Saturday, June 25, 2005

Three Things About Iraq

NYT editorializes To have the sober conversation about the war in Iraq that America badly needs, it is vital to acknowledge three facts:

Translation: NYT still does not like the Iraq War, and figures if it screams it's "FACTS" loud enough and often enough, maybe someone will believe them.
  • The war has nothing to do with Sept. 11. Saddam Hussein was a sworn enemy of Washington, but there was no Iraq-Qaeda axis,
    Except for the Ansa Al Islam camp in the north, the known terrorists that were allowed to live in Baghdad, and possibly other connections.
    no connection between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist attacks on the United States....
  • The war has not made the world, or this nation, safer from terrorism. The breeding grounds for terrorists used to be Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia; now Iraq has become one.
    And terrorists are entering Iraq from Saudia Arabia, Syria, and possibly Iran, and they are dying there, rather than in the United States.
  • If the war is going according to plan, someone needs to rethink the plan.
    The plan seems to be going fine to me. Liberals said we would never find Saddam. We did. They said we would never be able to turn over soverignity to Iraqis. We did. They said Iraqis would never be able to hold a democratic election. They did. They said they would never be able to form a Government. They did. They said they would never be able to write a constitution. It is being written right now, with participation from Kurds, Shias, and Sunnis.
Americans cannot judge for themselves because the administration has decided to make the information secret. Senator John McCain spoke for us when he expressed his disbelief at this news. "I think the American people need to know," he said. "They are the ones who are paying for this conflict."


Kelo Decision

Blogs for Bush blogged Quickest Way to Reverse the Kelo Decision - This is from National Review Online's The Corner:

The quickest way to reverse Kelo is to find some conservative town in Utah somewhere to shut down an abortion clinic in order to make room for a Wal-Mart. Also, that would be the most fun way to get Kelo reversed.
If, as the Supreme Court has ruled, a locality may take property because other uses will generate more tax revenues and other benefits for the local community, then this makes all kinds of sense - I'd like to see the abortion clinic which generates tax revenues even 1/10th that of a Wal-Mart store. There's no ban on abortion here - and the owners of the clinic would be paid full market value for their property; but don't you just know that our liberal friends would scream bloody murder if we did this?

You see, the fact that the four most liberal justices concurred in the Kelo decision indicates what it was really about - its not that they really wanted to transfer valuable real estate to private businesses (they'd probably have preferred that New London was taking the property in question to make a bird sanctuary, or homeless shelter or some such thing), but that they really hate private property and this was a nifty way for them to essentially terminate the right of Americans to own property. We should shove it right back at the liberals - make them overturn their own decision.

I don't want to reverse it, at least not right now. The Kelo decision should be very useful in the upcoming battle over nominations to replace justices on the USSC: we must have more conservative justices, who voted against Kelo, to protect everone from having their private property stolen when someone who wants it can bribe a local official to help steal their property.

To see the Kelo Decision read   Justice Stevens's opinion,   Justice Kennedy's concurring opinion,   Justice O'Connor's dissenting opinion,   Justice Thomas's dissenting opinion.


Guardian of the little guy

OpinionJournal reported The Supreme Court's "liberal" wing has a reputation in some circles as a guardian of the little guy and a protector of civil liberties. That deserves reconsideration in light of yesterday's decision in Kelo v. City of New London. The Court's four liberals (Justices Stevens, Breyer, Souter and Ginsburg) combined with the protean Anthony Kennedy to rule that local governments have more or less unlimited authority to seize homes and businesses. No one disputes that this power of "eminent domain" makes sense in limited circumstances; the Constitution's Fifth Amendment explicitly provides for it. But the plain reading of that Amendment's "takings clause" also appears to require that eminent domain be invoked only when land is required for genuine "public use" such as roads. It further requires that the government pay owners "just compensation" in such cases. The founding fathers added this clause to the Fifth Amendment--which also guarantees "due process" and protects against double jeopardy and self-incrimination--because they understood that there could be no meaningful liberty in a country where the fruits of one's labor are subject to arbitrary government seizure. That protection was immensely diminished by yesterday's 5-4 decision, which effectively erased the requirement that eminent domain be invoked for "public use." The Court said that the city of New London, Connecticut, was justified in evicting a group of plaintiffs led by homeowner Susette Kelo from their properties to make way for private development including a hotel and a Pfizer Corp. office. (Yes, the pharmaceutical Pfizer.) The properties to be seized and destroyed include Victorian homes and small businesses that have been in families for generations.

Steve Bainbridge blogged Who's for the little guy? says the answer might surprise you

Michelle Malkin blogged The (right side of the) blogosphere's response to yesterday's SCOTUS ruling on Kelo v. New London has been stunning. And heartening. Eminent domain isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks "blogswarm." But the fierce reaction to the decision shows that core economic liberty issues can still unite disparate factions of the right (South Park cons, neocons, Schiavo-cons, whatever-cons) who have been fretting about a conservative crack-up. My wonk-ish hope is that more attention will be paid to bogus community redevelopment/urban blight eradication/tax increment-financing schemes masquerading as "public use" projects. In the New London case, the private corporate beneficiary was Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant. In Seattle, it was Nordstrom (reg reqd). Across the country, it's money-losing multiplexes and luxury stadium deals. In all cases, the losers are taxpayers, homeowners, and small businesses. N.Z. Bear has created a Kelo topic page to track blog posts related to the ruling. The Wall Street Journal weighs in on the Supreme Court's reverse Robin Hoods. George Will has an eloquent column today decrying the ruling. His credibility is undermined by his silence on government land grabs for his beloved baseball stadiums. But Will's credibility is not nearly as eroded as that of New York Times liberals, who either have nothing to say about the case or who support the decision to strip "a few small property owners" of their dreams--an outcome they might undoubtedly decry if not for their company's own vested interested in protecting such rights-trampling boondoggles.

Hopefully this will be very useful when the Dems attack conservative nominees to the USSC; Conservatives should be able to point to Kelo as an example of what we are trying prevent.


Saturday, June 25

This Day In History

  • 1788   Virginia ratified the U.S. Constitution.
  • 1844   John Tyler took Julia Gardiner as his bride, thus becoming the first U.S. President to marry while in office.
  • 1868   Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina were readmitted to the Union.
  • 1876   Indian Chief Crazy Horse won the two-hour Battle of the Little Bighorn, Montana, wiping out the army of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer. Custer, who led the battle against the Sioux Indian encampment, was among the 200+ casualties. Ironically, the only survivor of Custer’s forces was a horse, "Comanche".
  • 1910   The U.S. Congress authorized the use of postal savings stamps.
  • 1950   War broke out on the Korean peninsula as forces from the communist North invaded the South.
  • 1951   The first commercial color telecast took place as CBS transmitted a one-hour special from New York to four other cities.
  • 1962   The Supreme Court ruled that the use of an unofficial, nondenominational prayer in New York public schools was unconstitutional.
  • 1967   The Beatles performed a new song, ''All You Need Is Love,'' during a live international telecast.
  • 1973   Former White House Counsel John Dean began testifying before the Senate Watergate Committee.
  • 1981   The Supreme Court decided that male-only draft registration was constitutional.
  • 1987   Pope John Paul II received Austrian President Kurt Waldheim at the Vatican, a meeting fraught with controversy because of allegations that Waldheim had hidden a Nazi past.
  • 1991   The Yugoslav republics of Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence.
  • 1993   Kim Campbell became Canada’s 19th prime minister -- and its first woman prime minister. Campbell governed until October 25, 1993 when the Progressive-Conservative party was royally defeated. (Her term actually expired November 4, 1993.)
  • 1995   Warren E. Burger, the 15th chief justice of the United States, died in Washington, D.C., at age 87.
  • 1996   A truck bomb killed 19 Americans and injured hundreds at a U.S. military housing complex in Saudi Arabia.
  • 1997   Oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau died in Paris at age 87.
  • 1997   An unmanned cargo ship crashed into Russia's Mir space station, knocking out half of the station's power and rupturing a pressurized laboratory.
  • 1998   Windows 98 was released.
  • 1998   The Supreme Court rejected a line-item veto law as unconstitutional.
  • 2002   A federal judge in Alexandria, Va., entered an innocent plea on behalf of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was accused of conspiracy in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1903   George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) (author: Animal Farm, 1984; died Jan 21, 1950)
  • 1925   June Lockhart (actress: Lassie, Lost in Space, Petticoat Junction)
  • 1945   Carly Simon (Grammy Award-winning [Best New Artist, 1971] singer)
  • 1949   Phyllis George (Brown) (Miss America [1971]; TV host)
  • 1949   Jimmie Walker (actor, comedian)


