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October 26, 2002
SOMEBODY THINKS I USE THE WORD INDEED a lot, judging by my search-engine referrers.
Indeed I do.
JUST WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR! I thought we were way overrated in the preseason polls, and boy was I right.
WALTER OLSON HAS A LOT OF LINKS on the Moscow theater attack. Most interesting is this report from the Telegraph:
The Telegraph has learned that a number of Arab fighters, believed to be of Saudi Arabian and Yemeni origin, were among the group that seized control of the theatre.
"There were definitely Arab terrorists in the building with links to al-Qa'eda," said a senior Western diplomat. "The Russians will now want to know how much help the Chechens received from bin Laden's organisation."
Mr Putin had claimed that "foreign elements" were involved and suspicions about al-Qa'eda's connection deepened after the Chechens broadcast a pre-recorded message on the Qatar-based al-Jazeera television network, which is frequently used by bin Laden and his lieutenants.
Can't say I'm terribly surprised to hear this, but it's news nonetheless.
LOOKS LIKE IT'S NOT JUST AMERICAN IRAQIS WHO ARE SICK OF SADDAM HUSSEIN -- as this article in the New York Times demonstrates:
In a country where the merest hint of dissent had been a death sentence in years past, many foreign reporters have been approached in recent days by individuals offering forbidden thoughts. Taking advantage of moments in which the official "minders" assigned to journalists by the information ministry were distracted, or briefly absent, these Iraqis burst out with vehemence against the government, and often against Mr. Hussein personally.
One man, an out-of-work engineer, sat down beside a reporter relaxing at a Baghdad coffeehouse. After initial pleasantries in English, the man, who gave his age as 58, glanced about to make sure he was not being overheard, then leaned forward and said that almost no Iraqis would support Mr. Hussein if he allowed Iraq's dispute with the world over weapons of mass destruction to plunge the country into another war.
"We had eight years of war with Iran in the 1980's, and all we got was death," he said. "Then we had the war over Kuwait, and more death. Nobody here wants another war. We want jobs. We want peace, not death." The man left without giving his name, and disappeared quickly into the crowd. . . .
"What the Iraqi people would like to hang on their walls would be banners saying, `Yes, yes, Mr. Bush. Yes, yes, America.' There are 22 million Iraqis, and every one of them has 100 stories to tell of their suffering under Saddam." He gestured to the secret police building and added, "If you go there, you are lucky if you live three days, maybe five."
Hmm. Maybe those Ceaucescu comparisons aren't so out of place after all. This conclusion sure sounds that way:
Several Iraqis said scores of Baath Party members had mailed their membership cards to party headquarters in recent weeks, apparently in a bid to distance themselves from Mr. Hussein should an American invasion come.
With a membership of about 500,000, the party has a monopoly on virtually all top positions in the government, armed forces and state security agencies — the very apparatus of fear that has kept Mr. Hussein in power. In the past, quitting the party at a time of crisis for Mr. Hussein would have been seen as treachery, and treated as such. But now, apparently, those mailing in their cards have chosen to take that risk in the hope of avoiding something still more menacing — the specter of the kind of vengeance killings that have been seen elsewhere when brutal oligarchies have come tumbling down.
The trick is, of course, that for Saddam to be deposed by Iraqis, they have to believe that the alternative is having him deposed by Americans. Somebody tell these people.
ORRIN JUDD says that Harry Belafonte was righter than he knew.
BURIED IN THE ANTIWAR COVERAGE: A true man-bites-dog story that isn't getting much play:
All in all it's exactly the same as every other story written to cover every other recent Iraq war protest. However, buried down at the bottom of the article is this little nugget:
About 500 Iraqi exiles came to Washington to show support for efforts to remove Saddam from power.
Tamir Musa, an Iraqi who has lived in Michigan for 10 years, said, "The war is good if it goes to kill Saddam Hussein. He has a lot of bombs. He's terrorist number one."
The focus of the story is on the hundreds of thousands of anti-war protesters, but their presence is to be as expected as flies on a dog turd. And considering the anti-war machine has done this exact same protest two or three times recently, how is this big news? On the other hand, 500 Iraqis show up in Washington to support the war, and this isn't big enough news to warrant more than two tiny paragraphs at the bottom of the anti-war article?
UPDATE: Here's another report on the protests, where Palestinian flags were much in evidence.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here are some photos of the Iraqi demonstrators with "Kill Saddam" signs, etc.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a firsthand blog account of the protests.
CNN WON'T USE THE "T" WORD: "The death toll suffered in bringing an end to the three-day Moscow theatre siege has risen to 90 captives and 50 hostage-takers."
UPDATE: Reader James Davila writes:
You can give CNN feedback on their coverage at this link. I've just written them a note on their lack of use of the word "terrorist" in the article on the storming of
the Moscow theatre. It would be nice if a few thousand of your readers did the same.
Well, go for it if you're so inclined.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Michele has noticed, too.
THE SNIPER LETTER appears to be influenced by an offshoot of the Black Muslim movement called the "Five Percent" movement -- though the Five Percenters apparently don't regard themselves as Muslims. The evidence seems a bit shaky to me.
UPDATE: Louis Farrakhan acknowledged today that Muhammad was a Nation of Islam member. Which means he's not really a Muslim at all, at least in the opinion of most non-Nation of Islam Muslims. In fact, I seem to recall that the Saudis actually fund some sort of program dedicated to pointing out that the Nation of Islam isn't really Islam.
Which isn't to say that he sees things this way himself, or that he might not have been a Useful Idiot. Stay tuned.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Roy Innis is warning of terrorist infiltration into Black Muslim groups, especially those operating in prison.
RIAA HONCHO HILARY ROSEN debated file-trading at the Oxford Union and lost. Slashdot has lots of links and information.
AID AND COMFORT: Even the New York Times has to acknowledge it. And this quote shows the mindset of the "peace" movement:
"I don't think there's any way to sidestep the fact that there have been abuses" in Iraq, she said. "However I come from the United States, and my primary responsibility is to speak out against the U.S.A."
There was a time, you know, when Americans thought they had a different primary responsibility by virtue of their citizenship, especially when in hostile foreign countries. And, actually, most still do. The rest do stuff like this.
UPDATE: Here's an article by John Tabin on "peace" activist Kathy Kelly, who's the speaker quoted above. It's entitled "Evil's Enablers."
BILL HOBBS is a fine blogger and journalist who's looking for work that's a bit more full-time than what he's doing for Corante. Somebody hire him.
DANIEL DREZNER has thoughts on Bush's grand strategy. He says it's more multilateralist than people realize.
I HAVEN'T BLOGGED MUCH about the "peace" protests today because I don't have a lot to say that I haven't said before. But this passage from a rather sympathetic report says it all:
In Washington, civil rights activist Al Sharpton addressed Mr. Bush, even though the president was at an economic summit in Mexico.
"It would have been good for you to be here, George, so you could see what America really looks like," Sharpton said. "We are the real America.
Al Sharpton, claiming he's the real America as he talks to a man who isn't there. Seems about right.
STEVEN DEN BESTE RESPONDS to the anti-warbloggers. Meanwhile, Russell Wardlow describes who we're fighting in terms that the anti-warbloggers will probably dislike.
AZIZ POONAWALLA has a long post on Osama bin Laden's ignorance of, and misuse of, Islam. It's well worth reading.
UPDATE: Aziz emails: "I just realized, that I think I just did my first
Fisking. Of OBL, no less :)" Heh. My favorite line in the post is this one, though: "I drive an SUV. Whether I'm killing the Earth or helping muslims do hajj depends on your point of view, I guess." If I drove an SUV, I'd give the latter response to any green types who complained.
NOW THIS IS INTERESTING:
BERLIN (AP) - Passports for three of Osama bin Laden (news - web sites )'s wives were found in the apartment of a Yemeni arrested last month in Pakistan and believed to have been the key contact person between the Hamburg cell of Sept. 11 plotters and al-Qaida, a German news magazine reported Saturday.
Der Spiegel, which did not cite sources, said passports for an unspecified number of bin Laden's children also were found when Ramzi Binalshibh was arrested in Karachi last month. Binalshibh is now in U.S. custody.
Sounds promising to me.
THIS POST on Paul Wellstone's death yesterday drew the following email:
Glenn-- Your decision not to discuss the political impact of Senator Wellstone's untimely death is just a little too slick, too "correct," and well, a wee bit pompous. Everyone out here knows you've thought about the political ramifications of the senator's death, just the same as we have. Unless you knew the Senator personally, I truly doubt you are in shock or mourning the loss. So why act that way?
Well, the truth is, I just didn't feel like writing about who was going to take the Minnesota Senate seat after hearing that. I disagreed with Wellstone on some things, but watching them rerun some of his 1990 commercials reminded me why I liked him. He had a sense of humor, he didn't take himself, or politics, too seriously, and, by all appearances and accounts, he wasn't a dick.
And while the outcome of the Senate elections is important, I'm kind of tired of seeing it presented like it's the only important thing in the world, and of seeing people so desperate to win that they'll say anything. In the words of Chrissie Hynde: "What's important in this life? Ask the man who's lost his wife." Or read this.
MICHAEL KAZIN writes on the need for a patriotic Left.
BELLESILES UPDATE: Here's a story in the Boston Globe by David Mehegan, who was on the Bellesiles story early:
At the same time, mainstream scholars raised questions about research Bellesiles did into probate records. His credibility problems were compounded when he said that he had lost all of his research notes in a flood at Emory. A Globe review last year found that San Francisco records Bellesiles cited in his book had been destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire there, and that records in Providence and Vermont contradicted his book and explanations on his Web site. . . .
''His answers raise doubts about his veracity,'' the report states. ''He seems to have been utterly unaware of the importance of the possibility of replication of his research. His responses have been prolix, confusing, evasive, and occasionally contradictory. Even at this point, it is not clear that he understands the magnitude of his probate research shortcomings.''
Although the report also says, ''we do not believe it possible to state conclusively that Professor Bellesiles engaged in intentional fabrication or falsification of research data,'' it adds, ''we are seriously troubled by Professor Bellesiles's scholarly conduct. ... the failure to clearly identify his sources does move into the realm of falsification.''
Bellesiles is characterized as "defiant." This seems to me a mistake on his part, though some posters over at HNN expect him to carve out a niche as the "von Daniken of gun history."
QUESTIONS ABOUT CHECHEN TERRORISTS: From Cold Fury.
JOHN MUHAMMAD, frequenter of homeless shelters, had a laptop in his car. Wonder if the cops have it now?
UPDATE: Hmm. "Thompson recalled a laptop computer, its screen glowing blue, on the car passenger seat." The blue screen of death! I blame Microsoft for driving him over the edge. . . .
THE FBI IS NOW HOLDING NATHANIEL OSBOURNE -- a Michigan man who is the co-owner of the car used in the shootings -- as a "material witness."
HAPPY FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY TO ALFRED E. NEUMAN -- and a lesson for those who claim that they're being "suppressed" today:
The era was the 1950s, the gray flannel fifties, and Mad magazine, which began publishing early in the decade, was so subversive that the FBI actually investigated it, sometimes sending agents to visit the editors and, in the words of an FBI document, "firmly and severely admonish them."
Mad’s reaction was to draw funny cartoons of J. Edgar Hoover.
Note to Ted Rall: they were funny cartoons.
MISSING TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN? This story from the Frontier Post says there are 40. It's not a tremendously reliable source, and I haven't seen anything on this elsewhere, but here's the link for what it's worth.
MERYL YOURISH reflects on the media's unwillingness to call the Chechen hostage-takers terrorists:
In my lexicon, guerrilla fighters and rebels are names for the people fighting military forces and choosing military targets. The second you move on to deliberately targeting civilians, you are no longer anything but a terrorist. But hey, what do I know? Here's the AP description of the scene . . . .
Captors. Gunmen. Hostage-takers. Not terrrorists, though many of them were clad in the latest of bomb-belt fashions. Dozens of their hostages are dead today, many wounded, and these simple "rebels" are described as above.
