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September 28, 2002

JIM BENNETT wants to declare war.

ANOTHER FINE REYNOLDS PRODUCT: Well, in a way it's sort of like what I do here.

JONJAYRAY has more thoughts on Sweden. Frankly, ever since I got the depressing news about Sweden's sex shortage, I can't seem to care. Give me Merry Old England any day.

COMPARE LAST WEEK'S FOXHUNT PROTEST with today's antiwar protest and I think it's easy to see who's in a position to win over the public.

SOMEHOW I MISSED THIS: A devastating pictorial Fisking. Must be seen to be believed.

MORE BLOGGER JOURNALISM: Stefan Sharkansky interviewed Amiri Baraka, the New Jersey Poet Laureate who wrote a dumb and offensive poem about the World Trade Center attacks (and the mythical 4,000 jews who didn't show up for work that day). The results are on his blog.

UPDATE: Josh Chafetz emails this link to a piece from last year's New Republic on Baraka. Lesson for New Jersey: Appoint a guy like this to a public position, and you're sure to be embarrassed. It should have been obvious from the beginning. What were they thinking?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Maybe they figured they could always count on Matthew Purdy to give Baraka a free pass on his racism in the New York Times.

ONE MORE: Geitner Simmons has some interesting observations.

TALKLEFT, fresh from pointing out the phony Ashcroft memo, now points out a phony antiwar quote from Julius Caesar.

This is a good service, though my first thought was "antiwar quote from Julius Caesar?" I mean, who would fall for that? Oh, right.

NOW HERE'S A PEACE PROTESTOR I can live with:

One of the marchers was 14-year-old Hussein Mohammed who was born in Iraq but came to London with his family seven years ago.

Hussein said that he was not actually opposed to an attack on Iraq as long as not too many civilians were killed. The teenager said that even American rule would be preferable to that imposed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

He said: "I'm against Saddam because he doesn't have a heart for any people. I think he should be attacked. I'd rather have America than Saddam."

But the boy said that any war should be directly against Saddam's regime and not civilians.

Sounds like he and Rumsfeld are on the same page.

PEACEFUL BUT CLUELESS: Another firsthand report from the Washington, DC protests.

Here's another report, from i330, and scroll down for more.

UPDATE: Emily Jones weighs in.

I CAN ONLY IMAGINE what people would say if this were an American embassy.

MARK STEYN responds to those who call him a hatemonger by pointing out that he isn't the one acting as an apologist for hate-motivated rapists.

UPDATE: Meryl Yourish responds to Steyn in a fairly unique way.

MULLAH OMAR'S WORST NIGHTMARE: Joan Jett performed in Afghanistan. She could kick his flabby Taliban ass, too, I'll bet. And Osama's -- but what's the point of kicking a dead guy's ass?

50,000 PEOPLE ARE DEMONSTRATING IN LONDON AGAINST WAR: Though the press accounts probably won't make a lot of this point, that's less than 1/8 as many as demonstrated against a ban on fox-hunting last weekend. (And the foxhunting crowd was, um, more striking in ways other than mere numbers). I think that means the antiwar protests deserve less than 1/8 the attention.

UPDATE: London reader James Killmond sends this firsthand report:

I had planned to meet some friends at a pub on Whitehall today at 2 pm. When I heard about the march I checked the route, and, of course, I was going to be right in the thick of it. In an exercise of wishful thinking I told myself that since the march started near Whitehall at 12:30 and speeches would be given in Hyde Park starting at 3, the crowd would have cleared out by the time I showed up.

Silly me, as if anybody would in a big hurry to see Red Ken Livingston speak. Many folks were still hanging out near Whitehall when I arrived (luckily the pub wasn't closed). It was a fair sized march, and I would not dispute a 50,000 estimate. I would dispute AP's characterization of the crowd as "Britons of all regions, ages and social backgrounds". There were a startling number of self-identified Arabs. I also note that the AP report soft pedals the pro-Palestine bent of the marchers. Pro-Palestine signs dominated anti-war signs by a large margin.

Hmm. Let's see if that gets pointed out in the other press coverage.

UPDATE: Not here, though this article does note that similar protests in Rome were organized by the Communist Party. Go figure. More interestingly, opposition to war is reported to be trending downward in Euro polls.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The article linked at the top has been updated as of 4:18pm ET to show an official crowd size of 150,000. So I guess the protests should get one-third as much attention. . . .

ONE MORE UPDATE: Magnus Berhnardsen emails: "Uh... the date was chosen because of the two year anniversary of the Al-Aqsa intifada." I guess that this isn't really a peace march, then -- it's an anti-Israel march with a few useful idiots following along with peace signs. But that's usually what these things turn out to be, isn't it?

If you want to save some time, you can just read this for a survey of the arguments.

THE LAST UPDATE, I SWEAR: James Killmond emails: "So I guess Magnus has explained the profusion of giveaway Al-Aqsa tshirts that I saw everywhere. Nice."

OH NO, SADDAM'S NOT TRYING TO GET NUCLEAR WEAPONS -- THAT'S JUST BUSH ELECTIONEERING SO HE CAN BLOCK PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFITS: All I can say is thank God for the Turks:

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish paramilitary police have seized more than 33 pounds of weapons-grade uranium and detained two men accused of smuggling the material, the state-run Anatolian news agency said on Saturday.

Officers in the southern province of Sanliurfa, which borders Syria and is about 155 miles from the Iraqi border, were acting on a tip-off when they stopped a taxi cab and discovered the uranium in a lead container hidden beneath the vehicle's seat, the agency said.

That's critical mass folks -- enough for a bomb all by itself. If this report holds up, it's a smoking gun. Not that we needed one, really, at this point, but. . . .

UPDATE: A reader sends this enlarged photo which seems to indicate that the uranium came from West Germany, though I don't know how much credence I'd put in that (could just be the shipping container). It also can't be critical mass if it's all in one place. My figure for critical mass of weapons-grade high-enriched U-235 is 15kg, which I got from memory but which this source and several others on Google say is right. That means that either (1) this isn't really weapons-grade; (2) there's not really 33 pounds (15kg) there; or (3) it was divided into more than one package despite the report's seeming to indicate that it was all in one. A long cylinder containing 15kg of weapons-grade U-235 wouldn't explode, and it might not even melt, but it would be highly radioactive and thermally hot -- not suitable for smuggling. Hard to say, but my prediction is that this will turn out to be something less than initially advertised.

The New York Times has the same wire story but it's not on the front page. Oh, and a reader emails to point out that "West Germany" no longer exists. Well, duh, but that only means the container is over 12 years old. As I suggest above, we can't judge the origin of the material by the origin of the container.

ANOTHER UPDATE: N.Z. Bear has a lot more information.

Lastly, Whigging Out urges calm.

Or not lastly -- one more. Jim Henley suggests, as do some emailers, that the stuff may have been on the way to Syria. That's certainly not out of the question.

GARY FARBER HAS A LONG POST on bioweapons and chemical weapons as weapons of mass destruction. He disagrees with Easterbrook and with a lot of bloggers to whom he links, so I won't bother recapping the whole discussion.

I do think that Easterbrook's piece is in good faith, and I do think that, on the whole, chem/bio weapons are overrated in the popular mind. That's not the same as saying that they're not dangerous, or shouldn't be taken seriously.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE! McCain-Feingold turns out to be a crock.

JASON KENNEY has firsthand reporting and pictures from the IMF protests in Washington. Meanwhile, here's another take. And Nick Denton has these observations:

They complain about the promotion of flower growing over sustainable farming, for which read subsistence farming, the Siamese twin of miserable poverty.

The very existence of protestors in Washington DC is testament to the division of labor, by which factory workers build combine harvesters for farmer to produce grain, which Mexican immigrants turn into wraps for burritos to fuel the college kids in their struggle against global capitalism on the streets of DC, and, if the fascists send in the army, the kids will stake the rifles with flowers, fresh, and flown in that very day from Africa. Isn't global capitalism wonderful?

Yes, it is.

UPDATE: Hmm. These folks sound like the spiritual antecedents of the DC protesters, don't they?

The first troops to reach Oxford found over 100 wounded federal marshals at the center of campus, 27 of them hit by civilian gunfire. Packs of hundreds of rioters swarmed the city, some holding war dances around burning vehicles.

And they were defending local traditions against global corporate culture, too. They even said so.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The IndePundit profiles a serial protestor.

September 27, 2002

TOM HARKIN'S CAMPAIGN MANAGER HAS QUIT. And here's the official line on the taping incident:

"It appears these shenanigans were the work of one young staffer who didn't have enough supervision," the Democrat said.

Will this stick? Stay tuned.

WARGAMES, WAR TOYS, AND "ANTIWAR ACTIVISTS:" Great post from Robert Crawford.

MARK KLEIMAN SUGGESTS holding corrections officials accountable for recidivism among their charges. Sounds good to me.

UPDATE: Sasha Volokh likes Kleiman's idea, too. On the other hand a reader suggests that getting prisoners not to repeat crimes is hard. Teaching them not to get caught is probably a lot easier, and just as good from the prison operator's perspective. . . .

TRAFFIC CAMERAS -- Generator of revenue, or tool for public safety? Well, see what seems most important in this account:

But on yesterday's "Ask the Mayor" program on WTOP Radio, Mr. Williams said looming fiscal problems forced the city to get creative in closing a potential $323 million budget deficit.

"The only reason we're looking at the enforcement with revenue figures is because we're in such a bind now," Mr. Williams said.

D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, who has been skeptical of the city's electronic law-enforcement programs, said the latest expansion is a clear indication that the city is starting to see the cameras as revenue sources.

Yeah, sure, he talks about safety, too, but. . . . Traffic and parking laws in just about every city are about money, not safety. Why should DC be any different?

THE MOST SAVAGE COMMENTARY YET on Al Gore's speech: H.D. Miller compares Gore to Principal Seymour Skinner. I think that's even meaner than Kelly and Krauthammer. I suspect that Alex Frantz would object.

UPDATE: Jay Caruso says Alex Frantz's defense of Gore is all wet.

IS STEVEN DEN BESTE BREAKING UP THE E.U.? Joe Katzman has the story.

DAVID HOGBERG HAS more on the Harkin scandal.

SCIENCE FRAUD, STEM CELLS, MICHAEL FUMENTO AND MARTIAN BACTERIA: Charles Murtaugh has a lot of new and interesting stuff up.

UPDATE: Jay Manifold has more on the Martian bugs.

TAPPED says the anti-globalization protests have fizzled, and pretty much agrees with my take, below.

PRESS WATCHDOG GROUPS ACCUSE HUGO CHAVEZ of targeting journalists for political violence.

MOROCCO WILL ELECT A RECORD NUMBER OF WOMEN: And it's sure to, as 30 seats out of 325 are reserved for women. Hmm. I wonder if that's designed to help offset Islamic fundamentalists?

JOHN DVORAK has advice for the record industry -- and the Justice Department.

HMM. CLEVER, but I don't think this approach worked in Lebanon.

DAVE TROWBRIDGE JOINS ANTIWAR.COM in denouncing a wartoy.

