December 14, 2002
FOR THE MANY WHO EMAILED: Yeah, I took the day off. Posting will resume as normal late Sunday.
December 13, 2002
LOTT: Pathetic. Andrew Sullivan has it covered.
But don't miss this Josh Chafetz Fisking of a misinterpretation of the Lott problem.
That's all for tonight. I've driven a long way in rain, snow and sleet, and I'm going to bed.
OKAY, ONE MORE: Jules Witcover writes about receiving critical mail from gun-rights supporters. He should talk.
Several years ago, in response to one of his columns on the Second Amendment, I sent Witcover a couple of law review articles with an innocuous cover letter. I got back a rather nasty handwritten note saying no thanks for my "gratuitous" offering of information, and suggesting that only gun nuts believed that stuff.
I don't think that it was my cover letter -- I sent the same one to Herb Mitgang and got a very nice response, from which we discovered that he had double-dated with my secretary back in the 1940s. Witcover must have had a bad day.
On another gun-related news item, Melissa Seckora is reporting in The Corner that Michael Bellesiles' Bancroft Prize may be revoked.
DRUDGE SAYS that Lott will apologize again. Josh Chafetz has a source who says Lott will probably step down as Majority Leader. Reading David Frum's take this morning, I think a Lott step-down announcement this afternoon continues to look likely. Here's what Frum says:
1. The president has never much liked Trent Lott.
2. Bush sees himself as the first Republican president in a generation to campaign explictly for black votes – a campaign compromised by Lott’s indiscretion.
3. The White House fully expects further damaging disclosures about him.
4. In the White House’s view, these disclosures will probably embolden senators to challenge Lott’s leadership.
It couldn’t be clearer if the president actually pulled the lever on the trap door himself, could it?
I'll miss it -- I'm about to leave town for the weekend, and probably won't post again until late this evening if at all. But stay tuned.
I wonder if Lott has read Michelle Malkin's column today?
A READER WRITES: "It has begun. Read Krugman's column today and let's see how long it takes for the Lott story to become, in the hands of the media, the racial equivalent of the 'southern gun culture' stories that ran after the pre-Columbine round of school shootings."
Perhaps Krugman will take on the race-baiting that has marked recent Democratic politicking in his next column.
UPDATE: It's not just Krugman -- and not just America.
THE TIME TO START BOMBING HAS ARRIVED.
GEORGE TENET reports success against Al Qaeda:
"More than one-third of the top leadership identified before the war has been killed or captured," Mr. Tenet said in a speech Wednesday. "Almost half our successes against senior al Qaeda members has come in recent months."
A transcript of his remarks at the Nixon Center was made public yesterday.
"We are still in the 'hunt phase' of this war — the painstaking pursuit of individual al Qaeda members and their cells," Mr. Tenet said. "This phase is paying off, but is manpower intensive and will take a long time. There are no set battles against units of any size. We are tracking our enemies down, one by one."
It's hard to evaluate statements like this, but it's clear that the battle against subject-verb disagreement isn't going as well.
HERE, VIA VIRGINIA POSTREL, is a great piece on Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who actually did something admirable. And, while you're at it, you should read this Gregg Easterbrook story from The Atlantic, which observes:
Perhaps more than anyone else, Borlaug is responsible for the fact that throughout the postwar era, except in sub-Saharan Africa, global food production has expanded faster than the human population, averting the mass starvations that were widely predicted -- for example, in the 1967 best seller Famine -- 1975! The form of agriculture that Borlaug preaches may have prevented a billion deaths.
Yet although he has led one of the century's most accomplished lives, and done so in a meritorious cause, Borlaug has never received much public recognition in the United States, where it is often said that the young lack heroes to look up to. One reason is that Borlaug's deeds are done in nations remote from the media spotlight: the Western press covers tragedy and strife in poor countries, but has little to say about progress there. Another reason is that Borlaug's mission -- to cause the environment to produce significantly more food -- has come to be seen, at least by some securely affluent commentators, as perhaps better left undone. More food sustains human population growth, which they see as antithetical to the natural world.
Borlaug deserves more attention, and praise, than he's gotten. But his achievements -- which serve as proof that science saves lives -- are a rebuke to the notion that political activism is what matters. You can hardly expect the activists to forgive that.
ALERT TO GEORGE TENET: Steven Chapman has seen through the plan, and identified all your agents of influence (except Harold Pinter -- how'd he miss him?). Have Chapman, er, dealt with.
THERE'S SO MUCH GOOD STUFF OVER AT LAWMEME that I couldn't decide which post to link to. So go read 'em all.
OLIVER WILLIS: "I'm for equal rights, but not at the expense of Frank and Joe."
SKBUBBA'S PHYSIC EXPERIMENT turned out, well, about the way you'd expect. I've gotten the same results myself.
THIS MEANS SOMETHING -- but I'm not sure exactly what:
Iraq abruptly canceled a contract with Russia's largest oil company and two other Russian companies to develop a major Iraqi oil field.
Iraq's decision — announced in a letter to the company, Lukoil, on Monday — amounted to a rebuff to Russia, one of Baghdad's strongest supporters at a time when the United States is threatening to go to war over what the Bush administration says is President Saddam Hussein's pursuit of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
I suppose it's a signal that Iraq is unhappy with the Russians, which seems like good news to me. But I suspect there's more here than meets the eye.
CARDINAL LAW HAS resigned.
SASHA VOLOKH IS FACT-CHECKING ED LAZARUS in a major way. And scroll down for a recipe for chopped liver!
DUELING QUOTATIONS ON EQUALITY, courtesy of Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan. I'm not sure which is my favorite. But I promise to heed Kaus's warnings about "blogger triumphalism."
UPDATE: But apparently John Podhoretz didn't make that promise. Atrios should be pleased with this praise.
WALTER SHAPIRO writes that Lott should step down. But he has a few choice words for Lott's "enablers" in the press and the Senate, too.
December 12, 2002
WHITE HOUSE REMAINS SILENT AS PRESSURE MOUNTS against the term "Homeland."
HERE'S A FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT OF AN ANTIWAR PROTEST from Steve at HappyFunPundit. He was unimpressed.
TIM BLAIR HAS HIS FILM CAREER all planned out. I predict he'll make a bundle.
MORE ON UGANDA: Austin Bay writes:
As Amin's dictatorship collapsed in the spring of 1979, a gang of his thugs left the north Ugandan town of Arua and marched for the town of Nebbi, 60 kilometers south.
The Nebbi area had escaped the worst of Amin's depredations, in part because it is relatively isolated and off the usual track. Though bitterly poor by Western standards, in the thugs' eyes Nebbi was rich, with plenty of food, women and plunder. Besides, their rogue force was predominantly Muslim, and Nebbi is a Christian area.
The 200 or so thugs, armed with automatic rifles and grenade launchers, didn't expect resistance. However, just north of Nebbi, in the savannah bush, a hastily organized local force ambushed the gang. Several Nebbi men had acquired weapons. They fought a steady delaying action, sniping at the gang, then withdrawing along the rutted, red dirt road that links Arua and Nebbi.
"Quite simply," a Nebbi leader told me, "Amin's men quit. They would shoot the unarmed, steal and burn, but not if it cost their lives. We resisted. That's as close as the chaos came. Around us, for 40 years there has been war. But not here. That was when it brushed us."
No surprise. But it's more evidence of why the U.N.'s program to disarm civilians is a bad idea.
JOSH MARSHALL says it's a harmonic convergence of sorts.
YALE LAW PROFESSOR PETER SCHUCK writes about what's wrong with the reparations movement.
KEN LAYNE on Trent Lott:
The current administration, whether you love it or hate it, is arguably the most diverse administration in White House history. There are blacks, whites, Jews, Asians, Texans, Latinos, women, men, even an Afghan leading policy in Afghanistan. And we're not talking about junior staffers. We've finally entered an era in which you can't dismiss someone's fiscal/political politics by calling them a racist ... save for those hippies who call everything and everyone racist. They're beyond help.
Lott is an ugly reminder of mid-20th Century American history, when a person's state/party affiliation told you if they believed black people were subhuman. That he's scheduled to lead the U.S. Senate in 2003 is an outrage. He's never done anything but graft federal money to Mississippi and embrace these old-timey racists. He's an Old South unreconstructed supremacist in a New South world. Get rid of him. He's an ugly distraction.
Think he'll last through the weekend?
THE COMMONWEAL INSTITUTE aims to be the "Heritage Foundation of the Left." They're also soliciting comments on their website design.
UPDATE: Will Wilkinson visited the site, and has some comments.
JAY MANIFOLD REPORTS bad economic news for Canada.
IT JUST GETS WORSE FOR LOTT. Worse and worse.
JUST HEARD AN NPR ITEM on American Muslims taking control of Muslim charities to keep them from being used to support terror. You've read about it here already, but the NPR story was a good one, and provided some evidence that the sentiment is widespread. Bravo.
HAROLD PINTER IS DOING AN ADMIRABLE JOB of executing his instructions to terrify the enemy:
[T]he American administration is now a bloodthirsty wild animal. Bombs are its only vocabulary. Many Americans, we know, are horrified by the posture of their government, but seem to be helpless.
I just heard on NPR that Iraqi officials are scared and hopeless. Obviously, they've been reading The Telegraph, which informs them that the Administration is fierce and deadly, and that the peace movement that Saddam has been counting on is "helpless." So of course they're scared and hopeless. All according to the plan. . . . Thanks, Harold!
SALAM THE BAGHDAD BLOGGER is missing in action. I'm kind of worried about him.
"YEAH, BUT ALL 13% ARE MARINES" -- Stephen Green is right -- this is funny.
MICHELLE COTTLE WRITES:
When's the last time a man spontaneously checked to see if the house was low on toilet paper or Saran Wrap?
About five minutes ago. I cook, too. Get your head out of 1957, woman.
UPDATE: Reader Michelle Dulak emails: "Two words for Ms. Cottle: Read Lileks."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Single dad Mitch Berg replies:
Here was my day today, Ms. Cottle: Up at 5:45. One load in the wash, fold the load from the dryer. Wake the kids. Take a bath. Wake the kids again. Get 'em dressed, and out to the bus. Oops, son's been suspended from the bus - drive him to school. Drive to work (30 miles). Work. Get call that ex can't pick up son from school - race back through rush-hour to get son. Home. Cook dinner. Homework. Basketball practices for both kids. Home, baths, bedtime stories, to bed - and then maybe an hour for me.
And that routine is not that much different than when I was married, maam.
I'm not here to whine about life as a single dad. I love it. But men today - married or not - are every bit as harried as Ms. Cottle's benighted broads. If Warren Farrell, author of Myth of Male Power is to be believed, harried to death. The whole book is worth a read.
But thanks for reminding me - I gotta get toilet paper and Saran Wrap.
I know a lot of guys like this. I'm surprised that Michelle Cottle doesn't.
ERIC ALTERMAN SAYS DASCHLE SHOULD GO, TOO: Hey, I'm okay with that! In support of his contention, he reproduces this set of statements suggesting that Daschle is Lott's sock puppet, originally from The Note:
Round #1: Lott: “It meant nothing.” Daschle: “Yes, it meant nothing.”
Round #2: Lott: “It was a poor choice of words.” Daschle: “Yes, it was a poor choice of words.”
Round #3: Lott: “I am sooo sorry.” Daschle: “You should be.”
Well, I won't miss either of them.
BLOGS 1, REINHARDT 0: Pejman Yousefzadeh rounds up all the Blogospheric fact-checking directed at the Ninth Circuit's Second Amendment decision of last week.
UPDATE: Stuart Buck has more.
