July 2006, Part 2

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Catching Up On The Hamas/Hezbollah-Israeli War:  "N. Z. Bear" has a compendium of posts, with something for almost everyone.  If I were you, I would start with this post, though it is not in the compendium.  Bill Roggio claims that the Israeli warship was hit by an Iranian missile — probably fired by Iranian soldiers.  And he has evidence to back up that claim.

Despite the title of this post, and what you can read in most news stories, it is almost certain that Iran is fighting a war by proxy with Israel.
- 3:20 PM, 15 July 2006   [link]

What's It All About?  Charles Krauthammer explains, one more time.
As the Palestinian excuses for continuing their war disappear one by one, the rhetoric is becoming more bold and honest.  Just Tuesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, writing in The Post, referred to Israel as "a supposedly 'legitimate' state" ["Aggression Under False Pretenses," op-ed, July 11].

He made clear what he wants done with this bastard entity.  "Contrary to popular depictions of the crisis in the American media," he writes, "the dispute is not only about Gaza and the West Bank."   It is about "a wider national conflict" that requires the vindication of "Palestinian national rights."

That, of course, means the right to all of Palestine, with no Jewish state.  In the end, the fighting is about "the core 1948 issues, rather than the secondary ones from 1967."

In 1967 Israel acquired the "occupied territories."  In 1948 Israel acquired life.  The fighting raging now in 2006 -- between Israel and the "genocidal Islamism" (to quote the writer Yossi Klein Halevi) of Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran behind them -- is about whether that life should and will continue to exist.
And informed people who deny this are being dishonest, or willfully obtuse.

In my second post, I argued that the best adjective for the Palestinian Authority was "fascist".  Once we understand that, once we accept the fact — and it is a fact — that one of the most popular books among the Palestinians is Hitler's Mein Kampf, with all that implies, we can see what peace in the Middle East requires.  Just as it did in the 1930s and 1940s, peace requires the defeat of the fascists, or in this case, the Islamo-fascists.   It is wishful thinking to pretend otherwise.
- 12:55 PM, 14 July 2006   [link]

One Down, Seventeen To Go:  More good news from Iraq.
Britain has handed over responsibility for security in one of Iraq's 18 provinces to local forces for the first time since the country was invaded.

An agreement transferring power in Muthanna was signed by Major General John Cooper, who commands coalition forces in southern Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who was present, said the handover "will bring happiness to all Iraqis".
And to everyone in the coalition that liberated Iraq.  (Well, almost everyone.)

(Here's a map of the province, if you are wondering where it is.)
- 5:41 AM, 14 July 2006   [link]

No Big Shift:  Jed Babbin says that the "mainstream" media "misreported" another story.
The new memorandum about the status of terrorist detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and elsewhere — signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England on Friday -- is being widely misreported.  The memo, which is reproduced in full below, doesn't say that the terrorists are now POWs under the Geneva Conventions or that they will be afforded the full rights and protections of the Geneva Conventions.

What it does say is that with the exception of the military tribunals tossed out by the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdan, the treatment of the terrorist enemy combatants - under the cited Defense Department and Army manuals - is believed to be consistent with Geneva standards.  The media hype of this is entirely wrong.
And this has been, with the exception of the military tribunals, Bush's policy all along, as John Hinderacker notes.

(Why "generally consistent", rather than just "consistent"?  Because the Geneva conventions were written for soldiers in conventional armies, not terrorists.  And because the conventions have some odd provisions, for instance, that part about the detainees getting at least eight Swiss francs pay each month.)
- 2:07 PM, 13 July 2006   [link]

How Do I Choose What To Write About?  That question appeared again in two posts, one a comedy, and the other a tragedy.

First, the comedy.  In a post that that some might find a little crude, "Patterico" explains to leftist Glenn Greenwald why he did not condemn another conservative blogger (Misha).
Well, for starters: I don't read the guy.  His over-the-top rhetoric has never appealed to me.  To understand why, you need look no further than the outrageous, ridiculous post cited by Greenwald.

But there is an even more compelling reason why I failed to condemn Misha.  I have a day job.  In the few waking hours that Greenwald gave me and others to condemn the guy, I was either getting ready for work, or at work.

