College? Part 2.

Parents having the time to do a proper job of Home Schooling can end up giving their children a much better education than they will get at most public schools. I had a niece and nephew that were homeschooled, and they tested anywhere between 6 months to 4 years ahead of their actual age level, and they were not subjected to the violence, drugs, and liberal teachers at most public schools.

Hat tip to joannejacobs


Virtual Majority

EIKIW blogged Democrats have already begun planning what they are going to do with their new toy, the Virtual Majority, which was so generously provided by the Gang of Seven Republicans. Senate Democrats plan to emulate the strategy they used to block Republicans from employing the so-called “nuclear option” on judicial nominations in an effort to enact their own domestic agenda in the coming weeks, a key Democratic senator said yesterday. What Schumer neglects to take into account is that the drop in the polls is due to Republicans who are angry at wimpy senators who are not doing enough to stop the outrageous behavior of Democrats--Republicans have not had a sudden change of heart and decided that, lo and behold, Democrats have been right all along. Republican dissatisfaction with Republican senators does not equal a sudden ground-swell of Republican support of Democrat policies and tactics.

EIKIW readers, see this post on CQ about Sean's health.

Regarding Virtual Majority, the Dems must be crazy to think they are going to run the Senate by virtue of the 7 Republicans that joined the gang of 14.


New Tack On Social Security

WaPo reports Key Republican lawmakers, scrambling to keep President Bush's Social Security proposals afloat, plan next week to embrace an idea that many have avoided thus far: funding personal retirement accounts with surplus revenue that now pays for other government programs. The strategy is controversial because it would create new budget problems. Either the diverted money would have to be replaced with new taxes, or Congress would have to slash programs now funded by Social Security's excess payroll taxes.

Those programs now funded by Social Security's excess payroll taxes are not being saved for future social security purposes, but by taking them out of the government's control, and putting them into private accounts, would mean they would be saved for someone's social security.
Republicans said yesterday that they will address those concerns later. First, they said, they want to create momentum and enthusiasm for Bush's proposed private accounts, which are so unpopular with congressional Democrats and with many Americans that some supporters privately consider them in deep peril. "This is an opportunity to get the ball rolling, a step in the right direction," said a Senate GOP leadership aide who spoke on background because the plan's official outlines are scheduled for a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday.

Steve Soto from LeftCoaster blogged Never estimate the stupidity of Senate GOP conservatives. Next week, three GOP senators will hatch one more plan to sell voters on private accounts. How do they plan to do it? By convincing voters that the trust fund surpluses that Bush is currently squandering to pay for his upper income tax cuts and Iraq war should instead be redirected to finance the private accounts. Gee, won't this create even larger deficits or require immediate tax increases? Sure.
No it could result in shrinking the government, which is what Republicans are supposed to be for.
Does the GOP care about this? Nope. Will they be able to convince voters that private accounts are such a good idea that we need to slash spending hundreds of billions a year on health care, education, homeland security, law enforcement, and even the Pentagon to make up for the trust funds that are currently financing Bush's deficit spending?
Health care, education, and law enforcement are primarilly the job of state or local government.
Probably not. But the whole exercise will allow Democrats to show voters plainly that Bush is paying for his upper income tax cuts and Iraq war with Social Security taxes that were to be lockboxed for the system's solvency which are instead holding down his deficits.
No it will show that there is no lockbox, but that this approach will create a true lockbox, where the money is in personal accounts and out of the government's control. It shows why the Ponzi scheme is destined to fall eventually. The only question is when.
And tell me again how taking billions of Social Security taxes from the trust fund and sending them to Wall Street addresses the system's solvency without also requiring massive benefit cuts?

Jesse Taylor blogged The writer doesn't make this clear, but the idea is to use the surplus Social Security money that's not only keeping a significant portion of the government afloat, but likely also some of the money that's keeping Social Security destroy Social Security and push the entire government further into debt. To be fair, though, they're just making the massive spending that will be required to finance private accounts explicit, which was the goal all along. Right?




Alternate Shuttle

Wired News reported A new spacecraft has been successfully dropped off a launch jet into a vertical, midair blastoff position, an important innovation that could simplify future space launches. Transformational Space, or tSpace, successfully tested its new spacecraft over California's Mojave Desert earlier this week -- dropping a 23 percent scale model of its rocket and crew capsule from a high-altitude jet. The mockup dropped from the carrier plane into a vertical launch position without the use of wings. Rather than firing a rocket engine, the unmanned craft fell to Earth. But it performed exactly as computer models predicted, proving the viability of a new method for air-launching spacecraft. The test establishes tSpace as a serious contender in the effort to build a replacement for NASA's aging fleet of space shuttles. Although founded only last year, tSpace has already secured $6 million from NASA to flesh out concepts for the new spaceship, called the Crew Transfer Vehicle, or CXV, and test its viability with working hardware. The test was conducted by tSpace contractor Scaled Composites, the small aerospace firm that also built and flew SpaceShipOne, which last year blasted the first privately financed astronaut, Mike Melvill, out of the atmosphere. Until now, air-launched spacecraft, including SpaceShipOne, have depended on wings to pitch up from their horizontal drop position to the vertical orientation needed to reach space. But wings add weight and complexity to the vehicles, and also an element of danger. Since their rocket motors fire while they are horizontal, they risk catching up to and colliding with their comparatively slow-moving carrier planes. The CXV and attached rocket booster, which will be four times larger than the mockups used in the drop tests, will pitch up through the simple mechanical action of hanging on to the carrier plane with its nose for a half-second longer than the booster's body. It was this action that was successfully demonstrated Tuesday. To see other photos click here


What Europe Really Needs

Paul Johnson wrote in OpinionJournal That Europe as an entity is sick and the European Union as an institution is in disorder cannot be denied. But no remedies currently being discussed can possibly remedy matters.

Basically because each country is individual, and each's view of the EU is that every country should be like it, and that at the same time it should benefit a little more than the others. It reminds me of what the pigs said in George Orwell's Animal Farm: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others"
What ought to depress partisans of European unity in the aftermath of the rejection of its proposed constitution by France and the Netherlands is not so much the foundering of this ridiculous document as the response of the leadership to the crisis, especially in France and Germany. Jacques Chirac reacted by appointing as prime minister Dominque de Villepin, a frivolous playboy who has never been elected to anything and is best known for his view that Napoleon should have won the Battle of Waterloo and continued to rule Europe.
And who played a large role in the writing of the constitution rejected by the French.
Gerhard Schröder of Germany simply stepped up his anti-American rhetoric. What is notoriously evident among the EU elite is not just a lack of intellectual power but an obstinacy and blindness bordering on imbecility. As the great pan-European poet Schiller put it: "There is a kind of stupidity with which even the Gods struggle in vain." The fundamental weaknesses of the EU that must be remedied if it is to survive are threefold. First, it has tried to do too much, too quickly and in too much detail.
This would have been a much better constitution
Jean Monnet, architect of the Coal-Steel Pool, the original blueprint for the EU, always said: "Avoid bureaucracy. Guide, do not dictate. Minimal rules." He had been brought up in, and learned to loathe, the Europe of totalitarianism, in which communism, fascism and Nazism competed to impose regulations on every aspect of human existence. He recognized that the totalitarian instinct lies deep in European philosophy and mentality--in Rousseau and Hegel as well as Marx and Nietzsche--and must be fought against with all the strength of liberalism, which he felt was rooted in Anglo-Saxon individualism. In fact, for an entire generation, the EU has gone in the opposite direction and created a totalitarian monster of its own, spewing out regulations literally by the million and invading every corner of economic and social life. The results have been dire: An immense bureaucracy in Brussels, each department of which is cloned in all the member capitals. A huge budget,
Which just failed to be approved.
masking unprecedented corruption, so that it has never yet been passed by auditors, and which is now a source of venom among taxpayers from the countries which pay more than they receive. Above all, règlementation of national economies on a totalitarian scale.

Steve Bainbridge blogged Paul Johnson's analysis of the state of the EU is a must read. Money quote on how the EU elites reacted to the French and Dutch referenda

Stefan Beck blogged It is interesting that Johnson dwells on obstinacy and blindness, because it seems Europe is nothing if not a stubborn old man, refusing to take the medicine that is readily available to it. That medicine is a deference to and appreciation of all that was good in the European past. The EU "constitution," we know by now, is a gigantic, tortuous document, descending upon the people of Europe from on high to impose its "wisdom" like the Crystal Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the people have rejected it, and perhaps sometime soon they will begin to realize that its replacement already exists in their own cultural legacy.

Mitch Berg blogged The whole thing is worth a read - as it always is with Johnson.

Orrin Judd blogged The Continent has turned its back on both the past and the future. And the gods have in turn repudiated Europe.


