ANOTHER GREEN PARTY SUPPORTER IS SEARCHED AT AN AIRPORT! Read on for this InstaPundit Exclusive!(tm) (courtesy of a reader):
Funny, I had an experience almost exactly like Nancy Oden's (except for the part where she got all attitudinous with the people trying to do their jobs) and I did spend some time puzzling over it: When checking in for a short flight to Ithaca, New York, the check-in clerk, after typing my name into the computer, stared at the screen for a few moments and then informed me I had to be searched. When I politely asked why, he said "it's in the computer." I spent a long time wondering which of my characteristics - female, petite, corporate lawyer, Jewish, 30-something - singled me out. Then I realized - it wasn't all about ME; some people get searched, some don't, and if the only ones that did fit a profile, hey, that would be profiling and we all know that's a no-no.
But now, thanks to Nancy Oden, it's all clear: it was my youthful protest votes for the Green Party that did me in. Big Brother can't keep track of known terrorists within its borders, but they've got records on all the third-rate activist-wannabes out there. You'd think they'd remember that it was the Nader voters who threw the election to W. in the first place! Geez, Nancy, get a grip; you'll give drama queens everywhere a bad name.
Well, there you have it. A concerted government program of harassing Greens, as proven by a clear pattern of behavior
involving two separate cases
at two different airports!
To the barricades!
WHAT WRITERS AND ARTISTS CAN DO, from Slate. Unless -- as Osama thinks he wants, but really doesn't -- this becomes a war to the finish between the West and the Islamic world, it will be more a war of persuasion than of bombing. Oh, bombing has its place -- punishing the Taliban, and other responsible parties, beyond any hope of recovery, is one way of showing we're serious, and must be attended to -- but short of massacring a billion Muslims we have to affect a lot of attitudes.
This kind of thing made a huge difference in the Cold War. Despite all the clever Soviet propaganda, despite the willing, even eager, assistance they got from many people in the West -- and despite all the tanks, guns, and missiles, all of which had their role to play but weren't decisive -- the reason why the Soviets lost the Cold War was that in the end, they realized that their ideas were dumb, and led to death and stagnation, while we for the most part kept faith with ours because we realized that ours weren't dumb, and didn't lead to death and stagnation. And so did they. The same necessity presents itself again.
IRANIAN HARDLINERS are trying to shore up their weakening position by playing the America card, only to find that not many Iranians care anymore.
— "Bang all your strength on America's head," reads the sign over a carnival game that entices visitors to pound on a devilish face wearing a hat with the American flag. Another attraction challenges players to shoot balls into Uncle Sam's moving mouth using an air canon.
The occasion? The 22nd anniversary this month of the takeover of the American Embassy after the Islamic revolution. The site? The grounds of the former American Embassy itself, which is being opened to the public for the first time. . . .
However, the small crowd that gathered today to hear Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, secretary of the Council of Guardians — a conservative body whose job is to safeguard the revolution — did not seem overly enthusiastic. Fewer than 100 people showed up, leaving most seats empty. None of the hostage takers of 1979, some of them now among Iran's leading reformers, were present at the ceremony.
"None of us would participate in such events," said Abbass Abdi, one of the masterminds of the embassy seizure, who has mellowed now. "We are not in contact with the political faction that set up the event and they would never invite us," he added.
"There is no need to remind what happened 22 years ago," he said. "It is history now and we should judge about it as an event that occurred in the past."
What they need now is MTV. Too bad they're still confiscating satellite dishes
in a vain attempt to keep people from realizing what they're missing.
MILITARY RECRUITERS: I reported a few days ago that the Society of American Law Teachers is pressing schools to obey the Association of American Law Schools' rules about military recruiters on campus. Here's a report from a law student who's been fighting to change the approach:
I am currently a 3rd year law student at the University of New Mexico School of Law, known informally as The Institute for Social Justice, or Moscow on the Rio Grande, take yer pick. We have recently had a big stink here over the presence of JAG recruiters on campus. The faculty tried to bar their presence outright without holding any sort of meaningful meetings with students (why do that? due process? feh!). Many of us were annoyed and appealed our case to the media. The faculty decision was recently overturned by the university provost, and I'm proud to say the law school campus is now crawling with military recruiters (not really, but the image is amusing).
I oppose the military's anti-gay rules, but I think trying to bar recruiters from campus is just plain wrong. I'm glad to see students making an issue of this, especially since -- like so many policies of this ilk -- it victimizes them in the name of making others feel good about themselves.
ACCURACY IN MAKEUP: Virginia Postrel writes: "I've seen Goldie Hawn from no more than five feet away without makeup, and she looks sun-weathered but a lot better than that photo. She's not puffy like that." I'm kind of relieved to hear it.
See how fast online media run corrections, amplifications, and additional views? Try getting this kind of service from the New York Times!
COUNTERPUNCH is reporting that Nancy Oden of the Green Party was barred from boarding a flight, allegedly because the Green Party opposes the war. But note the artfully phrased quote:
"An official told me that my name had been flagged in the computer," a shaken Oden said. "I was targeted because the Green Party USA opposes the bombing of innocent civilians in Afghanistan."
If you read this carelessly, it sounds like the (unnamed) "official" told her that her name was flagged in the computer because of the Green Party's position. (Yeah, right, the rest of us are for
bombing innocent civilians). But actually, it's Oden who's ascribing that motivation, not the nameless "official." That's suspicious.
Counterpunch is interesting, and sometimes they report things truthfully that others don't. But they're not reliable. (At the moment, for a minor example, they have Monica Lewinsky's name misspelled -- not in an obvious typo, but as "Lewinski." I mean, how many times must they have seen the name in print spelled correctly?) Anyway, if this story is true, I expect to see it reported elsewhere. If it's not, well, I still expect to hear it over and over again from the Green Party. After all, there's nothing nobler than a victim. Of something, anything. Right?
UPDATE: Declan McCullagh runs this interview with Oden. Sorry, but her story doesn't ring true. For example, she says "He didn't even ask for photo ID. It was almost like they were expecting me. He put it into the computer. He stayed on the computer a long time, like 10 minutes."
Okay, if they were expecting her, to the point that they didn't even ask for a photo ID, then why stay on the computer for "like 10 minutes." I mean, either The Man is laying for you, or he's not. If he is, then why waste "like 10 minutes" at a computer? The rest of the story is just too pat, too:
"I put my bags on the table. The two women employees were standing there. [I tried to help them with a stuck zipper.] He grabbed my left arm, he started yelling in my face, 'Don't you know what happened? Sep. 11, don't you know thousands of people died?' I said, 'You can't do that.' He went to grab my arm, and I said, 'Don't touch me.' I saw an older airline guy shake his head, 'No,' and he backed off.
"That insulted his little manhood. He could not force me to listen to his idiot ideas on Sep. 11, whatever it was he wanted to say. So he was angry. I hadn't done anything except pull away from him... I think he was trying to provoke me. They did the wand thing, they were done, and I heard him say real soft, 'Don't let her on the plane,' like he was talking to himself."
Now, I've already run stories demonstrating that airline security is capable of doing stupid things, like barring a man from boarding because he was reading a book with a bomb on the cover. But that story had the ring of truth about it, and it was reported by somone independent This story has the ring of a self-serving tale with the narrator as hero. Let's see if any corroboration turns up. With all the shouting, etc., that she describes, plenty of witnesses must have seen this, if it happened the way she reports.
EMAIL: The Yahoo account where replies to my FoxNews columns go got a spam blizzard a couple of weeks ago. That caused me to miss quite a few until today when I finally got around to shoveling it all out. There were a lot of bellicose-women emails, too.
I read all the email I get. I try to reply if the email looks like it calls for one, but I get so much that sometimes it gets lost in the heap -- even if I try to find it later, it's lost.
Jerry Pournelle says that only Microsoft Outlook can sort and cope with that much mail. But I won't use Outlook. It's a virus magnet. It's the computer equivalent of randomly accepting blood transfusions from strangers. In Zaire. I do my best. Sorry if I missed anyone.
MORE ON THE AIRLINE SECURITY PROPOSAL: Reader Don McGregor offers this refinement:
The idea of smuggling certified batons past airline security is a good one, but it needs a few tweaks. The original proposal would encourage a move to absolute security, which would be irrational. The smugglers would also have no cost imposed on them, which doesn't really make this a market operation. The cost to smugglers is zero, while the reward is great. this would encorage everyone to become a smuggler, and the lines would be horrendous. A modified proposal could more exactly match economic reality and airline security.
The government gives batons to the public for a deposit of $100 each. If the passengers smuggle it onto the plane, the airline pays a reward of $500. If the airline catches the smugglers, they confiscate the baton and return it to the government to claim the $100 deposit.
This can have other benefits. Humans are notoriously bad at what human factors specialists call "vigilance tasks", watching and waiting for infrequent events to occur. As it stands now the people running the xray machines will probably never see a real weapon smuggled through, which decreases their attention to the task. Just as in dog training, you need a periodic "reward" to keep them interested, and profit-seeking passengers would tend to liven up their day.
Intelligent airlines could also give the $100 deposit to the security personel who find a baton. This would give them an economic incentive to pay attention.
Of course, the deposits and rewards could be adjusted as experience is gained, and even adjusted depending on the perceived threat level. If hijackings are feared, as they are now, the government could increase the reward for smuggling a baton through. This would encourage more smugglers and heighten the alertness of the security people. The increased attempts at smuggling would also increase the expected payoff to alert security people. The government could also issue different types of batons with different "signatures", such as things that would set off explosives detectors, etc.
I like this, though I'm not sure $100/$500 is the right ratio. But that's a quibble.
EEEEWWW! This is the celebrities without makeup page, and it's not too appetizing.
This has been my experience with some (but not all) people who are famously goodlooking on film. Some really look that good in person. Others really don't. Of the big-name models and actresses I've met in person, most don't -- though I used to see Lynda Carter all the time when I lived in DC and she always looked great no matter the circumstances.
COLLEGE STUDENTS SUPPORT THE WAR by a large margin. Actually, probably professors do too -- just not the ones you hear from.
I'M ALWAYS SKEPTICAL OF ATROCITY STORIES IN WAR -- not that there aren't plenty of atrocities, it's just that you can't believe most of the stories of atrocities -- but this one is a doozy.
PEOPLE WHO GET IT: Check out these letters in the Washington Post responding to an oped that said war fever is squashing dissent. Excerpt:
It is interesting that your paper seems to think intolerance for dissent on college campuses is something new. Leftist students and administrations have been intolerant of "free speech" -- shouting down, firing and punishing guest speakers, students and professors for politically incorrect ideas -- for years now. Liberals have been cracking down on "hate speech" (i.e., "dangerous" pro-life "haters"), which is simply any speech or idea in opposition to whatever campus liberals want culturally and politically. It is done in the name of internationalism, diversity, tolerance and social justice.
Your paper suddenly notices "intolerance" for free speech when left-wing "haters" are silenced and punished for incorrect expression. What goes around comes around.
"Liberals" on college campuses used to know that if they banned the free speech of others, they would eventually lose their right to free speech as well. They used to know that the best way to defeat a bad idea was to give it expression for all to hear and argue. The intolerance for a diversity of ideas on American college campuses is shameful and has been for a very long time.
The complaints about "suppression of dissent" on campuses aren't a case of the boy who cried wolf. They're a case of the wolf
who cried wolf.
RECESSIONS: My local mall has seven -- count 'em -- seven jewelry stores. The lower-end places (Morrison's cafeteria, a drug store, a housewares and kitchen-supply store) have been booted. (The kitchen-supply store, where you could get most things for under $10, has been replaced by a Williams-Sonoma, where you can't). As I walk through the place, I wonder which stores will survive.
The answer, in part, is that some shouldn't. Why on earth would a single mall have seven jewelry stores, when there are several more within a mile? Recessions squeeze out bad allocations of investment capital. The constellation of stores at my mall indicates that some squeezing is called for.
This is bad news if you're laid off, of course, even from a place that sells diamond tennis bracelets. But it would be worse news for everyone if the shaking out of bad investments didn't take place. Worth remembering, with all the media treatment that makes a recession seem like a pure calamity.
(I seem to remember reading an article in Science a few years ago that said pulsating ecosystems use resources more efficiently than those that grow slowly but steadily. I am strongly inclined to believe that the same thing is true of economies, though I haven't seen any scholarly research to that effect. Anybody know of any?)
VICTORY THROUGH RIDICULE: Michael Medved writes on one of the most interesting facets of the war: the burgeoning, decentralized, amateur propaganda campaign that has sprung up.
THESE U.S. PROPAGANDA LEAFLETS feature pictures of Taliban men beating women. The text with them reads: "Is this the future you want for your children and your women?" This will probably do some good in Afghanistan -- but if it's widely publicized it will do even more good in the U.S. and Europe.
MORE ON IRAN: Michael Ledeen has this interesting piece on how the mullahs are having their world rocked (and not in a fun, Monica Lewinsky kind of way) by massive demonstrations of young people.