Here's the chronology: Misha's post was written yesterday in the early morning hours, while I was sleeping.  I woke up yesterday morning at 6 a.m., showed, dressed, ate, looked at the computer very briefly, and left for work at 7:15 a.m. I didn't look at a computer again until about 5:30 p.m.   When I got home, Glenn, your post condemning me and others for not condemning Misha was already posted.  You had written it hours before, at 2:18 p.m.
Second, the tragedy.
While trying to deal with the tragedy in Mumbai [Bombay], I have been wondering what the coverage of the story tells us about ourselves.

I was not surprised by MSM coverage in America: poor in local papers, better in papers with a large desi population or those with an international audience.  I was pleased to hear that CNN and CNBC had decent cable news coverage, perhaps because they're well established in India.

What has baffled me, however, is the relative silence from the world of blogs.  The blogosphere is supposed to be the cutting edge, far more advanced than the MSM, yet they're spending less time on the story.
And then Ennis lists the reactions of some major blogs, which reveals to me, though not to Ennis, that the leftwing blogs generally gave it little coverage — which is typical of how they react to terrorist attacks, and that the conservative blogs generally gave it decent coverage — which is typical of how they react to terrorist attacks.

You can see my own post, which fits that typology, here.   Why didn't I write more?  I choose subjects to write about here because they interest me — and because I think I may have something to add to the discussion.  The Bombay bombings interest me, but I didn't think I had much to add to the discussion, so I just linked to news stories, and to a blogger in India.

Although I don't have the same time constraints as "Patterico", I do have time constraints, as everyone does.  It only makes sense for me to give most of my time to the subjects where I think I can make a contribution, rather than running around enforcing ideological purity, or trying to cover every disaster, or even every terrorist attack.

I suspect most other bloggers use similar rules when they decide what they want to write about.   And so long as no one is paying us for our services, no one should complain when we don't cover the subjects they want us to write about.

(Confession: I also often write about what amuses me, as well as what interests me.  That's why, for instance, I wrote this one post replying to what I thought was an (unintentionally) funny argument from Glenn Greenwald.)
- 10:37 AM, 13 July 2006   [link]

Polling Is Harder In Primary Elections:  Mark Blumenthal explains why, using the Connecticut fight between Senator Joe Lieberman and challenger Ned Lamont as an example.

(Do I have any prediction on the race?  I have two of them, actually.  First, despite the difficulty of predicting turnout, and hence results in primaries, I think that Lieberman will probably (5-1 odds) defeat Lamont.  I am almost certain that Lieberman will be re-elected to the Senate this November, since other polls show him winning by a big margin if he runs, as he is prepared to do, as an independent.  If that happens, the Democratic party will shrink a little more.)
- 9:51 AM, 13 July 2006   [link]

You Have Probably Heard that Americans don't make things any more, that our costs are too high for manufacturers.  So where does a Chinese company plan to build MGs?   In Oklahoma, among other places.
Can the mystique of a British sports car be recreated by a Chinese company in America's heartland?

That's the bet by Nanjing Automobile Group, which plans to resurrect the fabled MG marque in a tricontinental demonstration of how truly global the automotive industry has become.

Nanjing, which purchased the assets of the bankrupt MG Rover Group last year, aims to be the first Chinese carmaker to open a factory in the United States.  The company announced today plans to build a newly designed MG TF Coupe in Ardmore, Okla., starting in 2008.  It said the coupe would compete with cars like the Mazda Miata, which sells for $20,000 to $25,000.
If it as cute as the original — and has a more reliable electrical system — it might do very well.
- 3:57 PM, 12 July 2006   [link]

Worth Reading:  What was Donald Rumsfeld doing on September 10, 2001?   He was complaining about waste and inefficiency at the Pentagon.  Which may have gotten worse since then.
On Sept. 10, 2001, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld stood before hundreds of military officers and civilian employees at the Pentagon and delivered a blistering attack on what he saw as the next national security threat: Pentagon bureaucracy.

He called for quicker decision-making, greater accountability and a streamlined process to get weapons into the hands of soldiers faster.  "We must transform the way the department works and what it works on," he said.  "It could be said that it’s a matter of life and death — ultimately, every American's."

The terrorist attacks the next day did more than put Mr. Rumsfeld's transformation plans in suspension.  As new weapons systems were ordered to help fight the war on terror, Pentagon spending after 9/11 jumped by hundreds of billions of dollars.  And so did waste.
Even though this article is from the New York Times, I think the argument is probably correct, because increases in waste have occurred in almost every past war.  Since this war with the terrorists will last many years, we should start looking carefully at the problems that Rumsfeld identified back in 2001.
- 3:39 PM, 12 July 2006   [link]

Has Microsoft Done Something Right?  David Pogue, who is a skeptic about Microsoft, thinks they may have.
Keeping Windows free from viruses, spyware and other nastiness is a chronic headache.  These days, the price of security software is just a cost of doing business on Windows PC's.  (No e-mail from smug, virus-free Mac fans, please.  Not everyone has a choice.)

