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February 01, 2003

CRITICS OF THE APOLLO PROGRAM used to talk sneeringly about "the ghetto and the moon." So it's worth reposting this picture of the Moon, drawn by a teenaged boy in a Polish ghetto during the Holocaust.

The Nazi scum over at Vanguard News Network -- like the Iraqis quoted in the story below -- are happy about this. That says it all. I won't link to them, though: I have some standards.

But as they, and their Iraqi comrades, rejoice about the death of the Israeli astronaut who carried this picture into space with him, the rest of us know that they'd be shitting in their pants if they ever met an actual Israeli soldier in person.

That says it all, too.

DAVID PINTO attended the Columbia launch, and knew astronaut Dave Brown. He's posted his thoughts in a rare non-baseball entry on his blog.

UPDATE: I've got a lengthy "what it all means" post over at GlennReynolds.com if you can stand to read more from me.

THERE'S STREAMING VIDEO of the Shuttle break-up, a roundup of what's known now, and lots of links to other information, here.

THIS is a tragedy, too. What makes the Columbia's loss more striking than the deaths of train passengers is that space exploration is forward-looking, not just part of ordinary life, and such a loss is a setback to something important, and noble. It's not that astronauts' lives are worth more than those of anyone else; it's what they do, and what it stands for.

WORTHWHILE CANADIAN EMAIL:

I was very sorry to hear about the loss of the Columbia crew this morning. My family and I have great admiration for the strength and courage of the American
people. You are leaders in all of the things that are worth leading in. I know that no matter how difficult it is to deal with a tragedy of this magnitude, Americans are up to it. If history is a guide, America will respond with grief, but also with determination and intelligence.

I am proud to be a friend of the United States. I sincerely hope that the large majority of Canadians share my feelings today, not those of the CBC reporter you cited.

Patrick Brown
London, Canada

So do I. And thanks. Canada, of course, has been a fine partner in space activity -- going far beyond the famous robot arm on the Shuttle.

FROM A STORY BY MARCIA DUNN, datelined 8:28 a.m. today:

Some of Columbia's crew members didn't want their time in space to end.

"Do we really have to come back?" astronaut David Brown jokingly asked Mission Control before the ride home.

(Via Jesse Walker).

WILLIAM GIBSON WRITES:

The Monogram Space Taxi was a particular favorite, and I kept the space-suited figures long after the taxi itself had broken up and vanished.

Broken up and vanished. In the sky over Nacogdoches County. And I’m sad all the way back to the little boy with his stiff black book and his Bonestell rockets.

But Willy was right, and nobody ever said it would be risk-free.

If it were, it wouldn’t be glorious.

And it’s only with these losses that we best know that it really is.

Read the whole thing.

THE ANGRY CLAM has posted Robert Heinlein's The Green Hills of Earth -- here's an excerpt:

We pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave us birth;
Let us rest our eyes on the fleecy skies
And the cool, green hills of Earth.

Amen.

TRENT TELENKO has a series of updates on Columbia in this post.

And Jay Manifold, naturally, has lots of posts.

DAN HANSON WRITES the speech he thinks President Bush should have given.

THE IRAQIS ARE HAPPY about the Columbia crash. Of course, the only rockets they build are designed to lob anthrax at Tel Aviv.

I'M WATCHING THE NEWS CONFERENCE, and it looks like a zipper effect followed by burnthrough and structural damage, leading to the loss of the left wing. They're reporting anomalous heat sensor readings, loss of tire pressure in the main gear on that side, and so on.

The shuttle can tolerate the loss of a tile or two. But when the integrity of the tile cover is breached, tiles can be pulled off one after another -- hence the term "zipper effect." Then enough heat can penetrate through in sufficient quantity to destroy or weaken what's underneath. This is a well-understood possibility, so expect a quick resolution (by the standards of these kinds of things) if the evidence continues to point this way.

Best NASA line from the press conference so far: "We'll find it and we'll fix it."

DALE AMON HAS MULTIPLE POSTS over on Samizdata, and they're all worth reading. So is this this one from Stephen Green.

HERE'S THE COMPLETE TEXT of President Bush's speech to the nation.

SKBUBBA says look at the software, as either a source of error or, conceivably, sabotage.

HERE'S A NOTE ON THE FLIGHT that seems particularly poignant now.

JOHN MOORE has saved and mirrored a copy of the NEXRAD loop. Note the interesting star-shaped pattern at the beginning. For some reason, my IE only wants to save this stuff as a bitmap file -- any idea what's up with that?

OKAY, I'm taking my daughter to the mall. Back later. Check out this NEXRAD loop showing the debris field and -- I think -- heavier debris falling at the beginning. I can't seem to save this animated loop. If anyone can, please do. I assume they're saving it, but you never know.

Via phone, my mother just reported that William Burrows (on NBC) called Congress an "unindicted co-conspirator" for its bad policy and budgetary neglect. That's about right. Meanwhile Defense Tech asks what happens to the Space Station crew. And Virginia Postrel has local reports, and a link to local TV's coverage on streaming video, which she says is quite good.

SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA is out of communication and lost from radar. It should have landed three minutes ago. At this point, it can only be presumed to have been lost on reentry. CNN has photos of it above Dallas, with no obvious problems.

Is there a connection with the presence of an Israeli astronaut? Probably not, but who knows?

UPDATE: Just saw CNN play the video from Dallas -- I was going earlier on something they had said that I guess I misunderstood -- and it looks as if it shows the Shuttle breaking up. A single trail breaks up into multiple vapor trails as it moves. They're gone. May they rest in peace.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's the CNN.com report. People have phoned CNN to report a "loud impact."

Here's Spaceflight Now's real-time update page. At the moment it notes rather optimistically that search and rescue forces are being deployed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Now, more realistically, NASA is asking people to stay away from any debris that they find, as they may be hazardous.

"At least they got to go into space," observes my daughter. Well, yeah. It still sucks, though.

MORE: Why it's probably not terrorism: (1) if you planted a bomb, you'd want it to go off on takeoff -- that's when everyone is watching, and there's less time for stuff to go wrong, since you'd have to wonder whether a bomb would work after spending an extended time in space; (2) it's basically impossible to shoot down a reentering space shuttle because of its speed and altitude; (3) there are so many things that can go wrong with shuttles, especially Columbia, which is the oldest, without invoking terrorism. I suppose it's conceivable that a saboteur did some sort of subtle structural damage calculated to cause this sort of a failure while remaining unnoticed during ground checks, but that strikes me as unlikely for a variety of reasons.

From the video it looks like structural failure, followed by an explosion as the spacecraft disintegrated. That's unlikely to be the result of sabotage. Most likely it was failure in a wing spar or some other component, probably brought on by age and fatigue, though possibly caused by tile zippering and burn-through, or damage on launch. We'll see. No point getting ahead of things here, but plenty of reason to think it's not terrorism.

Prediction: This won't traumatize people the way Challenger did because (1) it's not the first time; and (2) we're at war now, and people's calculations of such things -- especially post-WTC -- are different. I hope, however, that we'll look at moving beyond the elderly and unreliable Shuttle now.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A woman from Huntington, Texas is reporting lots of debris and a "burning rubber" smell, after hearing a rumbling sound at about 9:15. Debris is reported, via police scanners, in Jasper and Moffett counties, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Boy, that didn't take long. Reportedly, a Canadian Broadcasting Company interviewer has blamed "American Arrogance" for the crash. Follow the link for more information, and a link to the CBC Ombudsman. I'll let you know if I find out more on this.

MORE: President Bush will be addressing the nation.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a link to live streaming video from MSNBC.com.

Meanwhile ModerateLeft responds to the reported charge of "arrogance:"

Well, if this is arrogance--exploring space for science, pushing the envelope of the human experience, doing what our species has always done--then I support it. If it is arrogant to want to learn, we are arrogant. If it is arrogant to want to explore, we are arrogant. If it is arrogant to risk our lives for the possibility of a better future for all mankind, we are arrogant.

Mankind is arrogant. We believe foolish things--that we may one day cure cancer, that we may one day develop new forms of energy, that we may one day walk on Mars. We believe these foolish things, and we dedicate ourselves to achieving them. How ridiculous. How arrogant.

And people die for these things. And people are injured for life. The astronauts of Apollo 1, and the Challenger, and now, sadly, the Columbia have died for the arrogant belief that we can be more than we are, that we can walk on the moon, that we can touch the stars.

So call us arrogant for building the space shuttle. Call the men and woman who gave their lives today arrogant for believing they could fly to space and return to tell about it. But don't call us wrong. For this arrogance defines humanity. And I would rather our species be arrogant than afraid.

And that last is the sentiment that the critics can't understand.

UPDATE: Here, via The Corner, is Reagan's Challenger speech. And here is the text of the speech written by William Safire for Richard Nixon, in the event the Apollo XI crew was lost:

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

I got it here, but the site loads slowly enough that I doubted it could handle the traffic from a simple link. Here's another in case that one is dead.

MORE: Rand Simberg has some useful observations. Excerpt:

The entire NASA budget is now in a cocked hat, because we don't know what the implications are until we know what happened. But it could mean an acceleration of the Orbital Space Plane program (I sincerely hope not, because I believe that this is entirely the wrong direction for the nation, and in fact a step backwards). What I hope that it means is an opportunity for some new and innovative ideas--not techically, but programmatically.

