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March 25, 2006
MARK FRAUENFELDER remembers Buck Owens. More here.
I'VE GENERALLY FAVORED OPEN IMMIGRATION, but I find myself feeling less and less that way in the face of mass rallies by illegal immigrants like this one.
Illegal immigrants as individuals just trying to make a better life are sympathetic. Illegal immigrants as a mass movement making demands on the polity are considerably less so.
I'm not the only one to get this impression, as Mickey Kaus's report on the rallies in Los Angeles indicates. I think that these marches just made passage of strict immigration laws much more likely.
UPDATE: Reader Harmon Dow emails:
I saw the rally in Chicago about a week ago. Got caught up in it in the Loop at lunch.
What struck me was that it was a very pro-America rally. Here & there, a Mexican flag, quite a few anti-Sensenbrenner signs, but mainly American flags & signs, carried by a lot of young & middle-aged men & women. There were a number of kids, & I had the feeling that many of the marchers were family groups.
Right now, these people are positive about our country, and are interested in being Americans. I hope we have the sense to go with that, rather than subvert it, because at some point, I fear that they might decide that if they can't be Americans, they'll just have to be Mexicans. But not in Mexico.
Kaus's take on the L.A. march is a bit different (then again, so is L.A.), but this is a good point.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A more positive take on the Los Angeles march here, from A.M. Mora y Leon. On the other hand, reader Jake Jacobsen emails:
With all due respect to Mr. Dow I attended the rally and covered it for my blog. I found the proportions of Mexican to American flags ran about ten to one and while yes, it was a primarily family affair I had zero sense that "these people are positive about our country, and are interested in being Americans."
Didn't see it at all.
His blog posts are here and here. And Virginia Postrel observes: "Workers, especially those who want to settle and become citizens (or have their children become citizens), are not threats. They're contributors to American society."
MORE STILL: Bill Quick thinks that Virginia is overly optimistic.
PERRY DEHAVILLAND has a report, with numerous photos, on today's free speech rally in Trafalgar Square. By "free speech rally," of course, I mean "rally to oppose efforts at Islamist censorship."
Perry concludes: "On two occasions, The Plod tried to prevent certain signs being shown (one featured the Mohammed Cartoons on a placard from the Iranian Communist Party and another showed a mask of Tony Blair over a Nazi symbol). These incidents at a 'pro-freedom of expression' rally, and the presence of the police taking pictures of the crowd, were a useful reminder of the deadening hand of the state and just how precarious . . . civil liberties in Britain are."
MORE ON PROBLEMS IN FRANCE, from Claire Berlinski in The Washington Post.
BRUTALITY IN BELARUS:
The other opposition candidate, Alexander Kozulin, marched a few hundred people to a detention center where the October Square demonstrators had been taken to. They faced a SWAT team and the army. Just hours after the peaceful rally, they were all beaten.
The head of the SWAT team beat Kozulin and arrested him. They fired smoke grenades, noise-makers, and tear gas into the crowd. They exploded directly above people. One by one they were stripped away and beaten in the face, back, and legs with batons until they bled. The women, instead, were punched in the face. Then they were taken away in paddywagons to who knows where. At least one person is confirmed dead with a skull injury. Even sicker is that Belarus state television showed up so that they could film a beaten man and say that he was stomped on by his fellow protestors. The protestors are hardly the animals here. All they could do was throw snowballs back at them.
Milinkevich’s press secretary Pavel Mazhejka was briefly detained, and for awhile Milinkevich himself was nowhere to be found. But he is alright and has said that the authorities are fully responsible for the slaughter of the protestors and they will be held to account. He has sworn that Lukashenko will not finish this five year term. It has become the top news on CNN.
More reports on BR23, and Veronika Khokhlova's blog.
BILL QUICK posts his weekend cooking thread, and it's about pizza.
What I love most about pizza is the tomato sauce. My complaint about a lot of places nowadays is that they seem to think I want cheese toast -- they put a pound of mozzarella on, but hardly any tomato sauce. The other way is healthier and, to my mind, tastier.
UPDATE: Michael Silence agrees.
MICKEY KAUS recommends this Lazy Muncie video. It's pretty cool.
NAVAL ACADEMY GRADS CHOOSING MARINES:
When it came time for Jake Dove, a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy, to decide how he would fulfill his required military duty after graduation, there was no question about it: Marine Corps all the way.
"In my eyes it's a perfect community," said Dove, an Annapolis High School graduate. "The idea of being a platoon leader in charge of guys that have done two, three tours in Iraq already, when I haven't been over there - that's an awesome responsibility. I'm eager to take it on."
Despite a war that has entered its fourth year with mounting casualties and waning public support, more and more midshipmen at the Annapolis military college are volunteering for the Marines when asked to choose how they will fulfill the five-year commitment required of all academy graduates.
When the assignments were made official last month for the 992 members of the class of 2006, 209 were placed as officers with the Corps - the most in the school's 161-year history. . . . Having a surplus of mids who want to be Marines has been a change from the Vietnam era. In 1968, the Marine Corps failed to meet its quota for the first time in academy history.
That's very interesting.
UPDATE: The "mounting" casualties language irritated a lot of readers, who sent emails like this one from Matthias Shapiro:
I know this is a small and stupid observation, but what the is point of articles like this refering to "mounting casualites"? Casualites are, in fact, decreasing steadily. And if they're talking about the total casualty list... do they think that we are going to see "receding casualties" anytime soon? Just a thought.
Well, there's the whole zombie soldier angle. But yes, although "casualties," being additive, are always going to "mount" over time barring new improvements in resurrection technology, the casualty rates are falling, something the "mounting casualties" language obscures.
Of course, we see the same error in reverse elsewhere. When we reduce spending growth rates, it's treated as a "spending cut," so it seems only fair that when casualty rates go down it should be treated as "receding casualties," just for consistency's sake, but I'm not holding my breath for that . . . .
Meanwhile, John Barton emails: "It is interesting. So too is the lack of broad coverage. There was a month or two about a year after the war started when the military missed recruiting goals. It was front page news at the Times. Since then, months in which the military has exceeded quotas go unreported, as does your item."
Yeah, go figure.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Er, maybe I wasn't clear above, as Hiawatha Bray emails a "correction" that seems to restate my point:
Of course, casualties in Iraq are "mounting." They mount every time one of our guys is killed or wounded. Those who died there last year are still dead, just like Francisco Franco. So with each new casualty, the number mounts. The speed with which they're mounting is a different issue altogether.
Isn't that what I said above, about "casualties" being additive, and casualty rates being different? I sure thought it was, and it was certainly what I was trying to say. I guess I wasn't clear enough.
MORE: Reader Dana Honeycutt says it was an analogy too far:
Re: Hiawatha Bray's "correction": His correction may have been motivated by your confusing analogy with government spending,. While it is true that the MSM refers to a reduction in the growth of spending as a "cut", it is also true that it is possible (in principle at least!) for government spending to actually decrease. This is completely different from the additive nature of casualties, so it's really not "the same error in reverse".
So, while I think your main point as stated was perfectly clear, the comparison to government spending muddled it.
(Yes, I know I'm nitpicking, beating a dead horse, and being pedantic here.)
Hey, if it weren't for those three activities, would we even have a blogosphere? But I probably should have left that last analogy off. Less is usually more with blogging, in my experience.
FINALLY: Major Richard Cleveland has the last word on this:
It would also be correct, but not politically correct, for the MSM to say that Annapolis grads are choosing to become Marines because the number of Iraqi Veterans continues to mount, and their stories of what is really happening on the front lines in Iraq are spread among those just now entering the service.
Good point, especially as the services are making use of veterans in recruiting.
IN THE MAIL: Carved in Bone : A Body Farm Novel, coauthored by my University of Tennessee colleague Bill Bass of "Body Farm" fame. (Bass is also the author of the nonfiction book, Death's Acre, and my younger brother worked as an assistant there, boiling down corpses in turpentine with his grad-student girlfriend. Now that's an exciting weekend. . . .)
BRUSSELS JOURNAL looks at Europe's economic problems:
The reality of Europe’s ailing economy contrasts sharply with its economic potential and with the massive resources employed to cure its ailing growth. The whole arsenal of Keynesian remedies has now been tried and has failed one by one. Massive deficit spending throughout the eighties and nineties has left Europe with a public debt unequalled in history. The size of Europe's monumental public debt is only surpassed by the hidden liabilities accumulated in Europe’s shortsighted pay-as-you-go public pension schemes. . . .