Friday, June 24, 2005

More disgusting bias from the media

Guardian reports Iraq insurgents snatch victory from defeat - Massive police station assault alarms locals despite retreat

Omar at Iraq the Model blogged This article by the Guardian is another striking evidence to the bias of the media whenever it comes to Iraq. "What's new?" One would think. Well, the new thing and really disgusting thing is that the paper didn’t only ignore a piece of good news or exaggerated a piece of bad news like we get to see, hear or read almost every day in the last two years; instead, a frank victory for Iraqi police was somehow changed into a victory for the "insurgents"!! I read the piece twice and tried to see the any sign that indicates such a victory for the insurgents but I failed in both trials. The editor carried almost accurate news about the incident in question, yet the commentary and conclusions were a piece of mere ridicule. It is true that the terrorists were able to arrange a relatively large assault but it was far from being well organized or well done let alone a victory, and here is why:

  • The attack was successfully repelled. Now does that make it a victory for the aggressors? I guess not.
  • Reinforcements were not available during the critical phase of the battle as they couldn't make their way to the battle scene but this didn't deter the IP men from fighting and defending their station independently and I guess everyone agrees that policemen are not supposed to fight against men armed with RPGs and mortars; at least that's true in the vast majority of countries but our IP (Iraqi Police) men accepted the challenge and won.
  • It was mainly the bravery and good training of one Iraqi policeman that "turned the tide" according to the paper itself. Now, one gunner was able to turn the tide and this-in my opinion-is a big sign of skill and organized defense. Still, the Guardian wants us to believe it was a victory for the insurgents!
  • By the end of the battle, at least 10 terrorists were found killed and some 40 were arrested. What a victorious battle those terrorists planned for!
  • Finally and actually most important is that during the battle, people from the mixed Sunni and She'at neighborhood called 55 times and provided tips to the IP about the movements of the terrorists. Yes, 55 phone calls in less than 2 hours and if this doesn't show the real attitude of Iraqi citizens towards terrorists then I don't know what can! But still, the Guardian wants us to believe that the insurgents are winning. How disgusting!

Iraqis have the same problem with the MSM that we do.


One Nation, Divisible

NYT reported There is a lot of talk about political polarization in Congress. But is it true? Well, yes. Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, social scientists at the University of Houston and Princeton, respectively, used systematic measures of liberalism and conservatism built around government intervention in the economy to chart roll-call votes in Congress. We have adapted their scores to look at the House and Senate in each decade from 1955 to the present. The result? Thirty-three percent of House members were near-pure centrists in 1955; in 2004, just over eight percent fit that category. Thirty-nine senators were centrists in 1955, compared with nine in 2004. The differences are attributable to the emergence of the permanent campaign, the rise of partisan news media and, most of all, changes in Congressional redistricting.

Allowing a legislature to draw district lines is dangerous. Schwarzenegger has a fairly good idea; he is trying to get the citizens of California to take redistricting out of the hands of the Legislature and let Judges do it. I favor an even more impartial option. Let a computer draw district lines to using population counts, major roads, rivers, and other geographical features, to draw district lines with the area of each district as compact as possible, irregardless of how many Democrats, Republicans, or Independents are in the district.
The expansion in the number of “safe” seats in the House that began in the 1980’s has put an increased importance on primaries, which favor more ideological candidates. A number of these sharp-edged representatives have then moved to the Senate, where they have helped widen the partisan gulf we have talked about — and now can see. There is an interesting graphic here

Jeff Jarvis blogged The NY Times' op-ed graphic illustrates the point, uh, graphically today. It shows that the number of moderates in Congress -- not in the nation, mind you, but in Congress -- has greatly reduced. The system is as broken as the American auto and airline industries. It's time for a political restructuring. It's time for a revolt of the middle. Right now, the middle is simply revolted at "leaders" such as these.


Thoughts on Consultation

Sean Rushton wrote on Bench Memos If President Bush went to Leahy with a list of five or seven conservatives and Leahy’s response was, “Don’t nominate X or Y but A, B, and C would be acceptable,” that would be one thing.

I doubt that Leahy would be smart enough to respond like that.
But as Senator Schumer (R., N.Y.) has said in the past, his advice would be to recommend Arlen Specter or someone similar.... If the Democrats want to pick a couple of nominees who they regard as particularly provocative, fine. But the Democratic minority is angling to deny a conservative president, with a conservative Senate — who campaigned on the need for conservative judges — the ability to replace a conservative justice with a conservative. Chutzpah!...
That is not exactly the word I would use, but it is certainly cleaner.
So, why not invite only red-state and moderate Democrats to consult? Bring over Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Evan Bayh (Ind.), Tom Carper (Del.), Joe Lieberman (Conn.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Ken Salazar (Colo.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Max Baucus (Mont.), Robert Byrd (W.Va.), and Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) to the White House
That sounds like a very good idea to me
and tell them they have 60 minutes, three vetoes, and their home state press will briefed on their behavior after the meeting.


The Supreme Court Shortlist

Left wing Slate has come up with what it thinks is "The Supreme Court Shortlist"

  • Michael J. Luttig
  • John Roberts
  • Emilio Garza
  • Michael McConnell
  • Alberto Gonzales
  • J. Harvie Wilkinson III
  • Edith Brown Clement
  • Samuel Alito
It does provide interesting documentation of what they think the confirmation battle would be if this judge was nominated, plus it shows their position on major issues such as
  • Civil Rights and Liberties
  • Separation of Church and State
  • Environmental Protection and Property Rights
  • Criminal Law
  • Abortion
  • Habeas Corpus
  • Judicial Philosophy

I don't think they have listed all of the candidates, but it it is interesting to see what the Left thinks Bush will do


Free Web Access

NYT reported Nearly all libraries around the country have free public Internet access and an increasing number are offering wireless connections, according to a study released Thursday by the American Library Association. The study, which was conducted by researchers at Florida State University, found that 98.9 percent of libraries offer free public Internet access, up from 21 percent in 1994 and 95 percent in 2002. It also found that 18 percent of libraries have wireless Internet access and 21 percent plan to get it within the next year. "U.S. public libraries have gained a tremendous amount of headway as it relates to connectivity and access," said John Carlo Bertot, one of the study's authors. "The challenge lies in ensuring that libraries continue to get the support they need to provide necessary improvements to the technology." The study found that rural areas were more likely to have slower connections and fewer workstations and training opportunities. Arkansas, California, Idaho, New Hampshire, Virginia and West Virginia had the lowest levels of access. Urban areas, which also had some of the highest poverty rates, tended to have high levels of connectivity, bandwidth and wireless access. The study sampled 6,865 libraries out of the total 16,192 in the country and received responses from 5,023 libraries in 34 states.


Take That Away From Me

Professor Stephen Bainbridge wrote in Tech Central Station By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that governments may seize your business and even your home in order to facilitate private economic development schemes. It's well settled, of course, that the government can take your property in order to devote the land to some public purpose. The Binghamton campus of the State University of New York, for example, was built in part on land that the state took away from my family. In the case before the Supreme Court, however, the City of New London wanted to seize a neighborhood and turn the land over to a private developer who would then raze the homes and build a big industrial park.... The Economist explained the problem quite succinctly:

"Put simply, cities cannot take someone's house just because they think they can make better use of it. Otherwise, argues Scott Bullock, Mrs Kelo's lawyer, you end up destroying private property rights altogether. For if the sole yardstick is economic benefit, any house can be replaced at any time by a business or shop (because they usually produce more tax revenues). Moreover, if city governments can seize private property by claiming a public benefit which they themselves determine, where do they stop? If they decide it is in the public interest to encourage locally-owned shops, what would prevent them compulsorily closing megastores, or vice versa? This is central planning."
Exactly. The government's takings power is a necessary evil that, if used broadly, can destroy the entire concept of private property rights. As Russell Kirk pointed out, doing so will have devastating affects on society:
"[F]reedom and property are closely linked. Separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all. Upon the foundation of private property, great civilizations are built. The more widespread is the possession of private property, the more stable and productive is a commonwealth."
.... One final thought: Reagan appointee Kennedy and Bush 41 appointee Souter voted with the majority, proving once again just how essential it is that Bush 43 pick somebody reliably -- and permanently -- conservative when there's an opening.

Steve Bainbridge blogged My TCS column on yesterday's Kelo decision is up

Glenn Reynolds blogged I'm still getting a lot of angry email, and as noted below, the decision seems to have angered people on both left and right. It's true, as Eugene Volokh noted on Hugh Hewitt's show last night, that it was only a modest extension of existing law. But I think that existing law has moved, by gradual increments, to a point where it's out of step with the Constitution and with public sentiment about what's just. Sometimes a Supreme Court decision, even one that doesn't make new law, can bring people's attention to a situation and drive efforts to change it.

