Instapundit.com Instapundit.com
Warning: include(/home/www/instapundit-archive/navbar.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/joyent-copy/home/www/instapundit-archive/archives/week_2002_08_18.php on line 108 Warning: include(): Failed opening '/home/www/instapundit-archive/navbar.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/share/pear:/usr/share/php') in /home/joyent-copy/home/www/instapundit-archive/archives/week_2002_08_18.php on line 108
Warning: include(/home/www/instapundit-archive/ad.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/joyent-copy/home/www/instapundit-archive/archives/week_2002_08_18.php on line 126 Warning: include(): Failed opening '/home/www/instapundit-archive/ad.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/share/pear:/usr/share/php') in /home/joyent-copy/home/www/instapundit-archive/archives/week_2002_08_18.php on line 126

August 24, 2002

HEY -- Asparagirl is off to see The New Deal play live. I just got their CD this week, and I'm jealous.

THIS MONTH'S SMARTER HARPER'S INDEX is up.

JIM BENNETT WRITES ABOUT TRANSNATIONAL PROGRESSIVISM in this week's UPI column.

I JUST SAW THIS OPED BY BILL KELLER IN THE NEW YORK TIMES. Note the lead:

If candor counted for as much as courtesy, the author note under Brent Scowcroft's now famous op-ed in The Wall Street Journal last week, the one arguing against war with Iraq, might have said something like this: "Mr. Scowcroft, the former national security adviser, now makes his living advising business clients, some of whom would be gravely inconvenienced by a war in the Middle East. And by the way, he thought Saddam Hussein was finished after the gulf war in 1991."

And it gets better. It's basically a full-bore Fisking of the antiwar critics, which is pretty remarkable in the Times.

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus points out that Keller was the contender beaten out by Howell Raines. The Times, I think it's safe to say, would be a lot better paper if Keller had gotten the job.

MORE on the mideast connection to the Oklahoma City bombing. I'm still filing this in the "not proven, but worth looking into" category. But I'm glad people are looking into it.

THE UNITED STATES HAS FIVE PERCENT OF THE WORLD'S POPULATION, BUT. . . well, read this.

OKAY, CLAIRE BERLINSKI IS TAKING REALPOLITIK a bit farther than I would. But there's a certain symmetry to it.

BOGOSITY ALERT: McDonald's is allegedly coming under fire for introducing its "McAfrika burger" at a time when Africans are starving:

The concoction of beef, cheese, tomatoes and salad in a pitta-style sandwich is said to be based upon an authentic African recipe and is being sold to Norwegian consumers for about £2.80.

But aid agencies trying to raise funds to stave off a famine in southern Africa say that the timing of the McAfrika marketing campaign is insensitive, crass and ill-considered and have demanded remedial action from McDonald's.

"It's inappropriate and distasteful to launch a hamburger called McAfrika when large portions of southern Africa are on the verge of starvation," Linn Aas-Hansen of Norwegian Church Aid told the newspaper Aftenposten.

My African acquaintances and quasi-relations hate Western stereotyping of Africa as a place where people spend most of their time starving and waiting on Western aid. They regard such stereotyping as, basically, racism. Yet the Norwegian aid community seems unashamed to engage in such behavior.

McDonald's is treating Africa as if it's just another part of the world, instead of like a pariah continent distinguished chiefly by disease and helplessness. That's a good thing, and the Norwegians -- who are basically peddling stereotypes in order to get attention and raise money ("trying to raise funds" is the key phrase in the above passage) -- should be ashamed. Why aren't they looking at the real causes of starvation in Africa?

UPDATE: Here, from McDonald's own Norwegian site, is the McAfrika in all its splendor. Looks yummy.

And for a non-victim example, take a listen to Afrigo, a Ugandan band that my record label does production and distribution for. (We don't get any money for it; it's part of our foreign-aid program, which also involves giving computers and music software to Nigerian musicians). They even have a song on the virtues of privatization ("Today for Tomorrow"), which Virginia Postrel liked so much that she bought the CD. (No, really.) These guys have managed to sell a half-million cassettes and CDs in Uganda and surrounding countries, despite everything that's happened there. And they've managed to do it without help from self-promoting Norwegian aid groups who see them only as victims to be sloganized over.

ANOTHER UPDATE: There's more on this, from Big S Blog, ("McDonald's burgers I'd like to see:" -- list includes the "McFisk," "McEuro" and "McArafat."), Steven Chapman, ("I'm looking forward to McDonald's releasing a 'McNorway' burger in Africa (two all-whale patties, special sauce, lettuce, textured soya protein, pickles, onions on a GM-free sesame seed ciabatta), and this being criticised by the Zimbabwean Red Cross as being 'insensitive...at a time when 12 million Norwegians are facing obesity in southern Oslo.'"), and Bill Quick ("Good thing they have nothing more important to worry about."). Then there's this from Bjorn Staerk: "Can you imagine anything worse than having your entire continent trademarked by Norwegian Church Aid?"

TALKLEFT RESPONDS to my post below on Ashcroft's apparently nonexistent prison camps by saying:

What number should it take, 25, 100, 500? Should the number of beds at the first such facility be the determinative factor of whether it is a camp? Could it serve as a model for future facilities? If 50 such facilities were contemplated, would they be camps?

We don't know if Ashcroft is planning camps or not. But if it looks like a duck.....

Well, at the moment, it doesn't look like a duck, or even a duckling. It's bad to imprison American citizens without due process, as I've said repeatedly. But that's a far cry from the Ashcroft-is-planning-camps-for-us-all hysteria that has sprung up in response to Turley's article, and which Turley's article seems designed to inflame.

I'd rather live in a country that is too sensitive to such matters than one that is not sensitive enough, of course. But if you cry wolf -- or even duck -- too often, it won't be that kind of a nation any more. Turley overstated his case, and the result is that the next time somebody raises the issue it will be harder to get it taken seriously.

For those who are really paranoid, of course, that could be part of the plan. . . .

UPDATE: Dan Perkins puts it well: "Reality is scary enough by itself these days."

CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE: I was hard on Ted Turner during the St. Helena Island Gullah-land-grab incident. But it looks like he's doing something right here -- though whether the uranium in question is really "weapons grade" (as the Guardian story states) without further enrichment is doubtful. I'm unaware of any reactor fuel rods that use truly weapons-grade uranium, though I don't pretend to universal knowledge, and an "research reactor" might be an exception; I know of research reactors that use plutonium at high degrees of enrichment.

Regardless, this is money well spent, and Turner is the one spending it. Bravo.

SELF-FISKING: ROBERT FISK WRITES that it's not his job to provide evidence in war-crimes trials.

Yeah, he's kept too busy making unfounded accusations. He's got the part about journalism being a "masquerade" right, though.

UPDATE: Okay, one more thought. Isn't it odd that national sovereignty, and a whole raft of individual protections under international (and American constitutional) law can go by the wayside in the effort to prosecute war crimes, but that anything that might make a reporter's life more difficult is obviously beyond the pale?

Okay, it's not really odd that a reporter would think that. What's odd is that anyone else would take it seriously. Then again, it's not at all clear that anyone else does.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader suggests that Fisk may be unwilling to face pejury charges:

Isn't it rather obvious why Fisk refuses to provide his "evidence" in war-crimes trials? Standards of truth and accuracy are much higher in a courtroom than in a newsroom. Fisk can exaggerate and outright lie about American and Israeli "war crimes" in print; but put him under oath where his statements can be challenged and they'll crumble like month old soda crackers.

Possibly.

UPDATE: Oh, read this, too.

ANOTHER INTERNET RUMOR? John Hawkins investigates Jonathan Turley's claim (via a Los Angeles Times op-ed) that Ashcroft and the Justice Department were planning prison camps and finds it wanting.

I think Hawkins is right to call this hype. I looked at the Wall Street Journal article that Turley claims (via email) was the basis for his oped and it's really a bit of a stretch to view it as indicating that plans for massive incarceration are underway. The article appeared on August 8, and is entitled: "White House Seeks to Expand Indefinite Detentions in Military Brigs, Even for U.S. Citizens." Here's the key section:

The White House is considering creating a high-level committee to decide which prisoners should be denied access to federal courts. The Goose Creek, S.C., facility that houses Mr. Padilla -- mostly empty since it was designated in January to hold foreigners captured in the U.S. and facing military tribunals -- now has a special wing that could be used to jail about 20 U.S. citizens if the government were to deem them enemy combatants, a senior administration official said.

A special wing holding 20 people isn't exactly Manzanar, yet in Turley's oped it becomes a "proposed camp plan" (there's nothing in the Wall Street Journal story about any prison "camps," but the term appears repeatedly in Turley's piece). There's a minor disclaimer that Ashcroft isn't planning anything on the scale of the Japanese-American internments of World War Two, but Turley never makes clear that we're talking about fewer than two dozen individuals. Perhaps Turley has more information than the Journal article contains, but if so he hasn't mentioned it.

I'm opposed to the imprisonment of American citizens without trial. Unlike the imprisonment of foreign citizens, it is almost certain to have a deeply corrupting effect on American politics. But Turley's hype does a disservice.

As I mentioned in my original post on Turley's piece, bogus rumors of government prison camps have been around for decades. If this stuff is hyped when it's not true, what will people say if it ever becomes true? I'll tell you what they'll say: "There goes Turley, crying wolf again."

August 23, 2002

JUST FINISHED READING ERIC FLINT'S 1633. (Well, Eric Flint & David Weber's really.) I went over to Blogcritics and lo and behold, there was this review by Bigwig. The review is spot-on. I, too, was struck by the patriotism in the books. And Eric Flint, a former union organizer, is the kind of lefty that, well, the left needs more of in place of people like Susan Sarandon and Noam Chomsky.

Congratulations to Eric Olsen for getting Blogcritics off the ground so smoothly.

MAX SAWICKY GENTLY CHIDES ME (no, really, that's what he does!) over this post. Sigh. He's probably right. I just couldn't help noticing the resemblance between that mail and mail I get from a lot of antiwar folks.

And surely being called a warmonger by Nazis is something to brag about.

SKBUBBA is channeling John Prine at the expense of a certain government agency.

NICK DENTON has great insight into the difference between Americans and Brits: "American workers think of themselves as middle class; and the English middle class think of themselves as workers." Scroll down for an interesting post on U.S. / European relations.

MITCH WEBBER of the YalePundits is very unhappy with Congressional Black Caucus chair Eddie Bernice Johnson's (D-TX) anti-semitic remarks about the McKinney election.

I don't agree that such statements are too vile for First Amendment protection, but I agree that they're too vile to let pass.

HERE'S A SIDE OF JIHADISM that you don't see that much about, but probably should:

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AP) - Four times in the last four years, Bashir Butt tracked down his son at training camps for Islamic extremists in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir and begged him to come home.

On Aug. 9, police arrived at the Butts' modest home here and told them their son Kamran, 21, was dead. He died while attacking Christians leaving a church in Taxila about 30 miles west of Islamabad. Three Christian nurses were killed and a fourth was mortally wounded.