So you might be surprised to find out who just entered the antivirus and anti-spyware market this month: Microsoft.  Yes, Microsoft, the company whose inattention to security made antivirus software a necessity in the first place.
. . .
If you're bothered by Microsoft's attempt to sell you twice — once on a vulnerable operating system, once on a fix — then you'll be forgiven for passing on the new service, called Windows Live OneCare.

But if you can get past that philosophical hurdle, you may be pleasantly surprised.  For its target market of nontechnical people, OneCare turns out to be quite good.
Pogue goes on to say that the software is a pain to install and does not offer the detailed control that you might get from competing software.  But you do get a program that provides virus protection, blocks spyware, backs up your system, and provides automatic updates for Microsoft application software.

I don't plan to get it since I do almost all my work in Linux, but others, especially those who really do not want to be system managers, might consider it, though I would suggest waiting a while for other consumers to test it for you.

(Here is the Microsoft OneCare site, and you can find brief articles about it here, here, and here.  The first article says that a firm with great experience in security software, McAfee, will be offering a competing product.)
- 2:33 PM, 12 July 2006   [link]

The Plame Kerfuffle Collapses:  This column by Robert Novak should end serious discussion of the Plame kerfuffle and Patrick Fitgerald's investigation.  Novak says that he learned about Valerie Plame's role in sending her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, inadvertently.
In my sworn testimony, I said what I have contended in my columns and on television: Joe Wilson's wife's role in instituting her husband's mission was revealed to me in the middle of a long interview with an official who I have previously said was not a political gunslinger.  After the federal investigation was announced, he told me through a third party that the disclosure was inadvertent on his part.
So there was no plot by the White House to reveal Plame's name, which, as Novak said, he learned from that super secret source — Who's Who in America.

Some have understood these essential facts all along; for example, the Wall Street Journal, which made an argument last year that our "mainstream" journalists should have listened to, but didn't (with a few honorable exceptions).
Democrats and most of the Beltway press corps are baying for Karl Rove's head over his role in exposing a case of CIA nepotism involving Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame.  On the contrary, we'd say the White House political guru deserves a prize--perhaps the next iteration of the "Truth-Telling" award that The Nation magazine bestowed upon Mr. Wilson before the Senate Intelligence Committee exposed him as a fraud.

For Mr. Rove is turning out to be the real "whistleblower" in this whole sorry pseudo-scandal.  He's the one who warned Time's Matthew Cooper and other reporters to be wary of Mr. Wilson's credibility.   He's the one who told the press the truth that Mr. Wilson had been recommended for the CIA consulting gig by his wife, not by Vice President Dick Cheney as Mr. Wilson was asserting on the airwaves.  In short, Mr. Rove provided important background so Americans could understand that Mr. Wilson wasn't a whistleblower but was a partisan trying to discredit the Iraq War in an election campaign.
. . .
In short, Joe Wilson hadn't told the truth about what he'd discovered in Africa, how he'd discovered it, what he'd told the CIA about it, or even why he was sent on the mission.  The media and the Kerry campaign promptly abandoned him, though the former never did give as much prominence to his debunking as they did to his original accusations.  But if anyone can remember another public figure so entirely and thoroughly discredited, let us know.
Rove told the truth; Wilson didn't.  One would think that journalists, even "mainstream" journalists, would honor the first and despise the second.  But they haven't and won't.  (And if you see any exceptions to that, let me know, so I can give them credit.)

(Here's a sharp critique of Fitgerald's investigation from Clarice Feldman, a lawyer who has followed the case closely.)
- 9:38 AM, 12 July 2006   [link]

Here's What I said last December about biodiesel.
The same argument applies — though enthusiasts seem not to have noticed — to biodiesel.   When the fuel can be created from true waste products, it may make economic sense, but it would be foolish, at least in the near future, to raise crops purely to convert them into diesel fuel.  Corn can be converted into food for us, or fodder for our animals, or biodiesel.  For many years, it will be more valuable as the first and second than the third.
And here's what a new study on biofuels says.
Producing biofuels such as ethanol from food crops isn't worth the effort.  That's the conclusion of a new and painstaking study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1.  Researchers should instead concentrate either on producing ethanol from indigestible plant material such as cellulose, or on synthetic hydrocarbon fuels.
The researchers are more optimistic than I was, but they agree that using corn and soybeans to fuel our cars is not practical.  In spite of what some politcians may have been telling you.

