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Location: Nashville, Tennessee, United States


Should the Journalists Talk?
Reports on the Plame Affair say six journalists - two print, four broadcast - were shopped the story that Bob Novak eventually printed, the one that reveals the identity of a woman said to be a covert CIA operative of some sort. Glenn Reynolds, who is a lawyer, says Novak and the others ought to be subpoenaed and asked to name the source (or sources).

Subpoena him and the other reporters. Find out what happened. If somebody leaked, fire 'em. It's easy and it's fast, and it's legal. What's wrong with this idea? Why have a special rule for the press? Who else is allowed to go around saying that they have knowledge of a crime but won't talk?

You can't have a special rule on this for journalists, because journalists don't have special First Amendment rights, and anyway everyone is a journalist now, thanks to the Internet. This will be disturbing to professional journalists, but I don't see an alternative. And this is a national security leak, in wartime, right?
For what it's worth, I agree with Glenn - and I'm a journalist.

But here's the flip side of the issue: Should those six journalists voluntarily come forward and tell what they know - and burn the source? It's an interesting question. On CNN tonight, the insufferable Aaron Brown was asking the unavoidable David Gergen why the journalists hadn't already done stories about how someone was shopping the Wilson/Plame story around. But Brown assumes that all six of the reporters (or seven? - it isn't clear if Novak is one of the six) knew that other reporters also had been offered the story. If you are one of the six reporters, but you don't know about any of the others, there's just no way credible way to write the story. You can't write that the administration (or whoever-I'm guessing the CIA has dirty hands) is leaking a story that criminally blows a CIA covert operative's cover because you have no proof. All you have is your word that someone leaked the information to you. If you name the source, in a story accusing them of a crime, they can deny it - and sue you for libel. Unless you have tapes or an email - and I can't imagine the leaker was that stupid - you have no proof.

And if you don't name the source, all you have is a zero-source, first-person accusation with no evidence to back it up. No editor in their right mind would allow it to be published.

Now, though, the six reporters all know they aren't alone. The dynamic has changed. If the six work for six competing news organizations - I'm betting they do - then there is intense competition under way right now to break the story by finding the secondary sources and confirming evidence to expose the leaker. The problem is, the confirming sources are the other, rival, journalists. I suspect that, right now, there's a delicate dance going on in the executive suites of two major newspapers (NYT? WaPo?) and four news networks (CNN? Fox? NBC/MSNBC? ABC? CBS?) as each seeks to convince two of the others to collaborate on breaking the story and exposing the leaker.

Of course, the "leaker" could be merely a talkative idiot who didn't know Plame was a covert operative. As Jonah Goldberg remarks, "Wilson's wife is a desk jockey and much of the Washington cocktail circuit knew that already." If, as Goldberg and Clifford May assert, Plame's identity and work were already well known, there may really be no big story to tell.

Another Joe Wilson Lie
In his Monday coverage of the Plame Affair, Clifford May notes that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson "is now saying (on C-SPAN this morning, for example) that he opposed military action in Iraq because he didn't believe Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and he foresaw the possibility of a difficult occupation."

Funny, in a speech on June 14, Wilson said:

...we haven't yet found any weapons of mass destruction, though on that score I remain of the view that we will find biological and chemical weapons and we may well find something that indicates that Saddam's regime maintained an interest in nuclear weapons...
Sparkey is right. Wilson "has a major problem keeping his lies straight."

The 'Apolitical' Ambassador at the Heart of the Plame Affair
Below are some excerpts from a speech given June 14 by retired Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV at a forum sponsored by the left-wing anti-war Education for Peace in Iraq Center. I transcribed them from the audio, which you can listen to here.

Regarding the "16 words" controversy, Wilson talks about himself, weirdly, in the third person::

I can assure you that that retired American ambassador to Africa, as Nick Kristof calls him in his article, is also pissed off and has every intention of assuring that this story has legs. And I think it does have legs.

It may not have legs over the next two or three months, but when you see American casualties moving from one to five or to 10 per day and you see Tony Blair's government fall, because in the UK it is a big story, there will be some ramifications I think here in the United States. So I hope that you will do everything you can to keep the pressure on because it is absolutely bogus for us to have gone to war the way we did.
Regarding the Iraq war:
Of course we didn't find any terrorists when we got to Iraq, just as we haven't yet found any weapons of mass destruction, though on that score I remain of the view that we will find biological and chemical weapons and we may well find something that indicates that Saddam's regime maintained an interest in nuclear weapons - not surprising if you live in a part of the world where you do have a nuclear armed country, enemy of yours, that's just a country away from yours."
(In other words, if Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, blame the Jews.)

Wilson likens the "Shock and Awe" bombing of selected military and regime targets in Baghdad, done with great care to avoid civilian casualties as much as possible, to the firebombing of Dresden in World War II, and then says Iraqis had a reason to not greet American and British troops as liberators.
One should have assumed from the very beginning that they were not going to like being conquered by a couple of countries that were at the forefront of maintaining economic sanctions on the population for 12 long years, which economic sanctions devastated the middle class, the glue that holds a society together. This a proud people that we had already brought to its knees over 12 years.
Wilson then asserts that Iraq's WMD problem was "handled by 1441," meaning the UN resolution that was merely words on paper unless the UN or someone decided to enforce it. He also asserts that the terrorism "problem," as he refers to it, "was handled by Afghanistan."

Wilson says our swift and overwhelming military victory in Iraq "will come back to haunt us" as the Arab world now hates us and terrorist groups will find it easier to recruit new members.

Then, Wilson lays out an elaborate and startling prediction: that developments in Iraq and the Middle East and here at home will motivate President Bush to launch another war in 2004 in order to get re-elected. What follows is quotes and paraphrases of that prediction:
Next year I fully expect that you will see, next year at this time when we're four or five months out from the election, it's gonna be 120 degrees in Baghdad and you're going to see essentially the south will have been consolidated under Shia control and the question is whether that control will extend all the way up through Baghdad or will sort of stop at Baghdad's doors. I suspect it will be up into at least parts of Baghdad.
Fundamentalist Shia clergy will be the power in the Shia controlled area, and they will be armed and trained by the Iranians, Wilson says. Meanwhile, the Sunni will have regrouped and be running guerilla attacks against the U.S., and trying to reestablish Baathist control in central Iraq, armed by remnants of Saddam's Republican Guard.
American casualties in these areas, particularly in the Sunni area, will grow from one or two a day to about ten, 15, 20 a day. You might well see a Beirut style bombing of a barracks or something like that.
The Kurdish areas of northern Iraq will be aggressively seeking to establish an autonomous state, and will be sold out by the U.S. in favor of Turkey, Wilson predicts.
The only thing the three groups will agree upon is their desire to have the United States out of there and out of the way because the presence of 100, 150, 200,000 American troops impedes their ability to do what the next step is for them.
The next steps, he says, will be a Kurdish push for independence, and Shia and Sunni grabs for power.
The pressure here in the United States will begin to build because by that time Ariel Sharon will have made life so miserable for the Palestinians that you'll either see a de facto transfer occurring, the movement of Palestinians across into Jordan, or you will just see a lot of bloodshed. You will see Hamas just doing things every day, you'll see Israeli gunships... It will be not very pleasant for the President in the run-up to the campaign. So you'll have ten Americans dying every day in Iraq and you'll have the Middle East peace process in tatters, and the president who will find that it is increasingly difficult for him to run for reelection as Commander in Chief.

And of course at the same time you'll still have the American economy that is weak, unemployment will be up by perhaps another percent and people will be pretty unhappy. And we'll be looking at $500 to $600 billion deficits and we'll still be looking at tremendous trade deficits and all that will start to make people wonder about things like tax cuts and all that stuff we ought to be wondering about anyway. The President wants to run away from that. He doesn't want to run as President. He wants to run as Commander in Chief. so if the Commander in Chief stuff isn't working very well for him and the President stuff isn't working very well for him, what's he gonna do? Start another war.
Joseph Wilson claims he is "apolitical."

