Saturday, July 16, 2005

Muslims launch tv ad against terrorism

Reuters reported American Muslims have launched an advertising campaign to denounce acts of terrorism after bombers believed to be British Muslims killed at least 54 people in attacks on London. "Any effort by terrorists to hide their criminal activities under the mask of religious piety is being categorically and unequivocally rejected by mainstream Muslims," said Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He said the television ad, which will air nationwide by July 19, is an attempt to detach Islam from the "heinous" acts of a few Muslims. Police believe the attacks are linked to al Qaeda, the Islamic militant group behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and the Madrid train bombings last year. "Backlash is a concern ... but it's not our main motive," said CAIR spokeswoman Rabiah Ahmed. "Our main motivation lies with making sure our position is clear where Islam stands on terrorism." The 30-second public service spot, called "Not in the Name of Islam," features two American Muslim women and religious leader Imam Johari Abdul-Malik. "We often hear claims Muslims don't condemn terrorism and that Islam condones violence," they say. "As Muslims, we want to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror in the name of Islam are betraying the teachings of the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed. We reject anyone -- of any faith -- who commits such brutal acts and will not allow our faith to be hijacked by criminals. Islam is not about hatred and violence. It's about peace and justice." The director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, John Voll, welcomed the campaign. "I think Americans, especially these days ... are justified in being fearful of the suicidal violence attempts by extremist fanatics in many different traditions," he said. "It is counterproductive for Americans to then focus their fear on the people who are probably their closest allies, and that is average, mainstream Muslims."

This is nice to see, but I like this better


France 'to expel radical imams'

BBC reported French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to deport any Muslim cleric preaching violence.

Fantastic idea. Now let us do it here, and encourage the rest of Europe to do it also.
Speaking after meeting his Spanish counterpart in Madrid, Mr Sarkozy said he would seek the expulsion of imams in France "whose sermons are radical". Mr Sarkozy said France and Spain had agreed tougher joint measures against Islamic militancy. Two days ago, France reimposed border controls with its EU neighbours following the London bombings.
That is a good idea. Once Europe has purged all of the radical clerics they can consider opening them again.
After meeting Spanish Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso, Mr Sarkozy told reporters radical preaching would no longer be tolerated in France. "The [French] republic is not a weak regime and it does not have to accept speech which on the pretext that it is happening in a place of worship calls for hate and murder. "Those who persist in this way will systematically be the object of an expulsion procedure." Over the past decade France has expelled several foreign-born Muslim preachers after accusing them of abusing their positions by inciting violence. The minister said Western countries must unite in the fight against al-Qaeda.
I rarely agree with the French, but I do this time. I wonder if they did it because they figured they were next.
"I know of only one policy against these people - firmness, arresting them, punishing them, penalising them, in Madrid, London, New York, everywhere. "We must never allow ourselves to give them the satisfaction of a division between us," he said. Mr Sarkozy said he and Mr Alonso had agreed to strengthen co-operation in the fight against Islamic militancy. France has stepped up security measures in the light of the London bombings, including restoring border controls with its EU neighbours. On Thursday, French President Jacques Chirac warned that no country was immune from terrorist attacks. "These terrorists have a mentality, a psychological state that is different from our own. All efforts must be made to fight against terrorism," he said.

Dr. Steven Taylor blogged One guesses that Madrid + London = the need to do something. The trick will be grafting the appropriate rule/law and then actually policing it. Further, it depends on French legal and constitutional provisions regarding speech.

Marc @USSNeverdock blogged Britain is considering cracking down on the imams but not on border controls. About time since we've been at war for years now. But the Muslims will claim discrimination and while the EU tightens security, the peaceniks are already undermining their efforts.


Quizzing Nominees

Confirm Them blogged A bunch of law professors want Supreme Court nominees to answer a bunch of specific questions. There are ten of them:

  1. Do you believe in employing a canon of construction? If so, is there a particular canon to which you subscribe?
  2. Do you believe it is appropriate for the Supreme Court to recognize constitutional principles that were not expressly written in the Constitution or explicitly recognized by the Framers?
  3. What rights, if any, do you believe are protected by substantive due process?
  4. The Supreme Court has declared that the Constitution contains a right to privacy. Do you believe there is a constitutionally protected right to privacy, and, if so, under what circumstances does it apply?
  5. Do you agree with the tiers of review currently employed under Equal Protection jurisprudence and the way they have been applied?
  6. What in your view are the limits on the scope of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause and section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment?
  7. What do you believe is the appropriate scope of state sovereign immunity and the Eleventh Amendment?
  8. Define “judicial activism” and describe your views on it.
  9. Do you believe there are judicially enforceable limits to the President’s power as Commander-in-Chief in times of national crisis? If so, what are those limits?
  10. What lessons do you believe the Court should draw from Korematsu and the World War II experience?

GWB said that he was prepared to consider people other than judges, but I think I must take my name out of consideration, because I can't answer all ten questions. I wish the Senate would agree to just ask a few questions like these, let the judges answer them without a lot of preening by the Senators, and then give the nominee an up or down vote, first on committee, and then by the whole house.

The law professors did not provide their answers (I wish they had), but here are responses from


Criminal Contempt Could Lengthen Reporter's Jail Stay

WaPo reported Lawyers in the CIA leaks investigation are concerned that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald may seek criminal contempt charges against New York Times reporter Judith Miller, a rare move that could significantly lengthen her time in jail.

Miller, now in her 10th day in the Alexandria jail, already faces as much as four months of incarceration for civil contempt after refusing to answer questions before a grand jury about confidential conversations she had in reporting a story in the summer of 2003. Fitzgerald and Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan have both raised the possibility in open court that Miller could be charged with criminal contempt if she continues to defy Hogan's order to cooperate in the investigation of who may have unlawfully leaked the name of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media.


Beware of the "Halli-bloggers"!

Zachary Roth wrote in If bloggers get the same press freedoms as traditional media, what will prevent corporations like Halliburton from using blogs to pour unregulated money into politics?

Why not? Special interest groups have plenty of blogs, why not corporate blogs?
During the 2004 Democratic primaries, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, who runs the Daily Kos blog, was criticized by a reporter at the Columbia Journalism Review (full disclosure: It was me) for an apparent breach of journalistic ethics. Kos had posted the results of exit surveys before polls had closed, potentially affecting the integrity of the vote. In response, Kos argued that, as a blogger, he wasn't bound by conventional notions of journalistic propriety: "We're activists," he wrote of himself and his fellow political bloggers. "Not reporters. Not talking heads. Not journalists. But activists. The difference is stark." Fast-forward to late last month, when the Federal Election Commission held hearings to help determine whether political blogs should enjoy a "freedom of the press" exemption from campaign finance regulations, as more traditional media outlets do. This time, Kos was understandably eager to claim the mantle of journalism. In written comments to the FEC, he and two other bloggers asserted: "At their best, bloggers are true journalists, contacting sources, researching facts and raising public awareness of vital issues. Even at their 'worst,' bloggers perform the same function as talk radio hosts or opinion journalists in the print and televised media, energizing partisan supporters through humor, vitriol and innuendo."
And if you have ever read Kos's blog, you will know what he means when he says vitriol and innuendo.
Kos' evolving self-definition is a symptom of the precarious position in which political blogs now find themselves, as the federal government begins to scrutinize their burgeoning influence on politics. Many bloggers on both the left and right achieved popularity in part by highlighting the shortcomings of the mainstream media, and by emphasizing their opposition to it. Now, amid concern that failing to be defined as a legitimate media outlet could open the door to government regulation, some bloggers have been trying -- sometimes ironically -- to erase the very distinction that Kos flaunted last year.
Mainstream Media is paid to report the news, for which they have legal protections, and they hide behind those protections and attempt to influence politics. Bloggers, for the most part, are not paid, but are just expressing their own opinions, under the protection of the first amendment. What the Federal Election Commission should be focusing on is not the bloggers but the MSM. We should be protected, and they should be targeted.
But in response, some good-government advocates worry that, in arguing for as broad a definition of media -- and therefore as broad an exemption -- as possible, bloggers may inadvertently be undermining crucial campaign finance laws, creating a loophole that could allow corporations to use the Internet to channel unlimited amounts of money into electoral politics.

