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September 14, 2002

I'VE NOTICED the new developments in the Central Park jogger case, and I have to say that even after reading this article in the Village Voice I don't feel that I have a complete handle on the issues involved.

Jeanne d'Arc has a post on the many reasons why the case is disturbing. It comes as no surprise to lawyers that the criminal justice system locks up innocent people. It's an old and unfunny joke among prosecutors that "convicting guilty people is just your job -- convicting the innocent is the real test of professionalism." Like most dark jokes within the professions (for brain surgeons it's "oops! there go the piano lessons!") it's mostly just dark humor, but like all of them it's dark humor tinged with truth. Prosecutors say that their goal is achieving justice, not convicting people. But their conviction ratios are too important to their careers to ignore.

I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said that it's much worse to convict an innocent person than to miss a guilty one -- because when you convict the innocent, people perceive that obedience to the law is no protection. And I certainly don't think that it's okay -- as some have apparently been saying -- that no harm is done if a wrongly convicted person is eventually exonerated. Those years spent in jail are years lost forever, and pretty damned lousy ones at that.

Of course, any system run by humans is going to be imperfect. Even the old maxim, "better ten guilty go free than one innocent be convicted," seems implicitly to suggest that if the ratio were 100-1 things might be different. (See Sasha Volokh's already-famous law review article on this very issue.)

To my mind, the real test of a system isn't whether or not it makes mistakes: by that standard, all systems will fail, since all make mistakes. The real test is whether the mistakes were made in good or bad faith, and whether the response to them, once they're discovered, is marked by good or bad faith. What unfortunately happens in some criminal cases is that prosecutors try to block DNA tests, or hide exculpatory evidence, to keep a conviction from being overturned. I consider that sort of behavior to be the very worst sort of crime -- because it's not only wrong in itself, but undermines the whole system.

UPDATE: Here are some comments at Pundit Tree. And reader Tom Maguire points out that Max Power has been debating this with Uppity Negro for some time. And here's something from Sisyphus Shrugged, which is also one of the better blog names I've seen lately.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oh, and here's one by Armed Liberal, who finds Jeanne d'Arc just a bit too "self-satisfied." He adds:

I’m interested in why our three reactions are so disparate, and it cuts to one of my significant core issues, the alienation of many of us from our society and the overt disgust with all the instruments of government. In other words, the collapse of legitimacy.

I’m interested in why it is, when we correct the injustices of the past, and devise tools to ensure that it will be difficult to make the same mistakes again, we are dwelling on the “Oh, no, we were so bad” rather than the “we’re getting better”. See, I think that real liberalism…the kind that builds schools and water systems and improves people's lives…comes from a belief in progress.

I think that this is a good point -- though one question is, now that the system appears to be correcting its mistakes, how far will it go to make things right? I think a million bucks each is reasonable, though no more than reasonable, compensation if these guys turn out to be honest-to-God innocent. Think they'll get that much?

And if the State of New York replies that compensating the wrongly convicted at that level is too expensive, given how often such things happen, well, that will tell us something, now won't it?

ONE MORE UPDATE: Mark Kleiman weighs in with the voice of experience.

HOW THE BLOGOSPHERE CHANGES YOU: I've noticed this phenomenon myself.

FLORIDA NON-TERROR UPDATE: Donald Sensing and Reid Stott weigh in on false alarms. Here's an excerpt from Stott's post:

They didn't do anything but what citizens have been asked to do repeatedly, especially in a week of heightened terror alert, on the anniversary of the death of thousands due to such terror. Law enforcement officials announced the tip to the media, not Eunice Stone. Only after the men had been stopped in Florida, and the story of her initial tip broken, did the media show up in droves outside Ms. Stone's house. Did she hold a smiling press conference on her front lawn to boast of what she'd done? No, visibly uncomfortable with all the attention, she go into the family vehicle (followed by a family member politely chastising the media scrum in a true Southern manner: "Y'all mind if ah git in mah truck?") She said as little as possible, and then left them there (admittedly, partially because Fox had scooped the hell out of everyone and somehow locked her up for a live interview).

And you know what? In the very first phone interview she did, one of the first things she said was " 'I hope I haven't done something wrong,' Stone had told Fox News. 'I hope I haven't caused someone problems that really didn't do anything ... At the same time, I thought, 'What if they really are doing something and I stopped them?' " Does that sound like someone seeking to get others in trouble so that she might glory in the media?

And the media, even today, continues to get her story wrong, as Christiane Amanpour did this morning on CNN when she very snidely said the alert was due to the word of a "fast food waitress," suggesting the whole episode showed America is out of control. Perhaps one should make certain of at least the known facts before one engages in speculative punditry before millions, like the fact the very very early reports that said the tipster was a waitress at Shoney's were quickly debunked, long before we even heard the name of "Eunice Stone," oh, and that little fact that our country had bumped up the alert status 48 hours beforehand. Of course, those facts would tend to tear down both sides of Christiane's point, but no matter, she's just a pro with a bully pulpit to millions. No need to get bogged down in accuracy, it dulls the rhetoric.

Well said.

UPDATE: Aziz Poonawalla is rather critical of Donald Sensing's post. However, Rod Dreher seems to find the same anti-Southern prejudice in media coverage that Sensing complains about -- though he concludes, after examining his own assumptions in the matter, that bias goes both ways.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Suman Palit writes that this is why TIPS was a bad idea: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Well, maybe. On the other hand, this was a credible report. The question is, are we better off examining these, or ignoring them? That's not an easy question to answer, since it depends on the ratio of good to bogus reports, and the costs of acting and not acting. Certainly the tips from the Buffalo, New York muslim community that led to the arrests there seem to have been worthwhile. I do agree with Suman's main point, though, which is that these defensive efforts are far less important than cutting off the head of the snake.

THE ARAB LEAGUE IS NOW URGING IRAQ to agree to Bush's inspection plan. But the big item in this story is the following, from Bush:

``The U.N. will either be able to function as a peacekeeping body as we head into the 21st century, or it will be irrelevant. And that's what we're about to find out,'' Bush said.

Either way, Bush wins. For a dumb guy, he winds up in this situation a lot.

SCOTT RITTER SAYS THAT "WAGING PEACE" IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TRUTH:

[TIME] You've spoke about having seen the children's prisons in Iraq. Can you describe what you saw there?

[Ritter] The prison in question is at the General Security Services headquarters, which was inspected by my team in Jan. 1998. It appeared to be a prison for children — toddlers up to pre-adolescents — whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene. Actually I'm not going to describe what I saw there because what I saw was so horrible that it can be used by those who would want to promote war with Iraq, and right now I'm waging peace.

Typical. We saw the same unwillingness to discuss such things from those who defended the Soviet Union, Pol Pot, and many other evil regimes. Usually in the name of a "peace" that really meant "surrender."

As Tony Adragna notes, though some people are saying that Ritter is being "demonized," the truth is that he's doing it to himself.

A TRAP SWINGS SHUT: Robert Musil writes that it's rope-a-dope on several levels.

WHY THEY HATE US: Friedrich has an answer.

DAVID WARREN WRITES that those who say we're embarked on an unending war are wrong:

For, contrary to the most pessimistic assessments, we will be able to know when the war against terrorism has been won. It will be when we see a phenomenon sweeping the Middle East, equivalent to what swept Central and Eastern Europe in the years 1989-91. (Though we may yet see the contrary in the meantime -- Islamists overthrowing governments in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.)

We are dealing with an enemy that is defeatable, but which is not small. And we are dealing with entrenched attitudes that penetrate far more deeply into Muslim society than into the societies that were freed in Central and Eastern Europe. There was in these latter, after all, no one left who genuinely believed in Communism. In the Islamic world there are great masses of people who genuinely believe in the most bellicose interpretation of the old Muslim concept of "jihad" or holy war. Dead or alive, Osama bin Laden does command armies of millions of sympathizers, people living an apocalyptic fantasy.

But we have faced that kind of thing before. The Nazis were living an apocalyptic fantasy; so were the fascists of Mussolini's Italy, and the emperor-cultists of Tojo's Japan. In many ways, the antebellum U.S. South once fell into such a collective fantasy, and behaved aggressively in a like way. Such enemies were never going to be won over by reason or negotiation, and every proposal for appeasement strengthened their hand. . . .

That is the hard fact of life. Only the infantile narcissism in so much of the post-modern West prevents us from seeing it plain.

Yet there are still appeasers out there, driven in large part by what Diane E. describes as anger against effectuality. At least, anger against Western effectuality.

For some similar thoughts, see this post from OxBlog.

UPDATE: NEXIS OF EVIL: Richard Bennett hits an antiwar (er, and antilogging, and anti-meat, and, well, you get the idea) activist where it hurts.

JEFF JARVIS has an excellent suggestion for the Chicago Tribune.

TONY ADRAGNA is still on the Scott Ritter story. And Will Vehrs has sympathetic comments on the arrest of Al Gore's son for DWI, which I hadn't even heard about. As Vehrs points out, that's just as well.

UPI COLUMNIST JIM BENNETT WRITES, in a column explicitly inspired by this post on Samizdata:

Three years ago, I was present at a vociferous argument between Margaret Thatcher and a retired American general who was a strong Europhile. The general maintained that Germany was America's strongest and most important ally, while Britain's aid was essentially worthless. Today nobody could advance such an argument with a straight face.

Interestingly enough, Tim Hames, writing in the Times of London on Friday, summarized recent British poll results on Iraq. Opposition to Britain fighting is most concentrated in the trendy, higher-income brackets; support for fighting is strongest in Middle England. The Chelsea neighborhood so full of quiet proofs of solidarity on Sept. 11 was in fact the heart of the trendier, higher-income parts of England.

Perhaps the polls today are no more meaningful than the famous Oxford vote prior to the Second World War, a vote of the same sort of elites, not to fight Hitler. After all, the same Oxford students went readily to fight when it became clear that appeasement of thugs does not work.

I suspect that Sept. 11 and its consequences will be part of a longer-term set of changes in the world. The strength of the comments of a random set of Americans to an impromptu memorial by a random collection of Brits reinforces my belief that an emerging Anglosphere will be part of those changes.

Quite a few people are saying so.

DIANE E. describes "a generalized rancid, corrosive anger against any form of effectuality." You do see a lot of that, thinly disguised as compassion or sensitivity by people who are in fact deficient in both.

STEFAN SHARKANSKY says America's middle east problems are all about oil. And he's got an appropriately leftist solution.

UPDATE: Sharkansky is surprised I've called his solution leftist. But it's about redistributing "unearned" income: sort of the inheritance tax writ large. Isn't it?

MARK STEYN is reflecting on cultural sensitivity. Personally, I hope we all learn to be as sensitive as he is.

FUNNY: Last summer it was the anti-war people who wanted a debate on Iraq. Now it's the Bush Administration that wants it, and is determined to get it.

THE INDYMEDIA KIDS are obviously provocateurs working for Ashcroft. Who else would respond to a reference on the Wall Street Journal's website bringing in a lot of new eyeballs by posting this?

As far as defacing patriotic bumper stickers go, I'm all for it. Patriotism is a disease of the ignorant, kind of like believing in UFOs and palm reading. The American flag is also comparable to the Nazi flag and many people around the planet would agree with this comparison.

All empires fall. Let's take down the American one.

Oh, right: idiots. So which is it?

The link is here and this is currently the very last comment. Beware that trolls unhappy with IndyMedia have posted the goatse.cx photo in various places.

SCIENTIST-BLOGGER DEREK LOWE has a series on chemical warfare. Start with this post and scroll up.

SCOTT OTT has discovered proof that Nicholas Kristof's column on Cuba, much-reviled in the Blogosphere, is actually right!

ANDREW HOFER'S SUBTERRANEAN CONTACTS have produced this Al Qaeda internal memo, which suggests that their management techniques are more modern than generally realized.

ANOTHER DANGEROUS CABAL is exposed. Brrr.

THE FBI PLANS TO CHARGE five men arrested in Buffalo as part of a suspected Al Qaeda cell. But here's the key part of the report:

Dr. Khalid Qazi, president of the American Muslim Council of Western New York, said he was told the investigation started when the local Muslim community reported suspicious activities to the FBI.

Yep. That's how you catch these guys. And it's why (as I've said since Day One) it's important to treat the American Muslim population in general as allies, not suspects.

UPDATE: I just noticed that Bill Peschel is blogging again and posted similar thoughts last night.

THE MINUTEMAN has an amusing roundup of goings-on around the blogosphere.

EMILY JONES IS RESPONDING TO CRITICS of, well, all sorts. Start here and scroll up.

IN LESS THAN A WEEK, it will be the 20th anniversary of the smiley-face emoticon by Scott Fahlman of Carnegie-Mellon University. Observe it appropriately. I wonder when the Homer Simpson emoticon was invented? ( 8(|)

September 13, 2002

IF MY BLOG WERE ENTITLED "NO WATERMELONS," I probably wouldn't have written about this particular subject.

ANOTHER SUPERHERO ADVENTURE ends badly.

HOW STEVEN DEN BESTE BECAME JASON KOTTKE. And his eventual plan for global domination.

THE COMEDIAN reports on his own personal role in blocking the spread of nuclear weapons technology.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH wants to start a new charity. He calls it "Adopt-a-Bomb."

DAVE WEIGEL writes that Robert Scheer can't. Or doesn't. At least, not well.

JIM CHRISTIANSEN emails this response to Nick Kristof's column (mentioned earlier today):

Nicholas Kristof's what's-the-urgency? column reminds me of these lines from Tom Lehrer's 1960s song on nuclear proliferation, "Who's Next?":

"Then China got the bomb, but have no fears, They can't wipe us out for at least five years."

For Lehrer, this was satire. For Kristof, it's a policy argument.

As for the analogy to the Cuban missile crisis: The difference between Saddam now and Khrushchev in 1962? Khrushchev remembered the twenty-five million dead from World War II. Saddam models himself on the guy who inflicted them.

Well said.

NEWSWEEK displays just how conventional its conventional wisdom is, says Sam Welden.

SCIENCE HAS ENSURED that there will be no more Osamas in future generations.

THE MIND OF A TERRORIST: Some deep insight here.

Hmm. I'm a Presbyterian, and I do own a machete. . . .

A SHOCKING REPORT FROM DAVE HILL. Can this be true?

OH, CANADA: Reader James McKenzie-Smith sends this quote from a Canadian sniper in Afghanistan about his record long-distance kill as proof that not all Canadians are like Chretien:

When he hit his first target, an enemy gunman at a distance of 1,700 metres, he said all that ran through his mind was locating his next target.

"All I thought of was Sept. 11th and all those people who didn't have a chance and the American reporter who was taken hostage, murdered and his wife getting the videotape of the execution; that is my justification."

More Canadians like that, please, and fewer like Chretien.

I JUST ran across this post from Razib K responding to Nelson Mandela's silly black/white comments on Iraq. Check out the pictures.

IN SAN FRANCISCO, some "activists" are vandalizing cars with American flags. Some are responding by threatening to give them the Aldrin treatment. In fact, if you scroll down through the comments, you'll find that at least one burly Canadian has done so.

UPDATE: Someone has added the goatse.cx photo to the comments on the Indymedia page, so scroll at your own risk.

SINCE I NEVER READ BEN SHAPIRO, I can't vouch for the accuracy of this "full frontal Fisking," but it's found favor with other bloggers who do read Shapiro.

UPDATE: Here's Corsair's take on the subject. Well, this certainly disproves the theory that only lefties get Fisked by the warbloggers.

HOW TO ADOPT THE CORRECT MORAL STANCE in arguing against the war: a guide by N.Z. Bear. Very amusing, but the conclusion is not just amusing, but important.

DAVID BATTISTUZZI is one of the protesters who shut down Benjamin Netanyahu's Concordia University speech. He's quoted in news stories as saying "there's no free speech for hate speech." Turns out he's a serial protester with a variety of lame causes. Pundit Tree has the scoop. While this is interesting on its own, its also a glimpse into a subculture of vicious stupidity that's worth looking at.

FLIT, which has owned this story from day one, has a lot of stuff on the Afghanistan bombing investigation and the decision to prosecute the two U.S. pilots who accidentally bombed Canadian troops. Start at the above link and scroll up.

I HAVEN'T WRITTEN ABOUT FLORIDA, EITHER for the same reason. All I have to say is "what the hell is wrong with those people?"

To be fair, it's not really Florida. Just two counties in Florida that, well, just seem utterly inept. I forget which weblog asked why they couldn't just get different-colored rocks and drop them in a basket, but I agree -- though I'm beginning to wonder if they wouldn't experience a basket shortage, or something, and screw that up too.