Unlike previous demonstrations, which were largely limited to students at major universities, the latest round involved young people from all walks of life and of both sexes. And while all the riots started following soccer matches involving the national team, they were clearly political. Demonstrators carried slogans attacking the Islamic regime and its leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They chanted nationalist anthems, demanded political freedom, and hurled stones at the dreaded security forces.
In an outright show of contempt for the guardians of the revolution, boys and girls danced in the streets, taunting the Islamic authorities. Thousands of young people have been arrested (the regime admitted to more than 2,000 as of Oct. 25), and countless others hospitalized. Detainees under 18 were herded into special detention centers, while older ones face judgment at the hands of the Islamic revolutionary courts.
The country's leaders are visibly shaken, to the point where the minister of the interior was allegedly told to "fill all the hospital beds in the country." The mullahs may well be entering their final days in power. They have become objects of ridicule because of their panicky reaction to the demonstrations, which first erupted following Iran's 1-0 defeat of Iraq on Oct. 12.
On Oct. 21, fearing new outbursts, the government apparently ordered the national team to throw its match against Bahrain, a no-account team. But when Iran lost 3-1, new riots ensued. Then, on Oct.25, the latest demonstrations started after Iran beat the United Arab Emirates 1-0. The government has responded by confiscating all the satellite dishes in the country, a confession that nobody believes the official "news," and a ham-handed move likely to provoke a new round of street confrontations.
It would be delightfully ironic if the first government to topple as a result of bin Laden's actions were the theocracy of the Islamic Republic. But why is this getting so little coverage here?
DAVE KOPEL sends the image below, from a 1778 $20 bill issued by the state of Georgia. The motto translates as "No one will provoke me with impunity."
Kopel's page is listed to the left; he also has a good terrorism resources page here.
HOW TO FIX AIRLINE SECURITY: From the too-smart-to-ever-be-implemented category, reader Scott Stafford sends this gem:
It's simple. Keep the airlines in charge of airline security, but make this one change:
Allow travelers to acquire, from their local federal building, an "Airline Security Test Baton." This would be a smallish, coded, metal object in a variety of different shapes. If the traveler can smuggle this small object onto an airliner, and gets into the air, he publicly presents it to the nearest flight attendant and claims his prize:
Twenty million dollars.
Within a week, I guarantee you that airlines will become appropriately desperate about effectively conducting searches which will turn up these batons - and any other thingy that passengers might be interested in smuggling aboard.
Excellent. This approach would test airline security constantly with an ingenuity surpassing what terrorists can call on -- millions of greedy Americans instead of dozens of sleazy murderers. So is it pathetic, or what, that this makes too much sense ever to actually happen?
JUST OVER A MONTH AGO, Dave Kopel and I wrote about the impact of wargaming on this war. Turns out it's more immediate than even we thought. Simulations like these have very real limits, but with advanced technology they're good tools for coming up with scenarios that people might not have considered otherwise.
RAND SIMBERG HAS A LENGTHY AND INFORMATIVE DISQUISITION (sounds better than "rant," doesn't it?) on space policy, in response to a recent editorial in The Economist. Basically, he's right.
A READER WRITES:
My 100% American, dyed red white & blue patriot supervisor, who happens to be Syrian-born&raised, recently flew to Syria for visit. You would think this might be risky, particularly with all the flack about "profiling", "flying while Arab" and all that, but this guy is pretty hard-headed and he would not let minor details keep him from leading his life as he wishes (his motto: "I can't sleep well at night if I haven't taken a risk during the day"). In fact, I'll bet (I'll ask him on Monday) he'd be the first to say middle eastern visit/visitors bear closer scrutiny.
Anyway, after he came back from Syria, with Assad Junior blathering about civilian casualties in afghanistan, I asked him what the Syrians were thinking about us. Now read this closely: He said,
"Everyone asked me why we hadn't used nuclear weapons yet."
OKAY, I UNDERSTAND the strong feelings involved, but this scuffle over what's being done at Ground Zero in New York is unseemly. It just seems wrong to have NYPD and NYFD coming to blows. I'm sure they weren't happy about it either, but still. . . .
MY LATEST FOXNEWS COLUMN is up. Just in case you aren't getting enough of my verbiage here.
SURVEY SAYS: Well, this survey says that people trust online media more than their local newspapers, but that view isn't shared by people who work for traditional media.
Specifically, 47.9 percent of the online public said that online news sites provide "a complete picture of the news," while only 17 percent of the media sample thought so. The media respondents — drawn from a dozen journalism trade associations — were also much more likely to have a negative opinion of online news' credibility. . . .
I think Robert Cauthorn, vice president of digital media at the San Francisco Chronicle, nailed it when he told the conference, "Too often we equate credibility with whether we can be bought, while the public thinks of it as whether we're right or not." . . . "I worry a lot when I hear journalists talk about credibility," Cauthorn said in a follow-up phone interview. "Too often what they really mean is, We don't want to change."
It doesn't surprise me that people trust online media more than traditional media, nor does it surprise me that traditional media disagree.
By now, pretty much everyone is aware of the biases, omissions, and conflicts of interest among the traditional media. In addition, online media are easier to compare -- see something you doubt on InstaPundit, for example, and you can follow the link to see for yourself whether I've mischaracterized it, or flip instantly to another site and see what they have to say there. Online outlets usually correct errors within minutes or hours, too.
Sit down with a New York Times on the other hand and you get none of that. And their corrections come days later, in an inconspicuous location, if they come at all. So I'm not surprised.
A WHOLE BUNCH OF READERS emailed me to say that FoxNews covered the Panther event last night. Reader Katharina Schwarz sends this link to a partial transcript.
The Black Panthers are revolting. (Drum roll. . . "you can say that again!")
TERRORISTS FIREBOMB GOVERNMENT FACILITY: No, not those terrorists. This time it's the Earth Liberation Front, continuing the campaign of arson that InstaPundit has reported on before. Reader Stephen Skaggs sent the link.
A PRESSING QUESTION FROM DARREN KAPLAN:
Question—if a woman dies a “martyr” do 72 male virgins also service her? Is this any kind of reward—72 clumsy teenagers pawing you for all of eternity while they ineptly try to figure out how to make things “come together?” No wonder only the men blow themselves up!A point to ponder, I guess.
THE BLACK PANTHERS HAD A HATEFEST in support of Osama bin Laden. It was on C-SPAN2, and several InstaPundit readers emailed me about it. I couldn't find any press coverage, though (apparently, only InstaPundit readers watch C-SPAN2). However, Michelle Malkin has this column on the event.
If this event had been an anti-Muslim rally, the story would be front-page news. Editorialists and academics would be decrying racial and religious intolerance. Left-wing celebrities and MTV veejays would be hectoring us about the need for unity and harmony. Politicians would be condemning the hatemongers as radical extremists who undermine the American way of life.
Instead, the Muslim marathon of malevolence I watched Wednesday night on C-SPAN-2 received absolutely no mainstream media criticism. In fact, it got no mainstream newspaper press coverage at all -- an especially ugly irony since it was held at the prestigious National Press Club in the heart of Washington, D.C. Where are all the dogged, brave-hearted members of the Beltway press corps when you need them to cover a war story in their very own lounge? . . .
Shabazz defended Osama bin Laden, blamed President Bush for the 9-11 attacks, called our founding fathers "snakes" and likened them to terrorists, lambasted Catholicism, Christians and Jews, and repeated his avaricious call for societal reparations to blacks.
Malkin is right to point out this nastiness, and the double standard (and in the case of some reporters and editors, nostalgia for misspent youths) that protects these folks from honest criticism.
But -- and I speak here as someone who grew up with the Panthers -- there's nothing that hurts them more than being ignored. Bad press is fine -- but no press? The horror, the horror.
IGNORANT RACISTS: That's Bjorn Staerk's characterization of what Syrian and Palestinian education systems are designed to produce.
RESEARCH NEWS YOU CAN USE: Rave Music Kills Mice -- which means I can keep my home rodent-free by simply blaring BT or Orbital with the knob turned to 11. Well, I don't have mice. . . .
IRAQI LIES: An item off the H-World (world history) email list:
In an interview on October 10th last, Tariq Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq boasted that his nation was ready for war. The report noted:
"Mr Aziz insisted that Iraq's military machine had recovered since the 1991 Gulf war, during which he was foreign minister.
"When asked how Iraq could have rebuilt its military strength while under international sanctions, Mr. Aziz smiled and said: 'Let us just say there are ways. There is ingenuity in Iraq and its working people are intelligent and determined and we have had very good results.'"
So much for the half million starving children. Or was it a million, or perhaps a million and a half?
Hmm. I wonder if I've still got that "Baby Milk Factory" T-shirt somewhere?
YASSER ARAFAT'S LOSING HAND: He understands the game, and he's been playing the cards he holds as best he can. But he just can't deliver peace because the people he claims to represent don't want peace. Now the State Department is calling the Intifada a "terror" movement. Political futures analysts here at InstaPundit Secret Headquarters are in the process of downgrading Arafat's stock from "hold" to "sell."
A THOUGHT (that should please the Bellicose Women): Pick America's military failures of the 20th Century, and every one of them came not from overdoing things, but from underdoing them, from getting involved in hostilities without being willing to do whatever was necessary to utterly defeat the enemy.
MORE FROM THE BELLICOSE WOMEN BRIGADE:
Thank you, Glenn Reynolds for Instapundit. I want to join in on the debate about why women are so pissed off in this particular conflict. It IS about the burquas, the beatings, the stonings (in addition, of course, to the slaughter of 5,000 children). I am ashamed that while I was vaguely aware of these outrages against the women of Afghanistan due to an appearance by Mavis Leno on Larry King a long time ago, I didn't pay a lot of attention. Why? 'Cos I figured it was "over there". Well, "over there" is now "over here". The Taliban and OBL hate us --I hate them. No half-measures -- bomb them out of existence. And the next time a regime treats half its population the way the Taliban did, let's pay attention (that includes Saudi Arabia too).
Proud to be a member of the Bellicose Women Brigade
Did I say the Taliban were toast? They're burnt
I don't quite get the "5000 children" point -- though I suppose that everyone is some mother's child.
TONY ADRAGNA & WILL VEHRS have an interesting dialogue on airport security. A key observaton: the work is deadly dull. You need fairly smart people, but they get bored into insensibility sooner. Vehrs suggests a quasi-military approach. I'm inclined to agree.
WE'RE ALL SOLDIERS NOW, writes Peggy Noonan, since war has come first to what used to be called the "home front." She has some suggestions on what to do about it.
ANTHRAX LETTER IN PAKISTAN: This seems hard to square with the "domestic terrorism" theory, doesn't it? Most of our domestic terrorists couldn't find Pakistan on a map.
FAN MAIL: In response to the item about my $50 donation, one reader writes:
A little history: I'm normally a systems engineer working in the cable television industry, with a little side action as a member of the Board of Directors of the Libertarian Party of a Western state.
Times are not normal: I'm a National Guardsman who has been called up and am stationed in Southwest Asia. So my "circumstances" have taken a sudden drop, to the point that I can't offer you $50.
Fortunately I'm stationed at a base that has internet access, but due to the military's and to our host nation's sensibilities, most of my usual websites are not accessible. Yours is not filtered out, and I have come to admire your sense of humor. I regularly forward snippets from Instapundit to friends and family, especially those snippets that illustrate this war I've been called up to fight, and the qualities of some of our allies, whom I get to see up close from time to time here.
Be assured that when I get back to the States, if I still draw breath, I'll chip in. You help me get through the days.
As I emailed in reply, you don't have to make donations for InstaPundit. Nobody does. It's free. (What amazes me is that anyone sends money; this seems to conflict with what Hans Jensen taught me in Econ 101.) And fan mail like this is much better than cash anyway, even to an impecunious professor. If you're getting through the day, you're paying me back just fine.
I must also confess that getting email from the front kind of weirds me out, even as I think it's way cool. And I'm glad they're not blocking InstaPundit.
TEEHEE. Here's the story of a thoroughly disillusioned British Muslim who "enlisted" with the Taliban. It, er, didn't live up to his expectations.
DISILLUSIONED with life on the front line, a British deserter from the Taleban is warning other young Muslims that if they go to Afghanistan seeking glory or martyrdom they will only find themselves at the mercy of “lunatics and liars”.
Abu Mindar, 26, from London’s East End, considers himself lucky to have survived his baptism of fire this week with a crew of raw recruits of many nationalities, none of whom had ever fired a shot in anger.
“Maybe I was naive but I was told there would be proper training and I would be joining an organised military unit and it was just chaos,” he said.
The impression being given by militant Muslim groups is that there is a slick and successful recruiting drive in British cities after which volunteers are shepherded by its emissaries to Pakistan and on to training camps run by the Taleban. The reality, says Abu Mindar, is different.
I love this. Yet another reason why I'm in favor of letting these guys go to Afghanistan if they want.
CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER: The President of Harvard calls for more patriotism in the University community in this speech. Quote:
The second respect in which I believe our response to the events of September 11 can help us strengthen our country is by leading to a rebirth of a national sense of community. And even a sense--and I'm using a word that I'm firmly convinced is used too infrequently in communities such as this university community--a greatly increased sense of patriotism.
There was a time in our country when if you turned on the news and American troops were engaged in battle, Walter Cronkite said, "Our soldiers prevailed today." Or, "Our soldiers struggled today." It was a very significant thing for our country, I believe, when that pronoun "our" ceased to be part of the description of what the American military did. It was a very significant thing for our country when the tragic events of the Vietnam War period led to disaffection, which in many ways lives with us today, toward people who wear uniforms.
It is all too common for us to underestimate the importance of clearly expressing our respect and support for the military and individuals who choose to serve in the armed forces of the United States. Speech should be free and policy differences should be debated, but respect for all, including those who wear military uniforms, must be a basic value in our community.
Wow. Maybe Harvard will bring back ROTC, and start allowing military recruiters at the Law School.
DECSS, the DVD decryption code, is "pure speech," and the First Amendment limits efforts to prevent its disclosure, according to this opinion by a California appellate court.
U.C. BERKELEY wants to adopt a holistic admissions policy in which admissions people look at "the whole person" instead of just grades and test scores.
In principle, I'm all for this approach. As someone who did very, very well on standardized tests ("ETS been bery, bery good to me!") I am entirely aware of their shortcomings. And grades aren't much better -- like most law schools, for example, mine doesn't make any sort of cross-disciplinary correction, meaning that a 3.5 average in Electrical Engineering (great!) counts the same as a 3.5 average in Sociology (can exhale warm air).
But I'm suspicious: if this is such a good idea, why did Berkeley only start to consider it once affirmative action was banned? And when they look at the "whole person," will the part they pay most attention to be, oh, I don't know, something like race and gender? Or worse. Somehow, I suspect that Bernadine Dohrn (see below) would be viewed as having a store of "rich life experiences" as opposed to being an unrepentant ex-terrorist. Okay, like the rest of the Weather Underground, an ex-inept-terrorist, but an ex-terrorist nonetheless.
Like a lot of things that depend on trust, the Berkeley approach doesn't work when you don't trust the people who are implementing it. The present heavy dependence on ETS evolved because back in the 1950s people didn't trust college admission officers not to favor the interests of their own class above merit. The class being favored has changed somewhat, but the rest hasn't.
JOSH MARSHALL has some interesting observations about the relationship between inhaled anthrax, age, and smoking. (Keep scrolling down his page -- there are several).
TRAFFIC REPORT: 18,543 yesterday. That nudges past the previous record of 18,396 from a couple of weeks ago. InstaPundit is typically running around 15-16K per day now, somewhat less on the weekends (you guys mostly surf at work, I see). And some anonymous soul actually donated fifty bucks through Amazon the other day. I don't think I'd pay fifty bucks to hear my thoughts, but I sure appreciate that other people feel differently.
Speaking of donations, if you regularly visit Joanne Jacobs site, now might be a good time to donate there.
UPDATE: Did I say "anonymous soul"? I meant "anonymous fine soul"!
SMALLPOX IN AMERICA -- not so long ago. The author of the very cool "Secret History" column in my local alternative weekly writes about Knoxville's smallpox cemetery and the city's experiences with smallpox epidemics as recently as 1923. A very interesting piece. Crank out that vaccine!
READER ANTON SHERWOOD WRITES wondering if there's a way to have his smallpox immunity tested. Beats me. I suppose they could do an antibody titer if (1) there's a test for that readily available; and (2) anybody knows what level of antibody is necessary for for protection. Given the until-recent obsolescence of smallpox-related medicine, it's entirely possible that nobody has bothered to develop such tests. They're conceptually simple, and used for some other vaccines, but there's still a fair amount of work necessary to actually make them available, at least outside of small volume research-type settings.
JAY ZILBER thinks my analysis of the bellicose-women phenomenon doesn't go far enough. He may be right.
TAKING BACK THE CAMPUSES: Northwestern University Law School alumni are complaining and withholding money over the presence on the faculty of former Weather Underground terrorist Bernadine Dohrn, who was once on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list . (Dohrn is married to fellow Weatherman (Weatherperson?) Bill Ayers, famous most recently for being quoted on 9/11 that he wished he and his cohorts had done a better job of blowing things up. (I mentioned this in class; my students said "what was the Weather Underground?").)
The University is standing by her:
"While many would take issue with the views Ms. Dohrn espoused during the '60s, at the end of the day, her career here at the law school is an example of a person's ability to channel one's energy and passion into making a difference in our legal system," Northwestern law school dean David Van Zandt wrote in an e-mail to alumni.
Two observations: First, it's unthinkable that a law school would have an unrepentant former Klansman (say, one of the peripheral figures from the Birmingham church bombing) on its faculty, regardless of how he/she tried to "channel" his or her "energy and passion into making a difference in our legal system." Though they try to avoid saying it, basically they don't think that blowing up things and killing people is all that wrong when it's done by leftists, especially those from the right families. I disagree.
Second, it's a bit late to be raising this: Dohrn's been on the faculty for years. But this sign of outside interest is to be welcomed, not feared. Universities -- well, some of them, anyway -- have made it clear that they can't keep their own houses in order. That's bound to invite outside scrutiny.
PRAISE: "Final point - I love the site, I'm very sick of all the anthrax news and 'how slow this is going' on CNN, MSNBC and my Canadian news sources. Instapundit gives me a chance to actually 'think' about the events and not chew them over and over like cud of a stupid cow." Thanks. I never thought of Peter Jennings as having a cud, but . . .
WHY THE ANTHRAX CAME FROM FOREIGNERS, according to UThant.Com:
Third, and most importantly, a real American knows that if you want to scare the masses, you don't send anthrax to Tom friggin Daschle, you send it to Tom friggin CRUISE!
Only a foreigner could possibly think that:
A) Most Americans Care What Happens to Tom Daschle; and
B) Most Americans Have Any Clue Who the Hell Tom Daschle Even Is!
Maybe someone should forward this to Joe Conason.
FROM THE BELLICOSE WOMEN BRIGADE, GREAT WHITE NORTH POSTING:
It is time to get real in this war. Carpet bombing is a tiny baby step to the Real Thing. Think Cecil B deMille, book of Revelations, and the Thunder and Lightning on top of Mount Sinai. I am serious here. We are in a war of civilization. I am a woman, and I find burqas REALLY, PERSONALLY OFFENSIVE.
These people must be terrified as well as beaten. No more "measured response" or missiles winging their way to specific targets. Napalm, flame and anything that is equally spectacular should be implemented. This is a war of ideas. And the FIRST idea to get through to the Saudis, the Syrians, the Iraqis, the Taleban, anyone who chatters on about MY CIVILIZATION as being the "Great Satan" is that they are losers in the mud, and MY civilization can rain fire from the sky upon them.
Also, nothing in half measures: on the other hand, rain food and blankets, in a gigantic massive and thick storm, down upon the refugee camps around Afghanistan. Again, none of this precision - make it a CYCLONE of food, blankets, tents, something that will be talked about around campfires for the next 500 years.
There. I feel better now.
I don't recall seeing this degree of anger from women during the Gulf War, or Vietnam. And I haven't heard of it being so pronounced in World War Two.
I think it's the damned burkas. And the beatings and stonings. And the ban on medical care. And on education. Whatever it is, the Taliban are toast. Did I mention the beatings and stonings?
AMERICAN "OVERCONSUMPTION" is a common shibboleth, but this editorial points out it's not so simple.
VIOLENCE BY MODERATE MUSLIMS: Yeah, you read that right. According to this story from Luton in the UK:
The leader of a militant Islamic group in Luton was "left half-dead" after he was attacked by fellow Muslims outraged by his fundamental outbursts, it emerged today.
Shahed, leader of the Al-Muhajiroun organisation in the town, who claims to command 50 members and
200 supporters, was ambushed by three "moderate" Muslims in the streets.
The 28-year-old said he was repeatedly punched and kicked following a public demonstration held in the wake of the deaths of two Luton men in a US bombing raid on Kabul, Afghanistan, where they had gone to fight for the Taliban.
"The three attackers were large men. They kept punching and kicking me," he said. "They nearly choked me to death. I was only saved by a barber who witnessed the attack. He turned me on my back and cleared my airways. They left me half-dead."
The assault occurred on Tuesday night, hours after Shahed and 10 supporters proclaimed in a noisy public demonstration that it was every Muslim's duty to fight for the Taliban. The group hailed Afzal Munir and Aftab Manzoor, both 25, who died alongside fellow Taliban volunteer Yasir Khan, from Crawley, as martyrs.
Community leaders have since vowed to drive Al-Muhajiroun from the streets of Luton. A statement from one of the town's mosques read: "Al-Muhajiroun have been warned in no uncertain terms that their activities will no longer be tolerated here. Muslims are sick and tired of their provocative remarks."
I don't actually approve of these tactics, but I'm happy to see somebody strike a blow (or twelve) against extremism, even if it's literal rather than figurative.
MORE ON CLONING BAN IDIOCY: Reason has a lengthy feature with views from various experts (and, along with the experts, me) on why the cloning-ban proposals being urged by William Kristol and Jeremy Rifkin are a bad idea. Here's a lengthier, and meaner, version of my views on the subject, written just before 9/11 but still just as valid:
In some ways, the most disturbing thing about the Rifkin/Kristol proposal for a ban on cloning is the willingness of people who call themselves conservatives to discard their principles when it comes to outlawing things they don't like. It's no surprise, of course, that Jeremy Rifkin doesn't care about constitutional limits. But William Kristol, who portrays himself as a conservative, clearly doesn't care either. In an interview last June, Kristol waved aside concerns that a cloning ban might be outside Congress's power:
"In the modern world, the federal government does a lot of things basically because the commerce clause (Article I, Section 8) does suggest federal responsibility for interstate matters. Obviously cloning a human would be such a matter. I can even ... make an argument that there are other grounds in the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments on cloning," Kristol added, "but it's not necessary to reach that unless one wants to argue that about 70 years of the federal government's activities are unconstitutional."
It's hard to know where to start with such constitutional nonsense, so let's take it in order. First, there is nothing about cloning -- and especially cloning research
-- that has much to do with interstate commerce, unless one wants to take the view that Congress can do whatever it wants under the interstate commerce power. This view, once widely held, has been exploded by the Supreme Court in recent years, and it was never a view that had much popularity with conservatives. (And, of course, plenty of conservatives do believe that much of what the federal government has done for 70 years -- well, 60, anyway -- is unconstitutional).
The Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery. Clones would not be slaves, except perhaps in some George Lucas movies. The Fourteenth Amendment, by its own terms and Supreme Court decision, only applies to people who have been born, and in circumstances where there is state action. Neither would apply to cloning research. And the Fifteenth Amendment has to do with voting. Is Kristol arguing that Congress has the power to ban cloning research because clones would somehow be forbidden to vote?
As Kristol's comments make painfully clear, he hasn't thought about the constitutional issues at all. He hasn't thought about them, presumably, because he doesn't want to think about things that might stand in the way of using government power to do what he wants. There's a word for people who think this way. And it's not "conservative."
WAR OPPORTUNISM & CLONING: I should have known that these two InstaPundit issues would go together. This article says that folks in the Senate have been trying to attach cloning riders to appropriations bills. For shame.
MORE ON THE FRENCH POGROMS: Reader John Mansfield sends this link to an ADL item on violent antisemitism in France, and this link to the original CJEE French webpage feature. There's definitely something going on there. Perhaps some of the journalists among InstaPundit readers will investigate further.
THE IMPORTANCE OF INDIA: Some interesting thoughts.
POGROMS IN FRANCE? I received this email from someone I trust, but haven't verified it independently:
Jews Attacked in Paris by Arnon Yaffeh
Approximately two hundred Arabs from the suburbs of Paris attacked Jews on Sunday (14 Elul) on the Champs Elysees in Paris. Witnesses said that a mob of Arabs marched along the avenue shouting 'Death to the Jews' and 'Destroy Israel.' A Jew who passed by in a car said that the rioters looked like 'death squads' of anti-Semitic organizations, and shouted the very same slogans which were heard on Champs Elysees prior to the Second World War at the height of Nazi hysteria.
The Arabs chased and hit scores of young Jews and tourists who tried to escape. It took an hour for riot police to arrive on the scene and to disperse the Arabs with tear gas and clubs. The newspapers, as is common in such incidents, did not report the anti-Semitic attacks, except for La Parisian which spoke only about fights among youths on Champs Elysees without any details of the true nature of the disturbance.
Frightened parents called the Jewish radio stations on Monday to report the anti-Semitic attack. Jews said that they don't feel safe in France any more, and complained that the authorities are burying their heads in the sand and displaying indifference to Arab anti-Semitism due to their fear of the Arabs.