Once again, it demonstrates the fragility of our space transportation infrastructure, and the continuing folly of relying on a single means of getting people into space, and doing it so seldom. Until we increase our activity levels by orders of magnitude, we will continue to operate every flight as an experiment, and we will continue to spend hundreds of millions per flight, and we will continue to find it difficult to justify what we're doing. We need to open up our thinking to radically new ways, both technically and institutionally, of approaching this new frontier.

I had actually been invited to the Monday teleconference on the new NASA budget, but I imagine that's off now. Rand also has some useful speculation (which he's careful to label as such) about what might have gone wrong.

Meanwhile, the Times of India is proud of Indian-born astronaut Kalpana Chawla:

Kalpana Chawla, who is feared to have perished in the Columbia space shuttle mishap along with six others, had done India proud when she embarked on her first space mission on November 19, 1997.

The Karnal-born Chawla, the first Indian American astronaut, began her career at the Ames Research Center at Nasa in 1988.

A graduate in aeronautical engineering from the Punjab Engineering College she began work at the Ames in the area of fluid dynamics.

They should be proud. Ilan Ramon's presence has gotten more attention, but Chawla's presence is more representative.

MORE: Jim Flowers is setting up a blog (metablog?) that will track blogosphere coverage of the Columbia loss.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Canadian reader Peter Ash emails:

As a Canadian, I sincerely hope that no one in the States draws the conclusion that other Canadians share the bad attitude (and exceptionally poor taste) of the journalist you cited. Trust me, I'll be looking for verification that what was implied was in fact implied, which will be followed by an acidic letter or twenty to the appropriate parties.

I still remember where I was when Challenger happened (I was in grade four, no less). Several Canadian astronauts have ridden the Shuttle, and right now Canadians are feeling the pain with their cousins to the south. If you would, please do convey to your readers that the overwhelming majority of us feel as awful about this as all of you do.

On the technical side, you're right. The Shuttle is too old and rather poorly designed. In some ways it's surprising that this hasn't happened before. They're not going to get much out of the crash debris, the re-entry forces will have reduced most of it to charred lumps. Look for replays on the launch footage, and focus on the piece of insulation that fell of the External Tank and allegedly hit the left wing. There will probably be an inquiry as to why more wasn't done to check on the integrity of the wing before the space shuttle was allowed to re-enter. After all, if closer inspections revealed trouble, awkward as it would be, the Shuttle could have been left up in orbit until such time as another Shuttle, or a Russian Soyuz module, could have been sent up to bring down the crew.

Indeed, there could have been repairs made in space if need be, with the Shuttle eventually brought down by a skeleton crew or perhaps even on automation.

This is going to be somewhat problematic for the current occupants of the Space Station. NASA might have to pay the Russians to use one of their modules to bring them down, since they're likely going to ground the Shuttle fleet for a year or two. Oh, and obviously, look for that renewed initiative to send another teacher into space to quietly disappear. And given that NASA's only other two space tragedies (the Apollo fire and the Challenger disaster) occurred in late January, I would expect that there won't be any more late January/early February flights again for a long time. Not that the NASA scientists are suspicious, but the pilots who fly their Shuttles just might be.

All interesting. And, I should stress, we don't take the all-too-frequently anti-American twits of the CBC to represent general sentiment among Canadians. And I presume that if the reports about that remark are false, that will show up when the CBC ombudsman replies, or when transcripts appear. But I have no reason to doubt the report at the moment. LATER: Fraters Libertas blogs more mean Canadian comments -- from C-SPAN, this time.

MORE: A reader sends this link to a NOAA radar image that seems to show the debris trail. I don't know what else that long orange streak could be. LATER: I'm watching MSNBC, which says the streak is debris. STILL LATER: I should note that the plume looks so big and dense because it's full of vaporized/powdered aluminum and other metals, which will register far more strongly on weathe radar than the water vapor it's designed to measure. I mention this at the behest of several readers, in the vain hope of heading off conspiracy theorists.

ANOTHER UPDATE: It's a big deal in India, but not in France:

Just thought you might be interested in knowing that none of the major French channels (TF1, A2, FR3, M6) have, as of this moment, even bothered to interrupt programming to announce the Columbia news. I live in Switzerland and have been zapping back and forth between CNN, MSNBC, BBC and various Swiss, German and French channels. The French apparently haven't noticed yet (or don't care?)

Best regards from Lausanne,

James Wade

Hmm. That's representative, too. LATER: Bill from MerdeinFrance emails:

I'm definitely not one to defend the French but with regards to French news coverage of this disaster it is true that LCI TV (owned by TF1), 24 hour French language news available only to cable viewers, has covered this non-stop since the story broke. Other channnels, it is true, have not broken for any coverage.

So there you are. It's also showing up on the websites for many French TV stations and newspapers.


MORE: Here is a report of debris on the ground. Excerpt:

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (AP) -- Residents said debris, including bits of machinery and pieces of metal, were found strewn across the city Saturday morning, hours after NASA lost contact with space shuttle Columbia.

"It's all over Nacogdoches," said James Milford, owner of Milford Barber shop in downtown Nacogdoches. "There are several little pieces, some parts of machinery ... there's been a lot of pieces about 3 feet wide."

There's a photo, which doesn't look very impressive. But then debris isn't, usually.

David Janes has lots of links, including one that led me to this piece by Doc Searls on the Challenger tragedy, which is still very much worth reading.

Okay, I'm closing out this post. New developments will be reported above.

IS OLIVER WILLIS CHANNELING STEVEN DEN BESTE? Well, not exactly, but he has posted an uncharacteristically long and thoughtful essay.

I'm still on my first cup of coffee, so I'm not going to respond at length. But I will note that Oliver suggests that Bush has "goaded" America into war. As I've noted before, though, this is the slowest rush to war we've ever seen. And wasn't it considered heroic executive leadership when FDR "goaded" the country into war?

HERE'S A GARY HART PROFILE from the New York Times:

''Walter Mondale can just go away,'' Hart says. ''John Glenn can go away. Michael Dukakis can go away. I can't just go away.''

''Why?'' asks his wife, Lee, who is sitting at the kitchen island. She has been married to him for 44 years, and yet she seems to ask this not for my benefit, but because it is a question she would genuinely like to have answered.

''I don't know,'' Hart says, shaking his head. He thinks, then repeats himself. ''I don't know. I don't know.

''Let me answer you with a question,'' Hart tells me finally, although I wasn't the one who asked the question to begin with. ''If I weren't thinking about doing this'' -- that is, running again -- ''would you be here right now?''

I allow that I probably wouldn't.

''Well,'' he says, spreading his arms triumphantly. ''There are only two places to be in American life -- on the sidelines or on the playing field. I don't need to run for president. But I do want to be heard.''

I think that Hart should get a blog. He'd be great at it.

THE JOHN LOTT / MARY ROSH STORY has made the Washington Post. Excerpt:

Sanchez is a blogger -- someone who maintains a Web site where they report and comment on the news -- who had been tracking the debate between Lott and critics of his gun research. He became suspicious about Rosh after he noticed that several of Rosh's online defenses of Lott seemed to track closely with arguments the scholar himself had made in private e-mails to Sanchez and other bloggers. He tracked Mary Rosh's IP address (the computer code translation of the standard e-mail address) to Pennsylvania. . . .

Lott said he initially used his own name in online debates with critics. "But you just get into really emotional things with people. You also run into other problems." So he started using the name Mary Rosh. "I should not have done it, there is no doubt. But it was a way to get information into the debate."

Another story broken by a blogger.

January 31, 2003

OVER A YEAR AGO, I called stuff like this "pure political poison" in terms of our relations with the Muslim world. It still is.

UPDATE: A lot of readers disagree with me here, pointing out that Nazism has a lot of adherents in the Arab world, etc., etc. That's certainly true, but I don't think it really addresses the point. Justin Katz writes that efforts to compare this with A.N.S.W.E.R. suggest "desperation" on the part of liberals. Well, that's right. For it to compare with A.N.S.W.E.R., it would have to be a pro-Nazi sticker, sold by organizers who proudly shared its sentiments.

VENEZUELANS ARE MARCHING FOR PRESS FREEDOM in response to Hugo Chavez's effort to shut down opposition TV stations.

IT'S NOT ABOUT THE OOOIIILLL -- IT'S ABOUT THE ALIENS!

It is allegedly said that the craft crashed during the Gulf War (1990-1991), or more recently (probably in December 1998). This became some kind of Iraq’s Rosewell. The USA is currently reverse-engineering the Rosewell craft and fears that Saddam’s scientists may become even more successful than Americans in this or that sphere. It was said that these researches may give Iraq a considerable advance and even make it a leading super power.

UFO Roungup’s Arab journalists failed either to confirm or to deny these rumors.

Silly me, I thought it was about the antigravity. I'll see if I can "roungup" some more news on this subject.

JUST RAN ACROSS CAROL JOHNSON'S open letter to her party, the Democrats:

I am a dyed-in-the-wool Republican-hater, coming from a long line of Democratic Party supporters, and YOU ARE LOSING ME. I am a white, not-quite-40 mother of three who lives in the suburbs, and YOU ARE LOSING ME. I care about Education, Social Welfare, and the Environment, and YOU ARE LOSING ME.

The war is involved.

UPDATE: And here's one they've already lost.

GO EAST, UNCLE SAM: Here's more evidence, from Sofia Sideshow.