WHY HAVEN'T I WRITTEN about Warren Zevon? Because I don't have anything to say, really, besides "that sucks." Jim Henley on the other hand, does more than that. But it still sucks.

THE NEW YORK SUN announces that it has 20,000 readers. Congratulations, guys -- at this rate, one day soon you'll have as many as InstaPundit!

Actually, I hope the Sun has ten times that many. I think that it's nice that they're putting content online, and they're providing some new breadth to the New York media world. A new daily paper is a great thing, and the Sun is a good, soon to be a great, paper. I hope L.A. gets one next.

And, if you're wondering, I did finally get the check from them last week.

EUGENE VOLOKH points to a piece contrasting media treatment of Clarence Thomas and Cornel West as evidence of liberal bias.

THE TEHRAN TIMES IS REPORTING that Egypt now says it will support a strike on Iraq. Very interesting.

WELL, I'LL BET THEY WON'T DO THIS AGAIN:

Three medical students of Middle Eastern descent who were stopped as suspected terrorists on Alligator Alley early Friday morning remained detained after they were overheard in a Georgia restaurant vowing to make America ``cry on 9/13.''

Federal sources involved in the investigation said they believe the three men - all U.S. citizens - were playing a stupid joke on another restaurant patron who gave them a suspicious look.

All three were on their way from Illinois to take medical training in Miami.

Federal sources said the men could be released as early as today with a ticket for blowing the I-75 toll booth near Naples.

The sad thing is it was entirely credible. If Mohammed Atta, et al., could spill their guts to lap dancers, this kind of talk seemed to fit. I just hope this won't stop someone who encounters something similar in the future from calling it in.

JOE KATZMAN liked Bush's speech. So, interestingly, did Jeff Cooper, though I'm not sure they're on the same page as to why. And reader Chris Durnell observes:

However, there is also a bigger story - the UN as it is conceived right now is dysfunctional as is the entire international system. The phrase "post-1945 international system" is the big clue. Is the world anything like it was sixty years ago? No, it's not, but all the world bodies are designed as if it were. It's like the big idea after World War II was to preserve the system established by the Congress of Berlin in 1884.

A new international system is needed that reflects the world power structure of 2002, not 1945. Diplomats are a notoriously conservative bunch unable to react to changes in world events especially if they happen slowly over time. The US as "world hegemon" took a decade to develop, and now the world needs to deal with it, the crisis of failed states across Africa and Asia, and the rise of non-state powers. Not only is the post-WWII system irrelevant, the basic assumptions of international law since the Treaty of Westphalia are beginning to become questioned. How can the current system handle this? It can't.

I agree with a lot of this. One problem with the post-1945 system is that it created a transnational bureaucracy, and a lot of NGOs that feed off of it, and that creates great resistance to change that might cost people their phony-baloney jobs.

UPDATE: Jeff Cooper writes that there's not all that much difference between his position and Katzman's.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus comments.

SOME THOUGHTS on what the alleged terrorists in Florida may have been after.

SPEAKING OF VODKAPUNDITS, the original article has an account of Hanan Ashrawi's speech at Colorado College, which was notable mostly for not being shut down by screaming racist mobs of the sort associated with places like SFSU and Concordia College. Matt Traylor was also there, and has these words for Colorado College: "I hope you didn't pay much for that speech." (This meshes with what Stephen Green said: "a complete waste of time.") Traylor has helpful advice for Hanan Ashrawi, too.

TED BARLOW TAKES ISSUE with my post on Alex Beam and the relative degrees of fun-ness on the left and right. I was certainly having fun with Beam, who seems to exist mostly for my amusement, and that of quite a few other bloggers.

But Barlow claims that Beam -- and I -- overstate the case. I think that's a matter of perspective. I don't know what Ted does for a living, but I'm pretty sure he's not an academic. If you live in the academic world, the influence of the hair-shirt left is pretty damned obvious. It's true that the priggish anti-sex wing of feminism has lost its lustre, and its credibility, in the wake of the Clinton / Lewinsky affair. It's just impossible to take that sexual-harassment stuff very seriously after you've seen Susan Estrich, et al., saying that a blowjob between a boss and an employee is a purely private matter. (Human Resources offices still take it seriously, of course, but they're required to take all sorts of stuff seriously). But serious or not, it's still alive, in Human Resource offices and feminist studies anyway, and those still wield more power in my world than their moral or intellectual accomplishments would warrant.

Ted says that no one on the left defends Andrea Dworkin anymore, and produces an extensive list of blogosphere citations to prove it -- only to be brought up short by Dworkin defenders in his comments section. (Another commenter, displaying the sort of rollicking good humor I've come to associate with certain segments of the left, says that I'm an "idiot.")

But okay, I think it's fair to say that Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon don't enjoy a lot of support from lefty bloggers. So what? Ted notes, correctly, that "The Right isn't just a bunch of fun-loving VodkaPundits; it's also where Jerry Falwell, Bill Bennett, Gary Bauer, Pat Robertson etc. live." Well, true enough -- but we need more fun-loving VodkaPundits and fewer of the others, and as best I can tell that's where the right is these days -- at least if you include the libertarian-inclined right, which you have to if you want to count me and Stephen Green as "right" bloggers. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson don't enjoy a lot of support from righty bloggers -- in fact, I explicitly mentioned them in the post that led Charles Johnson to coin the term "idiotarian." My question is this: we know about the lefty Falwells -- that would be Dworkin and MacKinnon, among many others. But where are the lefty Vodkapundits? And try as he may, Eric Alterman doesn't count.

UPDATE: I'd count Welch and Layne as lefty VodkaPundits -- but I don't think that Ted, or most of the self-described lefty blogosphere, consider them lefties at all. Which, to my mind, helps to illustrate my point.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's an argument that Alterman is the VodkaPundit Of The Left. Well, the real VP would have been smoother, but then he's been aging in the oaken barrels of the blogosphere for longer than Alterman. . . .

LAST UPDATE: Dave Shiflett has the last word:

More to the point is a larger question: Do any pundits really have fun? And, if so, what does this tell us about the pundit? . . . The saving grace for most pundits is that they are easily amused.

I think he might be onto something. Jim Treacher emails that he's not a lefty VodkaPundit, but he might be a "moderate GinWonk." Could be. Though his comments on Moby don't sound all that "moderate."

CHRETIEN UPDATE: Here's a column from the Toronto Sun:

Why on earth would Prime Minister Jean Chretien blame America for terrorist attacks on not only the U.S., but Western civilization in a CBC-TV interview scheduled to run on or around Sept. 11 -- a day of remembrance and dedication.

And make no mistake -- it was America he was slamming, using the euphemism of blaming "arrogant, self-satisfied, greedy" western countries for "humiliation" that provokes others to resort to terror. . . .

That Chretien resents America and President Bush may well be because they make him look weak and petty.

Chretien can't inspire others, except those who depend on him for favours. He has disarmed Canada, made us utterly dependent on America for security, and resents it.

Increasingly, Canadians want Chretien gone. The longer he sticks around, the greater the likelihood that the Liberal party will suffer. Chretien has become a national embarrassment.

Americans and Canadians should be equally upset at his boorishness.

No prime minister in our history would have been so crass as to snipe at America the way Chretien has on such a poignant date in its history. It will encourage many Americans to resent Canada and wonder what warrants such hatred from a Canadian PM.

"Weak and petty" seems about right. Until the other day, my attitude on Chretien was Bogartesque -- I probably would have despised him, if I had given him any thought. Then he made sure that I gave him thought.

(Via Max Jacobs).

EUGENE VOLOKH has weighed in on the Scott Rosenberg / Damian Penny feud.

IAIN MURRAY REVIEWS some new polls and says:

The distinction between the solid, working/middle class, Euroskeptic, Anglospheric core and the flighty, upper/nouveau class, Europhile, anti-American literati is shown to be real by the polling data. Two nations. Blair has to pick which one he's for. More by the luck than judgment, I think he's making the right choice.

I think it's more than luck.

MATTHEW HOY says that he's hit the Trifecta with the New York Times op-ed page today: not one, not two, but three dumb op-eds. In response, Hoy attempts a difficult triple-Fisking of Kristof, Krugman, and Albright.

Well, okay, not that difficult -- I mean, look who we're talking about here. But you usually only see contestants attempt a "triple-Fisking" in the Olympic finals. It's gutsy of Hoy to do it in a mere exhibition event.

WIMPS: The Gop is backing away from Social Security privatization. The notion that a market slump means that social security privatization is a bad idea is indescribably stupid. Markets go up and down. Big deal. Congress has already cut my social security benefits, by raising my retirement age, and it'll do it again. Somehow that political risk is discounted in all the discussions of privatization, but it shouldn't be -- markets always go up again, but Congress seldom un-screws people once it's screwed them.

A TANK CAR FULL OF AMMONIA has exploded in Texas, with a boom that was heard 50 miles away. Not much more information at the moment.

NICK KRISTOF compares the current situation with the Cuban Missile Crisis. That earns this response from reader Brannon Denning:

God this is so lame, even by Kristof's standards. Uh, the reason Kennedy didn't want to press on Cuba is because there was a FRIGGIN COLD WAR ON!!!! What, are we worried that if we attack Baghdad, the Russians will invade Berlin? Jeez. Oh, and can't we, for the love of God, give the whole macho JFK thing a rest for once?

There's been a shortage of macho Democrats since JFK -- with the exception of LBJ, and people don't like to bring him up.

BREAKING NEWS ON the antiterror front. Here's the CNN story:

Authorities closed a 20-mile stretch of "Alligator Alley," south Florida's primary cross-state connector, and detonated a package early Friday after stopping three suspects who they believe may have been plotting a terror attack in Miami. . . .

Florida law enforcement officials issued an alert Thursday night after a Georgia woman said she overheard a conversation among three men in a Calhoun, Georgia, restaurant. Calhoun is about 70 miles northwest of Atlanta on I-75, which runs north-south until it reaches Naples.

She said the conversation indicated they were planning a September 13 terror attack on Miami, according to a report by Miami's WSVN-TV.

This puts that whole TIPS thing in a better light. Well, maybe.

UPDATE: Here's the latest as of 11:30. I hope they're checking for more than just explosives. One report said that "medical equipment" was found.

HEY, the headlines for Bush's speech should have read "Descendant of Muhammad condemns Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda."

LILEKS RULES, as usual:

I’ve been reading reactions to the President’s UN speech, and I’m amused at how people don’t seem to get it. Oh, now he’s being a multilateralist? Now he believes in the UN? No. That speech was the equivalent of that fabled kung-fu move that removes your opponent's heart and shows it to you, just before you crumple. It’s of a piece with the administration’s behavior since 9/11: Let all the carpers and obstructionists gather on the tip of the thinnest branch, then show up with a saw and announce they have five minutes to come hug the trunk, which incidentally is covered with sap and stinging ants. It was sheer malicious brilliance to cast the entire case in terms of UN resolutions, because it mean the UN had to chose: either those resolutions mean something, or the UN means nothing. Why, it's almost as if the UN painted itself into a corner - and woke up to find this rude simple cowboy holding the brush. How the hell did he do that?

Those damned cowboys. As Neal Stephenson's fictional Yamamoto observed, crude and stupid is tolerable. Crude and smart is absolutely, positively unfair.

SCORE ONE FOR ROPE-A-DOPE:

President George W. Bush yesterday proved himself a master of the art of turning the tables on his critics, by choosing to make his case for an urgent showdown with Iraq in terms of the very diplomatic multilateralism they hold so dear.

In doing so, he delivered a speech to the United Nations General Assembly that was, by some way, the most powerful indictment of Saddam Hussein that has been heard from the administration since the drumbeat towards war began six months ago.

It not only offered a strong rationale for coercive measures against Iraq. It also presented, for the first time, a possible framework for diplomatic and, if necessary, military action that could broaden the support for regime change in Baghdad beyond the current narrow coalition of the US and the UK.

Above all, the speech cleverly emphasised that what is at stake is the post-1945 international system itself. The challenge to that system comes not from the administration in Washington, but from Iraq.

Glad to see someone's finally paying attention.

STEPHEN F. HAYES ASKS "Someone remind me why George Tenet still has a job." The occasion: the CIA's inability to match the performance of reporters for The New Yorker and -- even more embarrassingly -- PBS.

LARRY SABATO'S CRYSTAL BALL has a lot of predictions and information regarding this fall's elections. He says it's "More accurate and user-friendly than Florida voting machines!"

September 12, 2002

HENRY COPELAND has a novel and interesting theory about weblogs and traffic. Er, I mean, "Ah, yes, exactly as I planned all along. . . ."

TONY PIERCE offers some undiplomatic criticism of today's L.A. Times article on weblogs. Matt Welch is more diplomatic, but equally critical.

ANDREA SEE has now gone 97 days without smoking. Hurrah!

I THINK that it's really an alien spaceship. Just in case you were wondering.

JOHN TABIN says he witnessed late night TV's first Fisking, courtesy of actor James Woods. I didn't see it, but his account is a good one.

THE SHOW WAS A GOOD ONE. Timed it perfectly: saw the last song of the second warmup band, a pretty good Lenny-Kravitz-influenced outfit out of Atlanta called Jade. Copper was set up and playing in admirably short time. Good music, scantily clad women, cold beer. They played an hour and a half and I was home, just ahead of the traffic, in 20 minutes. Woohoo!

OFF TO HEAR my youngest brother's band, Copper, play at the "Sundown in the City" festival, which they're headlining. Back later.

I CAN'T SEEM TO FIND the full text of Tom Ridge's Flight 93 speech yesterday, but to my surprise what I heard on TV was quite good. Here is a soundbite:

Your loved ones did not expect to serve the cause of freedom on that Tuesday morning, but serve it they did. Faced with the most frightening circumstances one could possibly imagine, they met the challenge like citizen soldiers, like Americans.

Not as good as Dave Barry's column, but not bad.

DAMIAN PENNY weighs in on the Chretien flap.

UPDATE: Armed Liberal embraces banality. Thanks, Salon!

TIM BLAIR REPORTS ON THESE "FORBIDDEN THOUGHTS" concerning a possible Salon bankruptcy. All I can say is that this is in dreadful taste, and I hope that TimBlair.Com loses every single one of its paying subscribers as a result. . . .

UPDATE: Er, this post was tongue in cheek, you know. I got several emails saying that I was too hard on Tim and, even more alarmingly, some congratulating me for putting him in his place. Though those were probably all Salon staffers using fake names. . . .

I guess Andrea was right about my sense of humor. Oh, well.

ASPARAGIRL, who's not happy about this, offers a link to this Fox story with more information on the radioactive ship.

I've gotten some emails from people claiming to know about various nasty things being smuggled in cargo containers, but the sources were unknown and I couldn't confirm anything. I wonder if there's more going on along these lines than we know.

THE CANADIAN EMBASSY HAS RESPONDED to my email concerning Chretien's remarks by sending, without comment, this extract from his interview:

Peter Mansbridge: By the end of the day, what were you thinking about in terms of how the world had changed?

Prime Minister Chrétien: But I’ve said that it is a division in the world that is building up. And I knew that it was the inspiration of it. For me, I think that the rest of the world is a bit too selfish, and that there is a lot of resentment. I felt it when I dealt with the African file for the Summit of the G8. You know, the poor, relatively, get poorer all the time. And the rich are getting richer all the time. You know, now we see the abuse of the system with problems in the United States at this moment with the corporate world, you know.

When you think that, you know, you have to let go somebody in the Cabinet because perhaps relatively very minor things…of guidelines. And there was billions of dollars that were basically stolen from the shareholders. And we have to you know solving the problems when you read history. Everybody don’t know when to stop. There is a moment, you know, when you have to stop. There is a moment when you have very powerful (inaudible).

I said that in New York one day. I said, you know talking, it was Wall Street, and it was a crowd of capitalists, of course, and they were complaining because we have a normal relation with Cuba, and this and that, and, you know, we cannot do everything we want.

And I said...if I recall, it was probably these words: ‘When you’re powerful like you are, you guys, is the time to be nice.’ And it is one of the problems. You know, you cannot exercise your powers to the point that of humiliation for the others. And that is what the Western world, not only the Americans, the Western world has to realize, because they are human beings too, and there are long﷓term consequences if you don’t look hard at the reality in 10 or 20, or 30 years from now. And I do think that the Western world is going to be too rich in relation to the poor world. And necessarily, you know, we look upon us being arrogant, self﷓satisfying, greedy and with no limits. And the 11th of September is an occasion for me to realize that it’s even more.”

