More on one of the worst pieces of legislation EVER.


Sad but true. The obits for the U.N. are already being written. William Saletan over at Slate says what we all know, the U.N. needs the U.S. more than the U.S. need the U.N.

Are inspections more effective than force? Is the United Nations a better guarantor of U.S. security than American power is? Both questions are fraudulent. Inspections depend on force, and the United Nations depends on the United States. The French and Germans are telling us not to mess with the status quo, when the status quo is us
I always take anecdotal outrages with a grain of salt, but the larger implications of this one is, shall we say, troubling?
Saying "Bush is Out of Control" in an internet chat room can get you arrested by S.Service agents? And in a library to boot. Ironic that so many of our free speech battles rooted in technological implications are being waged in the dusty sweet hallways of your public library.
While the Economist is generally a fan of the Bush Admin’s stance on the War Against Terror, they do question their commitment to civil rights. Major sticking points: lack of judicial oversight and an erosion of due process. They compare Jose Padilla’s case with another famous suspected terrorist:

In 1962 the apartheid regime in South Africa, no respecter of civil liberties, picked up a suspected terrorist leader who had just returned from training in bomb-making and guerrilla warfare in Ethiopia. It marked the start of 27 years in jail, but Nelson Mandela was given access to lawyers and his prosecutors had to follow rules of due process… Achieving a balance between security and liberty was never going to be easy. “For a vast and free nation, there is no such thing as perfect security,” Mr Bush reflected last week. But America has jumped too far in one direction. A reassessment is called for, if it wants to avoid rude comparisons with South Africa four decades since.
Its clear that the DMCA has failed, now the misbegotten law is spreading its woefulness to other industries. The folks at blogcritics.org have the rundown.
It’s amazing what will touch a nerve with people. The piece about DDT being used to combat malaria has brought a huge response. (Some people have even claimed I'm a paid shill for Monsanto. Ha!) Most of the vitriol is directed towards Mr. Milloy of Junkscience.com fame. Against my better judgment I’ll offer a link to a few of the hit pieces on Milloy that were sent to me. (Now would a true-blue Monsanto rep. do that?) My immediate question to the nay Sayers is why do you expend so much energy attacking the man and so little attacking the methods? If the body of evidence against DDT truly is able to withstand the rigors of the scientific method, why focus on a single man? Science and politics make dangerous bedfellows. Anyways I'll update some of the better comments about the DDT issue early next week.
A big, brooding, wet dog with hints of asparagus....Sean Shesgreen deconstructs the language of wine.
Andrew Sullivan gives the heads up, Camille Paglia is back.


Though a somewhat reluctant supporter of the Administration's stance re: the War in Iraq I do have some stylistic qualms. (Which are more than fluff since the major failing of the pro-war "side" isn't the reasoning but rather an inability to convey it effectively to those who disagree) I thought Bush did a good job staying on message but was struck by his reluctance to admit any sense of doubt. This was precisely what I appreciatted about William Kristol's appearance on the Tim Russert show this weekend, he acknowledged that the stakes are high, the outcome uncertain, and yes, he occassionally worried about what may come. Bush was asked essentially the same question and had no such misgivings. This concerns me. For a number of reasons, not least of which is, as in the words of Fitzgerald, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."My misgivings aside, William Saletan has a piece in Slate tonight about the speech and Bush's (apparent) inability to operate in that grey area foreign policy seems to rooted in.

If you tuned in to President Bush's Thursday night press conference to understand his point of view on Iraq, you got what you came for. If you tuned in to find out whether he understood yours, tough luck. That was the deal when we traded in Bill Clinton for Bush. We got a president who understood the difference between truth and lying. We gave up one who understood everything in between. The upside is that our president is doing the right thing in Iraq. The downside is that he can't talk anyone else into going along.
The Fray has some nice responses to Hitchen's assertion that we are better off without Turkey.
Supporting Turkey is a bit like supporting Israel. Yes, the Israelis are a brutal country that talks secularism and practices theocracy, but they can park a mechanized army on the banks of the Suez Canal in forty-eight hours, and whoever can do that is (when it counts) a useful ally, if not exactly a good friend. For similar reasons, this is not the time to alienate Turkey, or dredge up a whole host of Turkish historical "sins" just because we're annoyed with the vote of the Turkish parliament.
Barry Schweid of AP speaks the ugly truth. When war comes, Powell loses face inside the administration too.
Slate has an interesting take on the Google purchase of Blooger. hmm...memory enhancers....
The Sec. of State responds to charges of American imperialism: "We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years . . . and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in."
Science and politics make bad partners. We know this. From the grandstanding over ephedra as the result of athletes meeting tragedy, or the push to ban air bags in a misguided attempt to control fate and eleminate fear. Often these absurdities are relatively minor in scope and can be dismissed with a shrug. But its a very dangerous habit to develop.