Recently, a blogger who runs the Talent Show site -- incensed by the possibility that bloggers might be denied the media exemption enjoyed by talk-show hosts like Michael Savage or online magazines like Salon -- declared: "In order to avoid any potential pitfalls, let me use this opportunity to announce that this post will be the last one on The Talent Show blog. Starting either late today or tomorrow, I will relaunch (without any fanfare whatsoever) my new web magazine, The Talent Show ... The look of the site, the writing style, the subject matter, the content, and the technological back end will be identical to what I'm using now, but the change (as least as far as the FEC is concerned) will be drastic." Atrios quickly picked up the theme: His site now bears a prominent -- and semi-mocking -- tagline, identifying it as "An Online Magazine of News, Commentary, and Editorial."
That is foolish. An online magazine should not have any more protection than a blog.
The concern that the federal government could prevent ordinary bloggers from pursuing their passion has provided a perfect opportunity for righteous Internet indignation, but it's almost certainly groundless. For starters, campaign finance laws allow for a "volunteer exemption": The amount of money an individual spends on his or her own volunteer activity is not counted as a contribution to a campaign. For bloggers, that can be argued to include the cost of computers, Internet-service providers and software. Even assuming a stricter volunteer standard, there appears to be little enthusiasm among the commissioners for cracking down on ordinary bloggers, and it's highly likely that the new rules will explicitly protect the vast majority of political sites. "People like Red State [a prominent conservative blog] or Kos clearly fall under the media exemption," Democratic FEC commissioner Ellen Weintraub, seen by some observers as the potential swing vote, told Salon. "Practically all bloggers -- I can't think of one who wouldn't -- would fall under the media exemption or the volunteer. And that's if we do nothing, if we don't change the rules at all."
That sounds reasonable to me.
To progressives, it may seem reassuring that Kos, Atrios and the rest look likely to be able to continue to blog away unmolested by the feds -- even if it means allowing the other side their Red State and InstaPundit. But many good-government advocates -- some of whom have been key supporters of campaign finance laws intended to reduce the influence of money in politics -- worry that by granting a broad exemption to anyone who posts their thoughts on the Internet, the FEC could be creating a loophole that corporations might seek to exploit, allowing them to use blogs as a means of pouring money into electoral politics.
Are those the thoughts of "good government" advocates, or "more government" advocates? As Henry David Thoreau said in Civil Disobedience, 1849 "That government is best which governs least."
In testimony before the commission, Carol Darr, director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy, and the Internet, laid out a scenario in which Halliburton could choose to take advantage of a blanket media exemption for bloggers by investing in a blog that was supportive of its favored candidate. The "Halli-blogger," as Darr put it, with unlimited and undisclosed funding from Halliburton, could then create a slickly produced television-style ad on behalf of a candidate, even consulting with the campaign to design as effective a message as possible. The blogger could then, as part of the normal journalistic function, send this ad out over e-mail, or on an RSS feed, to activists and swing voters. The ad could even be sent to news outlets, as is standard practice for modern campaigns, where it would be featured in news segments, increasing its visibility and injecting its message into the bloodstream of the campaign.
Carol Darr obviously does not understand what a blog is. A blog does not send stuff out over email, and ads on RSS feeds are very rare, and they are not "slickly produced television-style" ads. You might see such an ad in an online magazine, like Salon, which requires one to watch a short ad to get a free one-day "Site Pass", so maybe the FEC should go after Online Magazines, and leave bloggers alone.
"[Bloggers argue] 'What's the difference between us and them? We deserve the media exemption also,'" Darr told Salon. "It's an easy ask, but it's a real expensive give. The cost of it is the destruction of the campaign finance laws and the prohibition on corporate money which has held for 98 years."

Larry Noble, the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), who also testified, told Salon he agrees that a broad exemption could undermine the intent of campaign finance regulations. "If the FEC said anybody, including corporations and labor unions, can put whatever they want on the Internet, regardless of whether they coordinate with a candidate, what you will see is corporations and labor unions coordinating with candidates, having the candidate write the ads, the corporation or labor union paying a lot for sophisticated production values on these commercials -- we're already seeing them -- and putting them on the internet."
Having seen all of the problems McCain-Feingold created, maybe the answer is to get rid of all attempts to regulate Campaign Finance, rather than worrying about things on a case by case basis. Just require transparency. Require everyone paying for campaign promotion to publicize who they are paying and how much, and where they got the money, and require everyone running campaign promotion material to publicize who is paying them, and how much.
Bloggers greet this possibility with a shrug. Atrios, aka Duncan Black, who also testified, calls Darr's concern "kind of silly." "It's granting a greater potential for influence than a blogger could have, or any one person or any one Web site on the Internet could have," he told Salon. "And it sort of presumes that Halliburton has discovered the magic formula such that if they only spend $10 million they will have the best Web site ever and everyone will come to it every day to hear the latest daily propaganda from whoever their candidate is."

Kos, characteristically, was more blunt. "I say, 'Welcome to the blogosphere, Halliburton!'" he wrote on his site, in response to Darr. "'Join the over 12 million blogs already in the blogosphere.' I'm pretty confident [campaign finance reform] would survive the emergence of yet another blog. One of 20,000 created every day."
I almost never agree with Kos, but I agree with him here.
Even Commissioner Weintraub, who's paid to worry about potential abuses of the campaign finance system, doesn't sound too concerned: "What the bloggers very persuasively argued [in the hearings] is that the only thing that gives a blog value is that person's credibility online. And some corporate-funded hack who's out there blogging away is probably not going to get a lot of hits. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this will turn out to be some horrible problem. But the example that was given in the hearing, of the Halliburton blog, I mean, who's gonna read that?"
Both Weintraub and the bloggers point out that corporations and labor unions could have enacted the Halliburton scheme in 2004, but didn't. As Kos put it in his testimony: "The free market of ideas policed itself. It worked." It's counterproductive, they argue, to impose regulations in order to stop something that hasn't happened yet. "To say we have to restrict all sorts of conduct because we're afraid of what people might do in the future, even though they haven't done it in the past -- it's a little bit premature," Weintraub said.
But to Darr, the fact that the system worked relatively well last year is hardly a source of comfort. She fears that 2004 may in retrospect turn out to be like 1976, the first election after post-Watergate campaign finance regulations. "You could have had soft money and you didn't," she said. "People just hadn't figured out yet how to do it. But then when they did it just took off like a rocket."
Which points out the foolishness of Campaign Finance Regulation. No matter what they write, people are going to find a loophole, a way around any restrictions imposed. To prevent them from doing it, just dont impose restrictions.
Noble, of CPR, believes that one reason the Internet didn't become a loophole for corporate money in 2004 is that, in the absence of a definitive governmental or court ruling, there was uncertainty as to whether such a strategy was legal. "I've talked to some lawyers who've said they were being more cautious about it. But also I think this is evolving. I think what we've seen about most of the campaign finance loopholes that have developed is, they start small and then they explode. If the FEC gives a clean green light to it ... they'll go ahead and do it."

Noble suspects that the apparent enthusiasm on the part of some commissioners, particularly the Republicans, for a broad exemption reflects an underlying opposition to campaign finance regulations. "I think in [Republican commissioner] Brad Smith and others you have a natural tendency to want to deregulate. They don't believe in the laws to begin with. Therefore applying the laws to the Internet doesn't make any sense to them."
Sounds good to me.
Noble argues that the issue extends beyond bloggers, and he wants further discussion to help arrive at an up-to-date conception of what "the media" means -- with mainstream media representatives as participants in that discussion. But he thinks it's possible for the commissioners to find a middle ground that protects the rights of ordinary bloggers while closing the Halliburton loophole.

The devil will undoubtedly be in the details. The commission intends to issue its new regulations in the next 90 days, and may try do so before Smith leaves office around Aug. 20. But at this stage it's conceivable that the arguments of liberal bloggers -- who in their political philosophy have rarely lined up alongside large, politically active corporations, and who have generally been supportive of efforts to reduce the influence of money in politics -- could ultimately help open the door to a dramatic weakening of one of the most cherished and important achievements of the progressive movement.

Hat tip to New York Times


Muslim leaders in call for action

BBC reports Britain's top Muslims have branded the London suicide bombings "utterly criminal, totally reprehensible, and absolutely un-Islamic".

You are right. What are you going to do with the Imams that brainwashed them into doing those utterly criminal, totally reprehensible, and absolutely un-Islamic things?
A joint statement of condemnation came as 22 leaders and scholars met at the Islamic Cultural Centre, in London. But Britain's highest ranking Asian police officer, Tarique Ghaffur, says Muslims and their leaders must do more than just condemn the bombings. Bomber Hasib Mir Hussain's family said on Friday they were "devastated". Police in Egypt arrested chemistry student Magdi Mahmoud al-Nashar, 33, wanted in connection with the bombings. At the meeting in London, Muslim leaders said there could never be any excuse for taking an innocent life, it said. Earlier, the head of the Muslim Council of Britain said he wanted "concrete steps" to make sure such atrocities were never repeated. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, met Islamic and community leaders in Leeds, where three of the bombers were from. The statement said everyone must confront the problems of Islamophobia, racism, unemployment, economic depravation and social exclusion. "Islam prohibits both anger and desperation. Anger and desperation are haram (forbidden) and may lead to some people being targeted by people with a sinister and violent agenda.
Islamophobia is a result of the terrorist acts by some extreme Muslims, not the other way around. And the bombers were not unemployed, economically deprived people; they were middle class teachers and students that had been brainwashed by Islamofascist Imams.
"There is, therefore, a great deal of positive work to be done with everyone in our own and wider community in order to channel the energy and talent of our youth, particularly into constructive avenues, serving God and society for the common good. "The youth need understanding, not bashing."
I understand them. They wanted to blow themselves up so they could kill others. That is not something that should happen.
Of the Muslim stance on suicide bombing, the leaders said: "There can never be any excuse for taking an innocent life. "The Koran clearly declares that killing an innocent person was tantamount to killing all mankind and likewise saving a single life was as if one had saved the life of all mankind. "This is both a principle and a command ... Those who carried out the bombing, the statement said: "Should in no sense be regarded as martyrs. Both Muslims and non-Muslims should help bring the people behind the bombing to justice, it said. "The pursuit of justice for the victims of last week's attacks is an obligation under the faith of Islam."