Saturday, June 18

This Day In History

  • 1621   The first duel in America reportedly took place in the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. Sorry, we have no line score.
  • 1812   The United States declared war against Britain.
  • 1815   British and Prussian troops defeated the French under Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo in Belgium.
  • 1873   Suffragist Susan B. Anthony was fined $100 for attempting to vote in the 1872 presidential election.
  • 1927   The U.S. Post Office offered a special 10-cent postage stamp for sale. The stamp honored Charles Lindbergh’s "Spirit of St. Louis". It was the first postage stamp to feature the name of a living American.
  • 1928   Aviator Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean as she completed a flight from Newfoundland to Wales in about 21 hours.
  • 1940   With the World War II Battle of Britain looming, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill urged his countrymen to persevere so that future generations would say, "This was their finest hour."
  • 1945   Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower received a tumultuous welcome in Washington, where he addressed a joint session of Congress.
  • 1948   Columbia Records unveiled its new long-playing phonograph record. The new disc turned at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute, offering sound quality that was superior to 78 rpm records.
  • 1979   President Jimmy Carter and Soviet President Leonid I. Brezhnev signed the SALT II strategic arms limitation treaty in Vienna.
  • 1983   Astronaut Sally K. Ride became America's first woman in space as she and four colleagues blasted off aboard the space shuttle Challenger.
  • 1984   Denver radio talk show host Alan Berg was shot to death outside his home. Two white supremacists were convicted of civil rights violations in the slaying.
  • 1996   Richard Allen Davis was convicted in San Jose, Calif., of the 1993 kidnap-murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas of Petaluma.
  • 2003   A Palestinian detonated a nail-studded bomb in a Jerusalem bus, killing 19 passengers and himself.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1886   George Mallory (explorer, mountain climber: last seen in 1924 climbing Mt. Everest “Because it is there.”; Mallory’s body found on Everest at 27,000' May 1, 1999)
  • 1901   Jeanette (Anna) MacDonald (singer with Nelson Eddy)
  • 1917   Richard (Allen) Boone (actor: Have Gun Will Travel)
  • 1942   Roger Ebert (film critic: of Siskel and Ebert fame)
  • 1942   (James) Paul McCartney (Grammy Award-winning [1990] musician, songwriter, singer: group: The Beatles)


Friday, June 17, 2005

What Comes After Four?

LA Times reports The Big Quake Question: What Comes After Four?

A 4.9 magnitude earthquake centered in San Bernardino County rattled a large section of Southern California on Thursday, the third significant temblor to hit the state in less than a week. While the quake did not cause major injuries or damage, it shook nerves across the region just two days after a 7.2 quake off the Northern California coast prompted a tsunami warning and four days after many residents were jolted awake by a 5.2 quake centered near Anza.

It looks like much of California, and possibly a couple of other blue states, is about to break off and fall into the Pacific


Democrats Play House

WaPo reported In the Capitol basement yesterday, long-suffering House Democrats took a trip to the land of make-believe.

It was not a long trip. Most of them live there, so it was just a trip home.
They pretended a small conference room was the Judiciary Committee hearing room, draping white linens over folding tables to make them look like witness tables and bringing in cardboard name tags and extra flags to make the whole thing look official.Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) banged a large wooden gavel and got the other lawmakers to call him "Mr. Chairman."
I guess that is better than leotards with a cape and a big "S" on his chest.
He liked that so much that he started calling himself "the chairman" and spouted other chairmanly phrases, such as "unanimous consent" and "without objection so ordered." The dress-up game looked realistic enough on C-SPAN, so two dozen more Democrats came downstairs to play along....Conyers was having so much fun that he ignored aides' entreaties to end the session. "At the next hearing," he told his colleagues, "we could use a little subpoena power." That brought the house down. As Conyers and his hearty band of playmates know, subpoena power and other perks of a real committee are but a fantasy unless Democrats can regain the majority in the House. But that's only one of the obstacles they're up against as they try to convince America that the "Downing Street Memo" is important.


Prisoner abuse (in Chicago)

John In Carolina blogged Illinois Democrat Senator Richard Durbin compared American servicemen and women serving at Guantanamo to Hitler's Nazis, Stalin's gulag thugs, and Pol Pot's murderers. But I could find no criticism by Durbin of his pal, political ally and Cook Country's Democrat Sheriff, Michael F. Sheahan, who's run the notorious Cook County Jail since 1990. I used Google and Yahoo search engines. The Senator's office didn't return a phone call inquiry about Sheahan and prisoner abuse at the jail. During the 15 years Sheahan’s run Cook County Jail, there have been numerous reports by rights groups, attorneys, and a grand jury documenting systematic prisoner abuse there, including rapes and beatings by guards. Legal action by Chicago University's Law School's public-service law firm, The MacArthur Justice Center, led to a grand jury finding that a failure by Sheahan’s office to investigate prisoner beatings constituted “obstruction of justice.” The MacArthur site details other actions its brought against Sheahan and other responsible officials. In a Chicago Tribune op-ed, MacArthur attorney Jean Maclean Snyder gave readers this graphic example of prisoner abuse at Cook County Jail:

(a) squad of 40 guards took over a maximum-security division of the jail in 1999 for the sole purpose of beating and terrorizing the prisoners. A jail investigator determined that the guards' misconduct was covered up by Cook County medical personnel, who filed false reports and refused or delayed treatment to the prisoners, and by the Cook County inspector general, who refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Snyder want on to describe a meeting with a prisoner who'd been beaten:
the whites of his eyes were nearly obscured by the red from blood vessels that had ruptured during the beating, and deep lacerations were held together by staples that had been applied to his scalp.
Chicago newspapers have reported and spoken out against the abuses in Cook County Jail. Now they and the rest of the national media who've given voice to Senator Durbin's attack on the military need to ask him about his pal, Sheriff Sheahan, and Cook County Jail.

Michelle Malkin blogged John in North Carolina tips us off to rampant prison abuse in Dick Durbin's backyard.

Captain Ed blogged We'll start taking Durbin seriously when he calls for the National Guard in Illinois to take over the Cook County Jail and demands a federal investigation of his political ally Michael Sheahan, for years of allegations involving abuses much more profound than anything contained in that silly e-mail Durbin read on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday. Until then, chalk up Durbin's feigned moral outrage to the worst kind of political opportunism.

I would urge that Gitmo be closed down and that all of the prisoners be transferred to the Cook County Jail, except I suspect it really would be against Geneva Conventions


Just For The Heck Of It

Your IQ Is 120

Your Logical Intelligence is Exceptional
Your Verbal Intelligence is Exceptional
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Exceptional
Your General Knowledge is Exceptional

Hat Tip to Tulsa Topics


USDA plants its own news

Chicago Tribune reports The U.S. Department of Agriculture has churned out three dozen radio and television news segments since the first of the year that promote a controversial trade agreement with Central America opposed by labor unions, the sugar industry and many members of Congress, including some Republicans. Amid an intense debate over government-funded efforts to influence news coverage, the prepackaged reports have been widely distributed to broadcast outlets across the country for easy insertion into newscasts. About a third of the reports deal specifically with the politically powerful sugar industry, which has emerged as the major obstacle to the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA.

The USDA website indicates that one of it's primary jobs is USDA helps ensure open markets for U.S. agricultural products and provides food aid to needy people overseas. If the media feels that the radio and television news segments it turns out are improper, why do they run them? Or is the Chicago Tribune complaining that they just turn out radio and television news segments, and that they should turn out items for news papers to run, so that they don't have to actually hire reporters to go out and find news and write about it.

Brendan Nyhan blogged CJR Daily, which has played a key role in watchdogging the Bush administration's use of deceptive "video news releases," has picked up a Chicago Tribune report about more than 30 new VNRs from the Dept. of Agriculture promoting CAFTA. Even after Karen Ryan and Armstrong Williams, this issue will not go away. When will the government get out of the fake news business?


Doughnut Democrats

OpinionJournal wrote Whatever happened to the party's middle?

Tim Russert: "In your home state of Vermont there is a vacancy for the United State Senate. Bernie Sanders wants to run for that seat. He is a self-described avowed socialist. Is there room in the Democratic Party for a socialist?"
There seem to be several of them
Howard Dean: "Well, he's not a socialist really. . . . He is basically a liberal Democrat."

--NBC's "Meet the Press," May 22
No, we aren't saying that modern Washington Democrats are socialists, Party Chairman Howard Dean notwithstanding.
You may be afraid of saying it, but I am not. Certainly all Dems are not socialists, but the socialists seem to have control of the extreme left wing of the Democratic party
But this also isn't your father's Democratic Party. As tough as these columns have been on the current Republican majority in Congress, Democrats bear their share of the blame for its dysfunction.

The Democratic leadership has arguably never been more overtly hostile to free markets, deregulation, tax reform and free trade than it is today. The National Taxpayers Union reports that last year the House Democrats recorded their lowest taxpayer rating ever, having voted just 13% of the time for smaller government and less taxes.

Professor Stephen Bainbridge blogged Indeed, while it would be nice two parties devoted to limited government, it's essential to have at least one.