HANK WILLIAMS DIED in or near Knoxville on New Year's Eve 50 years ago. There will be a memorial concert here, and the link takes you to a long article on the mysteries of his demise.
THE MIDWEST CONSERVATIVE JOURNAL WRITES:
It would seem that the President has caught up with many of us here on the right and also won't shed a tear if Trent Lott is no longer Majority Leader next year. All that is left now is for another Republican senator to step up to challenge him. As for the Democrats, this may be another case of be careful what you wish for. The next Majority Leader may be a much more ferocious Republican than Lott ever was. And much less of a political hack.
And we on the right, who have driven the anti-Lott sentiment, can at least brag about this. The left was willing to go to any length to keep a president in office who had committed felonies. We conservatives, though, have much higher standards for our leaders. We are eager to dispense with a mere congressional leader for a careless and tone-deaf opinion.
I'm still saying Friday afternoon. But I could be wrong.
FLOOD THE ZONE! Best of the Web is all over the Trent Lott affair. And none of it is very complimentary to Lott.
I have to agree with Andrew Sullivan, by the way, that Josh Marshall owns this story. His page was where I first heard about it.
A SLICE OF LIFE: Well, it's a pretty thin slice. But here's a page of photos from around the UT Law School, put on the webpage to give prospective students some sense of what life's like around here. Follow the link if you're interested.
CARDINAL LAW HAS offered his resignation. He is under subpoena, along with a number of other bishops.
"OFFENSIVE AND WRONG:"
President Bush sharply rebuked incoming Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott for comments that some have called racist, saying any suggestion that segregation was acceptable is "offensive and it is wrong."
Bush's comments, delivered to an audience of charities in Philadelphia, came one day after Lott, a Mississippi Republican, said he would not give up his leadership post, despite the furor over his remarks.
"Recent comments by Sen. Lott do not reflect the spirit of our country," Bush said. "He has apologized and rightly so. Every day that our nation was segregated was a day our nation was unfaithful to our founding ideals."
Hmm. Maybe Karl Rove was reading Dan Drezner's memos.
UPDATE: Will Wilkinson has some comments. And Freeside thinks Lott is toast.
LOOKS LIKE EVIDENCE OF A SADDAM CONNECTION HERE, TO ME, ANYWAY:
The Bush administration has received a credible report that Islamic extremists affiliated with al Qaeda took possession of a chemical weapon in Iraq last month or late in October, according to two officials with firsthand knowledge of the report and its source. They said government analysts suspect that the transaction involved the nerve agent VX and that a courier managed to smuggle it overland through Turkey.
If the report proves true, the transaction marks two significant milestones. It would be the first known acquisition of a nonconventional weapon other than cyanide by al Qaeda or a member of its network. It also would be the most concrete evidence to support the charge, aired for months by President Bush and his advisers, that al Qaeda terrorists receive material assistance in Iraq. If advanced publicly by the White House, the report could be used to rebut Iraq's assertion in a 12,000-page declaration Saturday that it had destroyed its entire stock of chemical weapons.
Hmm. "If advanced publicly?" As opposed to giving the story to the Washington Post, that is.
UPDATE: By the way, here's a story from The Weekly Standard from last July on the Saddam al-Qaeda connection.
BILL HERBERT ON TRENT LOTT'S LATEST explanation, that he was really supporting Strom Thurmond's commitment to defense and limited government: "Sorry, not buying it." Herbert goes on to note:
This might be believable if Thurmond had actually run on those issues -- or any other issues besides "segregation forever," for that matter. . . .
What I find particularly galling about his statement is that the Dixiecrats were hardly conservative about anything but race. They were Big Government Liberals who happened to also be racist, in the William Jennings Bryan tradition. Thus, someone who calls himself a Conservative should find the Strom Thurmond of 1948 far more abhorrent than other racists, and certainly less palatable than other Democrats of the time.
UPDATE: Reader Chip Taylor emails this response to Lott:
So THAT'S why the Dixiecrats split from the Dems. The man who dropped the bomb on Japan wasn't hawkish enough.
I'm glad Sen. Lott cleared that up; I thought it was something else.
Heh. Charles Krauthammer is brutal in the Post:
What is so appalling about Lott's remarks is not the bigotry but the blindness. One should be very hesitant about ascribing bigotry. It is hard to discern what someone feels in his heart of hearts. It is less hard to discern what someone sees, particularly if he tells you. Lott sees the civil rights movement and "all these problems over all these years." He missed the whole story.
Backbenchers might be permitted such a lack of vision. Leaders are not. Lott must step down.
I think we've passed the tipping point. I'd say we're likely to hear an announcement that Lott won't run for Majority Leader sometime tomorrow afternoon. For the GOP's sake, I'd better be right.
UPDATE: My mistake -- he's already been elected for the next term. I somehow had the idea that it was just a straw vote, with the real one coming later. He still needs to go.
THE SADDAM / AL QAEDA LINK: Why are so many anxious to deny it? Perhaps because having missed it for so long would be embarrassing:
As I reveal in Vanity Fair, earlier this year the Pentagon established a special intelligence unit to re-examine evidence of an Iraq-al Qaeda relationship. After initially fighting the proposal, the CIA agreed to supply this unit with copies of its own reports going back 10 years. I have spoken to three senior officials who have seen its conclusions, which are striking.
"In the Cold War, says one of them, "often you'd draw firm conclusions and make policy on the basis of just four or five reports. Here there are almost 100 separate examples of Iraq-al Qaeda co-operation going back to 1992.
All these reports, says the official, were given the CIA's highest credibility rating - defined as information from a source which had proven reliable in the past. . . .
Iraq must have been more intensely spied upon than any other country throughout the 1990s. If the agencies missed a Saddam-al Qaeda connection, it might reasonably be argued, then many heads should roll.
Yes, they should. The article's conclusion:
Ignoring Iraq's support for terror is a seductive proposition, which fits pleasingly with democracies' natural reluctance to wage war. But if we are serious about winning the war on terror, self-delusion is not an option.
An attempt to achieve regime change in Iraq would not be a distraction, but an integral part of the struggle.
I'm inclined to agree, which is yet another reason why I think that the "go after Al Qaeda, not Saddam" line is a red herring.
UPDATE: This is interesting, too.
ARNOLD KLING WRITES ON "EDGE POWER" -- which sounds like a consultant's buzzword but makes for an interesting article. Excerpt:
The Internet lowers the cost of the tools of communication and creativity, making them affordable to individuals and small businesses. This phenomenon might be called Edge Power, because it increases power around the "edges" of the network, in contrast with broadcast media, where power is centralized.
There is a striking generation gap between media empires that were built before the Internet and those that grew up as Web businesses. Companies that were formed on the Internet treat Edge Power as a feature. Traditional media companies treat Edge Power as a bug.
I think the Blogosphere is all edge.
MORE ON CANADA'S GUN-REGISTRATION DEBACLE:
Canada's gun-control laws are in a state of crisis, threatening the political future of many Liberal party politicians. Introduced in 1995 with a promised net cost of $2 million dollars (Canadian), the nation's gun registry is going to cost over a billion dollars, according to a new report from the auditor general. The report details pervasive malfeasance by the Liberal administration. Now, many Canadians who have no personal interest in gun ownership are turning against the deceit and self-dealing of the Liberals.
Will American politicians learn from this? Probably not.
THIS POST OF MINE has upset some of the antiwar folks because I said that the peace movement is playing into Saddam's hands and is thus "objectively pro-Saddam." (Jim Henley has been all over this -- scroll up and down from this post -- and it rates a mention in Tapped, which calls the statement "uncharacteristically simple-minded").
Well, Saddam says -- in a passage quoted in that very post -- that he's stalling because he thinks that if he waits long enough American public opinion (which I interpret, reasonably enough, I think, to mean "the antiwar movement") will force Bush not to invade. And there's nothing new about that strategy - it's been the strategy of every U.S. adversary since Vietnam. (What's more, the "antiwar movement" that they've relied on has been pretty much the same people, using the same slogans, regardless of the actual circumstances involved.)
But regardless of whether members of the anti-war movement subjectively support Saddam (many of them, as David Corn has reported, are more accurately described as anti-American than pro-Saddam, but there are plenty of thoughtful folks like Henley who don't fit that mold) the fact is that their opposition to the war is a key element in his strategy. That doesn't make it necessarily wrong, of course: what's best for Saddam could conceivably also be what's best for America, though that's not much of a slogan. I'd take the misreport of Charlie Wilson's statement about General Motors over that one any day.
But when your movement is the key tool of a nasty dictator, well, it should give you pause, shouldn't it? Jim Henley's response is that he regards war as sufficiently undesirable that "the fate of some tinpot tyrant on the other side of the globe" doesn't matter to him. That's fine, and it's a reasonable argument even if it's one that I disagree with. But don't pretend that such an approach isn't, in fact, beneficial to Saddam, and that while it may not matter to you, it does matter to him and he's basing his strategy on it. What moral obligations flow from that fact -- and I think there are some -- is perhaps another topic, but don't deny the fact itself. Personally, it's not Saddam's fate that concerns me, but ours. I just think that Saddam's fate has a lot to do with our own.
Okay, that's the reasonable argument. Here are the not-so-reasonable ones. Hesiod emailed me that by supporting war on Iraq I was "objectively pro-Al Qaeda, pro-Arab," etc. This is just dumb. People who oppose war on Iraq want to cover themselves by setting up a false dichotomy: war on Al Qaeda or war on Iraq. But, since there's no reason that one conflicts with the other, that won't wash. Indeed, I think it's more likely that the two reinforce each other.
Meanwhile Tapped asks if George Bush is "objectively pro-Kim Jong Il" because he's not in favor of invading North Korea. Well, actually, I think Bush would be in favor of invading North Korea if we could. (And I'd be interested to hear what Tapped would say in that event. I doubt it would be anything along the lines of "at last!" But be careful what you wish for. . . .)
The reason why we aren't invading North Korea is that it would be too hard, not least because North Korea has managed to pull off what Saddam Hussein is still trying to accomplish: a military position that makes invasion prohibitively expensive. Since North Korea achieved that position largely under the umbrella of Chinese and Russian protection during the Cold War, there's not much we can do about that -- though Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton's "nonproliferation" efforts there look pretty lame now -- but that's hardly an argument for giving Saddam Hussein the same opportunity, and certainly an argument against the inspections-and-blather approach taken with North Korea. In retrospect, it's clear that if we could have prevented North Korea from acquiring the weapons it has, we would have been better off doing so. I think that's the lesson we should take from this, and I think the antiwar movement needs to be awake to the possibility that Saddam is playing it for a sucker. Because I think that's what's happening.
Saddam will do what he can get away with. The question is, what are you willing to let him get away with?
UPDATE: Boy, it doesn't get much clearer than the headline on this article: "Saddam banks on protesters to quash effort to strike Iraq" -- does it?
"The demonstrations in the Arab and Western world include hundreds of thousands of peace-loving people who are protesting the war and aggression on Iraq," he said, apparently referring to protests in the United States and around the world last month. . . .
Most of Saddam's statements were standard Iraqi rhetoric -- he blamed "Zionist schemes" for Iraq's troubles and said invading Iraq would not be "a picnic" for American and British forces.
But his references to anti-war demonstrations in the West were the first signal he believed protests could undermine President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the chief advocates of attacking Iraq.
And I don't think it's any answer to say, as Micah Holmquist does, that: "This is exactly why nuclear weapons are going to be a sought after commodity by countries around the world for the forseeable future. They provide protection, something many countries are trying to obtain in light of the White House's imperial ambitions."