Bashir Butt, however, remembers his son as a shy boy who never caused trouble in the neighborhood and who "had a great respect for his fellow human beings."

"We never thought that one day he would become a terrorist," Bashir Butt said. "We never even imagined. ... These cruel jihadis made him a terrorist." . . .

To Kamran's family, however, his death seems pointless. It has left his family deeply bitter over the extremist groups and what they had done to him.

"I hate these jihadi organizations," said Bashir Butt, a 48-year-old widower with two other sons and a daughter. "I hate these so-called jihadi leaders. "They are the killers of my son."

I'll bet that there are more people who feel this way than get reported.

Of course, if a Palestinian said this, he'd be dead.

CHARLES JOHNSON REPORTS that the Hizbollah website has been hacked.

Yeah, but what's there isn't that impressive. Remember: disinformation and/or intelligence-gathering are a lot better than lame insults. I appreciate the effort, but nasty remarks about Arabs don't really do the job.

I THINK THAT THIS GUY is working for Homeland Security now. . . .

(Via Blogs4God.Com).

EVER WONDER WHY THERE ISN'T A BLOGGING TV SHOW YET? Neither have I. But here's someone who's given it some thought.

BTW, I am working on Radio Instapundit. You can see a beta (well, actually it's more like an alpha) site here.

MORE ON MILITARY RECRUITMENT: Ernest Miller writes from Yale, in response to my earlier post about Harvard Law allowing military recruiters back on campus:

I was in the military for nearly 12 years. As a senior (first classman) at USNA in Annapolis, I challenged the SecDef (Cheney at the time) on the policy discriminating against gays. As a midshipman and an officer I always argued against the policy when it came up in discussion. I also quashed homophobic remarks among those under my leadership, just as I quashed racist or sexist remarks.

When military recruiters came to Yale Law I always attended their sessions and made sure that those being recruited were aware that they had the option of speaking out against the policy ... that they should not be afraid to be true to their conscience, if they believed the policy to be wrong. I see no reason why students at Harvard should not attend the military recruitment sessions and make the same points.

This makes sense to me.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the memo from Harvard's Dean Clark.

IT'S ALL ABOUT OIL, RIGHT? John Hawkins has the numbers.

Personally, I think that it's all about crazed murderers who want to kill us, and the loser despots who support them.

THE RIAA'S INFLUENCE SEEMS TO BE SPREADING:

Washington DC - William Ford Jr., CEO of the Ford Motor Company testified before Congress about the nationwide problem of ride sharing. Ford cited ride swapping as the number one reason for the the company's declining revenue. "These 'pool pirates are depriving Ford of rightful income. Three sometimes four people are sharing rides. Less wear and tear on the cars means fewer new car purchases. That's revenue that's being robbed from Ford."

A recent study by the Gartner Group supports Ford's claims that ride sharing runs rampant across the US. The study showed showed that children under the age of 16 were the biggest offenders. Almost 99% of children in that age group said they had shared a ride in the past week. The study also showed that ride sharing had spread to the Internet in the form of "Car Pool" message boards where the "Road Robbers" set up their swaps.

Many Representatives questioned Ford's claim that consumers used ride sharing to put off purchases of new cars for 3 or even 4 years. "You're telling me that people don't receive new cars as gifts from lobbyists every year? I find that allegation preposterous," asked a Representative from Virginia.

Satire that's a bit too close to the truth.

IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO ALREADY, go read Lileks.

ROBERT MUGABE says that criticism of his thuggish regime is just a racist effort to undermine Zimbabwe's independence. Tim Blair replies: "Zimbabwe would be a whole lot more independent if it stopped murdering people who grow food."

WANT A NON-WARBLOG? Here's one by Jen Hayward, recommended by Aziz Poonawalla. Then there's Annatopia, which says right at the top that "this is not a war blog!"

WOW. I was pretty sure traffic was trending upward, but then I looked at this and it was obvious. You'd think I'd have done that before, wouldn't you?

BLOGOSPHERE FAVE Claire Berlinski emails that I should link to this column -- so naturally I have. Excerpt:

The old-time commies at least used to go to a bit of effort to tell the Western leftie intellectuals what they wanted to hear. The Islamists, by contrast, cheerfully piss all over every cherished Western progressive shibboleth. Women? The Taleban didn’t just ‘marginalise’ women, they buried them under sackcloth. But Gloria Steinem still wouldn’t support the Afghan war, and Cornell professor Joan Jacobs Brumberg argues that the ‘beauty dictates’ of American consumer culture exert a far more severe toll on women. Gays? As The New Republic reported this week, the Palestinian Authority tortures homosexuals, makes them stand in sewage up to their necks with faeces-filled sacks on their heads. Yet Canadian MP Svend Robinson, Yasser’s favourite gay infidel, still makes his pilgrimages to Ramallah to pledge solidarity with the people’s ‘struggle’. Animals? CNN is showing videos all this week of al-Qa’eda members testing various hideous poison gases on dogs.

Radical Islamists aren’t tolerant of anybody: they kill Jews, Hindus, Christians, babies, schoolgirls, airline stewardesses, bond traders, journalists. They use snuff videos for recruitment: go on the Internet and a couple of clicks will get you to the decapitation of Daniel Pearl. You can’t negotiate with them because they have no demands — or at least no rational ones. By ‘Islam is peace’, they mean that once the whole world’s converted to Islam there will be peace, but not before. Other than that, they’ve got nothing they want to talk about. It takes up valuable time they’d rather spend killing us.

Yeah, but to a certain set of Western intellectuals that's just a guarantee of genuineness.

JOSH CHAFETZ has responded to TAPPED's criticism of his Maureen Dowd debunking. Conclusion: "[W]e here at OxBlog know all about irony. But we generally think it should be used in service of a point, not in lieu of one."

READER JASON STRAUSS writes from Harvard Law School to report that the law school has decided to open up to military recruiters. The memorandum from Dean Clark, which he shared, speaks in terms of legal necessities and federal funding, but I can't help wondering if this is Larry Summers' influence.

While I'm opposed to the armed services' discrimination against gays, I'm also opposed to the anti-military policies of Ivy League schools, so I regard this as a good thing.

(I actually tried to call HLS to get a reaction, but spent literally 5 minutes being bounced around by a phone tree that kept sending me back to the main Harvard operator, or to a recording that the number I had selected was no good. How lame.)

A MCKINNEY / BELLESILES CONNECTION? Well, only in the most tenuous sense. But Bellesiles is certainly being treated with kid gloves compared to this guy, who does have a McKinney connection of sorts. The link comes from Martin Grace, a professor at Georgia State University, who argues that Emory has a general governance problem:

Emory has a history of making bad decisions about tenured faculty. The decision to fire tenured faculty might the correct one for the institution and they may have legal grounds to do so, but they appear to do it often without even a level of minimal due process. There have been a number of cases of recent note and I have linked an article from the Emory newspaper that talks about a particular case. However, as one reads further we see that Ms. McKinney (and her dad) got involved in the case. She is a lame duck now, but she still fight for the "little guy" if she so desires.

Perhaps the reticence of Emory to "firing" a tenure faculty member and actually contemplating paying him off is because of the lack of understanding about what is permissible faculty behavior and what is not _and_ Emory's previous attempts at termination were met with litigation and alleged million dollar pay-offs . . . They may think it may be cheaper just to pay Bellesiles off now.

The senior administrators there have always called the shots and they have
done it rather poorly in the past. Why expect anything different today?

PS. I have no connection to Emory other than that I live in the
neighborhood. I know a couple of people who work there now and some who
used to work there.

Interesting. As I said earlier, we'll just have to see what develops.

IT'S PROBABLY UNFAIR, but when I think of the sustainability summit in Johannesburg, I'm reminded of last year's racism summit in Durban. Let's hope that this one works out better.

HASHEMITE UPDATE: I meant to post on this yesterday, but the press of Bellesiles- and Mineta-related developments (and the fact that classes started) kept me from getting to it. But in yesterday's National Review Online David Pryce-Jones reflected on the possibility of a Hashemite transitional ruler for Iraq. Today, Claude Salhani disagrees. There's a passing mention in both pieces of a different Hashemite role, as custodians of Mecca and Medina, too.

PART THREE of Armed Liberal's series on terrorism is up. The whole series is worth reading.

BELLESILES UPDATE: The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that Bellesiles will be gone for a year, not just the Fall semester as reported earlier. (You have to be an online subscriber to read the story, but the headline is on the front page.)

Some readers suggest that they're just getting him off campus as a prelude to a buyout/severance deal. Well, maybe -- though why Emory would want to "buy out" a guy who's been credibly accused of fraud (and who obviously hasn't been exonerated by their intensive investigation) is beyond me. I suppose the answer will be forthcoming eventually.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has found the explanation for the whole affair.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader who has an online subscription says that although the headline says a year, the article says he's on leave for a semester. Uh, okay.

WILL WARREN HAS A NEW POEM inspired by Cynthia McKinney's defeat. It's a good one. They don't call him the "poet laureate of the Blogosphere" for nothing.

BAD NEWS FOR THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT:

The secretive federal court that approves spying on terror suspects in the United States has refused to give the Justice Department broad new powers, saying the government had misused the law and misled the court dozens of times, according to an extraordinary legal ruling released yesterday.

A May 17 opinion by the court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) alleges that Justice Department and FBI officials supplied erroneous information to the court in more than 75 applications for search warrants and wiretaps, including one signed by then-FBI Director Louis J. Freeh.

This shouldn't be a big surprise to regular InstaPundit readers, but it's certainly an embarrassment for DoJ. But maybe it'll be a wakeup call.

Probably not.

THE PEACE MOVEMENT'S BIG TENT? The folks at Vanguard News Network send this gloating email:

Ha ha ha

Support for an American attack on Iraq is dropping daily, but the
warmongering Gallup Poll leads with the headline 'Majority of Americans Favor Attacking Iraq to Oust Saddam Hussein'.

Of course, if you look at the poll, it does show a majority of Americans supporting the war. Maybe next the Nazis at VNN will start impugning their masculinity. . . .

UPDATE: Hey, and they're going to have a rally against the war in Washington, too. I guess the Peace Movement really is gathering steam, huh? Well, it's already conquered France.

August 22, 2002

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH responds to a growing trend among antiwar folks of impugning the masculinity of prowar folks while engaging in chest-pounding displays on their own. He finds one particularly amusing example of what can only be called playground-level bluster, which is odd considering that antiwar folks are usually hurling accusations of such bluster elsewhere.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Melissa Seckora reports:

EMORY'S STATEMENT ON MICHAEL BELLESILES: [Melissa Seckora] "Professor Michael Bellesiles will be on paid leave from his teaching duties at Emory University during the fall semester. The University's inquiry regarding Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture is continuing. Professor Bellesiles and the University have agreed that the results of the University's inquiry will be made public when the inquiry is completed."

I'm not quite sure what to make of this. More later.

UPDATE: Michael Tinkler emails these observations:

1. paid leave because they're not able to come to a decision.