John Hawkins blogged A few quick thoughts inspired by this graph...
  1. The Democratic decline in the Senate is not a fluke. It has been a long, slow, steady slide that started during the Vietnam years, was masked for a short period in the post-Watergate years, and has sped up since the early nineties. So this is not a "band-aid" problem for the Dems, it's serious business.
  2. Also, notice that although there are peaks and valleys, the height of the peaks is getting progressively lower. Furthermore, now that the Dems have almost completely lost the South, they may not even have the capacity to get more than a seat or two above 50 for the foreseeable future.
  3. How low will the Dems go? Well, given the polarization of the country, that Bush took 31 states in 2004 and Kerry took 19, and the political die-off of "conservative" Southern Dems at the national level, it's entirely possible we could see the GOP reach the magical "60 number" sometime between 2008-2016, unless something changes. Of course, it goes without saying that's speculative....
  4. Here's a scary thought for Dems: the two biggest troughs on this graph occurred when Democrats took over the White House. If Hillary Clinton were to take the White House in 2008, that could be the very event that would help the GOP to finally go over the 60 seat mark.

Ed Driscoll blogged John Hawkins has spotted a really interesting trendline in the recent history of the Senate. This Wall Street Journal editorial also helps to explain this trend.

The Dems in control of that party have gone so far to the left that I think that Bernie Sanders is just the only Congress Criter that admits he is a socialist. The moderate Dems have now become Republicans, but I agree with Professor Bainbridge, "while it would be nice two parties devoted to limited government, it's essential to have at least one."


G-8 Climate Plan

WaPo reports Bush administration officials working behind the scenes have succeeded in weakening key sections of a proposal for joint action by the eight major industrialized nations to curb climate change.

Anything done just by the G8 would just weaken their economies. If any change is to take place it must include all countries. Exempting China and India just weakens the west's economy, while allowing industrialization in China to do more damage to the economy than the G8 is able to reverse by killing our economies.
Under U.S. pressure, negotiators in the past month have agreed to delete language that would detail how rising temperatures are affecting the globe, set ambitious targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions and set stricter environmental standards for World Bank-funded power projects, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. Negotiators met this week in London to work out details of the document, which is slated to be adopted next month at the Group of Eight's annual meeting in Scotland. The administration's push to alter the G-8's plan on global warming marks its latest effort to edit scientific or policy documents to accord with its position that mandatory carbon dioxide cuts are unnecessary. Under mounting international pressure to adopt stricter controls on heat-trapping gas emissions, Bush officials have consistently sought to modify U.S. government and international reports that would endorse a more aggressive approach to mitigating global warming.


Why Iran's clerics fear this election

Guardian reported It is one of the paradoxes of the modern Middle East that a higher percentage of people attends Friday prayers in Turkey, an avowedly secular state, than in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In a secular state with freedom of religion, the people are free to choose. In a theoracy, where one particular faith controls, people want a freedom from religion, and once they get that, then they will be free to select the religion they want.
By the same token, voters in Turkey's last election gave most support to an Islamist party, while in Iran - where people choose a new president today - Islam has not featured in the campaign, whether in posters, leaflets, or speeches. At one level the paradox is easily explained. Any state that pushes an ideology too harshly, whether it is secularism, atheism or a particular religion, is likely to build resistance.
Equally, if a state is failing its citizens on several fronts, for example by allowing mass unemployment and social and economic insecurity to grow, or by severely restricting human rights, their instinctive need to protest will find an outlet in abstaining from the publicly decreed norms: by flocking to mosques and churches in a secular state, or by dropping out in a religious one. Of course, political trends are not just a simple process of action and reaction, and all societies have their subtleties. In Iran the issue is twofold. After 26 years the Islamic revolution has lost its moral and social fervour. Secondly, there is a growing disconnect between directly elected bodies, such as the parliament and president, and the religious leadership, which not only appoints itself but controls the military and judiciary and has the constitutional right to veto decisions of elected institutions. The debate over this divergence of interests is couched in terms of democracy. It is not an argument over Islam. Mohammed Khatami, the outgoing president, spent eight years fitfully trying to persuade his fellow clerics to change the system, but with no result. Today's election centres on whether his successor will want, and be able, to do better. Few can complain there is no choice, at least (a big caveat) among male candidates - women were barred from running. The eight men range from reformers to conservatives, which means the electoral options are wider than in any Arab country, including Iraq. Washington's democracy-promoters should focus their attentions on Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, rather than Iran.
Attention should be great in both areas.


Friday, June 17

This Day In History

  • 1775   The Battle of Bunker Hill took place near Boston during the Revolutionary War.
  • 1789   The Third Estate in France declared itself a national assembly and undertook to frame a constitution.
  • 1837   Charles Goodyear got a patent for rubber, the squishy, bouncy stuff.
  • 1856   The Republican Party opened its first convention, in Philadelphia.
  • 1885   The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York City aboard the French ship Isere.
  • 1928   The first woman to successfully fly across the Atlantic Ocean did so this day. She was celebrated as the greatest aviatrix of the time. Her name was Amelia Earhart.
  • 1940   France asked Germany for terms of surrender in World War II.
  • 1944   The republic of Iceland was established.
  • 1963   The Supreme Court struck down rules requiring the recitation of the Lord's Prayer or the reading of Biblical verses in public schools.
  • 1972   President Richard Nixon's downfall began with the arrest of five burglars inside Democratic national headquarters in Washington's Watergate complex.
  • 1994   After leading police on a chase through Southern California, O.J. Simpson was arrested and charged with murder in the slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole, and Ronald Goldman.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1882   Igor (Fedorovich) Stravinsky (composer)
  • 1904   Ralph (Rexford) Bellamy (actor)
  • 1951   Joe Piscopo (comedian, actor)
  • 1980   Venus Williams (tennis)


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Blogger Etiquette

INDC Journal blogged Kathy the Cake Eater hits a common boiling point:

For those of you who are wondering what I'm going on about this time, well, it's this: I am getting exceedingly tired of bloggers who perhaps don't have a huge audience---and would like to gain one---tracking back to a post I've written on a similar subject WITHOUT LINKING ME.
Bi-monthly reminder: people, please, please don't pull this; it's obnoxious. Check out her full post for lots of intemperate swearing and the like

I completely agree. I never trackback a site without linking to them.

The converse is usually true as well. I seldom will quote and link to a blogger unless I can do a trackback, so he/she will know what I said


Liberal vs Conservative Blogs

Wizbang blogged Chris Bowers at MyDD attempts to divine some meaning from BlogAds traffic. I've framed the title post in the grand terms he used when looking at blogosphere traffic in his stories. While I don't completely disagree with his findings, I do have issues with his methodology and conclusions.

First it's worth addressing his critique of top conservative bloggers for not creating communities.

Of the twenty-four liberal blogs in the top quintile, Dailykos, TPM Cafe, Smirking Chimp, Metafilter, BooMan Tribune, MyDD, and Dembloggers are full-fledged community sites where members cannot only comment, but they can also post diaries / articles / polls. By comparison, there are no community sites among the top twenty-four conservative blogs. None, zip, zero, nada.
I'll let the world in on the two big secrets of Scoop.
  1. It's a shitty blogging tool. There are, as best as I can tell, maybe two or three good features in Scoop (diaries being the main one), and the rest of the mess is a horrible blogging tool. What RSS feeds, trackback, custom layout? Scoop doesn't do trackback, the RSS support is confusing and rudimentary, and all Scoop blogs tend to look the same because it's not real easy to design a layout for.
  2. You can't get the version of Scoop in use at DailyKos. One of the cool features (reader recommended diaries) isn't in the Scoop available from
    And basically a diary is just a personal blog that the user can have, but which is under the complete control of the blogger (DailyKos) hosting it. If you don't believe that, sign up as a DailyKos user, and then post something conservative, and see how long it remains visible, and how long your login is good.
    In fact there's been very little public activity on the Scoop development site, while sites led by DailyKos have been implementing all sorts of new features. Why is that, you might ask? It's because Scoop has become, in effect, a bought and paid for tool of the elite partisan liberal bloggers. Scoop development is occurring, funded by Kos and others, and the by product of that work isn't available to you the lowly blogger. There's nothing wrong with Kos and crew keeping the good stuff for themselves while the open source Scoop stagnates, it's just innocuous to suggest that conservative bloggers should be rushing to adopt a feature poor, stagnant product when there are plenty off good blogging tools available.
    I don't even agree that Scoop, even the one used by DailyKos, is a good blogging tool. I much prefer others I have tried.
As to the traffic generated by Scoop sites, Bowers says, "Anyone who spends a significant amount of time on Scoop blogs should not have any difficulty figuring out why this is the case." The problem with that statement is that anyone who examines Bowers methodology and has a basic understanding of web advertising and Scoop should be able to easily identify his error. BlogAds traffic statistics measure page views not unique visitors. Since a site like DKos is a traffic vacuum (sucking in and keeping traffic from the wider blogosphere) it's easy to see how their page view counts keep puffing up. I've examined the top 100 sites at the TTLB Ecosystem based on SiteMeter traffic in the table shown below. The SiteMeter comparisons show traffic to the top liberal blogs is 20% higher than the top conservative blogs, but even Bowers admits there are considerably more conservative blogs in the mid-tiers. My guess is that if you were to extend my numbers on down into the 200 range the liberal and conservative traffic would be essentially equal. If you were able to extend the traffic calculation even further down the ecosystem the total traffic for conservative blogs would quickly surpass liberal blogs due to the higher number of conservative blogs. Using a power law curve I'd estimate that were you able to do the traffic calculations into the 1000 range conservative blogs would hold a 10%-20% traffic edge.