Well, there is a mild effort to expand the claims of misbehavior beyond America alone, but this is -- except for that one phrase - entirely about accusations of American wrongdoing when you get down to it. I'd be interested in seeing what impression the entire interview gives.

UPDATE: Lots of Canadians seem to dislike this guy:

I am a Canadian and I found Mr. Chretien's remarks offensive. The clear message in the interview is that the US in particular and the west generally must bear responsibility for the actions of those in the third world who are angry and who are seeking revenge because of it. This line of reasoning is so empty headed and easy to refute that it is barely worth making the effort.

Americans only have to deal with Mr. Chretien's foolish and witless conduct when he is addressing issues of mutual interest. In Canada, we live with the results of his buffoonery every day. His government is in complete disrepute-charges of corruption and cronyism are so frequent that they are rarely reported any more. He has been an embarrassment to this country on virtually every occasion. He says in the interview that he likes to keep his distance from US presidents in order to preserve Canada's independence. I am inclined to think that Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush have found it wise to keep their distance from him in order to preserve their sanity. They have enough wing nut leaders in the middle east to deal with.

Ouch. Meanwhile Porphyrogenitus blames the French.

"SIX PEOPLE ARRESTED IN BALTIMORE TERROR PROBE:" Hmm. Things appear to be heating up. Conceivably, this stuff is being timed to produce PR for the White House (and I'm sure you'll hear some anti-war people claiming that), though I rather doubt it. More likely, it's taken this long for Al Qaeda and its sympathizers to get some new operations underway -- and it's taken this long for the counterterrorism folks to get their act even partially together.

BLOGOSPHERE FAVORITE ALEX BEAM joins the chorus of writers saying that right-wing pundits have more fun.

This is funny, but it's a serious problem for the Left. Like Sweden, it's cruised for a long time on a reputation for free-wheeling hedonism that no longer holds. The hair-shirt left is alienating to a lot of people -- I mean, which would you rather have, wild sex and high living or Andrea Dworkin and a spare lifestyle relieved only by an affected moral superiority? To Beam, the answer is obvious:

Who would you rather be? Me, plodding through errands on my bicycle, sporting my pathetic ''One Less Car'' T-shirt, or one of the many SUV drivers who blast exhaust in my face as they roar off to fill up on cheap gas? Who would you rather be?

Vrooom, vroom.

MEGAN MCARDLE WONDERS if this story is true. I'm inclined to doubt it, but I'd like to know more.

HERE'S A LINK to the White House document outlining the case against Saddam Hussein.

I seem to remember linking to a similar document setting out the case against Bin Laden. I also remember that (1) some people said it was made up, but since then he and Al Qaeda have admitted complicity in the 9/11 attacks; and (2) Bin Laden hasn't been heard from in a long, long time.

MORE ON THE RADIOACTIVE SHIP QUARANTINED off New Jersey.

STEPHEN CARTER has resigned from the Kass bioethics commission. Tim Noah, who reports the story, doesn't suggest a motive, but as I've said before, I think it's because he realized it was a waste of time.

THE INS CAN'T CUT IT, according to this piece in NRO by Michelle Malkin.

BREAKING NEWS: Chretien (well, his Press Office) is "clarifying" his remarks. Seems he wasn't actually criticizing America after all. Not everyone's persuaded

UPDATE: More mail:

I'd like to add my voice to the (hopefully) large chorus of e-mails you've received from Canadians distancing themselves from the antics of our PM. The man is an embarrassment to our country.

I had stumbled across the article in the Post just before you linked to it. Up until then I had been planning on commenting on the Judd/High Noon post you had linked to in order to defend Canada (he had lumped us in with Germany and France). After I read this I just didn't have the heart. How could a non-Canadian possibly think any other way when this is our public face?

Yesterday around town most businesses had their flags at half mast and a large number were flying American flags alongside our own. I like to think that this is far more representative of how the Canadian people feel. Despite occassional differences, America is our closest friend and ally and we are fortunate to have you as our neighbour. Chretien's comments were disgraceful.

Sean Engemoen
Saskatoon, Canada

Thanks Sean. We know most Canadians don't feel this way. We just have trouble understanding why so many Canadians who do feel this way wind up in high office. And yes, my inbox runneth over -- and nearly all the email is from Canadians.

MARS NEEDS BUREAUCRATS! Governments must control Mars colonization, says British astronomer Sir Martin Rees, or it might turn out like America!

Once an infrastructure is established the costs of getting to Mars will go down, which could open up the possibility for different types of expeditions.

"If they were governmental or international (expeditions), Antarctic-style restraint might be feasible. On the other hand, if the explorers were privately funded adventurers of free-enterprise, even anarchic disposition, the Wild West model would be more likely to prevail," he said.

Okay, the story's a bit shy on context, so his remarks may be more reasonable than they sound. But some of us think the "Wild West" wasn't so bad, and it's, ahem, "insensitive" of non-Americans to treat it as a synonym for "bad."

NOT MUCH ACTUAL NEWS in this L.A. Times story on weblogs, which I found on Bill Quick's site, but it does mention, er, Bill Quick!

But jeez, this is basically the same story other people were running 6 months ago.

HOLLYWOOD HACKING BILL UPDATE: InArguendo has an interview with Alec French, the Minority Counsel on the House Judiciary Sub-Committee on Courts, Internet, and Intellectual Property, regarding Rep. Howard Berman's "Hollywood Hacking" bill. Readers may recall that the InArguendo folks got the back of the hand from Berman's office until they revealed that they had a weblog, after which cooperation was forthcoming.

The interview is pretty interesting. I think this is another sign that weblogs are doing more "real journalism."

UNLIKE DAMIAN PENNY, I DON'T WANT SALON TO GO BANKRUPT. I've liked Salon, which does a lot of good reporting amidst the knee-jerk Joe Conason-style stuff.

But reading the comments to Scott Rosenberg's reply to Penny, I think that Rosenberg comes off as unpersuasive. The 9/11 piece was intended to shock and get attention. It did. Now it's being criticized -- in a less vicious spirit, as commenters note, than the piece itself displayed -- and Rosenberg's unhappy. That's breaks.

UPDATE: Rosenberg has a new post responding to the critics of his response to Damian Penny's response to the piece featuring reader responses to. . . . well, this is the Blogosphere, isn't it?

THIS ARTICLE SAYS that the Germans are still covering up important aspects of the Munich Olympics massacre.

UPDATE: Reader Ralf Goergens copies me on a letter he's sent taking issue with the Spectator article referenced above:

Letter to the Spectator:

Sir,

Simon Reeve neglects to mention some important aspects in his article "The German way with terror".

At the time no European government, nor the American one would have been prepared or been able to deal effectively with this kind of terrorism. Some serious mistakes were also made, but to suggest that anti-Semitism, latent or otherwise, was involved on the part of the German police is absurd, if not downright malicious.

This experience led to the founding of the GSG-9 who in 1977 stormed a Lufthansa jet abducted to Somalia. The GSG-9 killed three terrorists and captured the fourth, without any casualties among themselves or the passengers. The Munich debacle also strenghtened the general German resolve in dealing with terrorists. Our domestic terrorists were defeated, their demands for negotiation were turned down, at the expense of the lives of some hostages.

In the 1980s some Germans were abducted by Lebanese terrorists to prevent the incarceration of an accomplice of theirs, who had tortured and murdered an American navy diver and later was arrested by German police. He received a life-sentence despite the threat to murder the hostages. Here is the URL of a Congressional Record on that matter: Link

Around the same time, the head of the CIA station in Beirut was abducted and then tortured to death by the same terrorist organization. The USA never took any revenge for that, nor for the suicide-bombing of the US Marine barracks which led to the death of 241 Marines (lobbing some large shells in the general direction of suspected terrorists does hardly count). [I heartily agree -- GR]


I mention this only to show that it is impossible to properly deal with an implacable foe if one is unprepared for his savagery.

The current German government may refuse to participate in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, but German military and police are nevertheless involved in fighting terrorism. German commandos are in Afghanistan, fighting remnant Al Queda and Taleban forces and German ships patrol around the horn of Africa. I wouldn't call this yielding to terror.

When fighting terror Germany is walking on thin ice, though. If German authorities had dealt with the terrorists in Munich as harshly as it seems appropriate now, with the benefit of hind-sight, your paper might very well have published an article called "The German way with massacre". alluding to some altogether different historic parallels. Today's world opinion would be happy to draw the same parallels if Germany did not act with the restraint it shows right now. Imagine the reaction to a German version of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Kind regards,

Ralf Goergens
Munich

These seem to be excellent points -- though, frankly, it's hard to imagine any more hysteria over Guantanamo Bay than actually took place. I imagine, in fact, that Mary Robinson would have been keenly respectful of German "sensitivities" on the subject.

CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER JEAN CHRETIEN is a blowhard. Instead of criticizing the United States and saying that the 9/11 attacks were America's fault for trying to "impose its values" around the world (as opposed to those of people who stone women to death for baring their ankles) perhaps Chretien should do something about the mobs imperiling free speech in Montreal.

Chretien is a poster boy for what's wrong with the world's governing classes. It's disgusting, and Canadians should be ashamed to have him as their spokesman. I suspect that some of them are.

And why is it that the people who lecture the United States on its "arrogance" are always so arrogant themselves?

UPDATE: Canadian reader M. McInnis writes:

I likely speak for many Canadians when I say that I agree with your sentiments about the our Prime Minister. They say that in a democracy you get the political leaders you deserve; what does that say about us when Chretien has been elected to three consecutive majority governments? (Though with the political right in Canada split between two parties, Chretien's Liberal government "mandates" have been with less than 50% of the popular vote (e.g. 41% in 2000).

The link below takes you to a brief piece the Globe and Mail prepared on Chretien during the last federal election. Appropriately, it is called "Ambition or arrogance?"

Uh, I'll take #2. Then there's this:

I am a Canadian, born and raised. Am I ashamed to have Chretien as my "spokesman"?

Hell YES !!!

Rick in Toronto

Thanks, Rick.

UPDATE: Here's more Canadian mail:

Our esteemed Prime Minister states that "You cannot exercise your power to the point of humiliation of others" in the National Post article you linked. It's funny that exercising power to the point of humiliating others seems to be a guiding principle of Chretien's long political career. The sacking of his chief rival Paul Martin, our former finance minister (link), is the most recent example of this.

Dave Peterson

Vancouver

Reader Eric Tam (who unlike the folks I quote above is an American, not a Canadian) thinks I'm too hard on Chretien, and sends this link to a report in the Toronto Star that gives Chretien's remarks less of an anti-American spin. Personally, I think it was pretty clear who Chretien was talking about (note his self-report of bravely standing up to "Wall Street.") But if Chretien didn't mean to call America names, he can certainly clarify his remarks on the subject. I've emailed the Canadian Embassy for a reaction, and will report any response. UPDATE: Tam emails that he's a Canadia living in America. Sorry. Actually, I think that means that everyone who's emailed so far is Canadian!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Canadian blogger Mark Wickens says "Sorry, America." And Jason Bauer has posted the letter that he sent to the Canadian embassy.

CHARLES JOHNSON has an eyewitness report from the Pro-Palestinian riot at Concordia University in Montreal. Hanan Ashrawi will speak today at Colorado College, and though there will probably be demonstrations, it's highly unlikely that she'll be silenced by an angry mob.

Yet we keep hearing that it's America where unpopular views are being suppressed.

UPDATE: Meryl Yourish emails:

This letter is totally for publication.

I normally never question how another writer writes his weblog, nor do I usually ask people to stick a certain label onto a certain action. But the events of the horrible anti-Jewish protest at Concordia University, where Holocaust survivors were surrounded, spat upon, and kicked, can hardly be said to be called a "pro-Palestinian" riot. Throwing pennies at Jews is an age-old anti-Semitic tactic; it has nothing to do with protesting the situation in the Middle East. This was done by the so-called "protesters." The riot didn't seem to have as much to do with
protesting the Palestinian situation as it did taunting and tormenting the Jews who came to hear Netanyahu. So let's call it what it was: An anti-Jewish riot.

You don't have to, of course, agree with or follow my suggestion. But I will refer to it only as an anti-Jewish riot in the future, and even went back and changed my entry from 9/10 to reflect that.

I wonder why they managed to prevent such an outburst in Toronto, but couldn't seem to do so in Montreal?

LIFE AMONG THE KURDS:

I watched the Iraqi troops from the roof of a house belonging to the forty-year-old Stia Ahmed. In her bedroom she has a large photograph of her husband, Qassem Mohammed, who died in Saddam's army fighting the Iranians during the war. In the picture he has long hair because he was, like many in Iraqi Kurdistan, a Dervish, a believer in the Sufi-influenced interpretation of Islam. In view of the proximity of the Iraqis I asked Mrs. Ahmed what she would do if the Americans attacked. She said that if the rest of the village fled then she would go too, but if they stayed she would stay. Then, expressing a view I was to hear from many in Iraqi Kurdistan, she said that despite the risks to her village, and even her life, she still wanted America to attack. "We would prefer Saddam to be destroyed," she said. "He did nothing for us."

At a nearby shop I met a group of some twenty-five men and boys of all ages. In these conservative and rural parts, girls and women do not venture out of their houses without permission or unless they have good reason to. The men complained that none of them had anything to do because many of their fields lay in Iraqi-controlled territory and unless you paid a large bribe you could not work them. Men of military age hardly dared to cross the lines anyway for fear of being drafted into Saddam's forces, while on their own side mines infested the fields. Ibrahim Kheder Mikhail, a sixty-eight-year-old, said that because of this, "it is like a prison here." I conducted a straw poll. Bearing in mind the risk to Shoresh if the US attacked, I asked who was in favor of a US-led offensive and who was against. Not a single man was against. It was certainly not a scientific poll but still, judging from many other talks I had with Kurds, I suspect that even if it had been, the result would not have been much different. These men, however, were not part of any armed force. . . .

According to Dilshad, over in Mosul "things in the market are very slow, because people are afraid of American attacks." What frightens people most, Kurds and Arabs alike, is the prospect of civilian casualties. Still, according to Haider, "people want America to attack because they are hungry and suffering a lot from Saddam."

Reader Jakub Rehor sent this link, and said he was impressed that the New York Review of Books is running this kind of stuff. Me too.

COSMIC CONVERGENCES? SKBubba has not one, but two. I don't see God as a short-seller, though.

YES, I'M UP: Blogging will continue today at, ahem, a somewhat slacker pace than yesterday's near-all-out effort. I have classes today, and, well, even I can't spend that much time in front of a computer on a steady basis. Though I managed to go out to dinner with my wife and daughter, read a couple of chapters of the latest book we're reading at bedtime, and even soak my computer-savaged muscles in the Jacuzzi, so it wasn't all toil in the salt mines.

I don't plan to link to any more 9/11 remembrances. Let's look forward now. Read Lileks (and check out the graphic at the top of his page) for more thoughts along that line.

Back later.

DALE AMON DISCOVERS the benefits of a lifetime of physical fitness. Er, not his lifetime, you understand.

September 11, 2002

SITEMETER says over 100,000 pageviews today, beating the previous record by over 22,000. If you want more details, you can click on the counters at the bottom of the page. Thanks for coming by. Good night, and confusion to our enemies -- though were they less confused, they likely wouldn't be our enemies.

MY BROTHER REPORTS that at his school they had a procession with a flag from every country with victims on 9/11. There were 94.

HERE'S THE TEXT OF BUSH'S SPEECH. Excerpt:

This nation has defeated tyrants and liberated death camps, raised this lamp of liberty to every captive land. We have no intention of ignoring or appeasing history's latest gang of fanatics trying to murder their way to power. They are discovering, as others before them, the resolve of a great country and a great democracy. In the ruins of two towers, under a flag unfurled at the Pentagon, at the funerals of the lost, we have made a sacred promise, to ourselves and to the world: We will not relent until justice is done and our nation is secure. What our enemies have begun, we will finish.

I believe there is a reason that history has matched this nation with this time. America strives to be tolerant and just. We respect the faith of Islam, even as we fight those whose actions defile that faith. We fight, not to impose our will, but to defend ourselves and extend the blessings of freedom.

Enough remembrance. On with the war. Sooner, I suspect, rather than later.

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus gloats that the word "homeland" did not appear in Bush's speech.