That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. And here's what Zach Barbera wrote when the Saddam interview came out: "Don't let the anti-war folks, as well as the French and Russians, tell you they are not on Saddam's side. He knows they are."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh suggests that something like "pro-Saddam in effect" is better. Okay, I can live with that -- since it's what I was saying anyway. I don't think that these people (well, most of 'em) really like Saddam. But I think that he's counting on their efforts, and that they ought to be troubled by that.
LAST UPDATE: Hesiod seems to think I misrepresented his email above. He offers an edited version of it at this link. I don't have the original handy, but I really don't see that my paraphrase above departs significantly from what he quotes. But my perceptions differ from Hesiod's in a number of ways.
DANIEL DREZNER HAS ANOTHER MEMO TO KARL ROVE about Trent Lott. Rove would be well-advised to read it, and act on it. Stephen Green has some advice, too.
The Republicans are about to piss away their election victory, proving that the term "stupid party" was tailor-made for them.
UPDATE: But Democrats are stepping up to the plate. . . .
HOW TO STRIKE DOWN SODOMY LAWS without raising a political stink: My FoxNews column has some lessons for the U.S. Supreme Court from state courts that have done just that.
ARMED LIBERAL IS FIGURING SOMETHING OUT that, well, I've noticed too:
See, here’s the deal. I’m a liberal because I respect pretty much everyone. I was taught this by my father, who was always as polite and respectful to the poor and low as he was to the rich and powerful (in fact, maybe a bit more so). I think that the poor and powerless are typically pretty good human beings who are on the wrong side of circumstance, and that part of the job of government is to make that condition bearable, and to make sure that it isn’t structural…that you’re not on the wrong side of circumstance because your parents were, or because of your color or sex. That way their kids will have a chance at living in big houses and spoiling their children into insensibility like I do.
But at root, it comes from a feeling that the least of us are as human and worthy of dignity as the best.
But somehow, we have managed to raise an intellectual class who believe in liberalism in no small part because it allows them to feel superior to others.
TACITUS NAILS BOB HERBERT:
One must feel sorrow for his predicament, and pity at his impasse. For if Trent Lott represents a dying past, so too does Bob Herbert. They grapple, two old men and their old ideologies, dragging one another down into history and secretly (or not so secretly) hating those who will not join in their struggle. And America, the country they both earnestly want to save from itself, increasingly ignores them and, in its younger generation, increasingly does what it should have done all along about race: shrug, miscegenate, and not care.
Yeah. That's tough on all the folks -- from Trent Lott to Jesse Jackson -- who have built their careers on racism. But as far as I'm concerned, that's not a bug, but a feature.
I'M SHOCKED, SHOCKED!
A German convert to Islam who was investigated in connection with the April bombing of a synagogue in Tunisia left Germany last month, German prosecutors said today. According to a German television news report, the man went to Saudi Arabia and police learned of his departure only after the fact.
Christian Ganczarski, 35, was a well-known activist in radical Islamic circles in the western city of Duisburg. According to German officials, he received a call from the driver of a truck laden with heating gas shortly before the truck exploded at a historic synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia, killing the driver and 19 other people, including 14 German tourists.
During the call, which was intercepted by German intelligence, the driver, Nizar Naouar, was asked by Ganczarski if he needed anything and replied, "I only need the command," German officials have said.
And he went to Saudi Arabia! Imagine that! And, uh, not very impressive police work on the part of the Germans.
RON BAILEY on media bias:
Leftwing commentators like Kaplan and Dionne simply can't face the fact the public is weary of their divisive appeals to identity politics incoherently combined with their kneejerk egalitarianism. Anyway, Gore, Dionne, and Kaplan should just relax, polls show that 60% of reporters and editors still lean to the Democratic Party while only 15% lean toward the Republican Party. Of course, in my unbiased opinion, what Americans, who are increasingly socially liberal and economically conservative, really need are more libertarian journalists.
I think that what Americans really need are more well-paid libertarian bloggers. ["More well-paid libertarian bloggers?" How about any well-paid libertarian bloggers? -- Ed. Well, if there were "some" there would be "more," right? Er, and Ed., don't you belong over on Kaus's page? For what he pays me, I have to moonlight. -- Ed.]
IT'S PLEDGE WEEK AT MATT WELCH'S -- though I have to say his pitch seems a bit less heartfelt than Andrew Sullivan's.
December 11, 2002
A TRENT LOTT LIMERICK from Laurence Simon. Mean-spirited, but funny and true.
But then, you knew it would be.
UGH. I had a cold, got over it, and immediately got another that's getting worse. Maybe some medicinal brandy will help. It couldn't hurt.
TED BARLOW SHARES WHAT HE HAS LEARNED from years in marketing research.
READER ANDY SEXTON WRITES:
I was just catching up on your site, and saw your post about the 350Z and G35C. I've had almost EXACTLY the same experience (except I can find Zs at list here in Nashville most places). Do these people think they are selling Porsches or something? Very frustrating. You'd think they don't want my $30K+.
I was able to drive a G35C on the weekend after their release date, but I've yet to find somebody to let me drive a Z.
I understand the joy ride problem they are facing, but if they expect to sell cars to some of us, they're going to have to loosen up.
Yes. The whole episode left me in a bad frame of mind where Nissan is concerned.
RON BAILEY ISN'T IMPRESSED with Michael Crichton's Prey. Bailey's piece is entirely fair, but I think Crichton -- in his public comments outside the novel -- has also been a model of fairness and responsibility, taking care to raise both the good and bad sides of nanotechnology with scrupulous accuracy and evenhandedness.
DENISE HOWELL has an update on the Boalt sexual-harassment story, which Erin O'Connor has been covering extensively, and with sensitivity: "More than one reader has written to suggest that the reason Dwyer seems to find himself on the wrong end of university policy is that he had the wrong politics."
HERE'S THE LATEST ON LOTT:
"The words were terrible and I regret that," Mr. Lott told the conservative radio and television commentator Sean Hannity in an interview broadcast simultaneously on Mr. Hannity's radio program and the Fox cable-television news channel. "It was certainly not intended to endorse his segregationist policies that he might have been advocating, or was advocating, 54 years ago."
Rather, Mr. Lott said, he meant to hail Mr. Thurmond's record on issues like national defense, balancing the budget and economic development rather than the views on race Mr. Thurmond held when he ran for president on a Dixiecrat platform opposing "social intermingling of the races."
"Obviously, I'm sorry for my words," Mr. Lott said. "They were poorly chosen and insensitive, and I regret the way that they have been interpreted."
Mr. Lott, recalling phrasing used by Jesse L. Jackson in 1984 to address concerns that he is anti-Semitic, said his error was a "mistake of the head, not of the heart, because I don't accept those policies of the past at all."
I don't know. If he'd said this on Saturday it would have killed the story. Now it seems, well, unconvincing and inadequate.
SPECIAL BENEFIT FOR "INSTAPUNDIT PREMIUM" SUBSCRIBERS! (Which is, well, everyone. . .) Thanks to your special "insider" status, you can read my FoxNews column a day before its publication date!!!!!
It's about what the Supreme Court can learn from state-court decisions striking down sodomy laws.
THE CENTER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF CAPITALISM has set up a Web page from which users can email their Republican Senators and ask them not to support Trent Lott for Majority Leader.
UPDATE: Reader John Bragg emails this link to an observation that Lott is already caving to Democratic legislative demands, further evidence that he's lost effectiveness.
TIRED OF TRENT LOTT POSTINGS? Charles Johnson has declared Little Green Footballs a "Lott-free zone."
BANDAR'S BOMBSHELL: Mickey Kaus has some interesting observations and speculation regarding 9/11.
ERIC ALTERMAN IS CALLING ON LOTT TO STAY. 'Nuff said?
Even Alterman thinks the latest minor-celebrities-against-war mediafest is silly.
THE TURMOIL IN VENEZUELA is getting very little attention in the States, but El Sur has lots of reports.
UPDATE: Jorge Schmidt emails that some reports suggest Chavez may be planning on bringing in Cuban troops; there are even unconfirmed reports that some are already present, and wearing Venezuelan uniforms.
No link, but Schmidt's track record is excellent. We'll see.
STEPHEN GREEN IS BACK AND BLOGGING. His comment on Lott's Hannity appearance: "Buh-bye."
ARMED LIBERAL writes on failures to communicate, and why the left loses elections -- and, I might add, will continue to do so in spite of Trent Lott's idiocy unless it changes its tune.
UPDATE: Oliver Willis has some good advice.
DANIEL DREZNER writes on anti-Americanism as a campaign tactic.
ARTHUR SILBER saw Lott on Hannity and has decided he's a paid Democratic operative.
Heh. Well, it would explain a lot. . . .
UPDATE: Reader Justene Adamec writes:
I listened with half an ear. I figure he's done and I'm not interested in watching the train wreck play out. But in the coverage of the interview, I have not seen anyone mention that he did explain what he meant. He was referring to limited govt and support for defense.
Interesting, but not very plausible on Lott's part. At least, you wonder why he didn't say that on Saturday.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus is calling for Republican Senators to say they won't support Lott for Majority Leader.
MICHIEL VISSER REPORTS ON RADICAL ISLAMISTS' PLANS FOR EUROPE: Basically, it's a war of conquest from within. Then there's this lovely quote:
In a recent interview on Dutch TV, Abu Jahjah said: "It would be fantastic if empty planes would be flown into the White House."
It would be great if Dutch authorities would crack down on Abu Jahjah.
ALPHECCA examines the Canadian gun-registry debacle, where cost overruns are in the billion-dollar range and results are sketchy. Margaret Wente writes in The Globe and Mail:
I asked Philip Stenning, a leading expert on firearms policy, how we got into this billion-dollar mess. "Ideology and incompetence," he answered. "They were on a moral crusade."
Prof. Stenning, who's with the University of Toronto's Centre of Criminology, has advised governments on gun policy since the 1970s. He also advised Sheila Fraser's audit team. "They just couldn't believe their eyes. They've seen lots of terrible things. But they've never seen anything like this." . . .
"Anybody who voiced any kind of opposition to this package was branded as a gun nut and an enemy of peace and security," says Prof. Stenning.
The gun registry was supposed to catch the small minority of irresponsible and potentially dangerous gun owners. But its underlying ideology was that all gun owners were potential criminals. The Justice Department itself admitted as much. In her damning report, the Auditor-General says: "The department said the excessive regulation had occurred because some of its program partners believed that the use of firearms is in itself a 'questionable activity' that required strong controls."
Of course, if Canada's effort is a disaster of the first order -- and it is -- it pales beside what that sort of effort would become in the United States, where it would be faced with massive civil disobedience at the very least.
LIBERATION REPORTS (Google translation -- about as good as mine -- here) that the Mayor of Evry, France is upset because a Franprix grocery store (a pretty big chain, I believe) has removed wine and pork so as not to offend local Muslims.
HERE'S AN interesting, and also link-rich, discussion of the water-on-Mars issue.
DAVE KOPEL has a long, link-rich piece on how the U.N.'s disarmament program has facilitated genocide in Uganda, as it did in the former Yugoslavia.
DAVID CARR AT SAMIZDATA suggests that the United States counter European anti-Americanism by opening up to immigration from Europe. I think he's got a great argument.
Meanwhile, a few posts upscreen (Samizdata is nothing if not diverse), Brian Micklethwait offers career advice for Molly Ringwald.
TODAY'S DAN GILLMOR COLUMN about video-equipped cellphones can be profitably read alongside my TechCentralStation column from today. Excerpt:
I can safely predict one area that will soon feel the impact of all this. It's the field I know best, journalism.