Here's how Chris views the right side of the blogosphere:
There are swarms of new conservative voices looking to breakout in the right-wing blogosphere, but they are not even allowed to comment, much less post a diary and gain a following, on the high traffic conservative blogs.
A few conservative blogs don't allow comments, and a few dont have trackbacks, but very few don't have either one, and many have both comments and trackbacks. And I would much rather have my own blog, where I can control comments, trackbacks, and the look and feel of the blog, than a diary controlled by some other blogger.
Instead, without any fanfare, they are forced to start their own blogs. However, because of the top-down nature of right-wing blogs, new conservative blogs remain almost entirely dependent upon the untouchable high traffic blogs for visitors. In short, the anti-community nature of right-wing blogs has resulted in a stagnant aristocracy within the conservative blogosphere that prevents the emergence of new voices and, as a result, new reasons for people to visit conservative blogs.
Those "untouchable" high traffic blogs do a damn site more linking to new voices than the liberal communities. Bowers forgets to mention that with traffic on the left converging on a few mega-sites (that by and large do not support smaller liberal blogs by linking to them) they are actually harming independent liberal voices.
But that is the liberal way. Control by a few, and expected obedience by everyone else.
It's not just me (the right-wing blogger) saying that, look into recent controversies among smaller lefty bloggers trying to get a little credit from the big liberal bloggers. There's plenty of new new voices emerging on the right. How do I know this you may ask? Look back at listings of the top sites from 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years ago. The cast is ever changing, blogs rise and blogs fall.


Top Zarqawi aide

Yahoo! News reported A top aide to Al-Qaeda frontman Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been captured in Iraq's northern city of Mosul, the US military revealed. Mohammed Khalaf Shakar, also known as Abu Talha, is "Zarqawi's most trusted operations agent in all of Iraq," a military statement said Thursday. "This is a major defeat for the Al-Qaeda's terrorist organisation in Iraq. Zarqawi's leader in Mosul is out of business," said US Air Force Brigadier General Donald Alston. According to the military statement, he surrendered to US and Iraqi forces on Tuesday without a fight

He was said to always wear a homicide vest, and claimed he would never be taken alive, but when it came time to push the button, apparently he decided life in prison was better than where he would have gone.
in "a quiet neighbourhood in Mosul" after they were led to his whereabouts by "multiple intelligence sources."

Jan Haugland: blogged If I am allowed to be cynical, I seem to recall a lot of "top aides" to Zarqawi being captured earlier. There is little chance of anyone actually knowing the poisition and importance of these people, and the coalition and Iraqi government have every incentive to speak up their importance. However, a bit of searching reveals that Abu Talha is in fact earlier described as Zarqawi's most important aide. Let's hope this pressure makes the anti-Iraqi forces run out of steam, sooner rather than later.

John @PowerLine blogged I hope he's being questioned by the Iraqis, and that they're not just playing pop music for him.

Charles Johnson blogged Got a Big Fish in Iraq


Iraqi Charter Panel

NYT reported Iraqi political leaders broke weeks of deadlock today, as Sunni Arabs accepted a compromise made by senior members of a Shiite-led parliamentary committee to include Sunnis in the drafting of Iraq's new constitution. The agreement marked a turnaround in Iraqi politics and opened a way for the Iraqi National Assembly to meet its Aug. 15 deadline for drafting the document.

This is very good news. Democracy is something new to the Middle East, but I think they are going to like it.
Legislators had been haggling with Sunni Arabs for weeks over the number of seats the Sunnis would be given on the 55-member Constitutional Committee. The compromise offer to Sunnis - 15 additional seats and 10 adviser positions - was made last week, but at the time it was rejected by many Sunnis, who said they wanted more seats with full voting powers.
Then they should have participated in the Elections rather than boycotting them.
Since then, Shiite committee members offered a sweetener, saying the committee would approve the new constitution by consensus and not by vote, making the precise number of seats less important. The offer was final, said a senior member of the Shiite-led committee, Bahaa al-Aaraji. "We told them, if you are late it's not good for you, because we start to work and we won't wait for you," he said in a telephone interview this evening.
Smart move
So on Tuesday night, a team of Sunni Arab negotiators met in one negotiator's house to discuss the offer. They decided, some with reservation, that it was one they must accept. Turning it down, they said, would mean permanent isolation from the political process. Today, they made their agreement public. "We've been squeezed, we had to agree," said Saleh Mutlak, a member of the National Dialogue Council, a Sunni Arab group that has pressed for a greater Sunni role in politics. "There was no other alternative. Either we'd be in the political process or we'd be out of it." In many ways, today's agreement marked a new political beginning for Sunni Arabs, who make up about a fifth of this country's population.
If they are 1/5, then the most they should have expected is 1/5 or 55, or 11 positions, so 15 plus 10 advisor seats means they got more than their percentage of the population would have entitled them.
The Sunni Arabs had grown increasingly isolated in recent months since a majority of them refused to vote in national elections in January. Shiites, who account for about 60 percent of all Iraqis, swept to power in those elections and Sunni Arabs, the former ruling class, have chafed under that new rule. That tension was most stark in discussions on the makeup of the constitutional committee, with Sunni Arabs contending that they represented more than a fifth of the population and that they should be given more seats than Shiites were willing to offer. The argument threatened to further disrupt the political process, as Iraqi political leaders face tight deadlines for writing the constitution by Aug. 15, holding a nationwide referendum to approve it by October and staging new elections in December.

Gregory Djerejian blogged Some good Iraq news today with a deal struck so that the Sunni are on board (at least for now) on the Iraqi constitution-drafting exercise. This will be a hugely complex endeavour, and we're just at the very beginning of it, but let's at least be thankful that total stalemate (again, at least for now) has been averted.


Firearm Deaths

There have been an average of 160,000 troops in theater (IRAQ) during the last 22 months, which has a firearm death rate of *60* per *100,000*.

The rate in Washington D.C. is *80.6* per *100,000*.

That means that you are 25% more likely to be shot and killed in our Nation's Capitol, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq.

*Conclusion*: We should immediately pull out of Washington, D.C.

Hat tip to rec.humor.funny


School Voucher Program

Clint Bolick wrote in OpinionJournal Gov. Bush's voucher program is improving public schools, but Florida's Supreme Court may strike it down. Historically, American courts have played a leading role in ensuring educational equality and opportunity. But the Florida Supreme Court may reject that tradition by denying the constitutionality of, and thereby ending, the most promising educational progress for minority schoolchildren in the U.S. The saga began in 1999, when Gov. Jeb Bush signed into law the first money-back guarantee in the history of public education: the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Under the program, whenever a public school receives two failing grades on Florida's academic performance standards, state educational officials come into the school with a remedial program, and the students are allowed to transfer to better performing public schools or to use a share of their public funds as full payment of private-school tuition.

This makes a lot of sense.
Six years later, only 750 children are attending private schools using opportunity scholarships. But their footsteps have reverberated across the state, prompting failing public schools to reform. Steps taken by failing schools have included spending more money in the classroom and less on administration, hiring tutors for poor performing teachers, and providing year-round instruction to pupils.
That is one of the main concepts behind voucher programs. Not removing all of the kids from public schools, but giving the public schools an incentive to imporve so that kids won't be removed and sent to private schools.
Defenders of the status quo insist that such reforms were already under way.
Then they should not mind if the program remains, to encourage them to continue with the reforms.
But a freedom of information request by the Institute for Justice from school districts that lifted schools off the failing list revealed ubiquitous reference to the dreaded V-word: Without such measures, school officials warned, we wind up with vouchers. The rules of economics, it seems, do not stop at the schoolhouse doors. The results have been stunning. Even with tougher state standards, nearly half of Florida's public schools now earn "A" grades, while a similar percentage scored "C's" when the program started. A 2003 study by Jay Greene found that gains were most concentrated among schools under threat of vouchers.
Completely understandable. Why improve if they don't have to.
Most remarkable has been minority student progress. While the percentage of white third-graders reading at or above grade level has increased to 78% from 70% in 2001, the percentage among Hispanic third-graders has climbed from 46% to 61%, and among blacks from 36% to 52%. Graduation rates for Hispanic students have increased from 52.8% before the program started to 64% today; and for black students from 48.7% to 57.3%. Minority schoolchildren are not making such academic strides anywhere else.


US Soldiers No Different from Nazis?

The Sundries Shack blogged From James Taranto, here’s an excerpt from the Congressional Record given my Senator Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat. Be very sure of what you read here. Dick Durbin, a US Senator, just compared our soldiers at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, Communist butchers, and the man who killed millions in Cambodia. Watch carefully who defends his statements and who criticizes then (and the qualifiers they use when they do). Watch them and remember what they’re defending. Do you know any soldiers? This Senator - one of your elected officials - just compared them to three of the most amoral and muderous regimes that have ever existed. Remember that next time Senator Durbin, or any member of his party, tells us how they support the troops or cry when someone questions their patriotism. I’ll tell you this right now - and you can quote me on it tomorrow or in a hundred years. If any American compares our soldiers to those who committed mass slaughter, they are unpatriotic. Period. Dick Durbin ought to be ashamed to call himself an American right now. No American who had any desire to see this country strong and great would have made this accusation.