(I have begun to suspect that commercially successful biofuels may come, not from corn and soybeans, or even from switchgrass, but from microorganisms designed for the problem.  I have no idea whether anyone is researching that possibility.)
- 1:23 PM, 11 July 2006   [link]

Today's "Prickly City" has a solution for the problem of the New York Times. Some might consider it a little harsh.
- 12:46 PM, 11 July 2006   [link]

You Can Understand why they might prefer a different name.
Hindus living in Britain do not want to be described as "Asian", according to a big study of the community.

Instead, they want to be known as British Indian, Hindu — or even Desi, a Hindi word growing in popularity with the young that means being rooted in one's home country.  At the time of the 2001 Census the Hindu population in Britain had reached nearly 550,000.

The report, Connecting British Hindus, to be published in the Commons today, was funded by the Government and carried out by the Runnymede Trust and the Hindu Forum.

It found concern about a "general assumption" that any brown-skinned Asian person was Muslim and shows that Hindus feel neglected, marginalised and misunderstood.
Though they are doing very well in Britain, they would be happier if fewer held that "general assumption".
- 12:27 PM, 11 July 2006   [link]

Another Horrific Terrorist Attack:  This one in Bombay.
At least 100 people have been killed by seven near-simultaneous bombs on the train network in the Indian financial capital Mumbai (Bombay), police say.

The first explosion went off at about 1830 local time (1300 GMT), during the peak of the evening rush hour in the suburbs on the busy Western Railway.

Correspondents spoke of scenes of pandemonium, with people jumping from trains and bodies flung onto tracks.

There have been a number of bomb attacks in Mumbai in recent years.
And this attack, like the earlier attacks, was most likely committed by Islamic terrorists, though the BBC isn't going to say that, unless forced to.
- 11:08 AM, 11 July 2006
The Instapundit has much more, including links to some sites in India, such as this one.
- 12:55PM, 11 July 2006
More:  The death toll has passed 200.  And by way of the Chicago Boyz, I found this site with eyewitness accounts.
- 2:59 PM, 12 July 2006   [link]

Free Trips From A Dubious Sponsor:  Let's suppose that a powerful congressman, in fact a very powerful congressman, went on a series of trips paid for by a large corporation with a dubious reputation.  Let's suppose that the congressman often spoke in favor of that corporation, and even sponsored bills to help them.  Would that bother you?  It would me.

It is not hard to find examples of this kind of conflict of interest, but I just ran across one with a twist.  Congressman Charles Rangel has been taking trips to Cuba — paid for by that Communist regime.  And Rangel is, if I may say so, rather blasé about taking Castro's money.
Well, I'm going to harp on him once more (and I can't promise it'll be the last time).  I happened on this item in New York magazine, which begins, "Representative Charlie Rangel has been scrambling to explain away inconsistencies surrounding a mission he and other New York power brokers took to meet with Fidel Castro."  It continues, "According to forms Rangel filed with House overseers back in 2002, he claimed he and his family took a $5,700, four-day trip to Havana on the dime of an obscure Minneapolis-based environmental group."  But the Center for Public Integrity "discovered some major missing info: Rangel now says the government of Cuba paid for their stay at the posh Melia Cohiba hotel."

You'll appreciate the conclusion of New York's item: "'There's no reason to hide the damn thing,' [Rangel] says, adding that he's met Castro a half dozen times on Cuba's dime."
If the Democrats were to win control of the House of Representatives, Congressman Rangel would almost certainly be the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, one of the most powerful posts in the entire Congress.  Perhaps he should show that he deserves that position by promising not to take any more favors from a ruthless Communist dictator

By the way, that item in the New York magazine is dated June 12, a month ago.  One would think that Rangel's confession might have gotten the attention of another reporter since then, but I found no articles when I searched news sources with Google.  Maybe Dan Rather can look into it.

(Here's an example of Rangel's efforts to help Castro.)
- 10:43 AM, 11 July 2006   [link]

Where Do Republican candidates get contributions?  From "special interests and Republican lawmakers".  Where do Democratic candidates get contributions?  From "outside groups".   Thanks to Newsbusters for spotting that small, but telling, example of bias from the Associated Press.