Consider the more than 10 million camera-equipped mobile phones in Japan. Some of their owners take snapshots and post them to Web pages.
Watch the next time a major news event, such as a bad earthquake, takes place there. Before the big Japanese media organizations even have time to scramble their photographers to the scene, the world will be able to view the aftermath of the quake -- and, no doubt, videos of the quake as it happened -- on a variety of Web sites.
Blogger already supports post-by-email. (It kinda works). MT doesn't, but no doubt will soon. Wouldn't it be cool if you could email text (for a blog post) and an attached photo to your site from a cellphone? That really would be a revolutionary development, and it would make blog-journalism competitive with blog-punditry.
UPDATE: I notice that Jeff Jarvis has a thoughtful reply to my column up, though I didn't actually call Big Media "dinosaurs." And Jeff is neither purple nor rotund. And his beard is prematurely white. Don't forget that part!
I'VE GROWN WEARY OF FACT-CHECKING MICHAEL MOORE. It's a full-time job. But now there's a full-time Moore-checking website to take up much of the load.
THE "STRAW THAT BROKE THE ELEPHANT'S BACK:" Ralph Luker writes that Lott has to go in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Meanwhile, Josh Chafetz has suggestions on what you can do about it.
UPDATE: Mickey Kaus, on the other hand, notes that we've come a long way since Jim Crow.
KEN ADELMAN WRITES that the Saudis aren't our friends, and Bush needs to recognize it:
For Saudi Arabia is no "great friend" to our values. Saudi Arabia ranks rock bottom on granting civil or political freedom. Along with the "axis of evil" states, it stands among the most repressive regimes on earth. And without doubt is one of the most corrupt regimes in the world - probably even worse than the three "axis of evil" states. . . .
Saudi Arabia is no "great friend" to the real war on terrorism. Recently Price Bandar's wife was in hot water over allegations that she indirectly gave money to the 9/11 terrorists is hotly debated. Saudi spin doctors claim she'd never try to help terrorists, since her own father was murdered by Islamic extremists in the 1970s. Further investigation shows that her father, the King, was indeed murdered in the 1970s - not by an Islamic fanatic, but by his nephew, a drug addict long tripping on LSD.
Regardless, it's certain that Saudi royal family members have been paying protection money to Saudi-led terrorists for a long time now. Court documents filed last Fall claim that Saudi royal family members met with Osama bin Laden and gave over $300 million to al Qaeda terrorists for a pledge of no terrorism in Saudi Arabia itself.
He's right. They're not our friends.
THE NEW REPUBLIC UNCOVERS a suggestion from Democrat Bennie Thompson that Lott buy his way out of disgrace by supporting Democratic programs.
Most Republicans, I imagine, will see that as further reason for Lott to step down. And TNR is right to say: "Thompson should demand that Lott resign and leave two-bit shakedown tactics to Jesse Jackson. "
LOTT IS DAMAGED GOODS. Everybody knows it, except maybe him. If he serves as Majority Leader, the GOP will have to deal with TV commercials like this. Many otherwise-likely Republican voters will stay home, or vote Libertarian, something that is already hurting the GOP.
And Lott's been a lousy Majority Leader anyway. Somebody needs to suck it up and have The Conversation with him. Not serving as the Majority Leader is hardly a fate worse than death.
UPDATE: The American Prowler says Lott's people know it, even if Lott doesn't:
According to a knowledgeable Republican source, GOP members of both houses are extremely concerned that Lott's comments have so derailed the momentum gained from the 2002 elections that it would be impossible to come in in January, make numerous political confirmations for the executive branch, and begin planning a legislative agenda that would include accelerating the Bush tax cuts and pushing through a prescription drug plan for seniors. . . .
"Even Lott's people understand how serious this has become," says the Republican source, who added that while there is no discussion in Lott's office of his stepping aside, Lott's people are steeling themselves for a growing drumbeat from their side of the aisle for Lott to give way to a noncontroversial leader who can get the Republican agenda back on track.
Rip the band-aid off fast.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Arthur Silber agrees that Lott should go, but says Democrats shouldn't get a pass on their racists, either:
But everyone, including many Democrats, is now all too eager to conclude that Lott must have intended only a racist meaning by those comments: that what Lott truly and sincerely wants is a return to a segregationist era. Lott's remarks are obviously subject to that interpretation (which may even be the most likely one, particularly in light of his stunningly inept "apology"), which is part of what renders them so irredeemably stupid. But if one wants to cast them as unquestionably racist, then what is one to do with Donna Brazile's comment during the 2000 campaign, that she was determined not to "let the white boys win"? Or then California State Senator Diane Watson's comment in 1995 about Ward Connerly's interracial marriage?
"He's married to a white woman," Watson said. "He wants to be white. He wants a colorless society. He has no ethnic pride. He doesn't want to be black."
Aren't those statements just as racist as Lott's? I submit that they are. But the Democrats will never admit that, and the largely Democratic-leaning mainstream press has given these remarks, and many other similar ones, a completely free pass -- when, that is, they are uttered by Democrats. . . .
So the Republicans had better make absolutely clear that they are letting Lott go for all the other reasons that apply, and that have applied for much too long a time: he is not a genuine friend of limited government (witness the pork he is proud to carry to his home state in many, many bills passed under his watch); it is impossible to determine exactly what his basic political principles are (do you know what they are?) -- and as best I can determine, he is only for the status quo, which means a vastly overintrusive federal government in every conceivable area; whenever he has had the opportunity to lead, he has done so in a stunningly lackluster and uninspiring manner; and he has also repeatedly demonstrated the same tin ear and vacuous mind that led to this latest debacle.
Let him go for those reasons -- and not because he is a "racist." As I said, if the Republicans do let him go for that reason, or if it even appears that that is the reason, it will only be like throwing red meat to rabid dogs, the dogs being the Democrats and their friends in the mainstream press.
Charles Murtaugh also points this out:
I think the most egregious example of campaign race-baiting in recent memory was the NAACP's James Byrd ad of 2000, which tried valiantly to link George W. Bush to Byrd's racist dragging murder. And today, Al Sharpton remains a viable political figure. None of this is to make any excuse for Trent Lott, who ought to be dusting off a comfy seat on the back bench ASAP. I'm just pointing out that there are still more fingers yet to be pointed.
Indeed there are.
I BLOGGED ABOUT THE INTENSITY OF KNOXVILLE'S SMALLPOX PREPARATIONS a while back. Here's more on that:
My wife works as a psychological examiner at [local name deleted] testing and counseling stroke victims and orthopedic patients. Yesterday someone went around handing out sign-up sheets and information about the smallpox vaccine and asking for volunteers for the "smallpox reaction team" or something like that. According to my wife, the same person was going around this morning to collect the signed forms saying that they had to be turned in today! My wife said she sensed some real urgency in the woman's tone. Perhaps the woman was just under pressure from the administrators who have to place an order for the vaccine or something, but my wife said that the buzz is that they will be getting the shots very soon and training the people who get them to also give them. Sounds to me to be more than your ordinary preparedness plan. My guess is someone knows a lot more than we do about the smallpox threat.
That's my sense, too. Perhaps Knox County is just better-organized about this, but usually when you see this degree of activity among lower-level functionaries, it's because the pressure is coming from on high.
UPDATE: It's the same thing in Oklahoma, and, I suspect, all over.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here are some thoughts from N.Z. Bear. I actually believe, though, that many of the assumptions in the Dark Winter exercise were overly pessimistic.
LAST WEEK I LINKED TO A STORY IN 2600 regarding a claim by a Denver man, Mike Maginnis, that he had been harassed and taken into custody for photographing Dick Cheney's hotel. The Rocky Mountain News is now reporting that the Secret Service and the Denver Police deny that it ever happened.
As my original post indicated, the story seemed a bit fishy. But -- as the post also indicated -- previous incidents gave it a degree of credibility.
THE NEW YORK TIMES is making the Australia-Zimbabwe connection:
The Australian court's reasoning in this case is analogous to that employed by Zimbabwe's regime in seeking to punish a writer for an article the country's police downloaded from a London newspaper's Web site. To subject distant providers of online content to sanctions in countries intent on curbing free speech — or even to 190 different libel laws — is to undermine the Internet's viability.
Australia is not Zimbabwe, of course. But the Australian court's ruling will give political and legal cover to unsavory regimes who simply want to insulate themselves from criticism.
JUST SUCKED A COUPLE OF THOUSAND MESSAGES off my server and into an email program. In theory, I could still read and reply to the unread ones. In practice, if you've emailed me and you haven't heard back, well, it's buried. Sorry, but I have to do this every week or so, and there's just so much email that stuff falls through the cracks, though I try to read everything.
IT'S A BIG DAY FOR NAILING POMPOUS HYPOCRITES, as Howie Carr demonstrates:
When it comes to doing the right thing by the poor and the downtrodden, Bernard Cardinal Law has a message for all us taxpayers.
Give, give, give 'til it hurts. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and then some.
Yet when Law himself is asked to meet his obligations to those raped and violated by his priests, His Eminence has a very different response, which is:
I'll see you in bankruptcy court.
What a surprise, eh? In yet another realm, the fraud's message is, do as I say, not as I do.
Responsibility, apparently, is for the flock. When it comes to the higher-ups, they talk the talk, but they wouldn't think of walking the walk. That's for the dopes who still think the second collection is on the level.
Until the recent unraveling of his corrupt empire, the sanctimonious prince of the church annually went to Beacon Hill to bang his tin cup on the State House steps, demanding ever more generous handouts for the shiftless, the indigent and the promiscuous. But now that it's finally Law's turn to buy a round, he's tipping over tables in his unseemly rush to get out of the room. Money for sodomized altar boys? Don't push me, pal. Ever hear of Chapter 11?
I've noticed that there are a lot of people who are generous with my money, and all for personal responsibility as applied to, well, people like me but who take a rather different attitude when the tables are turned.
(Via Amy Welborn).
NEAL BOORTZ says Trent Lott must step down as Majority Leader:
Lott’s apology was so weak. Both of them were weak. Somehow he just couldn’t bring himself to say that the platform of the Dixiecrat Party in 1948 was anti-American and an abomination to our Constitution. He just couldn’t bring himself to say that each and every citizen in our country is entitled to equal protection under our laws, and that the legacy of segregation is a point of shame, not a point of celebration.
There are many fine Republicans in the U.S. Senate who could serve as the Senate Majority Leader without the racial baggage. The bulk of the Republican agenda carries favorable implications for black Americans .. but how in the hell does the party expect to attract black members and voters with Trent Lott drawling on and on about what a good president Strom Thurmond would have made?
And scroll down for some more good advice for Republicans regarding women.
MUST-SEE TV: Oliver Willis offers a taste of what the GOP can expect if Lott remains Majority Leader.
UPDATE: Read the comments below the ad, which is masterful.
As one reader notes: "And the worst thing about the ad is that it isn't even slightly unfair."
I don't think Lott has a future as Majority Leader, but I think there's a future for Oliver in the "political communications" business.
THE END OF MEDIA FEUDALISM: My TechCentralStation column is up.
CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY'S HILLEL will be suing Concordia University's Student Union, according to Sari Stein:
Hillel sent a lawyer's letter by bailiff to the CSU last week, informing them that legal action would be taken if the resolution to freeze Hillel's funding and suspend its privileges was not rescinded by Monday (yesterday) at 5pm. By that deadline yesterday, the CSU had failed to respond.