The Anchoress blogged I always feel like I am not paying enough attention to Jimmie Bise’s Sundries Shack. He’s got a really good blog, full of news and thoughtful commentary. Yesterday’s piece on Dick Durbin’s offensive stupidity is exceptionarlly fine, but may I recommend that you start at the top and move downward? Everything he puts up there is worth reading. Much of it is provocative. Some of it is funny! Speaking of Durbin, Ed Morrissey is scathing in his disdain. And justifiably so. Durbin is a disgrace.

Ed Morrissey blogged If Durbin intended on embarrassing the Bush administration into changing its detention policy, all he wound up accomplishing was embarrassing the voters in Illinois who sent him to the Senate for that ill-educated harangue. The total number of prisoners who have died at Gitmo through neglect or murder comes to zero. Prisoners at Gitmo get there through capture on the battlefield or through intelligence work and go through an identification process to determine their involvement in terrorism against the US and the West. The purpose of Gitmo is to determine what they know about the structure of our enemy -- not a gang of street hoodlums, but a well-armed, well-financed terrorist structure that receives support from nations as well as private financiers. Their intent before capture was to kill us in our homes and businesses, preferably by the thousands if not greater. The same people who sent them succeeded in doing so on 9/11.

They are not criminals, and they do not have a right to access the American court system. Their status under the Geneva Convention is that of an unlawful combatant -- which technically means that the US could have them shot after a military tribunal. Instead, we have chosen to keep them alive and house them humanely while interrogating them thoroughly in order to save American lives. If that means they get cold, or hot, or have little accidents on the floor, then so be it. That isn't torture or even abuse.

And Durbin, who should know better, has the nerve to compare American soldiers to Nazis and Gitmo to the extermination camps they ran. If Durbin can't recall that the Nazis exterminated millions of people, deliberately, in those camps, I'm certain that Holocaust survivors in Illinois and elsewhere can remind him of that fact. If the Senator doesn't know about the estimated 2 million people who died in the gulag system, a system that was used primarily on internal political dissidents to suppress opposition to Stalin, then he should read his Solzhenitsyn. If he thinks that American soldiers operate on the same basis as Cambodia and the killing fields, he's out of his mind.

Finally, the analogy to the Japanese internment camps simply boggles the mind. The Japanese survivors of Manzanar and other camps must be shaking their heads this morning. On what basis does Durbin think that Islamofascist terrorists equate to American citizens detained on the basis of their ethnicity? That statement is so far off the mark as to call Durbin's mental health into question. Gitmo is not a camp of Muslims rounded up out of their American homes and detained for no reason other than their religion; the Gitmo detainees have plotted to kill Americans. They are the enemy. Durbin obviously has lost the capacity to understand that basic concept, a dangerous failing in a time of war.

Millions of people died in the Nazi Death Camps, the Russian Gulags, and under Pol Pot. No one died at Gitmo. And unless they don't like Honey Glazed Chicken and Rice Pilaf, the internees at Gitmo are living better than they did at home.


Evangelical Republicans Trust States on Social Issues

WaPo reported Evangelical Protestant Republicans are far more likely than other groupsto want courts to stay out of controversial social questions, suggesting that GOP criticism of "activist judges" resonates with the party's core constituency, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll has found. Asked whether they trusted their state legislatures or state courts more to address the question of same-sex marriage, 69 percent of self-identified evangelical Protestant Republicans chose lawmakers. Nineteen percent backed the courts, and 11 percent said neither. In contrast, a slim plurality of 45 percent nationwide preferred that legislatures deal with same-sex marriage, 40 percent favored the courts, and 11 percent said neither. On the question of abortion, the country split evenly, 44 percent each for courts and state legislatures. But 66 percent of evangelical Protestant Republicans believed the issue should be left up to their state legislators, and 26 percent preferred the courts. Separately, a poll released yesterday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that discontent among conservative Republicans and evangelical Protestants has fueled a significant drop in public support for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sam Rosenfeld blogged Clearly the right has succeeded in mobilizing its own members around opposition to the judiciary, and has had at least some small success in instigating a broader questioning of the courts' legitimacy. I have an article in the upcoming print issue of the Prospect that goes into this in a bit more detail, but basically the next phase in the campaign will be a lengthy series of House Judiciary Committee hearings in the next few months, analyzing our "runaway courts" and touching on all the major right-wing complaints. The hearings will provide an oppurtunity to further stoke and sustain the outrage of the Christian right while giving lawmakers a chance to try to chip away at the broader public’s faith in the legitimacy of the modern judiciary. The hope is that sustaining the debate will shift popular sentiments and lay the groundwork for future action.

Legislation is the job of the legislature; both state and federal. It is the court's job to apply the laws passed bu the Legislative Branch. They may decide that a Federal Law superceeds a State Law, or that a Federal Law or a State Law is unconstitutional, but other wise their job is to apply existing law, not to create new laws. A judge that wants to make new law should resign and run for the Legislature.


Archbishop Attacks Bloggers

Times Online reports Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has criticised the new web-based media for “paranoid fantasy, self-indulgent nonsense and dangerous bigotry”. He described the atmosphere on the world wide web as a free-for-all that was “close to that of unpoliced conversation”. In a lecture to media professionals, politicians and church leaders at Lambeth Palace in London last night, Dr Williams wondered whether a balance could be struck between the professionalism of the classical media and the relative disorder of online communication. Dr Williams also extended his wide-ranging critique of journalistic practice to the traditional media, arguing that there are “embarrassingly low levels of trust” in the profession and that claims about what is in the public interest need closer scrutiny. He called for a “more realistic, less fevered” approach to stories by journalists and added: “There is a difference between exposing deceptions that sustain injustice and attacking confidentialities or privacies that in some sense protect the vulnerable.”

Marcus @HarrysPlace blogged The senior cleric of a state-approved religious sect has been reviewing the blogosphere: He described the atmosphere on the world wide web as a free-for-all that was “close to that of unpoliced conversation”. And chose these adjectives to describe what he'd discovered: “paranoid fantasy, self-indulgent nonsense and dangerous bigotry”. There is plenty of the latter on the web - how could there not be considering the 'conversation' is open to anyone who has internet accesss - but I think I'd rather put up with or ignore the internet loonies if the alternative is having a bearded figure in flowing robes with any measure of power blithely using the word 'police' in the same sentence as 'conversation'.

Marc @USSNeverdock blogged What a twit! Dr. Williams needs to read my Case against the BBC and refresh his memory with all the fake stories put out by MSM.

Natalie blogged Archbishop warns against "unpoliced conversation" peril. Peter Glover of Wires from the Bunker writes. In a moment of madness I had an unpoliced conversation with my husband only yesterday. It was about strawberries. The horror lives with me yet.

The Anchoress blogged It is kind of interesting that Williams’ remarks grabbed headlines and even made it to Drudge, while last weeks remarkable commentaries on Europe, by Archbishop Chaput (which also touched on pop culture and press), went virtually unreported. Note, I said it was interesting…but not surprising. Meanwhile, perhaps Rowan Williams could stop worrying about “unpoliced conversations” and look into this very weird story.

I have not read that many British blogs, but I find it difficult to believe they are any more wrong than most BBC articles.


Christian right groups set sights on '08

USATODAY reported Leaders of conservative Christian organizations plan to jointly interview Republican contenders for the 2008 presidential nomination, perhaps even endorsing one of them — steps that could expand their already considerable political influence. "We'd like to try to stay together," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said at a breakfast with reporters Wednesday. The ad hoc group includes "free thinkers" and "strong personalities," he says, but they might unite behind a candidate who "unquestionably" best represented their views and priorities. Gary Bauer, president of American Values, said in an interview that the sit-down sessions, likely to begin after the 2006 elections, would be "a very effective way to nail down where people are on cultural issues." He said candidates have become "very astute" at answering written questionnaires in ways that avoid making firm commitments. Those who plan to participate include leading figures of the Christian right: James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation, the Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association, Perkins and Bauer. Others also would join them.

Joe Gandelman blogged One of the arguments people have used in the past who noted that these groups did not really exercise as much influence over the GOP as some have charged is that Christian conservatives comprised a loose collection of groups, and didn't reall have monolithic command structure. If USA Today's report is correct, conservative Christian groups more than ever will resemble a pillar of power in the GOP akin to unions in old Democratic party's New Deal heyday.

Some may scream violation of Separation of Church and State, but it would be a foolish claim. There is nothing wrong with this. If their chosen candidate does not get the nomination, I just hope they will support whoever does get it.


Significant Wealth

Yahoo! News reports They're on the government payroll, but some of President Bush's top aides have millions of dollars in stocks, real estate and other investments, according to financial disclosure forms released Wednesday. Senior adviser Karl Rove, White House chief of staff Andrew Card, Dan Bartlett, counselor to the president, Allan Hubbard, Bush's top economic adviser, National security adviser Stephen Hadley were listed.

Dr. Steven Taylor blogged And this should be a shock to no one, nor is it unusual. Typically, if one is intelligent and successful enough to be tapped to serve at the upper levels of the executive branch, one likely has already been monetarily successful in life, to one degree or another. Indeed, this underscores that in many cases, those serving in government take a pay cut to take the jobs in any given administration. The ones who worry me are those who come into government sans assets and leave wealthy.