MATTHEW YGLESIAS is back from hiatus.

"GERMANS GUILTY IN IRAQ SUPERGUN CASE:"

A court in the German city of Mannheim has convicted two businessmen of supplying weapons-making equipment to Iraq in violation of UN sanctions.

Engineer Bernd Schompeter was sentenced to five years and three months for dealing in drills that can be used for boring tubes for long-range cannons, capable of launching nuclear, chemical or biological warheads.

At a guess, this is the tip of the iceberg.

I'M WATCHING PHIL DONAHUE AND NEAL BOORTZ ON MSNBC NOW -- and it's obvious why Boortz has Donahue beat hollow in ratings. Donahue keeps accusing Boortz of being "thunderous," but Donahue's critique is idea-free and sneering, while Boortz is talking about actual ideas. "Why does Donahue have a show?" asks my wife.

Beats me.

JACOB T. LEVY WRITES IN THE NEW REPUBLIC:

In its dollar magnitude, it's almost certainly the biggest case of financial mismanagement in U.S. history. While a final tally is years away, in part because of suspiciously lost or missing documents, there's good reason to think that the dollar figures will dwarf WorldCom's $9 billion. It's a scandal that crosses partisan lines and reaches into high levels of both the Clinton and the Bush administrations. And it's got nothing to do with Wall Street. . . .

And yet, thanks to a combination of convoluted detail, media bias, and ideological blindness, most Americans have never even heard about it.

Wonder why Howell Raines hasn't made it a priority?

IS BLOGGING VOLUME AN economic indicator? Well, there do seem to be a lot of unemployed bloggers. . . .

YOU'LL NOTICE YOU NEVER SEE RUMSFELD AND STRYKER PHOTOGRAPHED TOGETHER.

RAND SIMBERG has published a glossary that will help in decoding New York Times editorials and the like. Excerpt:

"going it alone":

Meaning 1: Taking action in concert with numerous European and Middle Eastern nations, and others around the globe, but without France and Germany.

Read the whole thing.

RACHEL LUCAS says that Nelson Mandela has exhausted his moral capital.

Well, his intellectual capital has certainly run dry.

MATERIAL BREACH (AGAIN) -- the United States will release intercepted Iraqi communications that show deliberate deception. My prediction: they will be denounced as fakes by Saddam and his supporters.

HERE'S MORE ON THE DEMISE OF BROBECK, PHLEGER -- a law firm that fell victim to the dot-com bust. Well, sort of.

AT LEAST THEY'RE NOT ALGERIANS, THIS TIME:

NAPLES (Reuters) - Italian police have arrested 28 Pakistani men suspected of links to al Qaeda in one of the biggest anti-terrorism operations Italy has seen since the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Military police burst into an apartment in central Naples on Wednesday night as part of a routine sweep against illegal immigration and ended up discovering enough explosives to blow up a three-story building, officials said on Friday.

They arrested all 28 men staying in the apartment after finding 800 grams (28 ounces) of explosives, 230 feet of fuse and various electronic detonators crammed behind a false wall.

Islamic religious texts, photos of "jihad" (holy war) martyrs, piles of false documents, maps of the Naples area, addresses of contacts around the world and more than 100 mobile telephones were also found in the run-down lodgings, police said.

A judicial source said the maps had various targets marked out on them including the headquarters of NATO's southern European command, the U.S. consulate in Naples and a U.S. naval base at Capodichino, just outside the port city.

As Austin Bay has already pointed out, the war buildup isn't "distracting" from the hunt for Al Qaeda. It's flushing Al Qaeda from its holes, and making its operatives easier to catch.

DAVE WINER: "AOL was the finger in the dyke of the Internet."

Nope, not going there.

BUSH'S REAL MOTIVE FOR GOING TO WAR: Revealed at last!

MORE ON THIS WEEK IN DIPLOMACY, over at GlennReynolds.com -- and Frank Sinatra makes a guest appearance. Well, sort of.

GUNS FOR TOTS: Dr. Manhattan points to a charity drive in New York that's worth getting behind.

LESSONS FROM THE RICHARD REID PROSECUTION: TalkLeft notes:

The lesson is this: Our federal courts and our criminal justice system are well equipped to handle terror cases. There is no need to keep the suspects in military custody, cut off from lawyers --or to try them in secret military tribunals. Reid pleaded guilty to all counts and received no promises of leniency or other sentence concessions. Reid had excellent appointed counsel and a U.S. District Court Judge presiding over his case. The proceedings were open to the media and public. Important court filings by both the Prosecution and the Defense were available on the Internet. The Government got the conviction and the life sentence it sought.

For terrorists of the Richard Reid variety, I think this is right. I think, though, that it's perfectly appropriate to deal with terrorists who are still an active threat via, say, Hellfire missiles.

GOODBYE TO "OLD EUROPE?" Here's a report that there's talk about U.S. bases moving from Germany to Poland. The information isn't enormously solid, but it's interesting that such rumors are spreading -- and they may, themselves, be part of the diplomatic campaign.

ACCORDING TO A source who will remain undisclosed, the White House is emailing out Andrew Sullivan's "Fisking" of the New York Times' war coverage to rather a lot of journalists. Heh.

AIRBRUSH AWARD: Look at what Daimler-Chrysler did to this famous Bill Mauldin cartoon. Jeez. I blame the Germans.

"AXIS OF WEASELS" UPDATE: Now it's in The Economist.

Last week, Germany sandbagged the secretary of state when it said it would not vote for war on Iraq at any price. The French foreign minister then insisted that “nothing” justified war now. This Franco-German grandstanding—the pair were promptly dubbed the “axis of weasels” by Americans—was a personal embarrassment for Mr Powell, the administration's strongest proponent of seeking UN backing for American policy.

Heh. I think Powell's getting his revenge. (And see the map below).

HERE'S A GRAPHIC VIEW of support and opposition in Europe regarding the war, courtesy of The Agonist.

Kind of puts those "unilateralist" claims in perspective, doesn't it?

LEE HARRIS writes on the difference between helping the Third World and feeling good about ourselves.

DOES FRANCE + GERMANY = EUROPE? Apparently the editors of the Boston Globe are geographically challenged, as this editorial neglects to mention the ten other European countries who are supporting the United States, something that ought to be relevant here. On the plus side, though, it does mention "Chirac's record of collaboration with Saddam."

FRESNO STATE and Eco-terrorists -- can this be as bad as it sounds?

Maybe it's a "sting" operation.

NO TATTOOS, PLEASE: We're sailors.

ROBERT KAGAN writes about courage in the face of anti-Americanism on the part of the European leaders who are standing by America. He's certainly right about the extent to which the European intelligentsia has aligned itself with Pat Buchanan-style conspiracism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism. And yes, it's widespread enough that it's brave to face it down; it's hard to imagine very many American politicians who would be willing to do so, though I can think of a couple.

But it's a calculated risk that will pay off big, so long as the United States wins the war. The anti-Americanism won't go away -- it will never go away so long as Europe suffers so many self-inflicted wounds it's afraid to talk about -- but as Fareed Zakaria wrote last year, victory is the best propaganda, and if the war in Iraq goes well it will die down quickly, since a lot of the current upsurge is based on fear. And, unlike many previous administrations, the Bush folks seem to remember who America's friends are, and who they aren't.

U.S. TROOPS IN IRAQ: Pravda reports, Rantburg decodes. And note this item on Turkey.

NEXT, ARIANNA HUFFINGTON WILL BE MAKING S.U.V. COMMERCIALS: Mickey Kaus is defending Paul Krugman from his critics.

MAYBE A GANG OF ELEVEN? William Sjostrom reports on Irish support.

WHERE DIPLOMACY IS NOT SO SUCCESSFUL: Reader Jake Kreutzer sends this link to a story suggesting that the North Koreans are even stupider, and more suicidal, than I thought.

JOE KATZMAN looks at the diplomatic defeats that France has suffered and doesn't credit the United States. He says that they have Tony Blair's fingerprints all over them.

There's something to this -- but it's not the whole story nor, as I will note in a later post, would the Administration fail to deserve substantial credit even if Katzman's perspective were one hundred percent correct.

January 30, 2003

READ THIS POST by Dave Kopel over at The Corner on the latest Rave Act developments. And read the post below it, too.

JEEZ, a new traffic record. Over 112, 000 pageviews today already. Go figure.

IRAQI SPIES IN THE U.S.? That's hardly surprising, given that we're basically at war. But this Daily News report offers some surprises, though of course I can't confirm its accuracy.

BROBECK, PHLEGER IS NO MORE. This won't excite the non-lawyers, but it's big news.

UNILATERALISM, MY ASS! (CONT'D): All I can say is, Advantage: Rumsfeld!

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP)--The ``new Europe'' raised its voice Thursday, as eight of its leaders praised U.S. resolve in disarming Iraq and indirectly chided the traditional powers, France and Germany, for opposing U.S. plans for military action against Saddam Hussein.

But that's old news. Now, though, the "gang of eight" is a "gang of ten:"

Some of Europe's newest democracies have expressed the strongest support because of past U.S. economic and political support of their struggle to escape communism.

Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano, in a letter to Bush made public Thursday, pledged ``total and unconditional'' support in the showdown against Iraq. Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda of Slovakia called the declaration ``the clear, right word at the right time,'' and said he agreed with it.