He's lying.

Abandoning Afghanistan
I seem to recall that, on the eve of our war in Afghanistan to drive the Taliban from power, there were voices in the press blaming the rise of the Taliban on Uncle Sam "abandoning" Afghanistan after helping the mujahedeen drive out the Soviets. Those voices warned that America should not do so again. Two years later, American soldiers are still in Afghanistan, helping the country make its difficult way toward peace and democracy. Who is, for the most part, not there? Who has abandoned Afghanistan? The press. Reports Editor & Publisher: "American newspapers are keeping their staffing in the war-torn country to a minimum, blaming budget cutbacks, a perceived lack of reader interest, and the need for resources in Iraq and other international hot spots."

Thanks for the cash!
Thanks to all of you who've donated in recent weeks. If you haven't and want to support the ongoing operations of this blog, here's my tip jar.

Which Minute of His Fame is Clark In?

"I happen to believe that mankind can do it. I've argued with physicists about it, I've argued with best friends about it. I just have to believe it." - Wesley Clark
Years ago in Nashville, we had a city councilman named George Darden who proposed legislation to have the city spend tax dollars to build a UFO landing pad so that if aliens ever decided to land on earth in public, Nashville would be where they were welcomed. His political career pretty much ended soon after that.

Perhaps there's a lesson in that for Wesley Clark, who said yesterday he wants to spend some of your tax dollars researching time travel.

Tick tock, Mr. Clark. Your time in the spotlight is already winding down.

UPDATE: On second thought, I accept Gen. Clark's belief in time travel because it's clear he intends, if elected, to take America back in time to the days of Clintonist policies of high taxes and feckless, impotent foreign policy vis a vis international terrorism.

"I really am apolitical in all of this."
So says Joseph Wilson, the former ambassador who blames the White House for leaking information about his wife, supposedly a CIA covert operative of some sort.


Wilson, writing in the March 3, 2003 edition of the leftist journal The Nation, parroted perfectly the anti-war crowd's views:

The upcoming military operation also has one objective, though different from the several offered by the Bush Administration. This war is not about weapons of mass destruction. The intrusive inspections are disrupting Saddam's programs, as even the Administration has acknowledged. Nor is it about terrorism. Virtually all agree war will spawn more terrorism, not less. It is not even about liberation of an oppressed people. Killing innocent Iraqi civilians in a full frontal assault is hardly the only or best way to liberate a people. The underlying objective of this war is the imposition of a Pax Americana on the region and installation of vassal regimes that will control restive populations.

What's the point of this new American imperialism? The neoconservatives with a stranglehold on the foreign policy of the Republican Party, a party that traditionally eschewed foreign military adventures, want to go beyond expanding US global influence to force revolutionary change on the region. American pre-eminence in the Gulf is necessary but not sufficient for the hawks. Nothing short of conquest, occupation and imposition of handpicked leaders on a vanquished population will suffice. Iraq is the linchpin for this broader assault on the region.
As National Review's Clifford May has pointed out, Wilson "had recently been the keynote speaker for the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, a far-Left group that opposed not only the U.S. military intervention in Iraq but also the sanctions and the no-fly zones that protected Iraqi Kurds and Shias from being slaughtered by Saddam." (You can read his bio - it mentions Valerie Plame! - and listen to his speech here.)

In the speech, Wilson says the Bush administration may well launch another war in 2004 to boost Bush's reelection changes.

Here's the transcript of an interview of Wilson by the ultra-liberal Bill Moyers on the eve of the recent Iraq war. And here is a Q&A with Wilson by Truthout, a left-wing publication. Funny - for an 'apolitical' guy, he seems awful quick to give interviews to left-wingers.

Here's the PDF-file transcript of an interview he gave to Lefty blogger Joshua Micah Marshall. Excerpt:
The older I get, the less conservative that I become, in my view. That I do think that government has a distinct role to play to level the playing field. I do believe that the Declaration of Independence creates essentially a meritocracy, and that it is the government's responsibility to ensure that all of its citizens have an opportunity to advance on merit. Where that puts you in the political spectrum is anybody's guess, but I am against the abolition of the estate tax. [Laughter] ... I believe that the Republican party has been betrayed. Its core values have been betrayed by this coalition of cultural conservatives and neoconservatives that now run the party...
Is the wife of CIA analyst Valerie Plame 'apolitical'? Not at all. [So he's lying about that, too?-ed. Well, yes, now that you mention it, I guess he is.]

UPDATE: Sparkey over at Sgt. Strkyer's Daily Briefing calls the whole thing "a manufactured smear job," notes several contradictions in the story, and remarks, "Mr. Wilson has a major problem keeping his lies straight." Read the whole link-filled thing. Also don't miss Donald Luskin's latest post on the Plame game and the emerging news that she's not really a covert op, just an analyst.

MORE: Backcountry Conservative has a good round-up of links to Plame-related coverage on various blogs.

STILL MORE: Daniel Drezner weighs in. with a Plame round-up, and remarks, "I don't see a fire just yet." In the reader comments under the post, the first commenter, Michael Parker, has some astute observations:
My take: Novak's piece did *not* say that the administration sources claimed she was CIA undercover. Novak mentioned her maiden name and that she "is an agency operative on [WMD]", and in the next sentence makes only the claim that the two admin officials told him that Wilson's wife recommended him for the mission. He does not claim that he got the "agency operative" info from the administration sources, and he does not claim in the article that she is an undercover operative.

Wilson and the various lefty bloggers have been running around screaming scandal, but that don't make it so. It certainly seems plausible to me that if Clifford May's take is correct, then all Novak was doing was providing background for his slightly-less-informed readers on why her recommendation of Wilson would have carried weight at the White House.
Parker is right about one thing: Novak's piece did *not* say that the administration sources claimed she was CIA undercover. I made that point here three months ago.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: John Hawkins has a long, link-filled round-up of the Plame affair and says Wilson "has now climbed most of the way down from his original story." He also notes a Drudge report that Wilson recently donated $1,000 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. (I can't find the link for that on Drudge.) But remember, Joseph Wilson is "apolitical in all this." Because he said so.


"Against it they have little defense."
Steven den Beste says we're winning the Iraq war with our most powerful weapon: the idea of freedom itself. Read the whole thing. Twice. And then share it with that idiot in your office who keeps comparing Iraq to Vietnam and using the word 'quagmire'.

Don't Blame the Tax Cuts
Donald Luskin highlights some fine economics reporting from Bruce Bartlett that wrecks the Left's claim that "tax cuts for the rich" caused the federal budget deficit.

As leftist rhetoric continues to assert on an almost daily basis that the current federal government deficit is the result of tax cuts for "the rich" that have hardly even taken effect yet, new statistical data from the Internal Revenue Service helps reveal the truth. Our friend Bruce Bartlett points out that the new data on tax-year 2001 (here and here) reveals that the aggregate income of the top 1% of taxpayers fell by $243 billion, reducing their share of total income from 20.8% to 17.5%. In other words, the rich got poorer.

And since the rich pay most of the taxes around here, overall tax receipts fell dramatically in 2001 - and are estimated in the federal budgeting process to keep on falling in 2002 and 2003 - hence the forecasted deficits. The chart tells the story - tax receipts are falling while GDP has continued to rise. In fact, since the top in 2000, individual tax receipts have fallen by over 23% - and there sure hasn't been any 23% tax cut in effect since 2000. And Social Security tax receipts continue to rise, indicating that it's not a matter of overall unemployment.

It's that the rich are suffering. Bartlett says it's "due entirely to the stock market collapse and the recession." In that environment, the annual income it took to qualify for the top 1% "fell from $313,469 to $292,913. This fall in income is what led to a decline in aggregate tax payments by this group from $367 billion to $301 billion."
Nevertheless, Bartlett warns on his blog, even though the data proves the recession and the stock market collapse caused the decline in tax payments from the very wealthy, and not the tax cuts which, after all, have only barely taken effect yet, "this data will undoubtedly be used to show that the Bush tax cut benefited the rich disproportionately."