Nonsense. The French would never bury their heads in the sand and display indifference to anti-Semitism out of fear . . . oh, right. Never mind.
THE PRESS IS ON THE ROPES: It must be, or a canny SecDef like Rumsfeld wouldn't have taken the risk of speaking so bluntly and truthfully about how stupid the questions are. Read this press release. It's a marvel of telling it like it is, and not pretending to take foolish questions seriously.
If our leaders start treating stupid questions this way, some people in journalism will have to find other work.
CENSORSHIP IS BREAKING OUT EVERYWHERE:
LONDON, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Psychic spoon-bender Uri Geller says record company Sony Music removed religious words and symbols from a picture he drew for Michael Jackson's new album.
Geller, a former Israeli paratrooper famous for using mysterious mental powers to bend spoons, told Reuters that Sony Music had taken out the words "God," "Jerusalem," "USA" and "Angel 2000" and had replaced a Star of David with a pentagram.
I don't know what's funnier, or more pathetic -- Geller thinking that this counts as censorship, or Sony thinking that they're making things better by replacing a Star of David with a pentagram.
UPDATE: A reader writes to say that the most pathetic thing is Reuters' failure to point out that Geller is a complete fraud. Hey, as the folks at Reuters would surely point out, one man's fraud is another man's psychic. Let's just call him ... er ... a "mental manipulation expert." God knows, that's true.
THE MILLION-MOM MARCH goes to Afghanistan. (Er, I'm pretty sure this is fake. . . .)
FYI, my thoughts on terrorism and encryption in NRO Financial.
INSTAPUNDIT SCOOPS JOE CONASON: Well, yeah. But it's nice to be noticed, as in today's Best of the Web item noting Conason's Salon piece on right-wing extremists who support bin Laden:
Maybe there's something new in this piece, which we couldn't read, Salon having unaccountably decided that people would be willing to pay for Conason's work. But based on the three-paragraph summary available to nonsubscribers, it looks to us as if Conason is finally getting around to noting something that--thanks to the ever-alert Instapundit.com--we first observed on Sept. 11.
InstaPundit, of course, remains free. And worth every penny!
A NOT-SO-CHEERY HALLOWEEN UPDATE:
I can tell you that in Clifton, NJ, Halloween didn't come this year -- or if it did it was over by 6:30 p.m. when I got home from work and lit up my pumpkins. I had two trick-or-treaters the entire night, down from 75 the year prior in the same time frame, the second being a kid in a car not in costume whose Mom pulled over when she saw me outside relighting a pumpkin that had blown out.
I should have dumped my entire stash on that one little witch who showed up around 7:00 p.m. By the end of the evening I was actually looking forward to teenagers in old clothes panhandling me. They didn't show up either.
Does this mean that Osama Bin Laden has won?
At least in New Jersey.
HALLOWEEN UPDATE (CONT'D): Reader (and UPI columnist) Jim Bennett writes:
By the way, I can report that trick-or-treating in Alexandria, three miles or so from the Pentagon and across the river from the main anthrax targets, and literally inside the Beltway, was normal in volume and tone. We put our one-and-a-half year old son in his push car and took him around four blocks or so just to look at all the decorated houses and lights, and the streets were full of parents and kids. Kids above 8 or so were out by themselves.
I think that the hysteria is literally limited to the doors of the media. Even here where half of the families seem to have somebody working in the Pentagon and the other half on Capitol Hill, there is no panic, only determination, and frustration with the idiots in the press and academia.
I wonder if those institutions heaven't lost so much credibility with the people that they are like the Church in northern Europe just before the Reformation, rotten but unable to imagine that people will ever abandon them.
Interesting analogy. They're certainly busy squandering what credibility they have left, without a care for tomorrow.
SAUDI JOURNALISTS CRITICIZE ARAB CONSPIRACISTS: MEMRI has translations of two articles by Saudi journalists criticizing the Arab world's attempts to deny or excuse the September 11 attacks. Excerpts:
"...Huweidi cited 'experts' who maintain that it is highly probable that right-wing American militias are behind this attack... I am stunned [by the way in which] half-truths are presented; is it conceivable that Huweidi could write two articles, each covering three-quarters of a page, without mentioning at all that the only person in the world to issue a fatwa – on October 12, 1996 – calling for the killing of American civilians and military personnel is one of the Afghani Arabs [i.e. bin Laden]?..."
"Second, Prof. Huweidi tried to deny that Arabs were involved in this act of terror by saying that [the operation] required a high level of technical capability in flying planes, in addition to the imagination and inventiveness that are lacking in those Middle Eastern elements to which the acts of terror (of September 11) are attributed! I am amazed at this interpretation, and want to ask Huweidi...:"
"'Didn't Arabs try to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993? Aren't Arabs capable of flying planes? Aren't Arabs responsible for suicide operations in Southern Lebanon and in occupied Palestine? Didn't Arabs come up with the idea of hijacking and blowing up civilian planes in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and then give it up after it turned out that this method failed abysmally in achieving their political goals...?'"
"Third, Huweidi expressed exultation over the U.S.'s misfortune... In my opinion, the success of the terrorist action is a 'tax' paid by the U.S. and the good – yes, 'good' – and peaceful – yes, 'peaceful' – American people because of their civilized treatment of anyone, without exception, who comes to the U.S. legally. I say this from personal experience, and I can swear that anyone who has ever visited the U.S., or lived there, joins me [in this statement]. Does Fahmi Huweidi know that every tourist, even if he looks like an [Islamic] fundamentalist like myself, could have toured the White House, the Capitol buildings, the Supreme Court, and the FBI building? Doesn't Huweidi know the freedom in which the Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. live? Doesn't he know that 'extremist' Islamic preachers curse the U.S. on its own home soil without being harmed – something I witnessed personally?..."
"If this is the condition of the enlightened elite [to which Huweidi belongs], what can be said about the cave-dwellers of Kandahar? Unfortunately, if we examine modern Arab thought from this angle, we will find that it is collapsing under the weight of these delusions. The Arab thought completely lacks the rationality or critical spirit required for Arab and Islamic societies today and in the future..."
NOTE TO SUSAN SONTAG, CYNTHIA MCKINNEY, ET AL.: This is actual "dissent," by people who are at risk for challenging the prevailing orthodoxy in their home countries. Just so you know.
MANUFACTURING DISSENT: An example of what I'm talking about is this story on Britain's Channel 4, which emailed hundreds to put together a group of war critics, then treated those people as representative. What would Noam Chomsky say?
MORE ON FRUSTRATED JOURNALISTS:
Journalists are growing increasingly frustrated. They are frustrated because the military controls the information and the access and because the public doesn't appear to see the media as its surrogate, as an essential, trustworthy source of information on the conduct of the war.
Of course the public doesn't see the media as its surrogate. The press has made clear that it doesn't see itself as the public's surrogate, but rather as something both beyond and above the public. And it hasn't been trustworthy: it reports things that aren't true without doing the hard work (or, often, even the easy
work) needed to confirm things; it injects its own biases into stories and then, with transparent disingenuity, denies that it does so; it expects special treatment; and it encourages a cult of celebrity within its own numbers that is hardly consistent with the role of surrogate for the public.
You want to be trusted? Try being trustworthy.
HALLOWEEN UPDATE: Reader Jeff Drummond reports:
Our neighborhood in Dallas (not Virginia Postrel's, but not too shabby) has had, for as long as I've lived there (almost 10 years), a neighborhood halloween party rather than regular door-to-door trick-or-treating. They block off one of the cul-de-sac streets and set up games and booths along the curb, where the kids show up in costume (as do a lot of adults) and do ring toss or bean-bag throws to win candy prizes. Each family is expected to bring a bag of candy per child, plus a pack of hot dogs and a pack of buns. Someone in the neighborhood
connected with Dr. Pepper provides the drinks. The dogs are grilled by volunteers, who also man the booths (anything left over is given to the North Texas Food Bank). There are costume contests for the kids (everyone wins a ribbon, natch) and a pumpkin-carving contest. The kids get all the candy they need to rot their teeth clear out of their heads, but the adults also get to know their neighbors a little better. I've always thought it was the best possible setup.
This year was slightly more crowded than usual (perhaps there have been some new families moving into the neighborhood, replacing some empty-nesters?), which might indicate that more folks than usual opted for the carnival than going door-to-door. But what was really noticable was that the party didn't break up until very late. It usually goes 6:30 to 8:30, with the crowd noticably thinned by 8:00 (what with kids' bedtimes). We left last night at about 8:45 and the crowd was still at
about 75% of its peak.
Joanne Jacobs reports
fewer trick-or-treaters at her door. We got fewer "crashers" from outside the neighborhood (not that we minded) but that seems to vary from year-to-year. Maybe people really were nervous in some places about strange neighborhoods, though perhaps people just preferred to bond in groups. Wartime's like that.
READER DEAN PENCE ASKS "WHAT HAS ANN COULTER BEEN SMOKING?"
Soccer moms are doves? I met two middle aged women last night in a bookstore who think we ought to pave a giant parking lot from Morocco to
Yeah, I think Ann's sore because she's lost her dominant position in the Bellicose-women market.
IN THE WAR SO FAR, THE PRESS IS THE BIG LOSER: That's what this story says, and it rings true. The questions at press conferences are so much like the famous Saturday Night Live Gulf War skit that it's not even funny. The obvious lack of knowledge of many reporters is pathetic. And their effort to look "balanced" just makes them look shifty and anti-American.
They demand details about military strategy, civilian casualties and locations of troops and targets. Their inquiries are laced with skepticism over how the government is handling the war.
But that cynicism has made some average Americans angry.
"I guess they've forgotten the events of Sept. 11, when thousands of civilians here died for no apparent reason," Sam Marino, 25, a bartender at the Franklin Steak House and Tavern in Nutley, N.J., says of the Pentagon press corps.
With America's war on terror approaching its third month, the tone in media reports is increasingly bleak. Why haven't we won the war already, they ask. Why are civilians dying, they want to know. Where is Usama Bin Laden, they demand to know.
The questions aren't going over well with out-of-the-beltway Americans, nearly 80 percent of whom tell pollsters they approve of the war's progress.
"The pundits sitting on their fat backsides in Washington — I really have a problem with them," fumed World War II Navy veteran Jim Goran of Bloomfield, N.J. "I would jail them, that's how angry I am."
Goran takes issue with most of the questions posed by the press corps, calling them "insensitive, unpatriotic and devoid of any intelligence."
I hear this everywhere, from people of all political persuasions. Especially the last point. It's no surprise -- a lot of these journalists were covering the Social Security "lockbox" debate two months ago (and they didn't understand that, either).
The press's credibility is plunging, and it wasn't high to begin with. If a politician were performing as badly in public as the press is, they'd be savaging him for insensitivity and incompetence. Sure, they're not running for office. But they depend on public trust as much as any politician. I think they should be worried.
HALLOWEEN: Reader Dave Hill reports:
As in your neighborhood, we (in the Denver 'burbs) saw no drop-off in Halloween attendance. Packs of little'uns, accompanied by parents, along with older kids off on their own. Good fun, and no sign of paranoia, fear, trembling or doubt.
SAUDIS BLAME BIN LADEN FOR AFGHAN DEATHS:
Osama bin Laden and the Taliban leadership are responsible for the civilian deaths caused by U.S.-led bombings in Afghanistan, a top Saudi official was quoted Wednesday as saying by the state news agency.
In the first statement of its kind since U.S.-led strikes on Afghanistan began Oct. 7, Deputy Interior Minister Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz said Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and bin Laden "bear responsibility for those innocents who are under their protection."
Ahmed, speaking in a Tuesday evening news conference, said it was unacceptable that "the Afghan people and Muslim interests should be victimized for the sake of individuals," the news agency said.
Reader Neil Richards suggests that perhaps the Saudis have been reading InstaPundit. Could be -- I've gotten some Saudi hate mail. But then, you don't need an InstaPundit to see which way the wind's blowing.
The United States needs to be taking this line more loudly itself. We need to say that if the Islamic world can't keep its house in order, then there will be civilian deaths. We've had ours, and we're prepared to face more if necessary, but we're not letting our concern with civilian deaths stop us from exterminating our enemies. They'll understand.
ANN COULTER IS BACK:
We've finally given liberals a war against fundamentalism, and they don't want to fight it. They would, except it would put them on the same side as the United States.
Typical Coulter: punchy, amusing, and wrong. As reader Kevin Connors points out, there's at least as much whining coming from the McCainiac right as from the left.
In fact, it's only the farthest fringe of the left that's really against this war. Even my thoroughly leftist international-law, fan-of-the-international-criminal-court colleague isn't a pacifist on this one. She thinks it's "whacking time."
Perhaps Coulter doesn't want to see the leftists who support the war, because that would put her on the same side as them.
GEORGE JONAS has an interesting column on respect in the East. Somehow, I doubt that the multiculti enthusiasts will like his point, though they should embrace it if they're sincere.