For the benefit of John Machacek, the AP reporter who wrote this article, I will add that a labor union is just as much a "special interest" as a business.
- 5:04 AM, 11 July 2006   [link]

Worth Reading:  Ed Morrisey has been doing the work that "mainstream" news organizations won't, translating and discussing the documents captured during the fall of Saddam's regime.  I will not try to summarize all the posts, but will just point you to some of the more recent.

Some of Saddam's departments had interesting names, like Biology, Chemical, Missiles, and Nuclear.  And then there is this document showing an agenda for a Chemical Projects Authority, which may be legitimate, may be illegitimate, or may be a mixture of both.  And then there was the Anthrax Operation Room.   Again, there could be a a legitimate explanation for this room, but it would be interesting to know for sure.

And then there are documents for which it is impossible think of a legitimate explanation, such as this one from Dr. Rehab Rasheed Taha, better known as "Dr. Germ".  The good doctor suggests some changes in a plan for making and using biological weapons.  The document's date?  April 13, 2002.  Does this show stockpiles?  No.  But it shows, unless the document is fake, weapons programs that were forbidden by the UN resolutions.

And there is still more.  There is, for example, the Iraqi reaction to the defection of one of Saddam's bodyguards, Hamdi Mahmoud.  After a British newspaper claimed that Mahmoud had revealed the locations of Saddam's WMDs, the Iraqi intelligence agency sent out an alert — which accepted the claims as true.  And then there was the admission that the UN inspectors had, in 2002, discovered, among other things, a plant for the production of the deadly poison, ricin.

Let me repeat a point I have made before:  WMD programs are more worrisome than WMD stockpiles, with the possible exception of nuclear weapons.  That Saddam was continuing those WMD programs, in defiance of the UN resolutions, is simply beyond argument.

Why isn't the New York Times interested in this material?  I can think of several explanations, none of them complimentary.

(There are some other interesting bits, for instance, an exploding briefcase, which was intended for diplomats, some documentation of the extensive help the Russians giving Saddam, just before his overthrow, and a plan to use Kuwaiti prisoners as human shields.)
- 1:41 PM, 10 July 2006
John Hinderaker of Power Line has another telling document.  In 1999, the Iraqi Intelligence Service was plotting to conceal chemical weapons programs from the UN inspectors.  (Hinderaker thinks the document is evidence for WMDs; I think it is evidence for WMD programs.)
- 5:40 AM, 11 July 2006   [link]

When I Saw the pictures that illustrate this article on the latest fashions from Paris, I was reminded of a short science fiction story that I read many years ago.   In the story, evil aliens were plotting to take over the earth.  The evil aliens had a simple, if long term, strategy; they were going to make human females so unattractive to human males that humans would stop breeding.  As the story ended, we learned that the aliens were succeeding — through their control over the fashion industry.

The first picture shows a woman dressed in what is described as "topiary layers of ruffled tulle", but which reminds me of part of a giant vegetable, perhaps the end of a giant dill pickle.   The other pictures are beyond my powers of description, but none seem especially attractive, at least to me.  The designers may not have been trying to make the models (who are probably very pretty young women) unattractive, but they certainly succeeded.

(Here's a famous picture of the style that may have inspired that short story.  The man's expression says it all.

And here's a very different picture of what may be the same outfit that I saw in the New York Times story.  In this picture, the model appears to be wearing a giant, and very green, strawberry.)
- 10:02 AM, 10 July 2006   [link]

Learning From Mexico:  John Fund believes we have much to learn from Mexico when it comes to conducting honest elections.
Mexico is likely to weather the controversy over its photo-finish election despite the protestors that losing candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador brought into the streets on Saturday to claim the election had been stolen.  Mexico's nonpartisan National Election Commission has built up a decade of credibility in running clean elections and international observers have certified the count as fair.  Indeed, in its successful efforts to overcome its old reputation for corrupt vote-counting Mexico has a lot to teach the United States.

Mexico has developed an elaborate system of safeguards to prevent voter fraud.  Absentee ballots, which are cast outside the view of election officials and represent the easiest way to commit fraud, are much harder to apply for than in the U.S.  Voters must present a valid voter ID card with a photo and imbedded security codes.  After they cast a ballot voters — just like those famously pictured in Iraq last year — also have a finger or thumb dipped in indelible purple ink to prevent them from voting again.
Turnout in Mexico has increased since these controls were introduced, though the main reason for the increase is probably more competitive national elections.  (I have argued that allowing vote fraud, as we do, probably decreases turnout, since when vote fraud is common, some voters will conclude that their votes will not count, and that there is no reason to go to the polls.  And it is a fact that those parts of the United States where vote fraud is common generally have low turnout.)