In other words, the data will be misrepresented by Democrats to lie to you. I suspect the media will, for the most part, regurgitate the lie unchallenged.

That sound you hear is the sound of the air going out of the Plame scandal balloon. Pejman has the details. Aw, shucks. The Left was just starting to think they'd finally found an issue a scandal to run on. [Hat tip: Instapundit.] Check out the comments under Pejman's post and you'll note some things that sound a lot like what I said here way back on July 30 in a post (and in previous posts linked within it) laying out how the basis of the "scandal" was some rather agenda-driven fact-twisting politically spun wordsmithing by blogger Josh Marshal and The Nation writer David Corn.

Here's Some Good News...
...about supply-side economics. It seems the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and Nobel Prize-winning economists agree it works:

What about academia? Isn't supply-side economics still ignored there? The answer is no. A good example is Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Lucas of the University of Chicago. After many years of dismissing supply-side economics in much the same way TAPPED does, he finally took a serious look at it. In a 1990 article in the Oxford Economic Papers, he admitted that he had been wrong, that reducing taxes on capital could in fact deliver a huge economic windfall, just as the supply-siders had argued.

Said Prof. Lucas, "The supply-side economists, if that is the right term for those whose research I have been discussing, have delivered the largest genuinely free lunch I have seen in 25 years in this business, and I believe we would have a better society if we followed their advice."
Well, yeah.

Music Row Murder Finale
Here's a fine wrap-up of the Music Row Murder trial.

Music Row's genteel image took a hit that night. Hughes' blood spilled on streets dominated by old homes converted into offices, instead of the grand corporate structures built with the money of the post-Brooks era. Most people who worked in the country music business knew each other, and there was a sense of trust even among competitors.

... "It's a story of courage and integrity by a young man in the face of overwhelming odds," prosecutor Kathy Morante said as she began her closing argument.
Read the whole thing, if you're interested. Or looking for inspiration for a screenplay.

The Plame Game: Update
Did Joeph Wilson just make the whole thing up?

In fact, the cavalier manner which the CIA seems to have confirmed her role in the imbroglio suggests there was nothing particularly secret about her identity in the first place. Despite complaints from Democrats like Schumer that the leak compromised both national security and Mrs. Wilson's safety, the agency told the Post for its Sunday report, "No further harm would come from repeating Plame’s name."

In fact, it's an open question as to whether Mrs. Wilson's identity was supposed to be a secret in the first place, with the Post noting far down in its report that the "CIA has declined to confirm whether she was undercover." If Mrs. Wilson wasn't undercover, then this is a non-story ginned up by her husband, a unabashed Bush-hater who wrote in the notoriously left-wing Nation magazine earlier this year that under Bush, "America has entered one of it periods of historical madness."

White House critics want to paint a picture of Mrs. Wilson as a super secret spy working abroad whose life was endangered because of a White House vendetta, while in reality she was apparently safe and sound working stateside as a CIA weapons analyst at the time of the Novak report.
He's admitting he lied about part of it. As I've long suspected, there's less to this story than the Bush-haters are hoping and hyping. [For more on the Plame Game, click here.]

Meanwhile, Clifford May is pointing out that, A) Valerie Plame's work at the CIA was no big secret, and, B) Wilson is a long-time critic of the Bush administration and opponent of military action against Iraq.

Khomeini's Grandson Urges American Help to Change Iran
Hossein Khomeini is the grandson of the late and unlamentable Ayatollah Khomeini. Unlike his terrorist-supporting grandfather, Hossein Khomeini is a voice of reason and sanity, calling for American help to encourage those in Iran who seek a democratic revolution to toss aside the theocratic tyranny that oppresses them. A quote:

"Today, Iranian people again want democracy, they want freedom. Furthermore they have experienced everything, they have experience theocracy in Iran and they have come to understand that religion and government cannot be one and the same."

Watch This Space
Coming soon: Front Line Voices. Where the real story of what's really happening in Iraq will be told.

Media Bias On Display in Iraq Coverage
John Leo says media reporting from Iraq is one-sided and flawed

In his new book, 'Embedded,' [John Burns, the New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter] says the vast majority of correspondents in prewar Iraq played ball with Saddam and downplayed the viciousness of the regime. He said Iraq was 'a grotesque charnel house' and a genuine threat to America, but to protect their access, the reporters did not tell the truth.* Burns named no names (he should now) but he was particularly contemptuous of the BBC and CNN.
And then there are the comments of U.S. District Court Judge Don Walter of Shreveport, La., who "was vehemently anti-war but changed his mind after an assignment in Iraq as a U.S. adviser on Iraq's courts," says Leo, adding the Judge Walter now believes "we should have invaded sooner to halt the incredible butchery and torture that the United Nations, France and Russia knew all about and were quite willing to tolerate." Judge Walter: "The steady drip, drip, drip of bad news may destroy our will to fulfill the obligations we have assumed. WE ARE NOT GETTING THE WHOLE TRUTH FROM THE MEDIA."

Read the whole thing. And stop believing that what you read in the New York Times, or the Nashville Tennessean or your hometown daily, represent the complete truth about Iraq.

UPDATE: Donald Sensing has more on the lousy job the media is doing covering what's really going on in Iraq.

And Deborah Orin says:
Contrary to a lot of press reports, the Iraqi people aren't ungrateful - even in unsettled Baghdad, a remarkable 67 percent of Iraqis are optimistic and expect to be better off in five years. In most of the country, the number is surely higher.

Yes, there were plenty of blunders in planning for the postwar, many perhaps because the State Department and CIA were too suspicious of Iraqi exiles. In hindsight, it would have been smarter to trust the exiles more - and train more of them as Iraqi soldiers and police.

It's also true that the Bush administration has been remarkably inept at communicating the success stories out of Iraq. One result is the surging growth of an Internet universe - a lot of it linked via Instapundit.com - focused on spreading good news from Iraq and lambasting 'Big Media,' especially the anti-American BBC, for ignoring it. But this week's Time magazine is typical of a press corps that has - mostly - raced to highlight every bit of bad news from Iraq, and virtually none of the good news.
The good news is, some in the press are now reporting how others in the press have been ignoring the good news and hyping the bad news from Iraq. This will inevitably lead the accused press to race to prove it is not guilty of the accusations. They'll do so by starting to publish or broadcast more balanced coverage - and by running columns criticizing media outlets that persist in pushing the demonstrably false "Iraqi quagmire" theme. Soon, very soon, the mainstream media will be filled with good news from Iraq.

* Embedded is not actually a book by John Burns. Instead, Burns is one of a group of 60 journalists, public affairs officers, and freelance photographers from a wide range of print, television, and radio sources interviewed shortly after the Iraq war and whose stories of what it was like to cover the Iraq war are collected in one volume.

In the book, Burns, the New York Times Baghdad Bureau Chief, describes in the book his refusal to be intimidated by his Iraqi information ministry minders.

More on Burns: Slate's Jack Shafer comments on the explosive charges Burns made in Embedded:
If the interview New York Times reporter John F. Burns gave to the editors of Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq is completely on the level - and I have no reason to think it isn't - the Times is sitting on a daisy-cutter of a scoop about perfidy and malfeasance by a member of the Baghdad press corps. And it's not just the Times holding back. Few in the mainstream press seem interested in identifying the reporter Burns says ratted him out to the Iraqi ministry of information.

Burns details the occupational hazards of reporting from a totalitarian, murderous country in his Embedded interview, excerpted in Editor & Publisher and on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page. The Iraqi regime was ghastly, Burns says, but he saves his special scorn for the foreign correspondents who ignored how "Saddam had turned this country into a slaughterhouse." They sucked up to the Iraqi minister of information, wining and dining him, "plying him with mobile phones at $600 each for members of his family, and giving bribes of thousands of dollars." Burns, who names no names, says TV correspondents gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to senior members of the ministry and then "behaved as if they were in Belgium. They never mentioned the function of minders. Never mentioned terror."