NICK SCHULZ says that Pat Buchanan's new magazine is already tired.

LOTS OF IRAN NEWS at Glenn Frazier's Iranian Liberty Index.

I imagine that the United States -- perhaps through non-governmental or quasi-governmental intermediaries -- is reaching out to various elements in Iran now. I'm all for engagement with the forces of democracy and freedom there, but I hope that it won't be handled by a bunch of inexpert ex-military types of the Iran/Contra variety.

TALKLEFT POINTS OUT A PHONY ASHCROFT MEMO that's making the rounds. Apparently it's fooled some people.

INTERESTING QUESTION on Saddam, from Jim Henley.

&C SAYS THE ANTI-GLOBALIZATION MOVEMENT IS TOAST. The New Republic predicted this last year. Advantage: TNR!

Here's what I said last fall:

Thousands of people who were scheduled to protest the World Bank and IMF this weekend are showing up anyway, only now they want to protest a U.S. military response to the 911 assault instead. "Violence breeds violence" says one of the protesters. Think about this. If it's true, then doesn't it mean that any U.S. retaliation was just "bred" by the 911 attacks, and is thus the terrorists' fault? And why is it that this maxim is only directed at violence by, well, people the protesters already dislike?

Some readers think I paint with too broad a brush when talking about the antiglobalization people. Well, maybe. I think that there's a legitimate concern about the growth of corporate power, and especially about the increasing mobilization of government power in direct support of corporate economic interest (see, e.g., the DMCA). But that's really an argument for more and freer capitalism not an argument against it. Powerful oligopolies tied to governments aren't really free capitalism at all. I would like to see more and freer capitalism, around the globe, to help poor people become rich (as it does wherever it's tried). The antiglobalization people (except for a tiny fringe of anarcho-capitalists who don't really fit in) want to see more government power, and less free markets -- they just want that power used in directions they prefer. That's very different.

There's also a puerile and narcissistic element to both the antiglobalization and the "peace" movement (no surprise: as the quick shift in protest emphasis shows, they have an awful lot of overlap) that offends me -- and that would offend me even more if I hoped to see them accomplish their goals.

Still seems to fit.

ONE CLICK, YOU'RE GUILTY: Perry De Havilland reports on what the FBI is doing instead of protecting us from terrorists.

I'M GLAD TO SEE THE U.N. IS ON TOP OF IMPORTANT HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS:

GENEVA - A United Nations committee said Friday it had rejected an appeal by a Frenchman who claimed his country's ban on dwarf tossing breached his human rights.

The 18-member U.N. Human Rights Committee, which oversees implementation of a 1976 treaty on civil and political rights, backed French authorities' contention that the law against dwarf tossing was necessary to protect human dignity and public order.

Manuel Wackenheim — a 1.17-meter (3-ft 10-in) stuntman known as "Mr. Skyman" — said he was a victim of discrimination and that French authorities were violating his personal freedom, failing to respect his privacy and preventing him from exercising his profession. The real basis of human dignity was being able to work, he claimed, adding that jobs for dwarves were scarce in France.

"The ban applies only to dwarves," the committee added in its ruling. "But the reason simply is that they are the only individuals likely to be tossed.

Glad to see the U.N. is on top of this pressing issue. Unsurprisingly, other peoples' views about how things look are more important than the well-being of the folks they're supposed to be protecting.

OLIVER WILLIS HAS THE DEFINITIVE PIECE on Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the movie "Barbershop" in The American Times. Excerpt:

Jackson and Sharpton don’t like this. They don’t like the sacred cows of black America exposed for the entire nation to see, and they’ve done what is now familiar to anyone who’s watched them over the years. They’ve run to the media and complained. Jackson said, “There are some heroes who are sacred to a people, and these comments poisoned an otherwise funny movie”. Sharpton joined him in asking for the film to be edited, removing the content he and Jackson object to.

It left many scratching their heads. Here was a film, created and directed by blacks, starring a mostly black cast, and it was appealing to all of America. Isn’t this the exact sort of success that “Jesse and Al” fought for?

The answer is: yes. But it also shows that Sharpton and Jackson are increasingly becoming irrelevant to the fight for racial equity.

That's how it seems to me, too. I notice that their complaints don't seem to be having much effect.

UPDATE: Ernest Miller writes:

Two things I note about the movie that many commentators have ignored when it comes to Jesse Jackson's anger about the movie:

1) The same character whose comments about MLK Jr. and Rosa Parks have elicited so much controversy, speaks even more disparagingly about Jesse Jackson himself (I forget the specific vulgarity, but it was a single syllable): "Screw Jesse Jackson!"

The character then goes on to disparage a whole line of Jacksons: Michael, Tito, and Action Jackson.

2) A character who is a two-time felon (and soon to be facing arrest for a third felony he did not commit) gives a very articulate and compelling argument against reparations - a cause Jesse Jackson now champions.

Ouch.

CENTRAL PARK JOGGER UPDATE: Tom Maguire has a roundup, and even argues the other side for the sake of completeness.

MERYL YOURISH DOESN'T THINK MUCH of John Densmore's remarks about selling out.

HASHEMITE UPDATE: Stratfor has some interesting information and background on the potential for a Hashemite transitional regime in Iraq. This sounds more like a trial balloon than a fully-formed plan at this point. Just remember where you heard it first!

THE UCLA ADMINISTRATION is charged with racism.

UPDATE: Well, to be fair, it's really the student government -- though the Administration seems to tolerate it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh says this is a "clear violation" of the law.

JOHN ROSENBERG FACT-CHECKS DICK GEPHARDT on questions of "playing politics."

MICHAEL BARONE says that Gerhard Schroder is simplistic and power-hungry, and that his undiplomatic behavior is poisoning trans-Atlantic relations.

These Europeans: so crude in their approach to politics and diplomacy.

NO, OPPRESS ME! This article in the New York Times on CampusWatch seems to evidence an odd eagerness for McCarthyism on the part of a lot of left faculty. Uh, it's just a website folks. No jackbooted thugs will appear at your door.

At any rate, I think it's a bit much for many faculty to suddenly develop an interest in academic freedom after two decades of PC censorship. With the exception of outfits like FIRE and its supporters, who have been consistent backers of academic freedom, most of those criticizing post-9/11 complaints about academic speech are simply engaged in special pleading. The rule seems to be that denouncing America or Jews is fine, but denouncing people who denounce America or Jews is McCarthyism.

UPDATE: Meryl Yourish has issues with the Times' coverage.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jacob Levy, dean of the Campus-Watch critics, comments here, -- and scroll down for more.

AIRBRUSH AWARD: Snopes reports that the photo of President Bush holding an upside-down book, featured on many lefty blogs, is a fake. (Via Henry Hanks).

KEN LAYNE POINTS TO this letter from Tom Waits about corporate use of rock and roll. Waits' letter is good, though I don't really agree, but what struck me was another letter further down:

On NPR's This American Life, a recruit aboard a naval aircraft carrier told Ira Glass she'd enlisted because of a Navy commercial, with a heavy-metal soundtrack by Godsmack, depicting Navy life at sea. Did Godsmack realize that because of their art young men and women signed up for the military? I'll take the integrity of Densmore and Krieger any day.

PAUL MANN

Give 'em a break, Paul. It's not like they've lured anyone into a life of drugs and degradation or anything.

SCOTT OTT REPORTS that Dick Gephardt has found a way to talk about the war without politicizing things.

NORAH VINCENT weighs in on CampusWatch.

THE DEATH PENALTY APPARATUS IS BROKEN, says Judge Gilbert S. Merritt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. (Disclosure: He's the judge I clerked for). In a speech to lawyers, he noted:

Of the 12 cases completely reviewed on habeas in the 6th Circuit in the last 15 years, the writ has issued in eight, reversing the death sentence. Of the five cases I have had occasion to review from Tennessee, there was just one where we upheld the sentence. I have serious doubts in two of them about whether the defendant even committed the underlying murder or was simply the victim of a mistake. In one of these cases subsequent DNA evidence showed that he did not commit the rape that was supposed to be the basis for his murder of the victim. In two of the remaining three cases there were other serious constitutional problems with the jury instructions.

This is quite a strong statement from a sitting federal judge. He's also pretty hard on defense attorneys' competence in these cases.

I think that the anti-death-penalty crowd (like the anti-war crowd) made a serious mistake by lapsing into moral posturing on this issue and thus destroying its credibility. The notion that it's per se immoral for the state to kill peple is absurd -- or at least, proves too much, as killing people is the core function of nation-states, and always has been. Government power is based ultimately on violence; all else is superstructure.

The problem with the death penalty is that it's just another big government program that doesn't work. If death penalty opponents had been clearer on that point all along, they would have done better. I think they're finally catching on.

A NEW LETTER FROM SADDAM HUSSEIN on the value of deterrence.

JAY CARUSO has news on record companies' efforts to hack your computer, which look to be succeeding. This isn't getting much coverage in the general media. I wonder why?

WALTER SHAPIRO ANALYZES the Bush/Daschle dustup.

UPDATE: MICKEY KAUS has a roundup on this topic (he thinks Shapiro was a bit too gentle on Bush), fact-checks a Gore misstatement, and adds:

The major irresponsibility in Gore's speech isn't factual, though. It's that he never really said what he'd do. If Gore had laid out an alternative course of action -- inspections and containment, perhaps, backed by an implicit military threat -- and explained why this course wouldn't have a substantial chance of ending with a biological or nuclear attack on Americans, Gore would have performed a patriotic service even if he lost the debate. And he might have won the debate. (I, for one, am more than ready to be convinced.) Instead, he sniped at the President without presenting a plan of his own, a self-protective tactic that may be appropriate in a debate on, say, how to revive the economy, but that in the middle of a war verges on the unpatriotic.

Yes, it's the failure to offer any proposals that might be shot at that makes the anti-war effort in general seem so disingenuous. (Oh, and TNR's editorial, which says something similar, is now readily available on their site. Drudge must have taken down the link.)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg says "I told you so" to the editors of TNR. That's gotta hurt.

ANDREW SULLIVAN WONDERS why some people find American power so upsetting. I've wondered this myself. Here's my theory.

During the Cold War there was a sort of yin/yang dichotomy. You were afraid of the Soviets, and with good reason. But -- with their absurd formulaic prattle about the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, their campy socialist-realism art, their love affair with tractors, etc., plus the fact, obvious to all but the most usefully idiotic, that they were dirt-poor outside the military sphere -- you couldn't really feel inferior to them.

The United States, on the other hand, was rich, culturally ascendant, and dynamic. But while you could feel inferior to the United States, you weren't really afraid of it.

Now some people who aren't that fond of American values confront a country that is both culturally ascendant and militarily unmatched -- and mad. Naturally, that's upsetting to them. But stating the problem this way would focus on their own inadequacies. Easier just to compare Bush to Hitler.

UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus thinks I'm wrong about this.

DAHLIA LITHWICK CALLS JOHN ASHCROFT A LIAR ABOUT THE SECOND AMENDMENT in Slate, but Eugene Volokh finds her analysis to be, ahem, inadequate.