2. will be made public because of the pressure from the professional world (that is, you as a professor of law and Prof. Lindgren) not from the blogosphere. However, they know the blogosphere is watching, some of them are part of it, and they know that publicity is not helpful here.

I have had a few irritable emails and a very irritating telephone conversation about the way universities work. I keep trying to explain that Emory is NOT a multiversity and that though there are a several other American historians there is no one who really overlaps Bellesiles so OF COURSE there was no one in the department competent to drop the guillotine.

Emory did something with some 'experts' over the summer - can you, a law professor, imagine how much it would cost to get 3-6 senior history professors (and they have to be senior) to come to campus (and I think they would have to meet in person at least at the start, though they could write their report without physical proximity) and to toss their planned research out the window for 2 months to deal with this?

The senior folk they brought in were NOT up to Prof. Lindgren's numeracy - as he suggests on occasion many humanists are incapable of the statistical understanding necessary (though there's a Latin America specialist in the Emory department who should be - a really good demographer).

--what follows is the rankest of speculation--

My read - the outside committee delivered a damning report, but with some caveats along the "we have not had the time or the resources to investigate the
archival material."

That would leave Michael Bellesiles room to appeal on those grounds. Emory is nervous and is willing to give him the term with pay to try to reconstruct some
archival research.

We'll see.

Very interesting thoughts from someone with far more insight into the discipline, and Emory itself, than I possess. I rather doubt that Emory is feeling much pressure from me; in fact, I have no particular reason to think that any Emory administrators are even aware of InstaPundit. But there's a lot of discussion of Bellesiles among historians and legal academics, and although people were slow to face up to the reality of what was going on, most people (including, perhaps especially, some of those who were his biggest backers initially) are now pretty unhappy with him and that has to be putting pressure on Emory not to ignore the problem or paper it over -- which, by now, has to be pretty obviously impossible.

Several other readers, though, sent messages like this one:

My take on the situation:. It looks like they're stalling for time. Maybe they're hoping this will blow over and they can deliver a token punishment to the guy when no one cares anymore.

That's possible, but I tend to doubt it. They're just keeping the matter open, and it's just going to cause Emory's reputation to suffer during another academic year. That's going to hurt hiring, graduate student recruitment, and general position as the department gets the reputation of being "troubled." There's no benefit there.

GEITNER SIMMONS HAS SOME GOOD THOUGHTS on dissent, patriotism, and moral seriousness.

HOMELAND SECURITY IS A JOKE. So why are they wasting time on this? While this goes unpunished.

CONTENT-BASED SPAM FILTERING: This is an interesting approach. Actually, if I could just delete email that was more than 20% capital letters, it would cut down on (1) crank email; and (2) nearly all the Nigerian scamspam.

I'M GOING TO BE ON KTSA radio in San Antonio in about an hour (just after 5) talking about air security. Sadly, there's no Internet stream, but if you're anywhere in that part of Texas give it a listen -- it's 550 AM.

TAPPED doesn't like Josh Chafetz's piece on Maureen Dowd. Josh is being too "literalist."

Well, one of the many objectionable things about Dowd's writing is that it always has this layer of I-was-just-joking-around deniability to it. (Kinda like Ann Coulter, who doesn't get that benefit of the doubt). But I don't think Josh was confused about what Dowd was saying. I think that Dowd was confused about what Dowd was saying.

And I'm pretty sure that Josh, who's an American student at Oxford, is of draft age. Though, of course, that's kind of a meaningless term since there's no draft. -- Damn! Now I'm getting carried away with the literalism!

UPDATE: Reader Gerard Vanderleun writes:

I find this little statement of "obvious fact" rather ill considered:

"The only people hot to fight this war are a bunch of nerdy chickenhawks brandishing grandiose plans to remake the Middle East."

It has the overwhelming aspect of being, from the get-go, utterly untrue. I could introduce TAPPED to a number of New Yorkers of all ages, sexes, and classes whose only problem with the war is that it is not killing enough of the right people quickly enough. And that's just New York. You start wandering around in what passes for the heartland and the incidence of American flags starts to go up as well as the bumper stickers and other visible forms of opinion proliferate. Perhaps TAPPED means the count of people in favor of the war is low within the circles in which they lunch and dine. From my own experience, this is not an unusual reality filter [their] environment. They really need to get out more. After all, they are actually taking Dowd seriously.

Ah well, TAPPED has failed to learn from the Book of Eastwood: "A man's got to know his limitations."

Vanderleun hosts this website, which shows where he stands. And good for him.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bill Quick's site has an extended discussion of the whole "chickenhawk" line -- currently being substituted for actual argument by a number of antiwar bloggers -- and pronounces it an antigay slur.

SOMETHING ELSE FOR EUROPEANS TO WORRY ABOUT:

Higher fertility rates and immigration produce not only a larger population but a society that is younger, more mixed ethnically and, on balance, more dynamic. The simplest expression of this is median age (by definition, half of the population is older than the median age, and half younger). According to Bill Frey, a demographer at the University of Michigan, the median age in America in 2050 will be 36.2. In Europe it will be 52.7. That is a stunning difference, accounted for almost entirely by the dramatic ageing of the European population. At the moment, the median age is 35.5 in America and 37.7 in Europe. In other words, the difference in the median age is likely to rise from two to 17 years by 2050.

Behind this change lie demographic patterns with big policy implications. The percentage of children in the population is falling as populations age. But in America it is falling more slowly than elsewhere. In 1985, America and Europe had more or less the same proportion of the population under 14 years of age: around 20%. By 2020, the proportion of children in Europe will have slumped to 13.7%. In America it will still be 18.6%—not only higher than in Europe but higher than in China and Japan, as well. . . .

Perhaps none of this is altogether surprising. The contrast between youthful, exuberant, multi-coloured America and ageing, decrepit, inward-looking Europe goes back almost to the foundation of the United States. But demography is making this picture even more true, with long-term consequences for America's economic and military might and quite possibly for the focus of its foreign policy.

From The Economist, via The Sound and the Fury.

MICKEY KAUS HAS BEEN PROMOTED, from rhinoceros to "a huge mutant God-King Rhinoceros."

I told him to get that mole looked at when I saw him at the L.A. Blogger Bash.

MARK STEYN WRITES that there's no excuse for rape, and that those who seek to blame the victim should be ashamed. But there seem to be more and more of them.

JOSH MARSHALL sums up his war with the Post. Maybe he should just change his site name to something more generic. Like, say, The Federal Page.

WHY ONLINE MUSIC doesn't hurt CD sales. A compelling argument from Scott Rosenberg.

DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT.

STEPHEN GREEN says we should think of the Saudis as a crazy ex-girlfriend. Personally, I think that's kind of creepy.

I'VE QUIT WITH THE CORNEL WEST UPDATES, but this one is too good to pass up: Nick Danger is reporting that West will appear in the Matrix sequels as a "Counselor West." And, amazingly, it's true!

BELLESILES UPDATE: Melissa Seckora reports that a decision has been made on Bellesiles and will be announced by Emory tomorrow.

MINETA IMPEACHMENT UPDATE: I've gotten a flood (er, a bigger flood than usual) of email in response to my FoxNews column on airport security. Here are some excerpts:

As a frequent business traveler, I recently informed Continental Airlines that their harassment was so pervasive, that I had increased my drive-to cutoff time to 12 hours.

Their response 'It's not our fault - complain to the TSA'.

My response 'Who will keep Continental afloat when the business traveler quits flying?'
----

I refuse to fly. I refuse to be humiliated by those stupid, arrogant punks that call themselves "airport security".

If official TDY (temporary duty) comes along, I take leave or get permissive TDY to drive or use other conveyance. (BTW, it saves the taxpayers a ton of $$$ by driving.) . . .

I truly hope that every airline goes belly up and puts every airport screener and other scumbag doofus out on the street.
---

Security should be geared to check for two things: fire arms and bombs. And we ain't checking for bombs! I will gladly take my chances with a nail file wielding lunatic than put up with this insanity called airport security.
---

I didn't think I could laugh so much over anything to do with airport security but "The revenge of the tweezers people" is perfect. I fly at least once a month (this summer has been every week). You need to add one more category to the people randomly chosen to be searched - blonde, petite ( and harmless), American women who would never dare to wear an under bra! I'm really sick of it. I'm normally nice to people but I make no effort to be with the stupidity of the system I see.
---

Airport security is a bone-headed charade that irritates all and protects none. Lord knows we need protection from 85-year old grandmothers and explosive breast milk! Any frequent traveler, as myself, has learned to avoid the screening. To me the absurdity was a recent flight where two volunteers were asked to submit to the "random" security check to expedite the boarding process.
---

I have to travel every week and it always by air, that works out to about a 100,000 miles a year. You are right about "security", it is a joke. If I did not have to fly I sure would not, it is just not worth the hassle. I feel that is going to take another major incident before we have real security at our airports.
---

I could not agree more with the premise of your article. I recently was camping with a pilot for American Airlines. He described how even the pilots think the new rules are a travesty, making passengers more irritated during the flights and doing nothing to enhance aircraft security. Bolt the cockpit doors and give pilots guns, that will give any hijacker incentive to look for other targets.
---

Great article and right on the money. It's interesting how the media continues to say that airline travel is declining because people are "afraid to fly," when in reality, people love to fly, they just hate being treated as suspected criminals in the process.
---

Thank you for your article. I am a diabetic and I must carry my supplies syringes) with me and it creates a problem with security that has cost me missing several flights. Now I avoid taking a plane if I can. Americans are not afraid of airplanes, but we are afraid of airports.

Of course, there was one anonymous reader who didn't like the column:

It seems inconceivable that a professional educator would write an article with so little factual research and so many of the usual cliches of carping critics of security.

Give it up, Norm. I know it's you. . . .

There's a political issue here for somebody, folks.

UPDATE: Oh, and several people have written to say that the Barnum quote in my column actually comes from H.L. Mencken. I had a source quoting Barnum, but he's quoted for lots of things he never said (that's why I said "supposedly"), so that's probably right. Oh, and Gary Leff is getting email, too.

To those (well, the plural isn't obviously appropriate, but. . .) who say I'm wrong about this: show me the evidence that travellers are happy and think this stuff makes 'em safer. I haven't seen any.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The mail keeps pouring in. Here's one that sums up the airlines' business problems:

I am a mid-level manager at a major company. I presently hold Platinum Elite with Continental Airlines and am a life member of American Airlines. I presently have 292,000 miles with Continental and 56,000 with AA. These miles were accumulated in 2001. In 2002, I have 12,000 with Continental and 0 with AA. I only fly when ABSOLUTELY necessary. The hassles and inconveniences are not worth it.

On my last three flights I have been wanded and shoed, my bags were smell tested and I was asked to remove belts, coats and buckles. The final indignity was when the soles of my shoes were bent so far back that the sole broke. The SS officer there said the shoes were WEAK.

Now you know why we have installed 14 additional ISDN lines for Video Conferencing. Those twice monthly business trips to and from the East Coast have been reduced to 2 trips per year. The short hops between LA and San Jose have become family excursions which only take 5 hours to drive. They take 3 hours to fly, not counting the rental car hassles at all major airports. Mr. Mineta and the airlines better come up with a solution to this problem.