John Cole blogged So, in just two weeks, the Supreme Court has rendered two major decisions on the limits of government. In Raich v. Gonzales the Court said there are effectively no limits on what the federal government can do using the Commerce Clause as a justification. In Kelo, it's now ruled that there are effectively no limits on the predations of local governments against private property. These kinds of judicial encroachments on liberty are precisely why Supreme Court nominations have become such high-stakes battles. If President Bush is truly the "strict constructionist" he professes to be, he will take note of the need to check this disturbing trend should he be presented with a High Court vacancy.

Earlier I posted on this, giving links to all four decisions, and I agree that this makes a very good argument in the upcoming Supreme Court battle.


Lifestyle blog network

The Blog Herald reported Microsoft is advertising for paid bloggers to write and edit proposed blogs on five topics: fashion/food/style, music, sports, technology, and television for a new network of lifestyle blogs as part of MSN. Salary details were not available however successful applicants are expected to contribute around 15 hours per week on the blogs, and the position can be done by telecommute.


Hearing God's Footsteps

Blogs for Bush blogged That was how Bismarck described his successes at a statesman; he listened for the footsteps of God and grabbed hold of His hem. Meaning, of course, that he watched carefully for the natural course of events and then hopped on for the ride. It was, of course, much more than that - especially in politics, things don't just happen; but yesterday's Supreme Court decision allowing States and localities to take private property from one citizen and transfer it to another is a godsend for the conservative case for judicial reform.

Mark makes a VERY GOOD POINT, and we are fortunate to have a president that not only listens for the footsteps of God, but who also has a personal relationship with Him
Inherent in any political problem is the need to personalise it to the people at large - if the people don't feel personally involved in the problem, they'll give scant attention. Usually, Court decisions don't have an immediate affect upon the people - its just another arcane ruling and what has it got to do with me? But this case is different - at bottom, it is taking some people's houses (their home, sweet homes) and handing them over to other people who allegedly will make better use of it. As Justice O'Connor put it in her dissent, there is now no property in the United States which cannot be taken by a government entity - everyone's home/business/farm may be taken if the political powers that be, heavily influenced the the recipients of the taken property, decide that someone else can make better use of it. After all is said and done, this ruling essentially destroys the right to own property in the United States - it is now conditional upon our using said property in a government-approved manner.

Even better for us on the right, the decision was rendered with the four most liberal Justices in favor - while the three most conservative dissented. This is a left/right judicial issue which we can bring home to the American people and make them understand that getting conservative Justices is not just another political battle in DC, but a fight to protect our rights as Americans.


50 Coolest Websites

TIME included 15 blogs in its list of the 50 Coolest Websites for 2005

Hat tip to Blog Herald


Iraq violence shifting Arab media

BBC reports The latest bombings and bloodshed in Baghdad have meant that violence in Iraq has once again been dominating the bulletins on Arab satellite television stations. The fact that Iraqi civilians are the main victims of the attacks is increasingly being stressed in reports, interviews and comments. This has raised questions in some parts of the Arab media about the legitimacy of the groups carrying out the attacks, although the blame for the upsurge in violence is still mainly being placed on the Americans. The coverage of the violence in Iraq by Arab satellite television stations has undergone a perceptible change in recent months. Al Jazeera - often accused by the Americans of stirring anti-US feeling - has adopted less of an "Us and Them" approach. The militants are no longer referred to as the "resistance" but as gunmen or suicide bombers. Eyewitnesses are shown denouncing them as "terrorists" - condemnations that are echoed by a parade of Iraqi officials and religious authorities. One recent attack drew this comment from the al-Jazeera reporter: "Most of the time it's civilians who pay the price for the violence that has cost thousands of their lives". Al-Jazeera's main rival, the Dubai-based al-Arabiya, has also shown little sympathy for the bombers - a recent report, instead, painted a favourable picture of British soldiers patrolling Basra.

TheAnchoress: blogged This, I think, indicates a positive, rather than a negative trend, although, somehow, I don’ t believe the NY Times would agree.

Cori Dauber blogged Don't see it yourself? You must not be watching the right networks.

Betsy blogged Here's a small sign that things may be shifting in the Arab world regarding Iraq.

Marc @USSNeverdock blogged It is truly a sheer joy to wake up these days. Everyday it seems there is more and more bad news for the left and good news for the right.

I am surprised it took this long for the Arab media to realize what a small number of Arabs were doing to other Arabs.


McCain v Hillary

Zogby International reported McCain Would Trounce Hillary in ’08 Match-up, 54%-35%

The survey finds that both senators far outdistance their nearest competition for their parties’ nominations—but in a head-to-head match-up, the Arizona Republican bests the New York Democrat by 19 points, leading her 54% to 35%. McCain would also defeat Massachusetts Senator—and former Democratic presidential candidate—John Kerry by a full 20 points, 55% to 35%. McCain has majority support in every single geographic region of the country. But more telling may be the fact that, even in the states carried by Kerry in 2004, McCain comes out comfortably on top—leading Clinton by 49 to 38% and Kerry by 50% to 40%. Among the states carried by President Bush, the margin is even wider, giving McCain a 58% to 33% lead over Clinton and 59% to 32% lead over Kerry. McCain leads with most demographics, though Clinton would best him narrowly among Hispanic voters (45% to 38%) and would win African Americans by 80% to 19%. But that 19% would be the highest vote tally for a Republican with African Americans in decades. McCain leads Clinton with every age group except voters under 30, where the two are in a dead heat.

James Joyner blogged While I'm surprised by the margin of McCain's lead, its existence is to be expected. Hillary Clinton is one of the most polarizing figures in recent American history whereas McCain is a "maverick" and a war hero and the darling of the press corps. The media love McCain because he grants them lots of access and is willing to go against his fellow Republicans time and again. That makes him a "straight shooter" and a "maverick." That's fine when it's McCain against other Republicans. I guarantee that, if there's a McCain-Clinton matchup in the 2008 general election, the press will discover that McCain is actually a right wing extremist religious zealot who hates women, the poor, and minorities.

Alexander K. McClure blogged Just after I posted this, I realized that the cynics among you will ask who the Republican candidate is. I know, but for this poll, it’s John McCain.

This is an interesting, but meaningless, poll. Hillary is practically guaranteed the Democratic nomination, yet McCain does not have a snowball's chance in hell of getting the Republican nomination.


Bush's Calling

Wilfred M. McClay wrote in Commentary Magazine Among all the things that liberals loathe about George W. Bush, his religious fervor would seem to be at or near the top of the list. Some consider him a mere pretender, or a hypocrite, lashing out at his post-9/11 persona as a world-transforming warrior with bumper-sticker barbs like “Who would Jesus bomb?” For the most part, though, liberal animus toward Bush’s faith comes from the opposite direction. It is his religious sincerity that infuriates and frightens, especially when contrasted with the easy and empty Bible-toting of, say, a Bill Clinton. One does not have to dig very deep to explain this hostility. There are the familiar issues of the culture war—the “values” divide between red states and blue. There is also Bush’s personal manner, seemingly perfectly calculated to grate on the sensibilities of worldly, secularist elites. But something more profound may be at work as well. What liberals find objectionable about Bush as a born-again Christian is the kind of politician he has become by means of and on account of his faith. But what may be most discomfiting of all is the degree to which, in this regard, he has successfully laid claim to so many elements of the liberals’ own discarded past, and thereby begun to reverse the polarities of American politics.

This is a very interesting piece on Bush's faith and how it drives the opposition to distraction.