"Regulations, effendi," the station master replied with a smirk. "We need to leave your carriage behind on the siding. For a slight consideration, though, an exception can be made."
With that, he calmly held out his hand for baksheesh.
The station master was a huge brute, as it happened. His immense palm made a good target, so Vambery immediately whacked it with his crutch. Then he struggled to his feet, striking the Turk repeatedly with all his might.
The station master, who could have snapped the professor in half, didn't even try to ward off the blows. "Effendi, I didn't know, forgive me, I didn't realize," he muttered, bowing deeply and backing off. "In your exalted case, of course, regulations don't apply."
"Didn't you see the size of that fellow?" Vambery's friend asked, shaken, after the genuflecting giant had backed out of the car. "Weren't you afraid to hit him?"
"Of course," replied Vambery, "but this is the Orient. I would have been far more afraid not to hit him."...
There's a bewildered question Americans, and Westerners in general, keep asking after 9-11: "Why do they hate us so?" The question also has an unasked corollary: "Why don't they respect us more?"
The answer may be that we haven't yet learned when to whack the station master and when to offer him baksheesh.
It's "whacking time" now, I think.
UPDATE: Professor Vambery, it just occurred to me, probably learned this approach from dealing with University administrators.
THIS VOTE.COM POLL shows 91% of the 24,382 people who took it think that ABC News head David Westin should resign based on his remarks about the war.
This isn't scientific, but it sure shows some intensity of opinion out there.
Personally, I don't think Westin should resign. I'll even say that had the Ladenites attacked only the Pentagon, CIA headquarters, etc., their attack would be looked on differently. It would still be war, of course, but the public wouldn't be nearly as angry. Maybe that's what Westin was trying to say? I can't tell from the accounts I've read.
The intensity of the response, I think, has more to do with the public's disdain for journalists who see themselves as above patriotism than with the substance of his remarks. But that disdain -- richly merited if you read the transcripts of recent press conferences on the war -- is deepening, and not something that journalists will be able to ignore forever. Maybe journalists should be asking themselves, "why do they hate us?" At the least, they should read Will Saletan's piece mentioned below.
JEFFREY ROSEN has an excellent piece on excessive fear of terrorism. Hint: media hype is partly to blame.
BULLETIN: THE NEW SLATE STILL SUCKS: You'd think that Microsoft would be able to run a website, wouldn't you? I just spent several minutes trying to read Moira Redmond's "Diarist" piece, only to have the page hang every time. Jeez.
UPDATE: Heyyyy... it works fine if you view it using Microsoft Explorer. Go figure.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, not really "fine." But it does work. Kinda.
UNPATRIOTIC REPORTERS: Will Saletan has a fine piece in Slate on why reporters are always slanting against (American) wars:
Three weeks into the bombing of Afghanistan, American journalists are beginning to declare the war a failure. Why? Because their political bias in favor of their country is being overwhelmed by professional biases that skew their coverage the other way, undermining the morale of the United States rather than that of the Taliban.
Here's one passage that the folks at the Pentagon need to read (American journalists need to read the whole thing):
This is a big reason why Rumsfeld is being bombarded with questions about getting "bogged down" in a campaign that "doesn't appear to be going anywhere," hamstrung by an "impatient" coalition that's "falling apart." Reporters themselves are feeling impatient and bogged down in a story that seems not to be going anywhere.
This is exactly right. To American journalists, the story is always really about them. The Pentagon needs to feed them some red meat -- even (hell, preferably) lies so long as they're juicy ones -- or they'll keep this up.
Yeah, it's stupid. But Themistocles spent most of his time dealing with cowardly, fractious, self-interested Greeks, not fighting the Persians. That's how it works.
PROFESSOR MICHAEL DORF of Columbia has an article on Findlaw criticizing the Fifth Circuit's decision in the Emerson case. There are two interesting things about Dorf's piece. The first is that he admits the individual rights interpretation -- which just a few years ago was being called a "fraud" concocted by the NRA and a bunch of gun nuts -- is "plausible." The second is the way he's being raked over the coals on the Findlaw message board by people who know a lot about the subject and who aren't intimidated by the notion of arguing constitutional law with a professor from Columbia.
While some of that no doubt reflects the diminished currency of law professordom in general and the Ivy League in particular, more of it is simply the result of the Internet's leveling of ranks and shifting of emphasis from speakers to ideas. I love that.
WELL, IT'S A VERY NICE HALLOWEEN HERE in my neighborhood. Fear of terrorism doesn't seem to have kept anyone from trick-or-treating, and the prevalence of Barbie Fairy Princesses must surely have been a Taliban's worst nightmare.
HERE IS AN INTERESTING STORY on how multiculturalism and the guilt-culture of media and academe have undermined the social capital on which Tony Blair is now trying to draw.
AN OBSERVATION FROM READER PHILIP MURPHY:
Shouldn't the FBI be checking out the Bronx neighborhood where the most recent anthrax victim lived? Maybe she came in contact with the source or perhaps there is a lab nearby. A full door to door search would at least
demonstrate that something tangible is being done to track down the terrorist cell that is responsible.
I COINED THE PHRASE "LOSER POLITICS" SOME YEARS AGO to describe the sort of conspiracy-minded, resentment-fueled, and ultimately self-defeating politics that one sees in parts of the world that don't do very well. Now Andrew Sullivan points out this essay by Peter Watson on that philosophy.
Ultimately, the non-Western world has simply been a failure for the past century or more. It bothers many people there (many of whom Watson quotes) and the result is Ladenism and its similar variants. And it should bother them. Of course, the solution isn't to do things that reinforce their loser-dom by shutting out new ideas and free thought. But that's the solution favored by rulers to whom free thought and new ideas are a threat, naturally, and they justify it via the resentment born of loserdom.
If you want to be as successful as the West, you have to be like the West. That's the cruel problem for the losers of the world, who want the former but not the latter.
Personally, I'd rather see them happily join the winners, which God knows some countries that looked hopeless a few decades ago have managed to do. But they didn't do it through vicious, inward-looking resentment.
UPI COLUMNIST JIM BENNETT WRITES: 'As Col. Pete "Darth Vader" Worden put it, "The job of the Air Force is to kill people and break their things."'
I know Pete Worden slightly, and the Air Force needs more like him. In fact, they need more generals like him.
UPDATE: In response to several emails, yes I know that Pete's a general now. I guess that wasn't clear. But we need more generals like him.
THE SOCIETY OF AMERICAN LAW TEACHERS, an organization to which I do not belong, is showing its patriotism by reminding law schools that they're not supposed to allow military recruiters on campus, because the military discriminates against gay people. I'm against the discrimination, but I'm also against the law schools' stand on this issue.
It seems a peculiar time to be raising the profile of this subject.
LIFE DURING WARTIME: JOEL ACHENBACH WORRIES that we're turning into a nation of security guards. You don't win a war that way. Precautions against terrorists are useful up to a point, but only a point. You don't stop terrorists with security guards. You stop them by killing them before they attack you. That's why we should be encouraging bin Laden sympathizers to go to Afghanistan, and why we should be mercilessly lethal to those who do.
This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around. Incremental approaches to warfare, worries about civilian casualties or "world opinion," and the like are for wars that don't really need to be fought anyway. This one does.
HOW DID THE TERRORISTS GET VISAS? Not hard, since many were Saudis. The immigration system isn't designed to keep out people who are dangerous, so much as to keep out people who want to come here and get jobs. There's something wrong with that.
A FEW DAYS ago I mentioned Eric Holder's oped in the Washington Post in which he suggested that terrorists were arming themselves at gun shows. I just noticed these letters to the editor in response to his column, all of which are critical. Highlight:
It is no surprise to see more and more prominent people hijacking the hijackings. Immediately after the terrorist acts, Jerry Falwell suggested that we could avoid terrorism by banning abortion. Now comes a piece by former Clinton prosecutor Eric Holder arguing for more gun control.
In fact, international terrorists of late have used just about every weapon except the gun -- box cutters and commercial aircraft, sarin and cyanide gases, bacteria and bombs delivered by cars, trucks and boats.
The only two examples that Mr. Holder cited as instances of terrorists acquiring guns in the United States were thwarted by the use of effective, existing law enforcement tools.
Eric Holder and Jerry Falwell -- there's a pairing I wouldn't have expected. But it fits.
WALTER SHAPIRO takes on nasty political ads. Interestingly, most of the nastiest races happen to be in places touched by September 11. You'd think that this would encourage some restraint, but apparently it hasn't.
This is another case -- like the Great Congressional Bugout -- where America's political class is squandering the moral capital it might have replenished after September 11.
BJORN STAERK has more on happenings in Iran and it's pretty interesting stuff. It reveals that our hand is stronger in the region than you'd think, and also that the Iranian government is shakier and more divided than is generally supposed.
I hope some "senior foreign policy officials" notice this stuff. Aren't we supposed to have, like, spies and diplomats to deliver this sort of information to government officials?
MATT WELCH takes down the "flatulent little page" of Margo Kingston, an apparently award-winning weblog by a Sydney Morning Herald writer. Welch points out that most of what Kingston says about American impatience and ignorance contradicts what American leaders have said since day one -- all of which is readily available on the Internet unless -- like Kingston, apparently -- you're too lazy and impatient to look it up. America is showing considerable patience in the war on terrorism, except for those -- here and abroad -- who were never much for it in the first place.
And my opinion here counts, because the Sydney Morning Herald once called me a "expert" on terrorism and quoted me importantly. Er, except that they never interviewed me, but just cribbed quotes from my appearance on the PBS Newshour. Hmm. Now, who's lazy and impatient again? (Of course, thanks to their story, I'm now an "internationally recognized expert on terrorism," which is about as meaningful as Kingston's status as an "award-winning" weblogger.)
PATRICK RUFFINI has some interesting observations regarding Tony Blair's courage, and Saudi intransigence. Read 'em.
WHY IS GAS SO CHEAP? Lynne Kiesling has this answer. Basically, because markets work.
BTW, I haven't seen the story, but several people have emailed me with reports that the Saudis have abandoned their pledge (mentioned in Kiesling's piece) to keep output up and are pressing for production cuts, but that countries like Venezuela and Mexico have stiffed them on this. I guess you know who your friends are in times like these. And who they aren't.
We need to keep that in mind, and act accordingly.
TRAFFIC REPORT: Okay, this understates things, because Bravenet was down -- and not even counting -- for extended periods over the past week. But InstaPundit crossed the 400,000 mark sometime yesterday, with over 300,000 of those in the past month. Thanks for stopping in!
FROM MY KEYBOARD TO WALTER ISAACSON'S EAR? Probably not. But yesterday InstaPundit asked why we had to get reporting on the benefits of the food drops, and on how "stoked" the C-17 crews performing them are, from Joe Bob Briggs, rather than CNN. I also referred readers to this website featuring an amateur (but far from amateurish) memorial video reminding people of what happened on 9/11 and saying that "THIS is what we're responding to."
Today Howard Kurtz reports that CNN chairman Walter Isaacson is reminding reporters and producers that coverage should stress that most of the suffering in Afghanistan results from the Taliban, and that they should not lose focus on the reason for the war -- massive killing of Americans by terrorists sponsored and sheltered by the Taliban.
Hey, some of us have never lost that focus. But it's nice to see CNN figuring out what's important.
RIGHT QUESTION, WRONG ANSWER: Tom Friedman writes about Saudi bigotry and duplicity:
If the Saudis cannot or will not do that, then we must conclude that the Saudi ruling family is not really on our side, and we should move quickly to lessen our dependence upon it. I was for radical energy conservation, getting rid of gas-guzzlers and reducing oil imports before Sept. 11 — but I feel even more strongly about it now.
"Either we get rid of our minivans or Saudi Arabia gets rid of its textbooks," says Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins foreign policy specialist. "But one thing we know for sure — it's dangerous to go on assuming that the two can coexist."
Okay, he states the problem. But we can "lessen our dependence" on the Saudi royal family without getting rid of minivans. Energy conservation is OK, but the solution to a hostile state in wartime involves Marines -- not Yugos.
HALLOWEEN IN SINGAPORE: Andrea See reports (via the magic of the International Date Line) on her wild 'n' crazy experience.
My Halloween is going to feature a lot of Barbie paraphernalia. That's why I'm not afraid of terrorism: my house is constantly scattered with dozens of half-naked voluptuous blondes -- sure-fire Taliban-repellent, even if they're plastic and eight inches tall.
ANTI-MULLAH PROTESTS IN IRAN: This may be what's really scaring the Saudis -- people who want freedom, not religion:
"We will come to the streets whether the team wins or loses," said Mehrab, 21, caught in the traffic tonight with three other friends. "One day they will realize we outnumber them and they will listen to our demands," he said.
Two weeks ago, after a victory against Iraq, thousands chanted "death to the mullahs," after celebrations turned violent. Hundreds were arrested.