The terrorists have won the language war. Or is it the multicultis and the PC crowds? Certainly, the newsroom staffs across the globe have succumbed to the mindset of—captives. Why else are they so afraid to call a bloodthirsty killer a terrorist?
When is a terrorist not a terrorist? When the media say so.
Mark my words: this is more likely to breed prejudice and vigilantism than to prevent it.
A PALESTINIAN WOMAN was dragged from her home and killed in an atrocity that probably won't get much attention because it was conducted by Palestinians.
SPEAKING OF CNN -- they're now calling John Muhammad "John Williams," in an apparent policy of only calling people by adopted Muslim names when they're not terrorists. (They don't call Muhammad Ali "Cassius Clay," now do they?)
This seems to be part of an overall move to "de-Islamicize" the sniper case. For the authorities, there are two obvious motivations for this. First, if it's "not terrorism," then the fact that it happened isn't a failure of "anti-terrorism." Second, to the extent that people buy this it makes the anti-American Islamic movement look weaker. For the PC forces of the media, it probably appears necessary to ensure that mobs of peasants with torches and pitchforks won't set out for the nearest mosque. (Though in fact such distortions make such violence more, not less, likely in my opinion, by breeding distrust of the authorities.)
Anyway, here's the actual bin Laden fatwa, which clearly encompasses individual acts of terror against America. So the notion that an Islamic terrorist has to be a card-carrying member of Al Qaeda to be a genuine terrorist is absurd under its own terms. Excerpt:
The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies--civilians and military--is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, "and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together," and "fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God." . . .
We -- with God's help -- call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it.
(Emphasis added.) Now this doesn't tell us the specific motivations of John Muhammad, but it does make clear that claims that people who act without a direct connection to Al Qaeda, or people who also rob liquor stories, can't be Ladenite terrorists are just, well, wrong.
(Fatwa link via Neal Boortz). NOTE: Reader Haggai Elitzur has sent this 1998 analysis of the Fatwa by Bernard Lewis from Foreign Affairs. Lewis's translation differs slightly; Elitzur says it's better, but I'm not in a position to judge. Don't miss this point in which Lewis notes that that even if most Muslims disagree with this kind of reasoning (and they do) only a few need believe it to create problems. STILL MORE: Aziz Poonawalla emails that it's not a real fatwa, but a call to hirabah (senseless or stupid war), and sends this link to a discussion on alt.muslim on the subject.
UPDATE: And as people have tried to minimize the Al Qaeda connection to the Bali blast, too, it's worth remembering that bin Laden threatened Australia last year based on its role in the independence of East Timor.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reid Stott emails this link to the arrest warrant, which uses the name "John Williams." He adds: " agree with what you're saying re: playing down the adopted Muslim name, but it isn't CNN that's doing it." Well, it isn't just CNN. As I said, the government has an interest in playing down this connection, too.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Jay Caruso responds.
STILL MORE: Then there's this from The Smoking Gun:
A jovial, laughing John Allen Muhammad can be heard on an official audio recording of the alleged sniper's appearance last year in Pierce County District Court to formally change his name. In April 2001, Muhammad made a brief appearance before Judge Molly Davis to request that his name be formally changed from John Allen Williams for "religion purposes" (he had converted to Islam years earlier). When Davis granted the name change after only a few perfunctory questions, Muhammad joked, "I feel cheated," since he was not called on to present witnesses or paperwork or approach the bench. "These are fairly routine," Davis said.
(Emphasis added). There's streaming audio of the hearing there, and lots of other links. Reader Allan Gornow, who sends the link, remarks: "Perhaps Ted Turner will provide some decent computers to his news operation so they can access significant information about serious stories."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Bill Herbert says I've gone off the deep end on this issue. Well, I was thinking about why this bugs me so much while I was shopping, Lileks-like, at Target. What this reminds me of is the Administration's absurd claim last year that no one could possibly have foreseen the 9/11 attacks. It may have been true that the failure to prevent the attacks was entirely non-culpable -- but the claim that they were utterly unforeseeable was so absurd that it was an insult.
Likewise, it may well turn out that -- despite rather a lot of suggestive evidence -- the sniper attacks by a guy named Muhammad who said he supported the 9/11 attackers and who seems to have had a lot of money and airplane tickets for a homeless guy will turn out to be pure, garden-variety nuttiness. But that doesn't change the fact that a lot of people seem to be bending over backward to be sure it looks that way, and that's why I'm harping on the issue.
LAST UPDATE: Natalie Solent explains what I mean.
APPARENTLY CNN DOESN'T CARE, but the news from Algeria is pretty horrifying:
The Algerian news agency says suspected Islamic extremists have killed 21 people from the same family, including a three-month-old baby. The attack took place in the north-western province of Chlef.
Five other people were reported to be in a serious condition with bullet wounds to the head.
How come this stuff doesn't get covered?
TARNISHING THE IMAGE OF ISLAM: SKBubba is concerned that some people may get the wrong idea from recent events.
BELLESILES UPDATE: Erin O'Connor worries that Bellesiles isn't unusual, but is just the tip of the academic-corruption iceberg:
There were peer reviewers who did not do their job when Bellesiles first began publishing his work on early American gun ownership, and there were the editors who chose them. There were editors who ignored the attempts of scholars such as Clayton Cramer to alert them to problems with Bellesiles' work and there were publishing houses that did not see past the chance to make a buck and a splash. There were prize committees that decorated Bellesiles with top professional honors.
I cannot speak for the quality of Bellesiles' training, nor do I know any more than anyone else about where in his work methodological carelessness cedes to blatant falsification. But I do know something about what graduate education in the humanities looks like, and I know something, too, about how low on the list of scholarly priorities such non-flashy things as thorough documentation and judicious restraint are. Until we start interrogating our systems of peer review, our patterns of professional reward, and the professional training we do, or don't do, in our Ph.D. programs, we have not yet begun to address the issues the Bellesiles case raises.
Well, Bellesiles' behavior was extraordinary -- but that doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of other problems out there. I agree that peer review is highly overrated as a means of catching fraud. Peer review is pretty good at catching unsound methodologies, but true frauds just fake the data, and peer reviewers don't double-check those.
UPDATE: Chris Fountain emails that the story isn't in the print edition of today's New York Times.
ANOTHER UPDATE: John Bono thinks he knows what's coming next.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Megan McArdle is offering a prize to the first reader who spots a journalist or academic "making reference to, without irony, Bellesiles work "proving" that early Americans didn't have a lot of guns."
Like the bogus Marc Herold study on Afghan civilian casualties, I imagine that Bellesiles' work will live on. And I'm still waiting for a public retraction on the matter from reviewers like Garry Wills. But I'm not holding my breath. Don't miss this post from Megan, either.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Megan has a winner. Well, sort of. Personally, I think people should be given at least a few days to update their web pages.
HERE'S AN UPDATE on the Russian hostage rescue, which appears to have gone well, though not quite as well as it appeared late last night. Apparently 67 hostages are dead, out of about 750. Considering that the building (and the terrorists) were wired with suicide explosives, that's good.
Interestingly, the report claims that the Russians used a sleeping gas to incapacitate people. I'm somewhat skeptical of this, since knockout gases have been the holy grail of nonlethal-weapons research and as far as I know there haven't been any good ones developed. Then again, it's not like I follow the field that closely.
We should be grateful that the Russians managed this so well, as it makes a repetition of these tactics less likely.
UPDATE: There's more coverage here from the Moscow Times, which is spinning this very positively. I think it is positive, but the spin is quite evident.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Perry DeHavilland is very happy with this outcome, and says that in the long run it's always safer not to give in to terrorist demands -- which is, of course, true.
October 25, 2002
THE NEW SMARTERHARPERSINDEX is up!
Harper's repeats statistics already discredited in print by Matt Welch, and seems incapable of reading a UN document. In other words, a pretty typical effort.
CNN IS REPORTING that Russian forces are in control of the theater and Chechen leader Barayev is dead. (But he's been reported dead before more than once -- and note the Wahhabi connection.) That's all at the moment -- reports are still rather fragmentary and confused.
UPDATE: Here's what Reuters has, but it's pretty skimpy. CNN says approximately 20 dead, but it's not clear how many are hostages and how many are terrorists.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a longer story from UPI. And here's the AP story.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's the latest on what appears to have been a fairly successful antiterrorist rescue mission. And Bill Quick has some thoughts.
THE POST HAS THE SNIPER LETTER up in PDF. Tony Adragna has a link and some comments.
UH-OH. Explosions and gunfire near the theater in Moscow. Meanwhile Damian Penny observes:
So, in the capital of the world's second leading nuclear power, hundreds of people are being held hostage by terrorists who are almost certainly connected to the people who murdered 3,000 civilians on 9/11. As we speak, the final showdown between security forces and the terrorists may be beginning. And what are the 24-hour news channels showing?
CNN has Connie Chung talking about the sniper. (Look, they got the fucker, alright?) CTV NewsNet is stuck on its CRTC-mandated 15-minute loop. (Top story: the sniper. When I watched it a couple of hours ago, the Moscow hostage-taking was not even mentioned.) And CBC Uselessworld Newsworld, funded by the Canadian taxpayer to provide an alternative to the horrible, shallow, corporate American news networks, is showing a shocking expose of burlesque houses. (A half hour ago, they were showing Fashion File.) Incredible.
WILL THE LAST BLOGGER TO LEAVE SAN FRANCISCO please turn out the lights?
AN, ER, "IMPERIAL 'MISTING,'" by Misha, of the recent New York Times article on John Muhammad's rifle.
IT'S NOT ABOUT BELLESILES, but John Rosenberg has a long post on the work of Jon Weiner, best known to readers of InstaPundit as Bellesiles' last defender in print, who is described as The Nation's "academic commissar." Unlike Rosenberg, I never worked at The Nation, and some of this is inside baseball, but there may be some readers who find it interesting.
BARRELFISKING: Rachel Lucas replies to Michael Moore.
BELLESILES UPDATE: Here's the story from the Emory Wheel, which will have a longer treatment next week. Meanwhile, Eugene Volokh has this to say about two of Bellesiles' biggest critics:
I know Lindgren in person, and Cramer by e-mail, and have always had high regard for their work, which was indispensable in bringing this matter to light, and helping correct the historical record. This is not an occasion to congratulate them; but it is one to thank them (and the others who researched the issue and helped publicize the research) for doing well a difficult, unpleasant, but important job.
That seems about right. (Scroll down to here for more).
UPDATE: Reader Richard Heddleson writes:
More interesting than Muhammad's last name is the total blackout on the wire services of Bellesiles' resignation from Emory. If this had been Charles Murray or Abigail Thernstrom being forced to resign you know it would have been at the top of the paper.
Checking the wire-service search engines via Drudge, it appears he's right. There's no mention whatsoever of the resignation. Disgraceful.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a summary of the investigative report, from History News Network.
ONE MORE: There's an AP story finally, though it rather glosses over the charges against Bellesiles, putting him in the same category as other historians accused of using insufficiently attributed quotes.
WALTER OLSON has a huge collection of links on the Moscow terrorist attack. Most worrisome is Asparagirl's fear that this could happen here.
UPDATE: Jen Taliaferro notes that London theaters are increasing security and suggests that those on Broadway might want to do the same.
THESE ARE OBVIOUSLY ANTIGLOBO TYPES who showed up a day early for tomorrow's "peace" rally.
JONAH GOLDBERG WRITES ABOUT RACIAL PROFILING and the D.C. sniper case:
Interestingly, James Allen Fox, a respected criminologist at Northeastern University--who favored the Caucasian icy-loner scenario--collects a database of sniper homicides. He found that out of 514 sniper murders between 1976 and 2000, 55% of the murderers were white. This, of course, would mean that whites are actually underrepresented among the ranks of sniper-serial killers. One can only assume that in a better world this increasingly influential subculture will look more like America.