Friday, June 24

This Day In History

  • 1314   The forces of Scotland's King Robert I defeated the English in the Battle of Bannockburn.
  • 1497   The first recorded sighting of North America by a European took place as explorer John Cabot, on a voyage for England, spotted land, probably in present-day Canada.
  • 1509   Henry VIII was crowned king of England.
  • 1647   Margaret Brent, a niece of Lord Baltimore, was ejected from the Maryland Assembly after demanding a place and vote in the body.
  • 1793   The first republican constitution in France was adopted.
  • 1908   Former President Grover Cleveland died in Princeton, N.J., at age 71.
  • 1916   The most lucrative movie contract to the time was signed by actress, Mary Pickford. She inked the first seven-figure Hollywood deal. Pickford would get $250,000 per film with a guaranteed minimum of $10,000 a week against half of the profits, including bonuses and the right of approval of all creative aspects of her films. Not a bad deal for the former vaudeville and stage actress, who once appeared on Broadway with Cecil B. DeMille in "The Warrens of Virginia" for a measly $25 a week.
  • 1922   The American Professional Football Association took on a new name. They decided to name themselves the National Football League.
  • 1940   France signed an armistice with Italy during World War II.
  • 1940   TV cameras were used for the first time in a political convention as the Republicans convened in Philadelphia, PA.
  • 1948   Communist forces cut off all land and water routes between West Germany and West Berlin, prompting the United States to organize the massive Berlin airlift.
  • 1968   ''Resurrection City,'' a shantytown constructed as part of the Poor People's March on Washington D.C., was closed down by authorities.
  • 1975   An Eastern Airlines Boeing 727 crashed while attempting to land during a thunderstorm at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, killing 113 people.
  • 1987   Actor Jackie Gleason died at age 71.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1895   Jack (William Harrison) Dempsey (boxer: ‘The Manassa Mauler’: world heavyweight boxing champion [1919-1926]; NY restaurateur; died May 31, 1983)
  • 1919   Al Molinaro (actor: Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi)


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Lightening, Thunder then Rain..

Iraq the Model blogged Okay, I think that "Lightening" updates have become a regular item on this blog, so here's today's-rather short-briefing of what's been happening as to this operation and other activities of security forces in Iraq in the last 24 hours. Since the Operation Lightening started 1215 were arrested and 49 weapons caches were found, 303 searches and inspections and 67 raids were performed. Also the number of checkpoints placed reached a total of 1519 and 4340 patrols roamed the streets of Baghdad; an Iraqi government official said yesterday.

And strangely I don't recall the MSM reporting it.
As to the operations of yesterday; government officials said that 91 terrorists and suspects were arrested throughout the country. Among yesterday's arrests, 4 wanted terrorists were captured in Tikrit and other 18 suspects in the north western sector; one of who confessed that he smuggled weapons to the terrorists. Two IEDs makers were arrested also as well as 7 men suspected of being responsible for assassinating a member of Baghdad's city council. In Mosul, two significant arrests were made when the security forces captured 2 of Abu Talha's senior aides namely Abu Sarhan and Abu Nabhan who surrendered without any resistance.
Good news
It's worth mentioning that these two terrorists were nominated to succeed Abu Talha in leading the Qaeda branch in Mosul and they were also leaders for their own terror cells that carried out many attacks that killed many Iraqi civilians, clerics and officials. In Baghdad, 28 suspects were captured by Iraqi soldiers with support from American troops. In Baquba, 2 terrorists attempting to perform an attack with a vehicle loaded with explosives were arrested at an Iraqi army checkpoint south of the city. In Adhamiya, A'amil, Saydiya and Yarmouk neighborhoods in Baghdad, 20 terrorists and suspects were arrested during raids carried out by special forces teams of the interior ministry. In Al-Risala district south of Baghdad, a tip came from an Iraqi civilian lead to the arrest of 8 suspects who fled a spot from which the interior ministry complex was attacked. This arrest was done by task force Baghdad.

With Operation Lightening apparently entering its last chapters, Iraqi interior minister announced that this operation will be followed by a couple of other massive operations with the names "Thunder" and "Rain". As contrary to the mainly general Lightening, Thunder will aim at selected targets to eliminate terror elements that might have escaped the Lightening and the Thunder is supposed to depend mainly on tips from citizens and intelligence information. While the Rain is going to be-according to the minister's words-more like an intensified search operations from house to house to collect unauthorized weapons and eliminate any remaining security threats. I have noticed that the governemnet followed a logical sequence in choosing the names of the security operations; I mean names were obviously based on the fact that we normally see the lightening first, hear the thunder shortly after that and finally rain would start falling...Makes sense, no? Anyway, the minister expressed the minstry's ambition to see a great improvement in the security situation here after these operations are finished.


Personal property seizures

CNN reported The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses -- even against their will -- for private economic development. It was a decision fraught with huge implications for a country with many areas, particularly the rapidly growing urban and suburban areas, facing countervailing pressures of development and property ownership rights. The 5-4 ruling represented a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

That is the way it should be.
As a result, cities have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes to generate tax revenue. Local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community, justices said.
And if you can bribe a local official, you can get him to steal property you want to use.
"The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including -- but by no means limited to -- new jobs and increased tax revenue," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority. He was joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been a key swing vote on many cases before the court, issued a stinging dissent. She argued that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers.

DJ Drummond blogged Court Appointments Matter - because the United States Supreme Court has just decided that your city council can throw you off your own land, in order to accomodate luxury hotels and exclusive clubs. Do not ever, ever, vote for a liberal Democrat or fake Republican again. Your home may depend on it.

Glenn Reynolds blogged OUR STATIST SUPREME COURT STRIKES AGAIN: They've had quite a run lately.

This is outrageous. Read syllabus, Justice Stevens's opinion, Justice Kennedy's concurring opinion, Justice O'Connor's dissenting opinion, Justice Thomas's dissenting opinion.


O'Connor, Not Rehnquist?

William Kristol wrote in Weekly Standard But it is speculation.

  1. There will be a Supreme Court resignation within the next week. But it will be Justice O'Connor, not Chief Justice Rehnquist. There are several tea-leaf-like suggestions that O'Connor may be stepping down, including the fact that she has apparently arranged to spend much more time in Arizona beginning this fall. There are also recent intimations that Chief Justice Rehnquist may not resign. This would be consistent with Justice O'Connor having confided her plan to step down to the chief a while ago. Rehnquist probably believes that it wouldn't be good for the Court to have two resignations at once, so he would presumably stay on for as long as his health permits, and/or until after Justice O'Connor's replacement is confirmed.
  2. President Bush will appoint Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to replace O'Connor. Bush certainly wants to put Gonzales on the Supreme Court. Presidents usually find a way to do what they want to do.
And his aides will have an argument to make to conservatives (like me) who would be unhappy with a Gonzales pick: Bush would not, after all, be replacing a conservative stalwart like Rehnquist with Gonzales. Gonzales would be taking O'Connor's seat, and Gonzales is likely to be as conservative as, or even more conservative than, O'Connor. Indeed, Karl Rove will continue, Gonzales is as conservative a nominee to replace O'Connor as one could find who could overcome a threatened Democratic filibuster. Bush aides will also assure us privately that when Rehnquist does step down, Bush will nominate a strong conservative as his replacement. They might not tell us that nominee would be as an associate justice, for Bush would plan to then promote Gonzales to chief justice--thus creating a "Gonzales Court," a truly distinctive Bush legacy. A Gonzales nomination would, in my view, virtually forfeit any chance in the near term for a fundamental reversal in the downward drift of American constitutional jurisprudence. But I now think it is more likely than not to happen.

Dr. Steven Taylor blogged He has O’Connor retiring before Rehnquist, Bush appointing Gonzalez and then, eventually elevating Gonzalez to the CJ position and appointing a conservative to replace Rehnquist. As parlor games go, all fun and all, I suppose, but given the great difficulty that exists in making such predictions, I have some doubts, shall we say. For one thing, I am not as convinced as Kristol is that Gonzales can be confirmed. If he were to go up, it would be Abu Ghraib revisited, not to mention with the current political climate on Gitmo, that, too, would be a huge issue. Somehow I don’t see it happening as Kristol predicts. On a side note: this is not the first place I have read that Rehnquist might not retire as predicted. I certainly hope that that is not the case, given that the man’s health precluded him from even being present much of this sesson of the Court. He’s been there over thirty years and this year is the best year for a retirement, in terms of the electoral cycle. Surely, surely he will step down. We shall see, of course.

John Hawkins blogged If O'Connor were to resign, that would obviously be great news because it would give Bush the opportunity to appoint at least two conservative justices to the SCOTUS. However, whether Bush likes him or not, it would be a huge mistake to nominate someone like Alberto Gonzales who's so moderate that a Gonzales for O'Connor swap would be considered by the base to be a wash.

James Joyner blogged As I argued Sunday, Gonzales would be rather thin gruel indeed for Republicans as a Rehnquist replacement but would be about right in case of an O'Connor or other more moderate justice leaving. Interesting speculation, at any rate.

Hugh Hewitt blogged Bill Kristol writes that he hears it will be O'Connor stepping down next week, not the Chief, and that the Attorney General will be her replacement.

Nathan Hallford, blogged Kristol goes on to explain the argument for such scenario is that Gonzales would be no-less conservative than O'Connor; the battle over confirmation wouldn't be too ugly and when the time came for Rehnquist to step down, a stalwart conservative could be nominated.

John Podhoretz blogged Over at the Daily Standard, Bill Kristol offers some front-page SCOTUS news if he's got it right: O'Connor's retiring, not Rhenquist, which will make it easier for the prez to name Al Gonzales (a moderate for a moderate).