It's not unprecedented for TV correspondents to bribe their way into a country or for reporters to flatter their handlers to win a visa extension, but Burns does visit new territory with his shocking claim that a correspondent "with a major American newspaper," seeking the favor of the Iraqis, printed copies of his and other reporters' stories and gave them to the ministry of information "to show what a good boy he was compared to this enemy of the state" - namely Burns.
Also, here's a link to an Editor & Publisher excerpt of Burns' story. What Burns has to say is shocking and cuts to the heart of the major media's credibility in reporting from Iraq. It's not just CNN that covered up Saddam's crimes - and thus was complicit in them.

An excerpt from Burns:
Terror, totalitarian states, and their ways are nothing new to me, but I felt from the start that this was in a category by itself, with the possible exception in the present world of North Korea. I felt that that was the central truth that has to be told about this place. It was also the essential truth that was untold by the vast majority of correspondents here. Why? Because they judged that the only way they could keep themselves in play here was to pretend that it was okay.

There were correspondents who thought it appropriate to seek the approbation of the people who governed their lives. This was the ministry of information, and particularly the director of the ministry. By taking him out for long candlelit dinners, plying him with sweet cakes, plying him with mobile phones at $600 each for members of his family, and giving bribes of thousands of dollars. Senior members of the information ministry took hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes from these television correspondents who then behaved as if they were in Belgium. They never mentioned the function of minders. Never mentioned terror.

In one case, a correspondent actually went to the Internet Center at the Al-Rashid Hotel and printed out copies of his and other people's stories - mine included - specifically in order to be able to show the difference between himself and the others. He wanted to show what a good boy he was compared to this enemy of the state. He was with a major American newspaper.

Yeah, it was an absolutely disgraceful performance. CNN's Eason Jordan's op-ed piece in The New York Times missed that point completely. The point is not whether we protect the people who work for us by not disclosing the terrible things they tell us. Of course we do. But the people who work for us are only one thousandth of one percent of the people of Iraq. So why not tell the story of the other people of Iraq? It doesn't preclude you from telling about terror. Of murder on a mass scale just because you won't talk about how your driver's brother was murdered.
Read the whole thing.

And, Mr. Burns, please name names.


Almost Perfect
Steve McNair was 15 of 16 passing as the Titans defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers again. The Titans are now 3 and 1. Last year at this point they were 1 and 3 - yet still made the playoffs.

TABOR Update
Steve Carithers of the Tennessee Tax Revolt organization writes to announce that there is going to be a town hall meeting in Newport, Tennessee, to present a proposed Taxpayers Bill of Rights for Cocke County. The meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Newport high school gymnasium. Taxpayers Bill of Rights legislation typically includes a cap on the growth of government spending, a requirement that excess revenue be returned to taxpayers via a tax cut or rebate, and a requirement that tax increases be submitted to a public vote. Carithers says state Sen. Jim Bryson and state Rep. Glen Casada, sponsors of TABOR legislation in the state legislature, are going to be at the Newport meeting as will the mayor of Spring Hill, Ray Williams. Spring Hill recently adopted a local TABOR law.

Meanwhile, here's a story from the Columbia Daily Herald on Sen. Bryson's speech to the Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce last week about his legislation to enact a Taxpayers Bill of Rights for the state of Tennessee. Excerpt:

State Sen. Jim Bryson told members of the Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce Thursday the best way to stop the epidemic of government overspending is an amendment to the state constitution similar to Spring Hill's "Taxpayer Bill of Rights."

The Franklin Republican noted that while, in recent years, there has been a 5.5-percent average annual increase in Tennesseans' income, state spending has increased by 7.3 percent each year.

While Bryson did not give specific details or formulas he will include in the amendment, he said his plan will cap the growth of state spending. Allowing state spending to grow only as fast as inflation and the state's population growth. If the state General Assembly needed more money, legislators would have to put the request before voters in the form of a referendum.

"We need to do the same thing in the state as we do at home and in our businesses, living with the revenue that's coming in," Bryson said.

With the spending cap, lawmakers would have to prioritize and stop spending when the money runs out, Bryson said.

"It forces the government to communicate to the people ... It's all about setting up priorities and making government accountable," he said.
For more on how the Taxpayers Bill of Rights has worked well in Colorado, click here to read my research paper, titled The Right Time: The Case for a Real Tennessee Taxpayers Bill of Rights

Also read A Decade of TABOR, a review of the impact of Colorado's landmark Taxpayers Bill of Rights, by public policy analyst Fred Holden, published by the Independence Institute, a non-partisan Colorado think tank.

The Plame Game
Glenn Reynolds is trying to understand what really happened in the saga of Justin Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame. the allegedly undercover CIA agent whose cover was allegedly blown by the Bush administration in retaliation for Wilson publicly criticizing the Bush administration for alleging Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium from Africa. The Left is trying to brew the whole thing into a big scandal, but it doesn't compute. I wrote about it here back in July. (If that link doesn't work, go to the July archives and word-search for the July 30 entry also titled The Plame Game.

UPDATE: Donald Luskin says it maybe that the CIA itself leaked the information about Plame. Don't miss it.

Iraq and al Qaeda
Dan over at Wizblog lays out the evidence of the connection between Saddam Hussein's late, unlamented regime and the al Qaeda terrorist organiztion. Nice job, Dan.

Texas, Explained
Well, sort of. I lived there just three years, in two of its least-impressive towns. Yet I still think of myself as part Texan, and proudly so.


TABOR Update
Ben Cunningham emailed the link or I might have missed this story. State Sen. Jim Bryson and state Rep. Glen Casada, both mentioned in this story about proposed legislation to create a statewide Taxpayers Bill of Rights to limit government spending and tax increases, are my state senator and state rep. Check here tomorrow for a fuller commentary on the story.

Nice Blog
You may beg to differ, but I believe Begging to Differ deserves a spot on my blogroll. Next time I update the blogroll, so shall it be.

Edit This! 2
I wrote here a few days ago about how weblogs are edited by their readers and other bloggers - but not in the traditional way that newspaper are - and why such post-publication editing is actually better. The post was in response to the controversy over the Sacramento Bee's decision to require Bee blogger Daniel Weintraub to submit his bloggage to the oversight of editors.

Chicago Tribune columnist and blogger Eric Zorn has another, compatible, point of view on the Weintraub affair.

Zorn says blogs shouldn't be treated like newspaper columns, which are subject to editor's oversight, but should be treated the way a reporter's appearance on a live radio or television broadcast is treated.

My fellow columnists and I frequently appear on radio and television and offer live (and in many cases broadcast on the internet), unedited statements under the color of our publications. Several Tribune staffers even have their own radio shows. We give speeches. We respond to e-mail and letters in writing. We give interviews to the New York Times. And almost never is the substance and wording of such communication approved in advance by minders or editors.
Having done all three - a weekly newspaper column, a blog and numerous appearances on radio and television news and talk-show programs - I think that Zorn is exactly right.

UPDATE: Also make sure to read this from Jeff Jarvis.

Timing is Everything
Seven elderly people died in a fire at a Nashville nursing home late last night and 20 were critically injured from burns and smoke inhalation. The building had no sprinklers because it's an old building that was built before sprinklers were required by law. Okay. But what I want to know is: Why would a company that operates nursing homes put frail elderly people to live in a building without sprinklers? What were they thinking?

The fire story also made me think of this story which I found two days ago thanks to Les Jones's blog, about an initiative in Tennessee to install 24,000 smoke alarms in "day-care centers and other places where the young and elderly are most at risk."