Speaking of subcultures, various news organizations delved deeply into the sniper subculture, explaining how the mantra of "one shot, one kill" was increasingly popular among "ex-military" and "police" types. Much of this was egged on by Tom Diaz, an analyst with an antigun group called the Violence Policy Center. Mr. Diaz told the Chicago Tribune. "We do not yet know what specific firearm is being used." But "it is clear the gun industry stands ready to arm and train anyone with the fantasy of being a real live sniper."
This may be true, but as sniper groups have been insisting for the past month, it was never likely that the Washington-area murderer was a professionally trained sniper at all. He used the wrong ammo and shot from a very short range when compared with a pro or serious amateur.
No, the most relevant story line about John Allen Muhammad is not his stint in the Army--mainly as a combat engineer. It is that last name of his, which he assumed only in the past year or so. Indeed, throughout the month of sniper coverage few news organizations would entertain the idea that the serial sniper was directed or inspired by al Qaeda. A few op-eds appeared in late October, but generally speaking the networks and major newspapers only brought up the idea to shoot it down.
It seemed at times that many members of the press were much more eager to return to cultural politics as usual, which in this case meant getting back to smacking around white conservative men, even by proxy. When those two Hispanic immigrants were mistakenly arrested at a phone booth this week, the cameras seemed to linger lovingly over the Bush/Cheney, Marine Corps and NRA bumper stickers on their van. When an unsavory former military man was wanted for questioning in Baltimore, the New York Daily News was ready with a headline: "HUNT ARMED RACIST: Supremacist sought in sniping spree."
I wonder how many of these folks are embarrassed about this now? Not nearly enough, I'd guess.
UPDATE: John Hawkins comments on the "sniper subculture."
A WHILE BACK I put up this post based on a Wired story about an independent musician who said he was being screwed by eBay. Now Greg Beato says that the whole thing may have been bogus.
BELLESILES UPDATE: Michael Bellesiles has resigned from the Emory faculty:
October 25, 2002
Robert A. Paul, Interim Dean of Emory College
I have accepted the resignation of Michael Bellesiles from his position as Professor of History at Emory University, effective December 31, 2002.
Although we would not normally release any of the materials connected with a case involving the investigation of faculty misconduct in research, in light of the intense scholarly interest in the matter I have decided, with the assent of Professor Bellesiles as well as of the members of the Investigative Committee, to make public the report of the Investigative Committee appointed by me to evaluate the allegations made against Professor Bellesiles (none of the supporting documents, however, are being made public). The text of the report is now available online at www.emory.edu/central/NEWS/.
Emory considers the report authoritative.
In conducting this investigation, Emory has scrupulously observed the procedures laid out in our published policy statement regarding matters of alleged research misconduct. Throughout the investigation process our efforts have been guided by the objectives of maintaining the highest standards of scholarly integrity, while also striving to ensure the confidentiality of the proceedings and to protect the rights of a member of Emory's faculty.
The Investigative Committee was chaired by Stanley N. Katz, Professor of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, and included Hanna H. Gray, Judson Distinguished Professor of History Emerita and President Emerita, University of Chicago, and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, James Duncan Phillips Professor of History, Harvard University. I hereby express my appreciation to these distinguished scholars for contributing their effort and expertise to the resolution of this matter of such great importance not only to Emory but to the wider scholarly community. Committee members have stated that they will not discuss or respond to questions about the investigation or the report.
Emory also wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to Professor Bellesiles for his many years of service and his many valuable contributions to the University.
Emory now considers the investigation of allegations of research misconduct against Professor Bellesiles in connection with his book Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture to be concluded and resolved.
Here's a link to the report mentioned above, and here's a link to Bellesiles' own statement.
UPDATE: A historian reader writes: "Yowza... I just read the Emory report. Even taking account of the dodgy language for the benefit of a colleague, that is mighty damning stuff. I could teach a whole semester on research methodology and ethics from this."
Well, somebody should. Clayton Cramer has extracted some highlights from the Emory report. Oh, and this post by Charles Murtaugh from a while back is worth reading, too. And this piece by Don Williams from May explores the impact of Bellesiles' problems on the gun control movement.
UPDATE: Oh, and I can't believe I forgot to post this link to James Lindgren's Yale Law Journal piece on Bellesiles' errors, which the investigative committee obviously found very significant.
THE GUN ISSUE looks like a loser for Democrats even in Maryland according to this poll:
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend recently called for expanding Maryland's ballistic fingerprinting law to include rifles, while Bob Ehrlich has remarked that a few of Maryland existing gun laws should be reexamined to judge their effectiveness. Maryland voters have their own opinions: Fifty-three percent agreed that "[w]e already have enough gun control laws – we need to better enforce the laws already on the books." Thirty-six percent statewide felt that "[w]e need more and stronger gun control laws." Eight percent took the opposite view, that "[w]e have too many gun control laws now." The remaining 3% gave no answer.
Better enforcement of existing laws is the favored position in every demographic subgroup in the survey, except among Democrats and residents of the Washington suburbs. Fifty percent of Democrats, and 54% of voters in the DC suburbs, say we need more and stronger gun control laws. Among undecided voters, just 31% opt for more and stronger laws, with 61% saying that we need better enforcement of existing gun control statutes.
That "better enforcement of existing gun control statutes" answer is a problem, of course, given the recently publicized failures that Maryland has had in that department.
BARBERS ARE NOW DEMANDING AN APOLOGY FROM JESSE JACKSON for his comments about the movie "Barbershop." Heh. It's a bad year for Jesse:
Members of the National Association of Cosmetologists led by Chief Executive James Stern Thursday said Jackson erred when, in September, he demanded the film's makers apologize for for jokes about U.S. civil rights icons Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks made in the movie.
Stern told Reuters his group had screened the film, a comedy starring Ice Cube as the young owner of a community barbershop, and the 100 or so African-American cosmetologists at the screening found nothing offensive about the movie.
"Reverend Jackson did not consider the future of black filmmakers," said Stern, adding that now, every time a black filmmaker produces a movie or writes a screenplay, they are going to have to consider whether they will offend some group, which in turn will stifle their creativity.
"We, as blacks, have to let the movie studios know that when he (Jackson) is wrong, we're willing to speak out for ourselves," Stern said.
Stern added that members of his group have seen their businesses hurt by Jackson's comment, and he said if the leader of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition did not apologize himself, his group would sue Jackson for defamation of character.
A Jackson spokeswoman was not immediately available to comment.
I'll bet she wasn't. I think it's time for Jesse to retire. There's no need for a "spokesman" once people are willing to speak for themselves.
BLOGGER.COM HAS BEEN HACKED! Take appropriate steps. Those of you who have moved away from Blogger should make sure you're not using the old password for your new blog, just to be sure.
UPDATE: From Jason Shellen of Pyra:
Yes, it appears someone is having fun with one of our servers. Right now
we can tell you that:
- All your data is backed up, including email, user settings and what
- Billing/credit card information is handled separately.
- We are working to restore from our most recent backup right now.
- The security problem that led to this attack will be fixed before we
bring Blogger back online.
Sounds like they're on top of it.
SEN. PAUL WELLSTONE has died in a plane crash along with his wife, daughter, and some unnamed campaign workers.
UPDATE: It feels unseemly to be talking about this so soon, but another blogger who's unable to post because of the Blogger hacking incident sends this link to what he says is the relevant Minnesota statute. I plan to engage in no further discussion of the Minnesota election today.
CORRECTION? Now a couple of people say this is the relevant statute. And now Jason Rylander emails with this one, too.
If I've missed anything I'll update it above, but -- even though I realize that it's inevitable people will be talking about this with the election so close -- I really don't want to write any more about this right now. I've always rather liked Wellstone despite disagreeing with him on some issues, and I find his death very sad. The Torch affair was farce: this is tragedy.
Here's an obituary by a former student.
BELLESILES NON-UPDATE: Many people were expecting a decision yesterday. Now there's some speculation that Emory will release its decision this afternoon, so as to bury the news over the weekend. Stay tuned.
YOU KNEW THIS WAS COMING: The first of no doubt many lame "the Army made him do it" pieces.
Where did a basically down and out and practically homeless guy get the money to purchase a somewhat expensive rifle and sniper accessories? And a car? Is this guy a stooge for somebody, or a beta test? Your Islamoterrorist theory is starting to sound more and more likely, even if it is just a rogue operation.
I also wondered about the poor illegal immigrant saps that pulled up to that phone booth in a white van. Did Muhammad/Williams set them up? You know how these guys hang around certain parts of town looking for work. I
can see Muhammad/Williams telling them "yeah, hey, I've got some work for you. Be at this phone booth at 10:00 or whatever and I'll give you details and
Interesting questions. I hope that some of the journalists working on this story are following up on them.
UPDATE: Rod Dreher points out that someone was asking these questions -- and trying to get the FBI interested -- before the shootings started. Here's the story Dreher refers to. Excerpt:
Once, Muhammad told Grant that he had to travel a long distance, possibly to Jamaica or the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, to sign some papers on a land sale, Grant said. Grant said he wondered why Muhammad would fly to do that when the job could be handled by mail.
In the post 9-11 climate, Archer felt it was worth a call to the FBI.
"I felt like he was part of an organization. I felt like he had some connection with terrorists. ... I said he's got connections somewhere with somebody who's got money," Archer remembered telling the FBI.
This, mind you, while Muhammad was living in a homeless mission. Sounds suspicious to me.
DIANE E. finds profiling alive and well at the Times -- along with some after-the-fact airbrushing. She notes: "This may seem a lot of trouble to go for one silly quote. The point is that even after two black men were identified as suspects the NY Times clung to the model of the snipers as motivated by fantasies associated with the extreme right."
Yeah, but whose fantasies, exactly?
DAVID FRUM has very handsomely arranged to have his Telegraph piece from the other day revised to credit John Hawkins. (It had earlier credited an anonymous "internet essayist," because Frum didn't know where the piece, forwarded him in an email, had come from). Here, by the way, is a link to the essay by Hawkins, entitled "Confessions of an Isolationist Wannabe."
FISKING ROBERT RENO: Suman Palit is unimpressed with Reno's latest column, which suggests that "the constitutional right to 'bear' arms must be abridged in new and more imaginative ways."
So Reno is openly calling for "imaginative ways" to "abridge" the Bill of Rights? And these guys think that Ashcroft is a threat to civil liberties? (Palit: "I can think of imaginative ways to abridge every single Amendment on the grounds that it hurts someone, somewhere.. a bag of peanuts to the first person who can tell this man why we don't. ")
Palit calls Reno's arguments "childlike," but frankly that credits Reno with a degree of innocence that is not evidenced by his statements.
THE REV. BRIAN CHAPIN has some tart comments on the way the media covered the sniper affair. They're worth reading in light of the media self-congratulation underway today. And the cartoons are terrific!
A DEFENSE OF AMERICA -- AND CONDEMNATION OF "AMERICA-HATING LIBERALS" in a rather surprising venue. Excerpt:
When the news of 9/11 broke on the West Bank, those freedom-loving Palestinians were dancing in the street. America watched all of that - and didn't push the button. We should thank the stars that America is the most powerful nation in the world. I still find it incredible that 9/11 did not provoke all-out war. Not a "war on terrorism". A real war.
The fundamentalist dudes are talking about "opening the gates of hell", if America attacks Iraq. Well, America could have opened the gates of hell like you wouldn't believe.
The US is the most militarily powerful nation that ever strode the face of the earth.
The campaign in Afghanistan may have been less than perfect and the planned war on Iraq may be misconceived.
But don't blame America for not bringing peace and light to these wretched countries. How many democracies are there in the Middle East, or in the Muslim world? You can count them on the fingers of one hand - assuming you haven't had any chopped off for minor shoplifting.
Hmm. Maybe there's hope for The Mirror after all. Or maybe the fact that John Pilger's anti-American screeds haven't staunched its hemorrhaging circulation is finally convincing people that the market for such blather is limited.
THE GWEILO DIARIES has a firsthand account of John Ashcroft's address in Hong Kong. It's not a very positive one.
HEY! LOOK AT THIS! A Nobel Peace Prize winner who actually helped people! Must've been an oversight.