Europe’s well-intentioned model is not working because it does not pay to work after the taxman has taken his share. Europe is not innovating because it does not pay to innovate after the huge costs of complying with all the prescriptions, limitations and restrictions in all Europe's overabundant licences and autorisations. Demoralization is the real cause of Europe’s stagnation. Europe’s workforce is tired of being incessantly hindered in its task of producing wealth. Demoralization is the reasen why ever more engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs flee Europe’s tax misery. Paradoxically, the Old Europe of the West must now learn from the New Europe of the East, where after years of disastrous socialism, low and simple flat taxes are being introduced, luring investors from all over the world.
Read the whole thing, and also read this prophetic email from the early days of InstaPundit.
UPDATE: More on Europe's problems in this article. (PDF). I very much hope that the Europeans manage to turn things around, as trouble in Europe has a way of becoming trouble worldwide.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here are more thoughts from Larry Kudlow. "All of this is reminiscent of the British disease of the 1960s and ’70s. Back then, striking labor unions closed down the English economy again and again, and it took until the early 1980s for Margaret Thatcher to put an end to it."
MINSK, Belarus Mar 25, 2006 (AP)— Thousands of Belarusians defied a massive show of force by the hard-line government Saturday, protesting in streets swarming with riot police and gathering peacefully in a park to denounce President Alexander Lukashenko after a disputed election returned him to power.
DOMENECH ROUNDUP: Ben Domenech has apologized. Here's a story from The New York Times, which quotes me accurately -- but I should note that I added that the fact that people were out to get Domenech doesn't get him off the hook. (Related thoughts here.)
Jeff Goldstein has further thoughts.
David M, meanwhile, takes the political temperature.
Also, Julian Sanchez makes the inevitable Army of Davids point: "The truth at the core of much often-tiresome blog triumphalism is precisely that the Post probably couldn't have vetted anyone as effectively as a blogospheric swarm."
And here's a report on the ESPN plagiarism story, which seems to have been resolved.
UPDATE: A fairly depressing perspective from Ed Morrissey. And here's another post about how it's bad for the blogosphere: "Someone thinks they won here, but in the grand scheme, everyone will turn out the loser."
And here's a huge roundup from Joe Gandelman. On the other hand, not everyone thinks it's a big story -- it didn't even get a mention on Slate's "Today's Blogs" feature.
March 24, 2006
ANOTHER CIVIL RIGHTS VICTORY:
After years of failed efforts, vetoes and political wrangling, Kansas will join most of the nation in allowing concealed weapons permits, starting this year.
The Kansas House voted Thursday to override Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ veto of a concealed weapons bill, following a similar vote in the Senate on Wednesday. The action makes law a plan to allow citizens who pass a background check and training course to carry concealed weapons. The first applications can be filed July 1.
The House vote was 91-33, seven more votes than necessary to reject Sebelius’ veto.
“The people of Kansas have waited a long time for this,” said Sen. Phil Journey, a Haysville Republican who has worked for the bill for more than a decade, first as a citizen and then as a lawmaker.
Estimates are that 20,000 to 48,000 Kansans will apply for permits in the first four years. It will be up to Attorney General Phill Kline to work out rules for implementing the law, including whether Kansas will honor permits issued by other states.
Gun rights groups were ecstatic about crossing another state off the list of those that do not allow concealed weapons. Now, only three states have no right-to-carry law.
I hope that those backward states will catch up with the modern trend.
UPDATE: Jeff Soyer notes progress in Delaware, while some readers dispute the "three states" figure above, which does depend on definitions in a few cases. The trend, however, is indisputable.
EUGENE VOLOKH: "Trying to prevent people from being killed for their religious beliefs is not an 'assault against Islam.' It's defense against Islam, or to be precise against a certain strand of Islam that regrettably cannot be dismissed as just some unimportant lunatic fringe."
RAND SIMBERG is liveblogging the SpaceX launch, which is in just a couple of minutes. There's also a webcast, here.
UPDATE: It got off the ground, but didn't make it.
YET ANOTHER PLAGIARISM STORY.
HEH: "President Chirac stormed out of the first session of a European Union summit dominated by a row over French nationalism because a fellow Frenchman insisted on speaking English."
(Via Shannon Love, who observes: "Can You Imagine if Bush Did This?")
UPDATE: Agnes Poirier defends Chirac: "the imperialism of the English language must be fought and will be fought to the bitter end."
NEW PROBLEMS AT COLUMBIA, according to The American Thinker and a report in the New York Sun.
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION blowback?
Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus' authoritarian president, was on Friday night facing coordinated sanctions from the European Union and US, hours after riot police wielding batons arrested 200 people staging a peaceful protest over Sunday's disputed elections in the capital, Minsk.
EU leaders, at a summit in Brussels, and the White House both indicated they would impose visa bans on a wide range of senior officials from the former Soviet republic, including Mr Lukashenko himself. They also planned financial sanctions, such as freezes on bank accounts abroad. The tough EU and US response set them sharply at odds with Russia.
I don't think it's over yet.
THE CARNIVAL OF BAUER is up! So is the Carnival of Cars! [What kind of car does Jack Bauer drive? --ed. If I told you, I'd have to kill you.]
AN INTERESTING QUESTION about the war.
MARY KATHERINE HAM has pictures and a report from the Abdul Rahman rally that I mentioned earlier.
UPDATE: More pics from Tom Bridge.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Still more pics here. Meanwhile, a request for liberals to pay more attention to the case.
A REPORT OF ATF ABUSES IN EAST TENNESSEE.
UPDATE: Here's a roundup on the story from the Knoxville News-Sentinel's Michael Silence.
ANOTHER UPDATE: See the update here: It may have started as a dubious MG case, but apparently the later felon-in-possession charge is solid.
A BEN DOMENECH PLAGIARISM SCANDAL?
I've had my differences with Domenech in the past, but I hope there's nothing to this. Some earlier writings of mine on plagiarism can be found here and here.
UPDATE: Here's more from Howard Kurtz.
ANOTHER UPDATE: And from Michelle Malkin.
MORE: Still more here.
STILL MORE: Ben Domenech has resigned. I think they should replace him with Bill Hobbs -- experienced journalist and blogger! Or maybe Bill Quick, though he's not exactly Red.
EVEN MORE: Bill Quick is honored to be nominated but doubts it would work out:
Good heavens! If the Kossacks et al hated Domenech, can you imagine how they would feel about me? Not to mention the Bush-bots and the committed religious? And the field day they'd have rooting through my years and years of writing on the net, not just on blogs, but in newsgroups and my published work?
The only way they could run me as a blogger would be as "The Blogger Who Pisses Everybody Off." I doubt they are interested in that kind of thing.
Upside for Bill -- it might improve sales of his past work!
Meanwhile, NewsAlert observes that all is not lost: "Still available to blog for the Washington Post are Doris Kearns Goodwin,Laurence Tribe,and Mike Barnicle."
And Jon Henke comments on the underlying debate:
Ideological equality at newspapers? I don't recall the Left being worked up about this before..... ...but I'm very interested to see them pursue it at the New York Times, too!
Indeed. And Dave Price emails: "If not Bill Quick, why not Jeff Goldstein? The Left has already been about as abusive to him as they can be." Yep. And it rolls right off. Plus, who could read Goldstein's stuff and even imagine that it had been previously published?
FINALLY: Don Surber emails: "WaPo took your advice and tried to replace experienced, trained editorial writers and columnists with a blogger named Ben Domenech. Charges of racism and plagiarism immediately ensued."
Well, I don't think that argument flies -- at least, the "experienced, trained" Nick Confessore embarrassed the New York Times this week, too. And it's not like we haven't seen plagiarism from "experienced, trained" journalists. More on the confluence of these two stories here.
And the last word -- in this already-too-long post, anyway -- goes to Patrick Hynes, who says it's a story about the superiority of the new media over the old:
Interestingly, it was Ben Domenech’s writing in the Old Media that got him in trouble, not his blogging. So I will vociferously defend bloggers as a race when the Oldies say “Blogger was a plagiarist” and “Blogs have no credibility,” which is inevitable. . . .