KRISTEN RECOUNTS her 9/11 experience. Orchid has some thoughts, too. Jay Manifold applies management theory to changes in attitudes since the attacks. And Nick Denton makes me blush.

UPDATE: Damian Penny writes that Salon's article on forbidden 9/11 thoughts is vile, and makes him pray for their early bankruptcy.

And here's the speech that Benjamin Netanyahu wasn't allowed to give at Concordia University in Montreal.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Scott Rosenberg responds to Damian Penny's criticism, saying that it's the role of journalism to puncture orthodoxies, and that that was the function of this "irreverent" piece.

JAMES LINDGREN EMAILS:

With all the talk of appeasement these days, it's instructive to read the 2d book in William Manchester's Winston Churchill biographies, the description of Churchill's struggles in the 1930s while in exile from power. The extent of British appeasement was breathtaking.

1. Even AFTER war was declared against Germany in 1939, the British government still worried about putting someone in the British government or posting diplomats abroad who would get Hitler angry. I'm not kidding. Obviously, there are somewhat less outrageous parallels to today, when some people still don't understand that we are waging a war against terrorism and thus worry that we might make an Iraqi dictator angry.

2. Areas invaded by Hitler were frequently blamed by British government officials as if they had provoked the attacks.

3. The British appeasers were always looking for root causes (the onerous treaty ending World War I was the chief excuse, but there were many), though I don't remember if they used the phrase "root causes."

4. One strong feature of the times was how desperately the government, the Parliament, and the press WANTED to be deceived. They would believe the most ridiculous things (including Hitler's repeated promises that each of his many acquisitions was his last), if it meant that England should do almost nothing.

5. What also comes through is Churchill's courage and clear-headedness in the face of seemingly more sophisticated thinkers (with supposedly better judgment), who thought Churchill's view of the world simplistic.

These are just a small number of the dozens of parallels. Times and situations in the 1930s were very different from today (not the least of which is that George W. Bush is definitely not Winston Churchill), but the reasoning patterns by which commentators approach these challenges are remarkably similar.

The book is:

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-40 by William Manchester

Some things don't change. There are always people looking for excuses not to do what needs to be done.

READ THE COMMENTS HERE, of which there are now hundreds.

ON YAHOO'S 9/11 MEMORIAL SITE there are currently 1,130 commemorative tiles from Iran.

TOLKIEN QUOTES: Reader Michael Drout sends this:

This one, from The Return of the King, is what I sent to several of my
students last year who wanted to turn to literature:

"Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule."

A fairly good answer to those who suggest that we have to solve every other problem (i.e, Israel / Palestinians, poverty in the third world, racism, etc.) before we can tackle terrorists.

As for other relevant Tolkien, today, in response to the Samizdata posting from England, I used another appropriate quote in the comments:

'Between us there can be no word of giving or taking, nor of reward; for we are brethren.... and never has any league of peoples been more blessed, so that neither has ever failed the other, nor shall fail."

Bigwig adds another, which he says should apply to "all who take up arms against the West:"

All were slain save those who fled to die, or to drown in the red foam of the River. Few ever came eastward to Morgul or to Mordor; and to the land of the Haradrim came only a tale from far off: a rumour of the wrath and terror of Gondor.

Any others?

UPDATE: But of course. Reader Christopher Brandt sends this:

One of my favorites, and I think especially applicable now

>From The Two Towers (Book III)

{Eomer speaks to Aragorn} '... How shall a man judge what to do in such times?'

'As he ever has judged,' said Aragorn. 'Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.'

And reader Mark Ayres sends this non-fictional item:

Surely you can not leave out this one. It's not from his fiction, but from a letter rebuffing a German publisher in 1938:

As a fervent Catholic, a veteran of the Somme, and a genuine scholar of Nordic cultures, Tolkien was not blind to these events. In 1938, Tolkien denounced the Nazis’ "wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine." When German publishers Rütten and Loening wished to translate The Hobbit from English, they wrote him, inquiring whether his name was of "Aryan" origin. Tolkien’s reply dripped scorn:

I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is, Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.

I think I have seen it phrased differently before; it seems I remembered it being directed at Goebbels (better yet!). This is where I googled it just
now: link.

This version matches my memory, as I've seen this quoted before. Very impressive stuff. Sadly, few authors in the 20th century possessed Tolkien's moral clarity, whether in their works, or in life.

THE LAST UPDATE ON THIS: Reader Don McGregor writes:

Tolkien goes on in that letter to add:

"My great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany; the main part of my descent is therefore purely English... I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to be come the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name no longer be a source of pride."

Truly, a glorious letter. (Collected letters, Houghton Mifflin, pp 37-8.)

Very nice.

DIANE E. said she wasn't going to write anything today, but she lied. She's written two words.

THIS SOUNDS DEEPLY SUSPICIOUS to me.

IRAN HAS BLOODILY SUPPRESSED PROTESTERS -- the official story is that it was about arrests of alcohol dealers, but I'm not so sure.

HENRY HANKS says I was wrong to praise ABC, and that Fox has had the best coverage today. He blogs a couple of examples.

They're good ones. I missed 'em, but I only watched a couple of hours of the coverage. It's Nickelodeon as I laptop-blog in the bedroom while my daughter nods off in our bed. (If it weren't for the laptop and the wireless network, I couldn't post nearly this much. You can decide if that's a bug or a feature. . . . But it was the tipjar donations that paid for the laptop, so you guys are getting what you paid for, anyway.)

UPDATE: This is post #56 for today, not counting updates. And just over 92,000 pageviews according to Sitemeter. I'm using that for comparison because the previous pageview record (back when that was all I was counting) was something around 77,600. Hope the server doesn't melt.

MIKE HENDRIX has a heartfelt observation, which is part of a long and passionate post with some great pictures. So here's the excerpt, but don't let that stop you from reading the whole thing:

That's why: politics ain't people. People are bigger than that, more complex, more unpredictable, more difficult to categorize and comprehend. To try to gain an encompassing understanding of the human soul via the small window of politics is to pinch off your own vision, sort of like looking at one corner of the Grand Canyon through a pair of inverted binoculars and then walking away confident that you saw the whole thing.

The truth is, the free people of the world still do have more in common than our respective governments can sometimes imagine. Our brothers, sisters, and cousins in Europe and Canada are still just that, even though we may disagree on plenty of specific issues. It might be just maudlin naivete for me to say so, but I think that the sympathy expressed for us worldwide in the days following September 11 was genuine, and I think much of it is still there. So many of these people have felt the horror of global terror in their own cities, up close and personal; they've lost friends and loved ones to the evil acts of the Red Brigades, Action Directe, the IRA, the ELA, and of course the various Islamist groups too. So how could these people fail to sympathize with us after 9/11? Is it even possible that such heartfelt sentiment could be just an aberration, a shallow and fleeting moment that in the end will be forgotten and mean less than nothing?

I hope not.

GEITNER SIMMONS HAS SOME GOOD THOUGHTS, and a cautionary observation:

A degree of caution is warranted, in other words, as American bestrides the globe. We are right to assert our interests. But we should guard against hubris, be realistic about our capabilities, and realize the risks of unintended consequences.

True enough -- but read the whole post for the context.

BIGWIG REVIEWS AND LINKS the 9/11 comic strips and editorial cartoons.

LYNN SISLO quotes Tolkien, and very aptly.

I have another relevant Tolkien quote, from Eowyn: "It takes but one to make a war, not two, and those who do not take up swords can still die upon them."

FLIT REPORTS that Netanyahu's speech in Toronto was not marred by a Palestinian-inspired riot. Apparently, unlike the Montreal police, the Toronto law enforcement people were up to the job. Or willing to do the job. Whatever.

JESSE WALKER says that the war on terror isn't really going that well. He scores some points, especially on homeland security. But I'm not sure that whether we are "safer" is really the measure of progress. Being safer is an endpoint, but progress toward that endpoint doesn't necessarily produce a smoothly incremental increase in safety. Quite the contrary: the most dangerous time is probably when we're clearly winning, and they're utterly desperate.

UPDATE: Andrew Dalton has a slightly different take.

ED DRISCOLL REPORTS on how Moody's used the Internet and conference-call technology to decentralize itself overnight on 9/11.

LOTS OF GOOD OBSERVATIONS from Dr. Manhattan, who had a child born on September 9, 2001.

"WAKE UP AND SMELL THE BURNING BODIES, FOLKS" -- Eugene Volokh is deeply disappointed by the usual suspects' reaction to the anniversary. He should be. It's a blot on UCLA's otherwise excellent reputation.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH has a selection of excellent quotations and images on his page today. Here is one, from Lois McMaster Bujold: "The dead cannot cry out for justice; it is a duty of the living to do so for them."

TONY PIERCE SHARES A DRAFT of President Bush's forthcoming speech. I think it's a winner.

A FAKE HATE CRIME in Utah. Not the first such. I wonder if it's counted in CAIR's statistics?

UPDATE: Read this post by Suman Palit.

RON CAMPBELL REPORTS FROM JAPAN:

I think most Japanese are happy that 1) it wasn't them that this happened to and 2) their constitution makes it convenient for them as they don't really have the option of getting involved in a war beyond their borders. There is a vocal minority opposed to the US's prosecution of those directly and indirectly responsible but it is a minority. And it's restricted to where you'd expect, college campuses and artsy coffee houses. The average Japanese gets the justified anger and understands how America plays out its role of enraged righteous avenger of justice. You piss off the Americans, they will lay waste to your land, people and government in a way that your mind can't begin to comprehend but they'll feel real bad about having to do it, They'll make it up to you by funding your complete reconstruction and societal make-over, rehabilitating you back into the world community and positioning you to become an economic superpower assuming you follow their 12 step program for recovering nations. Sort of a Tony Robbins with teeth... or something.

Or something.

SOME PEOPLE WISH WE'D GET OVER 9/11. In a way I agree -- I don't want to wallow in remembrance. But I want to avoid wallowing in remembrance in order to take action. I think that they want to avoid remembrance in the hopes of not having to.

UPDATE: Justin Katz says it's all about them. As usual.

DAN HANSON has a nice tribute to the passengers of Flight 93:

In their calmness and obvious resolve, they sent a message to all of us. A message that said, “This is who we are. This is how free people live, and this is how they die.” And from that moment on, we all knew what we were capable of doing.

In the dark days that followed September 11, it would have been easy to cower in fear, to believe that our generation was not up to this fight. Had it not been for the heroes of Flight 93, we might have been reading articles today lamenting the past, telling us how the stuff of “The Greatest Generation” of WWII had been lost. We might have questioned our resolve, and even looked for an easy way out.

But the doomed and valiant passengers of Flight 93 reached out to us with a different message, and lifted a great weight off our shoulders. They told us that the Greatest Generation is every generation that is forced to stand up and be counted. Our time has come, and in the final heroic acts of those 39 people, the example has been set.

On one of the TV programs I watched today (I've forgotten which network it was) someone said that the Flight 93 passengers hadn't gotten much attention. That seemed odd to me. I think they've gotten a lot. But maybe the point was that while some people have noticed, not everyone has gotten the message. Yet.

CLAYTON CRAMER SUGGESTS AN AL QAEDA ANGLE to the growth of Nigerian scam-spam.

I think he's wrong here. My Nigerian extended family is in the non-Muslim south, and they have many stories to tell of email scammers in Lagos. I think that's where most of these things come from. I think the increase in volume is evidence of increasing Internet penetration, and bandwidth, more than anything else. But hey, I could be wrong.

A PERFECT MORNING is a weblog collecting remembrance essays relating to 9/11.

HERE'S AN AP STORY BY ANICK JESDANUN on how the web is responding to the 9/11 anniversary.

I WAS DEFENDING SUSAN SONTAG THE OTHER DAY. Today, Andrew Sullivan is Fisking her. Yeah, there's plenty of dumb stuff there, as is sure to be the case in any piece written by Sontag and using the word "metaphor" -- which is to say any piece written by Sontag, I suppose. But I still think that he and Jonah Goldberg are missing the non-stupid parts, and the significance of her move toward the center.

RULE BRITANNIA: Daniel Drezner writes about being in London on and after 9/11.

HERE'S A 9/11 BLOG by John Paczkowski at SiliconValley.com.

READER RICHARD AUBREY EMAILS:

I thought about explaining the current US position to some friends in Mexico. I finally settled on this:

From the end of World War II to today, every military thing we've been done has been...just business. We were trying to manage a global chessboard where victories had little immediate impact, and losses no immediate cost. Many years later, perhaps, the aggregate of our efforts would prove useful. The fighting cost the fighting men and their families. But it wasn't personal.

This is personal.

There was the F14 pilot who wrote of dropping a packet of wake cards from the funerals of New York firefighters and police over Kabul with the warning that "this is why you die". There are the ordies on carriers who decorate bombs and missiles with decals from New York police and fire units. There are plane captains who make sure the name of a dead firefighter or cop is stenciled on a combat aircraft.

There is the special ops helicopter squadron which was donated the wings of a stewardess killed in the attacks, and which makes sure those wings fly on every combat operation.

"Let's roll," now combines the aspects of a prayer and an exhortation. Not to mention a warning.

This is personal. Last time it got personal was a very bad time for those who had attacked us.

I think a lot of people feel that way.

THE FOOL AND THE WISE MAN: Toren Smith knows the difference.

BEETLE BAILEY: Yep. Click here.

SEVERAL READERS HAVE EMAILED this lame oped from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Yeah, it's self-absorbed and dumb. I prefer these sentiments.

HERE'S LARRY SUMMERS' SPEECH at Harvard today:

As we grieve for each innocent life lost, we cannot evade the truth that what we commemorate here today is more just than the tragedy of human lives lost multiplied thousands of times over. It is the result of a calculated plan to murder unsuspecting people, innocent people - not because of anything they did or even anything they stood for -- but because they were members of this national community enjoying the fruits of freedom.

Those who killed on September 11 and those who celebrate the killing remind us of the eternal existence of evil. And we regard the world with understanding and openness, but we must also face it with moral clarity. We may debate the nature of truth, but there are truths beyond debate. Pursuit of that truth is OUR particular objective.

On Sept 11th, our generation learned, as generations before us have had to learn, that the values of life and liberty we venerate cannot be taken for granted but must be the constant object of our common purpose. For we saw that there are no ivory towers or impregnable fortresses — we are bound together. . . .

Let us honor those who are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom and show our support for those among us who have the courage to make that fateful choice.

Let us manifest our common purpose by renewing our commitment to this nation and, above all, to the values for which it stands.

Harvard is lucky to have Summers. Luckier, perhaps, than it realizes.

DON'T MISS SUSANNA CORNETT'S REPORT from New York today.

UPDATE: Reader Michael Hill emails:

I don't know if you are aware that the striking statue under the image of the burning twin towers in Ms. Cornett's post is a monument to the Katyn forest massacre. That area in Jersey City was once predominately Polish and still has a considerable Polish population. The image encapsulates the horrors of the 20th Century as it shows its end.

I didn't know that.

A MESSAGE TO AMERICA, from the Iranian student movement. The regime currently in power feels differently.

MARTIN PRATT sends this link to a story on 9/11 remembrances around the world. He's apparently miffed that I made such a big deal about spontaneous British demonstrations.

But what struck me was this passage:

"Events like Sept. 11 are sad but it is an opportunity for the American people to feel what bombing could do to nations," said Ali Ahmed, a 47-year-old who owns a Baghdad stationery shop.

I'll let you compose your own reply to these sentiments.

UPDATE: Jim Bennett emails:

I read the Yahoo link and it wasn't clear that any of the other tributes were spontaneous, exept possibly the Australian. Perry's point was about people putting up flags and handwritten notices without anybody organizing it. Maybe this was also done on the Continent; if so, that's nice too. Anyone out there with a digital camera recording it?

Well?

DONATE ONE OF THESE to Gerhard Schroeder.

SGT. STRYKER has a photo of the Pentagon that I hadn't seen before. It's striking. So is this, in a very different way.

JEFF JARVIS has a firsthand report from the Ground Zero memorial service. Here's the part that really got me:

Here and only here, we could hear the ceremony. Across the wide street, on the platform, I could see the people reading the names and a young woman playing her violin.

The names continued.

My God, they are only up to F.

I stood and listened.

I heard the bell ring when the first tower fell. A year ago right now, I lived.

I heard the name of my neighbor, who died.

He blogged it from a Starbucks nearby.

YOU KNOW THOSE SNEERING EUROPEAN REFERENCES TO HIGH NOON? Orrin Judd says they may be righter than they know.

