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03/16/2004 Archived Entry: "Bookslut"

Dick Locher's "Bush's Props"; Don Wright's "How Conservatives Become Instant Liberals"; and, Tony Auth's "Consensus".

Kudos and plaudits to an old acquaintance, Tyler Cowen, for a fascinating article on "The New World of Blogs." And while I am on the almost-inexhaustible topic of blogs, here's one I visit regularly to keep current on events and gossip from the publishing world: Bookslut. I also recommend the ever-fresh Wonkette. Here's her take on the Kerry "scandal" -- that is, his claim that foreign leaders back his election rather than Bush's. Wonkette writes, "Today Dems have seized upon Boston Globe reporter Pat Healy's revelation that Kerry actually said "more leaders" in his first remarks about foreign support for American regime change. But the minor correction is hardly exculpatory; it would mean more, for one thing, if Kerry had ever bothered to challenge the initial report. As it is, he's just found his inner Clinton, constantly re-adjusting the details of the claim. Did he meet with leaders? Did he hear from them? Perhaps he received an email: "I wish to introduce myself, I am Mathias kobi Kabila the son of the late Democratic Republic of Congo President Laurent Desire Kabila of the blessed memory. I write this letter in respect of my intention to invest the sum of US$28M(Twenty Eight Million United State Dollars) with you. . . "

I have not been McBlogging on the war because, frankly, I find the subject too depressing. (I wonder how many antiwar voices have been silenced not by repression but by the emotional grinding-down that accompanies any sustained focus on senseless, avoidable death and destruction.) But this weekend marked the 1st anniversary of the invasion of Iraq -- one year -- and retrospectives are in the air. I began blogging on Iraq in on 12/28/02 and maintained a fairly steady commentary until '04. Perhaps it is time to resume.

I have a mixed reaction to the Socialist victory in Spain, which is widely viewed (and accurately so) as a response to the terrible train bombing at Madrid. I applaud the new leader's resolve to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq by the end of June unless the United Nations assumes control of military operations there. In this, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is not only expressing the wishes of the vast majority of Spaniards, he is also removing Spain from al-Qaida's target list. This has implications for other nations -- such as Italy, Britain and Australia -- where leaders have committed troops to Iraq despite public opinion, a move that is likely to backlash against them in upcoming elections. Interestingly, commentators almost unanimously predicted that a 9/11-style terrorist attack on European soil would cause a surge in conservatism, as it did in the States. That is, they expected Europeans to call for blood and rise up in support of the War on Terrorism, including the occupation of Iraq. The opposite happened. I think commentators underestimated (and underestimate) the depth of international resentment at the arrogant and unilateral manner in which the United States is redefining the world. Given that Spain has only 1,300 troops in Iraq, the withdrawal makes little difference in the strength of operations but it is a tremendous symbolic and diplomatic slap in the face for the Bush Administration. I note that there is a glut of silence from that direction on the Spanish "upset."

That's the good news...that's the source of my positive response. The negative one? Spain is another indication that Europe is shifting toward a pro-socialist, anti-US consensus. Even though I am anti-Bush, I am not anti-American and I cannot applaud the polarization that is occurring between the US and the rest of the world. The US has self-created a new Cold War of us-against-everyone, and the attitude is spilling over from the war to the economy: for example, the hue and cry against outsourcing jobs. If the world responds in kind, then we are headed toward borders that are fortresses and barriers to both freedom and prosperity. My main hope for this not happening resides with individuals acting privately...for example, with the Internet, which respects no boundary. Thank God for technology and the power it gives to the individual.

News updates on privacy:
---The Media Awareness Project warns, "[A]t the same time the GOP-controlled [Florida] Legislature is prohibiting the creation of a database of citizens who own guns, it's pushing to create a database of who's dispensing and receiving prescriptions."
---Ted Bridis comments on Big Brother's latest assault on Internet privacy. "Technology companies should be required to ensure that law enforcement agencies can install wiretaps on Internet traffic and new generations of digital communications, the Justice Department says. The push would effectively expand the scope of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, a 1994 law that requires the telecommunications industry to build into its products tools that U.S. investigators can use to eavesdrop on conversations with a court order."
---News from the RFID Journal, "Toppan Forms, a technology subsidiary of Japan's Toppan Printing, has teamed with Kanazawa, Japan-based integrated circuit manufacturer FEC to create an RFID microchip that can operate at all frequencies from 13.56 MHz to 2.45 GHz." The goal "is to make it possible for companies to use tags that can be read anywhere, regardless of local regulations." For both updates and background of the RFID threat to privacy, I recommend the website Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN), and specifically their spinoff site Spychips.com.
---Wired reports on an encouraging trend, "Wisconsin and New York became the latest states to drop out of a controversial interstate law enforcement data-sharing program shortly after joining it." Only five remain officially part of MATRIX: Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
---and, for those who wonder about the much-vaunted assurances of privacy offered by governmental agencies that data-mine, "A federal judge in Washington yesterday ordered the Interior Department to shut down most of its employees' Internet access and some of its public Web sites after concluding that the agency has failed to fix computer security problems that threaten millions of dollars owed to Native Americans." Accessing the link to this story requires registering for free with the Washington Post, unfortunately.
--- from c/net News -- coauthored by Declan McCullagh (the best writer in the field of e-privacy) and Ben Charny, "A far-reaching proposal from the FBI, made public Friday, would require all broadband Internet providers, including cable modem and DSL companies, to rewire their networks to support easy wiretapping by police."

Best to all,

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