Ashcroft's position, the article suggests, is so groundless that it's just patently outside his authority to take.

Well, any position can be made to seem groundless if one simply doesn't cite some of the strongest arguments in its defense.

I found the piece rather weak myself. Lithwick is capable of great work, but here I think she simply found it impossible to believe that the view she's critiquing could be true. That view, however, is not as ill-founded as Lithwick's article makes it appear. Certainly a reading of this article might have cleared up her misconceptions regarding the Miller case. (This piece also points out that Ashcroft's actions were not as unprecedented or bizarre as Lithwick makes them sound, and refutes the background-check canard while suggesting things that Ashcroft should be criticized for instead).

I hope that the next time Lithwick decides to write about the Second Amendment she'll research things in a bit more depth.

UPDATE: On the Ashcroft front, Jay Zilber has this to say:

Look. I think John Ashcroft is a uptight prick who has some really mixed-up priorities. But for all the whining that goes on about John Ashcroft in lefty circles, not a single person among them has been arrested and detained for speaking out against the menace of John Ashcroft.

That's how our democracy works. A small group of people hold office; We The People debate the issues, arrive at some abstract consensus, bend the office-holders to our collective will, and kick them out if they fail to perform to our satisfaction.


On the day this process fails and Ashcroft starts rounding up dissenters without charge or trial, I'll join my comrades in solidarity, in protest, and -- if it comes to it -- in Gitmo. In the meantime, Hitch and I have much scarier boogiemen to worry about.

Indeed.

TENNESSEE BLOGGER BILL HOBBS SAYS HE'S SORRY that he voted for Gore. He didn't like the speech.

UPDATE: Boy, Charles Krauthammer doesn't like the Gore speech, either. I mean, he really doesn't like it.

September 26, 2002

ALL RIGHT, I'M GOING TO BED, but I'll leave you with this photo of Heather Havrilesky, from the L.A. Weekly.

EVEN MORE ON THE "HARKIN SCANDAL" -- I still don't see why Democrats thought this was going to be bad for Bush . . . .

DIPNUT has some observations on proportional response.

OKAY, I FEEL STUPID linking to Lileks this late at night. I mean, he'll have another one in the morning, and it'll be good, too. But I just got to this one, and it's worth linking to.

NOW IF I discovered a government disinformation campaign that was vital to the war effort, I wouldn't write about it on my blog. And since I've linked to this account, you can be assured there's nothing to it. Nothing at all. It's totally bogus. No factual basis whatsoever. Move along, now, nothing to see here.

MARTIN DEVON DEMONSTRATES that a proper Fisking doesn't require name-calling.

"IF SADDAM SNEEZES, THE DEMOCRATS WILL GET PNEUMONIA:" Dick Morris says that Gore's speech was a dreadful political mistake.

Only in the past week have Democratic Party leaders come to grasp the magnitude of their error in challenging Bush on Iraq so close to the fall midterm elections. As the tracking polls have come in during the past 10 days, party leaders have realized that they have allowed Bush to change the subject from the economy and corporate greed to Iraq, with potentially lethal consequences for them in the congressional elections. But Gore didn't get the message.

So was Daschle's tantrum a mistake, too -- or part of a recovery effort? My guess is that it was meant to be the latter, but will turn out to be the former. (Via Joanne Jacobs).

UPDATE: Here's something suggesting that Morris is righter than he knows. Er, if that's possible with him.

LIFE ON MARS? Or life from Mars?

BEN FISCHER has been checking Ted Rall's references and offers the first installment of a series with the results.

STUART BUCK HAS ADVICE for judicial nominees. I think they should follow it. The Bush Administration should nominate a couple of "kamikaze nominees" who would publicly savage the Judiciary Committee for not having hearings then, if asked nasty questions at the hearings, respond sarcastically and aggressively. Dollars to donuts, the Senators would fold. And if they didn't, well, at least someone would have some fun.

Perhaps Stephen Green would make a good nominee.

THE NEW REPUBLIC ON GORE'S SPEECH: Thanks to the people who emailed me the text. I still can't get through, so I'm posting a fairly long excerpt:

In the 1980s and 1990s, Al Gore consistently battled the irresponsibility and incoherence on foreign affairs that plagued the Democratic Party. And it was partly out of admiration for that difficult and principled work that this magazine twice endorsed him for president. Unfortunately, that Al Gore didn't show up at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Monday. Instead, the former vice president's speech almost perfectly encapsulated the evasions that have characterized the Democratic Party's response to President Bush's proposed war in Iraq. In typical Democratic style, Gore didn't say he opposed the war. In fact, he endorsed the goal of regime change--before presenting a series of qualifications that would likely make that goal impossible.

First, Gore said that war with Iraq would undermine America's primary mission: fighting terrorism. This mission, he explained, requires ongoing international cooperation. And he suggested that "our ability to secure this kind of cooperation can be severely damaged by unilateral action against Iraq. If the administration has reason to believe otherwise, it ought to share those reasons with the Congress." But surely Gore also has an obligation to share his reasons for believing that war with Iraq will "severely damage" the war on terrorism. The argument, after all, is not self-evident: Germany, the U.S. ally most vocally opposed to attacking Iraq, has simultaneously intensified its assistance in the war on terrorism--signaling that it will take over the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. In fact, Gore provides no evidence to support his claim. And thus he fails the very evidentiary standard that he calls on Bush to meet.

Gore's second complaint concerns the timing of the administration's push on Iraq. "President George H.W. Bush," Gore noted approvingly, "purposely waited until after the midterm elections of 1990 to push for a vote. ... President George W. Bush, by contrast, is pushing for a vote in this Congress immediately before the election." But as we argued two weeks ago, it is far better, in a democracy, for legislators to vote on critical issues before an election--so citizens know where they stand when they go to the polls--than to delay such votes until after an election and thus shield legislators from accountability for their views. Gore went on to pronounce "a burden on the shoulders of President Bush to dispel the doubts many have expressed about the role that politics might be playing in the calculations of some in the administration," before adding, "I have not raised those doubts, but many have." But, of course, that is exactly what Gore was doing. And he should have taken responsibility for raising those doubts himself.

Gore's final critique of the administration's preparations for war is that they are proceeding without sufficient regard to international opinion. "[I]n the immediate aftermath of September Eleventh," Gore said, "we had an enormous reservoir of goodwill and sympathy and shared resolve all over the world. That has been squandered in a year's time and replaced with great anxiety all around the world, not primarily about what the terrorist networks are going to do but about what we're going to do." But this ignores the fact that there is not now, nor will there likely be in the foreseeable future, broad international support for regime change in Baghdad. The two honest ways to resolve this problem are to privilege regime change above international consensus--while trying, as the Bush administration has, to pressure and cajole as many allies as possible to go along--or to forego regime change in the name of solidarity without our allies. Instead, Gore swore fealty to both regime change and international consensus, while refusing to acknowledge the conflict between the two. The closest he came was a suggestion that "if the [Security] Council will not provide such language [authorizing force], then other choices remain open." But would Gore support those "other choices," i.e., war? From his San Francisco
speech, you wouldn't know.

Yes, it's this unwillingness to take a position -- and too-obvious positioning to blame Bush if things go wrong -- that renders Gore, and many other Democrats (with the exception of some, like Zell Miller, John Edwards, and Joe Lieberman) so embarrassingly inadequate to the debate. It's opportunism, pure and simple. And it's the transparent and self-defeating opportunism of someone who has memorized the rulebook, but who doesn't understand the game.

GPS JAMMING: Sgt. Stryker's addresses the issue. Here's the first post on the subject, and here's the followup. Short answer: not as big a worry as it initially appears.

"WEAK AND VAGUE" -- Virginia Postrel parses Al Gore's speech.

PORPHYROGENITUS thinks that military action is coming sooner, rather than later.

I'VE BEEN TRYING TO READ the editorial in The New Republic on Gore's speech, which I gather isn't very flattering. But their servers appear unequal to handling a link from Drudge, because I can't get through. You might try 'em later; I will.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Here's an article from History News Network analyzing the likely outcome of the Bellesiles investigation in light of Emory's internal rules for discipline. The short version: (quoting an anonymous Emory professor) "Bellesiles is toast." A whitewash is seen as unlikely:

If the Investigative Committee or Emory should bring forth a slap-on-the-wrist decision which many perceive to be a whitewash, Emory will reap a whirlwind. If it thinks it will rid itself of the Bellesiles controversy by so doing, the probable response by the press, Emory alumni, Emory students, as well as members of Emory's own History faculty would doubtless show that such an approach was sadly misguided.

I agree. There was a point at which a whitewash might have saved Emory bad publicity (though in light of the formidable evidence against Bellesiles, that's debatable) but regardless, we're well past that point now.

WHY BRITAIN NEEDS MORE LIBERAL FIREARMS LAWS:

They began to push me and shout obscenities. ‘Come with us,’ they kept saying, menacingly.

I stood my ground and kept begging them to go away. I wished I had a man with me or that someone might stop, but no one did. Enraged by my reaction, they began to pull at my clothes. ‘What have you got there?’ I kept a firm grip on my handbag. ‘Only money for a taxi,’ I said, barely able to speak in my mounting state of panic. Then they noticed a pair of silver and diamanté earrings which I had forgotten to remove. ‘We’ll take those, then,’ they said and yanked them off my ears. Luckily they were clip-ons, so my lobes suffered no real damage. But at this point I began to run. . . .

Meanwhile I am still nervous and emotional. I was lucky, though. It could have been a lot worse. But I fear for those young girls who go out wearing revealing dresses because they are told it’s the fashion. It isn’t worth it. Had my shirt showed my bosom, I might have been raped. So I say to mothers, London is dangerous, everywhere. Don’t let your daughters go out at night in mini-skirts or tops slashed to the stomach. Don’t let them come home alone. Or they might not come home at all.

It's not the girls who shouldn't be coming home from an encounter like this.

SALON HAS A LENGTHY TREATMENT of the Bell Labs scandal that's well worth reading.

I think that it's important to get to the bottom of this, and for people in the field to realize that peer review isn't a panacea, and certainly isn't a reason to suspend their own skepticism. On the other hand, I think that the history of responses to science fraud suggests that efforts to create a "cure" may be worse than the disease. Here's a law review article (based on a chapter in the ethics book I coauthored with Peter W. Morgan, The Appearance of Impropriety) that illustrates that problem. It's reasonably short, by law review standards.

HERE'S A CHATBOARD on which Ted Rall is defending his Afghanistan positions against a variety of critics -- and defending Rush Limbaugh along the way! Well, sort of.

HESIOD THEOGENY seems to be catching on to the possibility that there's a deeper game in progress.

LAW PROFESSOR PETER TILLERS is unimpressed by Jack Balkin's oped calling George W. Bush the most dangerous man in the world:

I recognize that the thin air at Yale may prevent people there from giving a plausible answer to this last question. Yale Law professors are not expected to have a great deal of common sense. They are meant to think. Indeed, we expect Yale Law professors to think and utter provocative thoughts. Professor Balkin, I readily admit, has performed the last-mentioned service.