And they earned their money honestly, and did not have to get huge 8 Million or 12 Million advances on book deals.


Thursday, June 16

This Day In History

  • 1567   Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle in Scotland.
  • 1858   Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln said in a speech in Springfield, Ill., "a house divided against itself cannot stand."
  • 1897   The United States signed a treaty of annexation with Hawaii.
  • 1903   Ford Motor Co. was incorporated.
  • 1932   President Herbert Hoover and Vice President Charles Curtis were renominated at the Republican national convention in Chicago.
  • 1955   Pope Pius XII excommunicated Argentine President Juan Peron, a ban that was lifted eight years later.
  • 1961   Soviet ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev defected to the West while his troupe was in Paris.
  • 1963   The first female space traveler, Valentina Tereshkova, was launched into orbit by the Soviet Union aboard Vostok 6.
  • 1977   Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev was named president, becoming the first person to hold both posts simultaneously.
  • 1978   President Jimmy Carter and Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos exchanged the instruments of ratification for the Panama Canal treaties.
  • 1987   A jury in New York acquitted Bernhard Goetz of attempted murder in the subway shooting of four young blacks he said were going to rob him; he was convicted of illegal weapons possession.
  • 1992   Former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger was indicted on felony charges in the Iran-Contra affair. (He was later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush.)
  • 1996   Russian voters went to the polls in their first independent presidential election; the result was a runoff between President Boris Yeltsin, the eventual winner, and Communist challenger Gennady Zyuganov.
  • 1996   Sportscaster Mel Allen died at age 83.
  • 1999   Vice President Al Gore announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination.
  • 2000   Federal regulators approved the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE Corp., creating the nation's largest local phone company.
  • 2000   Empress dowager Nagako, widow of Japan's Emperor Hirohito, died in Tokyo at age 97.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1890   Stan Laurel (Arthur Stanley Jefferson) (actor, comedian: Laurel & Hardy)
  • 1917   Katharine Graham (publisher: The Washington Post; won Pulitzer Prize for her memoir, Personal History [1998]; died July 17, 2001)
  • 1943   Joan Van Ark (actress: Knots Landing)


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Nondeferential minorities

Ruben Navarrette wrote in the The Seattle Times In the minds of many liberal Democrats, Hispanics and African Americans must seem to come in only two varieties: deferential or defective. And according to one angry caller — who was, from the sound of it, perfectly at home in a blue state — I fall into the second category. "I think you're deluded," he said, "and maybe insane." I'm just guessing, but something tells me the caller would probably say the same thing about Janice Rogers Brown, who two years ago was nominated by President Bush to fill a vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Last week, Brown was finally confirmed but not before Senate Democrats and their accomplices in left-leaning advocacy groups such as People for the American Way did their best to try to paint this black conservative and California Supreme Court chief justice as an "extremist" whose views are outside the mainstream. Translation: Brown doesn't defer to liberals. So she must be defective.

Democrats feel that minorities owe their votes blindly to the Democratic party as if they are entitled to them, even though the main thing they ever did was try to keep them in poverty the 40 years they controlled the Conress.
By the way, here's something I've noticed: When conservatives criticize a person of color, they often insult you. But liberals usually are condescending. They don't say they're upset as much as "disappointed" in you. And so it was that the caller was disappointed in me. What fired him up was a column I'd written about Alberto Gonzales, the nation's first Latino attorney general. In it, I argued that liberal Democrats weren't really interested in promoting diversity unless they get the credit for it, and that this explained their lukewarm reaction to Gonzales — an American success story whose nomination by President Bush they can't claim credit for. It's not that the Democrats are suddenly anti-minority. I just think they're skittish and insecure when it comes to their own minority outreach efforts, such as they are. And so each time Bush or another prominent Republican tries to make minorities feel at home in the GOP, Democrats worry that the hold that they have on these groups may weaken and they won't be able to do much about it. Just as they can't do much to stop Bush from appointing Hispanics and African Americans to top positions in the Cabinet and in the federal courts, something that further frightens and frustrates liberal Democrats. And when Democrats oppose these nominees, it's usually not because of who these nominees are or even because of what they believe. Rather, it's because of what they represent and what it means in the grand scheme. Just look at the line that was being advanced by Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. "Her life story is amazing. It is remarkable," Boxer said of the California jurist as the Senate was debating Brown's nomination. "What I don't like is what she is doing to other people's lives. Her story is amazing, but for whatever reason, she is hurting the people of this country, particularly, right now, in my state." So this is the Democrats' dilemma. How are they supposed to market themselves to minorities as the one-and-only party of opportunity when Bush is putting nonwhite faces in high places? Better to try to paint the Republican Party as a restricted club, as Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean did recently when he described the GOP as "pretty much a white Christian party." And minority Republicans as aberrations. I bet all this would come as news to Janice Rogers Brown, who attends church regularly. Just as I bet it would come as news to Miguel Estrada, the Hispanic gentleman who, at one point, seemed headed for the D.C. appeals court for which Brown is now confirmed — until his nomination was unfairly derailed by rank racial politics. Estrada is a top-shelf Washington lawyer who had, after coming to the United States from Honduras and graduating with honors from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, worked as an assistant U.S. attorney and an assistant solicitor general. Yet none of that prepared Estrada for the meat grinder of the judicial confirmation process.
They were afraid that Bush would nominate him to the Supreme Court.
Before long, Estrada was — in an experience that must have seemed surreal to him at the time — fending off accusations from white Democrats that he "wasn't Hispanic enough." That was Estrada's defect. It was also complete nonsense. I don't see why liberals won't say what they really mean. It's obvious that what concerns them is not that these nominees aren't real minorities, but rather that they aren't their kind of minority. You know, the kind that asks for permission before they speak and makes sure that what they say falls in line with the views of their liberal benefactors.

TheAnchoress blogged Non-deferential minorities. It sounds so…lawyerish and yet…it almost sounds like Stephen Sondheim could make an Act One Showstopper from it. “Non-deferential minoiteeeees! These folks don’t know who to pleeeeese! If they strike out on their own and make up their own miiiiinds. They are destined to be reviled as hating their own kiiiiiiiinds. Oh, what can we do with these dis-loyal, oh-boy-al, right-wingish, votes-hinge-ish-don’t-they-know-they-not-supposed-to-stray-thing-ish non-deferential miiiinoriteeeeeeeees!

La Shawn Barber: blogged Ruben Navarrette, who writes for the San Diego Union Tribune, has a column in the Seattle Times that hits the proverbial nail on the head in “Liberals don’t know what to do with nondeferential minorities”. Ruben and I should meet for a cup of coffee. We could trade stories all day long.

I got an e-mail the other day from someone who says he’s a white liberal. He was writing to alert me that some of his conservative family and friends make “condescending remarks” about black people. Knowing human nature as I do (because I know my own so well), I have no doubt that his white conservative family and friends say negative things about blacks. And white liberals. And each other. And him. So what was his point? That I’m being used by white conservatives. In what way, you ask? Well, trying to follow his line of reasoning was difficult. From what I gathered, the mere fact that he’s heard white conservatives say nasty things about blacks means that since I hold views similar to theirs, I’m being used by the entire group. Used in what way? Perhaps as a patsy or a lapdog, playing the fall girl and delivering coded messages to the white nation. How should I know!? I’m only guessing. Don’t think about it too much, or you’ll get a brain cramp like did. And please don’t ask me to post the entire e-mail. It won’t help you. I could make a similar argument, a stronger one at that, about black liberals, but what’s the point? fist Such correspondence used to raise my blood pressure, but now I let it roll off like water on a duck’s back. That’s just the way white liberals think. When they’re not calling me an ignorant bigot (sniveling behind aliases, of course), they’re giving me the “heads up” that I’m playing the House Negro for their conservative counterparts. I explained to the e-mailer, as I do with others, that God gave me a brain, and I manage to use it fairly well. My opinions, which I stand behind publicly, every day on this blog, are mine. For all I care, neo-Nazis (white power!) can agree with every single word I write. They keep forgetting to sign the checks, though. Hmmm…what’s up with that?


Florence Aubenas

The Bad Hair Blog blogged Florence Aubenas and Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi are free after 157 days as hostages during which

  • * She was held in a cellar that was 13' x 6', and only 5' high, along with as many as a dozen other hostages.
  • The cellar was totally dark. There was no light in the cellar. There was no window, and the cellar had no ventilation.
  • She was bound and blindfolded all the time she was there
  • The hostages were not allowed to speak.
  • If they spoke, they were beaten. Ms Aubenas states she was beaten twice for having been accused of speaking.
  • Other punishments included having their hands painfully bound behind their back, and the withholding of meals and water.
  • Aubenas said that her captors imposed a daily limit of 80 spoken words and 24 paces to go to the bathroom.
  • She realised only towards the end of her captivity that she had been kept in the same basement as Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi, her Iraqi guide.
  • Which brings me to my next point: imagine being a woman, held in a cell with men, during your menses. For five months.
  • She spent her days sitting cross-legged on her mattress. She ate with her hands bound.
  • Several times she was beaten by her guards because she had moved or because they thought that she had whispered to another hostage taken into the basement.
Compare that to the outrage over Guantánamo, where Mohammed al Qahtani, who is widely believed to be the so-called 20th hijacker, a compatriot of Osama bin Laden and a man who had tried to enter the U.S. in August 2001 to take part in the Sept. 11 attacks, is held. Mr. al Qahtani, held in an air-conditioned cell with ceilings high enough he can stand up and move, gets three square meals a day, is not bound all the time, and is allowed exercise daily. When things got rough, "interrogators poured bottles of water on al-Qahtani’s head when he refused to drink", and made him listen to Christina Aguilera's music, or watch a puppet show. When he became dehydrated because of refusing to drink water, he given an IV drip, given an EKG, transferred to a hospital, a CT scan is performed, and hooked up to a heart monitor.