John Cole blogged Well, I have to admit. That is not who I thought would retire

I have always assumed he would submit Gonzales for O'Conner, so if she retires first this makes sense. It does not make sense to advance him to CJ when Rhenquist does retire.



Newhouse News Service has a very humorous piece on Here's What You Need to Know About Gitmo

Here is a sample

Q: What is Gitmo?

A: Contrary to what some suggest, it does not stand for "Git mo' Peking chicken for Muhammad, he wants a second portion." It stands for "Guantanamo," a facility the United States built to see if the left would ever care about human rights abuses in Cuba. The experiment has apparently been successful.

TheAnchoress blogged Can I say I wish I could write 1 thousandofatenth as well as James Lileks on a bad day? The day he wrote this, he clearly was having a very, very GOOD day. I love Lileks when he writes sweet about his family. But I utterly ADORE him when he bites!

Tony Miller commented Whee!!! I wonder if anyone but me has realized that more people have died in Ted Kennedy’s car than have died in Guantanamo Bay

Glenn Reynolds blogged Hysteria and political point-scoring have turned this into a joke. That happens when you overplay your hand.

This is hillarious


Malaysia works to sell Islam on trade benefits

International Herald Tribune reported When he was still Malaysia's prime minister, Mahathir bin Mohamad was fond of saying that terrorism could not be defeated by invasion, but only by defeating the economic injustices that inspire it. But his message was often lost in his famously abrasive rhetoric. So his address to a summit meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference before retiring in late 2003, for example, is likely to be remembered more for his invective against Jews than for his call that Muslim nations cast off fundamentalism to achieve economic progress.

Daniel Drezner blogged Two years ago, then-Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohammed gave a controversial talk at the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The gist of it was, "We muslims must embrace modernization -- so we can crush the Jews." Two years later, current Malaysian PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is preaching the first, less offensive part of that message.

Orrin Judd blogged Nothing would transform their politics like economic development.

Economic Development might well transform their politics, but it might just make them more powerful and more able to push their agenda.


Thursday, June 23

This Day In History

  • 1868   Christopher L. Sholes of Wisconsin patented his type-writer. A Mr. Remington later turned it into a more practical typewriter. Christopher’s version was a little cumbersome. It was about as big as a desk. And it didn’t have any correcting ribbon. The writer didn’t need any since the huge type-writer hid the paper inside itself so one couldn’t see any typos until after the fact ... a lot like when you forget to use the spell-checker on your computer.
  • 1892   The Democratic convention in Chicago nominated former President Grover Cleveland on the first ballot.
  • 1917   The ‘Sultan of Swat’ did just that on this day ... he swatted an umpire! Babe Ruth punched an umpire with his fist after he was given the “Yer outta here, Bub!” in a baseball game between Boston and Washington. Ruth, pitching at the time, threw four pitches, all called balls by the home plate umpire. Ruth stomped off the pitcher’s mound to the plate and tongue-lashed Brick Owens with a volley of unmentionable cuss words. Ruth was ejected and fined $100. Here’s the rub. Ernie Shore came into the game and pitched what would have been the fourth perfect game in major-league baseball history as the Red Sox defeated Washington 4-0. In truth it was the only perfect game ever thrown by a relief pitcher. However, Shore came into the game with Ruth’s walk on first so the entire game was not perfect. The base runner was cut down stealing second. “How about that!”
  • 1931   Aviators Wiley Post and Harold Gatty took off from New York on the first round-the-world flight in a single-engine plane.
  • 1956   Gamal Abdel Nasser was elected president of Egypt.
  • 1969   Warren E. Burger was sworn in as chief justice of the United States.
  • 1972   President Richard Nixon and White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman discussed a plan to use the CIA to obstruct the FBI's Watergate investigation.
  • 1985   All 329 people aboard an Air-India Boeing 747 were killed when the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near Ireland, apparently because of a bomb.
  • 1992   John Gotti, convicted of racketeering charges, was sentenced in New York to life in prison.
  • 1993   Lorena Bobbitt of Prince William County, Va., sexually mutilated her husband, John, after he allegedly raped her.
  • 1995   Dr. Jonas Salk, the medical pioneer who developed the first vaccine against polio, died at age 80.
  • 1997   Civil rights activist Betty Shabazz, 61, the widow of Malcolm X, died in New York of burns suffered in a fire set by her 12-year old grandson.
  • 2003   Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean announced his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1894   Dr. Alfred Kinsey (sexual behavior researcher: The Kinsey Report, The Sexual Behavior in the Human Male; died Aug 25, 1956)
  • 1894   Edward Patrick David (England’s Duke of Windsor/Edward VIII: only British monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne; died May 28, 1972)
  • 1910   Edward P. Morgan (radio/TV reporter: ABC: Edward P. Morgan and the News; commentator: Ford Foundation-funded Public Broadcasting Laboratory: “Let’s face it, we in this trade use this power more frequently to fix a traffic ticket or get a ticket to a ballgame than to keep the doors of an open society open and swinging ... The freest and most profitable press in the world, every major facet of it, not only ducks but pulls its punches to save a supermarket of commercialism or shield an ugly prejudice and is putting the life of the republic in jeopardy thereby.”; died Jan 27, 1993)
  • 1929   June Carter Cash (Grammy Award-winning country singer [w/husband, Johnny Cash]: Jackson, If I were a Carpenter; songwriter: Ring of Fire; died May 15, 2003)
  • 1948   Clarence Thomas (U.S. Supreme Court Justice)


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Queens Muslim Group

NYT reports The young Muslim men, with beards and bullhorns, work the streets of Jackson Heights on the weekends. They surface at parades and protests around the city, loudly declaring America the enemy and advocating for an Islamic state. Several weeks ago, they publicly tore up an American flag as payback for the reported desecration of the Koran at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Their own videos of violence against Muslims, one with the title "Muslim Massacres," have recently appeared on Queens Public Television. In the annals of New York City's political outspokenness and fringe-group culture, the Islamic Thinkers Society may seem unremarkable at first glance. But after 9/11, in the city most damaged and unsettled by the terrorist attacks, the emergence of this young, however limited, Muslim-American voice is strikingly bold. In its fliers and on its Web site, the group describes itself as an "intellectual and political nonviolent organization," but it bears a strong resemblance to Islamist movements in England that try to unite Muslims by inciting anger. "Wake up and realize that the line has been drawn between the camp of Emaan and the camp of Kufr and there is no middle ground as of right now," reads a glossy publication by the group that is titled "Islamic Revival." In Arabic, Emaan can be translated to mean "faith" and Kufr, "disbelief."

Charles Johnson blogged Suddenly this morning, two stories appear in mainstream media about the Islamic Thinkers Society, covered two weeks ago at LGF; the first is in the New York Times, where the headline stresses the group’s claim that they are “non-violent:” Queens Muslim Group Says It Opposes Violence, and America. The second piece is in the New York Observer, telling the story of a woman who was denigrated and assaulted by this “non-violent” group of Muslim activists: Local Insurgents: ‘Islamic Thinkers’ Menace Gay NY.

Michelle Malkin blogged Lo and behold, the NYTimes profiles the Islamist flag-desecration brigade in Queens exposed a few weeks back by the intrepid Robert Spencer.

Cori Dauber blogged Play Nice - The Times covers an Islamic group in New York that, while claiming to be nonviolent, even the Times clearly finds disturbing. Yet the Times still insists on prettying things up.

In Arabic, Emaan can be translated to mean "faith" and Kufr, "disbelief."
Yeah, it can be translated that way, but given the ugliness of the rest of their rhetoric, isn't it a bit more plausible that in context they mean it as "infidel?"

I am certain there are some reasonable, peaceful Muslims, but they need to start speaking up loudly, and helping us to distinguish between them and the jihadists.