As another reader says, the security's bad enough, but the airlines don't try to make it up to you in other ways. They seem to think you owe it to them to be their customer.

JOSH CHAFETZ IS BACK, and has a new installment of the immutable laws of Dowd. Don't miss it.

UPDATE: Okay, I can't resist -- this Fisking is worth quoting:

The showcase line in the column was "We used to worry about a military coup against civilian authority. Now we worry about a civilian coup against military authority." Maureen was very proud of this line. The NYT online even used it as the tag line for her column. But, um, what the hell does it mean? First, I hate to bring up a pesky little thing like the Constitution -- especially when dealing with a legal eagle like Dowd -- but Article II, section 2 does say, "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States." In other words, the military is meant to be under civilian control. The idea of a civilian coup against military authority is completely incoherent in a democratic state.

Like a lot of Dowd's columns.

JIM DUNNIGAN HAS A COLUMN on the reasons, good and bad, why people fear invading Iraq. Here's my favorite from among the "bad" reasons:

There are also unspoken reasons why Iraq's neighbors, and the rest of the world, oppose an invasion. Removing Saddam by military force scares the other leaders of the Arab world because it might (and probably would) work. If such an operation also managed to install a functioning democracy (not a sure thing) it would show the citizens of other Arab states that there is one sure fire way to get rid of the local tyrants and install democracy. Such a development is also anathema to Islamic militants, who want to replace Arab dictators with "Islamic Republics" (run by the clergy.) Most Arabs don't want this, and the militants know it. Europeans are against the invasion because, if it works, it brings back ugly memories of European colonialism that was supposed to benefit the victims, but didn't. There's also some fear that past secret deals with Saddam will come to light. Finally, Europeans hate it when America does something Europeans either didn't think of, lacked the will to try or the gumption to make it work.

Read the whole thing.

HOWARD BASHMAN ARGUES IN SLATE that the Supreme Court shouldn't follow polls. He's right, of course.

But there's more to it than that. As I argued in a (probably over-sophisticated) article in the Columbia Law Review entitled "Chaos and the Court" some years ago, one of the virtues of the Court, entirely apart from whether it gets things right on the merits, is that its institutional structure keeps it running on different political cycles than the rest of the government. If the court starts paying attention to polls, we lose that feature, as well as acquiring all the vices that go with poll-following on the merits.

THE NEW YORK TIMES HAS ANOTHER WEBLOG ARTICLE, this one on the value of "organizational" sites that let you find blogs of interest in a particular area. BlogTree and Blogs4God get mentioned, as well as the NYCBloggers.

CNN HAS AN UPDATE on yesterday's sunburn-mom story. She's pled not guilty to a misdemeanor, and is home with the kids.

TAPPED weighs in on Josh Marshall's side in the Great Talking Points Controversy.

STATS UPDATE: Jim Lindgren's Yale Law Journal deconstruction of Michael Bellesiles' Arming America has now been downloaded 74,584 times since it was posted last Friday afternoon. Still no word from Emory, but expect something soon. If you're late to the Bellesiles story, you might want to read this piece by Melissa Seckora, along with this piece by Kimberly Strassel.

The great public interest in the case is shown by how many times Lindgren's piece has been downloaded. (Law review articles aren't what you'd call sexy, in general.) By way of contrast, the piece that Professor Brannon Denning and I wrote on the Miller case has been downloaded 1113 times, and the piece of mine on jury nullification has been downloaded 2660 times; the piece on how Robert Bork gets originalism all wrong has been downloaded 1123 times, despite being on the server now for nearly a month.

Ordinarily, these would be impressive numbers (most law reviews don't have circulations that high!), but the huge number of times Lindgren's piece has been downloaded indicates a degree of public interest that may be unparalleled for a law review article. I'm certain that this is more downloads than any law review article hosted on the Social Science Research Network site has ever gotten (I think the record there is something like 27,000 -- and over a period of several years).

Somebody ought to give Lindgren a book contract.

NORM MINETA'S WORST NIGHTMARE: The FoxNews column is officially up. I'm going running. Back later.

MICKEY KAUS REPORTS that the New York Times is fact-checking The New York Times. Hey, maybe the blogosphere is having an impact! And scroll down to see Kaus do actual reporting!

August 21, 2002

INTERESTING THEORY about the seizure of the Iraqi Embassy in Berlin.

UPDATE: Here's another special-ops theory from Hesiod Theogeny.

Both theories are plausible, and both are probably wrong in the details. Sitting in my perch in the blogosphere and watching the goings-on in the world, I'm convinced that there are a lot of deceptions underway. But I don't -- and can't -- know enough to know the truth about them. And if I did, I wouldn't say. But Gary Leff has the mother of all disinformation theories on his page. Chortle.

IN FEBRUARY OF 2001, Dave Kopel warned that Zimbabwe was slouching toward genocide. Now they're worrying about it in Zimbabwe, too.

DEALING WITH BIG MEDIA: Larry Lessig has a suggestion for how to reduce the power of Hollywood and the RIAA over Congress:

Here's the simplest thing we could do: identify 2 luddite members of Congress -- one Republican and one Democrat. Organize and defeat them in November. If Congress saw bad ideas cost seats, they'd begin to do something about their bad ideas.

Doc Searls likes the idea. Dave Winer agrees, and suggests Joe Biden as one. I just wonder how vulnerable Biden is. The ideal candidate is one who is (1) in Hollywood's pocket; and (2) vulnerable, with a realistic challenger. Any suggestions? Comments are on.

FORGET "FACT-CHECKING" JOHN PILGER'S ASS: It looks like Tim Blair's got it under round-the-clock, transnational surveillance.

Meanwhile Ken Layne is into electronic espionage against Big Media organizations. Though as is always the case with espionage, the data require careful evaluation.

OLIVER WILLIS emails that Ian Cook has a plan to revolutionize cable TV news coverage. Which, it's fair to say, needs it. I'm game.

UNILATERALISM: After criticizing the U.S. for not going along with the International Criminal Court, and after blasting "American style" capitalism, the Germans -- well, at least a bunch of German companies -- are objecting to new U.S. accounting rules that affect them.

NORM MINETA AND THE REVENGE OF THE TWEEZER PEOPLE: It's not official until tomorrow, but you can read my FoxNews column now. Just don't tell anyone I tipped you off.

DANIEL TAYLOR, I'm happy to report, is doing better and is looking for a laptop so he can blog from the hospital. Anybody in his neck of the woods (I seem to recall it's Atlanta, but I can't find that on the page) have a loaner available?

THE G.O.P. THINKS that N.Z. Bear has a memory problem. At least, they're sending him "renewal" notices for a party membership he never had. Another cheesy political stunt. (And, if it's intentional, fraud?) Good thing campaign finance reform will put a stop to that!

Hey, wait. . . .

OKAY, I WAS ONE OF THE FIRST to jump on Ann Coulter's, um, overheated rhetoric after 9/11. (And scroll up from that post for much, much more). Since then I've mostly ignored her. But everyone's getting upset over this statement:

Then she said: "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

I told her to be careful.

"You’re right, after 9/11 I shouldn’t say that," she said, spotting a cab and grabbing it.

Uh, actually she shouldn't have said it before 9/11, either. I suppose it's not meant to be taken any more seriously than the claim in the same interview that Matt Drudge is " the sexiest man alive," but still. . . .

Patrick Nielsen Hayden writes that Mickey Kaus shouldn't give someone who says this sort of thing a permalink on his site, and helpfully uses the example of someone who wants to kill me as the kind of person he wouldn't link to. (He in fact links to a few people who call me names on a regular basis, but that's okay: sticks and stones, and all that.)

Having completely lost control of my too-large blogroll (I can't even keep up with people's changes of URL), I don't think I'll point fingers on that subject. Coulter's schtick, though, is to say outrageous and provocative things. In a culture of political correctness that's a virtue of sorts in itself -- and in the early-to-mid-nineties, when that sort of thing was at a peak in the mainstream media, she made it work, as, in a different way, did Maureen Dowd. But those days are long gone, and provocativeness isn't the same thing now. We're at war, and, as Ari Fleischer helpfully reminded us, people need to pay attention to what they say.

ACCORDING TO OPENSECRETS.ORG, 78% of Cynthia McKinney's money came from out of state, versus 3% for Denise Majette.

So if "the jews" cost her the election, they were Georgia jews.

UPDATE: Max Sawicky emails that the numbers are out of date, and he's right. There's more on his blog.

Aside: This isn't OpenSecrets' fault, since they don't collect the data -- but I don't see why, if Amazon can track book sales on an hourly basis, we couldn't have this kind of data available just as quickly. The answer, of course, is that we could -- but that it's not in the lawmakers' interest to make that easy for us.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Frank Natoli sends this link for more information on Majette, and this link for more information on McKinney. But though it shows a lot more money (because it's more recent) I can't find an in-state, out-of-state breakdown.

STRATEGYPAGE HAS SOME INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS about where Delta Force is heading. (Thanks to reader Trent Telenko for pointing this out).

THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL, ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT, wants the Palestinian Authority booted from the UN, where it has semi-official status:

The New York City Council overwhelmingly approved a resolution last week to ask the Bush administration and the UN to close the Palestinian mission to the United Nations in Manhattan. During discussions concerning the resolution prior to the vote, Council members made it clear that they considered the Palestinian Authority a terrorist entity. A large group of Council members had just returned from a three-day fact finding mission to Israel sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the UJA. During the trip, they saw first hand the effects of terror on the Israeli people.

The resolution condemns all murderous acts against civilians, recognizing that the Israeli people have been attacked over 13,000 times in the last two years, with one of the latest atrocities occuring at Hebrew University in Jerusalem where victms included five American citizens.

It also calls on President Bush to “condemn the Palestinian Authority support of terrorists and harboring of terrorists.” It calls upon the president and the United Nations “to work together to seek the closure of the United Nations Mission of the PA in the City of New York.”

It's nice that somebody's figured it out.

AFTER WEEKS OF TAKING SNARKY SHOTS at Stephen Carter's novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park, Tim Noah has finally read it. And he says it's good.

Noah's still after Carter over his non-attendance at some meetings of the Kass Council on bioethics, though. Maybe I'm prejudiced because Carter's one of my old law profs (though I suppose that could cut both ways. . .) but I think this is, and has been, a bum rap. Carter's non-attendance, I think, just shows that he's a smart guy: Smart enough, at least, to figure out that the whole thing was a sham that wasn't going to affect Administration policy anyway.

MCKINNEY UPDATE: It wasn't just the Jews -- now the Indians are taking credit, too.

Jews, bloggers, Indians. Even Libertarians are taking credit. Success has a thousand fathers.

MARY ROBINSON explains her human rights philosophy in the Tehran Times.

JOHN HAWKINS PUTS IT WELL:

Rarely a day passes on the internet without another article being written that claims America is a "hegemon", that we're like "like Rome," or that we want to "create an empire." Take it from a Conservative, ultra-nationalistic, America-first hawk; Americans on the whole would rather drive bamboo shoots under their fingernails than "rule the world." . . .