Marc @USSNeverdock blogged Muslims Speak Out - But listen carefully to what they are saying.
Britain's top Muslims have branded the London suicide bombings "utterly criminal, totally reprehensible, and absolutely un-Islamic".
But not terrorism. That's becasue the leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, says Muslim terrorists don't exist.
'There is no such thing as an Islamic terrorist. This is deeply offensive.
And Sacranie tries to distract you from the real issues and who the real terrorist are.
The statement said everyone must confront the problems of Islamophobia, racism, unemployment, economic depravation and social exclusion.
Islamophobia and racism, ah yes it's all our fault. As for the rest, we know that none of that has anything to do with terrorism as the terrorist are usually well educated, employed and come from good homes. See here and here. Sacranie goes on blaming us for Muslim terrorism.
"The youth need understanding, not bashing."
It's our fault because we fail to understand Muslim youths and bash them and not Islam's fault for preaching hate. Sacranie continues:
Of the Muslim stance on suicide bombing, the leaders said: "There can never be any excuse for taking an innocent life.
Ah, but according to the Koran us infidels are not "innocent" and we must be converted to Islam or killed where they find us. If a Muslim is killed while killing the infidels that's ok too. All Sacranie is doing is paying lip service and seen to be concerned. Nowhere does he call for reforming Islam - the root of terrorism. Notice the picture of the Muslim woman carrying a sign that says "Islam wants peace"? Muslims playing the victim card again. The sign makes it sound like they are under attack and want peace. How come they never carry signs saying "down with bin Laden" or "stop Muslim terrorists

Ann Althouse blogged Please, more -- much more -- of this


Saturday, July 16

This Day In History

  • 1790   The District of Columbia was established as the seat of the United States government.
  • 1862   David G. Farragut became the first rear admiral in the U.S. Navy.
  • 1935   The first parking meters were installed, in Oklahoma City.
  • 1945   The United States exploded its first experimental atomic bomb, in the desert near Alamogordo, N.M.
  • 1951   J.D. Salinger's novel ''The Catcher in the Rye'' was published.
  • 1957   Marine Maj. John Glenn set a transcontinental speed record when he flew a jet from California to New York in 3 hours, 23 minutes and 8 seconds.
  • 1964   In accepting the Republican presidential nomination in San Francisco, Barry M. Goldwater said ''extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice'' and ''moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.''
  • 1966   Chinese leader Mas Tse-tung, front in photo below, took a swim in the Yangtze River near Wuhan in an effort to dispel rumors that he was seriously ill.
  • 1969   Apollo 11 blasted off from Cape Kennedy on the first manned mission to the surface of the moon.
  • 1973   During the Senate Watergate hearings, former White House aide Alexander P. Butterfield publicly revealed the existence of President Richard Nixon's secret taping system.
  • 1979   Saddam Hussein became president of Iraq.
  • 1980   Ronald Reagan won the Republican presidential nomination at the party's convention in Detroit.
  • 1999   John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, Carolyn, and her sister, Lauren Bessette, died when the single-engine plane Kennedy was piloting plunged into the Atlantic Ocean near Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1821   Mary Baker Eddy (religious leader: founder of Christian Science; died Dec 3, 1910)
  • 1907   Orville Redenbacher (popcorn gourmet & tycoon; died Sep 19, 1995)
  • 1911   Ginger Rogers (Virginia Katherine McMath)
  • 1942   Margaret Court Smith (International Tennis Hall of Famer)
  • 1968   Will Ferrell (comedian, actor: Saturday Night Live)


Friday, July 15, 2005

The Electoral-Based Community

Dean Barnett wrote in Weekly Standard Why the rise of the left-wing blogosphere has been bad for the Democratic party. A few months ago, Markos Moulitsas, proprietor and founder of the left-wing blog Daily Kos, penned a brief but extremely insightful posting. Under the heading, "Evidence that we live in a different world," Moulitsas pointed to a recent Time magazine poll that showed 79 percent of the American public had never heard of (or didn't have an opinion of) Ann Coulter. Moulitsas wrote, "I'd venture to say that 100 percent of this site's readers know who Anthrax is."

I have not the slightest idea, but I do know who Ann Coulter is. She sometimes gets a little shril for my tastes, but I certainly know who she is, and I frequently read what she writes.
Indeed, there is little doubt that the habitu├ęs of the Daily Kos, like their hated cousins who read popular conservative blogs such as Power Line and Little Green Footballs, live in very different worlds than their friends and neighbors. Blog readers are typically voracious gatherers of news. They not only simply know who people such as Ann Coulter are, they usually have strong opinions about these minor public figures, too. This is an unusual trait. After all, while Ann Coulter may be a polarizing firebrand beloved by her supporters and loathed by her detractors, when it comes to fame she's hardly Madonna.

For students of the blogosphere, it came as little surprise when the popularity of politically oriented blogs began to tumble in the wake of the presidential election this past November. But something funny has happened since then. While the traffic numbers of conservative blogs have remained at roughly the same levels following their post election slide, the left-wing blogosphere--and especially the Daily Kos--have almost fully rebounded. While Glenn Reynold's Instapundit, the most popular conservative blog, averages in the neighborhood of 150,000 page views a day, the Daily Kos now averages over 550,000; the sites were almost equally trafficked just last fall. Theories abound for why the Daily Kos has left the right-wing blogosphere so far in the dust. One plausible explanation is that the Daily Kos has engendered a tremendous sense of community amongst it audience/contributors. While conservative blogs remain for the most part virtual op-ed columns (with the notable exception of Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs), the Daily Kos has become a virtual family which allows readers to write their own blogs-within-the-blog (called diaries) and to engage in limitless amounts of commenting. Whatever the reason, there is nothing like the Daily Kos on the web--it is a phenomenon and the unquestioned leader of the blogs.
I disagree. Daily Kos is a leader of the bloggers who like to be controlled by a higher authority, in fact his graphic makes me think of living in the Soviet Union.

While bloggers on the right are independent thinkers, and have their own blogs from many different sources. There is a community among them as well, with blogrolls and cross linking, but it is not controled by any one person
In theory, this should be a positive development for Democrats. The Daily Kos should provide the party's most devoted adherents with a constructive outlet for their energy; indeed it does. The site has raised bundles of money for Democratic politicians and its patrons certainly have a surfeit of passion that they're willing to bring to any political conversation. The problem for the Democratic party is that, like much of the country, it has a dim understanding of the blogosphere. The party is not alone in its denseness here. Much of America's existing power structure still has no idea what to make of blogs. This trait was recently put on embarrassing public display in an obtuse Doonesbury strip. In the piece at issue, Garry Trudeau suggested that bloggers were "angry, semi-employed losers" who survived on a diet of cat food. Contra Trudeau, most accomplished bloggers are highly educated--a great many of them are lawyers and college professors--and have been successful in other fields of endeavor. Typical bloggers include law professors like Hugh Hewitt and the contributors at the Volokh Conspiracy, as well as the Academy Award nominated (and Ivy League educated) Roger L. Simon.
And the reason the right hand side of the blogosphere is helping the Republican Party, while the left hand side of the blogosphere is hurting the Democratic Party, is that there is a much wider range of bloggers to choose between, from the extreme right, to the moderate right, and all areas in between. Some are fiscallly conserviative, some are socailly conservative, some are very religious, and some are very secular. Whatever you want, you can find a blogger that you will like, and he will likely have similar blogs in his blogroll.
The Democratic party, on the other hand, errs in precisely the opposite fashion as Trudeau. While Moulitsas recognizes that the left-wing blogosphere is a world unto itself, if establishment Democrats have any awareness of that fact they have yet to betray it. Where Trudeau feels bloggers are a bunch of shut-in half-wits, the Democratic party seems to be under the impression that bloggers are an enormous, important constituency--and that it must go to whatever lengths necessary to win the hearts and minds of this virtual community. This seems like a major miscalculation, because the politics of the left-wing blogs are far out of the American mainstream. Where most of the 120 million Americans who voted in the last election bear a benign indifference to political matters, the left half of the blogosphere seethes with hatred for George W. Bush and his supporters.
The reason the left wing blogs encourage so much hate is is stokes their base, but it prevents the sort or reasoned discussion that might persuade the middle. They know in their hearts that people like Rush Limbaugh are responsible for them loosing power (which they hate), and they think he was popular because he was bashing the left, but what they dont realize is that with the MSM in the left's pocket, conservatives only had a few places to go to hear their side of issues, and that was Rush Limbaugh.
What's more, the blogs take numerous positions that would strike all but the most passionate Democratic partisans as patently preposterous. For example, several of the left-wing blogs recently ran an advertisement that referred to West Virginia Senator and former Ku Klux Klan Kleagle Robert Byrd as an "American Hero."