This is, if you think about it, a story about the corruptibility of the Old Media anyway. Like I said before, blogging is about sincerity and authenticity – two things foreign to the Old Media. And attempts by the Old Media to fake sincerity and authenticity will fall flat. Every time.
Yes, those experienced, trained editors and fact-checkers missed the plagiarism that blog-readers caught.
OKAY, NOW THIS IS THE LAST WORD: Ben Domenech has posted a response to his critics.
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: Evan Coyne Maloney was kicked off the Yale campus for asking Taliban-related questions. Lux et Veritas, indeed.
I HAVEN'T READ KEVIN PHILLIPS' American Theocracy, which I saw piled up at my local bookstore the other day, but to paraphrase Tom Wolfe it seems that although theocracy is always descending on America, somehow it always lands in the Middle East. Even the Publisher's Weekly review (follow the link to read it) says that Phillips overstates his case, but then adds something that is surely true: "Expect him to make some provocative appearances on chat shows." And, to be fair, I've made a much milder version of this critique myself.
Rather than theocracy, however, I think that much of what's often identified by pundits as religious sentiment in American politics has more to do with reaction against smug moralizing. As Mickey Kaus notes in response to a new poll on American attitudes toward gay marriage: "Americans may or may not like gay marriage, but they really hate having gay marriage crammed down their throat by self-righteous, unelected liberal judges! What the poll shows is that the gay marriage cause is only now finally recovering from the damage done to it by Anthony Lewis' wife."
There's a book to be written on that phenomenon, I'm sure. Mickey?
IRANIAN NUKES: Don't count on a Deus ex Tel Aviv.
AGGREGATING: Another Army of Davids review, this one at CBS Public Eye, and with this interesting passage:
While reading blogger Glenn Reynolds’s new book, "An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government and Other Goliaths," I was disappointed that he made only the briefest mention of the CBS scandal known as "Rathergate."
FREEDOM OF RELIGION IN AFGHANISTAN: Cam Edwards emails: "Not that you're the Craigslist of rallies or anything, but I wanted to let you know that there'll be a rally in support of Abdul Rahman outside the Afghan Embassy in Washington [today] at noon. The address is 2341 Wyoming Ave NW if you'd care to mention it."
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON was rather hard on Time Baghdad bureau chief Michael Ware. Transcript and audio here.
MORE EMBARRASSMENT FOR YALE:
A statement from Yale University, defending its decision to admit former Taliban spokesman Ramatullah Hashemi, explained that he had "escaped the wreckage of Afghanistan." To anyone who is aware of the Taliban's barbaric treatment of the Afghan people, such words are offensive--as if Mr. Hashemi were not himself part of the wrecking crew. It is even more disturbing to learn that, while Mr. Hashemi sailed through Yale's admissions process, the school turned down the opportunity to enroll women who really did escape the wreckage of Afghanistan.
In 2002, Yale received a letter from Paula Nirschel, the founder of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women. The purpose of the organization, begun in that year, was to match young women in post-Taliban Afghanistan to U.S. colleges, where they could pursue a degree. Ms. Nirschel asked Yale if it wanted to award a spot in its next entering class to an Afghan woman. Yale declined.
Yale seems to have gotten itself into a PR quagmire.
THE ATLANTIC REVIEW looks at German media and asks: "Why is Abu Ghraib a cover story again, but not Darfur? . . . Why is the German media reporting again about the horrible Abu Ghraib pictures taken by dishonorable US soldiers, but not about the even more horrible Darfur pictures taken by an honorable former U.S. Marine?"
A "HUGE EXPLOSION" at a French college. Cause not yet known.
The strategy adopted by Saddam Hussein for his trial on crimes against humanity that stem from his decades-long tyranny over Iraq has always been clear -- he planned on diverting attention from the crimes and the evidence and focus the world on his political rants from the dock. He's playing out the Goering strategy, unmindful of Goering's failure with it. Unfortunately for us, the media has played into Saddam's strategy, according to a study performed by the Media Research Center. After reviewing the coverage provided by the three American broadcast networks, MRC calculated that less than twenty percent of the news coverage reported on evidence, testimony, and the case background ... when they could be bothered to cover the trial at all.
Imagine what things would be like if the news media actually sided with civilization.
March 23, 2006
BAD NEWS IN BELARUS: Lukashenko sends in the troops.
I'LL BE ON HUGH HEWITT'S SHOW in just a minute. You can listen online here. And check out what Mark Steyn had to say a bit earlier.
UPDATE: Transcript and audio here.
HEH. I'll bet it's better with bongoes, though.
MORE EVIDENCE of Saddam terror links.
THE AUDIO OF MY NPR DAY TO DAY INTERVIEW is now up -- it's here.
ANOTHER BLOW to the myth of impartiality.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Apparently, there's some cost to this pork-barrel stuff:
JUNEAU -- Alaska's battered image means state lawmakers must loosen their purse strings if they want congressional aid to move the state's big projects forward, U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens told the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday.
The Alaska Republican says the nation is facing an $8 trillion deficit and paying for troops in Iraq while Alaska is enjoying a $1.4 billion surplus and has $34 billion in the bank with the Alaska Permanent Fund.
That has prompted ill will in Washington that has led critics to question the need to send Alaska federal money when the state won't spend its own cash.
That sentiment led to the stripping of earmarks from Alaska's two so-called "bridges to nowhere" projects last year even though Congress still appropriated the money for the Ketchikan and Anchorage projects, he said.
Now the process of earmarking is under severe attack, Stevens said.
Let's keep attacking.
FROM THE THIS-SUCKS-LIKE-A-BILGE-PUMP DEPARTMENT: FCC Chief Kevin Martin is apparently supporting a two-tiered Internet.
I think that Net neutrality has gotten us this far, and I don't see any reason to get rid of it. What's more, I suspect the motives, and motivations, of those who are buying into this.
UPDATE: Reader Ed Clarkson emails:
If you look at the original story at (Link), at the very least Gralla's interpretation is debatable (a number of the comments there concur). Martin, in fact, said:
"Any provider who blocks access to the Internet is inviting customers to find another provider," Whitacre said in his keynote speech. "It's bad business." He then emphatically stated that AT&T would not block
independent services, "nor will we degrade [Internet access]. Period,
end of story."
The apparent confusion comes from the part of the article that says: "...Martin also added that he supports network operators' desires to offer different levels of broadband service at different speeds, and at different pricing -- a so-called "tiered" Internet service structure that opponents say could give a market advantage to deep-pocket companies who can afford to pay service providers for preferential treatment."
Thus, from that summary it's hard to tell whether Martin was referring to different total bandwith packages (e.g., $5/month for 4 GB; $10 for 10 GB; etc.), bandwith rate packages (e.g., $40/month for 6 Gb/s) or something else. In any case, I think it's a bit premature to assign dire motives to Martin from the little hard information that's available. If nothing else, I think it might be worth linking to the original story so people can decide for themselves.
Done. I certainly hope this is right.
FACULTY PLAGIARISM SCANDALS at Chinese universities.
WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE: Cory Booker, The Huffington Post, and The New York Times.
WILL VEHR NOTES an environmental hole in the blogosphere. Or is it a blogspheric hole in the envirosphere?
JAY COST is defending pork. Me, I'd rather be defunding it.
BILL FRIST IS unhappy with Harry Reid.
I'LL BE ON NPR'S DAY TO DAY today at about 12:40 Eastern most places; audio will be available online later, and I'll post a link when it's up.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, here's another Army of Davids review, from Andy Kessler.
VIDEO PODCASTING: Dinner For 2 is a series of video podcasts featuring artists interviewed over dinner and drinks. I think the drinks part helps keep it loose. I liked the one with audio-engineering god Seva, one of the founders of Waves software. He did the mastering on the first album I ever produced, back before I learned to do that sort of thing myself, and did an excellent job as you'd expect.
MORE BAD PR FOR ISLAM: "Danish Imams Threaten to Blow Up Moderate Muslim Politician."
This does more to make Islam look bad than any cartoon could.
JEFF JACOBY WEIGHS IN on Roe v. Wade for men.
THE BOOLA BOOLAH MULLAH: Really, Yale's judgment in admitting this guy was pretty bad. (Pro-Yale speculation: Could the U.S. government have quietly arranged this as part of the negotiation that went along with the Taliban's collapse? Problem with this speculation: No actual evidence to support it.)