The article goes on to minimize (if that's possible) the military importance of Albania and Slovakia. But that's not the point. The point is that -- despite (or because of) their diplomatic anschluss -- France and Germany are now isolated within the E.U. Indeed, there is now talk that the E.U. may splinter as a result of their anti-American efforts.

That probably won't happen, but it's a far cry from the "United Europe" stance that Chirac and Schroeder had in mind. Why, it's almost as if they were lured into this position.

PARIS CORRESPONDENT NELSON ASCHER EMAILS:

Hello.
This is very important:

Though a minimum of 157 signatures was needed, by now more than 160 Euro Parliament representatives have signed the request demanding an investigation into how the Palestinians have been using the money given them by the European Union. Great for the very day the "gang of 8" published its pro-US letter. Maybe things are begining to change this side of the ocean -- and, by the way, this is also, and quite officially, the "hole in the head" Chris Patten was in need of.

Another diplomatic success. Heh.

READER ALAN CAMERON POINTS OUT that AOL's $99 billion loss was close to double Iraq's total GDP. Heh.

In the words of Jack Palance, "I crap bigger'n you."

Almost twice as big, though admittedly, that was an unusually large crap. . . .

HMM. SCHWARZKOPF WAS SKEPTICAL, BUT NOW HE'S CALLING BUSH'S SPEECH "COMPELLING." You don't think the whole thing was scripted, do you? Surely not.

NO ANTI-SEMITISM HERE. Publish that cartoon with an obviously Arab figure and you'd be charged with "hate speech." Heck, they might even advertise to find people who were offended.

UPDATE: No hate crime here, either!

I WAS JUST BEING HONEST: My comments on Gary Locke's performance responding to the State of the Union got quoted in the Seattle Times.

Oh, well, I was nicer than Oliver Willis, who called Locke's presentation "long and limp."

DONALD SENSING identifies Bush's most important sentence.

HERE'S A FIRSTHAND BLOG REPORT of Iraqi chemical weapons.

READER GABRIEL MENDEL POINTS OUT that even though the New York Times is basically ignoring the European leaders' letter, the robots at Google News -- handily outperforming the humans at the Times -- have put the story up top.

UPDATE: Better late than never! The Times has it now.

PROFESSOR DAVID MOSER OF BELMONT UNIVERSITY has posted a defense of the Eldred decision on the new Belmont University faculty blog. (A great idea, by the way).

Meanwhile, Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin suggests that under Eldred, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is unconstitutional.

FRANCE'S BAD WEEK: I reflect on the failures of Franco-diplomacy over at GlennReynolds.com, where I also suggest that the Bush Administration is playing a diplomatic game that goes well beyond Iraq.

Meanwhile, in response to the letter from 8 European leaders supporting the United States, reader Jim Campbell emails:

After reading the stunning op-ed letter in the WSJ this morning (to see the words "American bravery" in a letter signed by the heads of 8 European nations briefly stopped my heart), I thought of Bush and Chirac and Schroeder, and a movie scene immediately popped into mind - the scene at the end of Twelve Angry Men, where Henry Fonda looks at Lee J. Cobb and says, "You're alone now."

I like it.

UPDATE: Here's an article that provides some insight into what's going on:

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A joint letter by eight European leaders backing the United States on the crisis with Iraq highlighted the European Union (news - web sites)'s divisions on Thursday, rubbing salt into the wounds of its stumbling foreign policy. . . .

The move appeared aimed at isolating France and Germany, which had publicly argued against a rush to war, and building a pro-American caucus within the 15-nation EU.

"This looks like Rumsfeld's Europe," one EU diplomat said, referring to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's dismissal of France and Germany last week as "old Europe."

Buwahahahaha!

HERE'S A NICE PIECE ON NANOTECHNOLOGY and Bill Joy's fears by Freeman Dyson, who invokes Milton's Areopagitica.

UNILATERALISM, MY ASS! Jim Miller notes that the New York Times and other anti-war papers don't seem to be giving the European leaders' letter of support any play.

If the letter had been one of condemnation, want to bet it would have made the front page? I can't even find it on the page that supposedly provides "complete coverage" of the war with Iraq.

Meanwhile, Juan Volokh is condemning French unilateralism.

THERE WILL BE AN ONLINE FORUM on affirmative action and diversity in higher education at the Chronicle of Higher Education's website starting at 1 p.m. Eastern time. (The link is here.) I'll be in class, but perhaps you'll find it interesting.

TOM DASCHLE DOESN'T WANT YOU DANCING: Dave Kopel and I have a column criticizing the latest, sneaky, iteration of the RAVE Act, over at National Review Online.

UPDATE: TalkLeft has comments.

REGIS PHILBIN, ANTI-IDIOTARIAN? Reader Mark Garbowski emails:

This morning on the Regis and Kelly show, Regis made humorous reference to a news article on the offer of exile to Saddam. Kelly asked why we would pay for that and Regis replied that it's cheaper than war. Then Kelly said yes, but why do we have to pay for it. We solve everyone's problems and pay for everything and all the world does is hate us and burn the flag. In as close to verbatim as I can remember, Regis said:

"Yeah. Like South Korea. South Korea wants us out of their country. OK. But who's gonna keep them safe from that crazy man up north? And the French! The only time the French want us to go to war is when the German army is sitting in Paris sipping coffee."

Cheers from the studio audience. Go Regis.

First Oprah, now Regis. I told you there was a cultural sea-change underway. No wonder the traditional Vietnam-era left is so grumpy.

UPDATE: Dr. Manhattan emails:

I think the Oprah & Regis moments represent the obverse of the legendary LBJ story where he saw Walter Cronkite opine against Vietnam on his broadcast and asserted: "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost the country."

Indeed.

IN LIGHT OF THE AFRICAN AIDS INITIATIVE, producers of NPR-type shows should be aware of this song about AIDS by the Ugandan band Afrigo.

Meanwhile, Susanna Cornett emails:

A caller on the Curtis & Kuby show (WABC 770, NYC) just called in and said he thought Bush was going to give AIDS $$ to Africa because he wants the oil there.

Apparently it's a one-size-fits-all meme.

Jeez, that guy is so behind the times. Doesn't he realize it's all about antigravity?

LET THIS BE A WARNING TO STUDENTS WHO GAME DURING CLASS. . . .

A Norwegian MP has been caught playing games on his handheld computer during a debate in parliament.

Trond Helleland didn't know television cameras had zoomed in on him during a debate about Norwegians fighting in Afghanistan.

The Conservative MP says he had been meaning to check his schedule on his personal digital assistant, but couldn't resist a round of the war game Metalion.

Personally, I'm just glad to hear that there's someone in the Norwegian parliament who doesn't sniffily disapprove of war games.

UPDATE: Norwegian blogger Fredrik Norman has links to pictures, and notes: "Who said Norwegian politicians were all doves? In the virtual year of 2252, they're laser-firing hawks!"

"IT AIN'T DEAD YET:" DefenseTech warns that the TIA program hasn't been killed, despite the contrary impression held by many.

Get a bigger stick, and whack it again.

"BLIX HANDED THE ADMINISTRATION THE SMOKING GUN:" Josh Marshall has a lengthy and very interesting interview with Kenneth Pollack up on his site.

ARNOLD KLING has a column on "Economic Idiotarianism" -- and, yes, that's the actual title.

"EUROPE'S STUMBLING FOREIGN POLICY:"

This week, an attempt by the EU's foreign ministers to renew sanctions against Zimbabwe collapsed because France wanted an exemption from the travel ban to enable President Robert Mugabe to attend a Franco-African summit in Paris.

The EU's whole relationship with Africa was thrown into confusion, with an EU-Africa summit to be hosted by Portugal in April under threat. If France was allowed to receive Mugabe, the Portuguese wanted the same right.

But the leaders of the UK, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Spain are all likely to boycott a summit attended by Mugabe, which would transform the event into an embarrassing display of European disunity.

There's much, much more. I think that in the disunity of Europe here, and especially in the letter supporting the U.S. on Iraq released by eight European heads of state that I mentioned earlier, we're seeing some very effective diplomacy by the United States. With an unwitting assist by France. I'll have more on that later today.

UNILATERALISM: "Activists" are criticizing Bush's $15 billion AIDS plan for Africa as unilateralism because he's not passing the money through, um, "activist" groups. Puhleez.

January 29, 2003

MORE ON THE WELFARE-TERRORISM CONNECTION: Mickey Kaus, call your office!

AXIS OF WEASELS MERCHANDISE? But of course!

OIL? YOU PATHETIC SAP. It' really all about antigravity.

BLOGS AND MONEY: Here's an interesting article that talks about Nick Denton and Henry Copeland, among others who plan to make money off of weblogs by methods other than mentioning their Amazon and Paypal donation-buttons. Though Andrew Sullivan's "Pledge Week" does get a mention.

IT'S NOT YOUR FATHER'S BULGARIA, apparently.

WHAT? YOU HAVEN'T SUBSCRIBED to the new Welch / Layne paper yet? Why the hell not?

UPDATE: Here's a review of the prototype issue, from the Christian Science Monitor.

AUSTIN BAY has some important observations on why beating Iraq will likely be a deathblow to an already weakened Al Qaeda.

STEVE VERDON (permalinks not working) notices something I hadn't -- my traffic for this month has already surpassed its previous monthly high. This will no doubt disappoint some, who seemed to be hoping that InstaPundit had passed its peak.