Smoke detectors are a good idea. But sprinklers are a better idea. And not housing frail elderly people in a building without sprinklers would be the best idea of all. Otherwise, all those smoke detectors will do is wake up granny so she can be a part of a scene like this:

Robert Burks, of Franklin, who had been passing by, described what he called ''a nightmarish scene'' of watching frail residents banging on windows from the inside trying to get out. Burks said he felt absolutely helpless. He said the frantic residents were in smoke-filled rooms banging on the windows for at least 25 minutes.
The burned nursing home is owned by National HealthCare Corp., based in Murfreesboro, Tenn., near Nashville. The company's website says "At NHC, care is our business. Care that respects the individual. Care that promotes recovery, well being and independence. Care that seeks to meet the highest standards of quality."

If they'd only cared enough to either install sprinklers or move the residents to a safer place.

Economy Update
Those awful Bush tax cuts continue to wreck the economy:

The National Federation of Independent Business' monthly index of small business economic indicators jumped 4.1 points last month to hit a record high of 104.7. Nine out of 10 components of the index scored higher - the only exception was the outlook for interest rates and credit conditions. The index is based on a survey of small-business owners. "The very good news was improvement in capital spending plans, inventory investment plans and hiring plans," says NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg. "Second-half growth may well be stronger than currently anticipated." For the first time in more than a year, more small businesses reported higher sales than declines.
No wonder Democrats want the tax cuts repealed. They're working.

Here's a link the NFIB's September 2003 Small Business Economic Trends report (PDF file). You can find links to past monthly reports here.

UPDATE: Here's more good economic news: the economy grew at a better-than-expected 3.3 percent annual rate in the second quarter. It's a mixed-bag report, but indicates the general direction of the economy is positive.

Quagmire Update
Here's some grim economic news from Iraq. Yes, it appears that Iraq is going to hell in a handbasket. I blame the Bush administration. If only they'd had a plan for the post war period. If there had a been a plan, Iraq might have been moving toward self-rule by now. Well... it's a good thing the United Nations isn't going to leave the Iraqis in their time of need.

Music Row Murder Update
He's guilty. No surprise there. I suggest he be sentenced to life in prison with Barbara Mandrell records playing 24/7.


We Should Do Lunch Sometime
Daniel W. Drezner says you should do lunch the right way:

I’ve actually held jobs outside of the academy, and the thing I found most dispiriting about them was the predilection for eating alone at one’s desk, the meal completed in under half an hour. To be sure, sometimes work makes that necessary. However, many people do this out of habit, or to give off the impression that they are such workaholics that they never have time for a real meal.

... Letting one’s mind wander playfully at the noon hour is excellent preparation for the mental rigors that are sure to come in the post-meridian hours. The mind at play is often able to generate the counterintuitive ideas that would never occur otherwise. Nine out of ten of these ideas will turn out to be rubbish, but the ones that stick are special. Many a professor, myself included, will acknowledge that some of their most original ideas came not while staring at a computer monitor or at a blackboard, but while munching on a superior deli sandwich with friendly colleagues.
As one who often eats at my desk while working (or surfing the web or blogging), Drezner's piece made me think. It also made me hungry.

Unemployment Perhaps Less Than Reported
Are we losing jobs or gaining jobs? The Left likes to point to the rising unemployment number and tally up the millions of "lost" jobs during the Bush presidency, but the economy is otherwise showing signs of fairly strong growth virtually across the board Could it be that the unemployment stat is wrong?

From the Small Business Survival Committee comes an interesting exploration of whether the official unemployment rate is accurate or not

On Friday, September 5, the Senate Joint Economic Committee (JEC) hosted a hearing on seemingly contradictory employment numbers. The purpose of the hearing was to understand the discrepancy between Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) payroll and household surveys. As widely reported in the media, the payroll survey shows the economy losing about 1.1 million jobs since the end of the recession. Yet, the household survey shows a gain of over 1.4 million jobs. I bet you haven’t heard about those job numbers.
Or seen this chart:


The Winner: Howard Dean!
Howard Dean was the top choice of respondents to my online poll asking why people don't participate in online polls. Yeah, I know, it doesn't make sense. But neither does the man called Waffle Powered Howard.

Here is how the results tallied:
Why Won't You Participate in Online Polls?
41% Howard Dean
32% I don't vote in polls about why I won't vote in polls.
11% You aren't paying me to.
6% I'm afraid. Very afraid.
5% I don't want to.
3% I don't want you to know what I think.
2% I'm not sure what I think.

New poll up ... this time it's a serious attempt to do a little "market research" for my blog. Please answer honestly, and vote only once!

Tennessee Sounds Good to Business
A study by the Small Business Survival Committee ranks Tennessee fourth in friendliness to small business.

"The Small Business Survival Index 2003 compares how governments in the states treat small businesses and entrepreneurs. Since small business serves as the backbone of the U.S. economy... every state and local lawmaker should be concerned with how their policies impact small business," says Raymond Keating, SBSC chief economist. Tennessee benefited from having no general personal income or capital gains tax, no corporate alternative minimum tax, fairly low property taxes, fairly low electric utility costs, while also being a right-to-work state.
Here's a list of links to related stories. And here's some comments on the Top Ten.

Iraq Updates
Where are Iraq's weapons? They may be hidden under mosques. And our soldiers are forbidden from searching mosques. The story is about conventional arms, but it makes you wonder - are the WMDs hidden under mosques, too? Also... more on the weapons hunt here, here and here.

Also, Richard Miniter documents the various connections between the (former) Iraqi dictator and the terrorist organization. Just more truth for the Left to deny or ignore.

Re: Wesley Clark
Backcountry Conservative has a Wesley Clark link-a-rama. Don't miss this post either.

New to the Blogroll
I've just added a handful of new blogs to my blogroll, including Rex Hammock's RexBlog, which I really ought to visit more often. Rex is the head of a very good Nashville-based custom publishing company. And I say that even though he has yet to throw any freelance writing work my way...

By the way, Rex linked to this today out of Knoxville, which reminds me of something I found yesterday, via a link at the King of Fools blog.

From Rex:

You may recall my link to a recent story about parents in Florida being upset that their teenage daughters were having problems spelling. It appears now that this spelling issue is also a problem in Knoxville, Tenn. An advertisement for a fragrance from the brand French Connection United Kingdom apparently has some parents upset because they believe the way the company uses just its initials in its advertising is confusing teenagers about the correct way to spell.
From KoF:
This may be debunked here at Snopes but it is still very amusing:
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteres are at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a tatol mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.
It really does work. A co-worker and I communicated all day long using this method. Reading it is no problem at all, but writing it takes considerable effort and leaves the spellchecker irate.
Rex really ought to be a member of - and I hereby nominate him to - the Rocky Top Brigade.

Blogs in Space
NASA Science Officer Ed Lu is blogging from the International Space Station. Man, won't Glenn be jealous.

Numbers Games
Today's Tennessean carries a story that says Tennessee state government stands to lose $360 million a year in tax revenue if a bill now pending in Congress passes that extends a ban on state taxes on Internet access to the handful of states, including Tennessee, that previously were allowed to keep such taxes under a "grandfather" clause in the Internet Tax Freedom Act, the federal law banning such taxes.

The number is just hype and scaremongering from some folks who would prefer to fund state government via a personal income tax. As The Tennessean notes in its second paragraph, Tennessee currently gets only about $18 million a year from the tax.

What about the other $342 million? An organization called the Multistate Tax Commission, whose biggest agenda item right now is convincing Congress to authorize states to levy sales taxes on purchases its residents make in other states via the Internet, in clear violation of the spirit of the Commerce Clause of the U.S Constitution, says in an alarmist report that the bill not only extends the ban to the states where such taxes "grandfathered in." The MTC contends that, the way the bill is written, it would also eliminate all taxes on any service provided over the Internet. Their view is getting a lot of media play.

The MTC says that if all Internet services are exempted from taxes, telecommunications providers likely will move many services to the Internet to make them exempt. If all such services were moved the Internet, the MTC says, the states would lose up to $22 billion a year - not just the $500 million or so that the states would lose by extending the ban on Internet access to the grandfathered-in states.

But backers of the bill said the MTC is misreading the legislation, reports IDG News Service.