Also, the level of discourse on the Daily Kos and other prominent liberal blogs is not something that would be attractive to the majority of the American public. The writings are often obscene and usually relentlessly hostile and negative. Crude personal attacks, whether aimed at right-wing bloggers or politicians, are the order of the day.


Iraq constitution on track

Reuters reported In a month, Iraq should have a constitution, meeting a deadline set as part of a U.S.-backed timetable for its transition from occupation to independence. Whether that can defuse bloody conflict to give Iraqis a stable and sovereign state remains an open question.

It will not solve everything, but once all Iraqis see that the constitution has protections in it for all minority groups, and yet it gives them a voice in their government, I expect many more will beging helping the police and turning in those who are killing other Iraqis.
Three months ago, after it had taken 12 weeks just to form a government, many doubted the Aug. 15 target for the draft constitution could be met; long, bitter wrangling had dented hopes raised by an election held, on schedule, on Jan. 30. Now, few doubt that some form of draft constitution will appear more or less on time -- even though the parliamentary committee working on it has not, as it once suggested, unveiled a preliminary text by July 15. Once a draft text emerges, it will be approved in an October referendum and form the basis of a new election around the end of the year. The process should involve Sunni Arabs, the once dominant fifth of the population, who largely shunned the last vote out of fear of the insurgents in their own community or in protest at a system that handed power to the Shi'ite majority. "I don't think anyone seriously doubts there will be a constitution more or less on time," said one senior diplomat in Baghdad. "I'm impressed by how hard everyone's working on it."


Hizb ut Tahrir

BBC reported An influential British Muslim has told Newsnight that unless action is taken against an extreme Muslim group operating in the United Kingdom then we could soon be experiencing terrorist attacks along the lines of those in Baghdad and Jerusalem. Hizb Ut Tahrir or HT is an Islamic splinter group, which is banned in many countries around the world. It operates freely in Britain. But Newsnight has discovered that its website promotes racism and anti-Semitic hatred, calls suicide bombers martyrs, and urges Muslims to kill Jewish people.

Action needs to be taken against any group promoting violence


Tomorrow you will be in Paradise

Times Online talks to a young Muslim who survived his intended 'martyrdom' and describes the terrorists' rigorous training

“It’s as if a very high, impenetrable wall separated you from Paradise or Hell,” he said. “Allah has promised one or the other to his creatures. So, by pressing the detonator, you can immediately open the door to Paradise — it is the shortest path to Heaven.”....

Actually you will immediately go through the door, but the destination is not what you expect.
“The power of the spirit pulls us upward, while the power of material things pulls us downward,” he said. “Someone bent on martyrdom becomes immune to the material pull. Our planner asked, ‘What if the operation fails?’ We told him, ‘In any case, we get to meet the Prophet and his companions, inshallah.’ “We were floating, swimming, in the feeling that we were about to enter eternity. We had no doubts. We made an oath on the Koran, in the presence of Allah — a pledge not to waver. This jihad pledge is called bayt al-ridwan, after the garden in Paradise that is reserved for the prophets and the martyrs. I know that there are other ways to do jihad. But this one is sweet — the sweetest. All martyrdom operations, if done for Allah ’s sake, hurt less than a gnat’s bite!”....
And do you really think that if Allah wants a few people killed, i.e. for His sake, that He cannot do it without requiring you to blow yourself up?
“Tomorrow, we will be martyrs,” he declared, looking straight at the camera. “Only the believers know what this means. I love martyrdom.” The young men and the planner then knelt and placed their right hands on the Koran. The planner said: “Are you ready? Tomorrow, you will be in Paradise.”
actually he will immediately be in Hell, and you will join him soon.
I was warned that my interest in trying to understand the suicide missions was dangerous. But eventually, when the people who were observing me had assured themslves of my credentials — an important one was that I am Muslim and from Pakistan — I was allowed to meet members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad who would help me. “We are agreeing to talk to you so that you can explain the Islamic context of these operations,” one man told me. “Even many in the Islamic world do not understand.”....
Perhaps they are people who have really read the Qur'an, rather than having had a psycho Imam tell them what it says.
None of the suicide bombers — they ranged in age from 18 to 38 — conformed to the typical profile of the suicidal personality. None of them was uneducated, desperately poor, simple-minded, or depressed. Many were middle-class and held paying jobs. Two were the sons of millionaires. They all seemed entirely normal members of their families. They were polite and serious, and in their communities were considered to be model youths. Most were bearded. All were deeply religious. I was told that to be accepted for a suicide mission the volunteers had to be convinced of the religious legitimacy of the acts they were contemplating, as sanctioned by the divinely revealed religion of Islam. Many of these young men had memorised large sections of the Koran and were well versed in the finer points of Islamic law and practice. But their knowledge of Christianity was rooted in the medieval crusades, and they regarded Judaism and Zionism as synonymous....

They were not inclined to argue but they were happy to discuss, far into the night, the issues and the purpose of their activities. One condition of the interviews was that, in our discussions, I not refer to their deeds as “suicide”, which is forbidden in Islam. Their preferred term is “sacred explosions”. One member of al-Qassam said: “We do not have tanks or rockets, but we have something superior — our exploding Islamic bombs.”....
I bet if you had tanks or rockets you would use them as well.
I met an imam affiliated with Hamas, a youthful, bearded graduate of the prestigious al Azhar University in Cairo. He explained that the first drop of blood shed by a martyr during jihad washes away his sins instantaneously. On the Day of Judgment, he will face no reckoning. On the Day of Resurrection, he can intercede for 70 of his nearest and dearest to enter Heaven; and he will have at his disposal 72 houris, the beautiful virgins of Paradise. The imam took pains to explain that the promised bliss is not sensual.There is no shortage of willing recruits for martyrdom. Hamas and Islamic Jihad generally reject those who are under 18, who are the sole wage-earners in their families, or who are married and have family responsibilities. If two brothers ask to join, one is turned away. The planners keep a close eye on the volunteer’s self-discipline, noting whether he can be discreet among friends and observing his piety in the mosque. During the week before the operation, two “assistants” are delegated to stay with the potential martyr at all times. They report any signs of doubt, and if the young man seems to waver, a senior trainer will arrive to bolster his resolve.....
Why not let the senior trainer collect his vest, and wear it himself?
Al-khaliyya al-istishhadiyya, which is often mistranslated as “suicide cell” — its proper translation is “martyrdom cell” — is the basic building block of operations. Generally, each cell consists of a leader and two or three young men. When a candidate is placed in a cell, usually after months, if not years, of religious studies, he is assigned the lofty title of al-shaheed al -hayy, “the living martyr”. He is also referred to as “he who is waiting for martyrdom”. Each cell is tightly compartmentalised and secret. Cell members do not discuss their affiliation with their friends or family, and even if two of them know each other in normal life, they are not aware of the other’s membership in the same cell. (Only the leader is known to both.) Each cell, which is dissolved after the operation has been completed, is given a name from the Koran or from Islamic history. The young men undergo intensified spiritual exercises, including prayers and recitations of the Koran. Usually, the trainer encourages the candidate to read six particular chapters of the Koran: Baqara, Al Imran, Anfal, Tawba, Rahman, and Asr, which feature such themes as jihad, the birth of the nation of Islam, war, Allah’s favours and the importance of faith....

The bomber’s family and the sponsoring organisation celebrate his martyrdom with festivities, as if it were a wedding. Hundreds of guests congregate at the house to offer congratulations. The hosts serve the juices and sweets that the young man specified in his will. Often, the mother will ululate in joy over the honour that Allah has bestowed upon her family.
Therein may lie a solution. It is one initiated by Israel when it blew up the homes of bombers (after removing the people, of course). If the families are so supportive why not penalize the families. And when people see that their families are going to be punished, maybe they will not be so eager to blow themselves up.
But there is grief, too. I asked the mother of Ribhi Kahlout, a young man in the Gaza Strip, who had blown himself up in November 1995, what she would have done if she had known what her son was planning to do. “I would have taken a cleaver, cut open my heart, and stuffed him deep inside,” she said. “Then I would have sewn it up tight to keep him safe.”

Jan Haugland blogged Read this article. It's a quite unique look within the suicide bombers and the terrorist infrastructure of Islamic Jihad and Hamas in the Palestinian areas. It goes against what is polite to say, but the religious dimension of the war on terror can hardly be understated.