In a JTA article, the CSU was said to have "conditionally reinstated Hillel's privileges". In fact, there's been quite a bit of wheeling and dealing going on in the CSU. But the CSU didn't actually restore Hillel's funding and privileges. Instead, first in a proposed deal by CSU president Sabine Freisinger, and now in proposed resolutions by council, they're aiming to reinstate Hillel under certain "conditions" - namely, that Hillel sign a certain agreemement.
The "conditional" reinstatement of Hillel is unacceptable. The CSU screwed up, and now they want to impose conditions to try and make Hillel pay even though it did nothing wrong. That's like stealing a car from a guy, and then demanding $1000 to return it.
Hillel deserves nothing less than a full apology and a reinstatement of all its privileges - unconditionally. Anything less is not only an insult, but a travesty of justice.
UPDATE: Letter from Gotham suggests that we rename it "Discordia University."
SO SOMEBODY EMAILS ME to say that I'm quoted on the Wall Street Journal editorial page regarding the Australian Internet decision. Naturally, I figured it was a quote from my oped on the subject in The Australian. Er, not quite.
AL ROKER'S BRUSH WITH FAME: He actually got to do a show with James Lileks! And visit Lileks at his house, famed Jasperwood. Roker is one lucky guy.
WHY AM I NOT SURPRISED TO READ THIS?
Many of the Iraqi scientists U.N. arms inspectors want to interview have been spirited abroad or switched to innocuous posts and their places taken by unknown technicians, according to Iraqi exiles and Western officials. . . .
Some key workers have been sent abroad to sympathetic countries, including Libya, Sudan and Syria, and told to remain there while inspections continue. Their families are being kept in Iraq to ensure that they do not defect.
"These are the people with the know-how, so the best way to hide the know-how is to hide the people," one Western official said.
The whole thing is a charade, and everyone knows it. Soon, even Hans Blix will figure it out.
DANIEL DREZNER watched Nightline and penned a memo to Karl Rove that Karl Rove should actually read. Excerpt:
Did you see the Nightline episode on l'affaire Lott? I was impressed by all of the participants, and grateful that Julian Bond went out of his way to acknowledge that younger conservatives were particularly appalled by Lott's comment. Still, I kept thinking, "where are the f@&%ing senators?!!" Duck and cover is not a successful long-term strategy, and this problem is not going away. The bigger this issue gets, the more people are going to ask what the President thinks about it. Karl, it's time for some pre-emptive action on the home front -- give Trent the boot.
Senate Republicans are missing a golden opportunity here. If they act quickly and forthrightly to remove Lott from a leadership position, they not only eliminate this as a future campaign issue, but they actually look better than the Democrats. Removing Lott after Daschle tried to sanitize the situation sends a clear signal about which party has principles. The other option is to try to ride out the current hullabaloo, but that won't work. Newt Gingrich was a polarizing figure, but imagine what Trent Lott will look like after his quote is spliced into every campaign commercial and flyer in 2004. You really want this dogging the President on the campaign trail?
Good advice. I think a lot of the problem is that too many people in Washington are neutralized by the fact that they know Lott socially or professionally. Meanwhile the Midwest Conservative Journal says Lott's toast: "Trent Lott is in deep trouble. Even the Family Research Council has bailed out."
Duck-and-cover might work if all the people calling for his ouster were on the Left. But most of them are on the Right.
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE. . .
For several days now, I've been searching for a conservative to come to the defense of incoming Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. I haven't found one. In fact, I constitute one of his biggest defenders simply because I don't think he should be dumped from the GOP leadership because he's allegedly racist. I think he should be dumped because he's politically stupid. . . .
One has only two choices here: Either, you take Lott at his word or you don't. If you don't believe him, then, well, he's a racist and a foolish one for being so obvious about it. But if you take him at his word, that he made a mistake, that's even worse. I mean, he's been smeared with the racist label enough times to have learned his lesson, especially considering the fact he's supposed to lead the Republican Party.
Regardless, Trent Lott only does two things well, freeze-dry his hair and say stupid things. He mishandled impeachment, mishandled the 1998 elections, mishandled power-sharing with the Democrats after the 2000 election and mishandled Jim Jeffords straight into the Democratic Party.
One reason so many conservatives are denouncing Lott is that he's never given conservatives much reason to trust him or care about him. He's a deal-cutter who seems to stand for nothing except massive amounts of pork to his home state and, occasionally, sticking up for Jim Crow.
December 10, 2002
DAVE WEIGEL LISTS HIS CANDIDATES for Trent Lott's replacement as majority leader.
I'm not sure that Trent Lott can really be "replaced," though. Just succeeded.
UPDATE: Rob Smith is ready to be rid of Lott. Meanwhile, Drudge is reporting:
After a fiery speech by Strom Thurmond at a Mississippi campaign rally in November 1980, Lott, then a congressman, told a crowd: 'You know, if we had elected this man 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today'... MORE... Quotation appeared in an account of the rally on Nov. 3, 1980, in Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss...
I think this story is just taking off. And, as a look at Smith's bio indicates, if you've lost him, you've lost the South. And Lott's lost him, big time. Meanwhile, here's a cartoon by John Cole in the Durham Herald-Sun, and here's a blog entry by Cole comparing Lott's "apology" to the non-apology from Gerhard Schroeder's Justice Minister Herta Däubler-Gmelin, who compared Bush to Hitler.
And we all know what happened to Herta, don't we?
UPDATE: Here's a New York Times story expanding on the Drudge quote above.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The two John Coles items are from different John Coles. They just happened to come in at about the same time, with the same name. Go figure.
SLATE OFFERS a quick guide to sodomy. Uh, thanks!
TED BARLOW IS BACK! And he's the King of Spain!
And I am Marie of Roumania.
NOW THIS IS INTERESTING:
Pentagon officials said Tuesday that U.S. military weapons specialists have found at least a dozen Scud missiles aboard a ship stopped en route from North Korea several hundred miles off the coast southeast of Yemen in the Indian Ocean. . . .
The ship -- called the So San -- was stopped Monday by the Spanish navy frigate Navarra, which had to fire several warning shots to get it to halt, a senior aide to the Spanish defense minister told CNN.
Once the ship stopped, about a dozen armed Spanish naval inspectors flew over by helicopter and boarded it.
Although the ship did not have a flag, the aide said its crew was North Korean.
When the Spanish crew looked into the cargo hold, they found containers buried in the cement.
They opened one container and found what appeared to be missile parts, officials said. The Spanish crew then called for assistance from the United States, and a U.S. explosives ordnance disposal team went on board.
Sounds like there's some good intelligence behind this. Of course, as a flagless vessel, it has no rights, which should make for a very thorough search.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
They thought they could get away with it.
They didn't count on the Spanish navy.
Noo-oo-body expects the Spanish Inquisition.
MOROCCO IS CRACKING DOWN on radical Islamists.
THE FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL ON TRENT LOTT:
Sen. Lott's ill-considered remarks will serve only to reinforce the false stereotype that white conservatives are racists at heart. Republicans ought to ask themselves if they really want their party to continue to be represented by Trent Lott, or should the GOP look to a new Senate leader who is not encumbered by this unnecessary baggage?
Nightline will be doing a segment tonight.
UPDATE: The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism isn't buying Lott's apology:
“A poor choice of words” implies that had he expressed his sentiments more exactly, no one would have taken exception to his comments. This is falsified, however, by the fact that Lott has never explained what nice, innocuous sentiments he meant to express. The premise of Lott’s few defenders has been that he misspoke, that he did not mean what he in fact said. The evidence indicates that he in fact misspoke, and accidentally said what he meant.
"Few defenders" is the most amazing part of this, because it's entirely true.
MORE ON LOTT:
When results from the polls in Missouri and Minnesota in last month’s elections gave Republicans control of the Senate once again, a Republican consultant I know threw up his hands in disgust and said “Christ, this means we’ll have Trent Lott as the leader again.”
Privately, a lot of other Republicans said the same thing but the party of the elephant got so wrapped up in celebrating their victories on election night they forgot what a problem Lott was for the party the last time they ran things in the Senate.
That failure to remember slapped them right in the face at a 100th birthday party for retiring Senator Strom Thurmond, one of the last of the old guard whose ideas should have left the Senate decades ago.
Yep. But are they smart enough to learn now?
YET ANOTHER ANTIWAR PUFF PIECE in the Washington Post. The ANSWER group gets a mention, but this article -- which is by David Montgomery, not the predictably protester-friendly Evelyn Nieves -- seems to whitewash the shady nature of that outfit, which David Corn has called a "front group" for the Stalinist "Worker's World Party." Here's what Corn wrote:
The party advocates socialist revolution and abolishing private property. It is a fan of Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba, and it hails North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il for preserving his country’s “socialist system,” which, according to the party’s newspaper, has kept North Korea “from falling under the sway of the transnational banks and corporations that dictate to most of the world.” The WWP has campaigned against the war-crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. A recent Workers World editorial declared, “Iraq has done absolutely nothing wrong.”
Officially, the organizer of the Washington demonstration was International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism). But ANSWER is run by WWP activists, to such an extent that it seems fair to dub it a WWP front. Several key ANSWER officials — including spokesperson Brian Becker — are WWP members. Many local offices for ANSWER’s protest were housed in WWP offices. Earlier this year, when ANSWER conducted a press briefing, at least five of the 13 speakers were WWP activists. They were each identified, though, in other ways, including as members of the International Action Center.
Here's what Montgomery writes:
ANSWER is not a socialist organization, but key members of its brain trust happen to be active in the Workers World Party. Their party politics are irrelevant to the vast majority of people, like Democrat Condon, for example, who are attracted to a seasoned outfit that's good at what it does.
I think the original term for those people is "useful idiots."
MY PIECE ON THE AUSTRALIAN INTERNET DEBACLE is now online at The Australian.
COURTNEY LOVE IS THREATENING THE SMOKING GUN WITH LEGAL ACTION for posting official documents concerning a doctor charged with providing her with drugs.
Naturally, the main effect of that threat is to draw more attention to the charges -- not that the idea of Courtney Love having a drug problem comes as a complete shock. I mean, just look at the picture. If she's that concerned with her public image, shouldn't she, well, be more concerned with her public image?
(Via Hit & Run).
A READER ON TRENT LOTT: Reader Eric Boysen writes:
You think Trent Lott is a racist and his slip-of-the-tongue just proves it. And every blogger you know agrees with you, so that just validates the proof. And since the blogosphere was first to grab the rope and find a hanging tree, it's backslaps all around for this hi-tech lynching now, is that it??
"First the verdict, THEN the trial," shouted the Red Queen.
What you are applauding, sir, is your assumption of Chief of the Thought Police and Head Executioner of any freedom of speech you do not agree with.
You're too conceited, but you ought to be ashamed of yourself.
My reply was "F*ck that. I saw the video." But this is absurd enough to answer at a bit more length. It's not a "trial" because it's not a "crime." He said something in public, and he's being criticized in public. That's not a threat to free speech, it is free speech. What's more, Lott has had plenty of time to respond, and has chosen not to except in the lamest and most unsatisfactory way. The result -- heat from some people with weblogs -- seems to me to be something short of "execution."
PLAYING FOR TIME: Max Boot writes on Saddam's game:
There is no mystery about why President Saddam Hussein chose to inundate the United Nations with 12,000 pages listing every food- processing facility, tannery and dairy in Iraq. The Butcher of Baghdad gave away the game in his first interview in 12 years, granted to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Usbu’a last month. “No doubt, time is working for us,” he said. “We have to buy some more time, and the American-British coalition will disintegrate because of internal reasons and the pressure of public opinion in American and British streets.”