JOHN HAWKINS hasn't forgotten Palestinian celebrations a year ago. Then there's this item from In Context.

READER DALE LEOPOLD sends this passage from Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars, which he says he's reading at my recommendation:

He [Frank Chalmers] studied the [Arab] men's faces as they talked. An alien culture, no doubt about it. They weren't going to change just because they were on Mars...Their thinking clashed radically with Western thought; for instance the separation of church and state was wrong to them, making it impossible for them to agree with Westerners on the very basis of government. And they were so patriarchal that some of their women were said to be illiterate--illiterates, on Mars! That was a sign. And indeed these men had the dangerous look that Frank associated with machismo, the look of men who oppressed their women so cruelly that naturally the women struck back where they could, terrorizing sons who then terrorized wives who terrorized sons and son and so on, in an endless death spiral of twisted love and sex hatred. So that in a sense they were all madmen.

A pretty good description of what we're dealing with, and of what must be changed.

ERIC S. RAYMOND says that we haven't learned enough from 9/11.

HERE'S A GREAT Nielsen-Hayden post. And here's another. Read 'em both.

AIMEE DEEP has set up a September 11 person-to-person memorial.

ANOTHER ANNIVERSARY. Well, of sorts: It's the 50th installment of Charles Austin's popular "Scourge of Richard Cohen" series.

N.Z. BEAR WRITES ELOQUENTLY about the lessons we should be drawing on this anniversary.

I'VE ACTUALLY WATCHED SOME TV coverage. ABC's, despite a bit of ass-covering by Peter Jennings regarding his anti-Bush slant of a year ago, has been the best, because they seem to be focusing more on what happened, why it happened, and what's being done to keep it from happening again. I did catch some of the Flight 93 memorial service, too. I notice that the choir sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," and not "Amazing Grace."

THE REAL ENGLAND SPEAKS: And it's not in the voice of Robert Fisk or Chris Patten. Read this and look at the photos. It's the spontaneous reflection of real people's feelings. The anglosphere is a reality. And this, very literally, brought tears to my eyes.

HERE'S A VERY COOL PHOTO from the U.S.S. Belleau Wood. Here's a link to the story that goes with it.

(Via Craig Schamp.)

HEY, we're getting our own TV series set in Knoxville. I bet Brad Renfro and David Keith wind up in starring roles. (Whatever you do, don't ask David about the shoe incident, though.)

VICTORY CONDITIONS: Here's something from last October:

HOW TO TELL IF WE'RE WINNING OR LOSING; some pointers from reader Eric Bainter:

Katie O'Beirne blows off anthrax anxiety with mild profanity and stiff "bio-drink": Win.

House of Reps gets panties in a wad and runs for cover: Lose.

Fly to Canada on vacation as planned before 9/11 and have good time: Win.

Canadian government apparently wrestling Belgium for last place in line behind - way behind - America: Lose, at least for the Canadian government.

Canadian independent muffler sign (big lighted one) says "God Bless our American Friends." Win. If it hadn't been a rental car, I woulda bought a new muffler system right then.

Rosie O'Donnell cancels shows: Big Win! no wait, lose. No, um, which is it - damn, tough to call this one..

During vacation fondue dinner, wife suddenly asks, "I wonder what Osama's having for dinner in his cave? Rat fondue?" triggering near-asphyxiation through giggling with mouth full: Win.

Get up, retrieve newspaper and mail, go to work, do job, do lunch, do work, go home, kiss wife - like usual: Win.

Local TV station airs story on how Cipro is cheaper in Mexico - lose.

Turn off losers on TV, face in general direction of Afghanistan, wave appropriate finger, say "Anthrax this!", go to bed, sleep soundly: Win.

Realize this war's battleground is between my ears, and I control the battle's outcome: Big Win.

By this standard, we're doing pretty well.

KEN LAYNE REFLECTS:

The flags went up, of course, but it was especially pleasant to see the flags go up in my immigrant-heavy neighborhood of Armenians, Filipinos, Central Americans, Middle Easterners and Russians. I had never thought much about displaying a flag, and after the terrorist attacks I was much more worried about my beat-up old revolver and its 15-year-old ammunition. But I recall driving through the neighborhood a few days later and seeing all those flags sprouting from car windows and front lawns and apartment balconies. There was a grim-faced middle-aged black guy getting out of a mechanic's pickup down the block, and as I drove slowly up the street I saw his American flag on the ladder rack, and he looked at me and waved and gave a little nod and it would've been laughable in a John Cougar Mellencamp video from the 1980s. But I just started weeping like a jackass. . . .

I learned more than a few things, especially about this country I call home. Like spending a year abroad in some hellhole little nation, Sept. 11 made all the American stuff I take for granted seem shiny and new. (If you've lived abroad, you know what it's like to come home and see how goddamned great this nation can be.)

Why isn't Ken Layne writing for the New York Times, instead of, well, pretty much all the people who actually are writing for the New York Times? Yeah, I know.

MICKEY KAUS has a worrisome update on the situation at TAPPED.

I promise that if TAPPED is eliminated I will taunt Kuttner and Moyers mercilessly. Er, and Mickey probably will, too. . . .

READER BILL RUDERSDORF is going all Anglo-Saxon on me with this anniversary quote:

"It is better to avenge a friend than to mourn him long" --Beowulf xxi,1-4

Has Osama read Beowulf? Too late now, I imagine.

ANNIVERSARY POST: This column by Brad Todd from September 16 is still one of the best things written from that first week.

SORE LOSER: Billy McKinney says he lost because black people didn't turn out for him:

"I did not expect this because I expected black folks to turn out for me," said McKinney as he left J.R.'s Lounge on Fairburn Road. "They did not turn out for me. They wanted a Klansman, a son of the Confederacy."

McKinney (D-Atlanta), who has become infamous for anti-Semitic remarks, was referring to Noel's membership in Sons of the Confederate Veterans.

Noel, at his victory party, shrugged off McKinney's comments.

"That's the kind of crud we don't need anymore," said Noel. "The days of divisiveness are over."

When you're losing black voters to a white guy who belongs to Sons of the Confederate Veterans, you might want to face up to the possibility that you're doing something wrong. Or you could just blame the jews, I suppose.

ANOTHER ISSUE the Democrats have been too lame to pick up on: Byron York writes on the Bin Laden family's great escape.

JAMES LILEKS writes a letter to the James Lileks of a year ago. It's terrific even by Lileks standards.

LOOKING FORWARD: My TechCentralStation column is up. There's an illustration of a NERVA engine for some reason, though. That's not connected with the subject of my column, really.

UPDATE: Fixed now. By the way, the streaming video of the Orion tests is very cool.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hey, check out this post by N.Z. Bear, too.

LOOKING BACK: Here's something I originally posted at about 10:30 in the morning on 9/11. It's held up pretty well, I think:

TOM CLANCY WAS RIGHT: (Reposted from earlier today) And we're living one of his scenarios right now. Not much is known for sure, but it's obvious that the United States is the target of a major terrorist assault. There's a lot of bloviation on the cable news channels, most of which will turn out to be wrong or misleading later. Here, for your consideration, are a few points to be taken from past experience:

The Fog of War: Nobody knows much right now. Many things that we think we know are likely to be wrong.

Overreaction is the Terrorist's Friend: Even in major cases like this, the terrorist's real weapon is fear and hysteria. Overreacting will play into their hands.

It's Not Just Terrorists Who Take Advantage: Someone will propose new "Antiterrorism" legislation. It will be full of things off of bureaucrats' wish lists. They will be things that wouldn't have prevented these attacks even if they had been in place yesterday. Many of them will be civil-liberties disasters. Some of them will actually promote the kind of ill-feeling that breeds terrorism. That's what happened in 1996. Let's not let it happen again.

Only One Antiterrorism Method Works: That's punishing those behind it. The actual terrorists are hard to reach. But terrorism of this scale is always backed by governments. If they're punished severely -- and that means severely, not a bombed aspirin-factory but something that puts those behind it in the crosshairs -- this kind of thing won't happen again. That was the lesson of the Libyan bombing.

"Increased Security" Won't Work. When you try to defend everything, you defend nothing. Airport security is a joke because it's spread so thin that it can't possibly stop people who are really serious. You can't prevent terrorism by defensive measures; at most you can stop a few amateurs who can barely function. Note that the increased measures after TWA 800 (which wasn't terrorism anyway, we're told) didn't prevent what appear to be coordinated hijackings. (Archie Bunker's plan, in which each passenger is issued a gun on embarking, would have worked better). Deterrence works here, just as everywhere else. But you have to be serious about it.

For now, the terrorists have won. They've shut down the U.S. government, more or less. They've shut down air travel. They're all over TV. But whether they really win depends on how we deal with this; hysterically, or like angry -- but measured -- adults.

Last night I was reading over the archive pages for the week of September 11. It's quite shocking to start at the bottom of this page, where the subjects are French coffeehouses with no-loitering policies, and disputes about who had the best abs at the Video Music Awards (I still think Alicia Keys should have won), and then scroll up into, well, a whole different world.

But, of course, the world wasn't really different. While Alicia Keys was sporting her fine abs, people who wanted to build a society where women would be stoned to death for doing that very thing were putting the final stages of their plan into action. We didn't actually wake up into a different world on September 11. We just woke up.

NO 9/11 MEMORIAL PAGE HERE: I've thought about what to do to observe the anniversary of last year's atrocities, and I've concluded that the main thing I can do is to keep on blogging. I could have put up a fancy photo page or quoted the Bible or Winston Churchill or, following a suggestion actually aimed at the TV networks, rerun all my coverage from this time last year.

But, what I did last year was blog about what was happening, as it was happening -- something that won me (rare) praise from Jim Henley, which because of its rarity (and believe me, it's rare) is not to be taken lightly. And besides, it's what I know how to do. Fancy memorial pages aren't what I'm good at. (Go here for one of those.) So while I'm going to post a couple of retrospective items, I plan to spend today thinking about today, and tomorrow -- not last year.

September 10, 2002

EUGENE VOLOKH reports on a "September 11 teach-in" at UCLA that sounds more like a predictably anti-American preach-in. How lame. (Scroll up from this post for more updates).

BILLY MCKINNEY HAS LOST the runoff, gaining only 35% of the vote despite the advantages of incumbency. Challenger John Noel has been declared the winner.

A TERRIFIC OBSERVATION BY ANDREW GREELEY:

On Sept. 11 last year, up to 1 million people were evacuated from Lower Manhattan by water ''in an emergent network of private and publicly owned watercraft--a previously unplanned activity.'' It was an American Dunkirk, like the epic rescue of the British army at Dunkirk in 1940 by an armada of similar craft.

Yet you most likely never saw this astonishing event, reported last month by Professor Kathleen Tierney at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, on television and never read about it in the print media. It would have made for spectacular TV imagery; yet, as an example of calm and sensible and spontaneous action, it did not fit the media image of panic, an image that will doubtless be re-enacted next week.

Yeah, I remember the media telling us all that we were scared and that we'd have to give up our freedom in the days and weeks following the attack, though it seemed to be them, not us, who were so scared. (This Michael Kelly column from October is a priceless window into the past.)

HERE'S A FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNT of Robert Fisk's speech at George Mason University. In keeping with the post-9/11 crushing of dissent in America, he spoke without rioting protesters shutting down the event, the way they do in progressive countries like Canada.

UPDATE: Fisk, Fisked -- reader Marc Intrater writes:

Reading through Amsoapundit's facinating account of Robert Fisk's speech at George Mason, I was struck by his comment that Arabs "wonder why the word "massacre" is never used in the Western press to describe the killing of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatilla camps in southern Lebanon in 1982." This seemed odd, because I generally recall seeing that word used. I checked Google News for the words Sabra and Shatilla, and found the following quotes from the Western press

Three major Western periodicals:

Newsweek: Seething over the massacre that Lebanese Phalangist militias had just committed against Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps under Israel's watch

The Scotsman: After the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps

The New Yorker: The massacre of seven hundred to eight hundred Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila [this in an passage by Bernard Lewis, describing how media coverage was unfair to Israel]

One Israeli web-site:

Israel Insider: Next there was the occurrence of the notorious massacre of many hundreds of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps

Two hits for IndyMedia (one a review of a Chomsky book) which are neither major, nor slanted pro-Israel.

The other hits were all Arab publications (Palestine Chronicle, Beirut Daily Star, IRNA)

Thus in the universe covered by Google News (most major newspapers and magazines for the past few months), all of the Western media references to Sabra and Shatila used the word 'massacre' or much worse. So easy to check, and completely wrong. And Fisk is billed as a Mid-East expert.

Yes, I recall hearing the term "massacre" used in this context nearly every time it comes up. Fisk's reputation as a serious journalist is, to me, difficult to explain.

ANOTHER BLOW TO HISTORIANS' CREDIBILITY: The Denmark Vesey slave revolt conspiracy, taught as fact for decades, apparently never happened. This is appalling.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall emails that this is not in the same league as Bellesiles' scholarly misrepresentations. That's true. But it looks to be an example of politically inspired wishful thinking presented as fact. And this kind of thing is probably far more widespread than reliance on nonexistent sources.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Geitner Simmons has some more thoughts. Meanwhile Josh emails again:

Trust me, I've spent years working through court records from 17th Century New England. And I make a fetish of exactitude in the way I work with documents. But this is something that was taken for true at the time. The old-school Ulrich Philips historians of the South thought it was true. The newer, post-Kenneth Stamp guys thought it was too. Now Johnson *seems* to have shown -- I haven't given it a close enough reading yet -- that historians assumptions led them to take too much at face value the accusations the court alleged, etc. That's not a scandal. That's just solid revisionist history writing. Assumptions about black resistance probably played a role in preventing earlier scholars from seeing this. But this is the normal process of historical investigation at work.

Well, okay. But the professional historians quoted on the subject seem to see it as a bit more than that.

A READER sends a link to this quote:

"Am I embarrassed to speak for a less-than-perfect democracy?" asked former Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan. His answer: "Not one bit. Find me a better one. Do I suppose there are societies which are free of sin? No, I don't. Do I think ours is, on balance, incomparably the most hopeful set of human relations the world has? Yes, I do."

Well said.

BILLY MCKINNEY, with 39% of the vote in, is getting hammered. He's got 4%. I wonder how he'll explain this. . . .

UPDATE: With 65% of the vote in, he's now up to 36%. Hmm. I guess it's a rather heterogeneous district.

ANOTHER UPDATE: It's 55/45 with 74% of the vote in.

SOME INTERESTING THOUGHTS on the historians' diversity problem.

HERE'S A GREAT SLATE ARTICLE on free-lance heroism on 9/11:

But it's also clear Karnes is a hero in a smaller, less national, less public, less publicized way than the cops and firefighters are heroes. He's hardly been overlooked—the program I work for, 60 Minutes II, interviewed him as part of a piece on Jimeno's rescue—but the great televised glory machine has so far not picked him. Why? One reason seems obvious—the cops and firefighters are part of big, respected, institutional support networks. Americans are grateful for the sacrifices their entire organizations made a year ago. Plus, the police and firefighting institutions are tribal brotherhoods. The firefighters help and support and console each other; the cops do the same. They find it harder to make room for outsiders like Karnes (or Chuck Sereika). And, it must be said, at some macho level it's vaguely embarrassing that the professional rescuers weren't the ones who found the two survivors. While the pros were pulled back out of legitimate caution, the job fell to an outsider, who drove down from Connecticut and just walked onto the burning pile.

Read the whole thing.

NELSON MANDELA is making a fool of himself.

UPDATE: A reader writes:

Why is Iraq "black" and Israel "white?" Israel clearly has more "negro" citizens than Iraq (over 100,000 Ethiopians), and the average Israeli is probably about the same swarthiness as the average Iraqi. What a load of crap!

Well, blackness is a term of art, sometimes.

STEVEN SKUBINNA has an answer to Hesiod Theogeny that is, I think, dispositive. He's enlisted. Read the post.

"AS THOUGH SOMEONE HAD CAST THE THREE STOOGES in a Bergman movie." Jesse Walker has finally gotten a blog.

EUGENE VOLOKH REPORTS that although a recent Freedom Forum poll shows support for press freedom declining, it shows support for another constitutional right growing:

LIBERAL GROUP FINDS THAT 79% OF AMERICANS BELIEVE "THE RIGHT TO OWN FIREARMS" IS "ESSENTIAL" (48%) OR "IMPORTANT" (31%). Yup, that's what the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center's State of the First Amendment 2002 survey (1012 respondents) finds. What's the more, the number is up from 64% in 1997 (33% essential, 31% important) to 79% in 2002 (48% essential, 31% important).