Yes. As I wrote a while back, academics tend to set too much store in being clever and provocative. This tends to produce foolish statements when they address non-academic subjects.

CAN SADDAM JAM J-DAMS? Joe Katzman is onto a disturbing possibility. Can GPS encryption solve this problem?

UPDATE: According to this probably-reliable account, if GPS is jammed it just reduces the accuracy somewhat. (Thanks to Jay Manifold for emailing the link.)

BELLESILES UPDATE: The Chronicle of Higher Education has more on the doings at Emory. The story requires a subscription, but here's an excerpt:

"Obviously the report is highly negative," said Jerome Sternstein, a professor emeritus of history at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. Mr. Bellesiles "is anxious to keep [the report] under wraps," he said. "If the report said that the charges of fraud were unfounded, they would have released it immediately, and he would have insisted that they do so."

Emory announced in April that it would release the report when the investigation, by an independent committee of distinguished scholars, was completed. But the report remains confidential, even though the investigation was finished in July. The university now says it will release the results at the end of the appeals process, which Provost Hunter told the student newspaper would be "soon."

Along with other members of the university's faculty, David J. Garrow, a law professor, reiterated the assumption that the report finds fault with Mr. Bellesiles's research. He also said that many university faculty members are disappointed by Mr. Bellesiles and how he handled the accusations.

"If there is faculty support for him on campus, I am unaware of it," said Mr. Garrow. "My personal impression is that whatever the scale or scope of the documentary problems in the book, his ever-changing and seemingly inconsistent responses magnified the scope of the problem several-fold."

Another faculty member, who declined to be identified, said that "it's a mystery as to why he handled this controversy in such an abysmal way."

It's been interesting to see the initial circle-the-wagons support for Bellesiles melt away. The initial impulse was understandable (if, on the part of historians, marked by a certain unjustified snobbishness toward legal academics). Everybody makes mistakes, any work of scholarship -- especially one at book-length -- contains errors, and anyone can imagine someone picking over his/her record to find those errors and combining them into an unfair assault.

But while that could happen to anyone, it isn't what happened to Bellesiles. And now that people have recognized that fact, his support has vanished. I think the likelihood that Emory will paper this over is now virtually nil.

Some people have been comparing the Bellesiles case to this Bell Labs fraud case (which incidentally was first reported by a blogger -- not me, as I got email on it but didn't know if I could trust the source). But the Bell Labs investigation actually did go on for a while, and Bell Labs researchers don't have tenure.

UPDATE: Here'a a story from the Daily Princetonian about an assistant professor of physics at Princeton who was instrumental in uncovering the Bell Labs fraud.

That's an impressive thing to do, and especially gutsy in someone so junior. The conventional wisdom is that fraud sometimes goes unnoticed because it's not career-enhancing for academics to debunk other academics' work. That's true, I think -- you only have to look at NWU Law Professor James Lindgren, who has taken a fair amount of abuse for his work in uncovering Bellesiles' fabrications, to see that in action. (And who has invested time and energy in that work instead of in the scholarship he otherwise would have been working on).

I hope that the same thing won't happen here. While people tut-tut about the problem in general, they're still quick to look askance at those who actually uncover fraud. Yet when fraud is left unaddressed, the reputation of academia suffers.

O'REILLY VS. LUDACRIS: Greg Beato is on the story.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS lays out the case for war.

TERRORIST PLOT FOILED IN CALIFORNIA: No, not those terrorists. Some other terrorists. Equally dumb though.

EVERYBODY IS HAPPY WITH THE NEW REPUBLIC'S NEW BLOG: But that hasn't saved them from the exacting scrutiny of The Scrutineer.

THE ARAB NEWS seeems to have changed its tune recently:

In the case of Iraq, though, any new government would be an improvement over the repressive and thuggish regime of Saddam Hussein.

As some Muslim commentators have been eager to point out, most notably the Iranian-born Amir Taheri writing this past week in both the Jerusalem Post and National Review, Saddam does not have widespread support either with Arab regimes or the Arab street. Having killed many Islamists and Nasserites, Saddam is not liked by Al-Qaeda supporters or the Arab left. Taheri predicts that the Arab street will not erupt into fury if Saddam is overthrown, which is probably true. The irony is that although most of the Muslim world will probably welcome regime change in Iraq, it will also probably resent the fact that it was the Americans who did it.

Yeah, kind of like, well, everybody else.

UPDATE: Gary Farber says he has comments on this, but at the moment Blogspot isn't working, so I don't know what they say. I'm about ready to join with Rachel Lucas in the "Blogspot is the devil" camp. I'm constantly getting email complaining that my links to blogspot blogs don't work. They work when I put 'em up, but God knows whether blogspot will be up later, or whether it'll send you somewhere besides the item the link was originally pointing at, or whatever.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Tuttle writes that Dianne Feinstein apparently isn't reading the Arab News:

I just watched Sen Dianne Feinstein live on Fox News try to scare Americans that liberating Iraq (my term) unilaterally, pre-emptively attacking Iraq (her view) will unite the Arab world against us. Sen DiFi is also putting the interests of the UN ahead of the interests of the US and the American People. The UN somehow has the moral authority to attack Iraq, but the government that she is part of, doesn't have that moral authority. Go figure.

I actually thought that Feinstein got a bit of a bum rap for her remark about being "embarrassed" to wear an American flag pin, since the remark was less offensive in context than some people made it sound. But one reason why most people didn't give her the benefit of the doubt on that remark was the broader context provided by other things she says.

September 25, 2002

SAY WHAT YOU WANT, I think that it's caused by SUVs.

TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY: Send this to someone in Nigeria.

SULTRY BLOG SIREN Heather Havrilesky is interviewed in L.A. Weekly, and she lets it all hang out. Er, figuratively. The most interesting factual angle is the comparatively small readership figure cited for Suck.

A COMING CRACKDOWN IN HONG KONG? Gweilo Diaries says it's here now. Weirdly, there are some signs of a letup in Tibet.

TODD ZYWICKI SAYS that if you want to riot for anarchy, at least get the anarchy part right.

JUAN GATO invokes the Port Huron statement in support of making November's elections a referendum on the war.

MASS POST DAY on BlogCritics has netted over 100 posts so far. Wow.

WANT A BLOG THAT'S NOT ABOUT POLITICS AND WAR? This should fill the bill. I still hear from quite a few of my ex-girlfriends from time to time. I'm happy to say that none of them are anything like this one. In fact, they're all still very nice people.

THIS AFRICA NEWS PAGE looks pretty interesting, though it's obviously got its own slant.

CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES, a best-of-weblog postings compilation, is up.

PATRIOT ACT UPDATE: A couple of weeks ago I linked to this article in the New York Times on a paper by George Washington University professor Orin Kerr who argues that the Patriot Act does much less to diminish privacy than is generally believed.

Now here's a link to the piece. The link takes you to an abstract page, from which you can download the whole article. If you're interested in the Patriot Act, it's a must-read.

UPDATE: Okay, it's 11:20pm and the server's now really slow. Try, like, staggering your downloads -- it'll still be there tomorrow. Though it could just be a problem at their end.

"WE DIDN'T START THIS, BUT YOU CAN BET WE'LL FINISH IT!" That's the tagline on a G.I. Joe commercial that just aired on the Cartoon Network. He's gotten more bellicose since the summer of 2001. Of course, I noted that trend a while back.

THIS LENGTHY POINT-BY-POINT REBUTTAL TO AL GORE'S SPEECH was on my list to link earlier, but I forgot which blog I'd seen it on. (Yeah, I know, embarrassing.) Then I saw the link on Bill Quick's blog and remembered. It's Sensing's lengthy response, with links and names, to Gore's statement that "The vast majority of those who sponsored, planned and implemented the cold blooded murder of more than 3,000 Americans are still at large," that I find particularly interesting. An awful lot of these folks are dead or behind bars.

I wonder why the Bush Administration hasn't made this point so clearly. Maybe they're afraid to make the war look too successful?

SLAVES TO THE RIGHT? Kaimipono Wenger is unpersuaded by claims from The Alliance for Justice that 7 of the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal are controlled by the "extreme right."

GREGG EASTERBROOK has the Florida recount business about right in my opinion. (Scroll past football-related stuff). The U.S. Supreme Court should have stayed out. But The Florida court's dreadful behavior, and the red flag it constituted, don't get enough attention.

GOOD GRIEF! Now I discover that she can cook, too! The recipe sounds good; I may try it myself.

FRENCH TROOPS RESCUE AMERICANS! (No, really!) It's a bit of much-needed good publicity for the French, and well-deserved.

RADLEY BALKO WRITES ON FOXNEWS that the DEA's new campaign to link terrorism and drug use is lame and dishonest.

Yes, it is. It also undermines respect for Homeland Security and the war on terrorism in general. If Daschle wanted to blast someone for making political use of the war, he should have targeted this. But that would mean attacking a bureaucracy full of civil servants who vote Democratic. . . .

THE WIT AND WISDOM OF HOMER SIMPSON. (Via Samizdata).

THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR'S WARBLOG looks at Islam's bloody borders. An interesting global perspective.

CENTRAL PARK JOGGER UPDATE: Talkleft is reporting that ABC is going to do a story on false confessions relating to the case.

Well, to paraphrase Mark Knopfler: "Two men say they're Jesus. One of them must be wrong." The problem with the jogger case is that we have lots of confessions. They can't all be true. But which to believe?

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS is leaving The Nation. Josh Marshall has the scoop.

CLAYTON CRAMER is setting up a Mohammed Atta memorial site and wants your help.

"THIS SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF THE TERMINATOR," writes the reader who sent this link to a story about two unconnected women with the same name being murdered within three days of one another.

DAN DREZNER WRITES that Daschle's speech is compounding the trouble that Gore's speech created for the Democrats. The whole thing is worth reading (lots of links, too) but here's the money graf:

Let me be clear -- there are substantive reasons to challenge the Bush administration's position on Iraq. I'd like to see a fuller debate. But Daschle's comments are the political equivalent of a hanging curveball for Republican operators to smack. And none of this happens without Gore's Tuesday speech. Disadvantage: Daschle!

Oops.

UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus has another view with a Zell Miller angle. And Orin Judd responds to Dana Milbank's reportage, which he says "completely butchered this story."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen Green isn't happy with Daschle, but he's not happy with Bush's Department of Homeland Security either.

ANOTHER DROPPED BALL: The INS apparently failed to act on information that Los Angeles International Airport shooter Mohammed Hadayet was connected to terrorists.

No surprise, really: it took them forever to admit he was a terrorist even after the shootings.

A MALAYSIAN COUPLE IS SUING THE RELIGIOUS POLICE for bursting into their bedroom and separating them when they couldn't produce a marriage license.

The mere existence of "religious police" is an abomination. I think there should be a bounty on them -- or, at the very least, the "Buzz Aldrin remedy" should be applied forcefully. Staking out on anthills should be reserved for only the most dedicated members of the profession.