John Fund also has another piece in the Wall Street Journal today, but it's subscription-only. Here's an excerpt:
Given his record as a Taliban apologist, Mr. Hashemi has told friends he is stunned Yale didn't look more closely into his curriculum vitae. "I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay," he told the New York Times. So how did he end up in the Ivy League? Questions start at the State Department's door. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the Judiciary Committee's border security panel, has asked the State Department and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to explain exactly how Mr. Hashemi got an F-1 student visa. Yale's decision tree is clearer. Richard Shaw, Yale's dean of undergraduate admissions until he took the same post at Stanford last year, told the New York Times that Yale had another foreigner of Mr. Hashemi's caliber apply but "we lost him to Harvard" and "I didn't want that to happen again." Mr. Shaw won't return phone calls now, but emails he's exchanged with others offer insights into his thinking. . . .
There is a line beyond which tolerance and political correctness become willful blindness. Eli Muller, a reporter for the Yale Daily News, was stunned back in 2000 when the lies of another Taliban spokesman who visited Yale "went nearly unchallenged." He concluded that the "moral overconfidence of Yale students makes them subject to manipulation by people who are genuinely evil." Today, you can say that about more than just some naïve students. You can add the administrators who abdicated their moral responsibility and admitted Mr. Hashemi.
I really don't know what they were thinking, and it's looking as if they weren't thinking at all.
UPDATE: Fund's story is now available subscription-free here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Yeah, I've wondered about this, too: "Ok, its bad enough and an amazing showing of a lack of critical thinking skills among academia that Yale took in 'Mr. Taliban' as a special student. But, the interesting question is who was the other 'foreigner of Mr. Hashemi's caliber' that Yale lost to Harvard?"
Maybe we've been looking for Zarqawi in the wrong place. . . .
MICHAEL YON AND HUGH HEWITT talk about media coverage of Iraq on Anderson Cooper's show -- Ian Schwartz has the video. It's worth noting these earlier comments by UPI's Pam Hess, too. There's some older history here.
INSTAPUNDIT: The Army of Davids review-aggregator blog! That's what one reader suggested I call it. I plead guilty -- what author wouldn't link his reviews?
Anyway, today it's a good review in The Wall Street Journal from Adrian Woolridge of The Economist. I'm very happy about that.
He's right that the book is heavily influenced by Ronald Coase, though in writing it I didn't think of Coase much -- but if you go to Yale Law School, and especially if, as I did, you take a lot of courses by Guido Calabresi and Ralph Winter, that stuff becomes like water to a fish, I guess.
And here's a blog-review of the book from John Walker, too. Yes, I'm aggregating!
March 22, 2006
A CHILDREN'S BOOK, by Danny Glover.
Israel and Carnivals
It's a podcast about Israel and blog carnivals. You wouldn't think the two are connected, but that's because you don't know about the nude bodypainting. Or -- well, just listen. Sharon Stone appears, briefly.
First we talk to Israeli ambassador Daniel Ayalon about the Palestinians, the European Union, Iranian nuclear weapons and the prospects for another Osirak-style raid, and American attitudes toward Israel. Then we interview BlogCarnival.com founder Brad Rubenstein about the mushrooming growth of blog carnivals, and get his tips for carnival submitters, organizers, and readers.
Anyway, it's a surprisingly, er, festive podcast, and we hope you like it!
You can listen directly by clicking right here, or you can get it here via iTunes.
There's an archive of previous episodes here. There's also an archive of low-bandwidth versions for dialup users, etc., available here.
As always, my lovely and talented cohost is soliciting comments and suggestions.
ANOTHER, RATHER DUBIOUS psychological study suggesting that conservatives are crazy. It's worth noting that our last podcast was on the politicization of psychology over the past couple of decades, with Dr. Nicholas Cummings, a past President of the American Psychological Association.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has the full study.
HUGH HEWITT interviews Christopher Hitchens about media coverage and Iraq. And here's Hewitt interviewing Michael Yon on the same topic.
While human rights activists and others applaud New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof for his coverage (by subscription) of Sudan, some are appalled at the paper’s business side for accepting an eight-page advertising insert singing the praises of the government of the African nation, which is widely considered responsible for genocide against its own citizens. The supplement lauds Sudan for facing a "peaceful, prosperous and democratic future," and, according to felixsalmon.com criticizes the media for being "focused almost exclusively on the fighting between rebels and Arab militias."
Human Rights Watch program director Iain Levine tells Daily News columnist Lloyd Grove that when he saw the ad "I practically fell off my seat on the subway …. I could not believe it."
"Would the New York Times run an advertorial extolling the charitable works of Osama bin Laden?" asks felixsalmon. "Would it run advertisements from Nambla, or from the Ku Klux Klan?"
Apparently it would. Grove quotes a Time spokesperson as saying the paper took the ad because of "our strong belief that all pages of the paper — news, editorial and advertising — must remain open to the free flow of ideas." But Mickey MacLean at World Views speculates that "it also didn’t hurt that an estimated $929,000 freely flowed into the newspaper’s coffers as a result of the section."
Well, if you only take ads from organizations that share your opinions, then people will accuse you of being bought off. That's a good argument for taking a wide range of ads, but there ought to be some limits. My blogads policy has been pretty much anything but Nazis. But Sudan looks pretty close to that line.
And, as Gateway Pundit notes, the New York Times took a different position when it came to publishing the Muhammad cartoons.
A LAW PROFESSOR IS UNDER FIRE for banning laptops in class. Some of my colleagues are unhappy with them, too -- though mostly because they see students surfing and IM-ing in class -- but I'm not so concerned. They're grownups, and if they choose not to pay attention, they'll face the consequences at exam time.
JON STEWART interviews Iraqi General George Sada (video is available here) and there's some interesting discussion in which Sada says that there absolutely were Weapons of Mass Destruction. (The interesting part starts at about 3/4 of the way in, with 2:45 remaining.) Sada says they were transported to Syria just before the United States invaded Iraq. "I have seen them myself, because you see I was the number two man in the Iraqi Air Force."
I haven't read Sada's new book, but it seems significant to me that he's getting attention from the likes of Jon Stewart, who's certainly no Administration mouthpiece. (Thanks to reader Adam Jensen for the tip.)
UPDATE: Reader Alan Goldstein thinks there's less here than meets the eye: "on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC-FM on March 9th General George said he didn't actually see them himself."
Ian Schwartz has the video too, and a transcript.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Dana Buzzell emails:
I believe George Sada's comments about seeing/not seeing the WMD in Iraq are consistent. I didn't see the Brian Lehrer Show, but I saw Sada on other shows and he said he didn't personally see the WMDs being transferred to Syria, but did see them in Iraq, prior to their removal.
Here's a link to the Lehrer show. And James Lileks, who has read the book, emails:
In his book he doesn't say he saw the WMD sent to Syria, but he describes the operation, and says this:
"My own knowledge of these transfers [WMD to Syria] doesn't come from any of the published reports but from a man who was actually involved in the transfers - a civilian pilot who witnessed the commercial 747 going back and forth between Syria and Iraq at that time. And he has confirmed for me that it happened just this way."
Sada says there were about 56 transfers. He is much more specific about his first-hand knowledge of a planned WMD attack on Israel in the run-up to the first Gulf War, but of course we have to take his word for it all. Or not.
MORE: Bill Quick has further, uncomplimentary, thoughts about the Administration's PR strategy.
ERIC OLSEN takes a three year retrospective look at the war in Iraq.
PUBLIUS WRITES on what to expect in Belarus.
THE "ENDING EARMARKS EXPRESS:" It's an anti-pork bus tour.
IF IT'S NOT GUANTANAMO, HOW CAN THERE BE human rights violations in Cuba?
Three years after the harshest crackdown on dissent in decades, human-rights conditions in Cuba have deteriorated as authorities intensify a campaign to disrupt and intimidate the island's small opposition movement, according to dissidents, diplomats and political analysts. . . .
The attacks intensified after a speech by Castro last July in which he denounced opposition activists as U.S. government lackeys and praised supporters who two weeks earlier disrupted a dissident protest in Havana.
"The people, angrier than before over such shameless acts of treason, intervened with patriotic fervor and didn't allow a single mercenary to move," Castro said. "This is what will happen however many times as necessary when traitors and mercenaries go a millimeter beyond the point that our revolutionary people ... are prepared to permit."