Wednesday, June 22

This Day In History

  • 1611   English explorer Henry Hudson, his son and several other people were set adrift in present-day Hudson Bay by mutineers.
  • 1815   Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated for the second time.
  • 1868   Arkansas was re-admitted to the Union.
  • 1870   Congress created the Department of Justice.
  • 1874   Dr. Andrew Taylor Still began the first known practice of osteopathy.
  • 1911   Britain's King George V was crowned at Westminster Abbey.
  • 1938   Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling of Germany in the first round of their rematch in New York City's Yankee Stadium.
  • 1941   Germany invaded the Soviet Union during World War II.
  • 1944   President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the GI Bill of Rights, authorizing a broad package of benefits for World War II veterans.
  • 1945   The World War II battle for Okinawa ended; 12,520 Americans and 110,000 Japanese were killed in the 81-day campaign.
  • 1969   Singer-actress Judy Garland died at age 47.
  • 1970   President Richard Nixon signed a measure lowering the voting age to 18.
  • 1977   Former Attorney General John N. Mitchell began serving a sentence for his role in the Watergate cover-up.
  • 1981   Mark David Chapman pleaded guilty to killing rock star John Lennon.
  • 1987   Actor-dancer Fred Astaire died at age 88.
  • 1989   The government of Angola and the anti-Communist rebels of the UNITA movement agreed to a formal truce in their 14-year-old civil war.
  • 1992   The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that hate-crime laws that ban cross-burning and similar expressions of racial bias violate free-speech rights.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1906   Billy (Samuel) Wilder (Academy Award-winning director: The Apartment [1960], The Lost Weekend [1945]; Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, Witness for the Prosecution, The Seven Year Itch, Some Like it Hot, Sabrina, Irma La Douce, The Front Page, Buddy, Buddy; died Mar 27, 2002)
  • 1907   Anne Morrow Lindbergh (aviator, author: Gift from the Sea; married to Charles; mother of kidnapped Charles Jr.; died Feb 7, 2001)
  • 1909   Michael Todd (Avrom Hirsch Goldbogen) (producer: Oklahoma!, Around the World in 80 Days; developed [w/American Optical Company] Todd-AO system using 65mm cine cameras at 30 fps and wide angle photgraphy [approx 150 degrees]; husband of Elizabeth Taylor; killed in plane crash [1958]; died Mar 22, 1958)
  • 1922   Bill Blass (fashion designer)
  • 1933   Diane Feinstein (Goldman) (politician: U.S. Senator from California)
  • 1936   Kris Kristofferson (songwriter)
  • 1941   Ed Bradley (news correspondent: 60 Minutes; host: Street Stories)
  • 1954   Freddie Prinze (Preutzel) (comedian, actor: Chico and the Man; died Jan 29, 1977)
  • 1964   Amy Brenneman (actress: Judging Amy)


Tuesday, June 21, 2005


The Anchoress blogged about several "reality based" pieces on Kyoto:

  1. Britain Considers Energy Rationing to Meet Kyoto Obligations
    British residents could face a form of energy rationing within the next decade under proposals currently being studied to reduce the U.K.'s carbon dioxide emissions to comply with the Kyoto Protocol. Under the proposals, known as Domestic Tradable Quotas (DTQs), every individual would be issued a "carbon card," from which points would be deducted every time the cardholder purchased fossil fuel, for example, by filling up a car or taking a flight. Over time, the number of points allotted to each card would decline. High-energy users would be able to purchase points from low-energy users, with the end result being a trading market in carbon similar to the one already in place in the U.K. for industrial users.
  2. Gassy Senators
    If the U.S. had ratified the Kyoto treaty, it would have had to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2012. Bipartisan opposition sank the treaty, and it wasn't even mentioned in the Democrats' 2004 platform — although its demise is always attributed in the press to the work of President Bush alone. With Kyoto itself off the table, senators have been busy trying to forge a Kyoto-lite. John McCain is promoting a bill that mandates emissions be cut to 2000 levels by 2010. Democrat Sen. Jeff Bingaman (New Mexico) has proposed a competing bill that wouldn't reduce the absolute level of carbon-dioxide emissions, but their rate of increase. The game is to get any restriction, no matter how piddling, on carbon-dioxide emissions. As environmental analyst Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute argues, the debate then will forevermore be not whether emissions should be capped, but by how much. Thus, the U.S. will enter a new era of restrictions on its energy consumption. Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of coal, oil and natural gas, which account for 85 percent of all energy consumed by Americans. The point of all this is to — insert senatorial furrowed brow here — address the "crisis" of global warming. Global warming is real, and it is probably at least partly man-made. The temperature has risen 0.6 degrees Celsius throughout the past century. Somehow, we still manage to inhabit this planet Earth. It is unclear what catastrophe would occur if, under one of the estimates of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the temperature increased another 1.4 degrees Celsius throughout the next 100 years.
  3. See what it has done to New Zealand
    NZ is likely to overshoot greenhouse gas emission Kyoto targets by 30 million tons, reversal of which will cost taxpayers $1 billion or more, going from $500 million in the black to $500 million in the red
  4. See what it has done to Ireland
    The growth of the Irish economy in the 1990’s was disproportionately high compared to other countries. This has resulted in Ireland already exceeding its limit. Looking forward, the best estimates put Ireland producing green house gases at a level 35% above its 1990 base in 2008-2012 without emission reduction measures. It would be difficult for Ireland to meet its commitments under the 1997 Protocol without profoundly undermining the country’s ability to compete.

The thing that is wrong with Kyoto is that it exempts countries like China and India, who are rapidly industrializing, and this is what has kept oil prices so high, even with increases in production. It is absoutely foolish for the West to criple its own economies trying to fix the problem, with these two countries generating more new polution that the West can cut back. All countries should be required to cut back emissions if any country is.


Chinese Blogger Slams Microsoft

Wired News reported Twenty-eight floors above the traffic-choked streets of China's most wired city, blogger and tech entrepreneur Isaac Mao sums up his opinion of Microsoft and its treatment of the Chinese bloggers with one word. "Evil," says Mao. "Internet users know what's evil and what's not evil, and MSN Spaces is an evil thing to Chinese bloggers." Mao, 33, knows something about the topic. In 2002, he was one of China's first bloggers, and since then his ideas on harnessing blogs, peer-to-peer and grass-roots technologies to empower the Chinese people have made him a respected voice in the global blogosphere. Today, Mao is a partner in a venture capital firm that funds Chinese internet startups, including a blog-hosting service occupying part of the market Microsoft hopes to move in on with MSN Spaces. The Chinese version of MSN Spaces is linked to the new MSN China portal, launched last month in partnership with Shanghai Alliance Investment, a company funded by the city government here. Last week that partnership plunged Microsoft into the long-standing controversy surrounding the Chinese government's internet censorship policies, after Asian blogs and news reports revealed that MSN Spaces blocks Chinese bloggers from putting politically sensitive language in the names of their blogs, or in the titles of individual blog entries. The words and phrases blocked by Microsoft include "Taiwan independence," "Dalai Lama," "human rights," "freedom" and "democracy." In a statement, lead MSN product manager Brooke Richardson said, "MSN abides by the laws, regulations and norms of each country in which it operates. The content posted on member spaces is the responsibility of individuals who are required to abide by MSN's code of conduct."

Richard TPD blogged There are more than 80 million bloggers in China, and according to Isaac Mao they don't all feel happy about what Microsoft is doing. And obviously many in China care a lot about politics and do want to discuss democracy -- in fact, a lot of them comment to this site and do just that. So I'm not letting Microsoft off the hook yet, and I'm not giving in to the argument that only Westerners care about things like this. As several other have noted here, it's not like people in China have a place to go to complain if they don't like their government's attitude toward democracy and freedom. Let me correct myself; there is a place they can go. It's called jail.

Dean Esmay blogged I hope the foofaraw about the whole thing just makes things worse for the government there.

Rebecca MacKinnon blogged Isaac Mao slams Microsoft - And boy does he slam them hard. Hats off to Microsoft's Robert Scoble, by the way, for admitting he was wrong over the weekend. A lesser man would not have had the guts.

Hopefully the bloggers there can come up with other words which people will know mean those things, but which will get past Microsoft's software censorship


Treatment at Israeli Hospital

TBO reported A badly burned Palestinian woman was alternately defiant and tearful Monday after Israeli soldiers caught her trying to enter Israel with 22 pounds of explosives hidden on her body. The woman, who suffered serious burns on her hands, feet and neck in a kitchen explosion five months ago, had been granted permission to cross into Israel from the Gaza Strip for medical treatment when she raised the suspicion of soldiers at the Erez checkpoint.

Jan Haugland blogged This is not just a failure to 'rein in' the terrorists. The Al Aqsa thugs have always been under the control of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah itself, and I have seen no reason to doubt that has changed. Even worse is the cult of death that ferments the Palestinian territories, fueled by clerics and politicians, which shows no sign of ending. This massive death propaganda is obviously instrumental in convincing young people that 'martyrdom' is the highest calling.