JOHN ROSENBERG REPORTS that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has forgotten to update its website, which still shows support for the confirmation of Miguel Estrada.

TED BARLOW OFFERS A SADLY AMUSING DIALOGUE on the botched Russian privatization efforts. The Harvard economists involved come off poorly. To be fair, they faced a very difficult problem. But, also to be fair, they didn't let that slow them down.

ANOTHER PROBLEM FOR THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: LEGAL AFFAIRS IS REPORTING that the Rwandan court, sometimes cited as a prototype, is working out badly:

The discovery of genocide suspects on the ICTR’s payroll has threatened the integrity of the experiment in international law taking place in Arusha. Along with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, the tribunal for Rwanda is the first international court to try war criminals since the famous ones in Nuremberg and Tokyo following World War II. The U.N. Security Council set up the courts in 1993 and 1994 respectively to prosecute leaders suspected of committing genocide and crimes against humanity, and to alleviate Western guilt about having let them rage unchecked. The tribunals are the forerunners of the newly established and permanent International Criminal Court, which will be based in The Hague.

The Bush Administration strongly opposes the ICC—which was formally created in July—citing the potential threat to the authority of the U.S. courts and to Americans whom, theoretically, the court could prosecute. (See “Go Dutch.") But the revelations about Nshamihigo and Nzabirinda expose a more practical and perhaps more debilitating problem for international tribunals—porous security and inept bureaucracy. The arrests have undermined the ICTR’s relationship with the current Tutsi-led government of Rwanda, which was already fragile, and have shaken the faith of some in the international diplomatic community, which was already weak. As a European diplomat based in Rwanda put it recently, “Imagine Klaus Barbie working for the defense at Nuremberg.”

You only get an excerpt (though it's much longer than this passage) on their website, but I was just reading the actual magazine and this story is worth your attention if you're interested in this subject.

The article by my law school classmate Nicki Kuckes on law firms and billable hours is good too, but unfortunately not on the web.

IT'S A RECESSION, BUT BLACK CHILD POVERTY IS DOWN: Mickey Kaus credits welfare reform!

THE CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY MANUAL "UPRISING" has mysteriously vanished from the Web -- in fact, it vanished very shortly after I linked it last night. But Combustible Boy has a copy in HTML up over at The Sound and the Fury.

FUNNY, not long ago it was the anti-Bush folks who kept talking about the "Harkin scandal." But it's hard for me to see how this is bad for Bush. . . .

GROUP CAPTAIN LIONEL MANDRAKE IS CONDEMNING French unilateralism and military adventuring. He's also got a letter from a German reader criticizing American criticism of German politicians.

IS THE TOOGOOD CASE RACIST PERSECUTION? Here's a blog that seems to say so.

THE BURKA/BIKINI DEBATE is getting hotter. I don't usually link back to a downstream post when there's not a major error to correct, but this one has so many updates it's practically new.

GEORGETOWN PROFESSOR PETER RUBIN says that strict constructionism doesn't constrain judges. This is, largely, true. In fact, I've written a couple of law review articles to that effect. (Links here and here).

That's not really an argument against fidelity to text and intent, though. It just means it's been oversold. Parchment barriers are of limited use in constraining federal judges. Character, as Jeff Cooper pointed out the other day, is more important. At any rate, where the federal Courts of Appeals are concerned, the real problem -- to paraphrase Michael Dukakis -- is not ideology, but competence, and a bureaucratic mindset that does more harm than ideology.

MICHAEL KELLY SAYS THAT AL GORE IS UNFIT FOR PUBLIC OFFICE:

This speech, an attack on the Bush policy on Iraq, was Gore's big effort to distinguish himself from the Democratic pack in advance of another possible presidential run. It served: It distinguished Gore, now and forever, as someone who cannot be considered a responsible aspirant to power. Politics are allowed in politics, but there are limits, and there is a pale, and Gore has now shown himself to be ignorant of those limits, and he has now placed himself beyond that pale.

Gore's speech was one no decent politician could have delivered. It was dishonest, cheap, low. It was hollow. It was bereft of policy, of solutions, of constructive ideas, very nearly of facts -- bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies. It was breathtakingly hypocritical, a naked political assault delivered in tones of moral condescension from a man pretending to be superior to mere politics. It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible. But I understate.

Joe Lieberman is more polite, but he's down on Gore, too, as is Ed Rendell, who's running in the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania. Gore may remember another Tennessean, Frank Clement, who gave a speech that didn't help his national prospects. How long, oh Lord, how long, has Gore been hitting the wrong note by trying too hard to hit the right one? As someone who was once a big Gore fan (I worked quite hard in his 1988 campaign), I'm just disappointed.

UPDATE: Henry Hanks has done some research.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen Rittenbeg says Gore is just a post-modernist. But Max Sawicky liked the speech! Well, mostly. This, on the other hand, is just plain mean.

READER DONALD BURTON WRITES:

Now that we're sending troops into the Ivory Coast on a rescue mission, is Molly Ivins going to write a column claiming it's really about the cocoa?

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN IS UP!

LILEKS HAS A BEE IN HIS BONNET. Several, actually. It's a good one, today. Well, they're all good ones -- it's an especially good one.

UPDATE: Max Sawicky responds to some comments by Lileks. What's interesting is that I hadn't recognized how much Sawicky agrees with Steven Den Beste on the nature of the problem, as opposed to the appropriate remedy. I'd be interested in hearing more on the latter.

GARY FARBER REPORTS that "the wave" is Mexican. Who knew?

Well, a lot of people, probably. But not me.

UPDATE: A bunch of people have emailed to say that the Wave isn't Mexican. Here, courtesy of Jeff Cooper, is a link to a story that says it first appeared in Washington state in 1981.

PETER BEINART wonders why Bush is being, ahem, diplomatic regarding war aims and motivations. John Hawkins thinks he has the answer.

MICKEY KAUS HAS A SOLUTION TO THE IMPASSE over civil-service protection and the Department of Homeland Security. No, really -- an actual proposed solution, not just a snarky comment.

WELL THIS EXPLAINS A LOT:

Who is Saddam Hussein's biggest business partner?

The United Nations. The same U.N. whose secretary-general, Kofi Annan, stands as one of the chief ditherers over removing Saddam. Here are the ingredients of a conflict of interest.

Under the U.N.'s Office of the Iraq Program, which supervises the six-year-old Oil-for-Food Program, the U.N. has had a hand in the sale of more than $55 billion worth of Iraqi oil. Iraq ships oil out to U.N.-approved buyers under the terms of the sanctions agreement. The U.N. vets the inflow of "humanitarian" imports into Iraq.

The process is simple. Iraq contracts to import goods, and the U.N. gives the outside vendors cash collected from the oil sales. The U.N. has approved about $34 billion in such deals so far. The money it hasn't yet doled out--at least $21 billion--sits in U.N.-administered bank accounts. U.N. officials refuse to divulge much information about these accounts--not even the countries in which they're held.

Measured in dollars, this is by far the U.N.'s largest program. The sums involved are large enough--and their handling has been perverse enough--for this program to deserve more attention than it has so far received.

What, corruption at the UN? Next people will be accusing them of running sex slave networks in Bosnia, or something.

MORE ON THE FBI:

The intransigence of counterterrorism officials in Washington regarding a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant in the Moussaoui case was described to the committee in June, when Minneapolis FBI agent Coleen Rowley aired the complaint. Yesterday's testimony focused anew on the role of lawyers in the FBI's National Security Law Center.

The lawyers advised FBI counterterrorism officials that agents did not have enough evidence to seek an FISA warrant. One of the lawyers said that Moussaoui would have to be linked to a "recognized" foreign power, which the committee staff's report called "a misunderstanding of FISA."

The FBI had no immediate comment on the report, but acknowledged the misinterpretation of the law in discussions with the committee staff. "The FBI's deputy general counsel told the Joint Inquiry Staff that the term 'recognized foreign power' has no meaning under FISA and that the FBI can obtain a search warrant under FISA for an agent of any international terrorist group, including the Chechen rebels. But because of the misunderstanding, Minneapolis spent the better part of three weeks trying to connect the Chechen group to al Qaeda."

A supervisory agent who testified yesterday said that the FISA court's past criticism of some FBI warrant applications as inaccurate has had a "chilling effect," discouraging others from seeking warrants.

Last week, committee members learned that a National Security Law Center lawyer turned down a separate plea in August 2001 from a New York FBI agent who warned that "someday someone will die" if FBI agents were not allowed to launch a criminal investigation and an aggressive manhunt for one of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

The FBI's Radical Fundamentalist Unit also failed to take any action on the Phoenix memo, which described the activities of 10 suspected Islamic militants involved in aviation.

It's more important that the problems be fixed than that heads roll. But I'm not convinced that the problems will be fixed unless some heads do roll.

And Louis Freeh ought to be subpoenaed.

PHIL BOWERMASTER has a proposal for the Blogosphere. If they're going to make a mockery of things, it might as well be our mockery!

September 24, 2002

FRED PRUITT has found some interesting Iraq news. And scroll down for some interesting, but unsurprising, Qatar news.

WAR AIMS

DANIEL PIPES says he prefers the term "bureaucratic leftism" to "transnational progressivism." But his analysis works either way.

JOHN HAWKINS reports that Osama was allowed to slip away, and he's got tape. Er, well, streaming audio.

THE NEW SMARTERHARPER'SINDEX IS UP.

JACOB T. LEVY responds to Todd Zywicki's comments on John Dean's call to repeal the 17th Amendment, which was itself inspired by something else that Zywicki wrote. Interesting stuff in every link.

STEPHEN GORDON speculates on a possible deal to get rid of Arafat. Speculation is what it is, but it's interesting.

HERE'S A NICE PIECE on how weblogs can work for journalists.

For the record, I'm apparently the only weblogger who's not offended at not being quoted in the New York Times' recent article on journalists and weblogs. I get more attention than I deserve anyway.

TO THE RESCUE: Daniel Drezner says Gore's speech has saved the week for the Bush foreign policy team.

FLIGHT 93 REVISITED: Wow, I just ran across this excellent oped by Elaine Scarry in the Boston Globe. It's a true must-read, even though much of it will be familiar to Blogosphere denizens. But it's a major cultural milestone, I think, to see a piece like this in the Boston Globe:

When the plane that hit the Pentagon and the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania are looked at side by side, they reveal two different conceptions of national defense: one model is authoritarian, centralized, top down; the other is distributed and egalitarian and accords with what the Framers of the Constitution expected of the citizenry.

When the US Constitution was completed it had two provisions for ensuring that decisions about war-making were distributed rather than concentrated. The first was the provision for a congressional declaration of war - following an open debate in both the House and the Senate involving what would today be 535 men and women. The second was a major clause of the Bill of Rights - the Second Amendment right to bear arms - that rejected a standing executive army (an army at the personal disposal of president or king) in favor of a well-regulated militia, a citizens' army distributed across all ages, geography, and social class of men. Democracy, it was argued, was impossible without a distributed militia: self-governance was perceived to be logically impossible without self-defense (exactly what do you ''self-govern'' if you have ceded the governing of your own body and life to someone else?).