Marc @USSNeverdock blogged What I found the most interesting though, was the article explodes two myths promoted by the media. First, the article proves the Palestinians are not interested in peace with Israel.... Second, the article proves that poverty is not the root cause of terrorism.... Terrorism will not end until Islam is reformed.

Ed Driscoll blogged I can't stress enough what a great piece of journalism Nasra Hassan has written. Don't miss it.

Orrin Judd blogged Gotta love Democrats grandstanding about how more budget appropriations for mass transit security will stop these guys. You bet.


Younger Students Show Gains in Math and Reading

NYT reports America's elementary school students made solid gains in both reading and math in the first years of this decade, while middle school students made less progress and older teenagers hardly any, according to test results issued today that are considered the best measure of the nation's long-term education trends.

No Child Left Behind certainly has been shown to work for children that entered the system after GWB made it to the White House, and this explains why his current initiatives for NCLB are focused on High School Students
Nine-year-old minority students made the most gains on the test, administered by the United States Department of Education. In particular, young black students significantly narrowed the historic gap between their math and reading scores and those of higher-achieving whites, who also made significant gains. Older minority teenagers, however, scored about as far behind whites as in previous decades, and scores for all groups pointed to a deepening crisis in the nation's high schools.
See This page for the answer
The math and reading test, known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Long Term Trends, has been given to a representative national sample of 9-, 13- and 17-year-old students every few years since the early 1970's, virtually without modification, and social scientists study it carefully. The results announced today were from a test given to 28,000 public and private school students in all 50 states during fall 2003 and spring 2004. The test had not been administered since 1999. Nine year old students born in the mid-1990's, on average, earned the highest scores in three decades, in both subjects. In the reading test, the average score of 9-year-old black students increased by 14 points on a 500-point scale, to 200 in 2004 from 186 in 1999. Reading scores of 9-year-old white students increased by 5 points, to 226 in 2004 from 221 in 1999. As a result, the black-white achievement gap for 9-year-old students narrowed to 26 points from 35 points over those five years. In 1971, the gap was 44 points.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings attributed the gains among elementary students to President Bush's school reform law, No Child Left Behind. Sounding jubilant, she also credited the nation's teachers, principals and state and national policymakers, including Democrats who have supported the federal law.

Betsy Newmark blogged Gee, could it be that high-stakes testing is forcing schools to make sure that kids learn what they should? And it is not surprising that the older children show little progress. First of all, they have a whole lot more to make up for in order to catch up. And once they kids get to high school, many are left to sink or swim rather than get the intensive remedial reading and math work that they need.

Wind Rider blogged Not that some won't try, but it'll be pretty hard to sidetrack the potential for a cause and effect conclusion on this one - kids that have been in the system only since Bush started pushing accountability for education results seem to be actually performing better on tests. scores since the 70's, eh? Yep, that seems to track with the takeover of new age hairbrained teaching schemes, that seemed to care less about making sure kids actually mastered the skills of reading and basic math, and more about catering to the desire to have them feel ok with themselves. In spite of the fact they were growing up ignorant of very basic tools to help them succeed in life. It's a lot better to have them actually earn something to feel good about, than to teach them how to accept ignorance and mediocrity and 'don't worry, be happy'.

Ann Althouse blogged Despite Spellings' efforts at sharing the credit, I expect to hear lots of people going out of their way to discredit No Child Left Behind.


Friday, July 15

This Day In History

  • 1606   The painter Rembrandt was born in Leiden, Netherlands.
  • 1870   Georgia became the last of the Confederate states to be readmitted to the Union.
  • 1904   The first Buddhist temple in the United States was established in Los Angeles, CA.
  • 1916   The Boeing Co., originally known as Pacific Aero Products, was founded in Seattle by William Boeing.
  • 1948   President Harry S. Truman was nominated for another term by the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
  • 1964   Sen. Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona was nominated for president at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco.
  • 1971   President Richard Nixon announced he would visit the People's Republic of China to seek a ''normalization of relations.''
  • 1976   A 36-hour kidnap ordeal began for 26 schoolchildren and their bus driver as they were abducted near Chowchilla, Calif., by three gunmen and imprisoned in an underground cell. The captives escaped unharmed.
  • 1979   President Jimmy Carter delivered a speech in which he lamented what he called a ''crisis of confidence'' in America. Though he didn't use the word, it became known as the ''malaise'' speech.
  • 1992   Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton claimed the Democratic presidential nomination at the party's convention in New York City.
  • 1996   MSNBC, a 24-hour all-news network, made its debut on cable TV and the Internet.
  • 1997   Fashion designer Gianni Versace was shot to death outside his home in Miami; suspected gunman Andrew Phillip Cunanan was found dead eight days later.
  • 1999   The government acknowledged for the first time that thousands of workers were made sick while making nuclear weapons and announced a plan to compensate many of them.
  • 1971   Sometime in the late 800s-900s, there lived a man named Swithun or Swithin. He was the Bishop of Winchester in Old England. For some unknown reason   since Bishop Swithin was not particularly famous   his remains were transferred to Winchester Cathedral on this day. It so happened that there was a heavy rainfall on this same day. Some say Bishop Swithin was angry about the move and caused the downpour. From then on, according to an old English adage, if it should rain on July 15th, it will rain for forty days thereafter. “St. Swithin’s day, gif ye do rain, for forty days it will remain; St. Swithin’s day, an ye be fair, for forty days ’twill rain nae mair.”
Happy Birthday To
  • 1606   Rembrandt (Van Rijn)
  • 1779   Clement Clarke Moore (poet, author: ’Twas the Night before Christmas [A Visit from St. Nicholas]; died in July 10, 1863)
  • 1946   Linda Ronstadt (singer)


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Poll Finds Drop in Muslim Support for Terrorism

WaPo reports Osama bin Laden's standing has dropped significantly in some key Muslim countries, while support for suicide bombings and other acts of violence has "declined dramatically," according to a new survey released today.

In a striking finding, predominantly Muslim populations in a sampling of six North African, Middle East and Asian countries also shared to "a considerable degree" Western nations' concerns about Islamic extremism, the survey found. Many in those Muslim nations see it as threat to their own country, the poll found.

"Most Muslim publics are expressing less support for terrorism than in the past. Confidence in Osama bin Laden has declined markedly in some countries, and fewer believe suicide bombings that target civilians are justified in the defense of Islam," concluded the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

Worry about Islamic Extremeism was higher in India (84%), Russia (84%), Germany (78%), Spain (77%), Netherlands (76%), and even France (73%), than in the US or Britain (both 70%).

Captain Ed blogged This demonstrates that Bush's policies of attacking terrorists where they have hidden themselves and demanding the liberalization of the Arabic world has had a huge, positive impact. Despite the carping of how Iraq has created terrorists in Muslim nations, the unmasking of Islamofascism as a bloodthirsty movement perfectly happy with killing fellow Muslims by the hundreds to make its point has destroyed its credibility. In contrast, the success of the Iraqi elections, followed by the popular democratic uprising against Syria in Lebanon and the demand for free election in Egypt, has shown Arabs and Muslims that democracy and pluralism works.

Democratization brings hope and a measure of control over one's life, two qualities that have long been absent from the tyrannies and kleptocracies of the Middle East. Until Iraq and Afghanistan showed it could work for Arabs as well as Europeans, the subjects of these autocracies had neither nor any glimmer of possibility of achieving them. Now that they see their cousins able to govern themselves through free elections and hold their leaders accountable for their actions, they understand the futility of suicide attacks and terrorism. Just like anyone else, they will choose freedom and hope over oppression and death.

This is how we will win the war on Islamofascist terror -- not by winning big battles, although that necessarily has to happen to set the stage for these successes. We will win the war by discrediting the enemy among their own people, who will one day utterly reject their nihilistic ideologies. That day, apparently, is almost here.


al Qaeda Attacks: A Flash Presentation

Winds of Change has a very nice Flash presentation covering the major al Qaeda attacks since the creation of the International Islamic Front and their subsequent declaration of war in February of 1998.


Legislative or Constitutional

Lee Ellis wrote at OpinionEditorials Regarding the Supreme Court openings, why do we keep hearing politicians and guests on talk or news shows asking our President to appoint men or women who will lean across the aisle to unite the Congress or the nation?

Because the left knows it cannot get its ideas passed by the legislature, and they hope that the court will "find" that they are hidden in the Constitution somewhere.
The purpose of a Supreme Court judge is NOT to follow the dictates of other politicians, NOT to follow a conservative or liberal policy, NOT to follow the current or the past rulings of other judges, other documents, letters or the Constitutions of other nations such as France, but rather to adhere to the American Constitution, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph.
That is absolutely true.
One does not lean across any aisle in order to compromise on the America founded by our forefathers, to convert what made this nation great as a free Republic to the kind of socialistic system that has almost destroyed some European nations and other formerly great countries.