As usual, the people who bear the brunt of Junk Science are the weakest among us. (e.g.The Junk science around GMO's has enabled a movement to deny much needed food to 800 million people around the world.) But a movement is gaining ground to reclaim D.D.T. from the trashbin of Junk Science's shoddy methods in an effort to save hundreds of millions of lives in malaria infested regions. South Africa recently reintroduced DDT and others are lobbying the rest of Africa, and the world to take heed. But the old ways die hard. Alexander Gourevitch profiles Uganda's efforts to combat malaria. Uganda is a nation doing well by African standards, however as Gourevitch explains:

The mosquito-borne illness costs Uganda more than $347 million a year. Today, up to 40 percent of the country's outpatient care goes to people thus infected. Total infections are so numerous that the government doesn't even try to track them, but last year, 80,000 people died of the disease, half of them children under the age of five. Uganda planned on using DDT and resistance began almost immediattly. Most of it based upon decades old studies which have long been refuted.

Deepak Lal explains who the anti-DDT forces are and the basis for their misguided and lethal miscalculations.
Why did DDT fall into disfavor? The DDT scare started with Carson's claim that its use had devastating effects on bird life. It was also blamed for causing hepatitis in humans. But numerous scientific studies showed that these fears were baseless. DDT was shown to cause death in humans only if eaten like pancakes!
If both science and economics favor DDT, why has the ban spread? The environmental movement's supposedly key concept is "sustainable development." This was endorsed in the report Our Common Future by the World Commission on Environment and Development, whose chair, Norway's then Prime Minister, Gro Harlem Bruntland, now heads the World Health Organization (WHO)...Environmentalists ban DDT because they are willing to sacrifice human lives for those of birds.

This underlying misanthropy also dismisses much of the science that not only questions, but outright refutes the impact DDT has on birds. With hundreds of millions of lives in the balance you would believe that the politics might favour the re-introduction of DDT. But if history is any guide then its clear science and politics are truly a toxic combination.


Virginia Postrel has her own theory about what makes Silicon Valley so unique.
Jack Balkin writes about Steve Brill's piece on John Ashcroft from Newsweek. Apparently our erstwhile A.G. wanted to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in Patriot Act I. (I can't wait for the sequal):
In legal terms, this would mean that the government would be permitted to arrest and detain people-- citizens and non citizens alike-- at will, and without the right to a judicial hearing to determine the legality of their detention. Lots more from Jack here.
We've discussed the best now what about the worst? The Los Angeles Clippers fired their 24th coach this week and tops Jim Armstrong's list of "10 worst franchises in pro sports".
As top-ten lists are intended to do, this one has its fair share of notable omissions and arguable points. No Boston Redsox, cannon fodder for New York? No Chicago Cubs and their cheery, beery, woefulness? What is "worst" anyways? Is it worse to choke when it really matters or to play consistantly half-hearted?


The last few days we've discussed how Clinton and Bush differ re: foreign policy (not much) and in particular Iraq. Andrew Sullivan picks up this thread too.

The difference, of course, is 9/11 and the simple fact that Bush has, shall we say, a different relationship with the follow-through than his immediate predecessor. Even in practice, on, say, the unilateral question, there's the Kosovo precedent, which shows that Clinton was prepared not merely to defy certain powers, i.e. Russia, to do what he wanted; but he was also prepared to bypass the U.N. altogether if necessary.
So wait, if you kill 3,000 civilians, destroy two massive sky scrapers, scar a nation, and drive the world towards war you are proclaimed a "hero of islam"?!?! I truly hope these people do not speak for "Islam" in any meaningful way.
Hitchens says what we've all been thinking these past weeks. We are better off without Turkey.
Andrew Sullivan lectures Fox for debasing the notion of marriage with programs like "Married by America" and then offering up slews of conservatives on their news programs saying gay marriage debases the institution. ...more double standards from those who claim to support the institution of marriage, but, in reality, just want to keep homosexual citizens permanently stigmatized?
We are the first generation to have this ability to stop time and immediately semantically mark it up for later retrieval and cross-referencing, something which goes beyond Brownie snapshots, Zaprudered super-8 loops, or even the efforts of the most conscientious diarist. It's a pretty heady feeling. Ah the blogger navel gazing continues, thanks Adam.
Always a fun read, Shirky applies power law distributions to blogging: Diversity plus freedom of choice creates inequality, and the greater the diversity, the more extreme the inequality.


It started as a drunken, bar fight in San Francisco's chic, upscale Marina district. It has turned into a case that has the left the police chief indicted for felony conspiracy charges, City Hall reeling and has legal experts across the country watching the unprecedented case.

The storyline loosely: Alex Fagan Jr., a young SF police officer with a history of complaints and violent assaults against perps, was leaving a party for his father, the newly appointed Assistant Police chief Alex Fagan Sr., with a few other off duty officers. For whatever reason they engaged in a fight with another group of men outside of a popular bar in the chic, upscale Marina district. The matter was reported to the police and the incident was investigated and ultimately dropped for lack of evidence. Charges began to fly that the matter was being swept under the rug since it was police officers involved and, more importantly, the son of a high-ranking official. The District Attorney Terence Hallinan who has long been at odds with the police department and the mayor convened a grand jury. After four weeks of deliberation the jury surprised even Hallinan returning felony indictments against ten police officers including the Chief of police and Assistant Chief for obstruction of justice. The mayor lashed out and demanded that the California Attorney General take over the case. This Monday the Chief of Police, after being booked and released on $15,000 bail, took a temporary leave of office.