Last Sunday, for example, Mohammed al Qahtani's meal was orange-glazed chicken, steamed peas and mushrooms, and rice pilaf. See this for the recipe

Hat tip to The Anchoress


McCain May Be Bush's Ticket

E.J. Dionne editorializes in WaPo McCain-Bush in 2008? That would be John and Jeb, the most logical Republican ticket if the party remains in the polling doldrums. If President Bush and his political maestro, Karl Rove, decide that the only way to create a political legacy is to nod toward the Arizona senator with whom they have battled and feuded, they will go for the guy who can win. This scenario was outlined to me recently by a shrewd and loyally Democratic political operative

a shrewd and loyal Democrat; that is just where I would go for the inside scoop on what the Republicans will do
with personal ties to the McCain camp
what is a shrewd and loyal Democrat doing with personal ties to the McCain Camp?
before Mark McKinnon, one of the president's top media advisers, publicly confirmed that he would help a McCain presidential run if it materialized. Times change and politicians do what they have to do. For years, McCain and the president couldn't stand each other. The surest way not to get a job in the early Bush administration was to have supported McCain over Bush in the 2000 primaries. But McCain made a crucial decision to alter the relationship in 2004. Courted hard by John Kerry as a potential running mate, McCain said no. He decided he wanted to be president and that it was unlikely he would ever get a Democratic nomination -- and implausible that he could win as an independent. His one shot was as a Republican. Once this choice was made, everything else fell into place. McCain joined the Bush crowd. He gave a powerful speech endorsing the president at last year's Republican National Convention in New York. The address was perfect for both McCain and Bush. Unlike the speeches bashing Kerry and the Democrats by Zell Miller, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani, McCain's stuck to policy and praised Bush for his decision to go to war in Iraq. This allowed McCain to keep his reputation for clinging to the high ground, but it was also important for Bush, whose central policy legacy, for better or worse, will be Iraq. The standard view of McCain's choice, especially among Democrats, is that he sold out to Bush for nothing. This assumes that McCain can't win the 2008 Republican nomination because of the intense opposition he will face from the Republican right, especially from Christian conservatives. It also assumes that Bush will never lift a finger to help McCain. In Bush's ideal world, that would probably be true. But the current moment is not ideal for Bush, and the economy, Iraq and the political situation may be even less ideal two and three years from now. If the Republicans' ethics problems worsen, McCain's Mr. Clean image will look ever more attractive to Republican members of Congress desperate to hold power. If things get really bad, many Republicans will be happy to dump House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and embrace McCain....And here is where Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, could be the deal-closer. Jeb Bush has said he will not run in 2008. But that does not rule him out as a vice presidential candidate. If McCain won, Jeb would be the No. 2 to a president who will turn 72 on Aug. 29, 2008, and might well serve only a single term.


The Gitmo Cookbook

The Gitmo Cookbook will be shipped in about 10 weeks. The normal price is $8.95, but you can pre-order your copy now for $6.95! According to the authors If you're tired of all the torture allegations, of hearing the media imply that handling a Quran without gloves on is the moral equivalent of beheading someone, and of all the hysteria about enemy combatants, you'll enjoy the Gitmo Cookbook.

It contains the actual recipes and menus for the food served to the Gitmo detainees, along with interesting facts about how American soldiers are working every day to treat prisoners humanely while still getting the information we need to protect ourselves.

Baked Tandouri Chicken Breast, Mustard-Dill Baked Fish, Lyonnaise Rice, and Fish Amandine are just a few of the recipes you'll find in the Gitmo Cookbook. We've tested them, and they are inexpensive, easy to make, and delicious.

Hat Tip to Michelle Malkin


Schiavo's Brain Was Severely Deteriorated

NYT reported An autopsy on Terri Schiavo backed her husband's contention that she was in a persistent vegetative state, finding that she had massive and irreversible brain damage and was blind, the medical examiner's office said Wednesday. It also found no evidence that she was strangled or otherwise abused. But what caused her collapse 15 years ago remained a mystery. The autopsy and post-mortem investigation found no proof that she had an eating disorder, as was suspected at the time, Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin said.... He also said she was blind, because the ''vision centers of her brain were dead,'' and that her brain was about half of its expected size when she died 13 days following the feeding tube's removal.... ''The brain weighed 615 grams, roughly half of the expected weight of a human brain,'' he said. ''This damage was irreversible, and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons.''

I said at the time that it was right to allow Terri to die, that passing special legislation was a mistake, the courts were right in rejecting the appeal, but I wish that if they felt it was unconstitutional that they should have determined that, and not just ignored the law, and that regardless of what you might have thought should have or should not have happened regarding Terri Schiavo, the most important thing we have to learn about this sad situation is that everyone needs to have a written Living Will


Your clever little blog could get you fired

USATODAY reported Like a growing number of employees, Peter Whitney decided to launch a blog on the Internet to chronicle his life, his friends and his job at a division of Wells Fargo. His blog,, did find an audience: his bosses. In August 2004, the 27-year-old was fired from his job handling mail and the front desk, he says, after managers learned of his Web log, or blog.

If he was fired for merely having a blog, and there was no corporate policy against it, he got a raw deal. But if he publically bad mouthed his employer, he was a fool.
His story is more than a cautionary tale. Delta Air Lines, Google and other major companies are firing and disciplining employees for what they say about work on their blogs, which are personal sites that often contain a mix of frank commentary, freewheeling opinions and journaling. And it's hardly just an issue for employees: Some major employers such as IBM are now passing first-of-their-kind employee blogging guidelines designed to prevent problems, such as the online publishing of trade secrets, without stifling the kinds of blogs that can also create valuable buzz about a company.
That is a very good idea.
"Right now, it's too gray. There needs to be clearer guidelines," says Whitney, who has found another job. "Some people go to a bar and complain about workers, I decided to do it online. Some people say I deserve what happened, but it was really harsh. It was unfair." Wells Fargo declined to comment, but a spokeswoman said in an e-mail that the company doesn't have a blogging policy. Blogs are proliferating as fast as a computer virus. According to a report this year by public relations firm Edelman and Intelliseek, a provider of business-intelligence solutions, about 20,000 new blogs are created daily, and an estimated 10 million U.S. blogs will exist by the end of 2005. Together, these blogs link up to create what is known as a blogosphere, a collective Internet conversation that is one of the fastest-growing areas of new content on the Web. More than 8 million adults in the USA have created blogs, according to two surveys by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a non-profit research center studying the Internet's social effects. And 32 million Americans are blog readers — a 58% jump in 2004.

Robert Co blogged Among our many agenda items, the Media Bloggers Association is sorting through various "safe blogging" issues. Stephanie Armour of USA Today has a comprehensive review of the "dangers of workplace blogging" issue. Armour interviewed me three weeks ago and I am quoted: "Companies probably need separate policies," says Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association. The context of this quote is not given so let me provide it here. What she asked was whether existing company policies were sufficient to deal with this issue. My answer was "No. Companies typically have HR policies regarding the use of company emails, the use of company computers for personal use, giving statements to the media and so on. Since the typical blogger is self-published and can produce their blog from a computer at home, companies probably need separate policies."

Damian Penny blogged USA Today notes that several people have been fired or disciplined by their employers because of what they wrote on their weblogs. I'd love to be able to come out wholeheartedly against this kind of thing, but certainly there are situations - say, revealing company secrets or actively warning people against using your employer's services - where firing would likely be justified. Each case must be decided on its merits. At the very least, if you're blogging under your real name, it's wise to post a blurb noting that your views do not represent those of your company. (On a completely unrelated note, my employer is the best darned law firm in Newfoundland, if not the country.)


History of teaching math

StarkTruth blogged
Teaching Math In 1950
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1960
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1970
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?

Teaching Math In 1980
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math In 1990
By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees. (There are no wrong answers.)

Teaching Math In 2005
El hachero vende un camion carga por $100. La cuesta de productiones....


Muslim Target

FrontPage reports Oriana Fallaci is 75 years old. The renowned Italian journalist lives in hiding because of death threats she received after the publication in 2001 of her book The Rage and the Pride. She is dying of cancer. And now she is going to go on trial for “defaming Islam.”