HISTORICAL IRONY: Geitner Simmons writes about French intellectuals' rethinking of the Napoleon myth.
ARTS AND LETTERS DAILY IS BACK!
CLAYTON CRAMER has crunched some numbers on ballistic registration. His conclusion is that in the best-case scenario, not many additional murder cases could be solved -- only 78 "rifle murders" a year, for example, and that's the kind of case that's the alleged justification for registration, given the sniper case. Which was solved via other means anyway, of course.
WHOOPEE CUSHIONS AS MARITAL AIDS: More than I want to know about Charles Murtaugh's home life, in an otherwise very interesting post.
JOHN CARNEY NOTES that John Muhammad was registering his killing machine on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Hmm, he changed his name right after the attacks, too. But remember, he's just a lone nut. No connection to Islamic terror here.
Andrew Sullivan notes:
But we do know the following: he was a convert to Islam, he changed his name recently, he harbored "strong anti-American feelings and had publicly praised the terrorist attacks of September 11," he actively supported the Nation of Islam, and the New Jersey plates for the car were bought on the first anniversary of September 11, immediately after which a bomb scare emptied the DMV building. Call me crazy, but isn't that a striking series of coincidences? To read the papers this morning is like looking at several massive dots with no-one daring to connect them.
Indeed. Yeah, sure, the guy's got a history of violence and lunacy, too -- but so do most terrorists. They're not very admirable people. As Sullivan concludes:
So we have a Muslim convert, sympathetic to the murderers of 9/11, terrorizing the nation's capital, and coming close to shutting its daily life down. I don't see that it matters whether he was formally a member of al Qaeda or some other group. In fact, it's more disturbing if he is not.
Maybe that's why a lot of people don't want to think about it. Sullivan raises some other questions worth thinking about, too.
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN notes an effort to criticize Bush that seems unable to avoid lapsing into Stalinism.
October 24, 2002
WHO CARES WHAT THE LAW SAYS? A priceless quote in the New York Times:
Mr. Faraday was careful to say its copies of the M-16 were not assault weapons, since they do not have collapsible stocks, flash suppressers or a mounting to install a bayonet, some features that were ruled out by the 1994 ban. The magazine of the XM-15 also holds only 10 rounds, the permissible limit set by the 1994 ban.
In addition, the rifle is only a semiautomatic, requiring a trigger pull for each shot, not fully automatic as a military rifle, which allows multiple rounds to be fired with a single pull of the trigger.
But Kristen Rand, the legislative director for the Violence Policy Center in Washington, a gun control group, said that the XM-15 seized in Mr. Muhammad's car still had features that mimic an assault weapon.
"It complies with the letter of the law, but it is still an assault rifle," Ms. Rand said.
Hmm. It was the gun "fanatics" who said that the assault weapon ban was purely cosmetic. But now the VPC seems to agree.
JEN TALIAFERRO HAS LOTS OF UPDATES on the Moscow hostage situation. This isn't getting the attention it deserves from the U.S. media.
RAND SIMBERG IS CYNICAL ABOUT THE MEDIA:
Hmmmm...an African-American fellow by the name of Muhammed. Nope, no Muslims here, folks, nothing to see, move along.
The disappointment among the press corps that it wasn't an evil right-wing white militia type is almost palpable. Now they don't get to talk about the culture of hate, and blame Rush Limbaugh, and talk radio, and all of us evil right-wing bloggers. In particular they don't get to do it two weeks before a mid-term election, in which they can paint Republicans as bigoted enablers of right-wing violence.
He has some suggestions regarding bigoted enablers of violence that they should be covering instead.
A PRIESTLY TIP? Here's an interesting angle on how the sniper story was cracked.
DAVID HARSANYI WANTS TO KNOW what the hell is wrong with Jimmy Breslin.
WHY I LOVE MY JOB: A paper that a student wrote in my Space Law seminar last year on the environmental ethics of terraforming Mars has now become a nice little article in the Environmental Law Reporter.
MORE ON BALLISTIC FINGERPRINTING, from Alphecca.
CHARLES AUSTIN has come out of retirement to "scourge" Richard Cohen's latest.
SO MUCH FOR THE ANGRY WHITE MALE THEORY. Seth Gitell writes in the Boston Phoenix that maybe this means it's time to rethink some other investigations.
QUICK-CHANGE OPPORTUNISM AT THE VIOLENCE POLICY CENTER: Reader Andrew Wharton writes:
Note that Violence Policy Center's website has a new cover for their "Sniper" report. It no longer is using an "evil bolt-action" and has replaced the graphic with a stylized man holding an obvious AR-15. The tip-off is that the PDF file referenced has been renamed to "snipcov2.pdf" (Sniper, Cover two. Get it?). The other smoking gun is that the PDF has a date stamp of "10/24/02". Pretty recent for a report that was supposedly published in 1999.
Heh. All I can say is: I told you so: "Prediction: Artificial hysteria over the 'sniper culture' will soon be redirected into hysteria over 'assault weapons' once a picture of the gun becomes widely available."
UPDATE: Hmm. I followed the link and the properties are as described, dated 10/24/02, but I went to the Internet Wayback Machine and the cover shown there looks the same.
NIKITA DEMOSTHENES REPORTS that the gun issue is being used against Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, based on Maryland's failure to enforce existing gun laws:
Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. ripped his gubernatorial rival yesterday for Maryland's failure to check the criminal backgrounds of hundreds of people applying to buy guns, taking the offensive on an issue that has dogged his campaign for weeks.
Ehrlich's campaign also unveiled a sharply negative television ad that criticizes Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D) and her broader record on crime and gun control. Staff members said the ad would begin airing today in Baltimore and in the Washington region tomorrow.
Ehrlich said it was irresponsible for Townsend to preach about gun control when her administration has failed to prevent criminals from buying firearms because of flubbed background checks.
Last week, state and federal authorities confirmed that state archivists notified the FBI in March that it would no longer perform the required background checks because budget cuts had left them shorthanded.
Here's a link to the Washington Post article Demosthenes quotes.
THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE HAS A STORY ABOUT AN IRAQI-AMERICAN WHO'S PRO-WAR. Hmm. Maybe he should get to know these guys.
SOMEBODY IS SHOOTING at military planes in Finland. But we're assured it's not terrorism.
MARK KLEIMAN V. DAVE KOPEL ON BALLISTIC FINGERPRINTING: At the ever-expanding Volokh Conspiracy.
Meanwhile, Stuart Buck wonders if the whole sniper affair was a distraction.
MICHELLE MALKIN REPORTS that the D.C. sniper case is another case of the INS dropping the ball:
Here are the facts the INS doesn't want you to know: Lee Malvo is an illegal alien from Jamaica who jumped ship in Miami in June 2001. He was apprehended by the Border Patrol in Bellingham, Wash., in December 2001, but was then let go by the INS district in Seattle in clear violation of federal law and contrary to what the arresting Border Patrol officers intended, according to my law enforcement sources. . . .
Malvo and James traveled to Tacoma, Wash., and ended up in Bellingham. At the time of their arrest, INS records indicate, neither Malvo nor his mother had any documents proving their identities or allowing them "to be or remain in the United States legally." The Border Patrol agents concluded that because she had "no roots or close family ties in the United States, James was likely to abscond." The arresting officer noted that the mother-and-son illegal aliens, Malvo and James, would be "detained at the Seattle Detention facility in Seattle, Washington pending deportation charges."
That's not what happened. About a month after their arrest, Malvo and his mother were set free by the Seattle district INS-contrary to what the arresting Border Patrol officers had determined should be done. And in clear violation of federal law regarding the removal of illegal alien stowaways.
When you add this to the 9/11 State Department visa scandal, it seems obvious that there's a serious problem. I wonder why Democrats aren't after the Bush Administration to do more to protect us from dangerous and illegal immigrants?
UPDATE: John Carney points out that Malkin predicted that it would be "non-white Muslim extremists" two weeks ago. Advantage: Malkin!
I'VE ALREADY HAD ENOUGH TRAIN DERAILMENT troubles, thank you very much.
FLASH WARS: Here's the Republican response to the DNC wheelchair ad on Social Security.
It's pretty good, but it's waaay late. They should have been able to have this out while the original story was still hot.
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN IS BACK AND BLOGGING AT THE POLITBURO, where he writes that extremist Islam is winning the PR battle in Sweden.
RELAX: You're safe now.
ERNEST SVENSON is deeply unhappy with the media coverage of the sniper. Deeply unhappy -- but not, sadly, disappointed.
UPDATE: Reader Andy Dombrowski has a different beef with what he's seeing:
The battle is on...the media want to portray the arrested sniper, John Allen Muhammed, as an ex-military man, a gulf war veteran, an "expert" rifleman as qualified by the Army, whose grip on sanity was lost the longer he was in the miltary, as a man that couldn't cope with assimiliation into civilian life. Another incarnation of Timothy McVeigh.
The true story, which won't be portrayed by CNN or NBC, is that he likely is a deranged militant muslim fundamentalist who wanted to inflict terror on an lnnocent and unsuspecting population just like his adopted Al-Qaeda brothers in spirit.
This seems overstated, but there's some truth to it. The bad thing is that the Hadayet case, where this clearly happened, has cost the media (and the government) so much credibility on this subject that they'll be charged with minimizing connections to Islamic terror even if they're balanced.
DANIEL DREZNER IS CONDEMNING a particular case of international hubris and unilateralism by a hyperpower.
EUROPEAN SOPHISTICATION: Collin May reports that -- since Zimbabwe is under sanction for human-rights violations -- "Europe’s foreign ministers have decided to move a meeting with the Southern African Development Community from Denmark to Mozambique. The reason for the move is simple: to accommodate the foreign minister from that pillar of humanitarianism, Zimbabwe."
As May writes: "In this case, however, the Europeans, under threats by other southern African nations of boycotting the meeting in Denmark, have not only ignored the ban, but are actively doing all they can to assuage the whims of the dictator by moving the entire venue.
So, who’s playing rogue state now? I’d write a satire about the whole thing, but this seems to be one of those times when reality itself mocks even satire."
And European politicians wonder why Americans don't pay attention to their pronouncements?
SMART GUNS VOTED DOWN IN NEW JERSEY: Eugene Volokh has an interesting report.
AN INTERESTING CRITIQUE of how media organizations' reporting winds up being effectively pro-Iraqi.
I DON'T THINK THAT WE SHOULD STRIP AMERICANS OF THEIR CITIZENSHIP for being involved in terrorism. If they're guilty, they should be punished -- with death, where justified and properly proven -- but I don't think people should lose their citizenship involuntarily. And -- though possibly out of context -- this quote regarding John Walker Lindh is especially lame:
"Why should he have the right of retaining his citizenship when other people have lost their lives?" asked Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., the author of the No Citizenship for Terrorists Act, which was introduced in the House early this month.
I hold no brief for Lindh, who voluntarily associated with people who were enemies of the United States. But (1) the above suggests that he killed people, which as far as we know he didn't; and (2) if Jack Kingston thinks the penalty for doing what Lindh did is too low, he should pass a law increasing the penalty, not one stripping people of their citizenship. That's just dumb.
HERE'S AN ASSOCIATED PRESS STORY linking John Muhammad with the Nation of Islam:
Muhammad's training in the Army was as a machinist, according to a senior defense official, who said Muhammad had no sniper training in the Army. Another official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that Muhammad was discharged in the mid-90s.
Muhammad changed his name last year from John Allen Williams, years after he converted to Islam, investigators told the Times.
Neither Muhammad nor Malvo was believed to be associated with the al-Qaida terrorist network or with James Ujaama, a Seattle Muslim being held on a federal terrorism charge.
"It appears that they are and have acted on their own," Bellingham Police Chief Randy Carroll said Thursday.
Muhammad had helped provide security for Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan's "Million Man March" in Washington, D.C., according to Leo Dudley, who lived a block from Muhammad. Nation of Islam officials in Chicago had no immediate comment.
There's a lot of other information about Muhammad's personal life, including stories of divorces, custody battles, and attempted abductions. Not a very nice guy, but then terrorists usually aren't.