Of course, traffic here won't keep growing forever, and I wouldn't be terribly surprised (or, for that matter, all that disappointed) to see it level off or even decline as the blogosphere grows. This is the Internet, and nothing is forever. (Which isn't to say that I don't enjoy disappointing those folks this time; I'm only human.)

It's especially interesting, though, in light of this figure from this OJR piece, showing big-media traffic trends. What's interesting is that they look a lot like mine, only with a few more zeros. I wouldn't have guessed that.

ARTHUR SILBER is mad as hell about Bush's AIDS proposal.

HERE'S OSAMA BIN LADEN'S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS. I give it an A.

AHEAD OF BUSH: Orrin Judd notes that John Kerry is crying "material breach."

GEORGE CLOONEY: The Rachel Lucas interview -- but how did she get him to open up like that?

UNILATERALISM, MY ASS!

Here's a BBC story pointing out that France is, essentially, using the threat of its Security Council veto to frustrate the many European nations that support the U.S. on Iraq.

AOL TIME WARNER LOST NEARLY $100 BILLION IN 2002.

Advantage: InstaPundit, which was nearly $100 billion more profitable than AOL last year! Quick, get out the press release!

[Kaus already did this schtick last year -- Ed. He already did the Ed. schtick, too. . . .]

HESIOD DOESN'T GET IT, so I'll try to speak very slowly:

Antiwar protesters aren't Communists by definition.

But A.N.S.W.E.R. and the WWP basically are. (And of the extra-nasty Stalinist variety.)

Communists are, in my opinion, as bad as Nazis: mass murder, totalitarianism, etc. (And calling them "Marxists" instead doesn't fool anyone.)

Going to a march organized by Communists doesn't make you a Communist, any more than going to a march organized by Nazis makes you a Nazi.

But knowingly going to either one makes you icky. And calling it McCarthyism when people point that out, or point out that the Communists really are Communists, makes you either dishonest, or stupid.

Clear enough?

(I should also note that I've tried to call attention to non-icky voices opposing the war. I think they're wrong about the war, but it's okay to be wrong. It's not okay to be in bed with Stalinists or Hitlerites.)

LILEKS:

The line that clarified everything: I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country – your enemy is ruling your country. And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation.

It brought to mind Susan Sarandon’s ad, in which she argues against a military effort to depose Saddam. “What,” she asks, “has Iraq done to us?”

Aside from shoot at our pilots, and attempt to kill an ex-President, I’ll grant that they’ve done no more to us than Hitler did to the US in the 30s. But that’s not the point. Sarandon has turned into the very thing her ilk decries: an insular self-satisfied wealthy Westerner who couldn’t care less what happens in other countries, as long as no Americans get a nick.

Her, and a lot of her colleagues.

FRANCE IS BLOWING IT IN ITS NEOCOLONIALIST UNILATERAL ACTION IN AFRICA:

Just when it was reveling, downstage-center, as a marquee player in international discussions on Iraq, France has collided with an African crisis that may more cruelly mark out the limited character of its diplomatic and practical powers.

This reality bites: A French-engineered peace agreement meant to bring to calm to the Ivory Coast after a months-long rebellion - signed here with the trappings of inviolability over the weekend in the presence of President Jacques Chirac and a handy phalanx of plumed Gardes Republicaines - has imploded.

This article is damning. The French military force is called "invisible," the word "neocolonialist" is used, and, most humiliating of all, it says that France was "outfoxed" in the diplomatic negotiations. The Ivory Coast, it suggests, indicates the limits of French power.

Check out the photo accompaning this article with signs calling Chirac a criminal and boosting the USA. And doesn't it figure that the French have their own Republican Guard. . . .?

THE UNDISCLOSED LOCATION has a dialup connection that's now getting 24kbps. Ugh. More later.

DAVID BOAZ is condemning the anti-choice movement in strong terms.

THE GRUMPY LEFT: This writer in the Star Tribune is getting tired of the Judean People's Front aspects of, well, lots of lefty causes:

I also began to wonder where the left gets its harshness -- a know-it-all style of dark grievance-dom that has increasingly come to define the peace movement. It was on my mind because I had seen this belief system in full bloom two nights earlier, as I watched a replay of the day's big Washington, D.C., antiwar demonstration. . . .

I just wish that every gathering of my lefties didn't have to become such a tedious exercise in cause-linking, chant-bullhorning and supposed truth-telling. I have the fantasy of a progressive cause with no Youth and Student Coordinator, no West Coast Representative, no brother from the movement in the country to the south and no presumption that words like Solidarity, Network, Action and Uprising are always to be treated as gospel, the code words that say we are all the same.

(Via Fraters Libertas).

"CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES" -- a roundup of the week's best (self-nominated) blog entries -- is over at Dodd Harris's this week. Check it out!

ALPHECCA'S WEEKLY survey of media bias on gun control is up, with a surprising finding.

TED BARLOW has unmasked my secret identity.

A LOT MORE NEWSPAPER WEBSITES are reportedly going to start asking for registration. Do you like that idea? I offer my observations in today's TechCentralStation column.

LIFE IS GOOD, here at the secure undisclosed location. I didn't follow the State of the Union speech -- I'm at a hotel with the InstaWife and no kids, an opportunity too good to be wasted on political speeches. But Stephen Green and Tacitus provided blow-by-blow coverage, so the Blogosphere was on the job.

From what I've seen, Bush did pretty well on Iraq, and got a passing grade (with perhaps an extra point or two for audacity) on the domestic side. However, if you grade on the curve with Gary Locke plugged in, he gets an A. (Andrew Sullivan would give Bush an A outright.) What I saw of Locke in the playback looked weak, and others seem to agree. He came across like a city councilman. Not a bad city councilman, but not somebody ready for primetime at the national level, at least not yet.

UPDATE: Just noticed that they were dissing me for my absence over at The Corner, where they were blogging in realtime, too. Heh. Well, they get paid the big bucks for that sort of thing.

Meanwhile, here is a piece noting the Tolkien resonances in the speech. And Matt Welch assembled a focus group on the State of the Union. Plus there's a link on his page that'll let you subscribe to the Los Angeles Examiner! Go for it.

January 28, 2003

OFF TO A SECURE, UNDISCLOSED LOCATION: Blogging will resume later.

AXIS OF NOT-SO-FEEBLE: The Norwegian Air Force dropped its first bomb in almost 60 years in Afghanistan today. (Via Rantburg). And don't miss this photo of anti-French, pro-American protests in Cote d'Ivoire, with a sign reading "USA is better" and a -- non-defaced! -- American flag. Bwahahaha!

GARY FARBER on the unlikelihood of "terror bombing" against Iraq.

WILLIAM SJOSTROM POINTS TO THIS ARTICLE BY JOHN KEEGAN on "The New Appeasers." Excerpt:

Here the new appeasement takes on its second form. It does not seek, as in the 1930s, to appease dictators. The object now is to appease other objectors to war - half-hearted allies such as Germany, the "Arab street", liberal opinion at home and, above all, the legalists in the UN and other international organisations.

The new appeasers' cry today is for a "second" (but implicitly a third and fourth) Security Council resolution authorising military action against Saddam and, without that, no intervention. The appeasers believe that they have found, in the UN Charter, means to prevent the democracies resorting to force in almost all circumstances. . . .

The history of appeasement does not change. Hitler was once a weak little man - and it was the concessions of the appeasers of his day that allowed him to grow strong. Once Saddam has his nuclear weapons, he will beat the drum of war. It will be a war that the new appeasers, like the old appeasers who rallied to Churchill after Hitler's first blitzkrieg, will bitterly regret that they did not fight when they had the chance to win.

Read the whole thing, as they say.

THE EDDIE MURPHY / JOHN MCCAIN CONNECTION. It's all so obvious, now. . . .

BILL HOBBS has done some research on claims about the cost of war -- and on who's doing the claiming. He also notes:

One of WAND’s five stated policy goals is

Eliminate the testing, production, sale and use of weapons of mass destruction.


Isn’t that what we’re trying to do in Iraq?

Yes, Bill, but I suspect they're talking about our weapons of mass destruction. Not Saddam's.

PORPHYROGENITUS says it's all about ooiiilll at the BBC.

LEE HARRIS writes:

If the international community supported the First Gulf War overwhelmingly, which clearly it did, it is morally committed to supporting the current policy of the United States and the failure to realize this connection can be most charitably ascribed to intellectual dishonesty.

Since the United States is the only nation in the world that is willing to play this role, let alone capable of playing it, there are only three ways that it can relate to the international community: either as its lackey, or as its leader, or as its tyrant.

The world cannot really expect the United States to be its lackey, and certainly doesn't want it to be its tyrant. And this leaves them only one choice.

Those who are now currently refusing to accept America's moral right to lead at this point are betraying the very ideals they pretend to champion—you cannot have world peace until someone enforces it; but no one who is powerful enough to enforce it can be persuaded to enforce it like a flunkey—it is utopianism to think otherwise.

I'm not sure "utopianism" is the precise word, but yes.

THERE MAY BE NO LOGICAL CONNECTION between "Free Mumia!" and "Not in Our Name!" -- but there is a financial connection. Tom Wolfe must be smiling.

UPDATE: Michele has some thoughts, over at A Small Victory. In another postshe notes that waiting for a "smoking gun" is probably a mistake:

a smoking gun would imply that it is too late; a gun does not smoke until it has been fired.