Hell, if we took twenty years off it wouldn't surprise me to look at a map and see nothing but a giant swath of China red covering all of Europe, skulls & crossbones covering all of Africa, and nothing but a green patch with the words 'Forbidden Zone' where the Middle East used to be. We're the only thing keeping the planet from reverting back to an early 1800's style plunder, war, and rampage philosophy.

If you want to put it in perspective, it's like we're the guy who ended up being the designated driver for the planet. Sure we'd love to sit back and drink ourselves into a stupor with the rest of the globe but we're responsible for getting as many people home safe and sound as possible. Every so often while we're sitting around wishing we could kill a few beers like the rest of the planet, a sloppy drunk, drooling, Europe comes over to where we're sitting. Then they take another swig of Vodka straight out of the bottle and tell us not to worry about a thing because they'll drive everyone home in their 'international law' van. But we know if we go ahead and drink up that we'll just get a call at 4 am asking us to bring our tow truck and the 'jaws of life' to clean up the bloody mess on dead man's curve. That's the burden of being an American.

Yep. And I wonder if the fact that we really don't want to conquer other countries irritates them? It's an insult, in a way, that we'd rather stay home in American than be the overlords of elsewhere. But it's true.

UPDATE: Reader Zach Barbera writes: "I wish they would make up their minds. Are we a lazy self absorbed decadent culture who knows nothing about the world? Or are we a globe-trotting imperialistic power out to rule everything?"

Yeah, I've been confused about that, too.

POSTWATCH HAS THE LATEST on the Washington Post / Josh Marshall standoff.

UPDATE: Bill Quick has all the emails, which were apparently (and rather discourteously) sent by the Post to anyone who emailed in support of Marshall. Quick's take on it is still the best: "Josh is right. Can't you guys find something else to call that file?"

The Post's position is that they're not going to do anything a court doesn't order them to do. Uh, okay, but they should realize this isn't making anybody think better of them. And I note that in the comments Will Vehrs suggests that this is a crime that carries its own punishment: Terry Neal's column will now always be compared with Marshall's superior work, making Neal look bad.

UPDATE: And the Post was still dodging public questions earlier this week.

MATT WELCH is disappointed, but not surprised at NPR's coverage of Cynthia McKinney's defeat.

MORE BACKGROUND ON THE "PEACE ABBEY:" And, I have to say, it's no big surprise.

I keep trying to remind myself that just because the opposition to the war is for the most part stupid, doesn't in itself argue in favor of war. But it's hard.

MINETA IMPEACHMENT UPDATE: More grist for the mill.

NICK DANGER ASKS: "If the Jews control the media, why don't we give ourselves better press?"

AT THE FACULTY MEETING TODAY we discussed rankings (not this one, but the U.S. News rankings of law schools). Naturally everyone thinks two things: (1) the rankings are dumb and arbitary; and (2) it's important to do as well as possible in them. In this, our views resemble our students' views about grades, with the difference that the students' views are, of course, ill-considered.

Anyway, for those who don't like the way that U.S. News ranks, there's this wonderful alternative ranker that lets you weight the data differently, and even include other data (such as Tibetan restaurants within 600m of the school) and then do your own ranking. I like it.

STAT-O-RAMA: Jim Lindgren's Bellesiles deconstruction has received an amazing 55,853 downloads since I posted it on Friday afternoon.

I'm guessing we'll hear what Emory plans by the end of the week -- probably Friday afternoon, as others have speculated, in order to keep the story from getting any more attention than absolutely necessary. Unless they wait until Labor Day.

BREAKING NEWS: Bill Clinton has a new TV show! This sounds frighteningly plausible to me.

ATRIOS IS COMPLAINING that the "impeach Norm Mineta" campaign doesn't go far enough and lets Bush off the hook. Gee, I thought I'd been pretty clear about the opportunities this presents for the Democrats, or would present if they didn't have an instinct for the capillary. Jay Caruso isn't impressed with Atrios' critique, but I did respond to it in Atrios' comments section (which has now disappeared) (UPDATE: It's back again.).

Yeah, Mineta works for Bush, and yeah, Bush should fire him. But as I said earlier, "impeach Norm Mineta" makes a better slogan, and does a better job getting the message across.

If the Dems had sense they'd attack air security the way then-challenger Malcolm Wallop did OSHA: he had a commercial in 1976 in which an announcer read from an OSHA reg about toilet facilities at outdoor worksites, then cut to a shot of a cowboy with a portajohn strapped to his horse's back. He beat a three-term incumbent with that approach, and I feel sure that airport security is more vulnerable to this sort of thing than OSHA.

There'll be more on this in tomorrow's FoxNews column.

HERE'S AN AMUSING RESPONSE to my TechCentralStation column. Who's right? You be the judge.

UPDATE: And you should read this, in response to the response. There are also some interesting comments from readers posted at the bottom of my piece.

THINK THE BLOGOSPHERE'S BEEN TOO HARD ON SUSAN SONTAG? Then read this.

THERE'S DISAGREEMENT AT CATO! Stop the presses. . . . Seriously, Brink Lindsey responds to the recent antiwar sentiments of some Cato folks in a post entitled "There's No Invisible Hand in Foreign Affairs."

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: A mother is in jail and faces a possible fifteen year sentence for letting her kids get sunburned at the fair. She needs a stiff lecture and a bottle of sunscreen. Steubenville, Ohio sheriff Fred Abdala needs a clue.

UPDATE: Several readers email to say that the CNN story doesn't capture the extent of the problem Here's one from reader Debbie Eberts:

Fred Abdala was interviewed via telephone on Fox News by Brigette Quinn this morning. The first words out of his mouth were that the county was NOT
seeking 15 years for this mother & that he had no idea where that rumor started (we all know). She's been in jail for about 7 days, is being released today and will be given probation and placed under the "watchful eyes" of CPS (his words, not mine). Apparently, this mom is "familiar" with CPS and the end goal is to train her to properly care for her children. So, tax dollars are at work here and Sheriff Abdala seems pretty reasonable.

Of course, she'll probably turn around and sue the Jefferson County Fair for not issuing sunburn warnings.

CNN: "It's the Jews' fault!" Read this:

In her loss, McKinney joined Rep. Earl Hilliard, Democrat of Alabama, as the second black lawmaker targeted by Jewish groups to lose a re-election bid in the post-September 11 era. Fueled by contributions from the Jewish community, Majette raised more money than the incumbent.

Well, I think there were a lot of non-Jews (like, well, me) pulling for Majette. Had McKinney won, would CNN have credited her victory to Arab money?

TIMOTHY LYNCH observes the tenth anniversary of Ruby Ridge.

What's unfortunate is that despite demonstrated incompetence and probable criminality on the part of the federal law enforcement officials involved, not much has really been done to address the problems that incident revealed. This is a serious issue as homeland security is (allegedly) being ramped up. The FBI, ATF, and U.S. Marshal's service aren't ready for a war on terrorism, and there's no sign that anyone is getting them ready. (And don't even get me started on the INS). The free excerpt that Amazon provides is worth reading, for a start.

This -- like the idiocy of airline security -- would be a campaign issue for the Democrats. Except that they can't bring themselves to criticize federal agencies.

UPDATE: In light of a couple of emails I got on this, it's worth pointing out that this happened under the Bush Administration, not under the Clinton Administration. Waco was a Clinton foulup. The problems involved are bureaucratic ones, and transcend changes of administration. For more on those, see No More Wacos: What's Wrong with Federal Law Enforcement and How to Fix It, by Dave Kopel and Paul Blackman.

YESTERDAY, I predicted that today's post-election wrapups would focus on the disappearance of colorful personalities. All I can say is . . . "Advantage: InstaPundit!"

HOW ELVIS KILLED COMMUNISM: My TechCentralStation column is up.

MORE ON THE SECOND AMENDMENT: In discussion of whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to arms, the case of United States v. Miller is often invoked by gun-control advocates, who tend to claim that Miller supports the theory that the Second Amendment protects only a states' right. Sometimes we are even told that Miller held that the Second Amendment protects only the National Guard.

These statements aren't true. Brannon Denning and I have an article on Miller in the latest issue of Law and Contemporary Problems, which you can read by following the link. While Miller deserves no prizes for clarity, on close reading -- especially in light of what the government argued -- it's extremely difficult to interpret it as providing any support for the states'-right theory of the Second Amendment, and it seems entirely consistent with the individual right approach.

GOODBYE, CYNTHIA. Howard Owens calls this a "victory for the Blogosphere."

I think it's a victory for all America. The only losers here (besides McKinney) are Republican operatives who could have made hay out of McKinney's anti-Americanism for the next two years. Reid Stott has the wrapup. And Rod Dreher has a prediction about McKinney's future.

August 20, 2002

MCKINNEY UPDATE: At the moment, with 46% of the vote in, McKinney is behind Majette, 34% to 66%, which isn't a sure-thing loss yet but is looking pretty close. (But Insider Advantage says McKinney will roar back at the end and make it a cliffhanger).

Hmm. Assuming she loses, what (or who) will she blame it on tomorrow?

John Linder has been declared the winner over Bob Barr by a hefty margin. Guess Barr, er, shot himself in the foot in this race.

UPDATE: Looks like a bad night for Cynthia's father, State Rep. Billy McKinney, too. Only 33% of the vote is in (and none from Fulton County) -- but at the moment he's taking a beating with 11.2% of the vote. I'm going to bed, though, so if you want more updates go on over to Reid Stott's for up-to-the-minute information and local color. In the meantime, I'm projecting that tomorrow's political commentary will bemoan the loss of colorful characters like Barr and McKinney as politics gets more serious. But that's just a guess.

JURY NULLIFICATION UPDATE: Clay Conrad, who wrote the book I referred to in my earlier discussion of the subject, has responded to comments from Eugene Volokh and others over at TalkLeft.

WANT A JOB IN HUMAN RESOURCES, but can't master the lingo? I've gotcha covered.

IS IT SOMETHING IN THE WATER? An alert reader emails this link to a Washington Post story that mentions that Bob Barr's opponent John Linder has a bogus-endorsement problem, too. (Scroll past the McKinney news). To the limited extent that I care about that race, I (like so many) prefer Linder, who I understand has video of Barr staffers stealing his signs. This isn't sleaze of the same caliber as Cynthia McKinney's voter-intimidation campaign, but it's nothing to be proud of.

Politics ain't a clean business anywhere, but these Georgia primary races seem to be bringing out the worst in people.

UPDATE: Here's more on the voter-intimidation story.

ANOTHER UPDATE: HERE is a link to the results. At the moment, McKinney and Barr are both way behind, but only a few precincts have reported in in McKinney's district - though, oddly, most of Barr's have.

THE ANTI-MCKINNEY CONSPIRACY HAS BEEN EXPOSED! And it's all because of some vigilant folks at BartCop who were willing to look beyond appearances -- but not too far beyond.

UPDATE: Dang, and my secret identity has been discovered, too. I'd have gotten away with it, if it weren't for you meddling kids!