To date, this egalitarian model of defense is the only one that has worked against aerial terrorism on American soil. It worked on Sept. 11 when passengers brought down the plane in Pennsylvania. It again worked on Dec. 22, 2001, when passengers and crew on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami prevented an apparent terrorist (now called ''the shoe bomber'') from blowing up the plane with plastic explosives. The danger itself was averted not by the fighter jets that accompanied the plane to Boston or the FBI agents who later rushed aboard but by men and women inside the plane who restrained the 6-foot-4-inch man using his own hair, leather belts, earphone wires, and sedatives injected by two physicians on board.

That's a major change from the "leave it to the professionals" attitude that one tends to associate with the Globe. You should read the whole thing, which has some comments on speed, decentralization, and learning curves that are reminiscent of this piece and this one. I'm not sure I agree with what appears to be Scarry's ultimate conclusion, but there are a lot of important points along the way.

I NOTICE that a lot of people are linking to this article on how Starbucks seems to actually be creating business for independent coffeehouses. This seems right to me. Starbucks is coming into this area, and my brother-in-law, who owns two neighborhood coffeehouses, is unfazed. "My customers aren't their customers," he says. "But some of their customers will turn into my customers." That seems to be how it's working out.

BURKA/BIKINI UPDATE: Aziz Poonawalla replies to Jim Henley. He makes a lot of worthy points, but this concluding passage just seems wrong to me:

I said that women wearing a bikini solely to attract the attention of men is comparable to women being forced to wear the burkah by men. This is a manifestation of men's control over women, and it is that control which I am labeling immoral. I was careful to only use the word "immoral" in the context of focring women to wear burka (or the power play which makes women want to wear a bikini to please men).

Is it a "power play" when women want to wear bikinis to please men? Is it a "power play" when men dress or groom or whatever in a particular way to please women? And -- even assuming that this statement is true -- what precisely is immoral about it? Not much that I can see.

Of course, I'm probably a slave to false consciousness. Certainly all my work at maintaining chiseled, hairless pecs seems to be wasted now.

UPDATE: Reader Amy Torres writes:

That guy has it completely assbackwards! Women wear a bikini to attract men, yes, but only so we can turn you all into cooperative love-puppies. What American women have learned through the trials and errors of women's lib is simple: hairy armpits, no makeup and a rejection of men's more chivalrous impulses are failed techniques Today they are practiced and preached only by women who truly hate men. Us bikini babes love and appreciate men! We understand that our ability to attract and entice is empowering - and truly liberating. Wearing a bikini allows women to celebrate their existence joyously and openly. Try doing THAT in a burka.

No thanks.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Aziz emails:

The target of my immorality label is more subtle than that - you're right, the desire of the woman (or the man) to please the man (or the woman) is perfectly acceptable (in fact, celebrated in the Shi'a interpretation of Islam).

I am targeting those specific instances, when a woman wears the bikini because her entire sense of self-worth (or "self-merit") is founded on the reaction she is trying to induce in men. I am not saying the woman is immoral and I am not even saying the man in this scenario is immoral. What I am labeling as immoral is the force acting on her to subsume her sense of self merit into a stereotypical perception of herself as sex object.

Re-reading this, I realise that it sounds exactly like what I said earlier, clearly I am not doing a good job of differentiating and expanding my arguments in response to the original confusion. *frustrated*.

Well, this sounds like the point is that it's immoral to be shallow. I don't think that's true. It's shallow to be shallow. I don't believe in putting any single value at the core of your self-worth. Even religion. Indeed, there are few shallower than those who build their sense of self-worth on piety -- and unlike those who focus on their appearance, the latter are seldom able to leave others alone. (I want to be clear, though, that I'm not putting Aziz in this camp).

Another (male) reader wrote on behalf of unspecified female friends to say that the quote from Ms. Torres, above, gives feminists insufficient credit for the freedom she enjoys today, though he seems to be doing a bit of stereotyping himself:

The woman who stands up for the "right" of American women everywhere to wear bikinis and calls those who oppose it man-haters fails to realize that the only reason she can wear a bikini in America in the first place is because those same man-hating feminists won for her much more significant rights before she was even born. She does have a right to wear a bikini, but she should worship the women who faced ridicule, burned bras and spurned the condescension of the men who prevented them from voting, working in desirable fields and filing rape charges against rapists. Instead, she heaps scorn on them, as though she somehow "earned" her place on that beach blanket. I don't know her, but from the way she speaks, I'd guess that she earned nothing - that she had it handed to her.

It seems to me that women were voting and wearing bikinis before anyone ever heard of Betty Friedan. Interestingly everyone writing about this seems to be male. The only response to this post that I've received from a female reader was a comment on my "hairless chiseled pecs" that I won't reprint here. Trust me, sister: fantasy is better than reality in this as in so much else.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Diane E., er, weighs in and says the issue is "looksism," which men suffer from along with women. (And men suffer from "heightism," too!) And Jim Henley has responded. So has Megan McArdle, who says "What Aziz is arguing for is, in my opinion, a well meaning but futile attempt to take sex out of male-female relations."

HOWARD BASHMAN HAS THE TEXT of the South Dakota jury nullification amendment along with links to some additional discussion.

ANDREW IAN DODGE is forecasting civil unrest in Britain. And it's not over the war. Well, not over the war with Iraq, anyway.

"NOT GETTING AMERICA" is the topic of today's column by Jonah Goldberg, and it's a good one.

A BLOG FROM BAGHDAD, via Eve Tushnet. Wonder if he's one of the two people in Iraq who have bought Mobius Dick CDs via the Web? He looks the type. Er, and that's a compliment, of course.

ANOTHER STORY ON THE IRAQ / OKLAHOMA CITY CONNECTION.

CONGRESS FEARS DILUTION OF WAR EFFORT: We should focus on the actual attackers, and not other, peripheral countries say some.

MARC FISHER WRITES IN SLATE that the U.S. / Germany rift is real.

UPDATE: Robert Musil reflects on the "German Resistance."

VERY FEW LAWYERS inspire this kind of devotion. God knows that my clients never wrote anything like this about me. Though considering who they were, that's probably just as well. Certainly none of them would have looked good in "a long black Galliano dress and high-heel Manolo Blahnick shoes."

JEFF COOPER has a post on the Central Park Jogger case in which he says Tom Maguire has persuaded him that he jumped to conclusions about the likelihood of prosecutorial misconduct, something for which he's apologetic. Perhaps overly so -- blogging is, in James Lileks' phrase, a conversation, not a lecture. You react to what you know, and you refine your opinions as you learn more. "Do it once, do it long," may be the style at the Los Angeles Times, but the L.A. Times is most definitely not a blog.

CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT UNION IS IN TROUBLE over a student handbook that is described as a "call to intifada, anarchy and revolution."

The book, Uprising,

is a virtual glorification of worldwide revolution, containing articles advocating Canadian flag-burning and calling for a Steal Something Day.

"Stealing is just. Theft is exploitative. Stealing is when you take a yuppie's BMW for a joyride and crash into a parked Mercedes, just for the hell of it," the article reads.

A poem in the handbook calls on students to "take arms for the revolution… rise up….. gripping like a fist….. smash the state…."

Smash the state -- but keep those subsidies coming! How lame.

UPDATE: Courtesy of reader Andrew Zeppa, here's a link to a PDF version of the book. If you're interested, you should look fast -- it might not be up for long.

I'M BACK. Went to get an award from a civil rights group; wasn't my best but tried to be properly cheerful despite feeling crappy. Taught my administrative law class, where I revived a bit over the silliness of the CIA's Catch-22 policy on gays in Webster v. Doe. (If you tell us you're gay, we'll fire you, because someone might blackmail you by telling us that you're gay. No, really.) Came home, took a nap. Now groggy but largely pain-free.

Some people have been emailing me to say how great the Tom Tomorrow cartoon in The New Yorker is, but since it's not on the Web it doesn't exist as far as I'm concerned. But I can't believe that it could be better than this cartoon. Especially the final frame. (Via Andrea Harris).

FREE ICE CREAM WILL BE LIMITED for a while. I've got a meeting and a class in a while, and I'm feeling too ill with either a sinus headache or an oncoming migraine to multitask as I do my class prep.

If you're bored, you can check out the Buffy Blog Burst. But be careful -- this stuff might be contagious.

ANDREA SEE REPORTS on fears of terrorism in Singapore.

OKAY, I THOUGHT WE WERE OVER THE WHOLE BURKA/BIKINI NONSENSE, but to my disappointment, Jim Henley informs me that we're not. (The post to which he refers is, natch, on ##@#$! blogspot, so I couldn't read it). However, he also steered me to this must-read post by Colby Cosh on "Touched by an Angel" and its squeamishness toward actual religion and the not-so-pleasant implications thereof.

SOME THOUGHTS ON AGING from Caterina Fake. She's right. I'm at the age when people are sometimes surprised at how old I am, and other times surprised at how young I am, depending on how they know me and their frame of reference. And either way, it seems odd to me.

My favorite quote is from (I think) Oliver Wendell Holmes: "I don't feel like an old man. I feel like a young man who has something seriously wrong with him." I suspect that when I'm at an advanced age I'll feel the same way. One hopes, of course, that by then "advanced age" will be in the high triple digits. . . .

OKAY, BLOGGER/BLOGSPOT IS REALLY FLAKING OUT: I just tried to follow this link to the Weekly James and it took me to Ev Williams' EvHead blog! God knows what it'll do to you.

UPDATE: Now it's producing a "Blogspot is down for maintenance" page. Supposedly it'll be back up at about 10:30 Eastern, so you may want to adjust your surfing accordingly.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Paul Schmidt writes wondering if Blogspot was hacked:

I don't know about the other blogspot hosted sites, but an attempt to
access Tim Blair or the Volokhs initiates a download of an executable
(presumably a trojan).

I don't get that, but my system is set up to block such things routinely. You should beware of any site that wants you to download software unless you're quite sure of the reason why. Just say no to unexplained downloads.

UPDATE UPDATE: Schmidt just emailed back:

It's happening with Mozilla (my usual browser), but IE properly shows the
"down for maintenance" message. I don't see anything in the page source
that should cause it, but then, I'm not a web guru. If it's still happening
after it's working in IE, I'll notify the blogspot admin.

Stay tuned.

ONE MORE UPDATE: Hacking fears appear to be misplaced. One reader reports that there was a notice of scheduled maintenance up last night. And reader Stephen Commiskey reports:

The webserver is configured incorrectly; the "down for maintenance"
message is accidentally set to MIME type octet-stream (used for
binaries), when it should be set to something like text/HTML.

Mozilla users can, if they like, see the message by telling Mozilla to
open the "file" with Mozilla.

Or they can live without the thrill. As I write this, Blogspot is still down though it's after 10:30.

TONY BLAIR has released the full dossier on Saddam. Click here for the full text.

Say, didn't they do something pretty much exactly like this shortly before the invasion of Afghanistan?