Indeed.

DOES SADDAM HAVE NUKES? ARE THE FRENCH SPYING FOR SADDAM? Trent Telenko has info on both. I've gotten some email from military folks suggesting the latter based on the behavior of French ships and aircraft in the Persial Gulf region.

If it's true, paybacks should be severe.

GOVERNMENT DATABASES AND MISSION CREEP: Brian Doherty is absolutely right about this.

PESSIMISM ABOUT THE FUTURE: I have to say, this posting by Michael Rogers seems to hit the nail on the head. Most people I know are pessimistic about the future of their professions, too, almost across the board. I wonder if it's caused by the phenomenon Brad DeLong identifies: better communications technology is creating more competition for people in a wide variety of fields.

DeLong's prediction for 2023 reminds me of Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, in which we're told that globalization had smeared things out into a worldwide layer of "what a Pakistani bricklayer would consider prosperity."

Is that really our future? I'm inclined to doubt it. But I could be wrong.

UPDATE: John Nye emails:

I think the trends you speak of would be at work even if there were no globalization. And Stephenson had it wrong. The greatest wage pressure will be on status and goods. Prosperity should easily increase material welfare (no. of cars, clothes, dinners, etc. you can buy) but will adversely affect prestige goods (like the probability of being accepted to the top ten universities or the chance of buying that prime lot in Menlo Park or even getting tickets to Broadway). So the issue is not that standard of living will be at the Pakistani middle class level.

Rather it will feel like that for some because they will be objectively richer but some of the things they cherish which provide status will be unobtainable. This has already been happening in the US. See my article on Irreducible Inequality.

I think this may be right. Reader George Zachar emails:

BY DEFINITION most professions will vanish/evolve into something unrecognizable as time, technology and expertise advance.

Focus on individual capabilities/skill sets/flexibility, and things look brighter/more realistic.

I've lost count of the personal career metamorphisms I've gone through.

I think this is right, too.

TRANSATLANTIC AXIS OF WEASEL UPDATE: It's in the title of this piece in The Times ("Paris and Berlin: the axis of weasel") by Ferdinand Mount, who writes:

In 1963 two ancient titans, de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer, were leading two renascent nations out of the ruins of war. Now in their different ways France and Germany are led by two weaklings. Schröder survived the German elections only by resorting to a humiliating pacifist stance which he didn’t even sound as if he believed in. Chirac managed to see off an ancient fascist and now exercises more or less unfettered power, which, as ever, he doesn’t seem to have much clue what to do with except cling to the Franco-German pact.

However, the newer members of the EU, as Le Monde has the grace to point out, don’t think of the Americans as demons at all. After all, if the Yanks had gone home, as those old post-war French graffiti used to demand, half of those new members would not be free today.

In Britain, too, you can feel the change. Whenever Macmillan or Wilson or Heath or Major was “let down” by the French, there was an audible “ouch” throughout the Establishment. Our foreign policy had been derailed again. We didn’t know where to turn.

But now? I haven’t met anybody outside the Foreign Office who gives a toss.

I think the French and Germans may be suffering from imperial overstretch.

UPDATE: This Christopher Hitchens column in Slate on Bush's alleged "cowboy" ways is good, too. Excerpt:

To have had three planeloads of kidnapped civilians crashed into urban centers might have brought out a touch of the cowboy even in Adlai Stevenson. But Bush waited almost five weeks before launching any sort of retaliatory strike. And we have impressive agreement among all sources to the effect that he spent much of that time in consultation. A cowboy surely would have wanted to do something dramatic and impulsive (such as to blow up at least an aspirin-factory in Sudan) in order to beat the chest and show he wasn't to be messed with. But it turns out that refined Parisians are keener on such "unilateral" gestures—putting a bomb onboard the Rainbow Warrior, invading Rwanda on the side of the killers, dispatching French troops to the Ivory Coast without a by-your-leave, building a reactor for Saddam Hussein, and all the rest of it.

Indeed.

January 27, 2003

GWEILO DIARIES IS UNIMPRESSED with E.U. diplomacy regarding North Korea. He's not that thrilled with U.S. moves in Indonesia, either.

JAY MANIFOLD WRITES on Iraq/Georgia parallels, and why Iraq will suffer less in war than Georgia did under Sherman.

STEPHEN GREEN: Flaming Liberal.

DIANE E. IS GRATEFUL TO THE FRENCH. No, really.

"YOU GET WHAT YOU DESERVE" -- Anti-American graffiti on a 9/11 memorial.

My response: be glad you're not getting what you deserve, buddy.

RAND SIMBERG REMEMBERS THE APOLLO 1 FIRE.

I'll note that it was memorialized, together with some other tragedies, by the Rainmakers in a great song called "Rockin' at the T-Dance."

YOU DON'T FIND A LOT of nice things said about George Tenet on this site, but this article from Time on the "CIA's Secret Army" has an interesting passage:

It was George Tenet who began rebuilding the SOG five years ago when he took charge of the CIA, but the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, accelerated his efforts.

The CIA folks seem to have done an excellent job in Afghanistan, and I mentioned somewhere that whoever was behind revitalizing them deserved praise. If it's really Tenet (I suppose this could just be after-the-fact PR puffery) then he deserves considerable credit.

UPDATE: Here's my old post which was about Special Forces, not just the CIA paramilitary operations. The point still holds, though.

HERE'S MORE ON THE ALGERIAN TERROR CONNECTION, from the Christian Science Monitor. Excerpt:

Over the past six weeks, European investigators in four countries have arrested more than 50 people with suspected links to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network. Police have uncovered explosives, chemicals, fake passports, and documents, including maps of the London Underground.

Algerians are consistently among those detained - a fact that Western intelligence officials say points to the formation of a North African network of Al Qaeda that is preparing to act.

Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar, referring to the arrests Friday of 15 Algerians and a Moroccan in northeastern Spain, said police had broken up a "major terrorist network" linked to the Algerian Salafist group, a splinter of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), which he said had clear links with Al Qaeda. He said the network also had connections with suspects recently arrested in France and Britain.

Interesting.

APPARENTLY, THE COOKEVILLE DOG-SHOOTING INCIDENT was the result of improper training. Yeah, but who could have foreseen a problem with this?

NOBODY WANTS TO PAY FOR PUBLIC DEFENDERS. But, you know, nobody wants to convict innocent people, either. Do they?

JOHN COLE EMAILS: "This might be my snarkiest post ever." It involves the French.

2245 MESSAGES are in the process of downloading from the server, into archival stasis. I read most of 'em, but not all. If I should have replied to yours, sorry. I do my best.

A PACK, NOT A HERD: Here's an interesting article on citizen-based defense strategies.

THE DAMNING OF SADDAM: This article from The Telegraph has a nice summary of Saddam's misdeeds, and says that Blix's report has greatly strengthened the case for war.

HERE'S THE WEBSITE of United For Peace ("Soon to be 'United for Peace and Justice!'"), an anti-war group that seems to be trying to set itself up as an alternative to the nasty looniness of A.N.S.W.E.R. The differences with A.N.S.W.E.R. aren't exactly played up on the site, but at least there's no obvious Stalinism or anti-semitism. Jim Henley is hopeful.

MORE EVIDENCE of good sense:

WEST PALM BEACH - A judge threw out a jury's verdict today in what had been considered a landmark case against the distributor of a gun used in the shooting death of middle school teacher Barry Grunow. . . .

Bob Montgomery, a prominent personal injury attorney who won an $11.3 billion settlement against the tobacco industry, had sought $76 million in damages against Valor. The case was closely watched because it was the first to combine claims that Saturday night specials are inherently defective and should be sold only with safety locks.

Next, the defendant should seek sanctions.

MORE ON MATERIAL BREACH.

HOW MANY PEOPLE HAS SADDAM HUSSEIN KILLED?

The terror is self-compounding, with the state's power reinforced by stories that relatives of the victims pale to tell — of fingernail-extracting, eye-gouging, genital-shocking and bucket-drowning. Secret police rape prisoners' wives and daughters to force confessions and denunciations. There are assassinations, in Iraq and abroad, and, ultimately, the gallows, the firing squads and the pistol shots to the head.

DOING the arithmetic is an imprecise venture. The largest number of deaths attributable to Mr. Hussein's regime resulted from the war between Iraq and Iran between 1980 and 1988, which was launched by Mr. Hussein. Iraq says its own toll was 500,000, and Iran's reckoning ranges upward of 300,000. Then there are the casualties in the wake of Iraq's 1990 occupation of Kuwait. Iraq's official toll from American bombing in that war is 100,000 — surely a gross exaggeration — but nobody contests that thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians were killed in the American campaign to oust Mr. Hussein's forces from Kuwait. In addition, 1,000 Kuwaitis died during the fighting and occupation in their country.

Casualties from Iraq's gulag are harder to estimate. Accounts collected by Western human rights groups from Iraqi émigrés and defectors have suggested that the number of those who have "disappeared" into the hands of the secret police, never to be heard from again, could be 200,000. As long as Mr. Hussein remains in power, figures like these will be uncheckable, but the huge toll is palpable nonetheless.

Where's Marc Herold when you need him?