We elected President George W. Bush to protect this country, to preserve the America we love, to keep America as the Republic it was founded to be. We did not elect Kennedy, Schumer, Biden, Boxer, Reid, or Pelosi to make the final decisions as to whom the judicial guardians of our Constitution should be for the next decade or two!

Yes, Congress does advise and consent with an up and down vote, but not with a filibuster or a refusal to allow a full vote. The choice of a federal judge appointee has always been with, and should remain, the domain of the Executive branch of government led by the President of the United States of America.

Will our Supreme Court once again be a Constitutional one, or will it rival Congress as a new Legislative branch? It is up to us to back the President's choice of Supreme Court judges who will defend and protect the true meaning of our most revered document, the American Constitution!

Hat tip to Cao's Blog


Islamic Scholar Gets Life in Prison

Yahoo News reported A prominent Islamic scholar who exhorted his followers after the Sept. 11 attacks to join the Taliban and fight U.S. troops was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison. Ali al-Timimi was convicted in April of soliciting treason, inducing others to aid the Taliban, and others to use firearms in violation of federal law.

OTB blogged That his sentencing hearing came a week after home-grown Muslim terrorists bombed the London subway can not have helped his cause.

This is good news. I hope he is held separately, and not a part of the general prison population, because many are converted to Islam in prison.

Hat tip to Danny Carlton


Video & Audio Clips on Blogs

Unmediated blogged Castpost is a new web-based service that offers the easiest way to broadcast your personal video and audio clips. With Castpost, you can share your personal media – like a home movie, a reality TV show audition, a voicemail message, a weekly podcast show – with family, friends, and other folks. Your clip can be seen and heard both online and offline – from your Castpost account, from your existing Typepad or Blogger blog, from another website, or from a mobile media player like an iPod.

I rarely have a audio or video clip I want to include in a blog entry, but if I did, this looks like a good way to do it, if you have a Typepad, Blogger, MovableType or Friendster blog. I don't know whether it will work with WordPress, but I suspect it will.


Michigan bucks McCain

The Hill reports Michigan Republicans want to bar Democrats and independents from the GOP’s 2008 presidential primary — a step that would present a major hurdle for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), should he decide to run for the White House in 2008. In 2000, McCain’s campaign against then-Gov. George W. Bush gained momentum after he won the Michigan primary by appealing to voters outside the GOP. Should McCain run, Michigan would be a critical component of his strategy to win the Republican presidential nomination. That strategy, as described by Marshall Wittmann, a former spokesman for McCain’s presidential campaign, entails winning “Northern and Western tier” states to compensate for losses in more conservative bastions in Iowa and the South. Limiting participation in the Michigan GOP primary would almost certainly compromise McCain’s plans. In 2000, Bush won 66 percent of the Republican vote, compared to 29 percent for McCain, according to an exit poll conducted by CNN. By contrast, 82 percent of the Democrats who voted in the primary backed McCain, versus 10 percent for Bush.... “Caucuses would be best for the most conservative candidates,” a Michigan Republican with ties to party officials said. “A convention would be next. Open primary would be the least desirable.”

I dont know how they would know what party a person is a member of. In the Voter Registration Form (PDF File) in Michigan there is no provision for listing party affiliation (as there is in many other states). Oklahoma, for example, has closed primaries, but even there you can change your party affiliation if you want to vote in the other party's primary. As this says: "You may not change your political affiliation during the period from June 1 through August 31, inclusive, in any even-numbered year. The last day on which you may change your political affiliation before the closed period is May 31; the first day on which you may change your political affiliation after the closed period is September 1." Since the primaries are usually held in July and August, you may have to make up your mind a month or two ahead of the primary, but there is nothing to prevent you from doing so.


Of Taxes and 'Treason'

OpinionJournal wrote Never say we aren't willing to help an editorial subject in distress, and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm clearly needs some friendly advice.

Last month the state legislature buried the Democratic Governor's top legislative priority, a grandiose proposal to raise taxes on insurance companies, banks and thousands of small businesses that private studies said would have cost up to 20,000 jobs. Ms. Granholm's plan was widely criticized, including in these columns in March and in an op-ed article on the opposite page last Thursday by state legislator Rick Baxter, a Republican, and Hillsdale College Professor Gary Wolfram.

Ms. Granholm was not pleased, going so far as to denounce the op-ed as "treasonous for the state of Michigan." The authors' high crime? Exposing Michigan as a high tax state and criticizing Ms. Granholm for wanting to raise taxes. Her choice of words was no inadvertent slip of the tongue, by the way--a Howard Dean-like temporary loss of sanity. The Governor has used the "t" word repeatedly and has even suggested that Mr. Baxter "should be removed from office."

Well, we recall that the first time an American was accused of "treason" for opposing high taxes was when New Englanders dressed as Indians and dumped tea in Boston Harbor. And it was America's most famous tax protester, Patrick Henry, who declared: "If this be treason, make the most of it." Ms. Granholm was born in Canada so maybe she missed this American history.... More troubling about Ms. Granholm's recent combustion is that she seems to believe that the problem is that the rest of the world will find out about Michigan's high taxes, not the high taxes themselves. But Michigan's inhospitable tax climate is hardly a state secret, especially to the state residents and businesses who have to endure it.

Why are Democrats so intent on raising taxes. Hillary blasted GWB for the effects of his tax cuts on the economy just a couple of days before the report came out that the result of those tax cuts was such a great increase in tax revenues that GWB

Steve Antler blogged Here's the latest commentary on unemployment and taxes in Michigan, and here's some background.

Ace blogged Hmmm... removed from office? For daring to express his opinion? Is she suggestign that a lawfully-elected state legislator be "removed from office" to chill his right to dissent? Let's recap:

  • ....
  • It's wrong to accuse those who actively root for our country's defeat in war, and who celebrate the deaths of American "mercenaries," and who serve as apologists for terrorist murderers of (constructive, if not legal) treason.
  • On the other hand, if an economics professor analyzes your tax-and-spend plans and deems them imprudent, he can and should be called "treasonous."
Everyone clear on the rules?

Greg Piper blogged There's an easy way to avoid future utterings of "treason" for run-of-the-mill tax policy: Ignore your critics! Will a little op-ed in the Wall Street Journal from two no-name politicians really hurt your plans (and certain national political aspirations)? I'd hate to see a figure as potentially entertaining as Howard Dean and Teresa Kerry deprived from a national stage because too many kingmakers know about her mouthiness before she wins hearts, minds and caucus voters.


Daily Volume is the Blog Stat to Watch

Micro Persuasion blogged Nearly every week it seems we get a new stat about the size of the blogosphere. BlogPulse is reporting nearly 14 million of them. However, this figure is somewhat misleading since there are lots of abandoned blogs. The key stat to watch is the volume of posts per day. This is a better measure of the size of the blogosphere, in my view. David Sifry at Technorati wrote today that the search engine is seeing more than 900,000 posts per day on average, which means about 10 posts per second. That said, daily volume isn't perfect a perfect metric since spammers are turning their attention to to the blogosphere. Still, it's the best we have right now.

I agree with Steve, number of blogs is misleading because of the abandoned blogs, and also the infrequently updated ones, but 10 posts a second is very interesting.


Wayback Machine Sued for Copyright Infringement

Earlier I blogged about the Wayback Machine. Now NYT reports The Internet Archive was created in 1996 as the institutional memory of the online world, storing snapshots of ever-changing Web sites and collecting other multimedia artifacts. Now the nonprofit archive is on the defensive in a legal case that represents a strange turn in the debate over copyrights in the digital age. Beyond its utility for Internet historians, the Web page database, searchable with a form called the Wayback Machine, is also routinely used by intellectual property lawyers to help learn, for example, when and how a trademark might have been historically used or violated. That is what brought the Philadelphia law firm of Harding Earley Follmer & Frailey to the Wayback Machine two years ago. The firm was defending Health Advocate, a company in suburban Philadelphia that helps patients resolve health care and insurance disputes, against a trademark action brought by a similarly named competitor. In preparing the case, representatives of Earley Follmer used the Wayback Machine to turn up old Web pages - some dating to 1999 - originally posted by the plaintiff, Healthcare Advocates of Philadelphia. Last week Healthcare Advocates sued both the Harding Earley firm and the Internet Archive, saying the access to its old Web pages, stored in the Internet Archive's database, was unauthorized and illegal. and SE Round Table reports Wayback Machine is used so often by many of us for many reasons. Want to see the first RustyBrick Web site, use the wayback machine. But it is also used as a legal tool "to turn up old Web pages" that can be used in a legal case. Due to this, one law firm wanted to prevent this from happening and decided to bring in the Wayback Machine into a lawsuit.

This lawsuit has an incredible number of implications; to name a few:
(1) The fun aspect of bringing up old versions of Web sites
(2) A sure fire way to prove copyright infringement
(3) Many search engines have "caching" functionality

There is a definite search related impact on this case for all of us. The forums are buzzing on this topic, to major threads are at WebmasterWorld & Search Engine Watch Forums.