More people protested last Sunday after the Iranian team lost a key game to Bahrain. Protesters were convinced that the team was instructed to lose to avoid celebrations at home.
Angry demonstrators resisted the police and militia by throwing rocks and attacking their vehicles. The Iranian news agency reported Monday that crowds gathered in 54 different neighborhoods throughout Tehran, 32 banks were attacked, and hundreds were arrested. Yet, the protests continued for a second night.
Similar protests occurred in Isfahan, where more than a hundred people were arrested. The supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was expected to visit the city this week canceled his trip, saying in an appearance on the state TV that he was too sick.
The judiciary reported today that among those arrested were 1,000 people between the ages of 13 to 17,
many of whom had spent the past 12 days in the notorious Evin prison.
Saddam Hussein is warning that U.S. action against the Taliban might "set the world on fire." It already is. He says that like it's a bad
AFGHANS CHEER BOMBING:
As we watched, the jet rolled on to its back then rolled again, as if the pilot was showing off his prowess. Then a small missile fell in a perfect arc. It disappeared into a cloud bank. Two seconds passed. Then, from the murky ridgeline in the distance, there was a bright orange flash.
Smoke billowed from the spot and the men and children of the Kukcha turned to stare. "It hit, it hit," one said excitedly. "Thank you, America," said another, dancing for joy. For the people of Mawara-e-Kukcha, which comprises the four provinces along the river, yesterday was a day to celebrate. . . .
Nasir, a Northern Alliance soldier, was listening in on the Taliban field radio wavelength. He said: "They requested additional soldiers to come and dig out the dead who are buried under the earth in Chaghatai. There were 25 men in that bunker alone. It sounds like the bombing killed them all."
It was a chilling reminder of the nature of war: as one side celebrates, the other mourns.
So long as it's the proper side doing each, that's okay.
MICHAEL BARONE has some sensible observations about the inevitability of civilian casualties and the silliness of American media making such a production about errant bombs:
What is newsworthy is not that there are still occasional civilian casualties. What is newsworthy is that so many bombs hit their targets. This is the story the news media should tell, while pointing out that accuracy is still less than 100 percent.
Then there is the question of whether civilian casualties and collateral damage render our war making immoral. This argument is made widely in the Islamic world and by hand-wringers in our country. This question has been addressed before, by George Orwell in May 1944, in response to a British pamphlet attacking "obliteration" bombing. Orwell's words on this issue, as on so many others, are worth quoting. "The catchwords used in this connection are 'killing civilians,' 'massacre of women and children,' and 'destruction of cultural heritage.' It is tacitly assumed that air bombing does more of this than ground warfare. When you look a bit closer, the first question that strikes you is: Why is it worse to kill civilians than soldiers? Obviously one must not kill children if it is in any way avoidable, but it is only in propaganda pamphlets that every bomb drops on a school or an orphanage."
Propaganda pamphlets then, CNN now. Orwell seems particularly appropriate to this conflict. More of our journalists should read him, and try to be Orwell-like rather than simply Orwellian.
"WABBIT SEASON!" "DUCK SEASON!" "BIN LADEN SEASON!"
When Bugs & Daffy are on the same side, you know the coalition is broad-based. This page has links to a lot of other anti-Osama humor sites. I'm still waiting for the compromising Osama & Miss Piggy pix, though.
SOME NEW STUFF in PsyWarUpdate. Check out the Design Defense Ministry page, with the life video feed. Don't miss the "crawl" at the bottom.
FORD CEO JACQUES NASSER has been given the boot because things at Ford have gone disastrously during his tenure there.
Compare this with George Tenet, who is still running the CIA despite the most disastrous intelligence failure since Pearl Harbor.
Yeah, I'll feel safer with the government screening bags.
ANNE APPLEBAUM DEFENDS THE NORTHERN ALLIANCE, rather persuasively.
MORE ON IRANIANS WHO LIKE US: Patrick Ruffini has this to say:
Michael Ledeen has quite a remarkable article in today's Wall Street Journal (the link is from the pay section, but trust me, it's worth it just to go out and buy a copy). Ledeen reports that the Iranian regime is teetering on the brink. Popular protests are rocking the country. While bin Ladenites throughout the Islamic world clamor for strict religious regimes, ordinary Iranians have clearly had enough of living under the fundamentalist terror of the last 22 years. When given the chance, Iranians overwhelmingly voted for the more moderate candidates in presidential and parliamentary elections. Now they look set to go further still on the road to revolution.
Elsewhere in the Islamic world, popular uprisings are characterized by their illiberalism and fundamentalism. In Iran, the protests seem quite liberal and pro-American by comparison. Thousands of Iranians lit candles and marched in the streets out of solidarity with America after the September 11 attacks. The temptation now in Foggy Bottom is to throw our weight in with the terrorist mullahs of Iran because of their distaste for their fellow terrorists in Afghanistan. Shouldn't we be doing precisely the opposite? America has won the hearts of thousands of Iranians because we have consistently opposed the hated, undemocratic regime that rules there. Conversely, when we prop up unpopular Arab regimes as we do in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, people begin to hate us.
Maybe the answer to "why they hate us" is to cut loose from thugs like Mubarak and the House of Saud, and move towards supporting genuine democrats in those countries.
Sounds good to me. Of course, Islamic fundamentalist states like Iran may be the best antidote to enthusiasm for, well, Islamic fundamentalist states like Iran. It's a case of "how are you going to keep them down on the farm -- after they've seen the farm?" But the Saudis, et al., should be worried.
A reader writes on the same lines:
Two key themes here.
One, the Shi'a (most Iranians) and Taliban(Wahabis) are the oil and water of the Islamic world. They really do hate each other's guts. Wahabism categorically denies the ligitimacy of inherited rule via the Prophet's bloodline. The Iranian's are also very unhappy with the flood of refugees created by Taliban excesses. Finally, as Persians they resent the "Arabism" which is built into Wahabi "orthodoxy."
Two, as I have mentioned before, the younger generation of Iranians don't hate the US because they are too young to remember the Shah. They just feel left out because they can't have any fun under the fundamentalist Shi'a government of Iran. They want their MTV!
The trick for the US is to engage all these facts in a way that advances our interests and doesn't 1) Unify even the Shi'a and Wahabis against a common "western" enemy 2) piss off another generation of Iranians.
Thanks for all the emails with migraine cures. My drugs are pretty much working now; I'm no prize, but after a nap, some time, and a strong cup of coffee I'm kinda functional again. I'm glad I don't get these often any more.
THOMAS BRAY writes on the growing divide between, well, the wimps in the government and the media and the non-wimps in the rest of America.
In the precincts I inhabit, however, there seems to be remarkably little evidence of panic--or even a very high level of personal concern--about the possibility of new attacks. People may be flying less and inspecting their mail more closely, but in the main they are doing just as President Bush suggested: going about their daily business. Nearly 90% of those surveyed in the NBC/WSJ poll, conducted in early October, say that taking up arms against the terrorists is worth it even if it risks further attacks on America.
Yet the hysterical all-anthrax-all-the-time coverage misses this reaction. Indeed, there seem to be two Americas emerging--one obsessed by risk, the other learning to adjust to new realities. On the one side are politicians, bureaucrats and media people, who seem to be verging on hysteria. On the other are the vast majority of average Americans who get up every day, go to work, eat their lunch and don't cancel their trips to Chicago, Florida or Italy.
The pronounced hysteria and wimpery of the political classes has, I think, undermined the rebirth of enthusiasm for government that some people were proclaiming in the wake of September 11.
HASHEMITE RESTORATION UPDATE: The Saudis seem to be begging for it. I hope that the Pentagon folks are updating their contingency plans for seizing control of Saudi Arabia now. If they declare for our enemies -- which this letter pretty much does -- we should seize control immediately, and let it be known that no one else who crosses us is safe.
Don't expect a lot more posting this afternoon; I've got a migraine and so far the drugs aren't working.
MICHAEL LEDEEN WRITES IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (sorry, no free link available) about the strong current of pro-American, anti-fundamentalist sentiment sweeping Iran, which has barely been reported in the American press. (Though InstaPundit reported on it back on September 27). Ledeen says that these demonstrations have grown since the U.S. started bombing the Taliban and that Iranian authorities are growing increasingly frustrated at their inability to stop them.
Why isn't the U.S. press reporting this stuff? Ledeen notes that he's not the only one wondering:
Yet, in one of those little paradoxes that make the study of history so intriguing, the potentially earth-shaking events in Iran have escaped the notice of our top policy makers and our media. I could not find any decent discussion of it in the newspapers as of yesterday -- two full weeks after the initial demonstrations -- and when I spoke to one of our top foreign policy officials Saturday afternoon, he angrily asked, "Why have I heard nothing about this?"
Why, indeed? (Aside from the obvious reason that he doesn't read InstaPundit. . . .) And who else is asleep at the switch? Are we so insecure, or so blind, that it's beyond our comprehension that people living under thuggish theocracies might actually like
THIS ISLAMIC WEBSITE tries to explain the American point of view to non-American Muslims. Interesting.
JOE BOB BRIGGS on the food drops, which have gotten surprisingly little press:
And here's the way I look at these missions. Every time they pull the release rope there are 17,220 CHANCES for a full meal that day. And as long as we're bombing the bejabbers out of Afghanistan, that's the ONLY way you're gonna get vittles in there. All the high sheriffs at the Pentagon admit it's "a drop in the bucket," especially since at least a million Afghans are on the move, but if you haven't had a meal this week, it's like a Hungry Man from Heaven.
About the poisoning claim:
the enemy under attack ALWAYS says the food is poisoned. They said the same thing in Bosnia. People aren't that stupid. Nobody is saying "Look out! It's the old poison-disguised-as-food trick! Those wily Americans ALWAYS try that!" Let's face it. There's nothing wrong with this. We'll send in the 20,000-ton trucks as soon as we secure the field. Meanwhile, the Globemaster rules.
Great job. But why do we have to look to Joe Bob to tell us stuff that CNN should be saying?
RIGHTEOUS MIGHT: Charles Krauthammer writes
Nice is nice but this is war. We cannot fight it apologetically -- the very talk of holding our fire during Ramadan is beyond belief -- with one hand tied behind our back.
Half-measures are for wars of choice, wars like Vietnam. In wars of choice, losing is an option. You lose and still survive as a nation. The war on terrorism, like World War II, is a war of necessity. Losing is not an option. Losing is fatal. This is no time for restraint and other niceties. This is a time for righteous might.
He's absolutely right, of course.
On the other hand, all this impatience with the war is somewhat misguided. From America, it looks like nothing is happening. It doesn't look that way in Afghanistan. If if did, cities wouldn't be deserted by their inhabitants, Taliban leaders wouldn't be skulking in the mountains, and increasingly-generous (if insincere) offers of negotiations wouldn't be emanating from the Taliban. Every day, Taliban soldiers and supporters are dying. Important things are being destroyed. Sure, they're hiding in caves, but some of those are being collapsed or incinerated. And they're unable to hit back. This is hard on people, as any soldier who has endured prolonged bombardment will say.
If we just quit now, it will be a massive defeat for America, the West, and the Bush presidency, which will be over. But we're not going to quit now. These heebie-jeebies are just the result of people not seeing enough action on TV. And they're generating a criticism -- even from war opponents -- that this war is phony, which in fact will be useful propaganda support once the ground troops go in. Which I think will be sooner rather than later.
ANDREW SULLIVAN points with alarm to this story from The Times regarding British Muslim youths who hate the West and who are departing to join the Taliban. Quote:
We, as Muslims, don’t perceive ourselves as British Muslims. We are Muslims who live in Britain. All we want to do is go to Afghanistan to defend the honour and sanctity of Islam. I have a wife who is eight months pregnant. But I am thinking of going and helping my Muslim brothers. I read that we are brainwashed. That is nonsense. We are intelligent people and we hate America and the British Government for the bombing.”
I think that such departures should be encouraged. We should facilitate the travel of people like this from all over the world to Afghanistan. We should then do our best to kill as many of them as possible -- preferably all of them. It will serve a valuable weeding function. And no, I'm not kidding about this. They've already said they hate us and want to kill us. Better that they should be sitting in caves in Afghanistan, than poisoning reservoirs or hijacking airplanes. (Of course, we should also add to their quality of life by spreading rumors -- probably true -- that among their numbers are Western intelligence agents sent as infiltrators).
I should also note that comments like the ones above, and this poll reported in the Telegraph, showing 48% of British Muslims saying they would fight for the Taliban, which Sullivan also cites, mean that law enforcement efforts that pay special attention to Britain's Muslim population can hardly be derided as racist or based on stereotyping.
Of course, that British Muslims are willing to say things like this to reporters and pollsters suggests that they have internalized some Western values already. One doubts that you would see similar frankness in, say, Saudi Arabia.
THIS WEBSITE features a memorial video on the 9/11 attacks -- including the images of people jumping from the WTC that weren't shown on US television. A reader writes: "watch this when you hear about a few people killed in Kabul." Or, as the page itself says, "THIS is what we're responding to."