Captain Ed blogged No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, Palestinian Edition - The title of this post is a proverb that keeps proving its wisdom over and over again, in large things and small, but in this particular case it has taken on a despicable hue. The Israelis agreed to admit a Palestinian woman to its country in order to treat her for severe burns after a kitchen explosion left her scarred and in great pain. What did they get for their compassion and generosity? A suicide bomber -- but fortunately, an incompetent one. In its twisted way, it provides a perfect microcosm of the entire Palestinian conflict. No matter what happens, no matter how much the Israelis and the West work to get the Palestinians what they need to heal and live peacefully, the Palestinians only appear interested in killing everyone involved, including themselves. They have sold themselves on death instead of life, and reason and compassion hold no attraction for them.

James Joyner blogged As Jonah Goldberg observes, "I guess there's no word for chutzpah in Arabic." blogged I guess there's no word for chutzpah in Arabic. I guess I missed the clause in the Koran condoning this sort of thing.

This is really sad. Israel offers to treat a disfigured woman in their hospital, and she want to repay their gesture by killing as many as she can. And she thinks this is what Allah wants?


Tuesday, June 21

This Day In History

  • 1788   The U.S. Constitution went into effect as New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify it.
  • 1834   Cyrus Hall McCormick received a patent for his reaping machine.
  • 1932   After heavyweight boxer Max Schmeling lost a title fight by decision to Jack Sharkey, Schmeling's manager, Joe Jacobs, exclaimed: ''We was robbed!''
  • 1940   Richard M. Nixon married Thelma Catherine ‘Pat’ Ryan this day.
  • 1963   Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini was chosen to succeed the late Pope John XXIII as head of the Roman Catholic Church. The new pope took the name Paul VI.
  • 1973   The Supreme Court ruled that states may ban materials found to be obscene according to local standards.
  • 1977   Menachem Begin became Israel's sixth prime minister.
  • 1982   A jury in Washington, D.C., found John Hinckley Jr. innocent by reason of insanity in the shootings of President Reagan and three others.
  • 1985   Scientists announced that skeletal remains exhumed in Brazil were those of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele.
  • 1989   The Supreme Court ruled that burning the American flag as a form of political protest is protected by the First Amendment.
  • 1997   The Women's National Basketball Association made its debut as the New York Liberty defeated the Los Angeles Sparks 67-57.
  • 2001   A federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., indicted 13 Saudis and a Lebanese in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 American servicemen.
  • 2001   Actor Carroll O'Connor died at age 76.
  • 2001   Blues musician John Lee Hooker died at age 80.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1731   Martha Washington (Dandridge Custis) (first First Lady of the U.S., wife of 1st U.S. President George Washington; made a mean cherry pie, we hear; died May 22, 1802)
  • 1947   Meredith Baxter Birney (actress: Family Ties)
  • 1947   Michael Gross (actor: Family Ties)
  • 1982   Prince William (William Arthur Philip Louis Windsor) (Prince William of Wales: first future king of England born in a hospital, first to wear disposable diapers, first to attend nursery school; son of England’s Prince Charles and Princess Diana)


Monday, June 20, 2005

Productive Blogger

Keith Robinson blogged Be a more productive blogger was quite a hit with y’all and it caused some very good discussion as well. I’m very glad to have give many of you ideas and I’m glad to say y’all gave me some good ideas in return. Because of that post I started a new site, Successful Blog where I’ll focus on all sorts of issues related to blogging, and I’ve decided to write this follow up. I figured I had to know of more than 13 tips to becoming a more productive blogger, and sure enough, I have quite a bit more. As a bonus, this time I’m also going to throw in a few ways you can use your blog to be more productive in other parts of your life. Here are a few more quick tips

  • Tell a story
  • Break longer posts up into several smaller posts
  • Write lists, lists, and more lists
  • Make good use of your drafts
  • Quote liberally and be sure to tip (trackback)
  • Respond to feedback on your blog
  • Don’t obsess over your stats

Hat tip to Micro Persuasion

These are good tips


Adult stem cells

Boston Globe reports Although embryonic stem cells dominate public discussion, a number of companies are building treatments, and businesses, around adult stem cells. As Congress spent hours passionately debating the merits and ethics of embryonic stem cell research, nearly 50 Osiris Therapeutics Inc. employees here continued their quiet work on less controversial adult stem cells. Thanks to Food and Drug Administration fast-track designation, Osiris expects to have an adult stem cell-based therapy on the market by late 2007 to combat potentially fatal tissue rejection among leukemia patients undergoing bone marrow transplants. That's one of three adult stem cell-based therapies Osiris currently has in human trials, to the delight of investors who muscled their way into the company's latest funding round to raise $50 million, more than double the expected amount. Another human clinical trial squirts adult stem cells into damaged knees after surgery to regrow meniscus, restoring the tissue that acts as a shock absorber and preventing onset of arthritis. The third experimental therapy being tested in humans -- including patients here at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine -- uses adult stem cells to help replace tissue damaged by heart attacks. Meanwhile, a University of Pittsburgh researcher is tapping adult stem cells in an FDA-approved, university-financed safety trial to rally these cellular repairmen to help fix failing hearts. ''When you inject these cells in, they act like a homing beacon to the heart," said Dr. Amit Patel, director of the university medical center's cardiac cell therapy center. ''The heart's just sending out an SOS signal saying 'Here! Come help me,' " Patel said. The adult stem cells then enlist other cells that deliver building blocks needed to partially restore heart function. Because the patients in the trial are awaiting heart transplants, Patel and others will be able to study their original heart after transplant to determine the impact of stem cell therapy.

TheAnchoress blogged Interesting article in the Boston Globe, in which we finally get to read about the effectiveness and promise in Adult Stem Cell research, information which has been all but suffocated in the shrill (and often intellectually dishonest) debate on Embryonic Stem Cell research. Fascinating stuff. Read the whole thing.

K. J. Lopez blogged The relative silence may be breaking (?); in the Boston Globe today: "Although embryonic stem cells dominate public discussion, a number of companies are building treatments, and businesses, around adult stem cells"

I am very happy to see that companies are pursuing, and getting results, from Adult Stem Cells.


Social Security Plan

Social Security Choice blogged From ($):

House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas is nearly ready to unveil his long-awaited Social Security plan and is urging Republican leaders to prepare for floor action in July. Thomas wants to package his Social Security changes with a pension law overhaul being fashioned in an Education and the Workforce subcommittee this week.Another key component of the mega-bill Thomas has in mind would be the tax break at the top of the wish list of many investors: erasing the 2008 expiration date on the 15 percent top income tax rate on capital gains. The chief tax writer wants to move his retirement package as soon as possible. A senior House Republican said Thomas, R-Calif., could unveil his plan as early as this week. “I suggest no one take a vacation next week,” Thomas told reporters on June 17.
This is going to be a MONSTER BILL. If I were a betting man, I suspect Thomas will provide support for DeMint’s Social Security proposal somewhere in his bill. Stay tuned…

We discussed earlier What A Social Security Deal Could Look Like, and we also discussed that Social Security plan backed in new poll and Social Security Reform is going to happen. As Andrew Roth said, the DeMint social security bill. I personally would rather see the DeMitt plan voted on by itself; lumping it in with removing the 2008 expiration date on capital gains and pension law reform may make it impossible to get through the Senate, and having too many things in one bill may make it harder to use against the Dems in 2006, but at least we are seeing some action.


Who's Imploding

Michelle Malkin blogged I received a mass e-mail from Anne Lewis of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Friday. It was titled: "Right-Wing Implosion." And these folks think they are members of the "reality-based community?"  
Who's imploding?  
You.   Tell.   Me.  

The Dems just can't get over the fact that their 40 year domination of congress is over, and they are no longer in control. They act like they think they still are in power. They even think they have a Virtual Majority. They hold fake committee meetings hoping to fool people on CSPAN. Their second highest leader in the Senate makes rediculous comparisons that hurt the country, and their Party Chairman doesn't even understand the difference between liberalism and socialism.


EA-6B Prowler

ProfessorBainbridge blogged "I dote on internet quizzes" and gave a link to a quiz, what kind of Military Aircraft are you.

I took the same quiz and Professor Bainbridge and I are both EA-6B Prowlers.

What military aircraft are you?

EA-6B Prowler

You are an EA-6B. You are sinister, preferring not to get into confrontations, but extract revenge through mind games and technological interference. You also love to make noise and couldn't care less about pollution.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.


Write the news yourself

CSM reports Back in the old days - pre-2005 - community activist Amy Gahran had three ways to reach readers of the Daily Camera in Boulder, Colo.: She could persuade a reporter to quote her, write a letter to the editor, or buy an ad. Now, the Internet has provided a fourth option, and Ms. Gahran wants to take advantage of it. She plans to recruit a "citizen journalism reporting team" to cover a controversial housing development - and post its work on the Daily Camera's website. Her unpaid volunteers won't have reporting experience, but she's not worried. "The skills involved in creating journalism are underappreciated, but they aren't particularly rocket science," says Gahran, a freelance writer. Ordinarily, a planned infiltration like this one would send editors rushing to barricade the door. But the Daily Camera's online chief says he welcomes Gahran's efforts, and he has plenty of company. In several communities across the United States, newspapers are encouraging amateur writers to fill their websites with content ranging from diatribes to serious reporting. On Friday, the venerable Los Angeles Times joined the parade, allowing Web denizens to rewrite its daily editorials en masse.