UPDATE: This story on how Muhammad got those New Jersey plates is interesting.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Jason Rylander thinks I've been unfair to the media.
A .223 CALIBER RIFLE HAS BEEN FOUND IN THE CAR where John Muhammad and Lee Malvo were arrested.
Added one source: “The general sentiment is we got our guys. These are the guys.”
The map still shows Alabama as being where Mississippi should be, though. Prediction: Artificial hysteria over the "sniper culture" will soon be redirected into hysteria over "assault weapons" once a picture of the gun becomes widely available. The Islamic angle -- and rumored connections to Louis Farrakhan, which are showing up on several email lists, but nowhere that I can find to link to -- will be downplayed.
UPDATE: I'm off to teach in a few minutes, but the IndePundit is updating steadily. And so is Jim Henley, who is calling former Gulf War soldier Muhammad the "black Tim McVeigh." Though that would be the black, Islamic, Tim McVeigh. Does this add to the credibility of claims that McVeigh's anti-Americanism had Iraqi connections?
And here's the latest on the Chechen-terrorist standoff in Moscow, which seems to be going badly.
I TOLD YOU SO: Record-company copyright enforcers are making it impossible for musicians to sell their own music on eBay:
Less than three weeks after he started his first auction, Ziemann received the first of what would become an endless string of notes -- sometimes from actual staff members, but more often in the form of auto-response e-mails -- telling him his auction had been shuttered because somebody had fingered him as a thief.
Over the next month, he tried to find out who had fingered him and what he could do to get his auction back up. The constant back and forth eventually soured Ziemann -- who runs a website and retail service from his home -- on eBay altogether.
"We no longer have any interest in selling our product there. Ever," Ziemann wrote in an e-mail.
With media companies upping their online enforcement of copyright law, cases of mistaken identity like Ziemann's could be on the rise. Again, eBay would not comment on its policing policy, but several companies scour the Internet looking for copyrighted materials.
I wrote about mistaken enforcement efforts here, -- but the important point is that from the record industry's viewpoint, this sort of thing isn't a bug -- it's a feature. This is all about closing down alternative channels of distribution, not about protecting intellectual property.
UPDATE: And read this, too. It argues that independent musicians are actually being targeted for this sort of thing.
THE WORLD WIDE RANT has discovered that MSNBC can't tell the difference between Alabama and Mississippi, even with a map.
ORRIN JUDD ACCUSES RICHARD COHEN of politically-motivated dishonesty in his latest column on Bush:
Particularly when you consider that Mr. Cohen and Ms Dowd and the others have repeatedly stated that they too think there's a case for removing Saddam--in this very story Mr. Cohen says, "A case for war exists."--it's very difficult to accept that these increasingly hysterical columns aren't being driven by the fact that there's a mid-term election just days away and that the establishment Left is trying its best to diminish the President before voters go to the polls and elect candidates who support him.
Now, there are plenty of tried and true reasons for liberals to oppose Mr. Bush and his agenda. Everthing he proposes to do in the future--from extending free trade to cutting taxes to limiting abortion to privatizing Social Security to voucherizing public education to providing social assistance through faith-based institutions--is anathema to the Left. So argue the issues. Make your case to the American people on the level of ideas and their consequences. Are these good reasons not enough? Do Mr. Cohen and his ilk really need to stoop to lies?
Charles Austin, sadly, is on hiatus and has nothing to add to this discussion.
FISKING WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR? That's what it looks like to me. See what you think.
CLAYTON CRAMER IS SAYING "I told you so."
STEVEN CHAPMAN observes the gap between claims about surveillance cameras' ability to protect people, and the reality thereof.
INTERESTING PIECE ON THE LINK between Al Qaeda and Chechnya -- and on why Russia's experience in dealing with the Chechens may hold lessons for us.
HARRY BELAFONTE will be speaking at a Charles Schwab conference next week, and some people are unhappy about it in light of his nasty remarks about Colin Powell.
THE MORE THAT EUROPEANS TALK ABOUT MORALITY, writes Cornell professor Barry Strauss, the more likely it is that they're really talking about power:
When it comes to the possibility of war in Iraq, for example, the main theme sounded in the European media these days is that Europe opposes American power. You know the refrain: unlike ignorant and arrogant Americans, Europeans know the true price of war. American intellectuals concur, but our mandarins have always been eager to embrace the argument that their countrymen are a bunch of spitball-throwing hayseeds while the Europeans recite Homer before breakfast.
So, let's ask: What would Europe replace American power with -- Kantian morality? Nope, the replacement would be European power. American unilateralism is what Europe fears most; the rights and wrong of war with Iraq are a secondary issue. "No to War, Yes to A European Voice," is the way that one poster in Rome recently summed things up.
THE INDEPUNDIT is back on the case. And Justin Katz has some thoughts on profiling.
MORE ON IRAN. I agree that the press is shamefully neglecting this subject.
NEW YORK WANTS TO BAN TOY GUNS. Here's the "money quote:"
"Our legislation seeks to remedy the constant deadly results that happen because of toy guns," said Vann, a Brooklyn Democrat. "Whether the gun is real or not, a death is still taking place, and that is unfortunate."
As someone once said, what a terrible thing is is to lose one's mind, or to waste a mind, or to never have a mind at all.
UPDATE: And they're missing the lifesaving uses to which toy guns can be put!
TOM MAGUIRE thinks he's found an example of media bias. The Ville calls it a cover-up.
JOHN CASEY argues for a Hashemite restoration in Iraq -- in The Guardian. Personally, I think the Hashemites will be too busy running Hashemite Arabia, or at least part of it, to worry about Iraq. . . .
THEY'VE ARRESTED THE TWO GUYS wanted in the sniper case, after witnesses spotted them sleeping in a car at a rest stop. Other accounts suggest that they were "sympathetic" to Al Qaeda. This story reports:
Several federal sources said Muhammad and Malvo may have been motivated by anti-American sentiments in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Both were known to speak sympathetically about the men who attacked the United States, the sources said.
So much for the "white supremacist" theory. James Morrow has some questions. And reader Michelle Malkin emails this link on the training camp and wonders if there's a connection to the Al Fuqra group.
The TV people are still playing this as "a new kind of serial killer" -- but it's not. It's terrorism. It may be terrorism of the "leaderless resistance" variety -- or not -- but unless this is a huge screwup by the authorities it's pretty obviously Islamic terrorism, and neither the authorities nor the media commentators are enhancing their credibility by pretending otherwise.
UPDATE: James Lileks has some thoughts on what this might mean. And QuasiPundit, which featured all-night updates, has more too.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The training camp in Alabama denies any Al Qaeda connection. And this story supports the denial, more or less.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: This story links the camp with James Ujaama.
October 23, 2002
DAVID FRUM quotes an anonymous "internet essayist" on America becoming the designated driver for the planet. I think he means John Hawkins' "Confessions of an Isolationist Wannabe," where the same language appears.
UPDATE: Frum emails:
Thanks for the ID on that essay. The one bad thing about the blogger phenom is that things show up in one's email unattributed - and it's hard to know even how to begin finding out who the author was. So my hat is off to John Hawkins for his eloquent words - and my apologies to him for not quoting him by name. I'll see if I can correct at least the electronic version of the Telegraph.
That's very handsome. Advice to blog readers -- when you forward somebody something like this include the link, or at least the name of the weblog where you found it.
JEFFREY ROSEN IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT in this piece on Eldred v. Ashcroft:
But although they recognized it as a bad law, Chief Justice William Rehnquist and his colleagues expressed skepticism about the constitutional basis for striking down this flamboyant piece of special interest legislation. "We've said there was a general grant" of power to Congress "and that Congress was free to run with it in many respects," Rehnquist told Lessig in an uncharacteristic burst of deference to Congress. In fact, the constitutional arguments against the CTEA are the same ones Rehnquist has made the centerpiece of his judicial legacy: that the Constitution grants Congress limited powers, which may only be exercised for carefully enumerated purposes. Seen in this light, the case for striking down the CTEA is actually stronger than the case for striking down the Violence Against Women Act, the Brady Bill, the Gun-Free School Zones Act, and other federal laws that Rehnquist and his conservative colleagues have held exceed Congress's enumerated powers. If the Court upholds the CTEA while continuing to strike down far less objectionable statutes in the name of limited federal government, Rehnquist's crusade to limit Congress's power will be clearly revealed to be based not on devotion to constitutional text and history but on the political and economic interests that a given law serves.
Actually, Rehnquist's statement isn't even consistent with existing precedent. You can read more along these lines here.
SOMEONE EMAILED to ask why I didn't blog more about Paul Krugman's piece on income inequality. There are lots of reasons -- I'm not deeply interested in the topic, to put it mildly, and I'm not a Krugmanblogger. (I mostly leave that to Kaus and Sullivan). Besides, this post and this post, are better than what I would have done anyway.
HMM. THIS IS SOUNDING LIKE A TERRORISM INVESTIGATION. And on FoxNews TV they're saying that there will be more searches in multiple locations around the country, while members of "immigrant" communities are promised amnesty if they come forward with information. I guess this could still be an investigation into the work of a lone nut, but. . . .
Meanwhile Will Vehrs worries about the response in the D.C. area so far, saying: "I fear that the way we have reacted to this threat--a very limited threat, in many statistical ways--will come back to haunt us as cretins and creeps of all kinds see the power of random violence and chilling threats." Yep.
What would I do? Will has some good suggestions. And I'd recruit a couple of dozen expert bowhunters (so law enforcement and others who glimpsed them wouldn't mistake them for the sniper) and put them in tree stands in some likely locations. I'll bet they could get volunteers without any trouble.
UPDATE: John Bono writes that the FBI is searching locations in Washington state and Alabama where Al Qaeda training camps were already known to have existed. And here's more from Robin Goodfellow, who lives near the scene of the action in Washington State.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Just heard on TV that they're looking for two guys named Lee Malvo and John Mohammad. Hmm. CNN is calling the training camp in Alabama a militia camp, but John Mohammad doesn't sound very militia-like, and here's a story about the camp from July that says it was used by Al Qaeda sympathizers.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Katz admits it's a stretch, but notices a coincidence.
ONE MORE: Supposedly there's a photo of John Mohammad, who now has a warrant out for his arrest, here but at the moment the site's slashdotted. I'm putting up the link anyway in the expectation that it'll become available shortly.
THERE MUST BE MUCH GNASHING OF TEETH AT THE VIOLENCE POLICY CENTER and the Brady Campaign over this Gallup poll:
PRINCETON, NJ -- The ongoing sniper rampage outside of Washington D.C. has dominated news coverage across America since the first deadly shooting spree on Oct. 3, and has perhaps exposed the limits of law enforcement to the public in a stark new way. However, despite the frightful nature of these events, and the fact that the sniper (or snipers) remains at large, a Gallup Poll conducted Oct. 14-17, finds no evident change in public attitudes about gun ownership. . . .
There has also been no change in the percentage of Americans claiming to purchase guns for their own security. What has changed is public confidence in the police. Although a majority of Americans continue to express high confidence in the police to protect them from violent crime, this figure is down somewhat compared to October 2001.
So much for their efforts to politicize this issue, so far: "Public attitudes today about the strength of gun laws are almost exactly the same as they were a year ago, in October 2001." There's more, and it's all pretty interesting. What's most interesting (scroll down) is the steady decline (of over 33% from the high in 1990) over the past decade in the number of people who think gun laws should be "more strict."
Of course, gun laws have become more strict over the past ten years, so maybe a lot of people (excluding those at VPC, Brady, and other anti-gun groups, of course) just got what they wanted and don't want any more.
RADLEY BALKO WRITES about a ballot initiative that hasn't gotten much attention (though it's been blogged here a time or two):
Massachusetts voters face a rare opportunity this election cycle. There is, believe it or not, an issue on the ballot that would dramatically reduce the scope and size of the Bay State’s government. The Small Government Act, "Ballot Initiative 1," would end the state’s income tax.
Just like that.