Islam deserves as much respect as it gives other religions.
The complaint comes from Adel Smith, president of the Muslim Union of Italy, who was never charged with defaming Christianity after he referred to a crucifix as a “miniature cadaver” during his 2003 efforts to have depictions of Christ on the Cross removed from Italian schools. He has amassed a reputation as something of a crank after demanding that Christians deny aspects of their faith that offended his Islamic sensibilities: he has called for the destruction of Giovanni da Modena’s fresco The Last Judgment in the 14th-century cathedral of San Petronio in Bologna, Italy, because that priceless expression of Medieval Christianity depicts the Muslim Prophet Muhammad in hell. And in the mother of all frivolous lawsuits, Smith in February 2004 brought suit against Pope John Paul II and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, for offending Islam by expressing in various writings their opinion, utterly unremarkable from two Christian leaders, that Christianity is unique and superior to other religions, including Islam.

Charles Johnson blogged Italian author Oriana Fallaci will be put on trial for the thoughtcrime of “defaming Islam,” and Robert Spencer takes an in-depth look at the charges against her: Muslim Target.

Michelle Malkin blogged Does freedom of speech include the freedom to criticize Islam? Not in Italy, apparently.


Retirement Age 69

WaPo reported Under current law, the retirement age for full Social Security benefits is 65 1/2 and is scheduled to reach 67 for those born in 1960 or later. The possible increase to 69 over two decades or more was among the suggestions that Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, presented to fellow Republicans on the panel last week as part of an attempt to give the program greater financial solvency, the officials said....

This seems like a very good idea. People are living much longer, and if they increase this number it will make it harder for companies to force people to retire at 65.
"Rural Americans tend to be older and more likely to depend on Social Security.
The reason for that is the young find better job opportunities in the cities.
In fact, more than 90 percent of counties in America with high senior populations are rural counties. In 2001, 20 percent of rural Americans were 60 years old or older, significantly higher than the 15 percent of seniors living in metropolitan communities," Reps. Stephanie Herseth, D-S.D., and Bob Etheridge, D-N.C., said in a joint statement. The two co-chair the Democratic House Rural Working Group.

Dr. Steven Taylor blogged Given that the law already has already started to phase in a retirement age of 67, I can’t see anything wrong with slowly adding (over two decades, according to the story) another two years. There is nothing speifically sacrosanct about 65. It isn’t as if the body automatically shuts down at 65 and so that number was chosen for reasons of biological imperative. Not to mention that at the rate we are going, by the time such a proposal was put into place that the life expectancy will probably have creeped higher a tad. It is certainly worth consideration.

Leopold Stotch blogged I'm looking for a little help/perspective on this one: when I started working at age 16, I was told that the federal government was going to take a portion of my earnings for my own good, but that there was nothing to worry about because I'd get it back -- plus interest -- when I turned 65. Now they want to back out on what at the time seemed like a contractual agreement. If they extend the retirement age, aren't they essentially reneging on a contract because they can't stop spending money on superfluous things?
For one thing they lied to you. There is NO guarantee that you will get anything, and if you are still young, you better hope that Bush gets the personal accounts approved, because at least then you will be guaranteed you will have that money, since the government won't be able to spend it like they spend your FICA money in the year they take it. Social Security is a Ponzi scheme that is quickly getting close to collapse, as fewer and fewer workers must support more and more retired people.
Spoons blogged In 1940, when the retirement age was set at 65, the average life expectancy for Americans who made it into adulthood was... 65. Today it's about 75. Raising the retirement age is a no-brainer. Unfortunately, this issue has been so relentlessly demagogued by the Democrats that I doubt very much that this change will ever happen.


Let's Talk About Iraq

Extreme Left Wing columnist Thomas Friedman editorializes in the NYT Ever since Iraq's remarkable election, the country has been descending deeper and deeper into violence. But no one in Washington wants to talk about it. Conservatives don't want to talk about it because, with a few exceptions, they think their job is just to applaud whatever the Bush team does.

I think he is doing a very good job, so yes I applaud him.
Liberals don't want to talk about Iraq because, with a few exceptions, they thought the war was wrong and deep down don't want the Bush team to succeed.
Besides they have the MSM blocking good news from Iraq.
As a result, Iraq is drifting sideways and the whole burden is being carried by our military. The rest of the country has gone shopping, which seems to suit Karl Rove just fine. Well, we need to talk about Iraq. This is no time to give up - this is still winnable - but it is time to ask: What is our strategy?
What business is it of an NYT columnist what our strategy is? That is of interest to the President and the Secretary of Defense, and I am sure if they think they need Tom Friedman's help they will ask him.
This question is urgent because Iraq is inching toward a dangerous tipping point - the point where the key communities begin to invest more energy in preparing their own militias for a scramble for power - when everything falls apart, rather than investing their energies in making the hard compromises within and between their communities to build a unified, democratizing Iraq.
Actually they are making good progress but the MSM won't report it.
Our core problem in Iraq remains Donald Rumsfeld's disastrous decision - endorsed by President Bush - to invade Iraq on the cheap. From the day the looting started, it has been obvious that we did not have enough troops there. We have never fully controlled the terrain. Almost every problem we face in Iraq today - the rise of ethnic militias, the weakness of the economy, the shortages of gas and electricity, the kidnappings, the flight of middle-class professionals - flows from not having gone into Iraq with the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force.
Let me think. That is the doctrine from the first Iraq War, which left Saddam in control, and shooting at our airplanes enforcing the North and South No Fly Zones.
Yes, yes, I know we are training Iraqi soldiers by the battalions, but I don't think this is the key.
You are an idiot. Certainly it is the key.
Who is training the insurgent-fascists? Nobody.
Actually it does not take that much training to blow yourself up or plant an IED, but they certainly have financial support both from Iran and Syria.
And yet they are doing daily damage to U.S. and Iraqi forces. Training is overrated, in my book. Where you have motivated officers and soldiers, you have an army punching above its weight. Where you don't have motivated officers and soldiers, you have an army punching a clock. Where do you get motivated officers and soldiers? That can come only from an Iraqi leader and government that are seen as representing all the country's main factions. So far the Iraqi political class has been a disappointment. The Kurds have been great. But the Sunni leaders have been shortsighted at best and malicious at worst, fantasizing that they are going to make a comeback to power through terror. As for the Shiites, their spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has been a positive force on the religious side, but he has no political analog. No Shiite Hamid Karzai has emerged. "We have no galvanizing figure right now," observed Kanan Makiya, the Iraqi historian who heads the Iraq Memory Foundation. "Sistani's counterpart on the democratic front has not emerged.
That is probably good. If a galvanizing Shiite figure arose, he would certainly be opposed by the Kurds and the Sunnis, but without one, they have to work together.
Certainly, the Americans made many mistakes, but at this stage less and less can be blamed on them. The burden is on Iraqis. And we still have not risen to the magnitude of the opportunity before us." I still don't know if a self-sustaining, united and democratizing Iraq is possible. I still believe it is a vital U.S. interest to find out. But the only way to find out is to create a secure environment. It is very hard for moderate, unifying, national leaders to emerge in a cauldron of violence. Maybe it is too late, but before we give up on Iraq, why not actually try to do it right? Double the American boots on the ground
That would be stupid. It would just give the impression we intended to occupy the country, rather than having a democratically elected government run the country.
and redouble the diplomatic effort to bring in those Sunnis who want to be part of the process and fight to the death those who don't. As Stanford's Larry Diamond, author of an important new book on the Iraq war, "Squandered Victory," puts it, we need "a bold mobilizing strategy" right now. That means the new Iraqi government, the U.S. and the U.N. teaming up to widen the political arena in Iraq, energizing the constitution-writing process and developing a communications-diplomatic strategy that puts our bloodthirsty enemies on the defensive rather than us. The Bush team has been weak in all these areas. For weeks now, we haven't even had ambassadors in Iraq, Afghanistan or Jordan. We've already paid a huge price for the Rumsfeld Doctrine - "Just enough troops to lose." Calling for more troops now, I know, is the last thing anyone wants to hear. But we are fooling ourselves to think that a decent, normal, forward-looking Iraqi politics or army is going to emerge from a totally insecure environment, where you can feel safe only with your own tribe.

James Joyner blogged Tom Friedman thinks the continued violence in Iraq is a result of the administration's early decision to rely on a relatively small force and thinks there's still time to reverse that decision. Motivation is primarily a function of training, though, combined with good leadership. The terrorists can get by with little training because they're not a military force. They're not fighting as a unit but rather using suicide bombers and IEDs against soft targets of opportunity. The Shiites and Kurds, representing eighty percent of the Iraqi population, have been responsible. It's only the minority Sunnis, ousted from their former predominance, who are operating outside the system. While an Iraqi Karzai may well be desirable, it's difficult to see how more American troops will create one. But American boots on the ground is a dual-edged sword. They both stand up against violence and inspire it. Getting Iraqi troops trained and making them responsible for their own security is simply essential. If it's motivation Friedman is after, there's nothing like having to sink or swim on your own to provide it.

Cori Dauber blogged What Part of Assymetric Are You Not Getting? I'm not sure why it's so hard to understand that a force that relies primarily on a tactic of blowing itself up, and a force we hope to have performing up to certain standards of professionalim -- including on such measures as human rights and civil-military relations -- have different burdens on them, most particularly in terms of training.