It seems like some in Washington, and elsewhere in the world, are forgetting already. Rest assured that people in the rest of America haven't.
This isn't over until we've done enough damage to the responsible parties and their supporters, enablers, and encouragers that a similar attack is unthinkable. Anyone who thinks otherwise is, frankly, an idiot. Or worse.
PROPORTIONALITY AND CIVILIAN CASUALTIES: I'm getting a lot of email with variations on this theme:
Hey, I can live with proportionate; that means we're allowed to kill up to
Even if you use the Taliban's inflated numbers and the Taliban sticks around until next spring, we'll still have plenty left on the balance sheet for when we move beyond Afghanistan.
The people who think that civilian casualties are going to affect U.S. public opinion this time around are completely out of touch, I think.
MILITANTISM ALERT: Reuters, in a story by Jonathan Lyons and Sayed Salahuddin, is reporting that the United States may be in danger of further attacks from "militants." Hmm. I've got a new word for the folks at Reuters: "morally-blind hacks." Okay, that's three words. And it's not really the first three that came to mind. Still . . .
MORE ON THE LIES AND BIGOTRY OF THE EGYPTIAN PRESS and the strange case of Mohammed Gemeaha, a "moderate" Muslim cleric in the United States turned sudden purveyor of bizarre lies upon his equally sudden return to Egypt just after September 11. (A mob appeared outside his house in New York to lynch him, he said, and the mob also declared the "the jews" were behind the WTC attacks, and also "the poisoning of sick Muslim children, who then died." Yeah, most angry mobs say stuff like this. Well, the fictitious ones do.)
This story isn't news; I've seen it reported elsewhere. What's news is that the American press is suddenly paying attention to the viciousness -- and near-total disconnection from reality -- that marks the world that Gemeaha inhabits. But then, this is the same world in which someone can say that Rudy Giuliani uses "Rudy" so people won't be reminded of his connection to "the infamous Rudolph Hitler."
And we're always hearing that Americans are ignorant of the world?
MARATHONS CAN INCREASE YOUR RISK OF HEART ATTACK, new research suggests. Well, duh. Look what happened to poor Phidippides, after all.
ISLAM'S LOST LEAD IN SCIENCE: This well-done article in tomorrow's New York Times looks at how the flowering of science in the Islamic world from the 10th through the 16th centuries collapsed, replaced by a system that emphasized rote learning and Koranic absolutism.
It's as if William Jennings Bryan had won -- big time -- in the West. Quote:
Muslims are seriously underrepresented in science, accounting for fewer than 1 percent of the world's scientists while they account for almost a fifth of the world's population. Israel, he reports, has almost twice as many scientists as the Muslim countries put together.
Among other sociological and economic factors, like the lack of a middle class, Dr. Hoodbhoy attributes the malaise of Muslim science to an increasing emphasis over the last millennium on rote learning based on the Koran.
"The notion that all knowledge is in the Great Text is a great disincentive to learning," he said. "It's destructive if we want to create a thinking person, someone who can analyze, question and create." Dr. Bruno Guideroni, a Muslim who is an astrophysicist at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, said, "The fundamentalists criticize science simply because it is Western."
Other scholars said the attitude of conservative Muslims to science was not so much hostile as schizophrenic, wanting its benefits but not its world view. "They may use modern technology, but they don't deal with issues of religion and science." said Dr. Bakar.
One response to the invasion of Western science, said the scientists, has been an effort to "Islamicize" science by portraying the Koran as a source of scientific knowledge.
Actually, I take back the William Jennings Bryan analogy. It's as if a lot of postmodernist critics of science
were running the show.
EVIL BERT BEWARE: Reader Andy Spring writes with this suggestion about what to do about NPR's Loren Jenkins, who says he'd report the whereabouts of U.S. special operations forces inside Afghanistan if he could find them:
Let the DoD magnanimously announce on all channels and over the
radio in Afghanistan that NPR is a trusted friend, and that NPR reporters have always enjoyed a close relationship with the US government, the military and the CIA.
If the Taliban are dumb enough to bite (and they seem to be) those reporters won't dare stick their heads out of their hotel rooms till the war's over.
You, sir, have an evil imagination. But wouldn't the NPR folks be upset about the government saying something over the radio that might get them killed . . .?
"KILLING INNOCENT CIVILIANS:" A reader writes with this perspective:
Some metaphors can provide clarity where rational thought cannot. So every time I hear about innocent afghans dying, I just envision Afghanistan as a avatar of Flight 93. Its been hijacked by terrorists and its headed toward a destination unknown. Do we
a. do nothing and hope the afghans overthrow the terrorists.
b. Let it fly and hope they hit nothing.
c shoot and down, killing some innocent people, but hopefully saving more than we kill
Put in these terms I think its pretty clear what the moral path is. Put another way, nobody has any trouble with US fighters shooting down a hijacked US aircraft, killing civilians to thwart terrorists, so why do they have trouble with us dropping bombs on Terrorists and accidentally killing a few civilians?
This is good.
OKAY, ANOTHER WARNING TO BE EXTREMELY ALERT for nothing in particular. This probably means they're intercepting phone calls but can't figure out what people are talking about. (It might also be deliberate misdirection by terrorists, if they're that smart). I'm not sure these things help.
On the other hand, together with the endless Condit-like media yammering, they're beginning to make terrorism seem, well, almost boring. And I guess if they manage to do that, we've won.
UPDATE: Rand Simberg suggests that they're doing this because (1) they'd issue a tactical alert to law enforcement officers; and (2) if they did, it would leak; so (3) they're getting this out preemptively so people don't wonder what's going on. Makes sense -- though if it makes terrorism boring, that's certainly a bonus.
READER T.J. LYNN WRITES: "I paid $1.03 a gallon for gas last night. Is this the most ignored story of the year? It's the opposite of the Gulf War, when gas prices increased dramatically, which sure didn't help the economy. This might. Should we thank the Russians?"
Boy, you're reading my mind. I just tanked up on the way home from the office and was remarking to myself how cheap gas had gotten.
I think we have to thank the Russians, who are pumping at capacity -- and, though it pains me to say it, the Saudis, who have been pumping like crazy. That's probably the main cooperation we've gotten from them, and while it's not exactly gutsy, it is helpful.
UPDATE: Reader Eric Bainter adds: "Local gas stations in San Antonio have been having little price wars (price raids?) for a couple weeks now, taking prices as low as 88.9 cents per gallon. The same place doesn't keep the same price for very long, but with a little judicious rubbernecking you can fill the tank relatively cheaply. Even diesel is cheaper, down to $1.22/gal, which is something for around here (when I was a kid, it was always a lot cheaper than gas -- what happened?!) Anyway - "Hey Osama! Thbbbbbt!"" Yeah, with gas this cheap, we must be winning!
"WILD ANTHRAX" -- Kevin Whited writes that Steven Den Beste beat me to this point. I looked, and he's right -- Den Beste beat me by a day. Advantage: Den Beste!
FBI AND CENTRALIZED SERVERS: Stewart Baker denies being the source of the FoxNews story saying that the FBI plans to try routing all Internet traffic through servers it controls -- or, at least, that it can monitor. Baker denies that he's the source, though he only sorta denies the story itself.
CYNTHIA MCKINNEY gets a well-deserved drubbing from Jonah Goldberg for first opportunistically sucking up to a Saudi prince who blamed America for the WTC attacks, and then for claiming she's a victim of censorship because people called her an opportunistic suckup:
Ms. McKinney wants to assume the mantle of a brave dissident, but she forgets that dissent is morally neutral. You can correctly call yourself a dissident because you like to kick puppies, but at the end of the day, you're just a jerk who likes to kick puppies. Ms. McKinney decided to suck up to a deep-pocketed scion of an authoritarian theocracy in order to exploit a national tragedy for her own political agenda. Her decision makes her unpopular. It doesn't make her the conscience of the nation.
This is an important point. You're a hero for dissenting heroically. You're not a hero for dissenting stupidly. Dissent is a product of freedom of speech; it is not its source. The heroes of free speech are the people who put up with stupid dissent without the thought of censorship even entering their minds.
KANDAHAR, the Taliban capital and "spiritual center," is now a "ghost town," having lost 80-90% of its population to the countryside for fear of American attacks. Hey, with our capital, only the Congress bugged out!
Now, really: can the air war be a "fraud" under these circumstances? Obviously the Afghans don't think so.
PEER PRESSURE'S GOOD SIDE: Reader Tom Perry writes:
Have you ever read any Gene Wolfe? He's a great science fiction writer, and he fought in a war, Korea I think. Anyway, there's a passage in one of his books (I'll dig up the title and exact quote later, I'm at work and in a hurry), regarding courage in battle, to this effect:
"Wars are not fought by brave men. A man doesn't stay on the front line under withering fire because he is brave. He is terrified. The only reason he doesn't run away is because he would be ashamed. It is usually the sense of shame, not bravery, that makes for courageous action in war."
It's been about 8 years since I read the passage; the idea really stuck with me. And it's been on my mind lately, that any American who acts afraid should be ashamed. Go ahead and be afraid, but act rationally and courageously, or be scorned.
something of a Gene Wolfe fan (my faves are The Shadow of the Torturer
and the sort-of-parodic short story, "The Island of Dr. Death") but I don't remember that passage. It's exactly what most combat veterans say, though.
It's good to be brave. It's bad to go on and on about being afraid. This is true even in peacetime, but it's truer now.
ATTENTION SLATE READERS: Moira Redmond is the Diarist this week. If you don't know who she is, never mind. Or you can read it anyway, and learn.
ANTHRAX AND THE FAR-RIGHT: It's not idiotic to suspect that certain right-wing groups might have something to do with the anthrax attacks. (After all, as InstaPundit noted on Sept. 11 they lost little time in cheering the WTC and Pentagon attacks.) It is idiotic to think that they did this all on their own. Consider several factors: the timing, which was very closely coordinated to Sept. 11. How likely is it that independent attacks using anthrax would just happen to take place at such a perfect time? Contacts: Atta met with Iraqi officials, and his car shows signs of anthrax contamination. He may have had anthrax himself when he died. Locations: the letters were mailed from locations close to places where the hijackers lived or visited.
The thing to worry about is that these groups might in fact be working hand-in-latex-glove with the bin Laden people. While the American far-right is not very impressive, its members could be a very useful adjunct to foreign terrorists. But the evidence for that isn't in yet. As Chip Berlet, no fan of these folks, points out, nobody knows yet. It's that simple. It's even possible that the leaks from the Administration about this are actually disinformation. Perhaps Loren Jenkins will look into that.
BERKELEY BOYCOTT UPDATE: A reader copies me on this letter, sent to the Clif bar folks and to Mayor Dean of Berkeley:
My wife and I live in San Francisco. We just had our first baby and she enjoys Luna bars for extra nutrition. Or I should say USED to enjoy Luna bars. Given that they are produced by a Berkeley-based company, we've decided to no longer purchase them (or Clif bars) as part of our decision to boycott Berkeley goods and services. We're happy to do our small part to help Berkeley realize that words and actions have consequences. Hopefully someday the city council and the rest of the leftovers from days gone by will wake up and grow up. Until then, how have they enjoyed their
I'd be interested in knowing how many letters like this Berkeley businesses have gotten.
HOWARD KURTZ REPORTS that most Americans aren't as scared as people in Washington. No foolin'. Now, it's true that DC has seen most (though by no means all) of the anthrax scares. But people in New York City -- where lots more died, and which has seen its share of anthrax, too -- aren't in such an arm-flapping panic. Nor are people in Florida.
I'm beginning to think that a lot of the folks who make up our political and media elites just aren't temperamentally suited for their roles in wartime. Perhaps those who can't stay calm should seek other employment for the duration.
EVIL BERT AT NPR? James Robbins has this interesting piece on conflicts between the press and the military. After talking about wartime journalistic heroes like Ernie Pyle, who could be trusted to keep secrets that would save lives, he makes this brilliant segue:
But for every good-natured Ernie there is an evil Bert, cloaking himself in the First Amendment as though [it] granted unlimited power and conferred special status on a select group of elites. Regrettably, to a certain extent this is true — journalists have privacy rights in court that other citizens do not enjoy. But they also face constitutional limits. Some reporters might benefit from a close reading of Near v. Minnesota (1931), in which Chief Justice Hughes wrote, "no one would question but that a government might prevent … publication of the sailing dates of transports or the number and location of troops."
Robbins also notes that reporters, like NPR's Loren Jenkins, who see themselves as representing "history," lack credentials to support this claim. He continues:
Hughes, who had a much more authentic claim to the status "representative of history" than Jenkins, held operational security (OPSEC) to be a self-evident truth that "no one would question." The safety of the men on the front line is such an overriding countervailing state interest that it even passes the test for prior restraint — not simply denying access to troops but banning publication of their whereabouts. This principle was upheld even in New York Times Co. v. United States (1971), the Pentagon Papers case, which in other respects gave great latitude to the press. Jenkins' assertion that "the game of reporting is to smoke 'em out" betrays his thoughtless approach to the same question. This is no game; this isn't a question of a bureaucrat trying to conceal a cost overrun; it is a matter of life and death.