But Sanchez and other activists say Cuban state security agents direct the pro-government attacks, which often occur in front of the homes or meeting places of dissidents, and participants include police dressed in civilian clothes.
Sanchez said the aim of the attacks is to "increase the political repression" without significantly increasing the number of political prisoners. "Why don't they want to increase the number of political prisoners?" he asked. "Because outside, in other countries, there has been a lot of criticism."
So I guess we need to criticize this, too. I wonder, though, why this is getting so little press.
THE CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES is up!
TOM MAGUIRE: "Why Should You Care About Reporters' Reading Disabilities?"
JOHN SCALZI'S OLD MAN'S WAR has been nominated for a Hugo Award. So has Charles Stross's Accelerando.
I've read 'em both, and they're both really good. You can hear our podcast interview with Scalzi here.
UPDATE: Oops, somehow missed it before, but I've also read Ken MacLeod's nominee, Learning the World. It's also excellent. People want to know how I'd vote, and it's a tough call. I think I'd give Scalzi the nod, because Old Man's War isn't just good, it's also the kind of "entry-level science fiction" that the field needs, something you can't really say about the other two. On the other hand, MacLeod's heroine is a blogger, which ought to count for something. (Is it a trend?) (Bumped.)
WAR AND PEACE: Some interesting numbers:
While every lost serviceman and servicewoman is certainly tragic and should be mourned, the actual statistics tell quite a different tale from the MSM and Democratic doom-and-gloom outlook. Comparing the numbers of lost US military personnel to past years, and past presidential terms, may even be a shock to supporters of the war.
Take a look at the actual US Military Casualty figures since 1980. If you do the math, you wil find quite a few surpises. First of all, let's compare numbers of US Military personnel that died during the first term of the last four presidents.
George W. Bush . . . . . 5187 (2001-2004)
Bill Clinton . . . . . . . . . 4302 (1993-1996)
George H.W. Bush . . . . 6223 (1989-1992)
Ronald Reagan . . . . . . 9163 (1981-1984)
Even during the (per MSM) utopic peacetime of Bill Clinton's term, we lost 4302 service personnel. H.W. Bush and Reagan actually lost significantly more personnel while never fighting an extensive war, much less a simulaltaneous war on two theaters (Iraq and Afghanistan). Even the dovish Carter lost more people duing his last year in office, in 1980 lost 2392, than W. has lost in any single year of his presidency. (2005 figures are not available but I would wager the numbers would be slightly higher than 2004.)
In 2004, more soldiers died outside of Iraq and Afghanistan than died inside these two war zones (900 in these zones, 987 outside these zones). The reason is that there are usually a fair number that die every year in training accidents, as well as a small number of illness and suicide. Yet the MSM would make you think that US soldiers are dying at a high number in these zones, and at a significantly higher number than in past years or under past presidents. This is all simply outright lies and distortion.
You'd think this would get more attention.
UPDATE: John Kluge emails:
The guy at red state gets it about half right on military deaths. He is absolutely right that soldiers die in accidents and of natural causes when they are in garrison. What he doesn’t take into account is that the military was much larger under Carter, Reagan and Bush I than it has been under Clinton or Bush II. Clinton and Bush II are really the only two comparable numbers. Looking at those numbers, it appears that the Iraq, Afghanistan wars have resulted in an increase of 885 dead over what could have been expected through normal garrison operations in Bush II’s first term. That is not too bad when you consider that Bush has liberated two countries and fought a prolonged insurgency in both and that America lost over 1,000 dead in taking Vichy French North Africa in 1942 (that was before we even so much as fired a shot at the Germans).
ANOTHER UPDATE: Robin Burk calls the above analysis flawed. But surely the fact that today's death rate, in wartime, is statistically indistinguishable from earlier peacetime death rates tells us that this is hardly the sort of endless slaughter that antiwar propagandists maintain.
MORE: Reader John Wixted emails:
I used the data supplied by the Manpower Data Center at the Defense Department (you linked to a site where the data could be found) to plot military deaths per 100,000 soldiers (defined as Total Military FTE, which includes active duty and reserves). This is the best way to look at the data because it controls for changes in the size of the military. For year 2005, I assumed that the numbers were the same as 2004 since the number of military deaths in Iraq was about the same, and the size of the military was about the same as well.
What the data show is that to liberate 50 million Muslims from tyranny, the military death rate climbed back up to the death rate that was in effect in the early 1980s (during a mostly peaceful period, though we invaded Grenada in 2003 with limited US casualties). Many in this country believe that the cost of liberating millions of oppressed Muslims was not worth it and that we have just made things worse for everyone, especially in Iraq. But in a recent poll conducted for WorldPublicOpinion.org by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland (conducted January 2-5, 2006), Iraqis were asked:
"Thinking about any hardships you might have suffered since the US-Britain invasion, do you personally think that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth it or not?"
More than 90% of Kurds and Shia (i.e., the people who were liberated from tyranny) said that it was worth it. Understandably, only 13% of Sunnis agreed (Link).
All of this offers perspective that is usually missing when people complain about the war.
Indeed. Meanwhile, John McDaniel says it's all about operational tempo and force cuts from the 1990s.
I WAS A BIT SLOW to jump on the story of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan Muslim who converted to Christianity and now faces a death penalty, because I was afraid it would be a rerun of the Dubai Ports story fiasco. But it seems to hold up, and it's a disgrace. Civilized countries permit freedom of religion. Uncivilized countries kill people for their beliefs. This will simply provide more ammunition for those who believe that Islam is incompatible with civilization.
CHINESE ARMY DEFEATED BY AN ARMY OF DAVIDS:
China has ordered the armed forces to get permission from local government, and abide by environmental rules, when building new facilities, and holding training exercises. This is a major change, for in the past, the armed forces could do whatever it wanted, with no interference from local government authorities. The only one who had any control over these matters was the national government, and in most cases, the national leadership didn't care what the military did as long as it didn't cause a stink they could smell. The Internet and cell phones have changed all that. Now, whenever the military offends a lot of civilians, the word gets around (nationwide) quickly (within hours.) These embarrassing situations (especially when the military seizes land it needs, or causes a mess with pollution, or other bad behavior by the troops) tend to get into Chinese or foreign media, and that does not make the big shots in Beijing happy at all.
Heh. This is an example of how communications technology can make a difference even in a place like China that tries to censor the Internet.
MICKEY KAUS has figured out that I'm not really a Pollyanna.
Plus, at Bloggingheads.tv, Kaus and Jim Pinkerton discuss space travel, nanotechnology, and human survival, with occasional references to An Army of Davids and Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near.
EVERYBODY'S TALKING about how newspapers are in trouble. In my TCS Daily column I look at what to do about it.
March 21, 2006
EUGENE VOLOKH: "I've heard international law fans urge that U.S. constitutional decisionmaking should be informed not just by express statements in treaties that the U.S. has signed and ratified, but also by international practice outside treaties, by statements in treaties that the U.S. hasn't signed or hasn't ratified, and by actions of international bodies established pursuant to treaties that the U.S. has ratified. What U.N. commissions say and do may thus ultimately affect not just international politics, but the constitutional rights of Danes, Americans, and anyone else who has a broader view of free speech than the U.N. seems to endorse. Not a pretty prospect, it seems to me."
No, it isn't.
ANOTHER DROPPED BALL at the New York Times.
A MOVEMENT TO CENSURE JIMMY CARTER. Well, it's no dumber than Russ Feingold's.
I'M NOT SURE ABOUT IRAQ, but there does seem to be a civil war going on in Gaza. I wonder why it's not getting played up the same way?
A NEW CATO INSTITUTE PAPER calls the DMCA perverse:
The courts have a proven track record of fashioning balanced remedies for the copyright challenges created by new technologies. But when Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998, it cut the courts out of this role and instead banned any devices that "circumvent" digital rights management (DRM) technologies, which control access to copyrighted content.
The result has been a legal regime that reduces options and competition in how consumers enjoy media and entertainment. Today, the copyright industry is exerting increasing control over playback devices, cable media offerings, and even Internet streaming. Some firms have used the DMCA to thwart competition by preventing research and reverse engineering. Others have brought the weight of criminal sanctions to bear against critics, competitors, and researchers.