What's interesting, reports Volokh, is that although there were lots of press reports involving this survey, not one mentioned the increased support for the right to own firearms. Go figure.

I've been saying for a while that there's a sea change in attitudes underway. Here's more evidence.

GREAT PHOTO over at Brad Delong's.

I HAVEN'T FOLLOWED THE ISSUE VERY CLOSELY, but I can't help but feel that the proper conclusion to this TAPPED post is ". . . someone who was actually elected to governmental office."

Heck at least they're posting. Hey, Kuttner: more gnomes!

AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED, Buzz did the right thing.

THE CUSTOMS SERVICE REPORTS that it has seized a shipment of cellphones bound for Al Qaida operatives.

Nice work. But next time, how about bugging them, or rigging them to explode, or to relay false instructions ("Suicide bombing at the Iraqi embassy! Now!"). That would not only do more good, it would have a certain Wile E. Coyote charm to it.

UPDATE: The Cynic Of The Week Award goes to Jim Henley who emails:

Glenn, be reasonable. How is bugging cell phones or rigging them to explode or otherwise perform some active function to defeat our enemies going to get headlines for the customs service?

Ordinarily I have to look to Rand Simberg for barbs this sharp and deep.

HESIOD THEOGENY RESPONDS to the "Shropshire challenge."

It's not a bad post, but I think that Hesiod and a lot of others misunderstand the seriousness of pro-war people. You can know that people get killed in a war and still be for one, after all. It doesn't have to be a good thing -- only the best of the available alternatives. And I think that's the case now.

UPDATE: Here's an interesting comment from a reservist bound for duty, posted on Stephen Green's site:

From what I observe around me, most of the people I talk to day in and day out are simply scared of doing anything violent. I am a reservist who is leaving relatively soon and the overall sentiment is "you don't have to go do you?", "that stinks doesn't it?", "can't you get out?" Depressed isn't even close to how I feel.

The same guy comments later in the same thread:

I would like to thank all who wished me well with my upcoming deployment. I really appreciate it.

They killed 3,000 of my country's men and women, The time for talking is over.

Yeah, the email I get from military folks seems to be realistically pro-war. Not a one has written to say "I don't want to fight but warmongering civilians are making me." In fact, the only negative email I've ever gotten from someone in the military was this, and it's not even close. The main worry seems to be that civilians will screw things up -- as in 1991 -- by not letting them finish the job, not that civilians are too anxious for war. Which is why I think the whole "chickenhawk" argument is bogus in the extreme.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hesiod Theogeny emails that it's "dishonest" for me to post this reservist's comment as a response to the "chickenhawk" complaints, but I'm still not quite clear why. He says that he supports a war against Al Qaeda, but not a war against Iraq. My understanding of the whole "chickenhawk" argument was that anti-war types thought it hypocritical to support a war when you're not going to fight in it. Now, it seems, that it's only hypocritical to support some wars if you're not going to fight in them. To me, this position seems to be completely incoherent, and to make the "chickenhawk" name-calling even more nonsensical than before. But maybe I'm still misunderstanding things.

JEFF COOPER HAS A GOOD OBSERVATION on homeland security:

The president's insistence that employees in the proposed Department of Homeland Security should not have civil service and collective bargaining protections, so that they can be fired as needed, would have a lot more credibility if he would actually fire a few of the higher-ups with responsibility for the domestic security and counter-terrorism bunglings of the past year. As long as all those folks remain on the job, the Homeland Security proposal looks like union-busting, pure and simple.

What can I say? He's right.

CLONE WARS: Rand Simberg has an update, and some thoughts.

SUSAN SONTAG MAY HAVE A CLUE, but the shrinking center of sure-enough idiotarianism holds, as this dumb cartoon by Ted Rall makes clear. (Via Geitner Simmons -- what, you think I look at Rall's cartoons on my own initiative? I didn't like 'em even before 9/11).

UPDATE: A reader says that this is enough to refute all those who say dissent is being crushed. Nice to know Rall serves some purpose. Call him a "useful idiotarian."

BERNARD LEWIS writes eloquently and persuasively on the "why they hate us" topic.

MAX P0WER writes that the stock market's non-reaction to the raising of the threat level to orange indicates that the color-coding and warning system has no credibility.

Probably. The other possibility is that the stock market has already reflected the same thing that the threat warning is reflecting: the vague sense that something might happen on the anniversary. In which case the market's non-reaction would be, well, not exactly a sign that the warning system works, but a sign that the stock market is evaluating risks the same way. The real test will take place when and if the threat level goes up in an unforeseen fashion. If the market doesn't react then, it'll be much stronger evidence of the threat warning system's uselessness.

SAME STORY, DIFFERENT SPIN: Carla Passino observes the different treatment given the same study of Saddam's nuclear capabilities in two diffferent papers.

ANOTHER PROFESSORIAL BLOG, though unlike most it's written under a pseudonym. Although the blogger calls him (her?)self "The Colonel," and that was my nickname in law school, this is not an alter ego of mine.

"ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM AND ARAB NATIONAL SOCIALISM" -- Michael Gove looks at the mideast's toxic brew. Excerpt:

The most important lesson of the past year is that the world’s security now depends on dealing with these poisons. And the surest way of doing so is to tackle the cultures in which they grow. For the real root causes of the conflict which has become known as the War on Terror are the failures of Arab and Islamic elites.

No Arab nation is a democracy, none enjoys a free press or speech. None can guarantee basic human rights, whether it be respect for property, life or conscience. Whether they are oil-rich or resource poor, they prefer to keep their people in ignorance and poverty. In the wider Islamic world there are related problems. Few Islamic nations, perhaps only Turkey and Malaysia, have made any halfway satisfactory progress into the modern age.

There is nothing intrinsic either in Arab life or Islamic belief which means this state of affairs is preordained. The success of Arab and Islamic individuals in the West, when they enjoy freedom of thought, association and speech as well as security of person and property, proves that. Arab nations and Islamic states could provide their peoples with the opportunity to prosper. The talents which currently flower only in the West could make a garden of desert lands. But that will not happen as long as corrupt sheikhs, military strongmen and assorted other kleptocrats remain in power.

Which, one hopes, won't be too terribly long now.

IRANIAN STUDENTS ARE CALLING FOR PRO-AMERICAN DEMONSTRATIONS MARKING 9/11:

A Public Call For Rememberance of the 9/11 Tragedy

SMCCDI Political Committee
September 10, 2002

Free spirited Iranians,

It has been a year since the terrorist attack on the military and commercial centers of the United States of America. Consequences of the events of that fateful day were so immense and far reaching that they truly will be known as the turning point in the recent political history of the world.

On those days that America was mourning and Iran was directly or implicitly being called a “haven for terrorists”, we remember how, despite the violent crack down and repression of the “Hezbollah” forces roaming the streets, hundreds of our youth poured into the streets and lit candles in memory of the victims of that tragedy and showed the world that they sympathized with the families of the victims and extended their condolences to them.

That night, our youth made it crystal clear that they were with the world coalition for the elimination of “religious” terrorism.

We remember how the reactionary, backwards, Taliban loving, self-elected rulers of Iran tried to down grade that humanistic and thoughtful sympathy action of our youth by calling them a “bunch of candle in hand sissies!,” and once again showed, with their short-sighted vision of reality, how far away they are from virtue of humanity.

Bravo to you nation who, despite lack of leadership, embarked in that spontaneous movement, and with your sensational presence in the streets of the capital, you saved Iran from a catastrophe, as you showed in the best possible way, Iranian nation’s excellence in love of humanity to the free world.

Now, with the first anniversary of 9/11 tragedy upon us, as SMCCDI expresses its sympathy to the families of the victims and survivors of that ungodly event, and the honorable nation of America; it invites all free spirited Iranians to honor the memory of the victims of that day by gathering and lighting a candle in front of the main entrance of the Tehran university and major public squares in Tehran, and the main squares in other cities and townships, from 6:00 PM till 9:00 PM, on Wednesday 11 September.

Also, from all those Iranians who feel they share the sorrow and pain of the American nation, it is requested that they turn off all their light on that same night from 10:30 PM till 11:30 PM in a silent, but much telling gesture of sympathy and solidarity with the bereaved nation of America. Without a doubt, in this age of high-resolution satellite cameras, your message of sympathy will reach the Americans loud and clear!


Tehran, September 10, 2002 (19 Shahrivar 1381)

The "Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran" (SMCCDI)

I love the satellite-camera angle. I hope that some newsagency will hire someone to take a look.

WHO WE'RE FIGHTING: This column by Austin Bay is from last fall, but it does a good job of pointing up the (described literally, not just pejoratively) imperialism and fascism of Saddam and the Ladenites.

I'M SURPRISED TO SAY that this piece by Susan Sontag isn't entirely stupid. In fact, it could be read as expressing the same kind of concern about a "war on" (as in the "war on drugs" or the "war on poverty") versus a "war" (as in "World War II") that I've expressed before. Excerpts:

Wars on such enemies as cancer, poverty and drugs are understood to be endless wars. There will always be cancer, poverty and drugs. And there will always be despicable terrorists, mass murderers like those who perpetrated the attack a year ago tomorrow — as well as freedom fighters (like the French Resistance and the African National Congress) who were once called terrorists by those they opposed but were relabeled by history.

Okay, she's covering her ass by mentioning the ANC and the Resistance to show she's still okay with The Revolution, but she's making clear that the Ladenites are despicable thugs, rather than understandable symptoms of American evil. And then she adds:

I do not question that we have a vicious, abhorrent enemy that opposes most of what I cherish — including democracy, pluralism, secularism, the equality of the sexes, beardless men, dancing (all kinds), skimpy clothing and, well, fun. And not for a moment do I question the obligation of the American government to protect the lives of its citizens. What I do question is the pseudo-declaration of pseudo-war. These necessary actions should not be called a "war." There are no endless wars; but there are declarations of the extension of power by a state that believes it cannot be challenged.

America has every right to hunt down the perpetrators of these crimes and their accomplices. But this determination is not necessarily a war. Limited, focused military engagements do not translate into "wartime" at home. There are better ways to check America's enemies, less destructive of constitutional rights and of international agreements that serve the public interest of all, than continuing to invoke the dangerous, lobotomizing notion of endless war.

Now, I agree with this entirely -- though my definition of "perpetrators" and "limited, focused military engagements" is probably a lot broader than hers. But this is actually quite a statement coming from Sontag, and though people are criticizing other, dumber observations in her piece, it's worth noting just how far someone who was identified as part of the Chomskyite Left last fall has come.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg says I'm wrong.

MEDIA MINDED has not added to its credibility with this post. And don't expect me to follow suit.

EUGENE VOLOKH WRITES that the Los Angeles Times seems to think that John Ashcroft was Bill Clinton's Attorney General.

HOWARD FIENBERG says CAIR's polls are bogus.

AN INTERESTING OBSERVATION BY LILEKS (Yeah, I know, I should just write a script that'll put this and a link at the top of each day's entries). But still:

A year or so ago, the majority of bookmarks were institutional. Now the first tier are all individual names, which I’d list but it’s late at night and I’m too tired to link. (Soon, I promise, I will.)

I don’t know any of these guys, and I wouldn’t know them if I ran into them at the market. Well, maybe Glenn and Sullivan, because they have pictures, but Welch would have to wear the hat. Nevertheless, the names mean something right away - a tone, a particular view or concern. In one year, the blogosphere has accomplished what it takes newspapers years to do: make brand names out of individual writers.

I like the William Safire blog-excerpt, too. And the link between John Bunyan and Chuck Berry.

BELGIAN BLOGGER / LINGUIST MAARTEN SCHENK deconstructs Chomsky's latest.

I'm glad someone is still bothering with this. Personally, I find myself adopting Tim Blair's stance.

ANOTHER ARTICLE ON WEBLOGS, giving Bill Quick credit for coining the term "blogosphere" and mentioning the BlogCritics project.

September 09, 2002

THERE SEEM TO BE QUITE A FEW BLOGGERS OUT THERE who feel unjustly ignored, but only Colby Cosh could complain about the newly distant manner of his Nigerian spam-friends.

A BOND MOVIE WITHOUT BOND: Joe Katzman has an interesting post on the future of terrorism, warfare, and organized crime.

My take: We should emulate beacon-of-light Holland -- a tough stance against international thuggery, and legalized drugs that deprive the thugs of illicit cash.

CHARLES MURTAUGH has a very interesting post on Steven Hatfill, and why he might have been "set up." Go read it -- it's worth it for the post title.

SCOTT ROSENBERG is mocking the timing of the Administration's PR offensive:

Time's a-wasting -- we must have "regime change" now. But, hey, we can delay everything for a whole month if that makes things more convenient for White House TV consultants, and for Bush's ranch schedule.

Well, I suspect that the invasion is on its own timetable, probably waiting for these Marines to get where they're going. A lot of Rosenberg's commenters aren't buying it either.

UPDATE: Reader Peter Stanley writes:

After Afghanistan, there was a shortage of precision weapons - cruise missiles, JDAMs, etc. Last fall, the gummint placed big orders with Raytheon, Lockheed and whoever else. We had enough again by June.

The reason we haven't struck Iraq yet isn't disorganization in the Bush administration or even troop movements. It's the weather. No one wants to fight in a chem-bio suit in 110 degrees plus the shocking humidity of the Persian Gulf. We would have most likely more casualties from heatstroke than enemy action.

Good point.

SUMAN PALIT says that those who have made a career of mocking Americans for smugness and insularity will soon miss those qualities.

DANIEL PIPES has a list of Americans killed by Islamic terrorists and there are a lot:

In all, 800 persons lost their lives in the course of attacks by militant Islam on Americans before September 2001 - more than killed by any other enemy since the Vietnam war. (Further, this listing does not include the dozens more Americans in Israel killed by militant Islamic terrorists.)

And yet, these murders hardly registered. Only with the events of a year ago did Americans finally realize that "Death to America" truly is the battle cry of this era's most dangerous foe, militant Islam.

In retrospect, the mistake began when Iranians assaulted the U.S. embassy in Tehran and met with no resistance.

Interestingly, a Marine sergeant present at the embassy that fateful day in November 1979 agrees with this assessment. As the militant Islamic mob invaded the embassy, Rodney V. Sickmann followed orders and protected neither himself nor the embassy. As a result, he was taken hostage and lived to tell the tale. (He now works for Anheuser-Busch.)

In retrospect, he believes that passivity was a mistake. The Marines should have done their assigned duty, even if it cost their lives. "Had we opened fire on them, maybe we would only have lasted an hour." But had they done that, they "could have changed history."

Standing their ground would have sent a powerful signal that the United States of America cannot be attacked with impunity. In contrast, the embassy's surrender sent the opposite signal - that it's open season on Americans. "If you look back, it started in 1979; it's just escalated," Sickmann correctly concludes.

I agree.

BJORN STAERK says that Swedish police aren't taking terrorism seriously.

A PRO-PALESTINIAN RIOT forced Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel his speech at Concordia University in Montreal:

There was a long standoff between the pro-Palestinian demonstrators and the students who had come to hear Netanyahu speak. The demonstrators were pleased they had stopped him talking.

"There's no free speech for hate speech," said Palestinian activist David Battistuzzi.

Robert Fisk will be speaking at GMU, and Hanan Ashrawi will be speaking at Colorado College, on September 11. It's unlikely that they'll be silenced. It's doubtful that they'll even be asked tough questions about their support for terrorists and terrorism.

Yet dissent is supposedly being crushed in America.

UPDATE: Here is a first-person account, which I found via Charles Johnson.

STEPHEN GREEN has a great post, and it's an answer to Jim Cramer. Key excerpt:

We can't go on letting barbarians kill our people. We can either wage and win this war in our enemies' lands and (eventually) hearts and minds, or we can simply defend ourselves at home.

If we fight and win, we carry American values past our shores, and liberate trampled lands. If we retreat behind our borders and play defense, then we'll lose our American values -- freedom, privacy, trade -- in the attempt to make ourselves safe.

As a nation, we could probably become safe and neutral as Switzerland -- just with a bigger, fascist Army, and strip searches to get into the Post Office. But as a people, we could never accept the retreat and humiliation.

We can fight them there, or fight ourselves here. The choice is that stark. The outcomes are that drastic. It comes down to oppressive homeland security, or bashing the bad guys until they cry uncle.

This is exactly right. Print it out and fax it to your Senators.

