Speaking of Pavlovian Politics...
As an American I am used to our President’s speeches being nothing more than a serious of sound bites strung together around a loosely developed theme. I am always struck by how refreshingly erudite and ultimately inspiring Tony Blair’s addresses have been. Clearly, you can (and should) argue their merits, however it’s abundantly clear the art of political oration isn’t completely lost:

The spread of freedom is the best security for the free. It is our last line of defense and our first line of attack. And just as the terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify around an idea. And that idea is liberty. (Applause.) We must find the strength to fight for this idea and the compassion to make it universal. Abraham Lincoln said, "Those that deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves." And it is this sense of justice that makes moral the love of liberty
So it wasn't until after the passage of his horrific RAVE ACT that Joe Biden discovered what a bad idea it was? Perhaps next time he should read it first.
Who knew linguistics was so contentious?
Andrew Sullivan isn't the only one who has learned how to make money from blogging.


Kaufman at Salon has been on a roll lately. He nails ESPN hire of Rush Limbaugh and has this great money quote(via Open Season):

At his introduction as a commentator on ESPN's pregame studio show, "Sunday NFL Countdown," Rush Limbaugh said, "I think football's a lot like life. I think I know life pretty well." Says King Kaufman of salon. com, "Football is nothing like life. It's organized and neat and rational. Everyone is either with you or against you and the boundaries are straight lines that are clearly marked. That is indeed how Limbaugh views life, and he's wrong. The only sport that's like life is bullfighting, and only for the bull."


Mozilla.org is splitting with AOL and is going to take on IE (again).
As many of you know, my cousin is with the U.S. Army in Iraq. His stories to us back home mirror what Reuel Marc Gerecht writes in this piece.
In a press release as trite as it is troublesome, Michael J. Garcia, Acting Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) declared "There is nothing more important than protecting our children - the future of our nation.” The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agency charged with protecting America from terrorists, has proudly announced the latest instance of perilous mission-creep, they are now chasing child molesters.

Apparently so assured of success against Al-Qaeda and their ilk, the DHS unveiled “Operation Predator,” another operation designed to coordinate efforts of several federal agencies. Before long the FBI, U.S. Customs, the U.S. Postal Service, and the Department of Justice, will be working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to protect “the future of our nation”.

Pandering to American’s fears about children certainly isn’t a new or novel tactic (we’ve recently seen the dreadful RAVE act unanimously passed in the Senate because it was buried deep inside a bill creating a nationwide Amber-alert system). It is inherently cynical and meant to foster an emotional response in place of rationale discourse. It is enticing fruit for politicians but leadership demands a different course.

If governance is the act of making choices than this is a peculiar use of DHS resources. Some have argued that the intelligence lapses leading up to 9/11 (and the subsequent creation of the DHS) resulted from misappropriated law enforcement focus. Perhaps, the reasoning goes, if fewer FBI agents were tasked with waging the war on drugs (or prostitution, or other “victimless crimes”), then neglected leads, unconnected dots, and relative lack of importance given to anti-terror activities would have had less catastrophic consequences. This may be a highly speculative exercise, but one that is valuable and vital as we wade further into a nebulous War on Terror. As Nobel economist Milton Friedman has warned about the dissipation of resources, when government begins to do what it should not, it ceases to do what it should.

Government agencies work for their sustained existence and a continual expansion of their reach. Most Americans have reconciled themselves with this truism. It’s disheartening to think that we are beginning to expect the same from Tom Ridge’s team. The DHS is charged with issues far too important to allow the public or the DHS the luxury of tolerating politics as usual. Shortly after September11th there seemed to be a reexamination of the role of government and an earnestness tied to public service that had been lacking for decades. America was hastily forced into civic adulthood. No longer resigned to feigning interest in politics every four years come election time, we were newly committed. No longer resigned to accepting a government of functionary bureaucrats but rather rejuvenating one full of dedicated, focused leaders working towards the safety and welfare of all. Gone for good were the empty slogans and attack ads, positions propped up on piles of opinion polls, and meaningless Beltway skirmishes that ultimately were about consolidating power rather than serving the public. With a single press release full of bombast and jargon, Operation Predator sadly harkens to a time we have left behind.

The attacks of Sept. 11th solidified America’s resolve, and for a time focused law enforcement on matters that were essential rather than illicitly titillating. It’s shameful and risky if we squander our resolve now and revert back to a method of governance more concerned with the expansion of its powers than the safety of its citizens.

John Ashcroft defies U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema's order regarding Zacarias Moussaoui. (I forget, is hubris a good thing?)
At last, the halo is starting to dim on the Harry Potter trend.


Cloning a woolly-mammoth...I'm sure nothing can go wrong with that.
NK reminds me of a large, stupid, drunk at 2-for-1 drink night in upstate New York. Ah yes, Nukes, the tiny dictator's Porsche.
Ah yes, hipster disdain for the pious is supposed to be over, however I'm not afraid to admit that Robertson praying for the Supremes to retire makes me a little uneasy.
Grading the lies told about Iraq.
Encouraging news on the privacy front. The Terrorism Information Awareness program looks like it's just about out of funding.

And an interesting piece from the Economist on what they feel the U.S. is doing right and wrong in the war on liberity. (I mean, on terror)
I'm back from Tahoe. I'm working through the emails and will respond ASAP.