The DMCA is anti-competitive. It gives copyright holders—and the technology companies that distribute their content—the legal power to create closed technology platforms and exclude competitors from interoperating with them. Worst of all, DRM technologies are clumsy and ineffective; they inconvenience legitimate users but do little to stop pirates.
SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER resigns in censorship scandal.
LAURA INGRAHAM AND DAVID GREGORY: Ian Schwartz has the video.
MORE BELARUS LIVEBLOGGING at PubliusPundit.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey: "Last week, Belarus threatened protestors with death for political "terrorism". Now they can't scare them off the streets, and the security forces seem unable to shut down the calls for new and proper elections. Keep watching, because either Belarus is heading for another velvet revolution in the footsteps of Ukraine and Georgia, or it's heading for a Tiananmen Square disaster."
A FRIENDLY EMAIL FROM THE PRO-AMERICAN LEFT:
Courtesy of Glenn Greenwald- whom I'm sure you wish you could be, if you ever grow a brain and some integrity- some of your wise words about the opponents of the Iraq War.
"FOR SUCH AN ADVANCED SPECIES, THEY SURE KNOW HOW TO RUB IT IN."-- Marge Simpson
Yeah, there has been a lot of pro-war gloating. And I guess that Dawn Olsen's cautionary advice about gloating is appropriate. So maybe we shouldn't rub in just how wrong, and morally corrupt the antiwar case was. Maybe we should rise above the temptation to point out that claims of a "quagmire" were wrong -- again! -- how efforts at moral equivalence were obscenely wrong -- again! -- how the antiwar folks are still, far too often, trying to move the goalposts rather than admit their error -- again -- and how an awful lot of the very same people who spoke lugubriously about "civilian casualties" now seem almost disappointed that there weren't more -- again -- and how many people who spoke darkly about the Arab Street and citizens rising up against American "liberators" were proven wrong -- again -- as the liberators were seen as just that by the people they were liberating. And I suppose we shouldn't stress so much that the antiwar folks were really just defending the interests of French oil companies and Russian arms-deal creditors. It's probably a bad idea to keep rubbing that point in over and over again.
May they go down nice and tasty...just before you choke on them. Oh, but I forgot, to acknowledge right from wrong, one has to have a sense of right and wrong--and you're a rethuglican. Nevermind.
Well, I actually think that Glenn Greenwald wants to be me, though if so he'd be well advised to stop lifting his stuff from Tom Tomorrow.
But the quoted passage comes from this 2003 post, and actually I think it holds up pretty well. It's not something I'd be bringing up if I were on the left today, though.
Did the antiwar left want us to lose? Quite a few did, and some even admitted it. Emails like this one, and the steady stream of self-satisfied gloating I get from antiwar lefties whenever there's bad news about Iraq, hardly evidence a desire to see America do well, either. No, not all antiwar lefties want us to lose, as I've noted at tiresome length in the past, but most of the ones who email me seem to.
Civilian casualties were, in fact, far lower than predicted. In fact, as I noted in the post from 2003, the antiwar predictions generally turned out badly. But don't take my word for it. Here's an excerpt from Gateway Pundit's roundup on that topic:
* German politicians predicted: "Millions of people in Baghdad will be victims of bombs and rockets."
What happened: The antiwar Iraqi Body Count site lists an estimated 4,000-6,000 civilians and fighters were lost in the startup months of the War in Iraq.
* Ted Kennedy predicted:"A war on Saddam might also cause an unprecedented humanitarian crisis with an estimated 900,000 refugees, a pandemic and an environmental disaster as Saddam lit the oilfields on fire."
Actual Result: The oil fields were not set ablaze, no pandemic.
* The UN predicted... It is also likely that in the early stages there will be a large segment of the population requiring treatment for traumatic injuries, either directly conflict-induced or from the resulting devastation. Given the population outlined earlier, as many as 500,000 could require treatment to a greater or lesser degree as a result of direct or indirect injuries.
What happened: Again, the antiwar Iraqi Body Count site lists an estimated 4,000-6,000 civilians and fighters lost in the startup months of the War in Iraq.
* Ted Kennedy also predicted: "The U.S. could run through "battalions a day at a time" and that the fighting would look like "the last fifteen minutes of 'Private Ryan.'"
Actual Results: Although each fatality is a tragic loss for America, this is still one of most successful military campaigns the US has ever fought.
See his accompanying graphics and links. I should also note that despite predictions of 50,000 casualties in the initial invasion, three years later we're at less than 5% of that. And U.S. casualties are falling as Iraqis pick up the load.
The "Arab Street" didn't rise (the Iraqi insurgency, which is a mixture of foreign fighters and Ba'athist holdouts hardly counts, and there weren't riots and insurrection elsewhere in the region, as was predicted -- apparently, we neglected to publish cartoons, which seem to incite more unrest than invasions). As for the French oil merchants and Russian arms-deal creditors, or the strained efforts at moral equivalence, well, nothing's happened to change that.
I had actually planned not to rub this in -- the "antiwar" movement has shrunk to such a pitiful remnant of its not terribly impressive former self that it hardly seems worth it. But, hey, ask and ye shall receive. [You're referencing scripture -- does that make you a "Rethuglican?" -- Ed. Who knows? I thought I was a "leftist opinion site."]
UPDATE: Dodd Harris notes that the part about French oil merchants and Russian arms dealers holds up particulary well, and sends this link to Foreign Affairs on the war:
Judging from his private statements, the single most important element in Saddam's strategic calculus was his faith that France and Russia would prevent an invasion by the United States. According to Aziz, Saddam's confidence was firmly rooted in his belief in the nexus between the economic interests of France and Russia and his own strategic goals: "France and Russia each secured millions of dollars worth of trade and service contracts in Iraq, with the implied understanding that their political posture with regard to sanctions on Iraq would be pro-Iraqi. In addition, the French wanted sanctions lifted to safeguard their trade and service contracts in Iraq. Moreover, they wanted to prove their importance in the world as members of the Security Council -- that they could use their veto to show they still had power."
Yep. Today's antiwar movement: tools of the international oil companies and arms traders. They used to say that kind of thing about war supporters, of course, but that's just another example of the way things have gone all topsy-turvy of late.
ANOTHER UPDATE: "Evil?" Moi? "If you prick him, he does not bleed."
Mike Hendrix has thoughts, too.
MORE: Reader J.D. Metcalf reminds me of one more phony antiwar prediction: "The biggest one of all is 'When Bush is elected the DRAFT WILL BE reinstated.'" Yeah, I saw that claim all over the place.
Also, Australian columnist Andrew Bolt sends more failed antiwar predictions. Click "read more" to read them. I think you'll find it worth your while.
Read More ?
BUSINESS IS BOOMING! But doesn't the economy stink?
RAMESH PONNURU writes on "a parallel universe where Republicans are frightened, instead of delighted, by Russ Feingold's resolution censuring the president for the NSA wiretaps."
Delight is pretty much all that I've observed.
BELARUS UPDATE: "Thousands of protesters staged fresh demonstrations against Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko's re-election for a third day on Tuesday and their leader announced a weekend rally to press calls for a new poll."
BR23 has much more. So does Veronika Khokhlova.
JIM LINDGREN looks at black conservatism, and offers actual data!
COUNTERPROTESTS IN PARIS: InstaPundit reader Kerry Hardy emails:
Libérte-Chérie, SOS Education, and a number of other groups organised an "anti-blocade/anti-strike" demonstration today here in Paris in response to the violent anti-reform protests that have been taking place at the Sorbonne and elsewhere. Despite the temperature (around 36 degrees) and the hour (2pm), there were still several thousand people. And there will be a new demonstration on Sunday afternoon. There are people in France who are pro-reform, who want to study, who want to work, and who are sick of being stopped from doing so by those who don't---and who understand that labor law reform is essential to job creation.
Great ambiance, young and old, lots of leaflet distribution to correct the misunderstandings about the CPE (Contract of First Employment).
She sends some photos, too.
IAN TRAYNOR: "Ever since the end of the cold war and the dissolution of the fixed ideological polarities that entrenched the east-west stand-off for two generations, there has been a curious merger of the hard left and the extreme right, particularly in Europe, in defence of the maverick, the authoritarian, and the plain brutal."
BEN DOMENECH IS blogging at the Washington Post now.