That Los Angeles Times experiment did not last long: Where is the Wikitorial? reports Unfortunately, we have had to remove this feature, at least temporarily, because a few readers were flooding the site with inappropriate material. Thanks and apologies to the thousands of people who logged on in the right spirit.

Kevin Roderick blogged Even before this, it seemed to me that instead of functioning like a true wiki, where facts get refined, the test case had deteriorated into a wholly predictable, no-win argument over the war. Same as you can already find and participate in at numerous well-read blogs. Sean at posts some advice for the LAT: "Welcome to the world that we have to deal with every single day in blog-land. So now they've met Mr. & Mrs Troll, wait until they meet our neighbors the comment spammers!"

Michelle Malkin blogged The Los Angeles Times wikitorial experiment has been shut down "because a few readers were flooding the site with inappropriate material." I can relate.

Dave Lucas blogged Bloggers from time to time have to do things they don't want to do in order to maintain control of their blogs. Reason? A few "electronic bad apples" with nothing better to do started posting spam or flaming or otherwise causing trouble. Result: free speech and the exchange of ideas in the spirit of debate suffers. Nations every now and then have to shift policies and procedures. Reason? In a recent example, 19 hijackers with an agenda changed the airline industry and the world economy forever. Result: fear, wars, inconveniences and insults, higher gas prices and an increased awareness of both vulnerability and security.

Jeff Jarvis blogged The LA Times wikitorial says it is "closed" now and I see no way to get in to see the latest version or the history. No explanation: Just closed. Hope I didn't help break it. I said that having both sides of an issue fight it out over the same text just wouldn't work in a wiki. Wikis are about collaboration; you may disagree with your fellows but the mutual goal is clear. A wikitorial is bound to turn into a tug-of-war. So I suggested in a listserv discussion of it that there should be two wiki versions of the editorial: one for proponents of the editorial's stand, one for opponents; let them put their best stuff forward and may the best side win. It seemed to be that this would be like an Oxford debate, brought to software. Wikigod Jimbo Wales replied in the listserv on Friday: "I changed it to this earlier today. I'm not sure the LA Times wants me setting policy for their site, but it is a wiki after all, and what was there made no sense." I went today to see what was happening and find it closed. Drat.

tim Windsor commented Judging from the screenshots on the Slashdot discussion of this, it's hard to blame them for pulling it down, at least temporarily.

Chris Anderson blogged Since I wrote admiringly of the LA Times experiment with a blogish revamp of their editorial page, I am compelled to note that one of the most interesting parts, the "wikitorials", has failed, at least for now. Jeff Jarvis describes some of the reasons, but at the root it appears that they simply got one of the architecture of participation calculations wrong. (Note: I just created that Wikipedia entry myself. How ironic is it that Wikipedia didn't have an entry for the architecture of participation, when it itself is the best example?) The question in all open participation projects is how to deal with dissent. Should you seek rough consensus or should you "fork", letting each group go their own way? Wikipedia deals with this pretty gracefully by letting a million entries bloom. If you don't agree with an entry and the normal process of collective editing is diverging into acrimony rather than converging on a compromise, then the policy is this: at the point of disagreement note that there is a controversy and take each argument to its own sub-entry, curated by those who care. This works great where multiple views can coexist without diminishing the overall goals of the project. If you don't like this post, you can write your own and the collective wisdom of the blogosphere will probably be better for it. But in other projects, such as Linux and similar open source software, there is often real benefit to having one commonly accepted version or standard around which others can build. Which is why Linux has chosen the rough consensus model to minimize the problems of forking (at least in the kernel) and has thus largely avoided the balkanization that plagued Unix. As best as I can tell (and it's hard to reconstruct now, because they've disappeared the wikitorial entirely) the mistake the LA Times made was to try to apply a rough consensus model to the wikitorials, when a forking model would have been more appropriate. Which is odd, because one of its other innovations was to encourage dissenting views and open debates between opposing sides of its editorial board and other official contributors. Surely what's good for the board is even better for the public? Anyway, I'm glad to hear that Jimmy Wales, the Wikipedia founder, is advising them on how to revamp this. It may be that wikitorials are simply a dumb idea, but we won't know until they at least try to architect them better. Ross Mayfield has a great roundup on how, indeed, the wikitorials did eventually fork; Jimmy Wales set up a "counterpoint" version on the LA Times site. Sadly, it's gone now, too. Based on these unfortunate samples found in the Slashdot discussion of this experiment, they probably made the right call shutting it all down until they could think it through a bit more.

K. J. Lopez: blogged The LATimes Wiki-editorial experiment is in shut-down mode already. I wish I had put money on that one.

It is unfortunate that people can't carry on a respectful disagreement when they are using someone else's system. After all, they can easily start up their own blogs, and be as extreme as they want there, and they can probably attract others that feel as they do, to bolster their extreme positions.


Lebanese Election

NYT reported Opponents of Syrian domination claimed a stunning majority victory in the final round of Lebanon's parliamentary elections on Sunday night in a rebellion touched off by the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri four months ago. An anti-Syrian alliance that tried to bridge religious lines and was led by Mr. Hariri's son, 35-year-old Saad Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, won at least 21 of 28 contested seats in northern Lebanon, the last polling area in the elections that have been staggered over the past four weekends. That gave the alliance a majority in the next 128-seat Parliament. It was a startling change in the way politics have usually been carried out here - along strict clan and religious lines and long under the control of Syria - and perhaps an example of a greater yearning for democracy in the Arab world.

Captain Ed blogged Despite the efforts of Syria and its ally Hezbollah in the south, the reformers in Lebanon have delivered a historic victory in parliamentary elections this weekend. Saad Hariri took his revenge for his father's assassination by driving out the pro-Syrian politicians from northern Lebanon, capturing three-quarters of the contested seats and defying traditional clan-based electoral politics.

K. J. Lopez blogged Cool Cedar Revolution news

I agree with the Captain, this is very good news.


Breaking the Durbin Code

Hugh Hewitt wrote in Weekly Standard What Dick Durbin said, what he really meant, and why the Senate should vote to censure him. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter should move this week to initiate a censure resolution of Illinois Senator Dick Durbin for his remarks on the Senate's floor on June 14, 2005. Not only did Durbin's remarks injure America's position in the world, provide an enormous propaganda victory to the enemy, and slander the United States military, they also represent an escalation in the political rhetoric of the left, which is designed to undermine the public's confidence in the military, the administration, and the war. The censure resolution will oblige every senator to go on the record about how they view the American military as we enter the long phase of the war. The outrage over Dick Durbin's comparison of interrogation practices at Gitmo to the Nazi, Soviet, and Pol Pot regimes has deeply injured Durbin's reputation and the reputation of the Democratic party that keeps him in the number two leadership position in the United States Senate.

Hugh Hewitt blogged "Breaking the Durbin Code" in the this morning is an effort to make the case for a Senate resolution of censure for Dick Durbin, as well as a single source for all of the relevant Durbin statements from last week. When all of Durbin's statements on Gitmo, the Nazis/Soviets/Pol Pot and Abu Ghraib are laid end to end, they reveal Durbin's argument very clearly, and very clearly the Senate ought to censure him for making it. Bill Kristol agrees that censure is appropriate, but in "A Better Idea than Censure" suggests that Durbin's removal from the leadership post he holds for the Democrats would be more likely. I agree that the Democrats would be wise to dismiss Durbin, but it isn't my party and if they wish to be led by fools brimming with anti-American rhetoric, that is their right. A resolution of censure, though, sets a standard for the Senate which represents all Americans --a standard that says slanders on the United States military and America's conduct in the war on terror, especially those slanders that provide our enemies a huge propaganda victory, will not be tolerated by the body of senators, not just one party.

Scott @PowerLine blogged Hugh performs a herculean task visiting the Augean stables of Durbin's mind. The column valiantly performs a public service that none of the doyens of the mainstream media have even attempted. Hugh observes that Durbin's comments last week represent "an escalation in the political rhetoric of the left, which is designed to undermine the public's confidence in the military, the administration, and the war."

I agree that all Senators should be forced to vote on centure. Whether the Dems want Durbin to remain in the leadership is their decision