ANOTHER UPDATE: One clever reader has figured out that the above is a fake secret identity, and says that this is the real one. Or is it? Bwahahahahaaaa!

NOW IT'S N.Z. BEAR who's using his blog to seek new employment opportunities. He's also got an interesting theory as to why the recently released Al Qaeda tapes mean that Osama bin Laden is dead.

WHEN LIFE IS TOO WEIRD EVEN FOR THE ONION: As the saying has it: "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." These guys are pros.

THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE HAS PLUNGED IN THE RANKINGS. I blame budget cuts and the lack of an income tax.

HESIOD THEOGENY has found an interesting item about Abu Nidal's death: he was reportedly working with anti-Saddam forces at the time he was killed.

MALE PROCREATIVE AUTONOMY: Howard Bashman has more bad news for men. Take it away, Richard, Diane, and Meryl!

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, I've put up an article that I wrote with Rob Merges (who teaches I.P. at the U.C. Berkeley law school) on the constitutional limits to Congress's power to create intellectual property rights. You can read it here if you're so inclined. There have been lengthier treatments of this subject published since, but this one has the advantage of being (1) earlier; and (2) shorter. You'll probably find advantage (2) more significant.

CAPITALISTS FOR FREEDOM: Here's an item in opposition to Joe Biden's dumb "RAVE Act," from a source that some ravers might not expect.

HERE'S AN INTERNET PROVIDER THAT HAS BANNED THE RIAA FROM ITS NETWORK in response to RIAA threats to hack the computers of file-sharers:

Earlier this year, the RIAA announced its new plan to access computers without owner's consent for the sake of protecting its assets. Information Wave believes this policy puts its customers at risk of unintentional damage, corporate espionage, and invasion of privacy to say the least.

Bravo.

RADLEY BALKO writes that fat people should be suing the U.S. government, not McDonald's, for making them fat.

It's a good article, with lots of links. I remember some years ago seeing someone compare the food pyramid with the dietary guidelines for cattle feedlots (which are designed to pack on the fat, of course), and finding them almost identical. Moo.

By ignoring the starch-to-sugar science, the USDA could continue recommending that Americans eat lots of grain. That kept the corn and wheat farmers happy. By downplaying sugar's effect on metabolism, Americans would continue their low-fat obsession, consuming snacks and soft drinks largely sweetened with corn syrup. That kept the sugar farmers happy, and the corn farmers even happier. And all of this allowed NIH scientists to avoid admitting that their long-held low-fat prejudice might have been wrong. That kept the bureaucrats happy.

Everybody wins. Except the people who took their own government's advice, and wound up with bulging bellies, belabored hearts, and a case of diabetes.

Sounds worse than anything McDonald's is accused of. But when the government does things out of corrupt self-interest, it somehow gets a pass that the corporate sector doesn't. Why is that?

RAND SIMBERG has an intriguing report on a split within the administration concerning invasion plans. This is a story I haven't seen reported elsewhere.

PAUL PALUBICKI SAID IT IN JULY. The Village Voice is saying it in August.

Advantage: Palubicki!

TERRIBLE WESTERN VALUES: A devastating comparison.

MCKINNEY UPDATE: Reid Stott is reporting that the Justice Department apparently is looking into possible voter intimidation by the McKinney campaign. And then there's this:

11Alive made a point of re-running the footage where Billy McKinney responds to a question about his daughter's "fudging" of Andrew Young's endorsement: "That ain't nothin'. Jews have bought everybody. Jews. J-E-W-S."

Nice family. No wonder she's so popular with the Saudis.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's another report on the voter-intimidation story, and here's one from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

SLATE'S MARK JENKINS writes that the music industry's problems don't come from copying, but from the fact that the people running it just aren't very good at what they do. There's more support for that proposition elsewhere in Slate, in James Surowiecki's review of the new Wilco movie.

Too bad that nobody at the FCC is paying attention.

IS ANNA NICOLE SMITH SMARTER THAN NOAM CHOMSKY? Well, here's some evidence for that proposition, from Norwegian blogger Vegard Valberg.

AZIZ POONAWALLA doesn't like labels, whether "neocon" or "transnational progressives."

I suppose that "Tranzi" is even worse.

HOUSTON POLICE SCREWUP: According to The Comedian, Houston Police planned a massive crackdown on drag racers. Unfortunately, when they got the troops together, there was no drag racing going on. So they just arrested everyone in sight on general principles. 278 people were arrested for the crime of being in the wrong place, doing nothing in particular.

The guy in charge should be fired. Think he will be?

JAY AMBROSE says he's worried we're heading for a Howard Hughes homeland security plan:

Howard Hughes, you may recall, was the billionaire movie-producer-businessman-aviator whose paranoia about germs eventually ushered him into a reclusive life as ultra-sanitized as his money could buy. Instead of cheating death, he probably hastened it, and in the meanwhile cheated himself out of the kind of full, active, interesting existence disallowed by the excessive precautions of outsized fear.

We could do much the same thing to this society of ours if we delude ourselves into thinking that we can be perfectly safe if we work hard enough at it - if we spend enough money, expand the government sufficiently, put up enough inconveniencing roadblocks of various kinds, curb enough freedoms, look under enough stones.

It's a fraud, this frame of mind, and it won't deliver.

He's right. Fortunately, more and more Americans -- encouraged by the tweezer-confiscating air security example -- are waking up to this reality.

"DISSIDENTS OCCUPY IRAQI EMBASSY IN BERLIN" -- If they blew the place up with everyone in it, would the press call them "militants?"

MCKINNEY UPDATE: I just heard Neal Boortz play a taped recording that has been telephoned to Republican voters in Cynthia McKinney's district. The recording says that it's an "official message," and that voters could be arrested for "voting in a Democratic primary without proper identification."

This is technically true, but the only ID you need to vote in Georgia is a Voter ID card. The ad gives the impression that it's illegal for Republicans to vote in a Democratic primary.

I hope that the Justice Department will investigate this ham-handed attempt at voter intimidation.

UPDATE: Boortz is now announcing that the Georgia Secretary of State's office is investigating. No word about the Department of Justice.

Visit Reid Stott's page for updates as the day goes on.

AN ENGLISH VERSION OF ORIANA FALLACI'S BOOK on Islamic extremism, The Rage and the Pride, will be released next week. You can preorder it now.

RICHARD DREYFUSS writes an actor's tribute to Charlton Heston:

Is so and so a great actor? A good actor? A bad actor? Speaking as an expert it's a stupid question. The actor either gets you to where you have to go, or not. Heston did; priceless. He could portray greatness, which is no longer an artistic goal; he could portray a grandeur that was so satisfying. What he was able to personify so perfectly for us was a vision of ourselves called heroic. Is this out of favor? Out of step? Antique? Yes, antique as in gorgeous, incredibly valuable, and not produced anymore but this is a critique of the world, not him (hopefully we will one day come back to all that). . . .

It has become fashionable to characterize his politics; almost as if his politics were a separate thing, like Diana's popularity. People are either defensive or patronizing (if not contemptuous). I can only say I wish all the liberals and all the conservatives I knew had the class and forbearance he has. Would I be as patient or serene when so many had showed me such contempt, or tried to make me feel stupid or small? I doubt it, truly I do. This is dignity, simply and completely. A much more important quality than political passion at the end of the day, and far more lacking, don't you think?

Read the whole thing. Then send a copy to Juan Andrade.

IT'S AN IRAQ ROUNDUP OVER AT WINDSOFCHANGE.NET. Lots of useful information and links about troop movements, etc. And we're promised a report soon from a WindsOfChange correspondent in the Sudan.

TODAY IS THE FOURTH ANNIVERSARY of the cruise missile attacks on Afghanistan and the Sudan. Justin Weitz has some thoughts.

HOLY SH*T, CONT'D: Just checked the stats on the Lindgren Bellesiles piece, which has now been downloaded an amazing 40,351 times. Unfortunately, I can't break down referrers to figure out where the people who are downloading that particular item are coming from, but I'm sure that this link must have spread to various chatboards, etc.

In light of these figures, it's probably silly for me to plug the piece any more. But the last 16 pages of the review provide a catalog of errors in the book--with the book's claims juxtaposed with the evidence Bellesiles cited for those claims. For those who want to decide for themselves whether the errors in Arming America are likely to be the result of simple carelessness, it's good to have the actual text of relevant portions of the original sources reprinted to compare them with the passages in Arming America discussing those sources.

Since Emory should be announcing what it plans to do about Bellesiles any day now, this may be of particular interest at the moment.

UPDATE: I think I've mentioned this before, but photocopies of many of the original sources can be found here and here. Oh, and I should mention that these were put together by Clayton Cramer, not Lindgren. Cramer was one of the first to notice and publicize the problems with Bellesiles' work, and was treated rather disrespectfully by some academic historians since he has only a Master's degree. I believe, however, that he is getting a bit more respect now.

August 19, 2002

PORPHYROGENITUS SAYS that the NEA is getting a bum rap.

DO I REALLY WANT TO IMPEACH NORMAN MINETA? Some people have emailed with that question. And the answer is -- Hell, yes!

But what they really mean, I think, is: do I really think that impeaching Norman Mineta is the way to do something about the idiocy of air security? That's a bit more complicated.

It's certainly possible to impeach a cabinet official -- they're "officers of the United States," and hence subject to impeachment. But it never happens, because a cabinet official who's that unpopular will be fired by the President first.

Mineta isn't the whole problem, of course. He's a symptom as much as a cause, a symptom of a bureaucratic mindset in which -- it must be said -- he participates fully. (And according to Gary Leff, who is all over this story, James Loy, the new TSA chief, is no better).

But since everyone knows that Mineta personifies the very mindset that is causing the problem, and since "Impeach Norm Mineta" makes that point nicely, it's not a bad slogan. And judging by the glee with which a colleague of mine grabbed one of those bumperstickers, it reflects a widely shared sentiment.

Mineta will probably withstand the blogosphere-generated juggernaut, of course -- especially as Republicans won't want to attack a member of the Administration, and Democrats won't want to attack one of their own. (Yeah, Mineta's a Democrat, actually). But there's nothing like bumperstickers calling for impeachment to bring home the unpopularity of a politician's actions. So get one, and display it proudly!

DIRTY TRICKS: According to this report, Cynthia McKinney is using recorded messages that (falsely) tell Republican voters that it's illegal for them to cross over and vote in the Democratic primary.

THIS is a masterpiece of brevity and wit.

JAMES LILEKS may think that the "Letter from a Canadian" referenced below is clever disinformation by the U.S. government's dirty-tricks department -- but if so, it's so brilliant that the antiwar folks are claiming it for their own anyway: "Imagine my surprise to wake up this lovely Sunday morning, and find that someone has taken all the words and thoughts from my head and put them into such a flowing, cohesive thought. Well, that seems to be what W.R. McDougall has done in his 'Open Letter to America.'"