The bill bans only taxes unique to the Internet, such as bit taxes or Internet access taxes, but it does not roll back any property or income taxes telecommunication carriers now pay, said a spokesman for Representative Christopher Cox, a California Republican and prime sponsor of the bill in the House. "That's completely false," Cox's spokesman said of the bill's potential to ban property or income taxes. "I don't know why they think that. I think they just don't understand the bill."

As for banning taxes on telecommunications services such as voice over IP (Internet protocol), the bill doesn't attempt to address that issue, Cox's spokesman said. Such services represent a small portion of telecommunication services at this point, and Congress has not yet decided how to tax voice over IP services, he added. "We're not trying to solve all the problems or the debates of the telecom industry in this bill," the spokesman added.
I haven't seen the MTC's study, but I'm dubious about their claims. I've written before about the organization's bias and its shoddy work, most recently when the Tennessee Department of Revenue flogged a press release repeating the MTC's claim that corporate tax shelters are "costing" Tennessee $280 million a year in tax revenue. The MTC's work and conclusions on that issue have been challenged and rebutted by the Council on State Taxation. Details here and here. Make sure to follow the links to blogger Chip Taylor, the blogosphere's best source for coverage of the MTC/COST debate.

Why does the Tennessee Department of Revenue continue to rely on the MTC's work? Simple. The MTC's work supports the bureaucracy's desire to institute an income tax.

As for the legislation pending in Congress, fairness requires that Congress end the "grandfather" clause and extend the ban on state taxes on Internet access to all states.

Music Row Murder Trial
Here's your update, courtesy of the Nashville City Paper. And this from The Tennessean. I hope someone is writing a screenplay based on this case...

Edit This!
Tim Rutten's Los Angeles Times media column looks at the controversy raging over Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub's widely admired political news blog and the paper's decision to submit Weintraub's blog to the oversight of editors instead of allowing it to go directly from his PC to the web - a decision made because Weintraub wrote something rather innocuous that nevertheless offended some Latino politicos.

Orville Schell, dean of UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, is quoted in Rutten's column:

"An edited blog is a contradiction in terms. It's a characteristic of the Internet in general that forms like the blog emerge with great exuberance and edgy promise and then the overseers move in. That's a pity. We need frontiers of plain-speaking, even it's politically incorrect. I understand why the Bee did what it did, but it leads to a restraint on free-thinking, which is lamentable."
Actually, Schell is wrong. An edited blog is not a contradiction in terms. Blogs are edited all the time - but by their readers rather than by a paid editor, via reader comments, emails to the blogger and items posted on other blogs. You can, for example, see what others are saying about my posts, good and bad (and unedited by me!) by checking out my Technorati-provided Link Cosmos. If someone takes issue on their blog with what I've written here, it'll show up on the Link Cosmos. And usually a blog's "editors" include a number of readers with actual expertise in the given subject matter, and the ability to provide links to source materials to back up their suggested additions and changes. And the results are generally of much higher quality, with more depth and expertise, than anything you find in a typical newspaper where reporters and editors who have no expertise in the given subject matter try to act as if they do.

And here's the best part about the way blogs are edited: Other readers get to watch the editing process unfold, live, online, and decide for themselves if the results are credible. Newspapers, on the other hand, just say "trust us" in the face of rising evidence that readers should do no such thing.

Watch for the reader comments below, check here for updates, and follow my blog's Link Cosmos to see how this post gets edited by its readers.


The VodkaPundit Takes a Break
Stephen Green says:

When your dreams are more dreary than your reality, it's time to take a break.
To quote another famous blogger... "Heh."

Music Row Murder Trial
Scroll down to yesterday's post for today's update.

I am looking for business-related blogs. Not economics blogs. Blogs about business. If you know of any, please drop their link in the comments below. Thanks! Now, back to our regularly unscheduled blogging...

A Challenge
Donald Sensing issues a challenge:

citing recent surveys that show approximately 70 percent of Americans do believe Saddam was directly linked, the administration’s opponents now claim that Bush and company deliberately misled the people to believe it. Well, prove it. Here is my invitational:

I invite you to write up a guest post for me actually demonstrating how the Bush administration actively led Americans to believe that Saddam and the 9/11 attacks were directly linked. I'll post your essay on this site. Yes, I am serious.
See Donald's blog for details. There's a real prize on offer.

A Bad Disclosure
A new national study says Tennessee has some of the worst campaign-finance disclosure laws in the nation. Here is coverage from the Tennessee AP and the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle. The report says:

Accessing campaign finance records in Tennessee is extremely difficult, and there are no filings available on the official disclosure web site. The absence of data is due to a provision of Tennessee's disclosure law that requires people who want to view campaign finance records to first complete a form stating their name, address, home and business phone numbers, driver's license number, and name of the candidate whose records they wish to view. These forms are collected by the Registry of Election Finance and made available to the elected officials whose reports have been accessed.

Tennessee is the only state in the nation with such a system for inspecting or obtaining copies of campaign finance records, and many see the "inspection notice provision" as a major barrier to data accessibility. The Registry of Election Finance itself in its 2002 annual report to the governor and general assembly recognized that the effect of the provision has been "to deter some citizens from reviewing elected officials' reports" and has urged a change in the law.
State officials say the inspection notice provision won't apply in the future to people accessing records that will be posted online - but will still apply to people seeking offices in person at the office of the Registry of Election Finance. It's a lousy provision and should have been scrapped entirely – but too many Tennessee politicians want to continue to try to intimidate Joe Public. No wonder Tennesseans have such low regard for the credibility of their elected officials, leading the Better Government Association to rank Tennessee's legislature 44th out of 50 states on the integrity scale, based on its analysis of the freedom of information laws, whistleblower protection laws, campaign finance laws, conflicts-of-interest laws and laws governing legislators accepting gifts, trips and honoraria. (Not only that - two years ago, the Center for Public Integrity found that a third of Tennessee lawmakers sat on legislative committees that regulated their own professions or businesses, a third received income from a government agency other than the legislature even though the legislature often subsidizes those institutions, and 15 percent of lawmakers had financial ties to businesses or groups that lobby state government) No wonder the politicians want to know who is checking up on them. They're embarrassed. And they ought to be.


Not Quite the Truth from CalPundit
Kevin Drum says:

...no WMD has been found and even Condoleezza Rice has confirmed that we shouldn't count on David Kay producing any new evidence - well, between all that, it kinda looks like there might not have been any WMD all along, doesn't it?
He links to a transcript of Rice's briefing of the press on President Bush's trip to the United Nations. Here is the revelant section of Rice's remarks, including the questions posed by reporters:
Q: Is the President's credibility undercut in any way by the fact that the weapons of mass destruction have not been disclosed in Iraq? How will he address that in his speech tomorrow? And do you remain confident those weapons will be found, or do you think they've somehow been spirited away, or that -
DR. RICE: Well, let me first say that David Kaye has an orderly process for mining the miles of documentation, the hundreds, even thousands of interviews, that need to be done, the physical evidence that needs to be gathered to understand precisely the status of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the status of the programs, what became of unaccounted for weapons stockpiles.

If you remember the U.N. reports were about large numbers of unaccounted-for stockpiles. We'll now be able to find out what became of them. But let me be very clear, what we find there will establish precisely what was going on with Iraq's programs. What we went in with a view toward was a view that was shared by intelligence agencies around the world, by three American administrations, and by the United Nations. There was nobody who knew anything about Iraq who believed that Saddam Hussein had destroyed all of his weapons of mass destruction, that he simply didn't have any. And it was just kind of a joke on the world that he wouldn't say that he had destroyed his weapons of mass destruction.

This was a dangerous regime that had used weapons of mass destruction, that was still pursuing weapons of mass destruction, and that had large unaccounted for stockpiles. That is a position that was credible at the time. It is a position that is credible now. And now we're able to do what the U.N. inspectors had hoped to be able to do under Resolution 1441, were actually never permitted to do because Saddam Hussein was still in power and intimidating people and keeping people from telling the truth. So the President will simply note that we have an effort underway to hunt this down. And, yes, I think we will we find that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction can be accounted for, and we'll know the truth.