FAREED ZAKARIA WRITES that our previous policies toward Iraq and its neighbors have been so bad that war might well make things better:

Of course, not everyone would be helped by a successful war. The ruling elites in the Middle East—particularly those that remain stubbornly set in their old ways—will be challenged, threatened and eventually overturned. For these potentates and their courtiers it would mean the end of one of the richest gravy trains in history. That is why they will fight change as fiercely as they can. But for the people of the Middle East, after the shock of the war fades, it could mean a chance to break out of the terrible stagnancy in which they now sit.

There are always risks involved when things change. But for the past 40 years the fear of these risks has paralyzed Western policy toward the Middle East. And what has come of this caution? Repression, radical Islam and terror. I’ll take my chances with change.

Let's hope it turns out well. But at least "better" should be easy to achieve.

ARAB NATIONS ARE "FALLING INTO LINE" regarding the war.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Howard Bashman reports that the Ninth Circuit has gone back and removed citations to the work of Michael Bellesiles, author of the now-discredited Arming America. from its recent Second Amendment opinion, Silveira v. Lockyer. Sadly, they left the rest of the opinion intact.

Does this mean the Ninth Circuit thinks the Supreme Court might conceivably grant cert. on this case, and doesn't want an obvious red-flag in the very first footnote? Beats me. I'll leave the tea-leaf-reading concerning this action to the tea-leaf readers.

I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO HEARING EXPLANATIONS AS TO WHY THIS ISN'T MATERIAL BREACH:

The document indicates that 13,000 chemical bombs were dropped by the Iraqi air force between 1983 and 1998, while Iraq has declared that 19,500 bombs were consumed during this period. Thus, there is a discrepancy of 6,500 bombs. The amount of chemical agent in these bombs would be in the order of about 1,000 tons. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must assume that these quantities are now unaccounted for. . .

I turn to biological weapons. I mention the issue of anthrax to the council on previous occasions, and I come back to it as it is an important one. Iraq has declared that it produced about 8,500 liters of this biological warfare agent, which it states it unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991.

Iraq has provided little evidence for this production and no convincing evidence for its destruction.

There are strong indications that Iraq produced more anthrax than it declared and that at least some of this was retained over the declared destruction date. It might still exist. . . .

As I reported to the council on the 19th of December last year, Iraq did not declare a significant quantity, some 650 kilos, of bacterial growth media, which was acknowledged as reported in Iraq's submission to the Amorim panel in February 1999. As a part of its 7 December 2002 declaration Iraq resubmitted the Amorim panel document but the table showing this particular import of media was not included. The absence of this table would appear to be deliberate, as the pages of the resubmitted document were renumbered.

In the letter of 24th of January this year to the president of the Security Council, Iraq's foreign minister stated that, I quote, "All imported quantities of growth media were declared." This is not evidence. I note that the quantity of media involved would suffice to produce, for example, about 5,000 liters of concentrated anthrax.

There's much, much more. But this is enough.

UPDATE: Robin Roberts emails:

Regarding the excerpts of Blix's report you posted, I note that he mentions the great quantities of anthrax unaccounted for. I have this vague recollection of people being killed in this country with anthrax .... and a bungled FBI probe of same.

Hmm. I seem to recall something of the sort too, but it's probably entirely unrelated.

WHO I VOTED FOR IN THE GRAMMIES -- plus an Axis of Weasel roundup -- is reported over at GlennReynolds.Com.

JAMES LILEKS reports on the Super Bowl ads and on what he found by Googling the "ordinary Americans" in a Star Tribune story about the antiwar movement.

WHEN POLICY KILLS -- U.N. complicity in mass murder in the Balkans:

The Bosnian Muslims were told by the U.N. that they didn't need weapons of their own; instead, they would have immediate access to the upper echelons of U.N. and NATO "peacekeeping" forces. As noted in U.N. documents, Bosnia-Herzegovina president Izetbegovic "was in favour of the UNPROFOR [United Nations Protection Force] proposal, which, as he understood it, meant that the Bosniacs would hand their weapons over to UNPROFOR in return for UNPROFOR protection." . . .

By the summer of 1995, the population of Srebrenica, a designated safe area, had swelled with refugees. By the time of the massacre, it was an island of Bosniacs in Bosnian Serb territory — an island the U.N. had sworn to protect.

But the U.N. would not honor its pledge. As the BBC later reported, "A former United Nations commander in Bosnia has told a Dutch parliamentary inquiry into the Srebrenica massacre that it was clear to him that Dutch authorities would not sacrifice its soldiers for the enclave."

And, indeed, on July 11, 1995, Bosnian Serb forces entered Srebrenica without resistance from Bosniac or U.N. forces; not a shot was fired. (The Bosniac general in Srebrenica had recently been recalled by his government, leaving the Bosniac forces leaderless.) Ethnic cleansing and genocide followed. The men and boys were separated from the women, then taken away and shot.

"Don't worry -- the U.N. will protect you!" Unfortunately, it seems to devote most of its efforts to protecting dictators from the United States. Why, it's almost as if anti-American dictators are a constituency group within the U.N., while innocent civilians aren't. Say. . . .

UPDATE: This piece that I wrote a while back is probably relevant enough to link here.

DUANE FREESE WRITES:

In 10 weeks, on April 3, the United Nations will celebrate the 12th Anniversary of United Nations resolution 687. In that resolution, the Security Council directed Iraq to provide a list of all weapons of mass destruction, their components and parts in 15 days. Iraq was directed to comply unconditionally. It had agreed to such compliance when it agreed to a ceasefire that ended military action.

Four years, four months and a fortnight ago on Sept. 10, 1998, Iraq delivered a deficient 800-page report detailing its biological and chemical weapons, before kicking U.N. inspectors out.

President Bush's threat of military action forced Saddam Hussein to capitulate and let those inspectors back in.

Iraq lost the war. Knowing that, Saddam made a bargain to avoid destruction. He's broken that bargain.

STOP THAT, OR I'LL SIC HANS BLIX ON YOU: SKBubba is researching weapons of mass destruction.

ON A LESS SERIOUS NOTE: Here's a State of the Union drinking game that everyone can enjoy.

Well, everyone with a liver the size of Vermont, anyway.

ANOTHER ONE BACK FROM HIATUS: Prof. Jeff Cooper is back, with wine recommendations and a Kausfiles mystery.

Actually, I know the answer to the mystery, but in my new status as a minion of Microsoft I'm forbidden to speak of it.

(Note to credulous readers/media conspiracists: No, not really.)

YOU ALL KNOW ABOUT Dave Barry's new blog, right? And that the puppies are Ken Layne's fault doing contribution?

MICKEY KAUS calls Rep. Robert Matsui "the man who lost Congress" for the Democrats.

WILLIAM SJOSTROM notes more disrespect for the French -- and in The Independent, of all places, where Bruce Anderson writes that "French perversity has denied Europe any influence over American foreign policy," and goes on to note:

They believe that their foreign policy is not only more compatible with a desirable balance of global forces; they think that their superior intellectual and moral stance also expresses French self-interest. They are thoughtful and independent; we, muddled and subservient.

It is easy to make that argument on paper, as many French commentators have recently demonstrated. There is only one problem. It has no purchase on reality. When Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the Franco-German position on Iraq as "Old Europe", one French minister retorted that in growing old, Europe had acquired wisdom. But this apparent intellectuality is just so much flummery; the French are still desperately seeking compensation for their loss of global influence.

The whole thing is very much worth reading.

ANDREW SULLIVAN has advice for Bush on the State of the Union address and how to make the case for war.

I also recommend this lengthy essay by Bill Whittle.

January 26, 2003

EUGENE VOLOKH is deeply disappointed.

ARE EFFORTS TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE RACIST? Follow the link and decide for yourself.

UPDATE: Armed Liberal emails that I should include this link, too.

VIRGINIA POSTREL has posted a full account of her Lasik eye surgery, some good advice for U.S. Embassy staffers abroad, and some comments on anti-semitism in the Davos protests:

(At least they equate Jews with apes rather than rats, taking the Islamofascist line rather than the Nazi one.) It's also inevitable. Opposing Jews and opposing trade, opposing trade and opposing America, opposing Jews and opposing America--it all goes together. I do have one question: Do these people think Donald Rumsfeld is Jewish? My guess is yes.

Well, those people are confused about a lot of things. . . .

UPDATE: Here's more from Gotham.

SPEAKING OF PEOPLE BACK FROM HIATUS: The UnaBlogger is back! (Er, and he's been gone long enough that if you're new to the Blogosphere, I should note that whether this counts as "safe for work" depends on where you work. To me, it's just cute cheesecake. If you think your boss is less progressive than me, well, be warned.)

JIM TREACHER IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE. Hey, I'm just glad he's back.

ATRIOS seems to think that I write a column for the Washington Times, and derive great income thereby. If so, it's escaped my attention. (Especially the "great income" part.) I think the only thing I ever wrote for the Wash. Times was a piece entitled "Greasing the Skids at the Start of Death Row," condemning the Habeas Corpus provision of the 1996 antiterrorism bill, which oped I coauthored with GWU professor Bob Cottrol and which was placed there through the efforts of that noted Moonie front group, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

What you're seeing is desperation in the face of the A.N.S.W.E.R. debacle. (Atrios' post tries to compare writing for the Washington Times with standing alongside anti-semites and Stalinists.) And it's well-founded desperation. Or such sloppiness that he thinks my book reviews for the Washington Post were actually in the Times. (Or maybe it's just trolling. . . .)