TAPPED pleads a gnome shortage. Hey -- Kuttner! Moyers! -- Hire some gnomes!

UPDATE: Say, you don't think the gnome shortage stems from TAP's budget problems, do you? As several bloggers have remarked before, the blog is the best part of TAP's online operation, which itself is better than TAP's dead-tree operation. Somehow I doubt Kuttner and Moyers are hip enough to realize that.

BILL MCGURN IS SAVAGING BILL O'REILLY for "colluding" with the Saudis.

SWEDEN UPDATE: Alterman's blasting me with pro-Sweden emails now. I think he's going to post something more later. This Sweden stuff seems to have hit a nerve. I don't think he or his readers would respond to charges against the United States with such indignant fervor. . . .

Hell anything that can get him to post more than once a day counts as an achievement in my book.

UPDATE: One thing that Alterman hasn't mentioned, but that someone might, is that some of Sweden's trade with Nazi Germany was, according to Charles Higham's book Trading with the Enemy, actually trade by U.S. companies that was laundered through Sweden. Higham's charges may well be true (I've never seen anyone refute them, though I've never given the subject deep study) but remember: the original topic was whether Sweden was a "beacon of light." Evidence of misbehavior by America or Americans doesn't do anything to make Sweden's light brigher.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, it's late enough that I'm not going to get to a post tonight. But here's an article by Johan Norberg on Sweden's economic problems. And Swedish blogger Martin Lindeskog, who would like to become an American citizen, seems to think I've got it right.

JIM CRAMER is mad as hell about September 11.

UPDATE: I was in a rush when I posted this, so all I put up was a pointer. But here's what bothers me about Cramer's post:

I now regard our great bulwark of laws that protect individual rights against the right of a potential intrusive government as a plaything of our enemies.

No, it's not. But as I've said before, I think that these sentiments are why it's very important that we win this war abroad, and soon. If we play defense and rely on homeland security to protect us, we'll face a ratcheting-upward of dumb and intrusive rules, with no real prospect of victory. And when the terrorists set off a nuke in Houston, or Detroit, or Pittsburgh, more people will feel like Cramer.

JONAH GOLDBERG says that this fall's election should be about the war.

ANN SALISBURY emails a link to this disturbing article. Excerpt:

After Richard Colvin Reid was arrested for allegedly trying to detonate explosives in his shoes on a U.S.-bound airliner in December, federal officials never searched electronic transportation incident reports to determine if this was a new pattern of terrorist activity.

The reason is simple and distressing: The Department of Transportation's computer system doesn't allow those reports to be searched by key words like ``shoe'' and ``bomb,'' a function most computer users take for granted.

And this is far from the worst case of information-technology impotence in the war on terrorism. The Department of Transportation's Web-based ``Activation Information Management'' system is actually state-of-the-art for the federal government -- it uses the Internet, not glacial mainframe computers, and is accessible to employees in all the department's 12 agencies, a rarity among the fiefdoms of Washington. . . .

``Virtually every corner you turn, you see problems,'' said Mark Forman, associate director for information technology and e-government in the White House Office of Management and Budget and the top IT official in the Bush administration.

Jeez. Can't they hire Dave Winer, or Nick Denton, or somebody? Apparently not:

Complicated government contracting requirements have left many small high-tech firms with cutting-edge technologies unable to sell their products to the federal government. A long-held culture of protecting agency turf and funding, combined with the lack of a coordinated governmentwide IT strategy, has created a sea of unconnected islands of information technology throughout Washington that threaten the nation's ability to fight terrorism.

If this weren't so pathetic, it would be almost funny. As I've said before, the terrorists have had a better learning curve. That needs to change.

A BUNCH OF PEOPLE HAVE SENT EMAILS saying "I know you've wrapped up Sweden, but. . . ." I think this issue has been done to death, but maybe I'll do one more post tonight or tomorrow if I can find the motivation.

UPDATE: Reader Jim Hogue emails: "Hell, keep it up!! I can hear left leaning liberals frothing at mouth and grinding their teeth all the way down here in Texas!!" Well, that's not actually a goal here at InstaPundit, but it's amazing the degree of emotional or political investment some people have in the idea of Sweden being a "beacon of light," as a visit to Alterman's page today will demonstrate. (Nobody's mentioning the Nazis, or the eugenics, though.) I may do something later -- and if you've missed anything, just go to the search window and type in "Sweden."

Regardless, however, I predict that Sweden's appeal will drop now that the whole wild-sex thing appears to be a myth.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kevin Drum of CalPundit writes: "I wouldn't blame you if you skipped another post on the Sweden thing. It's probably not worth keeping something like this going." Well, it does tend to resemble Usenet after a while. We'll see how energetic I feel later.

ANOTHER GREAT HITCHENS COLUMN:

There's no time to waste on the stupid argument that such a deadly movement represents a sort of "cry for help" or is a thwarted expression of poverty and powerlessness. Osama bin Laden and his fellow dogmatists say openly that they want to restore the lost caliphate; in other words, the Muslim empire once centered at Constantinople. They are not anti-imperialists so much as nostalgists for imperialism. The gang that kidnapped and murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl - and proudly made a video showing the ritual slaughter of a Jew - issued a list of demands on that same obscene video. One of those demands was for the resumption of US sales of advanced F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. Only a complete moral idiot can believe for an instant that we are fighting against the wretched of the earth. We are fighting, as I said before, against the scum of the earth. . . .

If you remember, there were also those who warned hysterically of a humanitarian disaster as a result of the bombing: a "silent genocide," as one Boston-area academic termed it. But to the contrary, the people of Afghanistan did not have to endure a winter with only the food and medicine that the primeval Taliban would have furnished them. They survived, and now the population has grown by almost 1.2 million, as refugees from the old, atrocious tyranny make their way home. Here is the first country in history to be bombed out of the Stone Age.

The piece is too good to excerpt, though I have. Read it all. (Via Porphyrogenitus.)

BIN LADEN DEAD? Interesting comment from this interviewer:

"Khaled let his tongue run away by referring to Bin Laden in the past tense," wrote Fouda. "Something is not working well in the upper levels of al-Qaida. I used to think there was a 50% chance Bin Laden was alive, now I rather believe he is dead."

I think he's dead, too -- though I suppose this could just be clever disinformation. But I don't think he could keep his mouth shut for this long.

TOUCHING FAMILY PORTRAITS from Hamas. Here's a response.

DUKE UNIVERSITY STUDENT Jesse Panuccio has some worries about his school's 9/11 observance plans.

SKBUBBA has some interesting thoughts on last year's reported decline in crime -- maybe it's because of 9/11:

Assuming the reporting period is through 12/31/2001 (the article doesn't say but the full report is supposed to be out later this week) it would include a little over one quarter of post-attack statistics. Erosion of civil liberties notwithstanding (we'll get them back eventually), law enforcement at all levels is on heightened alert which could be a factor. I also get a gut feeling that people are generally more vigilant and more alert to potential threats, and more willing to get involved. I think a lot more people are armed, too.

Interesting suggestion, though I have no idea whether it will turn out to be true. I think there's not much question about this part, though:

Considering the Taliban ass whipping, a restructuring of our military to defend against future terrorist attacks, a critical and constructive reevaluation of our intelligence and law enforcement capabilities, people unafraid to get back on planes and go about their business and get on with their lives, and general world condemnation of radical extremists, I don't think the terrorists got quite the response they expected.

No. But then, Jimmy Carter isn't President now. I'd like to see more of that "critical and constructive reevaluation," though.

TALKLEFT has an interesting post about an inmate who's suing a prosecutor for blocking DNA tests that would have proved him innocent.

There are far too many cases of prosecutors covering up exculpatory evidence and doing other things that have more to do with winning cases than with seeking justice. I see no reason why they shouldn't be held accountable.

ABSENT WITHOUT BLOGGING: It's now past noon, and TAPPED still hasn't posted anything. This continues a worrisome reduced-blogging trend on their part.

Come back, guys. I miss you, even if you are wrong about Sweden.

OVER THE WEEKEND I MENTIONED Eugene Volokh's post on VH1's creative editing that turned boos for Hillary Clinton into cheers. I notice that Jay Caruso has found out something else: Viacom gave Hillary $37,000 for her campaign. He wonders: "So, she gets money and (one) embarrassing episode in her life whitewashed. Let's see how she reacts to legislation down the road that affects Viacom."

Of course, I suppose one can make too much of these contributions. Caruso also notes: "Clinton received $38,500 from the law firm of Kirkland and Ellis. Sound familiar? They should. It's the same firm where Ken Starr is a partner."

UPDATE: Oops. $37,000 was a typo -- the proper amount for Viacom is $32,700. It's probably also worth clarifying (you'll see this if you visit the OpenSecrets page, of course) that though people speak in shorthand about contributions coming "from" Viacom or K&E, they of course came from people who work there, since such entities can't give directly to candidates.

MICHAEL LEDEEN'S LATEST COLUMN contains this fascinating passage:

It's luminously clear to anyone with eyes that Iran will go for our throats at every opportunity. And so they must: The mullahs would be gravely threatened by a free and successful society in Afghanistan and/or Iraq. Tehran has made contingency plans to attack us if we were to invade Iraq (as have the Syrians, by the way, and all have been promised assistance from the Saudis). They mean to teach us a lesson. . . .

Tough talk indeed, and their words are not based on fantasy, as so many of our leaders seem to believe. Iran has driven us and the Israelis out of Lebanon with our tails between our legs, and they see no reason why the pattern should not hold for Afghanistan and, if necessary, Iraq as well.

Preparations for such contingencies may explain why the Administration has taken so long to move against Iraq. Or maybe Iraq's not the main target after all. . . .

TONY ADRAGNA concludes his Scott Ritter series with a post comparing various contradictory statements and concludes that Ritter is driven more by anger at his old bosses than by any consistent position.

TWO MORE ARTICLES ON BLOGS: Here's one from the St. Petersburg Times, and here's one from the Telegram Online that features a photo of Damian Penny.

REASON has put all of its 9/11 anniversary stories online. There are many useful cautionary points, particularly this piece by Dave Kopel and Michael Krause on face-recognition technology, and this piece by Jacob Sullum on why the war/peace dichotomy is obsolete, and maybe even harmful, in terms of dealing with terrorism.

I'M SURE THAT THE PEOPLE who criticize the use of crime victimization surveys relating to Sweden will criticize the AP for this, too.

HMM. I THINK THAT THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A DEFENSE of the Democrats in Congress, but it doesn't really work out that way. I asked yesterday why the Democrats aren't making more out of obvious intelligence failures before September 11, the even-more-serious failure to do anything serious to reform the intelligence agencies after 9/11, etc. CalPundit responds that it's because the Democrats are afraid that if they raise such criticisms they'll be attacked as unpatriotic:

There have been plenty of news stories over the past year about bungling in the intelligence community, but there's no upside for Democrats in piling onto this issue. On the contrary, they know perfectly well that anything they say will likely be twisted into a pretzel and made into devastating TV spots that leave an indelible impression of them as little better than latter-day Benedict Arnolds. . . .

Democratic politicians have to face reelection campaigns run by Republican strategists every few years. This makes them chicken, and with good reason.

So the reason that they're not doing their job of overseeing the federal government's operations is that they're "chicken," but it's okay because they have a good reason. This is a defense?

It's true that members of Congress were bullied into silence by an outburst of Ashcroft's last year. It's also true that there's nothing honorable about letting yourself be bullied. The response to Ashcroft should have been: "You've got your job and we've got ours. And we don't think you're doing your job properly. Now shut up and answer our questions."

When you get elected to Congress, you're supposed to say what needs to be said, and you're supposed to have enough courage to respond to critics. (This is a long-term problem: I remember watching Ollie North's attorney Brendan Sullivan bully Daniel Inouye. If I were Inouye, I would have had Sullivan removed from the room for his absurd outbursts, which were totally out of order.) What CalPundit is really saying is that the Democrats place love of office ahead of love of country. Not very impressive.

What we need, apparently, are some Nick Denton Democrats:

But political capital has been squandered on a proposal, the department of homeland security, that is irrelevant at best. And Bush -- out of loyalty or inertia -- has left in place most of the officials who presided over the disaster.

It's an underlying principle of bureaucracies: only through promotion and demotion, hiring and firing, can leaders exert their will. How else did the US intelligence services become so squeamish in the 1990s? Consorting with criminals and torturers became career-toxic. If US intelligence is to become as flexible, ruthless and coordinated as its opponents, bureaucrats will have to be taught a lesson. They respond only to personal reward and punishment, mainly punishment, and it's time for the training to begin.

So if you're the low-level US diplomat who failed to pass on a warning from a Taleban official, you're fired. Lots of noise? Unfair? Tough. You were the director of the CIA during the greatest intelligence failure in 50 years: you're out, notwithstanding your personal chemistry with the president. Find out where the memos stopped, and eliminate everyone in the vicinity.

What the US security services need, just like US corporate world, is a purge so bloody that the lessons will be etched into the minds of trainees for the next 100 years. Let them be terrified, not of the mewling of politically correct children, but of the fierce rage of taxpayers who spend $30bn a year and expect a modicum of competence. And let George Bush decide where he wants to stand, in the firing squad, or in front of it.

Nick and I disagree about a lot of things, but he's got his head on straight. If he ever wants to run for Congress (not likely, as he's got a real job) he's got my backing regardless of disagreements.

(Note to CalPundit: it's probably an oversight, but it would have been nice if you had linked to the post of mine that you were criticizing, so that readers could have seen what I said more easily.)

UPDATE: Oliver Willis isn't afraid either. Would I vote for Oliver? Could be. I'd enjoy the campaign, that's for sure.

September 08, 2002

DON'T MISS THIS DAVE BARRY COLUMN on Flight 93. Excerpt:

We know that the plane went down before it reached its target - that the hijackers failed to strike a national symbol, a populated area. They failed.

And we know that the people on the plane fought back. On a random day, on a random flight, they found themselves - unwarned, unprepared, unarmed - on the front lines of a vicious new kind of war. And somehow, in the few confusing and terrifying minutes they had, they transformed themselves from people on a plane into soldiers, and they fought back. And that made them heroes, immediately and forever, to a wounded, angry nation, a nation that desperately wanted to fight back.

This excerpt doesn't even begin to do justice to a long and sensitive column. Read it all.

UPDATE: According to the BBC, Al Qaeda sources say that Flight 93 was headed for the Capitol building.

JEFF JARVIS SAYS THAT CALIFORNIA JUST DOESN'T GET IT. I'm not so sure about that -- Welch and Layne are Californians, after all.

NO MORE MR. NICE GUY? Not exactly, but. . . . UPI columnist Martin Walker writes that the United States response to the 9/11 attacks hasn't been what the Arab world expected:

This paradox may be seen in the jeering response to America's first black secretary of state at last week's global summit in Johannesburg. It was on display in last week's meeting at the Arab League of foreign ministers whose regimes often rely on American support, and can constantly be encountered in the opinion pages of liberal European newspapers that should know better. And all of them seem to assume that America will continue to sit back and take it, like the good global citizen that America has tried to be in the last 60 years of defeating Fascism, Nazism, Communism and helping spread more wealth and more freedom to more people in more places than ever in human history.

They are wrong. The real effect of Sept. 11 is that American patience and tolerance for its global critics, most of whom do rather well out of America's benign hegemony, seems just about exhausted. And however it was that Osama bin Laden expected what he has called "the American Empire" to react to his murderous assault, if indeed he thought that far ahead, he seems not to have calculated that America might react by tearing up the old rule book of international affairs. . . .

"When the Europeans demand some sort of veto over American actions, or want us to subordinate our national interest to a UN mandate, they forget that we do not think their track record is too good," a senior U.S. diplomat said recently in private. "The Europeans told us they could win the Balkans wars all on their own. Wrong. They told us that the Russians would never accept National Missile Defense. Wrong. They said the Russians would never swallow NATO enlargement. Wrong. They told us 20 years ago that détente was the way to deal with what we foolishly called the Evil Empire. Wrong again. They complain about our Farm Bill when they are the world's biggest subsidizers of their agriculture. The Europeans are not just wrong; they are also hypocrites. They are wrong on Kyoto, wrong on Arafat, wrong on Iraq -- so why should we take seriously a single word they say?"

If the Europeans are in for a rude awakening as America takes its own decisions over the War on Terrorism and dealing with President Bush's "axis of evil," then the Arab world is in for an even deeper shock.

Read the whole thing. (Via JunkYard Blog).

THE INDEPUNDIT HAS POSTED the final installment of his series on Saddam. Don't miss it.