Q: When will Kaye's report will be public?
DR. RICE: David Kaye is not going to be done with this for quite some time. And I would not count on reports. I suppose there may be interim reports. I don't know when those will be, and I don't know what the public nature of them will be.
Rice did NOT confirm that "we shouldn't count on Kay producing any new evidence," as Mr. Drum asserts. Her reference to not counting on Kaye's reports was a reference to not counting on a timetable for the release of Kaye's reports. That is clear from the question.

Kevin Drum is a popular and thoughtful Lefty blogger. One wonders why he chose to misrepresent Rice's remarks while linking to the very transcript that so obviously proves he had done so.

Closing In On the WMDs?
Something struck me upon re-reading the transcript of President Bush's
Address to the United Nations General Assembly - his mentioning of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs without mentioning the lack, so far, of finding big caches of such weapons in liberated Iraq (at least that has been revealed publicly). Here are the relevant sentences from the speech regarding Saddam's WMDs:

The regime of Saddam Hussein cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction. It used those weapons in acts of mass murder, and refused to account for them when confronted by the world. The Security Council was right to be alarmed. The Security Council was right to demand that Iraq destroy its illegal weapons and prove that it had done so. The Security Council was right to vow serious consequences if Iraq refused to comply. And because there were consequences, because a coalition of nations acted to defend the peace, and the credibility of the United Nations, Iraq is free, and today we are joined by representatives of a liberated country. Our coalition has made sure that Iraq's former dictator will never again use weapons of mass destruction. We are interviewing Iraqi citizens and analyzing records of the old regime to reveal the full extent of its weapons programs and its long campaign of deception.
Does that sound to you like a president who thinks there is the slightest chance we won't eventually prove beyond a shadow of Howard Dean's doubt the existence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction? Not at all. It sounds to me as if President Bush is absolutely sure - most likely based on intel and still-classified evidence - that weapons not only existed before the war, but exist today, and that it is only a matter of time before the proof and the weapons are revealed.

Read the whole speech - or, via links on that page, you can listen to the audio or watch the video. It's a succinct and stirring update of our nation's progress in the War on Terror. And be reminded, as you read, listen or watch, that...

We're winning.

A Great Idea
Frank J. says:

Our troops are still out there, and their blood is still getting spilled. They're fighting for each other, they're for us, they are fighting for Iraqis, and they are fighting for the world as a whole. It is obscene that there are those who will use their deaths as propaganda against the very things for which they died. In the war on terror, the media is one of the fronts, and maybe it's one we're equipped to handle. The politically concerned of the blogosphere is thousands strong, but maybe, if we all work together, we can make enough noise that millions will hear us.
Read the whole thing. And pitch in however you can. [Hat tip: Los Instapundito]

With A Bullet
Here's a story on the seamy side of the record business, straight from Nashville's famed Music Row. The Tennessean reports that prosecutors began building their case against the accused murderer today on allegations he shot a young music chart researcher for Cash Box magazine 15 years ago on Music Row because the young researcher, Kevin Hughes, was "trying to reform a crooked business."

Back in the late '80s, music charts were compiled by hand rather than by computer - making it easier to falsify the results. Some promoters working mostly for small, independent labels allegedly offered gifts to radio programmers in exchange for airplay, or they would bribe chart researchers for a ''bullet,'' signifying the song was climbing the charts. Sammy Sadler, a country singer who was wounded in the attack by a masked gunman, testified that he had songs on the chart without performing or selling any of his records.
Well that explains it. After 15 years of reading about this case, I now know why I had never heard of "country singer Sammy Sadler." But are you really a "country singer" if you don't perform or, you know, try to sell some records?

Here's some more info on the case.

UPDATE 9/24:Here's the latest on the Music Row Murder trial, from Nashville City Paper
Prosecutors contended Tuesday that Cashbox was "totally corrupt" under Dixon’s direction, noting that the magazine had become an illegitimate "money-making operation" when Hughes was named chart director. They say that Hughes was uncomfortable when he realized that the magazine was not accurately reporting record standings, and that he was killed when D’Antonio and Dixon realized he might expose them.

'I'm afraid the news media are hurting our chances'
Everyone else is pointing to this, and I will to because it is an excellent condemnation of the media's performance in covering Iraq in recent weeks. It's by U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall, a Georgia Democrat who went to Iraq to see how things are going. Turns out they're going much better than the American media portrays:

On Sept. 14, I flew from Baghdad to Kuwait with Sgt. Trevor A. Blumberg from Dearborn, Mich. He was in a body bag. He'd been ambushed and killed that afternoon. Sitting in the cargo bay of a C 130E, I found myself wondering whether the news media were somehow complicit in his death.

News media reports about our progress in Iraq have been bleak since shortly after the president's premature declaration of victory. These reports contrast sharply with reports of hope and progress presented to Congress by Department of Defense representatives - a real disconnect, Vietnam déja vu. So I went to Iraq with six other members of Congress to see for myself.

The Iraq war has predictably evolved into a guerrilla conflict similar to Vietnam. Our currently stated objectives are to establish reasonable security and foster the creation of a secular, representative government with a stable market economy that provides broad opportunity throughout Iraqi society. Attaining these objectives in Iraq would inevitably transform the Arab world and immeasurably increase our future national security.

These are goals worthy of a fight, of sacrifice, of more lives lost now to save thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands in the future. In Mosul last Monday, a colonel in the 101st Airborne put it to me quite simply: "Sir, this is worth doing." No one I spoke with said anything different. And I spoke with all ranks.

But there will be more Blumbergs killed in action, many more. So it is worth doing only if we have a reasonable chance of success. And we do, but I'm afraid the news media are hurting our chances. They are dwelling upon the mistakes, the ambushes, the soldiers killed, the wounded, the Blumbergs. Fair enough. But it is not balancing this bad news with "the rest of the story," the progress made daily, the good news. The falsely bleak picture weakens our national resolve, discourages Iraqi cooperation and emboldens our enemy.

Repeal the Bush Tax Cuts?
Democrat presidential candidates Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt (and some dude named "Al Sharpton") want to repeal the Bush tax cuts. But economists say that would be bad for the economy. Which, of course, means leaving the tax cuts in place is good for the economy.


Read the Whole Thing
Here's Victor Davis Hanson. Read it all, and remember...

We're winning.

Iraq & al Qaeda: The Evidence Mounts
I missed this yesterday, but here is a very thorough examination of the evidence of the links between Saddam Hussein's regime and the al Qaeda terrorist organization, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal. Excerpt:

One of the more interesting pieces of postwar evidence was uncovered in Baghdad by reporters for the Toronto Star and London's Sunday Telegraph. The February 19, 1998, memo from Iraqi intelligence, in which bin Laden's name was covered over with Liquid Paper, reported planned meetings with an al Qaeda representative visiting Baghdad. Days later al Qaeda issued a fatwa alleging U.S. crimes against Iraq. At about the same time, a U.S. government source tells Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard, Iraq paid bin Laden deputy Ayman Zawahiri $300,000.

It's also worth remembering there's a mountain of evidence pointing to the possibility that Saddam was involved in the April 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 Americans. There's also evidence Saddam was involved in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

The Awful Truth
A Time magazine reporter admits the press actively ignores stories that show American soldiers in a good light:

It's the nature of the business,'' Time's Brian Bennett says. "What gets in the headlines is the American soldier getting shot, not the American soldiers rebuilding a school or digging a well."
The liberal media has basically three templates for stories about the U.S. military in action:
1. American soldiers are incompetent and mucking things up.
2. American soldiers are committing atrocities petit and grande.
3. American soldiers are in a quagmire.

But lately, the disconnect between what American Big Media reporters are reporting from Iraq and what a growing number of on-the-scene bloggers and visiting congresspeople are saying has become so wide that the press is, finally, admitting that the situation is improving in much of Iraq. As that information seeps into the American public's consciousness, watch for President Bush's poll numbers to rise.