MUGABE UPDATE: Cynthia Tucker is pulling no punches in this column on Mugabe:

Mugabe's supporters are right about this much: He has earned a place in history -- right alongside Stalin and North Korea's Kim Jong-il, megalomaniacs who condemned millions of their own countrymen to starvation. As half of Zimbabwe's population of 12 million hovers near famine, Mugabe has ordered the nation's white farmers, who are responsible for most of its food supply, to stop planting and surrender their farms for redistribution. . . .

If a racist white dictator were creating conditions that starved millions of black Africans, the Congressional Black Caucus would have demanded severe sanctions, and a long line of African-American celebrities would be lining up to picket the nation's embassy, taking turns getting arrested and handcuffed for the TV cameras. But Mugabe's thuggery has barely roused America's black elite.

The white elite hasn't distinguished itself on this one either. But bravo to Cynthia Tucker for a great column.

(Via Cella's Review).

UPDATE: Brian Carnell writes that, while Cynthia Tucker may be right on here, Cynthia McKinney is Mugabe's number one fan. With luck, that won't matter soon.

CAPTAIN SPAULDING informs us that today is the 25th anniversary of Groucho Marx's death. And that's the only kind of Marxism worth honoring.

IF YOU LIVE IN THE D.C. AREA, you might want to consider this invitation from Combustible Boy.

JIM BENNETT WRITES that Paul O'Neill needs to take John Ashcroft aside and give him a good talking-to.

SOUTH AFRICA UPDATE: A South African reader who prefers to remain unnamed sends this:

I am South African, as are many of my friends. I was surprised to see your comment about the guy that made sarcastic comments. I guess I forget that we have our idiots too.

My friends and I have similar opinions that can be broadly summarised like this:

1) We dont mind the american or european people much. We sometimes think you are a bit wussy though. :-)

2) We think your media sucks. We generally agree that ours is just as bad.

3) We would classify world media as "lefty" which implies a special kind of myopia:

3a) It doesn't matter who you are, just what you are. You are only as good as your stereotype.

3b) There is no difference between being uncritical and being unbiased. Hence objective reporting means to simply spew whatever people tell you.

3c) Foreign events can always be expressed in terms of local prejudices and stereotypes.

3d) Whenever facts contradict preconceptions, reinforce the preconceptions.

4) We think Thabo is a retard. Worse than that, he is a racially motivated retard. He is a card carrying member of the "Black Presidents of Africa" Union. We want someone to fix things, not swap one set of stupidities for another.

5) We generally think old Mandela is a bonzer chap. He said things like he thought they should be, according to his personal system of morals, which we generally respect. None of the mealy mouthed politics crap. He told old Bob up in Zim where to put it, and we wish Thabo had his moral fortitude. Sometimes he was wrong, but at least he wasn't a hypocrite.

6) We hate fact that Thabo has gone out with the begging bowl to the rest of the world. We reckon it's because it's much easier to appropriate foreign funds and donations for, er, extra-governmental use. SA is RICH. I mean REALLY RICH. Generally, the economies of Rhodesia and South Africa were strongest under sanctions. Generating another economic crack addict that leeches off the 1st world and gets poorer every year is not our idea of progress.

7) Thabo has a serious problem with white farmers being killed by the hundreds in _South Africa_. (Yes, I know some people being attacked - this isn't rumour. They were still alive last time I spoke to them, but they may have emigrated by now). He doesn't really care I think. If he doesn't care about anything locally, then why care about the people next door?

As for your comment about Noam Chomsky and people starving people. We have our own theory, that seems to apply pretty broadly: He hasn't said anything because Mugabe is black. Black people are victims of oppression. That is their assigned role. There is no place for monomaniacal genocides.

My brother has personally bumped into the handiwork of Mugabe's Fifth Brigade whilst working in the National Parks. This last bout of food distribution is relatively minor compared to his usual rape, pillage, torture. burn, mass-grave methods.

What amazes us is that you even know about it. Perhaps the internet is making a difference.

Oh, and this would be the latest of many such episodes of selective starvation over the last 15 years. Amazing that nobody seems to pick that up. :-/ One mild difference is that he is starving more of his own tribe this time. That's unusual.

(Oh, and please don't use my name publicly if you publish any of this. I am in enough trouble with the SA government as it is, by daring to get a foreign temporary work visa. I've had deposits into my accounts frozen for "money laundering" once already. Plenty of SA politicians would have no problem calling me a "traitor", and have done so in general terms when talking about "the brain drain" (which they are creating) )


EUGENE VOLOKH has a post on the practical difficulties he sees with giving juries more power not to convict. That expands on this earlier discussion.

HAVING TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING ANTIWAR ARGUMENTS? Mike Silverman has you covered.

His Vietnam / Iraq comparison table is pretty amusing, too.

JUST GOT MY IMPEACH NORM MINETA BUMPERSTICKERS in the mail. They look good, and a colleague who travels constantly and has just returned from "the trip from hell" snatched one up immediately.

I'm telling you, folks, there's an issue here for somebody.

OCTOBER SURPRISE LITE: David Hogberg has some suggestions for Bush. And this piece by Dan Balz suggests he's onto something.

UPDATE: And in a somewhat related development, Geitner Simmons looks at what may be coming from the other side. Read it in conjunction with this post to see the downside for war critics.

REID STOTT reports that Cynthia McKinney is faking it. Apparently, some endorsements she's trumpeting (like the Robert Redford message I mentioned earlier, and another by Andrew Young) turn out not to be, you know, actual endorsements.

MATT LABASH REVIEWS THE ANNA NICOLE SMITH SHOW, and finds it wanting.

NORAH VINCENT HAS A BLOG NOW, and she's opening it by dissing Maureen Dowd.

HERE'S AN ARTICLE from the New York Times on growing opposition to nanotechnology from, well, about the people you'd expect it to come from.

Eric Coe has weighed in on the subject. I spent part of my summer writing a fairly lengthy treatment that isn't out yet, but you can read this piece that I published in the Environmental Law Reporter last year for some observations. It's worth noting that Greens are quite split on nanotechnology: Terence McKenna called nanotechnology "the most radical of the green visions," and of course it is, since it promises to make everyone rich without significant environmental harm. Why, if nanotechnology were widely available, there wouldn't be starving people in the Third World, and there wouldn't be environmental messes to complain about. A whole bunch of NGOs and public-interest groups would be out of business.

Say, you don't think. . . ?

AL-AHRAM is worried about a resurgence of McCarthyism that might imperil democracy in America. We appreciate their concern.

DONAHUE'S SHOW ON MSNBC is apparently doing so badly that it's calling the whole strategy into question. I've only seen a few minutes of it, so my opinion isn't worth much (especially as I don't like TV much anyway, and have never liked Phil much). But what I saw looked lame, and I can't say I'm surprised that nobody's watching. His numbers are dropping steadily (he's getting his butt kicked by Connie Chung, for goodness sake), suggesting that most people who watch share my opinion and don't come back. That's bad news for the network strategy of having, well, more stuff like that. And bad news in general. First Alan Keyes, now this.

Can I get a show on MSNBC? It couldn't do any worse.

BILL QUICK is looking for a new job. Somebody help him out.

THE BOSTON GLOBE has a piece about Joyce Malcolm's book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience. (Here's my FoxNews piece on the book from week before last). The Globe piece is surprisingly sympathetic, proving again that the tide seems to be turning on this issue.

I should note that Prof. Malcolm has said on an academic email list that she was misquoted, and never said that all guns are outlawed in England (though in my opinion that wouldn't be that much of an overstatement), and that she did not describe antigun law professor Carl Bogus as "just a lawyer." Reading Bogus's quote, however, a rather tart reply was called for. Bogus describes Malcolm's work as "discredited," an amazing statement given that he's still defending the work of Michael Bellesiles. Then again, maybe it's not an amazing statement, given that he's still defending the work of Michael Bellesiles. (In a display of candor that sets a new standard for such coverage, the Globe even describes Bogus not only as a law professor but as "former director on the board of the advocacy group Handgun Control Inc.")

I'd be interested in seeing Bogus provide some evidence to support his statement on Malcolm's work.

CHARLES JOHNSON IS OUTRAGED that the N.E.A.'s teaching suggestions for 9/11's anniversary tell teachers to be sure not to "suggest any group is responsible."

I think it was that Family Circus character, Not Me, who did it.

Er, except that Osama bin Laden bragged about it, and Palestinians danced in the streets in celebration. And then there's the matter of these videotapes. Perhaps teachers should show those in class, so that students have a clear idea of who isn't responsible. And I suppose that showing this would be out of the question. It might make people angry or something.

UPDATE: Rand Simberg points out that "innocent until proven guilty" is applicable only in court, and that its application here is dubious.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jeff Drummond points out:

Actually, a defendant is just "deemed" innocent until proven guilty; treated as if he were innocent, whether he's guilty or not. Whether you are innocent or not is a fact, even if only God knows for sure. In fact, a jury never finds anyone "innocent," just "not guilty," which simply means that the prosecution didn't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty.

There's way too much misuse of the concept. Nobody is "innocent until proven guilty." If you did the deed and got away with it, you are guilty of it. People may deserve to be "treated as innocent until proven guilty," and certainly should be when the structure of the state is brought to bear on them. But if they did the deed, it doesn't matter how many juries acquit them; they're still guilty.

Indeed. And reader Eric Kolchinsky writes to note that this lesson plan was paid for by Johnson & Johnson. And reader G. Neal Mauldin notes that it's CAIR-endorsed. Hmm. I wonder who makes Arafat's baby wipes?

MONOPOLIES SUING MONOPOLIES, says Aimee Deep, with lawyers the only winners. Hey, at least there's some good news. . . .

RADLEY BALKO SAYS HE'S SPOTTED A SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: A Massachussetts initiative to abolish the state income tax is polling at 37% despite hostile press coverage. Whether or not it goes anywhere, it says something about the supposed pent-up demand for bigger government among the electorate.

ACCORDING TO THIS STORY in the Washington Post, Cynthia McKinney's remarks on 9/11 have gotten her into serious electoral trouble. These folks would surely be pleased to hear that.

THE POWER OF THE WEB: On Friday at 12:57 p.m. I put NWU legal historian Jim Lindgren's dissection of Michael Bellesiles' Arming America up on the site. As of 8:09 a.m. today, it's been downloaded 27,038 times. That's several times the circulation of the Yale Law Journal, where it originally appeared.

Lindgren's piece is, of course, of unusual interest. But that's still an amazing response to a law review article. I wonder if law reviews are missing out by not making their content easily available on the Web. Some do, but most don't.

ORCHID of The Daily Dose has a list of recommended websites -- and if you'll scroll down, a reading list, too.

AN OPINION FROM THE U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT has produced a rather bizarre response from the District Judge involved, which Susanna Cornett characterizes as racist, and which Howard Bashman calls "quite remarkable, and definitely newsworthy."

MUGABE USING "POL POT TACTICS:" Here's the gist from The Times:

“The food trucks arrive in the villages once a week,” the man explains. “Everyone has to stand up and shout ‘Long Live Robert Mugabe!’, ‘Down with the whites!’ and ‘Down with Morgan Tsvangirai!’,” (the opposition leader). “Only those who can prove they are members of the Zanu (PF) can queue. They say to the others ‘go and get your food from Tony Blair in No 10 Downing Street in London!’ But we don’t know where London is.” As everyone in the hotel room nods in agreement, a woman, a former shop assistant whose husband died of Aids, begins to cry.