IN THE MAIL: Gabriel Weimann's Terror on the Internet: The New Arena, the New Challenges. Looks pretty interesting.
RADLEY BALKO is back from Mississippi and has much more on the Cory Maye case.
YALE TALIBAN UPDATE: Here's an editorial from the Yale Daily News:
While Hashemi has said he supports basic democratic ideals and that he resents being lumped in the same category as more extreme Taliban members, he has not repudiated the ideals or goals he espoused while a Taliban mouthpiece; he has said merely that he regrets some of his more candid responses to criticism of his former superiors.
Despite our own best efforts and those of The New York Times Magazine's Chip Brown, we have little idea of what Hashemi is doing at Yale, or of what he plans to do with a Yale education. We have seen a generally positive response from his professors, and Hashemi told us that he wants to aid "thinking about change" in his home country -- and that he may write a book -- but he has been otherwise vague. While we respect every student's right to privacy, we believe the extenuating circumstances of this case merit further discourse.
The argument made by University officials -- that Hashemi adds an important perspective to the Yale community -- is typical of its admission of older or non-degree students, but that argument fails if he is unwilling to share his perspective.
Meanwhile, the Yale Daily News also runs this letter:
An article in yesterday's News mentioned the "rumored Taliban practice of removing the nails of women who wear noticeable nail polish" ("Alumni clash over Hashemi," 3/20). The Taliban's history and policy of human rights violations are not "rumored." They are wide-ranging and well documented.
While Rahmatullah Hashemi toured the United States as an official apologist for the Taliban, some brave Afghanis risked their lives to document and smuggle out proof of human rights abuses committed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is because of their efforts that the world saw hidden-camera footage of a woman being shot to death in a sports stadium.
A few of the many documented human rights violations by the Taliban include a ban on women's work outside the home, a ban on women's travel outside the home without a man, a ban on women's education, requirement to wear a burka, punishment by stoning for premarital sex and a ban on the use of cosmetics and nail polish. Those who defied the Taliban's oppressive rules endured beatings, torture or death.
The Taliban are still waging a campaign of terror against the Afghani people. In the most recent issue of Vanity Fair, Sebastian Junger reports on current Taliban atrocities, including skinning a man alive and forcing another to watch his wife while she was gang-raped. The Taliban are still fighting to regain control. Just one week ago, four American soldiers were killed by a Taliban bomb. I can only hope and assume the lack of outrage on campus over the Taliban is due to ignorance. After all, the News reported that Taliban atrocities were "rumored."
During my time at Yale, I was a coordinator of the Yale Women's Center. As a feminist, I am surprised there have been no vocal protests on campus or calls for Yale to answer questions about this decision. This is not and should not be portrayed as a partisan issue. It is not a referendum on Bush, the war, the presence of American troops in Afghanistan or the recent Supreme Court decision on military recruiting. It is about Yale's decision to recruit the former spokesman of a brutal regime.
Has Yale really slipped into such complacency that the Taliban's crimes against women and the Afghani people barely merit a shrug? If Rahmatullah has truly disavowed all connection with the Taliban and regrets his involvement, he should step forward publicly to take responsibility for his actions and to apologize to the victims of the Taliban.
Debbie Bookstaber '00
GRAND ROUNDS is up!
BELARUS UPDATE: Veronika Khokhlova reports: "In real-life Belarus, the protesters have survived the night without major incidents." She's got lots more -- just keep scrolling. Also, Rush-Mush is translating posts from Belarusian LiveJournal users, and Publius has a huge, link-rich, and multiply-updated roundup.
Read this, too.
Brian Whitaker: "It is a pity Brokeback Mountain isn't showing in the Arab world, because it resembles current reality there."
THE GREAT FIREWALL OF AUSTRALIA:
Opposition Leader Kim Beazley said a Labor government would force internet service providers (ISPs) to block violent and pornographic material before it reached home computers.
Under the "clean feed" system, pioneered in Britain, users would be unable to access any content banned by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) because it contained graphic sexual or violent material, rated R or higher.
They say people would be able to "opt out." I hope they'll continue to opt out of supporting Labour, instead . . . .
THE BELMONT CLUB LOOKS AT CLAIMS OF CIVIL WAR IN IRAQ:
So what's the truth? The principle in determining truth should be to apply the factual indicator test. A civil war is a visible event whose indicators include the insubordination of armed units, mass refugee flows, the rise of rival governments, etc. The test is whether those events are being observed. What famous individuals say about a situation is a shortcut for encapsulating a factual assessment; it describes reality as public figures see it but is not the reality itself. . . .
Politically what's interesting is how the narrative has changed. Nobody is talking about the Sunni insurgency succeeding any more. Even the press hardly makes the claim of an insurgency on the brink of success. As late as November 2005, the Daily Kos was boasting: "The occupation is exacerbating terrorism in the country. America is losing, the insurgency is winning. Maybe we should say, 'has won.'" But by the December 2005 elections this view could no longer be held by anyone with the slightest regard for the facts. . . .
Instead of insurgency the talking points have changed to how Sunnis might soon become victims of an ethnically hostile Iraqi army in a Civil War. Going from a boast of conquest to a portrayal of victim is usually an indicator of something. In my view, the shift of meme from the "insurgency" to a "civil war" is a backhanded way of admitting the military defeat of the insurgency without abandoning the characterization of Iraq is an American fiasco. It was Zarqawi and his cohorts themselves who changed the terms of reference from fighting US forces to sparking a 'civil war'. With any luck, they'll lose that campaign too.
UPDATE: MurdocOnline says that it is a civil war of sorts, and I agree with that. (See this post from 2004 on the subject). But the press coverage is presenting it as something very different -- a sea change in what's going on, as opposed to, well, what was going on in 2004.
BRUSSELS JOURNAL looks at French students rioting over poor job prospects.
Meanwhile, here in the States:
U.S. college graduates are facing the best job market since 2001, with business, computer, engineering, education and health care grads in highest demand, a report by an employment consulting firm showed on Monday.
"We are approaching full employment and some employers are already dreaming up perks to attract the best talent," said John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
In its annual outlook of entry-level jobs, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said strong job growth and falling unemployment makes this spring the hottest job market for America's 1.4 million college graduates since the dot-com collapse in 2001.
The firm pointed to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers which showed employers plan to hire 14.5 percent more new college graduates than a year ago.
Hmm. I remember a lot of tongue-clucking about the evils of "American-style capitalism" from the French after the Enron debacle.
March 20, 2006
BLOGGER HAO WU has been seized by Chinese authorities. There's more information here.
Here's the webpage for the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C.
Here's some contact information for Wal-Mart. They have clout in China, and they've taken an interest in the blogosphere lately.
UPDATE: Here's contact information for Wal-Mart in China.
READER JOHN MARCOUX EMAILS:
I am watching Bush's talk, and Q & A, today in Cleveland on C-Span, for the second time. This is by far the best I've ever seen him both in his content and the ease with which he expresses himself. Night and day. I recommend you watch it. It will give you heart.
You can watch the video online here and decide for yourself.
PLAME / FITZGERALD UPDATE: Tom Maguire notices a sudden outbreak of media discretion.
RACISM AT THE L.A. TIMES: Paul Geary and Eugene Volokh are on the case. Eugene writes: "Read the whole piece, if you have a high tolerance for bile and schadenfreude. And ask yourself how 'progressive' it is to condemn people differently for the same views based on their race, and how progressive or factually plausible it is to argue that someone has committed fraud partly because he's black."
ROGER SIMON: "The first release by the Pentagon of the myriad Saddam-era documents and media captured during Operation Iraqi Freedom seems to have ground to a halt as abruptly as it started. . . . Who are the likely culprits in this snafu? The CIA, always anxious to protect its interests, and overly-cautious lawyers come to mind, but there are undoubtedly others. Nevertheless, not to release these documents is ultimately self-destructive and actually naive. The Adminstration has already shown itself to be incompetent in the area of public relations and this only underscores that perception."
UPDATE: In an update to his post, Simon notes that the Pentagon has since released more documents. He modestly declines to take credit.
INSTAPUNDIT: A "leftist opinion site." Well, I didn't deny Andrew Keen's charges of hippie-loving.
"I WOULDN'T BRING UP CUBA IF I WERE YOU, it's poor salesmanship."