Overnight, government officials would have no choice but to jettison bureaucratic waste. Beacon Hill legislators would be forced to make tough decisions about what state programs are absolutely necessary and what programs are extraneous. The measure would eliminate pork spending, corporate welfare and wasteful grants to well-connected research groups, all in one fell swoop. . . .
Not surprisingly, because the measure would transfer power from the Massachusetts government to the Massachusetts people, neither candidate for governor supports it. Neither do either of the state’s two major political parties. No major state officeholder supports it. And, here’s a shocker: Few if any of the state’s most powerful interest groups support it.
Nevertheless, the measure is polling at about 40 percent, a remarkable number given the state’s leftist political proclivities. But now that the measure carries some small chance of passing, big government advocates are amassing troops and funds to ensure its defeat.
I don't expect that this will pass, but if it even gets double-digits in Massachussetts, of all places, it'll be the political event of the season. Bet it won't get much attention, though.
JIM BENNETT WRITES THAT IT'S CRUNCH TIME FOR AUSTRALIA:
Australia's options are permanently connected to the fate of Indonesia. For the foreseeable future, Australia will have as its closest major neighbor a state that is vastly more populous, vastly poorer, riven by religious factionalism and ethnic separatism, and burdened in its quest for development by a weak civil society.
An Indonesia fragmented by religious and ethnic struggle would be a source of masses of desperate refugees. An Indonesia dominated by radical Islamists would be a nightmare. Consider the words of one of Indonesia's radical Islamist leaders, Abu Bakar Baasyir. Asked if there was anything he wanted to say to families who lost relatives in the Bali bomb attack, he said: "My message to the families is please convert to Islam as soon as possible."
In its current situation, Australia has fewer choices than its intellectuals believe. Their preferred choice, appeasement of the radical Islamists, will be not only ineffective but counterproductive: it will teach the lesson that killing Australians is the way to control Australia.
There is in fact little Australia can do to please or accommodate the radical Islamists of Indonesia, since their goals are primarily aimed at turning Indonesia into a Taliban-like Islamist state. Terror against non-Muslim Indonesians and foreign travelers in Indonesia is part of their campaign, and there is nothing that will stop them short of rendering them ineffective.
My preference is for rendering them permanently ineffective.
BELLESILES UPDATE: A positive review of Arming America has been retracted.
YOU KNOW, this looks like more evidence of the Nick Denton terrorists-are-idiots theory:
Gunmen claiming to be Chechen rebels seized a crowded Moscow theater Wednesday night, firing their weapons and taking hundreds in the audience hostage. Police and security forces surrounded the building.
The ITAR-Tass news agency reported the men were laying mines inside the theater. The report was based on a witness report to police and could not be independently verified. . . .
The Interfax news agency reported some children and Muslims in the audience had been freed. A boy who was let out told a radio interviewer the gunmen were from the Caucasus region, spoke in one of the languages of southern Russia and demanded an end to Russia's war against Chechnya.
I think that Russian opposition to American war efforts is likely to drop, in exchange for us keeping quiet about what they're about to do in Chechnya.
UPDATE: Here's another story.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Clayton Cramer writes: "al-Qaida wants an all-out war, a Manichean struggle between Good and Evil. They are just a little confused about which side they are on."
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Eric Olsen has noticed what's missing from the reports.
A READER WRITES:
I was in Indonesia earlier this year too. Two (of the very many) things that stuck out: First, a muslim man there told me that the US should send troops to close down the Laskar Jihad training camps. He was quite pissed off at LJ--and didn't expect I's military to do anything. Second, in Jakarta I saw several people wearing t-shirts of the American flag. No one paid any greater attention to them than to the people wearing Nike t-shirts. The general sense I got was that Indonesians are really excited about having coming out from under Suharto. They don't want some stupid freaks--who don't drink!--to ruin it. They're scared of just that though.
Hmm. Well, those sentiments would explain this.
YOU KNOW, THIS LOOKS LIKE A PARODY -- right down to the picture accompanying the column. And it is. It's just an unintentional one.
UPDATE: Reader Chris Hall writes:
It looks like Daniel is taking the President's successful handling of the War on Terror even harder than the recent break-up of Phish, which was admittedly a blow for me as well.
MathGirl, who is about Daniel's age, I believe, is less charitable:
I'm sure that you have noticed the seemingly endless articles by leftist authors which begin,"There's a madman with weapons of mass destruction, intent on destroying civilization with a unilateralist war. He has already committed genocide against thousands, if not millions of helpless women and children. He respects no U.N. sanction or international law. The world community must act to stop this dictator immediately! Saddam Hussein? No, George W. Bush!"
Given the number of times that the left has trotted out this chestnut in the last nine months, shouldn't someone in the blogosphere attach a name to this type of slander? Anticlimax and bathos just don't seem to cut it.
I suppose it's a little uncharitable to pick on a young pseudo-intellectual such as Daniel Moore, but I surely wouldn't go to a psychologist who posits wild and unsubstantiated theories about the metal state of someone he's never even met while making up biographical details to support them.
Me neither. Finally, reader Matt Sitar sends this link and notes:
"Undeclared" was a short-lived TV show about a group of first year college students. Daniel Moore seems to bear more than a passing resemblance to the character 'Marshall' on the show (third pic on the top row). Marshall would best be described as a lovable doofus.
Not sure what to make of this one.
The unfortunate thing is that, thanks to the web, when you write sophomoric drivel for your college paper people all over the world can make fun of it. And via the magic of Google's cache, it lasts forever. Oops.
THE BOSNIAN SERB GOVERNMENT admits to selling weapons to Iraq. This is creating a political scandal there.
(Links via Hesiod).
MORE TROUBLE for the Euro.
ACCORDING TO A STUDY BY HARVARD LAW SCHOOL, Saudi Arabia is the world's leading Internet censor. Probably trying to keep their people from reading Charles Johnson's site.
Or maybe they don't want them to see stuff like this, and this.
UPDATE: Here's something else they may want to censor: a report from the IMF saying the Saudi economy is headed south.
HERE ARE SOME LICENSING AND REGISTRATION PROPOSALS relating to catching the D.C. sniper.
A READER SENDS THIS PHOTO of what he describes as either the bravest, or the dumbest, man in the D.C. area.
I'm going with "bravest."
JESSE WALKER IS ENCOURAGING people to write letters to The Nation in response to the awful Jon Wiener piece on Michael Bellesiles:
The many bloggers who are damning Wiener's piece on their sites should also write letters to The Nation, keeping their tone moderate (no "fiskings," please) but their critique sharp. Wiener's article could not possibly be meant to persuade people who are actually familiar with Bellesiles's errors and frauds; it was more likely intended as reassurance for Nation readers who were vaguely aware that the Second Amendment crowd was winning an argument but hadn't been following the debate closely. They deserve to hear the other side make its case.
He's got links to the article, some replies, and to the Nation's email address.
THE FBI may not have found the DC sniper, but it's hell on whistleblowers according to this article in the Washington Times:
The FBI has targeted for disciplinary action and possible service termination an agent who accused other agents at the World Trade Center of stealing a Tiffany globe paperweight from ground zero as a "memento," a Senate Judiciary Committee member said yesterday.
"This looks like retaliation against a whistleblower who followed her conscience and exposed wrongdoing, even though it embarrassed the FBI," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican. "If there are plans to fire her, the FBI is making a big mistake. I want the people behind this retaliation held accountable."
It is, of course, possible that she's both a whistleblower and a nitwit who deserves to be fired. After all, with the FBI currently in the midst of an extensive post-9/11 housecleaning that has resulted in the firing of so many people for incompetence, sheer chance would . . . Oh, well. Looks like retaliation to me, too.
UPDATE: Reader Dave Roberts writes:
Whistleblowers, stonewalling, lying to Congress, incompetence, deeply embedded culture of refusing to share with local law enforcement. What's the national security downside to closing the FBI and starting over?
That's what I keep wondering, too.
THIS EMAIL FROM A READER suggests that French media coverage of the sniper is, well, somewhat deeper than what we're getting here:
In regards to missing French Marksman and DIANE E. contributions on him, I saw the piece on French news here as well with the composite which struck me as strange given, as far as I know, France is the only country which has released one in the media. The missing marksman was not mentioned in the piece but the composite was shown as part of coverage on DC shootings, presumably triggering response from St Cyr students. Been tracking the marksman story via French press. Learned today that the last known trace of the missing marksman was some cash withdrawals from an ATM in US in August.
Supposedly he is an avid trekker and mountaineer per news reports here.
Interesting. My Brother-out-law (he's not a brother-in- law because he never actually married my wife's sister (would he actually be a brother-in-law even then? by Southern standards, anyway)) also reports from Paris that the media coverage is fast and furious and that the French media are "loving" the story.
UPDATE: This report says that St. Cyr denies the story that students recognized the composite.
CATHY SEIPP IS PANNING David Kelley's new female-lawyer show "Girls Club." I haven't seen it, and with any luck never will. (I never liked "Ally McBeal" much, except that her roommate was cute). But if you're in doubt, read this review.
MSNBC's Will Femia has dropped the claim that Charles Johnson's site is a "hate" site, but Meryl Yourish says MSNBC is still hypocritical, -- and she's got evidence.
UPDATE: John Bono says we've all been cleverly trolled.
THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT TODAY. I found this via Tacitus, a blog that has a lot of stuff worth reading -- including some hope for a patriotic anti-war movement.
LESSONS FROM CIVILIZATION: Porphyrogenitus suggests that the game may shed some insights on real life.
INTERNATIONAL LAW: Article 19 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides:
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
Yet France (which ratified the Covenant in 1980) just prosecuted someone for calling Islam "dumb," and similar anti-"hate" initiatives abound in other European countries. Meanwhile, such are never aimed at mullahs whose attack-America rhetoric goes unpunished, making it doubtful that the justification for prosecuting such speech is the protection of public order. (Who's more likely to inspire violence -- a fundamentalist mullah calling for jihad, or a Western journalist calling Islam dumb?)
America, on the other hand, is expected to follow international law slavishly or it is a "bully."
DAVE KOPEL AND PAUL BLACKMAN WRITE that "ballistic fingerprinting" won't stop criminals, and is just a stalking-horse for gun prohibition. Excerpt:
From the viewpoint of the prohibition lobbies, however, the misnamed "ballistic-fingerprinting" scheme does have advantages. The scheme amounts to partial gun registration today (in any form that could be politically viable in the legislature), setting the stage for more comprehensive gun registration in the future (without which the scheme would be useless). Since "gun registration" is a political loser almost everywhere, the gun-prohibition lobbies have the opportunity to push for registration under a new, high-tech name. And what is the purpose of gun registration? The former president of the group currently known as the Brady Campaign, the late Nelson Shields, explained registration's purpose in a 1976 New Yorker interview:
The first problem is to slow down the number of handguns being produced and sold in this country. The second problem is to get handguns registered. The final problem is to make possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition — except for the military, police, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors — totally illegal.
Gun registration has been a very useful tool for gun confiscation in England, Australia, New York City, California, and many other places. Criminals don't register their guns, but many law-abiding citizens do, and when the government makes ownership of the registered gun illegal, the gun-owner, knowing that his gun is already on a government list, has little choice but to surrender his gun to the government furnace. This is a pleasing result for the gun prohibition groups, but if this is the public policy direction for America, we at least ought to acknowledge what is being done, rather than pretending that gun registration — cloaked in a high-tech euphemism — is going to solve crimes.
This is true of course.
DC MEMORIAL FOR BALI VICTIMS: Reader David Price emails:
Hi, Glenn. For what it's worth, here's something that might be of interest to your D.C.-area readers. A small notice appeared in this morning's Washington Post -- sponsored, as near as I can tell, by the Australian Embassy -- announcing a memorial service for the Australians who died in the Bali bombing.
This is the text:
"A Memorial Service for the Australian community and friends to honour the large number of Australians who lost their lives in the October 12 bombing attacks will be held at 11.00am on Thursday 24 October 2002 at the Washington National Cathedral, Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues NW, Washington, DC."