I think that this "pressure of public opinion" language is a recognition by Saddam that the "anti-war" movement is objectively on his side, and not neutral. Of course, the old CIA would have just dusted Hans Blix's room with a few anthrax spores. But we don't do things like that now.
UPDATE: Via email, I learn that Jim Henley and Hesiod are unhappy with the remark about the antiwar movement being Saddam's ally. But the quote in the story seems to me to indicate that Saddam sees it that way. And I think he's right.
A PACK, NOT A HERD: Here's an interesting story about a study of the World Trade Center evacuation. I'm glad to see that people are trying to learn from this experience.
VICAR TELLS CHILDREN SANTA IS DEAD: I'm sorry, but does anything non-risible come out of the Anglican clergy?
I'M VERY HAPPY WITH REASON'S NEW BLOG, HIT AND RUN, but I love Tim Blair's comment.
Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. And you will like it!
FOLLOWING INSTAPUNDIT'S LEAD, Paul Krugman is all over Trent Lott today. Krugman can't resist adding a dig about liberal media bias by noting that the liberal mainstream press was slow to pick up on the story, but his column doesn't mention that the non-liberal non-mainstream was pretty damned quick.
Quite a few readers suspect that Dems didn't want to make too big a deal out of this because (1) if Lott steps down, they lose an issue for the next election; and (2) Lott's well-established ineffectiveness as majority leader is an asset to the Democrats. Me, I'm not a conspiracist: I think it's explained by laziness, chumminess with a frequent source, and the near-complete inability of the allegedly well-equipped mainstream media to react to a political story over a weekend.
Why are these guys so slow?
UPDATE: Reader William Modahl thinks I'm losing perspective:
Look, I hold no brief for Trent Lott, and his remarks were foolish at best. But today one of the significant obstacles to better race relations is the fact that the democrat party depends in many parts of the country on getting 95% of the black vote plus a minority of the white vote to be competitive. This means they have turned to stirring up racial paranoia of the worst sort - tarring Bush with dragging ads, creating a fictitious scenario of racially motivated church burnings, etc. Placing the worst interpretation on Lott's remarks and then flogging the issue to death only plays into their hands. They want to open up old wounds of historical injustice for the purpose of exacerbating racial feelings today. Allowing yourself to get caught up in that agenda instead of focusing on today's problems is a mistake.
Well, Modahl is certainly correct that most of today's political race-baiting comes from the Democratic Party -- and I've condemned it often enough. But Lott's remarks really were, as Robert George points out, something sui generis and they deserve criticism just as much as McKinney's hateful comments did.
And I think the fact that conservatives and libertarians are criticizing Lott adds credibility, just as I think the comparative silence of many mainstream lefty pundits on people like McKinney detracted from their credibility.
UPDATE: Best of the Web says that Krugman was really following Josh Marshall's lead. That's really true -- I first found out about Lott's statements via Josh's blog, and I think he was the first one on this story.
UNLIKE THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE, the Nobel Prize in Economics retains its prestige, and this year it's going to experimental economists Vernon Smith of George Mason University and Daniel Kahneman of Princeton. You can watch the ceremonies via the web in a few minutes (10:30 a.m. ET) here.
ROBERT GEORGE WRITES IN NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE that Trent Lott must go:
The new statement itself was very nice and, all things considered, one might give Lott the benefit of the doubt — if he didn't have a record, unmatched by any other current leading Republican of paying homage to a romanticized view of the "old South." . . .
Most people don't expect a 100-year old Thurmond or an 85-year-old Robert Byrd (D., W.V.) to completely escape their racist pasts. But Trent Lott is an adult baby boomer, of the same generation as the current and previous presidents. The leaders of this generation supposedly went through the '60s and supposedly learned a few things about race. That seems true of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. But Trent Lott is waxing nostalgic about the Confederacy and Dixiecrats. . . .
George W. Bush and his guru-advisor Karl Rove have to ask if this is a man who should have a prominent position in the "new" Republican party. It's not as if there aren't more interesting alternatives: The ideal choice would be telegenic Bill Frist of Tennessee. As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he helped restore the GOP majority. (The one downside for Frist is that the surgeon may be too smart for the position. As one veteran Senate staffer put it, "The smart guys don't win these leadership races because it would be too intimidating to the other senators. You have to be just smart enough to do the job, but not so smart as to make the other members of the club feel inadequate.") . . .
Ultimately though Bush, Rove, and Co. have to ask: "Do they want someone who deserves to be Senate Majority Leader — or a man who seems to continually fantasize being white majority leader?"
Couldn't have said it better myself.
COLLIN MAY (himself a Canadian) writes that Canada is losing its coherence as a country and Canadians don't seem to care.
HOWARD KURTZ is noting the gap between online punditry and establishment media where the Trent Lott affair is concerned.
SOME AUSTRALIAN GUY went and ruined the Internet. Dang.
I've got a somewhat more nuanced take coming out later today on The Australian's op-ed page. It's not up yet, but should be in a couple of hours.
MINDLES H. DRECK pronounces Joe Lieberman's criticism of the economy laughable.
THE DAILY KOS is putting together a network of political bloggers to cover state and local politics around the country. He wants a good mix of left-right, with an emphasis on people who cover the actual races and how issues are playing with voters. Check it out -- it looks like a good opportunity for distributed coverage via the blogosphere.
December 09, 2002
LOTT HAS APOLOGIZED, though I'm not sure this will end the matter. On the other hand, Jesse Jackson (whose record in this area isn't very clean: remember "Hymietown" and his mock-surprise at a black journalists' meeting that so many black people could read and write?) is still on the attack, and he's joined by professional race-baiter Al Sharpton. That's pretty sure to drain the anti-Lott forces of moral authority in short order.
Then again, Tom Daschle is defending Lott, which, well, doesn't help anybody much as far as I can tell.
MICHELE AT A SMALL VICTORY tells the story of her experience doing telemarketing for MADD. It's not pretty.
DRIVING MR. MICKEY: So instead of blogging this afternoon (or, er, doing actual work) I went out to test-drive sports cars with Mickey Kaus, who was passing through town on his way back to Los Angeles. We had arranged this at the Yale Blog Conference, when Mickey remarked that he was going to do more automotive writing and I suggested a joint test drive.
Alas, though the company was all you could ask, the experience wasn't. Our first stop was a local Nissan Dealer, where we intended to drive a 350Z sports car. I had dropped by the dealer to look at one a while back (which Mickey even noted on Kausfiles, to my surprise) and thought the car looked great. (That's Kaus in the 350Z above).
It still does, but I have my reservations. The first was that the dealer had slapped a near-$6000 markup above the sticker price, turning the car from a bargain to, well, not a bargain. The second was that they wouldn't let us drive it. (In accordance with journalistic ethics, or whatever, we didn't tell them we were writing about it.) The salesman was extremely anxious to have me choose a car from the several on the lot, agree to buy it, "sign some papers" and then, and only then, actually drive the car.
I wasn't interested, of course, in buying a car on the spot, only then to test drive it. We left, but the salesman convinced us to at least sit in the car and try out the stereo. I pulled a CD from my car and inserted it into the CD player, which promptly ate it and refused to function. The CD is still in the car, with a promise from the dealer that I'll get it back someday. I have to say, though, that after that experience I'm pretty unimpressed. Bad enough that the dealer seemed so anxious to hustle us (well, me) into a sale: it's pretty bad when you get such a major malfunction off the bat. I think Nissan is blowing it here: the 350Z is supposed to be one of those cars that casts a halo around the maker's more mundane offerings. Instead, because of the dealer's churlishness, it left me with a distinctly bad feeling. The devoured CD didn't help, and seemed all the more irritating after the display of 'tude. (I should stress that the salesman was nice enough, but the dealer's policy was insulting and stupid).
Our next stop was the Infiniti dealer, to try the very similar Infiniti G35 sport coupe. Mickey thought the G35 looked better than the 350Z; I preferred the Z, but they're both good-looking cars inside and out. The backseat in the G35, while vestigial, was bigger than I expected: not only big enough for a child, but big enough for most adults on short hauls, like piling people in to go from work to lunch.
The Infiniti dealership demonstrated something that I've noticed before: one of the best reasons for shopping at a luxury-car dealership is that they're almost always nicer. (There was no nasty above-sticker markup, either). Unlike the snooty Nissan dealership, the Infiniti salesman handed us some keys and told us to come back when we were done. We took the G35 for a drive and it was nice . . . though not great. I'll leave the automotive journalism to Kaus, who has all the cliches down ("the slick shifter comes readily to hand, which is valuable on the twisty bits. . ."). But while I liked it, I didn't love it. It wasn't the top-of-the-line sport package, which may account in part for its slightly vague feel. It was an excellent car overall, but not one to fall in love with. (Given that it's nearly identical to the 350Z, this may be why the dealer didn't want us to drive the Z until there was some sort of commitment. If so, that's dirty pool even by car-dealer standards). The salesman promised to call me when they have a performance-package car in; I'll try that one and report back with a final opinion.
What I will say is that if Nissan is looking for image-burnishing from the 350Z, they'd better get their dealers in on the program, because greed and cheesiness are sending the wrong signal. I left the Nissan dealership with a bad feeling. I left the Infiniti dealership thinking well of them. Since both dealers sell a number of other brands, the benefit to letting customers go away happy versus annoyed would seem to be significant.
I also think that the car industry is screwed up. Every time I start to think about buying a car, I put it off for months -- or sometimes years -- because they make the process unpleasant. And I say this as someone who always negotiates a good deal, but who doesn't enjoy it. (Though the VW dealer who sold me my Passat made it as painless an experience as I've had along those lines, and gave me an excellent price, too.) If buying a car were as easy and pleasant as buying , say, a stereo, I think that people would buy new cars more often; I'm pretty sure that I would. You'd think that the automobile industry would have that figured out, but I'm afraid that fixing their distribution and sales system would threaten too many rice bowls.
WILL VEHRS SAYS PEOPLE ARE "PILING ON" TRENT LOTT:
Lott's remarks at Strom Thurmond's birthday bash were dumb. His follow-up comments were dumber. I wish Lott wasn't the Senate Majority Leader. Lott deserves all the bashing he's getting, but let's not confuse that bashing with a substantive critique. These comments are not the stuff of Republicans switching over to the Democratic Party, or demands from within the Republican Party that Lott resign. I see this as a little partisan "payback" for the Wellstone Memorial debacle.
I don't know. Will's usually pretty good at finding the tone (he does PunditWatch, after all) but an awful lot of the people piling on Lott were piling on the Wellstone debacle, too. Me, for instance. And so far I think more Republicans than Democrats have called for Lott to step down from his position as Majority Leader.
There may be a payback angle in some quarters, but it just might be that both events were appalling, and that some of us were, thus, appalled by both.
As for Lott being treated unfairly for being merely stupid, well, here's something Henry Fielding wrote:
Prudence is indeed the Duty which we owe to ourselves; and if we will be so much our own Enemies as to neglect it, we are not to wonder if the World is deficient in discharging their Duty to us; for when a Man lays the Foundation of his own Ruin, others will, I am afraid, be too apt to build upon it.
"Ruin" is too strong a word here, but Lott needs to apologize at the very least, and he probably ought to step down as Majority Leader. His remarks have shown him to be, at best, too imprudent for a position of such responsibility.
WHY I LOVE MY COLLEAGUES: I'm playing Morcheeba's Big Calm in the office. I keep the tunes down, but there's some leakage and I always tell my colleagues to let me know if it bothers them. The woman whose office is next door is feverishly finishing up a revision to a multi-volume treatise on trusts, so when she appeared at my door I was afraid I was bothering her.