BELLESILES UPDATE: The Emory Wheel reports that Michael Bellesiles is appealing the results of the independent scholars' review of his work, which thus must have turned out to support the critics' charges. This is apparently the reason for Emory's delay in acting.

September 23, 2002

CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY UPDATE: A Jewish student was reportedly beaten by an Arab student last week.

GEITNER SIMMONS HAS several good observations on the red / blue divide. Start with this one and scroll up.

JAY CARUSO IS CALLING BULLSHIT over Hesiod Theogeny's latest "chickenblogger" posting, and I have to say he's right to. I thought the Republic vs. Empire thing had some good points, but this is just silly name-calling. (Though I admit "Saddamite" -- which came from someone other than Caruso -- is no great shakes either.)

Unless, perhaps, Hesiod's final sally was actually aimed at Al Neuharth. But then it would just be mean.

ORRIN JUDD wonders why a Reuters story on Tony Blair's slide in the polls links it to Iraq and fails to mention the 400,000-person demonstration on a rather different topic just yesterday. Well, he doesn't really wonder. He's just amazed:

Perhaps it's helpful, for comparison sake, to recall that the great March on Washington in August 1963, led by Martin Luther King Jr., and generally considered one of the most significant public demonstrations in American history, summoned "only" about 250,000 people. But would a news organization that reported on a presidential approval poll conducted over that weekend fail to even consider the effect of the protests on the resulting number? Not damn likely.


How is it possible that an anti-government protest, however inchoate its aims, that may have been twice that size, in a country that's significantly smaller, can have had no effect on the Labor Party's poll numbers? Reuters has truly become a disgrace over the course of the past year and this looks like a blatant attempt to blame any bit of bad news (it's bad if you're a Laborite anyway) on the war on terrorism (or as Reuters might call it, freedom-fighterism). It is, of course, possible that the negative numbers for Labor reflect war fears, but if so, where are the matching 400,000 folks protesting the government's Iraq policy?

Where, indeed?

YOU REALLY CAN BUY ANYTHING ON EBAY! (Via Blogatelle).

ERIC OLSEN VS. THE RADIO TROLL: A thrilling story in one act.

SMALLPOX UPDATE: Interesting post by Lynxx Pherrett on the potential for antiviral drugs in treating smallpox.

SLATE'S JOSH DANIEL says that Steve Earle's new album is obnoxious and tired.

JONATHAN RAUCH says that Bush is saving the U.N. from suffering a "dangerous impotence" at the hands of its supporters.

IT'S NOT ACTUALLY A "FISKING," BUT this tart reply to Al Gore's latest speech pretty much puts him away. Especially the response to Gore's Jesse James remark.

All I have to add is that Jesse James, who is allegedly (without much actual evidence) an ancestor of mine, stood up for "the people against the powerful," and I'm surprised to hear Al speak of him in such a negative fashion.

UPDATE: Henry Hanks points out that Gore was singing a different tune not long ago. And Susanna Cornett isn't impressed:

Overall, Gore’s speech is an effort to pander to the left while reaching for the center who believe a war is the right thing. His allusions and accusations are targeted at bolstering his statesmanship, but do so only at the cost of denigrating his own country. If anyone is behaving in a calculatedly political manner, it would be Al Gore.

She's got a link to the transcript.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oliver Willis is defending Gore. Meanwhile, Scott Ott offers a hometown perspective and reader IMoby writes "I think this speech means Gore is running.... for the job of German Justice Minister." Well, the position is available.

LAST UPDATE: Matthew Hoy asks: WWGD? And former Gore voter Rick Heller is reminded of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

I LIED, THIS IS THE LAST UPDATE: Okay, even Patrick Nielsen Hayden seems to think I was seriously defending Jesse James's honor. Uh, no. Sorry -- it seemed obvious to me that it was tongue-in-cheek, but I guess it wasn't.

JAMES MORROW REPORTS that the INS is finally expanding its visitor-registration program to include Saudis. Better late than never, I guess. Scroll down for some more good observations.

STEPHEN POLLARD writes that John Pilger and the BBC are achieving new levels of bias.

I think the shrillness is a good sign. It means they know that they're losing.

SOMEBODY HIRE BILL QUICK! Failing that, you can buy some cool merchandise, or just leave money in his tipjar. He's got all the bases covered.

STUART TAYLOR HAS AN INTERESTING PIECE ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION:

Worth checked this impression by doing a tally: Of the 43 people who since 1986 had been hired or promoted by his division, 42 were black or female; only one was a white male. Worth compared notes with colleagues elsewhere. "We started understanding that there was a very deliberate effort coming from somewhere to exclude white males from getting positions. It replicated itself over and over again to the point that [by 1995] it was blatant and flagrant."

Since 1994, all but one of the dozen or so promotions and transfers that Worth has applied for have gone to black or female applicants whom he considered no better qualified than he, and in most cases less qualified, because they had far less relevant experience and seniority. Some of them had little or no college education. (Worth has a B.S. from Washington University.) He and similarly demoralized friends would ruefully remark that HUD "may as well put 'white males need not apply' on the job vacancy announcements." This pattern, which Worth initially attributed to the Clinton administration's passion for racial and gender preferences, continued into the Bush administration. Since 1997, only one of the 16 hires and promotions in Worth's division has gone to a white male.

Now the 55-year-old Worth is the name plaintiff in a nationwide class action against HUD and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

I think there will be a lot of suits like this in the next few years. The defendant here is kind of ironic, of course. Or maybe not.

ANDREW SULLIVAN IS ON THE CASE of NPR producer Loren Jenkins.

THE NEW REPUBLIC has finally gotten a blog. But the posts don't have permalinks! Get 'em, guys.

UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive.

MARK SULLIVAN administers a Fisking to Boston Globe columnist Eileen McNamara, who objected to Larry Summers' comments on anti-semitism.

I guess McNamara considers herself and anti-anti-antisemite.

EERIE PARALLELS: Germany, then and now.

Okay, not really. But they've been pretty lame, and I won't forget it. Neither, I suspect, will George W. Bush.

CENTRAL PARK JOGGER UPDATE: The MinuteMan has links to many posts.

DIPNUT HAS HIT THE BIG TIME as an, er, "featured blogger" at Salon. Well, kind of.

KIM DU TOIT has a candidate for political asylum identified.

JAMES LILEKS:

Well, it seems Gerhard Schroeder has won election in Germany.

Of course, Hitler did the same thing.

It's insufferably rude to compare a world leader to. . . oh, wait. Never mind.

STEPHEN GREEN is administering remedial instruction in ethics. Again.

STEVEN DEN BESTE looks at German-American relations and concludes that it's going to be harder for Gerhard Schroder to kiss and make up than Schroder probably thinks. (Via Cato the Youngest).

UPDATE: I don't think it was a coincidence that Donald Rumsfeld chose Poland as the place to criticize Schroder's actions. You can expect to see the United States reaching out to Central European countries much more in the next month or two -- and, for that matter, probably in the next several years -- as a means of counteracting Franco-German anti-Americanism.

LYNN SISLO AND MISHA speak the final words on the "Tumbling Woman" controversy.

"THE FOG OF PEACE" -- DAVID BROOKS SAYS THE ANTI-WAR LEFT IS UNSERIOUS:

If you are a writer setting out to evaluate the Bush foreign policy team and its longstanding worries about Saddam, it would seem reasonable to measure whether or not those fears are justified or exaggerated. This is Journalism, or Scholarship, 101. But this is the question FitzGerald cannot ask, because that would require her to enter the forbidden territory of Saddam himself. FitzGerald raises the possibility that war against Saddam might lead to a Palestinian revolt in Jordan, oil shortages, and terrorist attacks. She mentions the daunting cost and scope of an American occupation of Iraq. She approvingly quotes Brent Scowcroft's warning that taking action against Saddam would inflame the Arab world and destroy the coalition that we need to wage war on al Qaeda. But what of the risks of doing nothing? This issue she does not touch. This is the issue that must remain shrouded in the fog of peace.

Reviewing Noam Chomsky, legal scholar Richard Falk, a member of the editorial board of the Nation, observes that while he agrees with much of what Chomsky writes, he is troubled by the fact that Chomsky is "so preoccupied with the evils of U.S. imperialism that it completely occupies all the political and moral space."

That is exactly what you see in the writings of the peace camp generally--not only in Chomsky's work but also in the writings of people who are actually tethered to reality. Their supposed demons--Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Doug Feith, Donald Rumsfeld, and company--occupy their entire field of vision, so that there is no room for analysis of anything beyond, such as what is happening in the world. For the peace camp, all foreign affairs is local; contempt for and opposition to Wolfowitz, Perle, Rumsfeld, et al. is the driving passion. When they write about these figures it is with a burning zeal. But on the rare occasions when they write about Saddam, suddenly all passion drains away. Saddam is boring, but Wolfowitz tears at their soul.

That seems about right.

EVERYBODY IS INTERESTED IN THE MOON all of a sudden, reports Leonard David. My TechCentralStation column on Wednesday will be about the political influences involved in this phenomenon. Well, sort of.

THE, ER, SINISTER faces of blogosphere conspiracism, revealed.

A READER WRITES: "If this had happened the other way around, how long before we would see Palestinian propaganda about Jews killing Palestinians for organs?" About as long as it takes to find a working photocopier, I'd imagine.

THE "COUNTRYSIDE MARCH" in London yesterday looks to have been quite an event. According to this report:

A LANDOWNER spoke for the 400,000 countryside marchers yesterday as he declared: “The reason I’m here can be summed up in one word — freedom.”

Andrew Duff Gordon said: “There is a huge strength of feeling because everyone in the countryside is being ignored.”

DodgeBlog, Freedom & Whisky, and Lionel Mandrake have comments.

UPDATE: Oh, and this Samizdata account is worth reading.

THE ADMINISTRATION'S NEW SMALLPOX VACCINATION POLICY IS OUT, and it's getting rather mixed reviews from MedPundit and The Bloviator, two medico-bloggers whose stuff is always worth reading.

Here, from MedPundit, is a great story lead for investigative journalists -- how local health departments are spending their bioterrorism money:

This reliance on local health departments to carry out the plan is more than a little worrisome. Not all public health departments are created equally, and many of them are little more than well child and sexually transmitted disease clinics. Last week, I got an inkling of what ours is probably doing with their bioterrorism money. I received a slick package on preventing falls in the elderly. It came in a nice folder with nice, glossy handouts and reminder cards for patients. Normally our health department provides handouts on xeroxed sheets, and it never presents them in a package like this. I could be wrong, but I have to wonder where they suddenly got the money for public relations.

Pork: seek, and ye shall find. The Knox County Health Department seems to be spending its bioterrorism money on bioterrorism, though -- and to prove it, they've hired my secretary (who just got her degree in public health) away. Two of the remaining secretaries in our pool (out of four) are at risk, too. One's a reservist Combat Engineer, and the other a military intelligence reservist. In the event of war, my photocopying might not get done.