FYI, for those of you in the area.
JANIS IAN IN USA TODAY:
The recording industry says downloading music from the Internet is ruining our business, destroying sales and costing artists such as me money.
Costing me money?
I don't pretend to be an expert on intellectual property law, but I do know one thing: If a record executive says he will make me more money, I'd immediately protect my wallet. . . .
The RIAA's claim that the industry and artists are hurt by free downloading is nonsense. Consider my experience: I'm a recording artist who has sold multiple platinum records since the 1960s. My site, janisian.com, began offering free downloads in July. About a thousand people per day have downloaded my music, most of them people who had never heard of me and never bought my CDs.
On the first day I posted downloadable music, my merchandise sales tripled, and they have stayed that way ever since. I'm not about to become a zillionaire as a result, but I am making more money. At a time when radio playlists are tighter and any kind of exposure is hard to come by, 365,000 copies of my work now will be heard. Even if only 3% of those people come to concerts or buy my CDs, I've gained about 10,000 new fans this year. . .
Who's really hurt by free downloads? The executives at major labels who twiddled their thumbs for years while company after company begged them to set up ''micropayment'' protocols and to license material for Internet-download sales.
Yeah, it's all about people protecting their phoney-baloney jobs.
ASYMMETRIC INFORMATION WARFARE: My TechCentralStation column is up.
UPDATE: Aimee Deep says I'm hopelessly optimistic. (Shouldn't you be in school, young lady? Hell, she's probably blogging from a wireless laptop in French class. . . .)
ERIC OLSEN OBSERVES the Charles Johnson / Christopher Hitchens connection.
HENRY COPELAND REPORTS THAT THE NEW YORK TIMES HAS BULLIED the Washington Post into selling its share of the International Herald Tribune as part of a more-aggressive international stance on the part of the Times.
THE VERDICT IS RIGHT, BUT THE TRIAL NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED:
French writer Michel Houellebecq has been cleared of inciting racial hatred by saying Islam was "the stupidest religion".
A panel of three judges in Paris declared that the author was not guilty after he was sued by four Muslim groups.
He made the comments in an interview with the literary magazine Lire in 2001.
I wonder if he can counterclaim now, saying that being called a bigot is hate speech?
ALPHECCA is a blog by a self-described "gay gun-nut from Vermont," with a focus on Vermont politics and guns. Check it out.
DIANE E. has some information on the missing French marksman. He's apparently of "Yugoslavian" origin. Bosnian Muslim, she wonders?
I think it's rather a long shot that this guy is involved in the D.C. sniper attacks. And you'd think that a Bosnian Muslim -- saved from genocide by United States intervention, after all -- would be indisposed toward terror attacks on the United States. On the other hand, the Muslim world has shown scant appreciation for the many U.S. humanitarian interventions benefiting Muslims -- after all, we even have anti-American terrorists in Kuwait.
On the other hand, note this passage: "Reports in the French media said that students at Saint-Cry alleged they recognised their comrade in an unofficial police composite drawing of the sniper reportedly shown on TV." Hmm. Shown on TV in France, but not here?
A MAJOR CYBERATTACK ON INTERNET ROOT SERVERS, but apparently to little effect. No information as to who's suspected to be behind it.
HERE'S AN INTERESTING LETTER TO FCC CHAIRMAN MICHAEL POWELL about the future of the telecom industry. Doc Searls is among the signatories.
FISKING GOES MAINSTREAM: Here's a newspaper article that describes its approach as "Fisking Style." Sociologists of the blogosphere, take note.
October 22, 2002
I'M OFF to speak, then I'm hopping on a plane, so blogging will be nonexistent for the remainder of the day.
I took a turn around the ASU campus just now to clear my head for the talk. It's a beautiful day here, as usual this time of year, and it's a beautiful campus. Enjoy your day, wherever you are.
AN EMORY PROFESSOR (no, not Michael Bellesiles) has been suspended for six months for, basically, yelling and pushing someone. (This story isn't that informative, but I've been following earlier accounts of this incident, and that's what it amounts to.)
In light of this harsh punishment for a comparatively minor offense, it seems fair to expect that if Bellesiles is found guilty of academic fraud he should expect much, much harsher treatment.
UPDATE: Clayton Cramer emails: "Garrow was also very publicly critical of Bellesiles after the W&MQ issue came out. I wonder if this claim (that Garrow denies) is retaliation?" Several people have wondered that. I don't know.
ARTHUR SILBER has a long and very personal post on homophobia, left and right.
HENRY MILLER writes that bias is becoming a problem in studies conducted by the National Academy of Sciences.
DAVID COLE IS VERY UNHAPPY with the way that the 1996 antiterrorism law is being used. He's right to hate the law -- in fact, though we never actually met except electronically, he and I worked as part of a group opposing the law in '96 -- but the problem is in a way worse than he makes it. Because it's being used against people who could probably be prosecuted under narrower laws (Lynne Stewart, after all, is accused of conspiring with terrorists she represented to frustrate government surveillance so that they could pass on instructions to other terrorists) uses of this law are going to look solider later on. I don't know what to do about that, though, besides criticize in the way that Cole is doing.
UPDATE: TalkLeft agrees.
JAMES LILEKS on educational nonsense:
Today at Toddler class the big book of activities had not only information on upcoming Peace Marches, it had literature from the Million Mom March. And there were MMM stickers on the handout table. I’m not saying that material like this should be brutally repressed. No. But either include handouts from other points of view, or - and I’m speaking as a wild idealist here - confine the class handouts to pertinent matters. We’re here to learn about new ways to get the kids to eat asparagus. It’s like getting a flier for an anti-globo rally with your receipt from Jiffy Lube: huh?
But I suspect that the educational establishment regards the insertion of these issues at every available opportunity to be part of their mission; far from wondering what the Million Mom March has to do with a class on establishing sleep schedules, they see these issues as indistinguishable from basic parenting skills. A good parent teaches ABCs; a good parent marches for peace; a good parent realizes the importance of five-point restraint carseats; a good parent subscribes to the MMM position on guns. The personal is the political, after all. And oh-so vice versa.
And you know he's right. Read the whole thing.
I THINK THAT SKIPPY'S RIGHT that one reason that the D.C. sniper attacks have gotten so much attention is that so many media people live in those neighborhoods. When I lived in D.C. in the late '80s, far more people were being killed in my neighborhood and areas immediately adjacent, to far less national attention.
HERE'S ANOTHER STORY suggesting an Iraqi connection to the Oklahoma City bombing. These just keep cropping up.
APPARENTLY, Gary Trudeau has been reading Hesiod. Maybe this gentle hint will encourage more proofreading in the blogworld.
UPDATE: Hesiod and Treacher are into it. And here's a piece by Jesse Walker on why Doonesbury is boring now. "Trudeau's career arc mirrors the evolution of baby-boom liberalism, from the anti-authoritarian skepticism of the 1970s to the smug paternalism of the Clinton years. In 1972 the strip was engaged with the world; in 2002 it is engaged with itself." In truth, Trudeau's taking notice of blogdom is probably a good sign. Apparently, he does get out (at least electronically) now and then.
EUGENE VOLOKH HAS AN EXCELLENT POST on the political failure of the gun-control movement. And scroll down for the one on "pacifist-aggressive" thinking, too.
UPDATE: Here's a link to the piece Volokh is commenting on, by Jim Oliphant of the Legal Times. It's pretty one-sided. I've gotten a lot of email on it. Maybe the Legal Times will, too.
CANADIAN READER JAMES MCKENZIE-SMITH proudly forwards this poll, which he says demonstrates that 66% of his fellow Canadians have their heads screwed on straight:
VANCOUVER - Canadians want even closer economic ties to the United States to increase their standard of living, and are increasingly confident they can compete on an equal footing with American industry, a new poll by the Liberal party's pollster suggests.
Michael Marzolini, the chairman of Pollara, told the National Post yesterday a solid majority of Canadians -- 66% -- want the Chrétien government to foster greater U.S. economic integration. Only 5% are adamantly opposed.
"We are not fearful of American influence on our culture or our sovereignty as we were a number of years ago," he said. "There are obviously still some concerns, but I was amazed to find that it is less than three in 10."
The poll found that while 66% want stronger economic integration with the United States, 29% are somewhat opposed and 5% are absolutely against it.
The poll of 1,200 Canadians was conducted between Sept. 27 and Oct. 1 and is considered accurate plus or minus 2.9 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
Hmm. I hope someone tells Chretien.
I'M BACK ONLINE, BRIEFLY. I'm going to talk to some students here and then hop on a plane. I've had a delightful visit: Arizona State's law school has been a major center for law, science and technology scholarship for twenty years, and it's a place that I've felt a connection to since my first visit out here to speak in 1987. And, since I've always liked the desert, I like the Phoenix / Tempe area very much.
But while I've been talking about evolutionary analysis of law, and eating fine Thai and Mexican food, you've been sending me email at a furious pace. I'll do the best I can, but no promises that I'll get through it all any time soon. Sorry, but I'm only human.
October 21, 2002
STEVEN DEN BESTE is in TechCentralStation today. Another blogger enters the mainstream!
MIKE AND THE BOTS deconstruct a piece of antiwar spam in yet another Misting from Vegard Valberg.
CHARLES JOHNSON SEEMS TO BE THE VICTIM OF A SMEAR CAMPAIGN; you can read more about it here. And here. And Tony Pierce says:
msnbc's "blogspotting", edited by Will Femia asks its readers if Little Green Footballs is hateful. pardon me, will, but you're msnbc's expert on blogs, why dont you tell us? btw, LGF is far from hateful, they just know who their enemy is and they dont let up. relentless is the word, will, fearless is another word, bro. ruthless, sharp, pointed, popular, and seething are some other words that you could use. but hateful is bogus and reactionary and you should take it off your page.
I don't think Charles's site could be called a "hate site" by any stretch of the imagination -- er, except by using "hate" as a synonym for what certain people just disagree with. And I don't think that falling for this campaign does much for MSNBC's credibility. What's ironic is to read Charles's posts on the Middle East from before 9/11, and compare them with what he's written now. Johnson is a lefty who's faced reality, which apparently makes him offensive to those who prefer not to.
UPDATE: Meryl Yourish is weighing in on Charles' behalf. She references IndyMedia as a far more plausible example of a hatesite.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Nick Denton says the problem isn't Charles, but his commenters -- but that Charles needs to rein them in. This is tougher than MSNBC's casual slur. One reason why I don't generally have active comments is that I don't have time and energy to police them, and if I had them I'd feel obliged to do so. On the other hand, I'm sure that -- say -- MSNBC had lots of racist comments in its discussion boards (before it took them down) and that hardly made MSNBC a "hate site." While I love comments on other blogs, it seems to me that comments just don't work well past a certain traffic level.
WILLIAM SJOSTROM wants the Navy to name a ship the U.S.S. Flight 93.
CELEBRATED WEBLOG CARTOONIST JIM TREACHER responds to today's Doonesbury with a hilarious parody.
UPDATE: Tom Tomorrow is twice the lefty cartoonist that Gary Trudeau is these days, and proves it with this cartoon.
MERYL YOURISH BLOGS FROM THE SCENE of the Virginia arrest.
OKAY, GOTTA EARN THE MONEY THEY'RE, er, not paying me. Back later, with luck.
THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE IS SHIFTING RESOURCES from supporting the War on Drugs to supporting, you know, the real war. Good.
DOONESBURY VS. THE BLOGS? Based on today's cartoon, it seems likely. Well, no surprise: blogs are good at puncturing pretension. Kind of like Doonesbury used to be.
UPDATE: Daniel Drezner weighs in on Trudeau, with a very amusing quote.
My own feeling is that Doonesbury just isn't funny that often any more. I think it was never as good after he took the year off, and nowadays it's all too often formulaic. It makes me respect Berke Breathed, Gary Larson, et al., for quitting while they were ahead, much as I miss their strips.