"What's that music?" she asked. "It's great!"
I KEEP FORGETTING TO MENTION that Virginia Postrel wants your opinion on some photos. I like the middle one best, though I think that -- even though they're all better pix than the old one -- she's still better-looking in person.
JIM BENNETT WRITES that Turkey's desire to join the EU has become an unhealthy obsession, and that the United States should stop encouraging it.
ANDREA SEE points out that the IndyMedia crowd is supporting the Iranian protests.
Good for them -- though I wonder if that support would still be there if the United States were loudly calling for the mullahs' overthrow.
In bigger news, Andrea's gone 184 days without smoking! Bravo, Andrea!
THE NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE ISN'T IMPRESSED WITH TRENT LOTT. Jonah Goldberg calls Lott's remarks "incandescently idiotic" -- and then he really starts to criticize him.
David Frum, meanwhile, uses some rather, um, evocative imagery of his own:
I for one do not believe Trent Lott is a racist or a segregationist. My guess is that his speechwriter gave him note cards with a few jokes, and that when Lott finished reading them, he launched himself into what he probably intended to be nothing more than a big squirt of greasy flattery.
But that’s not what came out of Lott’s mouth. What came out of his mouth was the most emphatic repudiation of desegregation to be heard from a national political figure since George Wallace’s first presidential campaign. Lott’s words suggest that one of the three most powerful and visible Republicans in the nation privately thinks that desegregation, civil rights, and equal voting rights were all a big mistake.
These would be disgraceful thoughts to think, if Lott thought them. If Lott thought them, any Republican who accepted his leadership would share in the disgrace. So Lott needs to make it clear that he does not in fact think them. He owes his party, his state, his country, and his conscience something more – something much more – than a curt “I am sorry if you were offended.” If he can’t do that, Republicans need to make it clear that Lott no longer speaks for us.
I could be wrong, but I don't think we've heard the last on this subject.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Even the Republican Senate leader, Trent Lott, once suggested that Mr. O'Neill "needs to be careful with how he says what he believes."
That's gotta hurt.
HOWARD KURTZ'S "MEDIA NOTES" COLUMN today has nothing about Trent Lott, though it does have a reference to the "gaffe-prone O'Neill." Um, O'Neill's main problem was that he told the truth when it was inconvenient. Lott's remarks seem worse to me. But what do I know?
Not much, apparently.
UPDATE: Justin Katz links to the C-SPAN stream of the event (Lott starts at 32:01) and suggests that maybe we're being too hard on Lott, but then adds:
However, even giving him the benefit of the doubt — that he had in mind something other than civil rights, like federalism, or was merely being hyperbolic for the birthday boy — that a politician wouldn't know the obvious implications that some would draw from such a statement suggests that he isn't the best person to be the pointman of the party outside of the Presidency. Additionally, if the benefit of the doubt is merited, then Lott should strongly declare how he has been misinterpreted. Hopes to let such things fade do not speak well of leadership qualities.
No, they don't.
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS AT MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING, writes Radley Balko in the L.A. Times:
"Defining down" what constitutes drunk driving serves MADD by exaggerating just how many drunk people get behind the wheel. Inflated drunk driving statistics confirm MADD's relevance and help it raise money. Whether these new "drunks" actually are dangerous is beside the point.
Just last month, MADD issued a highly publicized grade of C for U.S. efforts to curb drunk driving. It cited increases in "alcohol-related traffic deaths" as its explanation for the low grade. The language that MADD used is important. "Alcohol-related" statistics include every accident in which someone involved had something to drink. That includes, for example, accidents in which a sober driver runs a red light and strikes a driver who had two beers and those in which a drunk stumbles out of a bar and into the path of a bus.
MADD regularly overlooks highway safety measures unrelated to alcohol when it is politically convenient. General Motors, for example, promised to give MADD $2.5 million over five years. Is it a coincidence that MADD is silent when GM glorifies speed in its marketing campaigns?
Yeah, but they've got a commercial about date rape, which doesn't have much to do with drunk driving. Back when I was researching the ethics book, which has a section on nonprofits, I ran across a story about MADD's shift in priorities, which included this passage:
We just have to realize that our mission isn't simply just to prevent drunk driving anymore. Part of our mission now is to raise enough money.
This is a normal stage in the evolution of non-profits. They start out mission-driven, and after a while become institution-driven. Then fund-raising starts to drive the mission. Since they're never happy to just declare victory and disband (the March of Dimes is still around, after all), they often wind up at a far remove from where they started, positionally.
What's more, because it lacks the market discipline of the for-profit sector, and the supervision that public companies face from securities regulators, etc., the nonprofit sector is probably subject to far more financial chicanery and mismanagement. I suspect that there are some good stories here for interested investigative journalists.
UPDATE: TalkLeft has some further thoughts on MADD, and some interesting links.
OH, GOD: Another public de-linking announcement, this time from Megan McArdle. When will this madness stop? . . .
SUCCINCT: Arthur Silber says that Trent Lott is an Idiotarian, too.
"10,000 JOIN STUDENT PROTEST IN TEHERAN:"
More than 10,000 people defied riot police to gather outside Teheran university in a show of support for reformist students and a sign of a wider dissatisfaction with the regime.
This was by far the largest coming together of ordinary people in Teheran since student protests began a month ago, although in these difficult times it had to be a demonstration pretending not to demonstrate as police kept people moving along the pavements.
When groups began chanting slogans such as "Political prisoners must be freed" the riot police would draw their batons, forcing protesters to scatter down side streets.
It was the first time that the students had received such a display of public support, and a sign of a more general disillusionment with the authorities.
Bring it on. But here's the key passage:
Among the crowd were many plain-clothes security agents who bundled dozens of people into police cars and videotaped faces in the crowd. At one point a security agent was surrounded by a catcalling crowd and defended himself with a can of pepper spray.
As he hurried down the street followed by jeers, the crowd began to chant, "Thank you, police!" to the regular police, who stood by and did not overtly harass people. The officers smiled back. One of them helped an injured old man out of the fray.
The cracks are showing.
BRENDAN MINITER WRITES THAT THE NINTH CIRCUIT GOT IT WRONG:
The generation that fought the Revolution and wrote the Constitution understood that law-abiding, armed citizens are the best domestic defense. The Ninth Circuit appears to intentionally overlook this point. They cite George Mason at the Constitutional Convention saying: "I wish that, in the case the general government should neglect to arm and discipline the militia, there should be an express declaration that the state governments might arm and discipline them."
But taking this quote out of context misrepresents Mason's argument. Reading the whole paragraph from which it is lifted reveals that Mason was actually arguing for the individual right to own firearms. Further up in the paragraph he said: "The British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia."
VIRGINIA POSTREL has more on Trent Lott:
Black voters aren't the only ones turned off by Jim Crow nostalgia. The best way to position Republicans as intolerant barbarians is to keep Lott around as Senate leader. Plus he's smarmy.
CLAYTON CRAMER IS FACT-CHECKING JUDGE REINHARDT on the Ninth Circuit's Second Amendment decision from last week, and finds that it's riddled with errors and misstatements.
Among other things, Cramer says that Reinhardt gets the Aymette case exactly backwards, citing it as an anti-individual rights precedent when in fact, as Cramer says, it's a case finding an individual right to arms under both the Second Amendment and the Tennessee Constitution. (And Aymette is cited, rightly, in support of such a right in the U.S. Supreme Court's Miller opinion.) Cramer has a link to the Aymette opinion, so you can read it for yourself. And scroll down for more on the Reinhardt / Bellesiles connection.
Eugene Volokh also has a rather sharp critique of Reinhardt's opinion, and what Reinhardt somehow neglected to address in it.
ERIN O'CONNOR is still following the Boalt Hall sexual-harassment story, and is still suspicious.
CORNEL WEST UPDATE: He's been at Princeton for less than a semester, but there are already student complaints.
In this country and throughout Europe, antiwar organizations cite international law in urging President Bush not to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The National Council of Churches and other religious groups warn Bush that military action would "heighten concern in other countries about American respect for their integrity as nations, as well as for international law." The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Britain threatens to haul Prime Minister Tony Blair into court and backs up its threat with long briefs and many footnotes.
All perfectly understandable; no one wants a world in which powerful countries feel free to go about smashing into weaker ones. The groups' reading of the law -- that the United States and its allies would have no right to take action without another Security Council resolution -- may well be correct.
And yet, given that they have taken on Saddam Hussein as their client, you have to wonder whether, if their reading of the law is right, there isn't something peculiar, something out of whack, about international law itself. Yes, national borders should be respected. But why should a gangster who has maintained power only by violating every norm of morality and law -- including international law -- be permitted the sanctuary of those borders? Why should his regime be entitled to the same protection as a government that represents its people?
This is an excellent question. I think that this affair has indicated that international law -- at least the structure of wishful thinking that has been erected under that name since World War II -- is broken, and in need of serious overhaul. It's funny how people who generally support the abandonment of "outdated" principles of constitutional law and federalism, though, seem to think that Article Two, Section Four of the U.N. Charter -- or even a particular interpretation thereof -- is sacrosanct.
WATCH OUT, CORNERITES -- Reason's new group blog, Hit and Run, is up and running. Learn why David Geffen is a loser, why Kurt Vonnegut is an idiot, and why H.L. Mencken was a libertarian, among many other things.
MAYBE I SHOULD RETHINK MY POSITION: Jesse Jackson is calling on Trent Lott to resign as Majority Leader.
Well, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Meanwhile, Greg Barto warns against an orgy of political correctness:
As a Republican who has watched Trent Lott excel even Bob Dole in flushing my party's opportunities down the toilet, I'll shed no tears if he's ousted. But I'd hate to see the rest of my party follow him as the Post and Times ferret out other ill-thought remarks by Republicans, while playing down such as Cynthia McKinney's remarks about Jewish conspiracies and Bush's part in 9/11 until she's driven from office.
Well, so far the Times has been too busy with golf.
UPDATE: Silent Running says that I'm making too big a deal out of this:
Having actually seen the video of the event, it seemed more reminiscent of somebody's loudmouthed used car salesman uncle getting up and saying 'a few choice words' - and the 'sprit of the event', the context was jovial, joking, and meant to be a light hearted celebration of a remarkable achievement. The majority of the 'speechifying' was along those lines.
Hmm. Well, okay. Assuming this is true, is that what a Senate Majority Leader ought to be like? Somebody's loudmouthed used car salesman uncle?
December 08, 2002
ANDREW SULLIVAN SAYS TRENT LOTT MUST GO:
Why are the Republican commentators so silent about this? And the liberals? (Josh Marshall, to his credit, states the obvious. And Bill Kristol, to his great credit, expressed disbelief.) And where's the New York Times? Howell Raines is so intent on finding Bull Connor in a tony golf club that when Bull Connor emerges as the soul of the Republican Senate Majority Leader, he doesn't notice it. And where's the president?
Or at least Karl Rove, who ought to see the handwriting on the wall.
UPDATE: "Good for Andrew," writes Josh Marshall, who, like me, is mystified by Lott's response so far.
ROBERT BYRD: What remarks by Robert Byrd was I talking about? These:
Asked by host Tony Snow about the status of race relations, Byrd said, "They're much, much better than they've been in my lifetime." And then he went on to prove how much short of ideal they are. "There are white niggers," he said. "I've seen a lot of white niggers in my time. I'm going to use that word."