And have you ever noticed how it's okay to show religious prejudice against Moonies, but not against fanatical Muslims? Nothing political there. Jeez.

UPDATE: TalkLeft is offering me a free membership in the NACDL. Dare I accept, in this era of creeping McCarthyism?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mark Kleiman thinks I'm entitled to a retraction, but thinks that my point about religious bigotry is weak.

HEY, I THINK I GET HATE MAIL FROM THIS GUY, TOO. If I replied to it, I hope I'd reply in the same vein.

HEARTENING NEWS: "Members of the British Muslim community are among those calling the loudest for Abu Hamza -- the radical Islamist preacher whose mosque was raided yesterday by London police -- to leave the country."

AFRICANS ARE PROTESTING French unilateralism and neo-colonialism.

IF THIS IS THE A.N.S.W.E.R., says Mike Silverman, it must have been a pretty dumb question. Heh.

THIS ABC NEWS REPORT IS NOTHING WE DIDN'T KNOW, but it's nice that it's being reported:

Two related California studies to be released this week conclude it is currently impractical to catalog the ballistic "fingerprints" of every firearm in the state.

Recording every firearm made and sold in the nation's most populous state could be overwhelming, according to an internal California Department of Justice report obtained last fall by The Associated Press. . . .

Given the miserable failure of Canada's gun registry, it's no real surprise that a California bullet registry would be, well, a miserable failure.

SCRAPPLEFACE DOES IT AGAIN: France Warns Iraq Against Acting Alone:

"Unilateralism is bad," said Mr. deVillepin. "We urge Iraq to work in a multilateral way, through the U.N. perhaps, to manufacture, deploy and conceal weapons of mass destruction."

Heh. Read the whole thing -- the final sentence is the, er, killer.

INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS on "war tourism," NGOs, and nuclear threats, from Baghdad blogger Salam Pax.

OLIVER WILLIS is football-blogging, and I think he plans to keep it up. He also asks a question that I wish I had thought to ask, and makes an observation worth a lot of people's attention:

Dave Winer throws in some Internet triumphalism describing how "In 2003, when we want to, we can beat the NY Times, on a technical subject" in relation to today's worm attack.

What use is any "internet reporting" when half the internet is inaccessible?

ALSO: This thing should make us think twice about how net-centric we want to make things. ATM machines were disrupted for most of the day, and I can bet that telephony like Vonage was offline as well.

Plus, he's got cheerleader photos!

N.Z. BEAR HAS A CROSS-EXAMINATION OF HANS BLIX that's worth reading.

BUSH'S FAILURE: He's doing all right on the war -- but he'd better be, because this is really damning:

WASHINGTON -- Addressing the delegates more than two years ago at the Republican National Convention, President Bush invoked a line that had become a sort of mantra.

"Big government is not the answer," he said.

Now, just past the midway point of his first term in office, Bush is presiding over the largest, most expensive -- and, some would say, most intrusive -- federal government in history.

Domestically, we might have a smaller government with Al Gore as President. As the article notes:

In the past five years, while median household income has grown by about 16 percent, the federal government's spending has increased by 45 percent.

The trend was under way when Bush took office. After a four-year period ending in 1997 that saw fairly stable spending management -- Congress' budget authority grew from $509 billion to $511 billion -- a spike began in 1998, when federal spending got an $18 billion boost to $529 billion. Spending in 2003 could top $750 billion.

Okay, a lot of that happened under Clinton/Gore -- but Bush promised to stop it, not to carry on the policies of his predecessors. That was Gore's schtick.

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias points up another dropped ball, though he's surprisingly charitable about it. Still, someone in the White House needs to be paying more attention here.

JIM HENLEY is now in his new bloghome. I don't think you'll notice a lot of difference in the way it looks, but it's an MT setup on a more stable host.

CHEMICAL WARFARE SUITS WERE FOUND in the Finsbury Park Mosque raid:

BRITISH police investigating a terror plot by Islamic saboteurs have found chemical warfare protection suits in a north London mosque.

The discovery has shocked detectives, who believe the find confirms supporters of Osama bin Laden were planning a poison attack on civilian targets in Britain.

Scotland Yard and MI5 detectives had kept the discovery of the nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) suits secret.

They feared disclosing it would spark panic.

Government ministers have warned any suggestion that the Finsbury Park mosque had been involved would have worrying racist overtones.

It would? Why, exactly?

ROBERT MUSIL has an answer for Maureen Dowd.

PUNDITWATCH is up, and features a memorable quote from David Brooks.

DEFENSETECH REPORTS that the United States is considering pre-emptive nuclear strikes in Iraq.

Hmm. If we were really considering it, would we be leaking it? Possibly, I suppose.

UPDATE: Oliver Willis thinks it's disinformation. But what if that's what they want us to think . . . .?

"THE JUDENREIN ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT:" Kesher Talk reports that even leftie Jews are being frozen out of A.N.S.W.E.R. - organized marches if they believe that Israel has a right to exist.

Huh? I thought this was all about peace, and Iraq. How did Israel get into this? You think there's a bigger agenda here?

TODD STEED, who I was in a band with once back when Jimmy Carter was President, has a new album out called "Knoxville Tells." You can follow the link to read about it, or read a review here, or you can hear "East Towne Mall" here. You can hear "Smoky Mountain Dip" in RealAudio here.

There's more vintage Steed here, including two of my favorite songs, "Five O'Clock" and "Ethiopian Jokes." Yet another reason why I'm glad to live in Knoxville.



READER RAFAEL SHIMUNOV is disturbed by this defaced American flag featured in the Davos protests. "I hope the 3 bloody stars don't represent the 3 states hit by Al-Qaeda," he writes, asking "What else could it mean?"

I don't know. Any ideas?

Then there's this. Jeez. Andrew Sullivan has commentary.

UPDATE: Meryl Yourish has more.

EUROPE AND AMERICA: Gianni Riotta writes in the Post:

It is not America's unilateralism that relegates Europe to the kids' table. It is Europe's budget priorities. Europe spends $2.50 a day on every cow that grazes happily on the grass of the EU. Yet defense spending lags. Andrew Moravcsik, a professor of government at Harvard University, estimates that "the United States spends five times more on military R&D than all of Europe." Europe's soldiers cannot fight beside their U.S. comrades-in-arms because they lack technology such as the AN/Pvs-7 night vision goggles; the U.S. Army has 215,000 of them. European forces have 11 heavy military transport planes; U.S. forces have 250.

The United States will accept Europe as a real equal when it sees muscle behind diplomacy. However much Europeans dislike Uncle Sam's war machine, they forget that Europe can't fight without it.

Yes. And the United States would, I think, be happy if Europe took actual responsibility for some of the world's problems instead of carping from the sidelines. Most of America's biggest problem areas, after all, from Vietnam to the Middle East, were inherited from others. But so long as Europe favors subsidies over substance, carping from the sidelines will be all it can do.

A HERD, NOT A PACK: Jeffrey Collins points to this not-very-encouraging story from Newsday:

Several government security screeners at LaGuardia Airport said that moments before they took a certification test to operate machines that detect bombs in luggage, instructors told them answers to all or most of the questions.

Four screeners interviewed separately described nearly identical scenarios from classes last month: an instructor taught material for several hours and then read and answered a series of 25 multiple-choice questions that were on an exam the screeners took immediately afterward.

"He read the questions right out of the test, word for word, answer for answer," one screener said, adding that the 25 people in his class wrote down the correct answers on note paper and copied them onto their tests with the instructor out of the room.

A second screener, in a separate class in mid-December, said the instructor stayed in the room during the test but that the exam questions "were the same questions he asked orally just before the test."

"It was pretty much set up so that you shouldn't have any way to fail," said a third screener, who, like all screeners interviewed, asked not to be named fearing retaliation. "The guy read all 25 questions to you just before he gave the test. To tell you the truth, as he gave the questions, I wrote the answers down, because he read them exactly in order."

Jeez.

ARROYO GRANDE UPDATE: A reader said below that the story of the two high school students who tackled a gunman was talk-radio material. Talk-show host Michael Graham emails that he agrees, and he'll be talking about it on his show on Cincinnati's WLW, today from 12-3 Eastern. The URL for online streaming is here, or you can click the button on the stations' website during the show.

SHORT-TERM ENLISTMENT: Here's an article on a new short-term enlistment plan designed to produce more enlistees without resort to the draft. I'm not sure what I think about this -- I'm not encouraged by one backer's statement that it's just a step along the way to compulsory "national service," which I don't support, and I'm concerned about the creation of a two-tiered military. On the other hand, there are a lot of military specialties that don't require the kind of extensive training or commitment that combat arms tend to, and -- in fact -- we've already got a sort of two-tier system, as Tom Ricks noted in comparing the training regimen at Parris Island and Fort Benning with the less rigorous training provided to support troops at Fort Jackson. And it's likely that a non-trivial number of short-term enlistees will decide to stick around for longer, which should help with recruiting.

Anyway, it's an interesting development. There's also a paper from the Progressive Policy Institute, Citizen Soldiers and the War on Terror, endorsing the idea.

Speaking of recruiting, somebody sent me a link to an article saying that Northern California was producing military recruits at a higher rate than anywhere else except (of course) Nashville, but I've lost the link. If you read this, can you send it again?

UPDATE: Reader Anthony Kim sends the link, but notes that the headline, "suckers for a uniform" is rather insulting.

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