I don't think that's an especially major cost, but I have to note that the usually-more-sensible American Library Association is upset that Palestinian photocopiers have been destroyed, and has adopted a resolution decrying that, and other war-related interruptions of Palestinian library service. I was unable, however, to find a resolution denouncing Palestinian terrorism, which has presumably impacted the degree of service at libraries in Israel.

UPDATE: A librarian reader says the ALA is no longer a sensible organization, and sends this link to an even more biased resolution. Another librarian sent me the same thing, with the same sentiments, and says that the ALA's public-policy apparatus has been captured by the loony left.

I guess I'll have to keep this kind of thing in mind when I evaluate the ALA's public statements on the Patriot Act, etc.

HOWARD KURTZ has an interesting nugget about online corrections mentioning Eugene Volokh. (Scroll to the bottom). But I'm deliberately burying the lede (or, for the nonpretentious, the lead) here. Can you guess what the real newsworthy item in that paragraph is?

JOANNE JACOBS writes that a new Roll Call article makes the Congressional Democrats look self-serving and spineless on the war. Maybe I'm just in the mood to see the glass as half-full this week, but to me the big news is that even Jerrod Nadler has figured out that the Democrats have a big image problem.

The next step, of course, will be for someone to figure out that to address the image problem, they'll have to address the substance problem.

UPDATE: David Broder agrees with Joanne about the Democrats:

But there is something deeper -- and less justifiable -- at work. The Democratic leaders in Congress, in both the House and Senate, largely have abandoned principle and long-term strategy for the short-term tactics they think will help them in this November's election.

What's more, Broder says this problem extends beyond the war, encompassing the similar decision to carp at, but not to challenge, Bush's tax cut: "The Democrats' refusal to face up to that fundamental issue leaves them without credibility for their entire critique of Bush's economic policy."

This seems right to me. (Broder article via Andrew Sullivan).

DAVID HOGBERG has a moving obituary on his site.

WHY THEY HATE US: Apparently, they hate pretty much everybody:

"I want to eliminate these pigs, these swine," Ben Soltane said. He told Es Sayed that he despised everything about Italy: "I hate the people, I hate the documents .... I want to go anywhere else."

In countless hours of wiretaps over two years, members of the Milan cell schemed, threatened and told war stories, their voices full of hate and despair. Many were extremists from North African countries who fled to Italy to escape prosecution. But they were alienated in their adopted land as well; they sounded like men who felt permanently and dangerously adrift. . . .

The young men saw themselves as warrior-monks assailed by the temptations of a prosperous, fun-loving society.

The way other men might watch pornography, they sat in a seedy apartment chortling at videos of moujahedeen slaughtering Russian soldiers in the snows of Chechnya.

"Look, look how they cut his throat," a suspect named Khaled exclaimed, according to the transcript of an intercept March 22, 2001, in an apartment in suburban Gallarate.

"Why's the other one alive?" a man named Farid said as gunfire from the television echoed in the background. . . .

The anger trapped them in a doomed existence, although they had alternatives, judging from another exchange in the Citroen.

"You don't like this nice life? You want to die?" Es Sayed asked Ben Soltane.

"Listen, sheik, if I liked this life, I would go to my cousin who is in Germany and wants to marry me," Ben Soltane answered. "In five years, I would have a German passport and live in peace."

Sorry, these guys are just scum. And ungrateful scum at that.

JOURNALISTS WITH WEBLOGS: The New York Times looks at the pluses and minuses.

September 22, 2002

MARK HARDEN DISCOVERS another fiendish plan by the slippery Bush administration to thwart the anti-war movement: a short, successful war that leaves no time for protests to build momentum. They'll stop at nothing, those guys.

EUGENE VOLOKH TAKES ON an egregious example of post-9/11 discrimination against non-citizens:

"All persons," the Nebraska Constitution says, "have certain inherent and inalienable rights," including "the right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others, and for lawful common defense, hunting, recreational use, and all other lawful purposes." Voters enacted this right to bear arms in 1988 and made clear that the right "shall not be denied or infringed by the state or any subdivision thereof."

And yet the City Council is now considering re-enacting its law banning anyone who is "not a citizen of the United States" from owning a handgun. Law-abiding Omaha residents - adults who have shown no sign of posing a danger to others - would thus be denied their clearly established constitutional right.

What justification can there be for this? After all, non-citizens are surely included in "all persons." And surely law-abiding non-citizens need to defend themselves, their families and their homes just as much as you and I do. Denying non-citizens this right because a few non-citizens may abuse it is wrong - just as wrong as denying citizens the right to bear arms because a few citizens abuse it. . . .

Since Sept. 11, we've heard many complaints about supposed oppression of immigrants; and many of these have proved unfounded. For instance, of course the government may lock up non-citizens who have overstayed their visas - that's just enforcing the law.

But this city ordinance really is oppression: The government would deny to law-abiding non-citizens a clearly defined constitutional right.

Where's the ACLU on this one?

RALPH PETERS looks at root causes. (Via Kathy Kinsley).

MATT WELCH RESPONDS to claims that America is facing a tide of anti-intellectualism. Excerpt:

But I suspect that, to the contrary, Noam Chomsky’s never had a wider audience. It’s just that many of his new readers don’t agree with him, and aren’t shy about saying so, despite his “five decades” of comment compared to their five months. I would go as far as suggesting that what we are witnessing is a further democratization of political/intellectual debate, rather than some kind of grunting Cossack putsch.

Indeed. But I think that that may be what's really bothering some people.

SAMIZDATA has a firsthand report from the "Countryside March" in London.

AMERICA'S "UNILATERAL ACTION" IN AFGHANISTAN, explained.

BILL HERBERT looks into plans for violence at next week's protests in Washington. I don't think these guys have figured out yet that their moment has passed.

JOSHUA TREVINO is reporting on his experience taking the Foreign Service Exam. He's going to report on all stages of the process, which should provide some interesting insight.

ROBERT PRATHER doesn't think much of Terry Jones.

ALEX BEAM NOTWITHSTANDING, rumor has it that the Boston Globe is interested in weblogs and is planning a weblog-related initiative for its Boston.com site. I hope it's true.

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis emails with this link, which leads to more info. Cool.

DALE AMON REPORTS that Bob Forward has died. I don't have anything to say that Dale hasn't already said better. Bummer.

RON WYDEN talks about his new nanotechnology-research bill.

THEY CHECK IN, BUT THEY DON'T CHECK OUT: Jim Bennett says the European Union is turning into a roach motel. I think that these new efforts to strengthen the EU are comparable to Cuba's recent "communism forever" vote -- evidence of fraying and insecurity, rather than of permanence.

DON'T MISS TODAY'S PUNDITWATCH. Mark Shields isn't getting much respect.

MICKEY KAUS HAS MORE on the welfare / terrorism connection. I think he's onto something here.

INTERESTING PIECE on South Dakota's proposed jury nullification amendment in The New York Times.

HESIOD THEOGENY is admirably forthright about his views on the war -- and I actually share his fears about the dangers of empire, as I've mentioned here from time to time. I wish that, say, Tom Daschle would be as straightforward as Hesiod.

Unless, of course, Hesiod really is Tom Daschle, blogging so as to get things off his chest that he doesn't feel he can say in public. With these pseudonymous bloggers, you never know. . . .

Seriously, though, it's a good post. And I think a lot of so-called warbloggers share his concerns. You don't go to war because it's inherently desirable. You go to war because you see no other reasonable alternatives. Reasonable people can agree on exactly when that becomes the case. I wish that it weren't the case now, though I think it is. If something could magically sweep away our problems without a war, I'd be very happy. I don't think it's going to happen though.

UPDATE: Justin Katz thinks I'm being too generous to Hesiod. So do a lot of people who have emailed me.

Well, I think the Bush-bashing is pretty over-the-top (FDR was rather disingenuous about leading us into war, too, but that's considered sign of his craftiness in looking after the national interest, not of moral turpitude). But Hesiod was, I think, honest about his motivations and clear about his positions, and made clear that his reluctance to invade Iraq was based on affection for America and American principles, not on hostility thereto. That puts him head and shoulders above most of the anti-war critics. And most of the anti-war Democrats in Congress.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Boy, they're slamming me in the comments over at Bill Quick's page. That's okay, guys -- I can take it!

BRITAIN'S PRO-FOX-HUNTING MARCH drew over 400,000 people according to this AP report:

LONDON (AP) - To the blare of hunting horns and the shriek of whistles, about 400,000 people marched through the streets of London on Sunday to support fox hunting and the rural way of life.

The march, billed as Britain's largest civil protest in 150 years, drew farmers, gamekeepers, and hunting enthusiasts with a clear message for Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"Blair, ban hunting and we will boot you out," read placards held by tweed-clad demonstrators as they marched 20 abreast through the streets, bringing much of the city to a standstill.

"We are here to show Mr. Blair that we won't go away, we won't be quiet. He is talking about changing our way of life and that's just not on," said John Gammell, a gamekeeper from Yorkshire, northern England.

It must be highly embarrassing to the anti-war crowd that they can't put any significant number in the streets to protest action against Iraq, while pro-fox-hunters can get nearly half a million. To be fair, I think this goes beyond just fox-hunting, and constitutes a response to a lot of so-called "Transnational Progressive" ideology, though I suppose the antiwar folks won't take much comfort from that. Expect to hear more about this from the folks at Samizdata, though at the moment they appear to be marching, not blogging. Or more likely, knowing them, they're recovering from their exertions at a pub.

AFGHAN WOMEN LEARNING TO READ: Josh Chafetz writes that this story suggests that the United States military may be the world's foremost humanitarian institution.

UPDATE: Hmm. The lesson appears to be spreading:

Witnesses say a Jordanian woman ripped off her enveloping black cloak and veil — to reveal a traditional long dress that was nearly as enveloping — and punched and kicked into submission three young men who had been verbally harassing her.

The official Petra News Agency reported Sunday that shopkeepers and passers-by believe the unidentified woman must have had martial arts training. In Friday's incident on the main street in Zarqa 13 miles north Amman, the three men were too shocked to react at first and ended up knocked to the ground, screaming in pain. They then scrambled up and fled.

The crowd cheered. What's interesting is that this story was originally reported by the official news agency, suggesting that someone in Jordan wants word of it to get out. And why might that be? Hmm.

GERMAN ELECTIONS: It's neck-and-neck according to exit polls. A German reader emails that the German media seem to think Schroder's going to lose. If nothing else, this proves that anti-Americanism isn't the path to a landslide.

UPDATE: Looks like Schroder's squeaked by, though just barely.

WELL, I'M BACK. I don't know how much blogging will get done today, but I'll try to post a few items anyway. I can report that Virginia Postrel is much better looking in person than she is in the picture on her website. And Richard Epstein is thick-skinned even for a law professor, as he sat for two days listening to people discuss his book, usually -- these were academics, after all -- critically, and he stayed calm and cheerful the whole time.

My flights were smooth and on-time, and airport security wasn't noticeably stupid, though I did notice that the first guy in line for boarding always seems to get a "random" search, something that I've noticed on previous trips and gotten numerous emails about, so that it may actually be a valid generalization.

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