At SEWF Jenstar wrote If you are wondering how to know if people are checking out your site via the, you can check the referral for images on your page, since it hotlinks all images for all copies of the pages it indexes. You might be surprised to see how many people are peeking at the older copies of your pages, I have spotted the IPs of many competitors in those image referrals to I am guessing this is how Healthcare Advocates knew those pages were still active in for competitors to access, since they state exactly how many pages their specific competitor accessed. If no longer hotlinked images, then it would not be apparent who and how often those historic pages were accessed through the archive, so proving access would be a lot more difficult, although many pages wouldn't be as user friendly as they currently are. This will be a lawsuit to watch and see how it will affect how things are done at and how it keeps older versions of webpages, particularly the hotlinked image situation. It will be unfortunate if it makes this tool less valuable for those researching trademarks and copyright infringement.

At WMW Webwork (9:14 pm on July 13, 2005) wrote At times like this it pays to read the law, which I now lawfully post:

§ 108. Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction by libraries and archives

(a) . . . it is not an infringement of copyright for a library or archives, or any of its employees acting within the scope of their employment, to reproduce no more than one copy or phonorecord of a work, except as provided in subsections (b) and (c), or to distribute such copy or phonorecord, under the conditions specified by this section, if —

(1) the reproduction or distribution is made without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage;

(2) the collections of the library or archives are (i) open to the public, or (ii) available not only to researchers affiliated with the library or archives or with the institution of which it is a part, but also to other persons doing research in a specialized field; and

(3) the reproduction or distribution of the work includes a notice of copyright that appears on the copy or phonorecord that is reproduced under the provisions of this section, or includes a legend stating that the work may be protected by copyright if no such notice can be found on the copy or phonorecord that is reproduced under the provisions of this section.

hunderdown wrote (3:08 am on July 14, 2005)

At least you should be able to permanently remove YOUR site /pages when you ask. I don't think they remove anything, other than allow you to block it via robots.
Not sure I agree. After all, it contains materials that had been freely and publicly available at some time in the past. If a company produces a brochure which a library collects, does that company have a right to ask for it to be discarded just because they say so? I don't think so.

It was interesting to read that law firms use the Internet Archive as a resource in trademark cases--sort of a cheap and easy discovery process alternative.

Any questions?


CIA 'outing' might fall short of crime

USA Today reported The alleged crime at the heart of a controversy that has consumed official Washington — the "outing" of a CIA officer — may not have been a crime at all under federal law, little-noticed details in a book by the agent's husband suggest. In The Politics of Truth, former ambassador Joseph Wilson writes that he and his future wife both returned from overseas assignments in June 1997. Neither spouse, a reading of the book indicates, was again stationed overseas. They appear to have remained in Washington, D.C., where they married and became parents of twins. Six years later, in July 2003, the name of the CIA officer — Valerie Plame — was revealed by columnist Robert Novak. The column's date is important because the law against unmasking the identities of U.S. spies says a "covert agent" must have been on an overseas assignment "within the last five years." The assignment also must be long-term, not a short trip or temporary post, two experts on the law say. Wilson's book makes numerous references to the couple's life in Washington over the six years up to July 2003. "Unless she was really stationed abroad sometime after their marriage," she wasn't a covert agent protected by the law, says Bruce Sanford, an attorney who helped write the 1982 act that protects covert agents' identities.

First Look reports RNC chair Ken Mehlman was in Iowa yesterday and spoke in defense of Rove to the Des Moines Register: "'A leak is when you ask a reporter to write a story. He was discouraging a reporter from writing a false story,'" Mehlman said.

The thing that makes me think there is nothing to this story, is how loud the Dems are yelling now, when the matter is still in the hands of the Grand Jury. They know that once the Grand Jury makes its decision to indite or not, that Carl Rove will not be indited, and they would not be able to scream then, so they are screaming now. They don't really expect to force GWB to fire Rove, but they know that some people are so dense that they will not notice when the Grand Jury reports, and Rove is not indited, but that they will remember the screaming and think something must have been wrong.


Bank of America

USA Today reported Bank of America is rolling out a new online banking security system aimed at making it harder for cyberthieves to crack customer accounts, an effort that comes as the industry struggles with a recent string of high-profile security breaches.... Bank of America launched its new online security system, called SiteKey, last month in Tennessee. It is being rolled out this week in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., and should be available nationwide by the fall.... Bank of America's new system was created by PassMark Security, a Redwood City, Calif.-based company that manufactures authentication systems aimed at blocking identity theft and other fraud. Bank of America is offering it to online customers at no fee.

Instead of the traditional user name-password setup, SiteKey users select one of a thousand different images, write a brief phrase and pick three challenge questions. The challenge questions — all things that only the customer would be able to provide, such as the year and model of their first car — are then used along with a customer ID and a passcode to guard access to the account.... The SiteKey system also allows customers to verify that they are indeed at Bank of America's Web site when they log on for online banking. By clicking on a SiteKey button, they can see the secret image they selected and their phrase; if those things don't appear, they could be at a spoof Web site or the target of a "phishing" scheme, Gupta said.... Bank of America compares SiteKey to getting a safe deposit box with two keys. Before the customer and the bank agree to open the box together, they must confirm each other's identity....

Wachovia Corp. spokesman Doug Caldwell said the Charlotte-based bank is researching online authentication programs and plans to unveil its own system later this year. Among the options being explored is the use of tokens — battery powered devices that typically display a different, randomly generated number every 60 seconds. To conduct online transactions, a customer would be required to enter the number currently shown on their token's display, as well as a user name and password. Bank of America spokeswoman Betty Riess said the bank looked at tokens and other options with focus groups before choosing SiteKey. "We found this provides the right balance of added security and convenience," she said. "We found consumers did not want to have to get another device like a token to do their online banking."

I find this interesting because I bank with Bank of America, and do most of my banking online


The Blogging Survey

Danny Carlton (aka Jack Lewis) blogged Click here for a new survey designed to compare the blogging habits of bloggers based on the ecosystem ranking as well as traffic. The survey isn't long, and once there are a significant amount of responses I'll post a link to the results. Even then, the survey will continue so that as more bloggers participate, the results can be more accurate.

Please encourage other bloggers to participate. It'll be harder to get some of the more popular blogs to take note of the survey, but their participation is needed to compare the habits of a wide range of bloggers. This will benefit everyone, as we can then study what traits are common to bloggers who are successful as opposed to those who want to be more successful.

Also, if you want to display the survey graphic on your blog, with a link back to the survey, let me know and I'll list your blog on the survey page as well as the results page.

I urge all bloggers to fill out the survey


Iranians Warning Europe

NYT reports Iran will resume uranium enrichment if the European Union does not recognize its right to do so, two Iranian nuclear negotiators said in an interview published Tuesday.

Perhaps we should announce that we will nuke their nuclear facilities, unless they recognize our rights to do so at any time we please.

Obviously that is absurd, but no more absurd than what they are saying.


Thursday, July 14

This Day In History

  • 1789   During the French Revolution, citizens of Paris stormed the Bastille prison and released the seven prisoners inside.
  • 1798   Congress passed the Sedition Act, making it a federal crime to publish false, scandalous or malicious writing about the U.S. government.
  • 1868   Alvin J. Fellows of New Haven, CT patented the tape measure.
  • 1881   The outlaw known as Billy the Kid was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, N.M.
  • 1921   Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were convicted in Dedham, Mass., of killing a shoe company paymaster and his guard.
  • 1933   All German political parties except the Nazi Party were outlawed.
  • 1951   In his last race, Citation became the winningest thoroughbred in horse racing as he won the Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park. Citation earned a total of $1,085,760 in his career.
  • 1958   The army of Iraq overthrew the monarchy.
  • 1965   U.S. Ambassador Adlai E. Stevenson Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956, died in London at age 65.
  • 1966   Eight student nurses were murdered by Richard Speck in a Chicago dormitory.
  • 1976   Jimmy Carter won the Democratic presidential nomination at the party's convention in New York City.
  • 1997   The international war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia sentenced Dusan Tadic, a Bosnian Serb, to 20 years in prison for turning on his Muslim and Croat neighbors in a deadly campaign of terror and torture.
  • 1999   Race-based school busing in Boston ended after 25 years.
  • 1999   Major league baseball umpires voted to resign and not work the final month of the season.
  • 2000   A Florida jury ordered five major tobacco companies to pay smokers a record $145 billion in punitive damages.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1910   William Hanna (cartoonist: half of Hanna-Barbera team)
  • 1912   Woody (Woodrow Wilson) Guthrie (‘father of modern American folk music’: singer, songwriter: This Land is Your Land, Hard Travelin’, Union Maid, So Long It’s Been Good to Know Yuh, Dirty Overhalls, Pretty Boy Floyd, The Sinking of the Reuben James, more than 1,000 original songs; father of folk singer Arlo Guthrie; died Oct 4, 1967)
  • 1913   Gerald R. Ford (Leslie King, Jr.: changed name to Gerald Ford after his adoptive father) (38th U.S. President [1974-1977]; married to Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Bloomer [three sons, one daughter]; nickname: Jerry; first non-elected vice president and president: Vice President under President Richard Nixon, assumed presidency upon resignation of Nixon; one of seven left-handed Presidents [others were/are: James A. Garfield, Herbert Hoover, Harry S Truman, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton])
  • 1918   Ingmar Bergman (Academy Award-winning director)
  • 1930   Polly Bergen (Nellie Burgin) (actress; TV panelist: To Tell the Truth)
  • 1932   Roosevelt ‘Rosey’ Grier (football; actor)