YALE HAS ITS TALIBAN, HARVARD HAS DAVID DUKE: "A paper recently co-authored by the academic dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government about the allegedly far-reaching influence of an 'Israel lobby' is winning praise from white supremacist David Duke. The Palestine Liberation Organization mission to Washington is distributing the paper, which also is being hailed by a senior member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization."
A TTLB / BLOGCARNIVAL partnership.
THE EUROPEAN UNION has denounced Lukashenko's victory in Belarus as fraudulent:
EU ministers endorsed the damning findings of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s 476-strong observer mission.
The mission’s report found that Mr Lukashenko had “permitted state authority to be used in a manner which did not allow citizens to freely and fairly express their will”.
It said statements by the Belarusan KGB associating the opposition with terrorism and accusing it of planning a coup had led to a "climate of intimidation". Campaign workers and opposition figures had been subject to "physical assaults, detention and even imprisonment."
Read the whole thing.
ARMED AGAINST GENOCIDE: I've got some thoughts on the next International Human Right over at The Guardian's new "Comment is Free" blog.
UPDATE: Related thoughts here.
PUBLIUS REPORTS a new round of protests in Belarus.
IRAQI BLOGGER MOHAMMED looks at the third anniversary of Iraq's liberation from Saddam.
THE CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS IS UP. So is the first edition of the Radical Progressive Carnival. This week's Blawg Review is up, too. Plus, the Carnival of the Cats!
JOHN FUND EMAILS THIS LINK ON YALE'S TALIBAN PROBLEM and says it's the single best thing on the subject -- which is saying a lot, given that Fund has been all over the topic himself.
Even though she'd be a legacy, I don't think I'll encourage my daughter to apply to Yale.
SO WHILE WE WERE IN THE MOUNTAINS (described at more length here), I did manage to take some pictures with the new camera (a Sony DSC-W7) and even to compare them with some other stuff when I got home. Verdict -- the new camera is somewhat better than the old one in terms of imaging quality, but I think it has more to do with its having a better lens (a Zeiss instead of a Sony) than with the extra megapixels (going from 5 to 7.2). Blown up, the images from my Nikon D70 look better than the ones from the Sony even though the Nikon has 6.2 megapixels instead of 7.2. I'm sure the Nikon's CCD is better, but I suspect that the big difference is in the glass here, too. The Sony was comparatively cheap, and also shoots video though. And it fits in your pocket. Both are awfully good at what they do, of course. If only everything improved as much as electronics.
The one downside of the new Sony -- although it fits in my pocket better than the old one, it fits in my hand less comfortably, because it's smaller, and I have big hands. Oh, well. Since my hands are bigger than most people's, that's a problem most users won't have.
TIMOTHY GARTON ASH: Belarus needs you!
Last night, thousands (estimates of exactly how many varied considerably) of people turned out in freezing cold on Minsk's October Square to protest at what they saw as a rigged election and to call for freedom. Some of them carried the European flag. A key question now (Monday midday) is: will they turn out again tonight, as opposition leaders have called for? In larger numbers or smaller? And will the KGB (still so called in Belarus) treat the protesters as "terrorists", as its boss has threatened?
How do you think those who live in democracies - especially the democracies of Europe - should react? I'll be writing about this in my Guardian column on Thursday. I'd appreciate your comments.
I'd like to see Belarus go the way of Ukraine. Lukashenko -- and Putin -- feel differently.
UPDATE: StrategyPage has more on Belarus.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A cautionary response from Ivan Lenin.
OVER AT THE SPECULIST, they've got a podcast interview with Tobias Buckell, author of Crystal Rain, which I enjoyed.
FUTURISMIC is a pretty cool blog about the future.
MORE ARMY OF DAVIDS REVIEWS, from Jason Clarke and Jim Geraghty.
March 19, 2006
GATEWAY PUNDIT has an extensive timeline of predictions and results in Iraq.
ANOTHER "GRIM MILESTONE" IN IRAQ? Three years of cumulative casualties equal one month's worth from Vietnam.
It's the third anniversary of the coalition invasion of Iraq. The elected Iraqi parliament has held its first session, but is prevented from going much farther by factionalism. Iraqis are not keen on compromise, and dictatorship came to Iraq half a century ago when the generals decided to silence the squabbling and take over themselves. Iraqis wonder if they can avoid repeating past mistakes like this. The Shia Arab majority is split in several large, and many smaller, parties, that resist cooperating. The Kurds have two major factions, that are currently tolerating a truce, and dealing with growing popular unrest at the corruption at the faction (clan, actually) leadership.
The Sunni Arabs, who are now the oppressed minority, have always been the most willing group to unite and take charge. But no more. There are many factions. Some are religious extremists, some are secular (like the Baath Party Saddam ran), while others are tribal. One of the factions is al Qaeda, which is basically a group of Sunni Arab Islamic radicals. Al Qaeda is not happy that all Iraqi Sunni Arabs have not supported them. This has degenerated into war between al Qaeda and most Iraqi Sunni Arabs. But many of these same Sunni Arab factions are still hostile to the Shia Arab dominated government.
Most Iraqis understand that a clean, cohesive government is the key to future peace and prosperity. But the cooperation and compromise required to make this all happen has so far eluded Iraqis. American and European diplomats and advisors constantly hover about with suggestions and advice. The key to peace in Iraq is not a military problem, the terrorists and Sunni Arab rebels are beaten. The key to peace is political, and the ability of Iraqi factions to work together. Iraqis have paid a lot of attention to Lebanon, looking for answers. Lebanon is split by religious factions (about one third Shia, one third Sunni and one third Christian). Lebanon went through a 15 year civil war (1975-90), and since making peace, the country has prospered (without oil, just the skills of the people), despite interference from Syria. The Lebanese example gives hope, but the payoff is in the performance. The Iraqi politicians have to perform. In the next few months, we'll see if they can.
Indeed. The problems are now mostly political, and can only be worked out by politicians. That said, the United States could have done more to dissuade Iran and Syria from interfering. Upside is that Iraqis know this, and if things work out they're likely to remember, to our benefit and the Syrians' and Iranian mullahs' detriment.
UPDATE: Reader Rachel Walker emails:
With Iraq finally having a coalition government, some oil based trade (I heard a Norwegian oil company was interested in negotiating with Kurds), and the persistence of unity (or at least attempts) after the Samarra mosque bombing, why is the left and right suddenly saying the war is a failure and Bush is doing a bad job? Shouldn't they have been saying this in 2004?
Some of them were saying it in 2001, of course . . . .
I think that attitudes on the war have more to do with attitudes on Bush than with realities on the ground, among a lot of people on both left and right. As Bush's popularity has sunk -- largely for non-war reasons -- it has pushed the war's popularity down, too.
HAVEIL HAVALIM IS UP! And don't miss the Carnival of the Recipes. More at BlogCarnival.com, which, being automated, is a lot more efficient at noting these things than I am.
MORE PROTESTS IN BELARUS: Publius has a roundup.
LUKASHENKO WINS, OPPOSITION CHARGES FRAUD:
Iron-fisted incumbent Alexander Lukashenko was headed to an overwhelming win in Sunday's presidential vote in the former Soviet republic of Belarus, the elections chief said. Thousands of opposition supporters protested the results in the city's main square.
The protesters chanted "Long Live Belarus!" and the name of the main opposition candidate, Alexander Milinkevich. Some waved a national flag that Lukashenko banned in favor of a Soviet-style replacement, while others waved European Union flags. Milinkevich arrived later. . . .
Lukashenko had vowed to prevent the kind of mass rallies that helped bring opposition leaders to power in former Soviet republics Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan following disputed elections.
The use or threat of force neutralized opposition efforts to protest vote results in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan last year, and a bloody government crackdown in Uzbekistan left hundreds dead.
"It will be a peaceful demonstration. We will come out with flowers," Milinkevich said after voting at a school. "We do not intend to elect a president on the square. We will tell people the truth."
Read the whole thing.
A LOOK AT ANTI-AMERICANISM IN EUROPEAN MEDIA.
SCOTT MILLER'S new album is out.
THOUGHTS ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION and South Park.
UPDATE: Jim Lindgren: "What is it about cartoons and religion?"
OVER AT GLOBAL VOICES, nonstop blogging of election news from Belarus. Belarusian blog BR23 is also on the case.