So there you are. Were Lott's comments as bad? Well, on the one hand he didn't use the "N" word, which is a cultural taboo for white people. On the other hand, he did seem to be wishing for a return to the days of segregation and Jim Crow, which -- to me, at least -- is worse than simply using a disapproved word.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
On the other hand, perhaps that there is such a universal understanding that both comments were wrong and vile, and that everyone can note that mentally and move on is a sign of progress. Still, when someone *really* makes a racially retrograde remark, like Lott or Byrd, I find myself wondering why civil rights groups don't call in the press equivalent of a B-52 strike, instead of saving it for some poor white guy who uses the word "niggardly" in a speech, or who defends Huckleberry Finn.
Yeah. If you wear blackface to a party, your fraternity gets suspended. Openly wax nostalgic for segregation while holding national office and you get bupkis. Go figure.
JACOB T. LEVY: "It's always been unclear at best whether Trent Lott had fully come to terms with the results of the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. Turns out that the answer is: no. This is vile. Get rid of him."
I wonder if any GOP Senators will be upset enough to bolt the party over this. Naw, that couldn't happen. Could it?
Megan McArdle, meanwhile, wonders if Lott's getting a bum rap:
I think it's possible that he didn't mean it the way it sounded; I think we've all had the experience of saying something accidentally that appeared to have an unequivocal horrifying meaning which was not at all what we had meant to say. It's entirely possible that he wasn't thinking of civil rights, but of the growth of government or some other "might have been".
I wondered that too, initially. But if so, I think he would have, you know, said so. Instead, all we got was this:
Spokesman Ron Bonjean issued a two-sentence statement: "Senator Lott's remarks were intended to pay tribute to a remarkable man who led a remarkable life. To read anything more into these comments is wrong."
Bonjean declined to explain what Lott meant when he said the country would not have had "all these problems" if the rest of the nation had followed Mississippi's lead and elected Thurmond in 1948.
Not exactly a ringing denial, or even a convincing explanation, is it? And, as Megan goes on to add:
But it doesn't really matter, does it? In politics we go by what they say, not what they wanted to say.
I can't believe how little play this is getting in the media. I think if the Republicans are smart, they'll engineer a quiet resignation to head this one off at the pass.
Tom Maguire wondered the same thing, initially, and even sent me an email suggesting that I was jumping the gun on Lott. But now he's down on Lott, too:
Well, I don't know if I have ever said a good word about Trent Lott. I once noted that he has very impressive hair, but I recall a note of sarcasm in the comment. Still, for a professional politician, this is incredibly stupid. If T Lott were a sports broadcaster, and I am thinking of Jimmy the Greek as I say this, he would be unemployed.
Now, I seriously doubt that Lott believes that we would be a better country if Thurmond had defeated Truman. Well, I think I seriously believe that. Don't ask me for evidence. If he does believe this, he is, at a minimum, hopelessly delusional. If he was just having fun, he is hopelessly stupid and insensitive. I have been waiting for the day when the Republican Party would deal with some of their lesser lights. Hey, where's Pat Buchanan now? It can be done. Now, I don't suppose we can stop the people of Mississippi from electing him, but he is a miserable choice for Majority Leader, and ought to slink away.
I don't think he will.
I MENTIONED PROGRESSIVES AND EUGENICS BELOW; here is an interesting essay on the subject. Click on the "1" at the top to go back to the beginning for the complete context.
SAUDI SUCK-UP WATCH:
The German authorities investigating a Moroccan man on trial on charges that he was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States say there is evidence that he had contact with a Saudi diplomat as well as the leaders of an extremist group in Saudi Arabia.
But German officials said that despite their requests for help following up on these leads, responses had not been forthcoming from either American or Saudi authorities.
I think we'd be hearing more about this kind of thing, if it weren't for Saudi money in Washington.
CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON AT THE MIDWEST CONSERVATIVE JOURNAL THINKS TRENT LOTT SHOULD STEP DOWN, though he notes that many expressing horror at Lott's remarks gave ex-Klansman Robert Byrd a pass on some offensive racial remarks recently. Hey, I'm evenhanded -- I think Byrd should quit, too!
UPDATE: A reader writes:
I'm glad that you are "flooding the zone" with this one. I couldn't believe it when I heard Lott's comments on TV, I kept waiting for the punch line. . . . BTW, it's interesting that many conservatives seem to be the most upset. Probably because, as Josh Marshall indicated, it's a sign of hubristic overstretch ala the 1994 "Revolution". Can't these guys govern?
That's the big question, isn't it? Unaccountably, the (annoyingly popup-filled) Democratic Party website is silent on this subject, giving weight to the suggestion that conservatives (and libertarians!) are the most upset. Either the Democratic Party is appallingly inept, by dropping the ball on this issue, or it's appallingly cynical -- preferring to let it pass now and raise it as an election issue later. But that's stupid: they won't have much credibility later if they sit on their hands now. So I guess "inept" wins either way. . . .
UPDATE: Howard Owens emails about the curious silence on this issue:
Glenn, I'm at a loss, really, to explain why conservatives care more about the Trent Lott issue than liberals and Democrats. I took a look at Democrats.com and DemocraticUnderground.com, two ultra liberal sites, and both ignore Lott's comments. Even as the DU site discusses Thurmond's birthday, it fails to mention both Lott's remarks and Strom's 1948 speech.
Personally, racism is thoroughly revolting to me. To me it violates the conservative principles of individual rights, responsibilities and equal opportunity. If the other conservatives who are reacting to this issue are like me, maybe they just care more passionately about racism as an evil than do Democrats, who cynically only see it as an issue to get votes on, and since this is no election season, race isn't an issue to Democrats right now. It's not that they are waiting until the next election cycle (as you mentioned); it's that Lott's timing was off (from a Democratic perspective). This will be a forgotten issue by the next election, so why talk about it (to paraphrase likely Democratic thinking).
I dunno. It's still a mystery to me. Reader Bill Woods emails:
On NPR's Weekend Edition they have a set of notable quotes from the previous week. This morning they had a quote of Lott speaking about Thurmond, but it wasn't the pro-segregation one. I expected that to come next... but it didn't. I don't know why.
Washington Week in Review played the clip at the end of the show, with Gwen Ifill shaking her head and asking 'what was he thinking?', without obvious outrage.
I'm rather surprised at the muted reaction.
JOSH CHAFETZ writes:
LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT ... At the same time that the UN is telling the US that it needs to be more multilateral, at the same time that the UN is begging the US for a $1.3 billion interest free loan to renovate the buildings on formerly US sovereign territory -- buildings which, by the way, sit on obscenely expensive land that was given to the UN by an American philanthropist -- UN weapons inspectors are telling the US that it will only get to see a bowdlerized version of the statement Iraq released yesterday. Is that about right? Explain to me again why this whole UN thing was a good idea ...
PUNDITWATCH IS UP!
READER PAUL SWANSON HAS A THOUGHT:
I've been wondering if Lott's comments had any effect on the Louisiana Senate race. I mean, if I were black (and I realize that such projection is usually dubious) and living in Louisiana and heard about Lott's comment I would be going to the polls saying "Hey Lott, poll tax this!" I found the first hint that this might be the case in a Washington Post article which had the following line: "Landrieu ... apparently benefited from a heavy turnout of African American voters, her most ardent supporters, in New Orleans and other urban areas."
I'd be interested in knowing whether this got much play in the Louisiana black community.
Meanwhile, Howard Owens has some suggested speakers for an upcoming Trent Lott "roast" in Mississippi.
CONDI, WARRIOR PRINCESS: If Strom Thurmond had gotten his way in 1948, we wouldn't have her now, and the country would be worse off.
JOEL ROSENBERG HAS A PEACE PLAN for the Palestinians, but it's an ugly one.
UPDATE: AlisainWonderland has more.
THE CENTER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF CAPITALISM is joining the chorus of voices calling for Trent Lott's ouster:
Trent Lott says that if the rest of the country had voted for Strom Thurmond, “we wouldn’t have had all these problems.” The only possible interpretation is that Trent Lott regrets the defeat of the positions of Thurmond’s campaign. Trent Lott regards the end of segregation and the end of lynching as “problems” which we, as a nation, shouldn’t have had. At least Thurmond had the sense to change his position over the years. It would seem Lott has not.
Trent Lott, as Republican Senate Majority Leader, has never been a particular friend of individual rights. He has acted as a stereotypical politician, bending with every wind and shifting with every tide. Now, however, he has pledged allegiance to a doctrine which is anathema to individual rights, to the United States Constitution and to the vast majority of Americans. This cannot be explained by political expediency. It must be his genuine conviction.
The question for the Republican Party is whether a man who gets misty eyed over lynchings and colored water fountains represents the Republican Party and whether such a man is fit to lead the Senate Republican caucus. If such a man is fit to serve as a leader of the Republican Party, then the Republican Party is the party of racism. If the Republican Party aspires to be the party of individual rights, then such a man has no place in the party leadership.
The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism calls for the resignation of Trent Lott from the leadership of the Republican Party. If Lott doesn't have the grace to resign, his peers should remove him.
Seems the Blogosphere is way ahead on this one. Where's everybody else?
OF COURSE, IT'S NOT AS SIMPLE as Truman = Good, Thurmond = Evil. (Well, mostly it is, actually, but only to a first approximation.) LincolnPlawg has a lot of interesting history, including a statement from Harry Truman that he opposed an anti-lynching bill, but would have to vote for it if it came up for a vote, and a letter from Eleanor Roosevelt (with a GIF) reporting that FDR thought federal involvement in anti-lynching efforts was a violation of states' rights. (Given FDR's blithe unconcern for the niceties of federalism, this seems like, well, an excuse. Or a lie, if you prefer.)
What's astounding from a modern perspective is how deeply racist many figures regarded as "progressive" today were. Oliver Wendell Holmes' support for eugenics, shared by many Progressives, is only one example, if an especially appalling one.
GEITNER SIMMONS HAS MORE ON TRENT LOTT AND STROM THURMOND:
Lott's praise for the Dixiecrat movement certainly moves the Republican Senate leader's post a long way from the days of Everett Dirksen, who encouraged his party in 1964 to vote for Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act -- a sterling moment in congressional history. . . .
The Dixiecrat movement began to come together in 1948 when segregationist-minded dissidents walked out of the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia. A leader of the walkout was “Bull” Connor, the Birmingham, Ala., police commissioner whose fascistic tactics in attacking civil rights demonstrators would shock the nation in the 1960s. . . .
Thurmond’s pretense that Dixiecratism was devoid of racist sentiment was hard to square with the South Carolinian’s own stated racism. The national press noted, for instance, an incident involving Thurmond and William H. Hastie, appointed by Truman as governor of the Virgin Islands.
Thurmond invited Hastie for a visit to the Governor’s Mansion in Columbia, and Hastie responded appreciatively, extending an invitation for Thurmond to visit the Virgin Islands.
But when Thurmond learned that Hastie was black, matters abruptly soured.
“I would not have written him if I knew he was a Negro,” Thurmond thundered. “Of course, it would have been ridiculous to invite him.”
How refreshing: No double-talk, just the ugly truth.
As always, the whole post, and all of Simmons' blog, is worth reading in full.
FLOOD THE ZONE! Virginia Postrel says Lott should go, too:
OUT, OUT DAMNED LOTT: Trent Lott must go. He's a disgrace to the South, to the Republican Party, to the U.S. Senate, and to the United States of America.
Where's Howell Raines's crusading southern liberalism when it's needed? (Mark Kleiman notes that the NYT is AWOL on the story; I guess country clubs are more important than the Senate.) Why isn't every reporter, at every press conference, asking Lott or his spokesman what the Senate leader meant when he said a Thurmond victory in 1948 would have meant "we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years"? Exactly which problems? How would Thurmond have been better?