A GROUP OF U.C. BERKELEY PROFESSORS CLAIMS THAT THE BALI BOMBING WAS THE WORK OF THE UNITED STATES:
The United States may have had an active role in carrying out last week's bombing of an international nightclub, members of a panel said at a campus round-table discussion Friday.
"The information received is that several groups are being looked at more closely," said Jeffrey Hadler, a UC Berkeley professor of South and Southeast Asian studies. "The most important thing is to wait for the investigation."
But the United States may have been directly involved in the bombing in order to further its war on terrorism, he added.
President Bush alleged Oct. 14 that Al Qaeda terrorists were behind the bombing because Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country, Hadler said.
The allegation also furthers Bush's call for war in Iraq, he said.
"Al Qaeda has turned into this incredibly convenient phantom," he said.
Sylvia Tiwon, a professor of Indonesian at UC Berkeley, said Al Qaeda is too small to have perpetrated the bombing.
The Angry Clam remarks: "Just like only Mossad could have pulled off 9/11, right?"
UPDATE: Hadler, apparently, now says that he was misquoted by the Daily Cal.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The Daily Cal has admitted the error.
WITH TWO GUYS IN CUSTODY, it's still not clear that this was terrorism. Or that it wasn't. Note the dueling quotes:
"It is frustrating that this murderer wants us to alter our lifestyle and live in fear," Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore said.
Sounds like the very definition of terrorism to me. On the other hand, Condi Rice remarked:
"There's no evidence to this point that this is the work of an international terrorist organization," said National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on CBS's "Face the Nation." "There have been no claims of responsibility or anything like that. We are, of course, keeping open that possibility and we're going to turn over every rock to see if it might in fact be, but there is no evidence to this point that this is internationally driven."
Not internationally driven. Domestic terrorism? In what cause? I guess, assuming these really are the guys, that we'll find out soon enough. With two guys in custody, though, the lone-nut theory does look kind of weak at the moment.
UPDATE: Then again, here's a report saying that these two aren't the guys. Stay tuned.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Do you find the idea of 'a bunch of Sasha Volokh clones" frightening? Patrick Ruffini thinks that criminals would.
MUSLIM MODERATES DEMAND CRACKDOWN ON EXTREMISTS: We need more of this:
Indonesia's moderate Muslim organisations demanded today that authorities crack down against religious extremists, who they said represent a fringe minority among the country's 170 million Muslims.
Former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid said he believed that Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual leader of a group suspected in last week's Bali bombing, should have been arrested long ago.
"I believe that Bashir is a terrorist," Wahid said in a radio interview.
Wahid, who was replaced as head of state by Megawati Sukarnoputri last year, has been sharply critical of her administration's cautious approach toward radicals.
Wahid's organization, Nahdlatul Ulama - whose 40 million members make it the world's largest Muslim grouping - and the 30-million member Muhammadiyah both urged the government to act more decisively against small groups of militants such as Jemaah Islamiyah, which is suspected in the October 12 nightclub bombing in Bali that killed at least 180 people and injured around 300.
Their leaderships say that groups like Jemaah Islamiah or Laskar Jihad - a recently disbanded paramilitary gang blamed for waging a religious war against the Christian minority in the Maluku islands - are a tiny minority in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation.
I'm glad to see this.
WHAT'S THIS BLOGGER/TATTOO CONNECTION? First it was Andrea See, then Missy Schwartz, now it's Mike of Cold Fury.
JOYCE MALCOLM WRITES ON BRITAIN'S EXPERIENCE WITH STRICTER GUN CONTROL, AND MORE CRIME.
In reality, the English approach has not reduced violent crime. Instead it has left law-abiding citizens at the mercy of criminals who are confident that their victims have neither the means nor the legal right to resist them. Imitating this model would be a public safety disaster for the United States.
The illusion that the English government had protected its citizens by disarming them seemed credible because few realized the country had an astonishingly low level of armed crime even before guns were restricted. A government study for the years 1890-92, for example, found only three handgun homicides, an average of one a year, in a population of 30 million. In 1904 there were only four armed robberies in London, then the largest city in the world. A hundred years and many gun laws later, the BBC reported that England’s firearms restrictions "seem to have had little impact in the criminal underworld." Guns are virtually outlawed, and, as the old slogan predicted, only outlaws have guns. Worse, they are increasingly ready to use them. . .
As Malcolm notes, the gun control movement in England -- as in America -- is accompanied by an almost pathological hostility to the very idea of self-defense, and an idealization of "professionals" as a source of protection. Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Some interesting observations on British treatment of the American gun control debate, from Natalie Solent. Summary: it's all treated as a question of American culture and psychology -- there's no acknowledgment that Americans might have actual reasons for opposing gun control.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Tim Lambert sends this link to figures that seem to say that violent crime in Britain is actually falling. That's inconsistent with other reports that I've read -- and the summary indicates that police reports of violent crime are up sharply -- but there you are. Anyone have more background on this?
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Lambert has more on this. In essence, this seems to be another "my stats are better than your stats" argument of the sort that plague criminological discussion. The topic is being discussed at length on an email list that Lambert and I are both on, and, well, people don't seem to find it as open-and-shut as he makes it sound. Meanwhile there's this article from The Independent calling Britain the "crime capital of the West" based on victimization studies. And Brit-blogger Steven Chapman offers observations here and here.
AUTHORITIES HAVE FOUND THE BODY OF AN FBI AGENT IN YEMEN. The Agent is said to have died under "mysterious circumstances."
Not all that mysterious, I'd bet.
COULD THE FUTURE OF THE SUPREME COURT TURN ON THE LOUSINESS OF SLATE'S SEARCH ENGINE? Mickey Kaus makes a powerful argument.
ANTISEMITISM AND THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT: Andrew Sullivan agrees that it's real, despite efforts to explain it away:
America's anti-war movement, still puny and struggling, is showing signs of being hijacked by one of the oldest and darkest prejudices there is. Perhaps it was inevitable. The conflict against Islamo-fascism obviously circles back and back to the question of Israel. Fanatical anti-Semitism, as bad or even worse than Hitler's, is now a cultural norm across much of the Arab Middle East and beyond. It's the acrid glue that unites Saddam, Arafat, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Iran and the Saudis. They all hate the Jews and want to see them destroyed. And if you're campaigning against a war against that axis, you're bound to attract some people who share these prejudices. That is not to say that the large majority of anti-war campaigners are anti-Semitic. Of course they're not. But it is to say that this strain of anti-Semitism, hovering around the edges of that movement, is a worrying and dangerous sign.
I think his explanation of why is on target, too:
What are these anti-Israel fanatics really obsessed about? Where are the divestment campaigns for China or Zimbabwe?
The answer, I think, lies in the nature of part of today's left. It is fueled above all by resentment - resentment of the West's success, resentment of the freedom to trade, resentment of any person or country, like Israel or Britain or the U.S., that has enriched itself by means of freedom and hard work.
I forget who described the motivation as an almost pathological hatred of effectualness, but you do see a lot of that. It's what ties together anti-globalization, Luddism, and, yes, anti-Semitism on the left today.
That's not the whole left, by any means, of course. But it's the part we seem to hear from the most.
UPDATE: It was Diane E. who described it this way: "what animates the left is a generalized rancid, corrosive anger against any form of effectuality, and a hatred of anything constructive." As I say, that's not the whole left -- but it's a very identifiable, and loud, subset.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh writes that a lot of it is simply driven by a desire to look cool and contrarian. I think there's a lot to that -- as I wrote a while back:
Being contrary isn't the same as being insightful: As I said, academics want to look original. Actually being original, however, is hard work. The second-raters, therefore, tend to look for ways of seeming original without doing the heavy lifting required to actually come up with something new. One way of doing this is to set yourself against whatever the popular view is in the hopes that others will mistake this for incisiveness. (This frequently works, since other people are often not willing to put in the necessary effort to tell the difference). But knee-jerk contrariness isn't original — it's just conformity in the opposite direction. After a while, this becomes obvious even to casual observers.
I think we've reached that point.
I'M ON THE LOVELY CAMPUS OF ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY, where the College of Law's Center for the Study of Law, Science and Technology has been kind enough to invite me to speak about nanotechnology regulation. I've got a few free minutes and a computer, so I'll be blogging a bit, but I notice that -- once again -- my statement that I'll be offline for a while seems to have generated more email than usual. I'll try to read it and respond, but it'll have to be later. Sorry if I don't respond to your message, but I can barely keep up with the volume when I'm at home.
October 20, 2002
WELL, THAT'S NOT MUCH, but I'm blogging from an Internet cafe, and I've got to get back to the hotel so I can go to dinner. More later, maybe.
AL QAEDA'S FUNDING MAY BE more narrowly based than we realized:
WASHINGTON The United States has identified the sources of Al Qaida funding and found they were fewer in number than earlier estimated.
Officials said U.S. intelligence has determined that Al Qaida is supported by 12 financiers, most of them Saudis. They said the Bush administration is sharing the findings with Washington's allies in NATO and the European Union.
Hmm. Twelve tragic accidents? No, we don't do that sort of thing anymore. Do we?
BRAD DELONG IS NO ED LAZARUS, according to Juan Non-Volokh.
WILL VEHRS BLOGS from near the scene of the latest sniper attack.
And Jim Henley, of course, has more.
DEBKA reports that Bin Laden is hiding out in Saudi Arabia. This isn't a huge shock to me, if it turns out to be true, since we've recently learned that Saudi money is still flowing to Al Qaeda.
Of course, it may not be true at all. But it's certainly the case that connections between Saudi Arabia and the Ladenites remain too close for a country that purports to be an ally. Can you say "Hashemite?"
I knew that you could.
OKAY, ONE MORE: An interesting roundup of items on nanotechnology and the environment, along with a report that European spending on nanotechnology research is nearly double U.S. spending. Both at Nanodot.
BLOGGUS INTERRUPTUS: I'll be on travel for most of today, so blogging will be limited. I'm taking the laptop, though, and will update as time and internet connections allow.
ANOTHER ARMED CITIZEN THWARTS CRIME -- though I guess the NRA won't be touting this case too strongly:
A would-be car thief died Friday after he was shot by the car's owner, a camouflage-clad hunter toting a bow and arrow, police said.
The thief was moments from a clean getaway when the hunter happened upon his car, police said. The man told the hunter he had a gun and threatened to kill him, said Sgt. T.E. Kiser of the Harris County Sheriff's Department homicide division.
The hunter drew his bow and shot at the man, hitting him in the hip and buttocks area.
Is there a National Bowmen's Association? (Via Rachel Lucas).
UPDATE: In a different vein of nontraditional armed citizenry, here's a BBC story on the Mount Holyoke Chapter of the Second Amendment Sisters.
WHY AM I NOT SURPRISED AT THIS:
OSAMA BIN LADEN has been linked to the Bali bombing by the testimony of one of his senior lieutenants.
The man has told CIA interrogators that thousands of dollars from an account controlled by Bin Laden was used to buy explosives by the Islamist group suspected of the attack.
A confidential American intelligence document, seen by The Sunday Times, reveals that $74,000 (nearly £48,000) was transferred from an account in the name of Sheikh Abu Abdullah Emirati, one of Bin Laden’s pseudonyms, to pay for three tons of explosives bought from the Indonesian military.
That it's possible to buy three tons of explosives illegally from the Indonesian Army without anyone noticing isn't exactly comforting.
ANOTHER HUMAN RIGHTS TRIUMPH for the Bush Administration: Saddam is apparently freeing all political prisoners in response to criticism of his regime as dictatorial:
The amnesty and the referendum come amid attempts by the Iraqi Government to rally domestic and international opposition to US demands for a change of regime in Baghdad.
In his UN speech on Iraq last month, US President George W Bush demanded that the leadership end internal oppression in Iraq, as well as stop its alleged programme to develop weapons of mass destruction.
You get more with a kind word and a gun, than with a kind word alone. Especially when dealing with crazed dictators.
A POSITIVE BLOG REVIEW of Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine. "Let me state for the record that I liked Bowling for Columbine a lot. It’s hilariously funny in a number of places, and highly entertaining."