We could also learn from our own past.  Many states had controls similar to those in Mexico, but dropped them in recent years.  The 1993 "Motor Voter" Act invalidated many traditional controls, and they have yet to be replaced in many states.

We have poor controls on vote fraud mainly because — to be blunt — Democratic politicians think they gain a small advantage from fraudulent votes.  And that small advantage can be enough in close races.  I am absolutely convinced that, if it were possible to eliminate all the fraudulent votes in the 2004 election, Dino Rossi, not Christine Gregoire, would now be Washington state's governor.  And I think it likely that, if we could have eliminated all the fraudulent votes from the 2000 election, Slade Gorton would defeated Maria Cantwell.  (That defeat had very large consequences since it allowed the Democrats to take control of the Senate after Jim Jeffords left the Republican party.)  And it is not hard to find similar examples in other states.  And it is simply a fact that illegal votes nearly cost George W. Bush Florida, and the presidency, in the 2000 election.

Some on the left are honest enough to admit that they favor vote fraud, as Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne did a couple of years ago.  (Though Dionne was not honest enough to admit that vote fraud usually helps Democratic candidates.  Or insightful enough to understand why Republicans might object to losing close elections when vote fraud is more common.)

But the result of tolerating vote fraud is to make every close election suspect, to the losing side.  Enough such elections and you will destroy the confidence of voters in our system.

(Just so there is no misunderstanding, I should add that I do not think that centralized vote fraud, committed by the candidates or party officials, is our main problem.  Instead, in most areas, it what I call distributed vote fraud, vote fraud committed by individuals or small groups working independently.)
- 6:51 AM, 10 July 2006   [link]

Neither Force Nor Negotiation Looks Like A Promising Way To Solve The North Korean Problem:  What to do?  Something else.  And we, and our allies, are doing it.
A programme of covert action against nuclear and missile traffic to North Korea and Iran is to be intensified after last week's missile tests by the North Korean regime.

Intelligence agencies, navies and air forces from at least 13 nations are quietly co-operating in a "secret war" against Pyongyang and Tehran.

It has so far involved interceptions of North Korean ships at sea, US agents prowling the waterfronts in Taiwan, multinational naval and air surveillance missions out of Singapore, investigators poring over the books of dubious banks in the former Portuguese colony of Macau and a fleet of planes and ships eavesdropping on the "hermit kingdom" in the waters north of Japan.
Calling it a "war" is misleading.

A big part of this operation is aimed at cutting off Kim's ill-gotten cash.
For the first time, the US Secret Service and the FBI released details of North Korean involvement in forging $100 notes and in selling counterfeit Viagra, cigarettes and amphetamines in collaboration with Chinese gangsters.

The investigators homed in on a North Korean trading company and two banks in Macau.  The firm, which had offices next to a casino and a "sauna", was run by North Koreans with diplomatic passports, who promptly vanished.
By "sauna", I assume they mean what we in the United States would call a "massage parlor".

The article goes on to recapitulate the conventional wisdom on North Korea, conventional wisdom that I have come to doubt.  I approved of the first Bush administration trying to bribe North Korea not to build nuclear weapons, but I think we have to admit that that policy has, almost certainly, failed.   So it is time to try something else, and this campaign seems like the best of bad alternatives.

(The article ends with some thoughts from Kim Jong-il.  Here's my favorite:
I know I'm an object of criticism in the world, but if I am being talked about, I must be doing the right thing.
Doesn't sound entirely adult, does he?)
- 2:20 PM, 9 July 2006
Austin Bay has more on what he calls the "python strategy", and he had it years earlier than the Times of London.
- 4:54 AM, 10 July 2006   [link]

Would You Rather Vote, Or Play The Lottery?  If an initiative passes, Arizonans will be able to do both at once.
Arizona residents may be able to win a cool million just for casting a ballot.

The state on Thursday certified the first citizens initiative for the November ballot.  The unusual proposal would randomly award $1 million to a voter.
So much for the idea that citizens have an obligation to vote, after becoming informed on the issues and candidates.

The proposal is not just silly, it is outright offensive.

By way of Dave Oliveria.)
- 1:55 PM, 9 July 2006   [link]