[Hat tip: Instapundit, who is all over the story.]

By the way, how bad can things in Iraq be if American soldiers have time to arrange toy collection drives for Iraqi children?

UPDATE: Kevin Drum over at CalPundit says there's no media bias in the reporting from Iraq, and people who say otherwise are people who haven't been there. Of course, Drum hasn't been there, either. And he doesn't see the very evident bias, preferring to consider it regular ol' balanced journalism:
And presumably everyone agrees with Time magazine's Brian Bennett that this really has nothing to do with bias: dramatic events are what the media reports everywhere, not just in Iraq. Their behavior in Baghdad is no different from their behavior in Los Angeles.
The problem, Mr. Drum, is that selectively reporting only bad news because it is "dramatic" is a form of bias that excludes covering the quiet drama of the many good things happening in Iraq - the schools being rebuilt and reopened, for example.

Mr. Drum claims that crying "media bias" is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Perhaps. But denying media bias is the last refuge of the scoundrel whose political agenda - in this case the destruction of the Bush presidency - is being aided by that very media.

Pay Attention to This
Donald Sensing is writing about ADHD. As the father of a daughter with ADHD, I find it very informative and helpful.

Economy Update: No Housing Bubble
It looks like the much-hyped "real estate bubble" isn't a problem after all. USA Today:

Gluts of unsold new homes have been earmarks of every big real estate bust in the last quarter century. But tighter inventory control by builders and the people who finance them, coupled with high demand, has squeezed the availability of finished homes just about everywhere. It's not a guarantee against disastrous overbuilding in the future. But housing economists say for now the lean inventory is a strong prop for high home values. "It's an unequivocally good thing," says Amy Crews Cutts, economist at mortgage investor Freddie Mac.

Sky-high demand may be enough to knock down the number of available new houses. But, says Carl Reichardt, industry analyst at Wachovia Securities in San Francisco, the hot market is masking a fundamental change that will linger long after things cool: less speculative construction. "Finishing a new house before it's sold is in decline," says Reichardt.

The most recent Census Bureau numbers show one key measure of new homes available for sale as low as it's been at any time in the last 40 years — a 3½-month supply at the current sales rate.

Homeowners can take some comfort from that. The biggest regional housing busts of the last 25 years — Texas in the 1980s and Southern California and the Northeast in the early 1990s — shared a common characteristic: a huge number of unsold new homes that depressed home values for everyone. As the Texas real estate market was about to tank, for example, the supply of unsold new homes nationally stood at a record high — nearly 12 months' worth.

Today's ultralean supply "ought to mean more stability in current home prices, and it ought to cushion price declines in the future," Reichardt says.

Home builders don't typically make public the number of homes they sell before construction. But Reichardt estimates that eight publicly traded national companies will presell 45% of their output this year, vs. 26% in 1994.

For home builders who have managed to eliminate or reduce speculative building, the payoff can be considerable. Preselling leaves open the possibility of enticing the customer with profit-increasing upgrades. By closing the sale the moment construction is complete, interest charges on the money borrowed to build don't cut into profit.
I first mentioned this economic trend here on August 27th.


Wesley Clark: Man of Conviction
This is funny:

In the current issue of Newsweek, Howard Fineman reports Clark told Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and University of Denver president Mark Holtzman that "I would have been a Republican if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls."
That's going to be in a lot of other Democrats' anti-Clark ads, I suspect. Meanwhile, White House phone logs show Clark never called Rove. So, Clark is lying political opportunist. What does it say about the Democratic party that Clark is seen as a credible potential presidential nominee?

The Bush Doctrine:
What the Left Had to Say About Pre-Emptive War...
...and the Big Lie the Left is Telling Now

In comments to this post (scroll down - it's two below this one), one reader claims the Left opposed the war in Iraq because President Bush claimed Iraq had ties to the September 11 attack but that was false and therefore the war was "pre-emptive." Writes the "Anonymous Blogger":

Before the war the criticism was two-fold: starting a preemptive war with Iraq was wrong and stop trying to tie 9/11 to Iraq. That is, the critics correctly didn't believe there was a connection and thus, it was a preemptive war
Hogwash. That's counter-factual retroactive spin.

Bush always described Iraq war as a pre-emptive war - he never claimed it was in response to Saddam being directly involved in the 9/11 attack.

Here are links to three pre-Iraq War articles from prominent Lefty sources, all critical of the doctrine of pre-emptive war.
Link 1: Todd Gitlin in Mother Jones.
Link 2: Common Dreams.org (UPDATE: Link doesn't work? Try http://www.commondreams.org/views02/1011-03.htm)
Link 3: Ralphie Nader

You'll note none of those articles provide any evidence that Bush was falsely tying Saddam to 9/11. All of these Left-wing sources recognized that Bush was proposing a pre-emptive war against Iraq, not a war in response to some alleged involvement by Iraq in the 9/11 attack.

By the way, the Bush Doctrine of the right of the U.S. to engage in pre-emptive war is contained in this document, titled The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, released in the fall of 2002. Chapter 5 of that document defends the policy of pre-emptive war, and does not mention Iraq nor state or imply a direct tie between Saddam and the 9/11 attack

And here is a LINK to a major policy address Bush gave in October 2002 outlining the case for war against Saddam's regime. Nowhere in the speech does Bush explicitly or implicitly tie Saddam to the 9/11 attack. In fact, here is what he says about Saddam and al Qaeda:
sophisticated delivery systems aren't required for a chemical or biological attack; all that might be required are a small container and one terrorist or Iraqi intelligence operative to deliver it.

And that is the source of our urgent concern about Saddam Hussein's links to international terrorist groups. Over the years, Iraq has provided safe haven to terrorists such as Abu Nidal, whose terror organization carried out more than 90 terrorist attacks in 20 countries that killed or injured nearly 900 people, including 12 Americans. Iraq has also provided safe haven to Abu Abbas, who was responsible for seizing the Achille Lauro and killing an American passenger. And we know that Iraq is continuing to finance terror and gives assistance to groups that use terrorism to undermine Middle East peace.

We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy - the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.

Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.
Note that Bush very carefully does NOT include the 3,000 dead of 9/11 in the total of American dead at the hands of terrorists with ties to Saddam.

The media and the Left are right, however - there IS a Big Lie being told. It is being told by the Left and its willing accomplices in the press. The Left and the press now falsely accuse Bush of telling a lie about Saddam and September 11. But it is they who are lying.

UPDATE: Bush was not the first President to adopt pre-emption as a national security strategy. So says this Washington Post article:
The intention, in theory, is not fundamentally new. The Clinton administration's Presidential Decision Directive 62, 'Protection Against Unconventional Threats to the Homeland and Americans Overseas,' had classified language that one former official summarized as: "If you think terrorists will get access to WMD, there is an extremely low threshold that the United States should act' militarily."
Incidentally, the article makes no mention of the assertion that Bush was implying Saddam had direct involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

My Sick Hobby
Editor & Publisher reports today that the end may be near for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper, which is printed and distributed by its rival the Seattle Times in a joint operating agreement that may soon be ended. If the JOA is indeed allowed to expire, the Post-Intelligencer will shut down no later than Oct. 29, 2004, slightly more than a year from now. I suspect it would be shut down sooner than that.

I hate to see any newspaper close, but if the P-I indeed is shut down, I would like to get a copy of the final day's edition. If you live in Seattle, or even work for the P-I, please contact me. I'm willing to pay a few bucks to get a copy. I collect final-day editions of dead newspapers. Yeah, I know, it's a sick hobby for a newspaper journalist. By the way, if you have an extra copy of a final edition of some other daily newspaper, and want to get rid of it, contact me at bhhobbs-at-comcast.net. And if you'd be interested in a final-day edition of the Nashville Banner, which died about a decade ago, let me know. I have about two dozen copies.