“My seven children are starving. I heard that food was being delivered in a village 40 kilometres away,” she says. “When I arrived, they said I could not have any because I supported the whites and the opposition party during the election. I dare not go home and face my children. I wish I could die.”

Noam Chomsky was quick to denounce the United States for the imaginary starvation of millions. He doesn't seem nearly as loud where someone is actually starving people on purpose does he? Why could that be?

Oh, yeah: Mugabe isn't an American, or allied with America, and hence is incapable of evil. Sorry, I forgot there for a moment.

UPDATE: Norwegian blogger Vegard Valberg is irate about this, and calls on South African President Thabo Mbeki to do something.

I got a nasty email from someone in South Africa a week or two ago, sarcastically asking why the United States isn't bombing Zimbabwe. My response was that we're a bit busy right now, and that if South Africa decided to get rid of Mugabe he'd be gone in a week.

TALKLEFT has weighed in on the whole jury nullification issue, discussed below.

UPDATE: Here's more on this subject, from Ernie the Attorney.

"THE PROFESSOR WHO CAN'T COUNT STRAIGHT:" Here's an article on Marc Herold, purveyor of bogus numbers on Afghan civilian casualties -- and on the journalists who eagerly cite his work despite its rather obvious falsity.

The article's unpacking of Herold's numbers and their nonexistent sources -- which are Bellesiles-like in their bogosity -- is amusing. That so many people eagerly embrace them out of desire to have something bad to say about America is, well, pitiful.

August 18, 2002

BY THE WAY, I think I was channeling Ken Layne in the post below. I felt his spirit enter my body there for a minute as I typed. If I start writing about bats, send help.

SOME CANADIAN GUY is denouncing America again, with the usual form letter: blah blah oil, blah blah militarism, blah blah Enron, blah blah guns.

Here's the part he gets right: "Does this bother you? Not in the least."

UPDATE: James Lileks suggests that this is a brilliant government plan to discredit the opposition to the war -- made more brilliant by the fact that it contains nothing with which the opposition disagrees! Lileks resurrects the term "idiotarian" here, and though I think that term's moment has passed, I'll grant that this specimen is unusually worthy.

ANOTHER UPDATE: For some reason, the Lileks link above isn't working. (One reader said that's okay, because Lileks has the world's coolest 404 page. I wish I were as cool as James Lileks.) Anyway, here's the main link; just scroll.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Canadian reader Alan Cameron is buying Lileks' theory:

I'm from Canada and yet haven't had the good luck to meet Mr. McDougall. Seriously, don't you wish you could meet him? He's fascinating. So very stupid, so ill-informed, so vile, so hate-filled. Truly an uncommonly high concentration of all these characteristics to be found in just one fool. There isn't a conspiracy theory he doesn't believe. Where, or in what, does he live? How does he get by on the pittance that is welfare subsistence? Can he tie his own shoes? Where does he vacation? What colour was the sky in his kindergarten drawings? I would love to learn more about the man. Thanks for this one.

Lileks' theory is great, and it seems the most plausible explanation for the letter.

Yes, the disinformation theory would explain a lot about the antiwar movement. And I keep trying to remind myself that just because yahoos like this guy oppose the war does not, by itself, make it a good idea. It just seems that way.

STEVEN DEN BESTE may have found a Homeland Security success story. No, really.

IT'S A FAMILY FEUD, on PunditWatch!

WHAT JOURNALISM SCHOOLS CAN LEARN FROM LAW SCHOOLS. Interesting.

OLIVER WILLIS HAS ADVICE FOR LOUIS FARRAKHAN ON REPARATIONS: "Louis, you owe America more money than you can count for having to endure your sorry shuck and jive for all these years." He's also ticked off about media coverage of the subject, and of black people generally.

Except at The American Times, of course.

SKBUBBA SHINES THE LIGHT OF THE BLOGOSPHERE on TVA air pollution. Burning coal is one of the nastiest ways there is to generate electricity. We do a lot of it around here. Wish we had more nice, clean nukes. . . .

MUGABE IS STARVING THE OPPOSITION, according to this report in the Christian Science Monitor. You'd think that after the fuss that Noam Chomsky made about starvation that never happened in Afghanistan, he'd make an even bigger fuss about this since it's, you know, actually happening. Well, you'd think that if you didn't know Chomsky.

DEFINING TERRORISM DOWN: Charles Johnson is unhappy with this article by Molly Moore and John Ward Anderson in the Washington Post.

What causes Charles to label this article "appalling" is its cold-bloodedly neutral assessment of suicide bombers' attacks on innocent civilians as purely a question of military effectiveness. If Israel or the United States chose to attack primarily Arab schools and shopping centers, would the Post take the same tone?

Of course not. And like all those who hold Arabs to a lower moral standard, the Post is being discriminatory -- some would say "racist," though Arabs are caucasian -- in doing so. But it's certainly condescending. "What can you expect from the wogs?" is the implicit assumption behind such treatment.

UPDATE: Sasha Volokh disagrees, sort of. He says he loves dispassionate military analysis, though he agrees that the Post probably wouldn't be so dispassionate about U.S. or Israeli actions deliberately targeting civilians for the sake of inspiring terror. Which was my point.

MORE ABOUT BLOGS, in Newsweek.

BRUCE ACKERMAN raises legal arguments against the Bush Administration's doctrine of "strong preemption." They're related to, but not the same as, those raised by William Van Alstyne earlier. Had Ackerman's earlier comments on the war not been so embarrassingly partisan and uninformed, this piece -- which has some actual substance -- would carry more weight.

UPDATE: Stuart Buck writes that Ackerman is on the wrong side of an ongoing "constitutional moment."

NEAL STEPHENSON UPDATE: Well, only sort of. My earlier post invoking Cryptonomicon generated a lot of email. One noticeable strand involved the character of America Shaftoe, who many readers saw as unrealistic, and who was referred to by one reader as a "geek fantasy chick."

I disagree. In fact, my brother's long-term girlfriend makes America Shaftoe seem tame. She's gorgeous enough to be a swimsuit model, is in grad school in robotics, and is a crack shot. (And for extra exoticism points, is Nigerian). She even has her own software company selling network billing and management software to Internet cafes in the third world.

Plus, when they were here last weekend, she re-installed my wireless network. The replacement hardware was, of course, an upgrade from what I'd had before, and the installation was totally different. I had looked at it, groaned, and put it off until I had a full afternoon, and plenty of patience, to screw with it. She did it in a couple of hours. And, most impressively, was visibly having a great time while she did.

Let's see Neal top that!

GO-ANYWHERE BLOGGING? This looks pretty cool. It's an ISDN-speed (up to 144 kbps) always-on go-anywhere wireless connection via a PCMCIA card. The pricing seems a bit steep, though: it's based on bandwidth, and I think I'd blast through my monthly allotment in a day or so.

UPDATE: Reader Rob Wald has some firsthand experience to report:

About the Novatel/Sprint card. First of all, Sprint is pure evil. I don't know if you've ever dealt with them, but in a world of wireless carriers which are all bad, they are by far the worst.

But as long as you are mentioning the service, Verizon has the same service called CDMA 1xRTT) priced at $99/month for unlimited usage (Mb pricing also available). I don't know why sprint is getting all of the press because Verizon is a better company with more coverage and better pricing. All cell companies may be evil, but Verizon is not Satanic.

Anyway, I'm currently testing the service. Happy with some of it, but for my admin duties, the latency is very bad which makes telnet/ssh somewhat unpleasant to use. Not sure if it is good enough. Is fine for email and surfing, but one doesn't spend $100/mth of other people's money for surfing.

Nice slogan: "Evil, sure, but not Satanic!" Sounds interesting. $99/month unlimited bandwidth isn't bad. A bit too steep for me, especially since my home and work environments have wireless networks that are much cheaper, since they're free. But it wouldn't have to come down a whole lot to be worth my while.

THE POLITBURO is reporting on the reparations rally on the mall, with a big wrapup promised for a bit later. Highlight so far: Brooklyn councilman Charles Barron's expressed desire to slap a white person just for his mental health. There are audio excerpts from the speeches.

UPDATE: The Corner has discovered this too, and has some observations.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Susanna Cornett has a transcript of a radio interview in which Barron tries to explain the remark away as "black hyperbole," and claims that if a white person said that sort of thing it would be different. Cornett's verdict:

Barron was being flagrantly racist in his comments, and the fact that he was applauded by blacks and whites alike only says that his kind of racism is acceptable in some circles, not that it wasn't racism. I hope the mainstream media pick up Barron's explanation from Malzberg's show, because it makes his racism very clear.

I'm with Oliver Willis on this stuff.

JURY -- AND GRAND JURY -- NULLIFICATION: Howard Bashman points to an interesting Ninth Circuit case on grand jury instructions, and goes from there into a general discussion of jury nullification: the power of juries to refuse to convict (or, where grand juries are involved, to indict) even where the evidence is sufficient, if they feel that such a refusal is necessary to serve justice.

Howard sees jury nullification as an inevitable bug in the system: "Jury nullification is something our system endures because there's no other alternative, but it's not something to be encouraged." I think this is wrong: it's not a bug, it's a feature.

Jury nullification gets a bad rap, being associated in the public mind with the O.J. trial and with the failure of various juries to convict racist killers in the South in some famous cases during the 1940s and 1950s. Such discretion, the conventional wisdom says, is at odds with justice.

Well, maybe -- but if so, the jury is the least of the problem. Everybody else in the system, from the cop on the beat, to the prosecutor, to (realistically) the judge, has discretion to let an offender off if they think conviction would be unjust. But oddly enough, it's only the excercise of this power by juries that gets a horrified reaction from the justice system. A cynic might conclude that this is because juries don't have union cards, and aren't as readily controlled by the other players in the justice system.

The cynic would have a stronger case for this position than Howard's post suggests. In a recent book entitled Jury Nullification: The Evolution of a Doctrine, Clay S. Conrad looks at the conventional wisdom and the history of jury nullification and finds some mismatches, concluding that juries were meant to have this power, and that the justice system's opposition to it comes mostly from institutional self-interest. He also draws support from legal scholars such as Leonard Levy and Akhil Amar.

For a summary of Conrad's argument, and some suggestions of my own, you can read this review of Conrad's book that I wrote for the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy. The opening sentence, with all due modestly, is among the catchier ones in legal scholarship.

UPDATE: Howard calls my remarks "especially thoughtful," which coming from him is quite a compliment. Though I notice he doesn't say whether he agrees. . . .

Warning: include(/home/www/instapundit-archive/traffic.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/joyent-copy/home/www/instapundit-archive/archives/week_2002_08_18.php on line 3092 Warning: include(): Failed opening '/home/www/instapundit-archive/traffic.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/share/pear:/usr/share/php') in /home/joyent-copy/home/www/instapundit-archive/archives/week_2002_08_18.php on line 3092