THE BRITISH STILL HAVE US BEAT ON STYLE. An aircraft carrier with its own Jaguar for port calls?

I GOT A LOT OF MAIL on Sweden this weekend, but it was nothing to compare in vitriol with the reaction to my linkage of an interview with Nick Cook in The Atlantic Monthly, in which he talks about antigravity, reactionless propulsion, and allegedly secret government programs. I thought I expressed my skepticism pretty clearly (i.e., when I said "I'm skeptical") but I got scads of nasty letters from outraged scientists, several of whom urged that I retract the link. Uh, yeah. Retract the link. You know that article that's over there? It's not. Well, it is, but. . . . Anyway, that's just stupid. But I make a point of linking to people who point out errors, etc., and in that spirit, here's a link to a piece by Robert Park saying that Cook is all wrong.

From this mail and various other complaints I've gotten from time to time, it seems to me that people read way too much into a link. If (as I did) I link to Richard Marius's novel and say it's great, then that means, yeah, I've read it and I think it's great. But if I link to something and say: "this is interesting," or "I'm skeptical," or even "this seems right to me," it conveys precisely that, and no more. I haven't spent hours fact-checking the item. I don't knowingly link to stuff that seems wrong to me without expressing my skepticism (like by saying, you know, that I'm skeptical), and in the case of a not-obviously-authentic link that says something bad about someone (like the mirrored article on Scott Ritter below) I'll try to double check it to be sure it's authentic, but I don't spend hours fact-checking everything I link to. If I did, I'd link one thing a day, or just give up blogging and go back to having a life. Links are directions. They don't come with warranties. And you're supposed to be smart enough to decide for yourself about things: if you're taking my link to an interview about antigravity as a command to believe whatever the interviewee says, well, then you really shouldn't be reading things on the Web at all. Or off it.

I also notice that a lot of people who complain about links don't say that the thing I linked to is false, exactly, but essentially say that if I agreed with them about some other underlying issue I'd view it differently. Uh, okay, but that doesn't constitute negligence or dishonesty on my part -- just a different set of preconceptions. It's a blog -- my blog, actually -- and you get to see things through my viewpoint. If you don't like this particular brand of free ice cream, there are plenty of others out there, and some of them at any given moment are moaning loudly that no one pays attention to them. But that's a topic for another post.

UPDATE: I should have linked to this statement by Ginger Stampley, which states my views pretty well. Excerpts:

Purpose: . . . The blog is primarily a forum for my opinions. I do not guarantee that anything you read here will be pleasing to any reader or in agreement with anyone else's views, including my husband's or my mother's. Or yours.

Posts: I edit myself for grammar, spelling, and clarity at my sole discretion without notice. I try to update and acknowledge factual corrections, but am under no obligation to do so. . . .

If I didn't enjoy having readers and comments and mail, I wouldn't have comments or an email address. On the other hand, I don't feel obliged to supply a forum to rude, annoying twits simply because I have a weblog and a web site.

Read the whole thing.

TONY ADRAGNA is observing Scott Ritter closely, and he doesn't like what he sees.

JUAN GATO looks at what's hot or not in the "International Community."

BIG FAT SWEDISH WRAP-UP: That sounds like something that would be on special at IHOP, perhaps with some lingonberry butter on top for "authentic" ethnic flavor. But I'm going to try to hit the high points of a discussion that has generated a lot more interest than I had expected, though mine -- and no doubt that of most readers -- is beginning to flag.. (You can also enter "Sweden" in the search window on the left if you like and follow all the links. Warning: there are a lot.).

It started with my response to Eric Alterman, who held out Sweden as a "beacon of light" that we should emulate. I noted Sweden's behavior during and after World War II, which doesn't live up to the moralistic standard it pretends to set, and to studies (which I had previously linked to) saying that Sweden has more crime than America and is less wealthy than Mississippi. (The wealth study was from a Swedish business group, the crime from the International Crime Victimization Survey, a U.N.-sponsored study described as "the most far-reaching programme of fully standardised sample surveys looking at householders' experience of crime in different countries." You can criticize such studies, though the flaws in such comparisons work both ways, and I didn't notice people raising these issues in the past when they criticized U.S. crime rates in comparison with those of Europe. It's not as if I conducted the ICVS just to embarrass Sweden, as you might almost think from reading a few of the responses.)

Naturally, defenders of Sweden emerged from the left side of the blogosphere, criticizing the studies. These criticisms were summarized in Eric Alterman's Friday blog, which I linked and responded to here. Alterman proposed the Netherlands as an alternative "beacon of light," which suits me fine in light of the Dutch support for invading Iraq, which coupled with legalized drugs and prostitution makes them look pretty good to me. All they need is shall-issue carry laws and I'm there. The beer's even good, and they like techno. (Stephen Green thinks I'm "too gracious" on this point.)

The Cranky Hermit writes that rising Swedish disability rates, which he reports as one out of six working-age Swedes, suggest that either Sweden's economy or its health-care system is not performing as advertised. We also noted that Sweden's birth rate is sufficiently low that its population is below natural replacement, with deaths exceeding births, alarming the government to the point that one legislator is suggesting porn broadcasts on the weekends to encourage people to have sex, which apparently they're not doing enough, thus exploding one of my most cherished illusions about life in Sweden. Several readers also wrote about Sweden's eugenics program, which led to the sterilization of tens of thousands of women deemed defective, as late as the mid-1970s.

Though some lefty bloggers (e.g., Max Sawicky) seem somehow to think that I demonstrated bad faith by even raising these issues, Swedish readers pointed out that with the upcoming Swedish elections, they are hot topics in Swedish newspapers. Nussdorf provided a nice summary of a recent newspaper debate on the issue, in which various Swedes raised the same points.

At any rate, here's how I read the "beacon of light" score: (1) collaboration with the Nazis, basically unchallenged -- Sawicky makes a weak tu quoque argument tiredly invoking Somoza, et al., but that's about it; (2) crime worse than U.S. -- studies challenged, but only on picayune technical grounds; (3) poorer than Mississippi -- some credible arguments that Sweden is richer than Mississippi, but no credible claim that it's economically better than the United States, and a strong case that it's poorer than Alabama, anyway. Extra points off for the disability, sex-shortage, and mass sterilization issues.

"Beacon of light?" Not in my book. But it all depends on what you mean by "light," I suppose. If you're willing to sacrifice a lot of national income in the name of reducing poverty rates by half, then Sweden is the way to go. I don't hear the reduced-income angle played up much by those who see Sweden as a beacon, though.

UPDATE: Megan McArdle has updated her post on the Swedish economy.

DANIEL TAYLOR has some reflections on blogging and convalescence.

SAMIZDATA HAS A PHOTOGRAPH illustrating the root causes of American anger.

NICK DENTON writes that the problem with the U.S. press isn't bias, but lack of competition resulting in "hidebound gerontocracies."

DON'T FORGET TO READ PUNDITWATCH!

JENNIE TALIAFERRO says they love Texas in Britain, all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.

DON'T MISS Mike Hendrix on New York, and be sure to follow the photo links.

TONY ADRAGNA WONDERS what the hell is wrong with Scott Ritter? I've gotten a lot of email from people telling me Ritter was paid off by the Iraqis, but nobody seems to have a solid source on it, and I couldn't find one when I looked.

UPDATE: Balaji Srinivasan sends this link with more information on Ritter. Excerpt:

Ritter doesn't entirely disagree. Though he claims the film is an attempt to be "objective" about the situation in Iraq, he predicted before its completion, "the U.S. will definitely not like this film."

He acknowledges, as well, that the U.S. government doesn't like how the film was financed. Shakir al-Khafaji, an Iraqi-American real estate developer living in Michigan, kicked in $400,000. By Ritter's own admission, al-Khafaji is "openly sympathetic with the regime in Baghdad." Al-Khafaji, who accompanied Ritter as he filmed the documentary and facilitated many of the meetings, travels to and from Iraq regularly in his capacity as chairman of "Iraqi expatriate conferences." Those conferences, held in Baghdad every two years, are sponsored and subsidized by Saddam Hussein.

The conferences are little more than propaganda shows, designed to bash the United States and demonstrate to the world that Hussein has support even among Iraq's expatriate community. The official conference website posts several articles condemning U.S. "terrorism and genocide" against Iraq.

Ritter says al-Khafaji had no editorial input on the film project but that without his help, the movie would not have been made. "I tried to get independent sources to fund the movie," he says. "People can talk about the funding all they want. If I'd been able to be bought--from '95 to '98 the CIA paid me. Did I do their bidding?"

Hmm. What did Ritter's positions on Iraq look like from 1995-98? Reader Steven White sends this link to a mirror of a Washington Post story that also says Ritter got $400,000 from Iraqi-born American Shakir Alkafajii to make a documentary. I'm not sure I'd call that being paid off by the Iraqis, exactly, though the Standard's description makes it look worse. I checked the story via Westlaw and it's genuine. I also found this NPR transcript involving Colum Lynch, the author:

Mr. LYNCH: Well, let's talk about the Iraqi businessman. That's sort of an interesting point. This is a fellow that he met at a congressional hearing that was put on a few months back by Representative John Conyers. And Scott Ritter will, you know, admit to you that this gentleman, Shokeroff Alka Fauki(ph), has interest in developing good relationships with the Iraqi government. I mean, he already has relationships, he already has contacts, but he wants to be
able to profit off of business with Iraq once the sanctions are lifted. He has sort of an economic interest in changing US policy.

And Scott Ritter's position is, 'That's fine. That's his position. He can do whatever he wants, but I'm my own man. As far as I'm concerned, I have total independence on the positions taken in this documentary. We needed money and this is the only place it came from.'

In terms of inadvertently supporting the Iraqi government's sort of conflict with the United States, he seems to take the position that, 'Listen, I'm the truth teller. I'm going to go in there and I'm going to lay this dispute out in very clear terms and I'm going to leave it to the outside world to decide what to do.'

So there you are. I'm very surprised I didn't find the Post story when I tried to look for this a few weeks ago, because it has the search terms I plugged into Google, and it certainly didn't show up. I should have tried Westlaw then, but I don't like to search things I can't link to. See this Jay Caruso post, too. Oh, and Charles Johnson has a lot of interesting reader comments.

MORE ON THE SWEDISH ECONOMY: I'm going to try to do a sum-up post later, but Megan McArdle says that Swedes are worse off than they're pretending.

UPDATE: More from a Swedish reader:

Hi again, Glenn,

I mistakenly excluded missed one sentence in the translation of the article, which is why McArtle might have misunderstood. It goes as follows, and should
explain the "gem" that she included in her article:

"Average US income, not median this time around, in 1997 and distributed along income groups (adjusted to 1998-dollars) :

The 1% in the top: $869 000, The following 59%: $64 000, The remaining 40% $13 700."


Then comes the conclusion (the "gem") that I translated:

"Conclusion: 40% of the population earns just 1% of what the remaining 60% is earning! No wonder the median income is high. This is why, the author argues,
it's not correct to say that the poorest segments in Sweden have lost out compared to their American counterparts."

Sorry for that mishap.

Best regards

ZACH BARBERA has found something interesting on a website operated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Basically, it's a call for removing Saddam, circa 1998.

OH, THIS really gives me confidence on Homeland Security efforts:

W A S H I N G T O N, Sept. 6 — The government mistakenly gave alleged terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui classified documents related to al Qaeda, ABCNEWS has learned.

The material — both on disk and as hard copy documents — was sent to Moussaoui as part of discovery for his legal defense, said several legal sources, including one at the Justice Department. . . . It is not clear if all the classified material has been retrieved.

And yet, no one will be fired. Will they?

AIRBRUSH AWARD: Check out Eugene Volokh's report on how VH1 turned post 9/11 boos aimed at Hillary Clinton into cheers. Volokh asks: "I suppose one shouldn't expect great history from VH1, but isn't there still some expectation of accuracy when someone distributes what purports to be a DVD of an actual concert? Or has the whole music business become Milli-Vanilli-ified?" Pretty much, I think.

UPDATE: Andrew Stuttaford notes, "This is something to remember the next time you hear about the 'suppression of dissent' post-9/11."

STUART BUCK ANSWERS A QUESTION asked by the editors of the New York Times. I don't think it's the answer they wanted.

THE BRITISH BLOGGER BASH last night featured gorgeous women and lots of booze. But, naturally, they were talking about InstaPundit and the Swedish economy. Ben Sheriff sends these observations gleaned from conversation:

Glenn, one of the outcomes from the British Blogger's Bash was this thought on relative poverty measures. If you still care about Sweden, then the EU defining most of their population as being poor is probably a cause for concern.


"One of the factoids that has been raised is that the US median income is $40,000, relative to $27,000 in Sweden. Some of his antagonists have been trying to shift the debate from income levels to poverty rates. So, let's take them at their word.

The EU apparently; defines poverty in relative terms as "50% of the median income. (The median comes half-way up the income distribution)." So, the US poverty line, on this definition, is $20,000. Or, 187,300 Swedish Kroner (per the Universal Currency Converter).

The most recent (maybe), and easy to find (says google), graphing of the Swedish income distribution is the first graph on this PDF document

As you can see, plenty of Swedes earn over 187,300. Admittedly, these numbers are from 1998, but out of date stats are a perennial irritant in this kind of thing. Let's just wave that away. Because the interesting thing is that there are huge numbers of Swedes who, if they lived in the US, would be defined by the EU as living in poverty.

Looking at the graphs, I'd say that 60-70% of Swedish women are poor Americans, and that about 40-50% of Swedish men are. The graph doesn't carry the information cleanly enough for a straight comparison, but I think Sweden should be concerned...

Of course, this mostly shows up the flaws in relative measures of poverty. The counter-example I thought up last night at the Blogger Bash was that of Bill Gates - what happens to a countries poverty level if Bill Gates moves there?

If you use median incomes, not much. But if you use some measure based around a mean, quite odd things happen. According the Bill Gates Net Worth Page, Bill has "earnt" $1.79 billion per year since 1986.

Lichtenstein has a population of 32,000 and a GDP (in purchasing power parity) of $713m. If Bill moves to Lichtenstein, GDP per capita goes from $22,281 to $78,219. In other words, the vast majority of the Lichtenstein population will now be poor on a measure such as "a third mean income" or some such.

Of course, this is a small country. But anywhere with a population of one million and a GDP per head of $1,789 or less will get you the same results (in those countries, GDP per head will more than double). The lesson? Get Bill Gates to leave your country before he does any more harm. What advantages could there be to having him there?"

Chortle. I'm just amazed that he could concentrate on this kind of stuff in the presence of the lovely Claire Berlinski, especially as she appears to have been wearing a see-through blouse.

UPDATE: Ms. Berlinski emails: "The garment in question was neither a blouse nor transparent. Tight, I will concede."

MORE ON DUTCH SUPPORT FOR THE WAR: Here's a link to an article confirming what I posted last week. Reader Michiel Remers provides this summary:

Article suggests that new minister wrote a letter to parliament outlining his position, (parliament subsequently supported his position following a debate called by the left). Position is that route through UN would be preferred, but not a strict necessity, as would support US and UK on action vs Iraq.

The Netherlands: A beacon of light to the world.

MARY ROBINSON IS LEAVING, but she's managed to say a few more typically dumb things. Misha has a response.

UPDATE: Charles Martel won't miss her either.

LITTLE CHANGE IN A SYSTEM THAT FAILED: That's the New York Times' assessment of the FBI, CIA and other counterterror bureaucracies over the past year. It seems right to me.

I've said it before, but I don't understand why the Democrats haven't made an issue of this, since by attacking this issue they'd (1) be providing a needed critique; and (2) be saying something that everyone knows is true. I can only conclude that attacking bureaucracies is just too alien to their nature, or too offensive to key constituencies.

As Ken Layne points out:

An interesting hobby is watching where the intelligent dissent is coming from, because it's mostly coming from the right side of the spectrum. While the far left stays on the steady path it marked on ... oh, about Sept. 12, the neo-conservatives and moderates and even old-school GOP mouthpieces have carried on detailed inquiry into the stuff we're all worried about. Are planes any safer? What the hell was that "TIPS" nonsense? We're still handing out visas through Saudi travel agencies? That goddamned Saudi prince is lounging at the president's house and we're supposed to buy this "axis of evil" gibberish? Can you people get your story straight about Atta's trip to Prague?

This seems mostly right. But it's also kind of odd.

UPDATE: Here are my thoughts on the issue from a Homeland Security perspective.

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