For scope, the grand jury indictments of top brass of the San Francisco Police Department are a first of their kind in the country, legal observers said Friday, with several experts reaching all the way back to the scandal involving New York City's Boss Tweed for a comparison.
"It is unprecedented for a local district attorney's office to indict the entire command structure of a police department," said Peter Keane, law dean at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

Even by the dysfunctional standards of San Francisco politics, this one is a melon scratcher.
Time magazine profiles the Iraqi leader's fortune and the methods he employs to subvert the U.N.'s Oil for Food program.
I am always a little shocked and confused by anti-Semitism. Particularly the sort that afflicts those who should know better. In today’s SF Chron they offered an article about the debate over T.S. Eliot’s anti-Semitism. The phenomenally talented poet, author and Nobel laureate was also an anti-Semite. (It seems safe to say the charges ring true when this new “defense” consists of little more than the fact that he had a Jewish friend and helped another get work) Its stunning to realize the author of the timeless classic The Wasteland also wrote vapid, racist dreck like:

My house is a decayed house/ And the Jew squats on the window sill, the owner,/ Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp-Gerontin

Its comforting to think that the more vulgar forms of bigotry tends to be in the sorts of places that shut down the schools when Dale Earnhardt died, or were large groups of murderously, impotent, pre-modern, fiends infuse their religion with blood-lust. But what about Eliot, or the pillars of the Enlightenment, who according to a new book by Danny Postel, were “obsessed” with the Jews? He writes of the likes of Voltaire and John Toland who pored over Jewish texts:

But much of this new focus on Judaism was laced with animosity toward its subject… early Enlightenment thinkers simultaneously idealized and repudiated Judaism, Paradoxically, however, as Enlightenment thought became increasingly hostile to religion, it focused on Judaism as the source of Christendom. For the champions of the new Empire of Reason, Judaism came to represent everything they were against.

Voltaire went on to write that the Jews were a "vile people, superstitious, ignorant, and both scientifically and commercially stunted."

The recent rise in anti-Semitic acts in Europe attest to the fact that this hatred of the people is deeply rooted, irrational, and prone to outburst at the slightest of tensions.The connection between the anti-war protest organizers and anti-Jewish literature and William Kristol’s concerns that slightly veiled anti-Semitism is being used to criticize the war plans shows that it can rear its head in the most rarified of airs. I realize the roots of anti-Semitism have been delved into before, but I ask, where does it come from? How do otherwise thoughtful, sometimes brilliant, thinkers come to embrace this virulent, irrational, form of tribalism?
Bloggings best days may be over. First Salon has a story about a movie studio that uses a blogger to pimp the flic, and now Dr. Pepper has its own, cool, hip, blogg that actually compensates cool bloggers for linking to them.
Sometimes the best intentions...an interesting article about how a temp. law the Feds passed in the 1930's actually may have hastened the demise of many small farms, created a myriad of Kafkaesque regulations, passed on pricing inefficiencies to consumers, and once again reaffirmed the general adage that the Federal Government can't win for losing.
They outline some of the more recent efforts to regulate themselves out of the regulatory mess they regulated themselves (actually us) into:
* In 1981, the federal government began distributing billions of dollars of surplus cheese, butter, and nonfat dry milk to the poor. (Despite the giveaways, the feds still had 577 million pounds of butter, 280 million pounds of dry milk, and 38 million pounds of cheese stockpiled in warehouses a decade later.)

* In 1983, Congress launched a dairy buyout, paying farmers to retire cows from production. By 1985, it had paid $995 million to retire 10,000 dairy cows -- at an average cost of $100,000 per cow. Meanwhile, other dairymen simply increased their production levels.

* In 1986-87, Congress paid dairy farmers $1.3 billion to slaughter cows. Again, other dairy farmers simply increased their production, leaving total milk production exactly where it was before. Even worse, the 1.6 million dairy cows sent to slaughter caused beef prices to plummet, "bankrupting some cattlemen," wrote Bovard.

* In 1991, the USDA started paying U.S. farmers $1 a pound for butter so it could sell that butter in foreign countries for 60¢ a pound. At a time when some Americans couldn't afford to buy milk, "the USDA [spent] over $50 million to dump 140,000 tons of U.S. dry milk on world markets," wrote Bovard.

* In 1996, Congress approved the New England Interstate Dairy Compact (a new spin on the old milk territories), which mandated a 21% price hike for milk in the six-state New England region, wrote Kenneth W. Bailey in Regulation Winter 2001) -- creating a "price-fixing cartel that artificially protected farmers in compact states while lowering prices in non-compact states."

* In 1999, the Secretary of Agriculture announced "reforms" to the federal programs. He reduced the number of federal milk territories from 31 to 11, and announced a new method to compute the "basic formula price" for milk.
A good few days for the war on terror. Israel captured the founder of Hamas and the U.S. caught OBL's second in command. (Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's is a strong rebutt to those who argue Bush & co. have forgotten about al-Qaeda)