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Teacher Bomber

Sky News reported One of the bombers who brought carnage to London taught disabled children, it has emerged. Mohammed Sadique Khan, 30, of Dewsbury, was a supply teaching assistant who taught disabled children in Beeston, it has been revealed. A picture of him carried on the front page of The Times shows the bearded bomber caring for young children at the school.... The Times reported that the mastermind of the attacks was a Pakistani in his 30s who arrived through a British port last month but left a day before the bombings. Three of the four bombers are believed to be Shehzad Tanweer, 22, of Leeds, Mohammed Sadique Khan, 30, of Dewsbury, and Hasib Hussain, 19, of Leeds. A fourth man from Yorkshire has been identified by police but not yet named.

Something must be done, in Britain, here in the US, and elsewhere, to stop the Jihaddist Wahhabi Imams from preaching hate. It will raise both Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion issues, but as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Junior, wrote in Schenck v. U.S. (1919): "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic."


Clueless about blogs

Blog Herald reports A new study from Catalyst Group Design on the usability of blogs has found that all New Yorkers know nothing about blogs and related concepts including comments, RSS, trackbacks, and navigation.... Statements in the report included the belief that RSS is what made a blog a blog and that people who had never visited blog couldn’t always identify they were on a blog unless authors placed the word “BLOG” in a big, flashing animated gif at least 200px high at the top of the blog, and that not identifying a blog as a blog is a terrible thing. The report also stated that big orange XML buttons don’t mean anything to the residents of New York, but an “add me to My Yahoo!” button is easier for New Yorkers to understand, although many of them fear that such buttons are really just fronts from spyware and viruses to get on their computers.

Actually a big flashing animated gif is not an indication of something being a blog. We reported earlier about NY Times confuses online forum for a blog, and that website has a big flashing animated gif at the top. It is only 90 pixels high, not 200, and it is an ad about free gas rather than somthing saying this is a blog, but even if it had been 200 pixels high and said this is a blog, it still would not have made the online forum a blog.

I would not call anything a blog if it did not have an RSS feed and Permalinks, and either comments or trackbacks, preferably both.


NY Times confuses online forum for a blog

The Blog Herald blogged The New York Times, a company that should know better, has written that a New York Police Officer who has been allegedly sacked for postings made to an online forum, was sacked due to postings from a blog. In Complaint Is Filed by Fired Officer With Blog, author Kareem Fahim writes further in the article that a forum is a blog, a first here for the Blog Herald. The forum/ stroke blog referred to in the article can be viewed here.

The NYT article said

In a telephone interview yesterday, Mr. Polstein said he originally intended his Web site as a place to post his own personal complaints. Other officers learned about it, he said, and asked if their thoughts and complaints could be published there as well. The site expanded to include a forum, or blog, with a freewheeling dialogue on matters related to law enforcement.
The site does allow people that register the ability to post their own comments (so it clearly is an online forum), but it does not provide an RSS Feed, it does not support trackbacks, and although the main topic posts to have Permalinks, the individual comments do not. It clearly is an online forum, but it is not a blog.


New Stem-Cell Bill Gains Support

Wired News reports A new bill proposing research into obtaining "morally acceptable" embryonic stem cells could give anti-abortion senators the out they've been hoping for. Conservative senators like Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) have supported efforts to federally fund embryonic stem-cell research in the past, going against their anti-abortion brethren. But a bill introduced June 30 by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Maryland) would put $15 million a year starting in 2006 toward developing scientific alternatives to destroying embryos. The alternatives remain theories, however, and have not yet been shown to work. Embryonic stem-cell research advocates say pursuing the proposals could divert money and efforts away from research that already has shown promise for treating spinal cord injury, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and other ailments.

Another way of looking at it is that proposals to spend money on embryonic stem cells could divert money and efforts away from research that could address the same things, and yet not carry the heavy ethical baggage that embryonic stem cells carry.
"This should not be a political safety (net) for anyone," said Bernard Siegel, president of the Genetics Policy Institute, a group that supports embryonic stem-cell research. "This research is too important to patients. So many people are suffering. To think that resources could be diverted to these ideas and theories rather than the science going on in the lab right now would be truly catastrophic."
Work is going on in the lab right now on Adult Stem Cells and they have also shown significant possibilities.
Bartlett's bill, HR3144, would grant funding to researchers pursuing methods for deriving pluripotent (meaning they can become almost every cell in the human body) cells without destroying human embryos. The President's Council on Bioethics laid out several options in a white paper in May. Bioethicists and scientists testified Tuesday regarding the theories outlined in the white paper before the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. Arlen Specter, (R-Pennsylvania), who is suffering from cancer and authored a competing bill, chairs the subcommittee. Specter's voice was rough from chemotherapy treatments. He said he is angry that stem-cell research is still being delayed by lack of funding.
There are many privately funded stem cell research programs going on, as well as some states, like California, that have approved funds for stem-cell research in their states. Why should federal tax dollars be taken to fund something that many find morally wrong, when there are other alternatives like Adult Stem Cells research that could use the funding.
"I've been waiting too long already," Specter said. Specter has introduced a bill that would overthrow President Bush's executive order, which limits federal funding to a small number of human embryonic stem-cell lines. Specter's bill would open up funding to unused embryos donated by couples after in vitro fertilization. The House has already passed the bill, and the Senate was expected to do the same. But the president has promised to veto it.
Even if they can override his veto, I've got news for Senator Specter. He will be dead before any thing can be developed from embryonic stem cells to treat his cancer.
And now, the bill faces another challenge from Bartlett's new bill. The Washington Post reported that several senators, including Hatch, Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), have hinted that they might transfer their vote to Bartlett's bill.
I hope they will
Dr. Robert Lanza, vice president of medical and scientific development at Advanced Cell Technology, testified regarding one of the techniques that could qualify for funding under the new bill. The method is similar to pre-implantation genetic diagnosis -- it would involve removing one or two cells from an eight-cell embryo, deriving embryonic stem cells from the extracted cells and leaving the remaining embryo unharmed. It's not proven, however, that the procedure won't harm the embryo. While Lanza said the technique is worthy of further investigation, he said he doesn't believe it's a replacement for studying embryos. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who co-chaired the subcommittee meeting, asked what research Lanza though was best to pursue. "That's a no-brainer," Lanza said. "Removing the current limitations. But we'll take any additional money you'll throw our way."
Everyone is screaming about the current limitations, but they forget that George W Bush was the first president to support federal funding of ANY stem cell research. It is not that it was going on and he cut it back. He started the funding, but just placed limitations on what the federal funds would finance. And there is NO restrictions on private or state research programs.
William Hurlbut, a bioethicist at Stanford University and member of the President's Council on Bioethics, testified regarding a method that would use cloning technology, or somatic cell nuclear transfer, to create an entity using an egg and genetically altered human tissue. This "altered nuclear transfer" would not create a human life, he said, but could produce embryonic stem cells. But some critics are troubled by the method, calling it a "Frankensteinian" scheme to create a disabled embryo. "I have grave reservations about ANT," said Dr. Ronald Green, director of the Ethics Institute at Dartmouth University, during the hearing. "I believe it can be properly characterized as deliberately creating and destroying an impaired form of human life." Green also said he believes it's a slippery slope toward using "impaired humans" as donors.
Embryonic Stem Cell research has similar problems. They will not develop cells compatible with any recipient. They are just undifferentiated cells that can form any organ in an organism with its unique genetic makeup. Once Embryonic Stem Cell research reveals a cure for someone, people needing that cure may well be encouraged to get pregnant and rather than giving birth and hoping to have a baby from which some organ or organ part can be taken to help another child, that they will be encouraged to abort it to harvest its embryonic stem cells. The Evil Left loves abortion so much that they want to have more and more of it.
George Daley, a Harvard University stem-cell researcher who also testified, said the only alternative method he advocates is "dedifferentiation," which means reverting a mature cell back to its embryonic stage. All of those who testified said they believe treatments would come faster if embryonic stem-cell research was allowed to proceed unencumbered and with federal funding. "While you were listening to this testimony, another 10 Americans have died of diseases that could potentially be treated using stem cells in the future," Lanza said. "It would be tragic not to pursue all the options and methods available to us to get this technology to the bedside as soon as possible."