Today's Blogs


Bloggers discuss Sept. 11, analyze John Roberts’ confirmation hearings, and pass around a Guardian essay denouncing bad science journalism.

9/11/05:Sunday was the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and bloggers mark the occasion by taking the long view of the war on terror.

“Four years later, terrorism remains a problem around the world, as we have seen in Bali, in Madrid, in Israel, in London, and, of course, in Iraq. Yet, it would seem, not in America. While America remains alert and, some would say, hypersensitive to the risk of another attack, none has come,” writesGaijin Biker, a transplanted New Yorker living in Toronto. “Why?”

Many conservatives credit the anti-terror work of the Bush administration. At Power Line, Paul Mirengoff says that the United States has prevented successive attacks, made the work of terrorists more difficult, and destroyed most of the al-Qaida leadership behind the attacks. “If, in the aftermath of 9/11, one had asked the American people whether these successes would represent good progress in the war against terrorism over the coming four years, the answer surely would have been overwhelmingly affirmative,” even, he says, as part of a bargain that included a fugitive Osama Bin Laden, an ongoing struggle in Iraq, and soured relations with many former allies.

Some on the left, however, see as much harm as good in the administration response. Neoconservatives, emboldened by 9/11, originally saw the war in Iraq “as the centerpiece and final vindication of their distinctive notions of ‘national greatness’ and American power,” writesWashington MonthlyPolitical Animal Kevin Drum. Instead, he says, Iraq has proved to be, “an unmistakable demonstration of the limits of American power … I suspect that the war in Iraq will be for neoconservatism what the war on poverty ended up being for 60s liberalism: its Waterloo.” University of Michigan professor Juan Cole also sees the glass half-empty.

Others see diminishing returns in successive anniversaries. “I have less to say on the fourth anniversary, because I’m not sure what needs to be said,” writes columnist James Lileks. “You get it or you don’t, and if the passage of time has made the lessons indistinct, a picture of that September morning will look as remote as a screen grab from ‘Tora Tora Tora.’ As Mark Steyn put it, we are winning the war on terrorism, but perhaps we are losing the war about the war.” Military specialist Austin Bay also laments what he considers an uphill public relations battle. “In the 21st century, intense media coverage magnifies the terrorists’ capabilities. This suggests that winning the global war against Islamist terror ultimately means accomplishing two things: denying the terrorists’ weapons of mass destruction and curbing what is currently Al Qaeda’s greatest strategic capability: media magnification and occasional media enhancement of its bombing campaigns and political theatrics.”

Plenty of conservatives commemorate 9/11 with memories and virtual memorials—and many others with the discussion of a particular memorial, the Crescent of Embrace, designed to commemorate those who died when Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pa. “In what seems to be a typical case of cluelessness among memorial designers, the site will prominently feature the religious symbol of the attackers themselves,” writes Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters. Libertarian Bill Quick is one of several who think critics are overstating the degree to which the memorial borrows from Islamic symbolism.

Read more about Sept. 11 and more about the Crescent of Embrace.

Questions for John Roberts:The New York Times asked five contributors each to present five questions for Supreme Court chief justice nominee John Roberts, whose Senate confirmation hearings began today with a series of opening statements.

At liberal network Daily Kos, stalwart contributor Armando outlines the liberal case against the nominee. Ezra Klein, another liberal, is a bit kinder. “I’ve got some sympathy for John Roberts,” he writes. “Being forced to sit in a chair and furrow his brow attentively as God knows how many senators read plodding, intermittently coherent opening statements can’t be a good way to spend your morning … If we’re going to ask him some questions, let’s ask him some goddamn questions, otherwise, someone, for the love of all that is holy, please forcibly remove Orrin Hatch from the microphone.”

Others agree the hearings might be less than the partisan crucible they once promised to be. At the National Review’s judicial blog Bench Memos, Jonathan Adler points to reports that Senate Democrats plan to ease up on Roberts. “This seems like a shrewd move on their part. Judge Roberts is certain to be confirmed,” he predicts. “My sense is that Roberts is going to run circles around the Judiciary Committee,” writes Orin Kerr, a professor of criminal justice, at legal group blog Volokh Conspiracy.

Edward Whelan of Bench Memos lets us know what to expect.Law professor Ann Althouse is “TiVo-blogging” the event (excerpt: “I got my first out-loud laugh when Leahy just started reading the whole Preamble of the Constitution to Roberts. Then he kept saying “We the People” as many times as he could.”) Live bloggers include Tom Goldstein at SCOTUSblog, and Matt Margolis at Blogs for Bush.

Read more about John Roberts.

Is bad science good journalism?: “Why is science in the media so often pointless, simplistic, boring, or just plain wrong?” asksGuardian columnist Ben Goldacre, who paints a brutal picture of the ignorance and incompetence of most science journalism, which, he says, chooses the shock value of a story, as measured and managed by non-specialists, over responsible reporting of reliable science.

“In other words, it’s like the rest of the news,” quips libertarian law professor Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit. “All I can say is that it rings true, again and again,” writes journalist Charles Arthur. “Yes, science stories aren’t well-understood by anyone up the chain of command in newspapers. Of course the problem is that ‘news’ is stuff that’s surprising, remarkable, and science doesn’t often offer that; as Goldacre points out, science moves by gathering little bits of data, putting them together, creating a matrix.”

Read more about the Guardian essay.