Suppose NPR had found out about and reported the recent Ranger mission to Kandahar before the fact. Why? For whose benefit? Would a story like that serve any public purpose?
Robbins' distinction between real secrets and bureaucratic ass-covering is an important one. In wartime, journalists like Jenkins need to understand the difference. And, I should add, in peacetime, ass-covering bureaucrats need to understand the difference, too. Both should be smacked down, hard, when they get it wrong -- as countless bureaucrats have over the past several decades. But, having said that, there's something that Jenkins needs to keep in mind.
It's wartime, now.
BOOK REPORT: I've been reading Peter Green's The Greco-Persian Wars (which some of you may remember by its original title, Xerxes at Salamis) and one thing is clear: Themistocles saved the Greeks as much by his ability to keep together a coalition of fractious, untrustworthy, hypocritical and sometimes cowardly Greek city-states as by his military genius at Salamis. Is there a lesson here?
A PREDICTION: I tried to post this yesterday, but it got eaten by Blogger, which was having some problems. I just noticed. The prediction is this: much of the "anthrax" being discovered in post offices will turn out to be wild spores that have always been around. Nobody found them before because no one was looking before. Consider: wild anthrax is very common -- the spores can be extracted from soil most anyplace there have been cattle or sheep. The spores are small, and live for decades. Wherever dirt goes, there's a good chance you'll find some. (Doesn't matter -- not enough of them get around this way to do any harm). When you have post offices being closed because someone found a single spore of anthrax, the likelihood is that it's harmless "wild" anthrax contamination that came in this way, not more mail terrorism. And in a way, it doesn't matter, since anthrax in such tiny quantities is harmless anyway.
Whenever you start looking for something that you've never looked for before, the odds are you'll find more of it than you thought you would. That's probably what's going on. Can't people get a grip, here?
MARK STEYN points out that our leaders still haven't quite got this wartime stiff-upper-lip thing down. They're looking out for number one while telling everyone else to be brave and go on with life as normal. The column is too good to excerpt. Read the whole thing. Especially the conclusion about what it means to be a war leader.
WOMEN AFGHANS KILL TALIBAN: Yep, this story reports on something much like what Rand Simberg predicted: women guerrilla warriors killing Taliban, with automatic weapons snugly hidden beneath bulky, "modest" garments.
We should be training and supplying Afghan women to go behind Taliban lines and do this. Like the German soldiers in American uniforms during the Ardennes offensive, the psychological damage this would do would far exceed the cost. Simberg asks: "Hmmmm....Do you get more or fewer than seventy-two virgins if you're martyred by a lowly woman?"
WILLIAM RASPBERRY writes about the people -- and airlines -- who are "freaking out" and doing stupid things out of generalized fear. (In one case, some Arab-looking passengers were removed because they wouldn't make eye contact). He's more sympathetic than I am.
Show some backbone, people. And show less tolerance to the people who freak out. Sure, fears are "understandable." But so what? One of the ways people manage to act brave is through being more afraid of how others will think of them if they panic. We need to start exerting this social pressure on people who are still freaking out.
WATCH OUT, WORLD! Andrea See is getting broadband. Life will never be the same.
A GROUP OF AMERICAN MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS has called for an end to the bombing but most major American Muslim groups refused to sign the document:
Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said his organization had studied the statement asking for a halt to the bombing but decided not to sign, in part, he said, because it did not offer "practical alternatives" to the military campaign.
"We support the president's initiative to defeat terror," Mr. Al-Marayati said. "The country was attacked, and we want the perpetrators brought to justice."
THE FBI HAS BEEN AFRAID TO INVESTIGATE extremist Muslim leaders for fear of being accused of religious bigotry. 'Even after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, "the veil of religion that has been draped over mosques . . . will be tough to move off," an FBI official said last week. "The Arab American community can become enraged and beat on the FBI."'
Actually, as Chris Mooney has pointed out, 77% of the Arab-American community is Christian. Phil Heyman has a sensible perspective:
"You can't be in a struggle with a segment of a religious movement and not pursue them as you would any other suspected criminal," said Phillip B. Heymann, a professor of criminal law at Harvard Law School.
"The standard of probable cause ought to be the same for religious leaders as for others," said Heymann, who headed the criminal division of the Justice Department during the Carter administration and was briefly deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton
Special treatment for religious leaders is a violation of religious freedom, too.
But what's embarrassing is that this is transparently political ass-covering on the part of the FBI. There aren't any religious freedom issues here. They just don't want to be denounced by "Arab-Americans."
Hey, you guys told us this stuff was bad enough that we were supposed to give up a lot of freedoms for your terrorism bill. Now you're telling us you're afraid of some bad press? That makes me feel so much better.
OKAY, IF THIS STORY IS TRUE, then why is it being reported? And, just as interesting, if it's not true, then why is it being reported?
MATT DRUDGE REPORTS that the British press is calling the war a "fraud." Hmm. Yeah, after three whole weeks, you'd expect us to have . . . oh, Hell, I was going to make some sort of Sitzkrieg historical joke, but my heart isn't in it.
Unpacking those headlines, though, they seem to be complaints that the U.S. isn't fighting hard enough. Hmm. Could this all be orchestrated. . .?
No-doubt-fictional scene in White House war room:
BUSH: Okay, we need some cover here before we go in. Mary, you're a chick. Get Mo Dowd on the phone and tell her to write a column wondering if I'm brutal enough. Colin, call Rupert and tell him I want him and his buddies to savage us for not expanding the war enough. Condi, use your contacts out in California to get the Berkeley people to do something stupid, keep any opposition discredited.
RICE: I don't know if I can do that sir. They're still reeling from the boycotts out there.
BUSH: Condi, for chrissake, I'm asking you to get Berkeley people to do something stupid. We're not talking water running uphill here.
RICE: Yes, sir.
Just a fantasy, I suppose. And yet. . . .
MORE NPR BASHING: Reader Robert Racansky wonders if NPR will give as much attention to this story from the BBC about Muslim gunmen massacring Christians at a church in Pakistan as it's given to some other items that reflect badly on the United States. Tune in tomorrow and find out. . . .
I strongly suspect, though, that this is a sign of desperation. The Taliban-types want so desperately to make this a religious war, and the West isn't following their script. Of course, that means that if NPR downplays this they'll actually be supporting our war strategy. This will pose a dilemma for many.
UPDATE: My brother the NPR-ophile (and InstaPundit-o-phile) says NPR covered it at least twice today, so there.
BRITAIN IS RETHINKING ITS POLICIES ON ECSTASY AND MARIJUANA for the very simple reason that they're not working, and the evidence suggests that the drugs aren't that bad.
Well, duh. Of course, this represents Nobel-quality reasoning compared to what's going on in this country, where penalties for Ecstasy were just drastically increased. Maybe now that law enforcement is going to be busy actually protecting us from dangerous people, the bureaucratic defenses of the drug war will be unmanned and something sensible can be done.
READER CHRIS SHEA WRITES:
I saw your piece this evening regarding NPR and wanted to let you know that I too did not give to NPR during this last fund drive and cannot see giving in the future. While I continue to listen to NPR, I do not know how much longer I will, between Loren Jenkins and the constant barrage of stories lecturing us about being tolerant towards Muslims. My favorite was the recent story about the high school in the midwest that was a haven for Muslim students in their community - as if in Chicago, St. Louis and the rest of the country's midsection these anti-Muslim pogroms were being carried out and somehow all other news outlets have missed the story. Thank God NPR is there to instruct us barbarians.
Yeah, Nickelodeon, of all things, has preempted its regular shows for a Linda Ellerbee story on the "growing number" of "hate crimes" against American Muslim kids. Funny, but the people who actually monitor these things say there weren't all that many incidents and the numbers have trailed off. But since they're afraid of the reaction if they criticize the war directly, a lot of people seem to be trying this angle, never mind the lack of evidence for their assertions. That's okay -- we switched to Bugs Bunny on the Cartoon Channel. Bugs beats Linda Ellerbee any day. I imagine that was happening all across America.
UPDATE: As soon as I posted the above, I got another letter saying pretty much the same thing. Anybody know how NPR is doing with its pledge drives nationally?
MARY ROBINSON SAYS WE CAN'T HAVE A WAR: Well, she says it has to be "proportionate." Okay, but here's her definition (italics mine):
'The military strategy in Afghanistan should comply with international human rights standards. Whatever the strategy [in Afghanistan] it must be carried out in accordance with the principles of necessity and proportionality.
'Necessity means nothing is done except what is necessary to achieve precise objectives. Proportionate means no civilians are killed and that no humanitarian property is attacked.'
"International human rights standards" don't require any such thing. Robinson's requirements aren't a formula for human rights. They're a formula for surrender. No one can make war while guaranteeing that no civilians will be killed, and that "humanitarian" agencies that choose to operate in the middle of a battle never suffer accidental property damage. To propose such a requirement shows either complete disconnection from reality, or active hostility toward the United States and its allies. (Naturally, Robinson works for the UN.)
Robinson doesn't impose these conditions on the Afghans because she knows they'd laugh in her face. We should, too.
A COLLEAGUE declared that he wasn't going to give NPR any money this year because of NPR producer Loren Jenkins' remarks that he would cheerfully reveal the whereabouts of U.S. Special Forces operating in Afghanistan if he could discover them. Now the letters section of Andrew Sullivan's site contains a letter from a regular NPR listener complaining about their stale '60s nostalgia and anti-American bias. My local station didn't have a very good pledge week. I wonder if that's typical?
To be fair, NPR has run some stories debunking Taliban civilian-casualty claims, too. But I have noticed a gradual shift in tone over the past couple of weeks, back to the more typical down-the-nose-at-America-and-Americans stance that I associate with certain NPR personalities.
NPR, of course, is now almost completely corporate- and listener-supported, so its listeners, presumably, are getting what they want. I wonder, though, how many of them really want this. And I wonder if the corporate donations will keep up if this tone continues. NPR was a lot more hawkish about Bosnia, where Americans hadn't been killed.
SECRET SEARCHES ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL, according to many experts quoted in this article by Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal. The excessive breadth of the "antiterror" bill -- which reaches basically all crimes, not just terrorism -- may be an Achilles' heel:
"On the face of things, the connection between this provision and terrorism generally is tenuous," says criminal procedure scholar Tracey Maclin of Boston University School of Law. "It's not tied to cases in which national security or threats from foreign agents appear to be the focus of investigation. It can apply to any intrusion."
Yep. If I were challenging it, I'd make sure I had a nice, sympathetic defendant who had nothing to do with terrorism. If the DoJ is smart about this (and they won't be), they'll only use it in terrorism cases so that such defendants are hard to come by.
TURKISH DELIGHT? UPI columnist Jim Bennett has these observations:
As to Turkish adventures in Arabia, there is a sensible case for Turkish occupation and creation of puppet regimes in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. But to do so the Turks need to grasp the Kurdish nettle. If they were
willing to make the Kurds their No. 2 partners in the new Turkish Empire (as the English so sensibly did with the Scots), the Kurds in those countries would be an adequate governing class in and of themselves.
A sensible division of labor would be to give the Turks Syria, Lebanon, and northern Iraq, while letting the Hashemites have southern Iraq, the West Bank, and the Arabian Peninsula.
As for the question of the Turkish ability to deal with the Arab extremists, rent Lawrence of Arabia and look at the scene where Lawrence gets captured by the Turks. Now imagine Osama in Lawrence's position.
Reader Carey Gage, however, says "Giving all those petrodollars to Turkey as proposed by J. Peter Mulhern might also be of some slight annoyance to the Greeks (who are also reliable(?) NATO members of long standing). I like the Hashemite option better."
Hmm. Tough call. Of course, the Saudis lose either way. Bandar, are you reading this?
RESTORE THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE? Okay, I've been suggesting the possibility of restoring the Hashemites, who were the traditional custodians of Mecca and Medina, and the traditional rulers of what is now Saudi Arabia. But J. Peter Mulhern makes me look like a piker by suggesting that we bring back the whole frickin' Ottoman Empire:
Fortunately we can solve our Arabian problem without governing Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, et al. ourselves. We can simply return to the status quo ante -- by which I mean ante World War I.
From the 16th Century to the 20th Century Turkey's Ottoman Empire governed the Arabian Peninsula. Judging by some of his rantings, even Osama bin Laden looks back on Ottoman rule with approval. The Turks are Muslim but westernized and secular. They are also members of NATO and reliable friends to the United States. Let them control the petrodollars and ride herd on the fractious Arabs. The money might make the headaches worthwhile.
The entire Arabian Peninsula once more under Turkish rule -- now that would be a victory worth having.
Hmm. This would (maybe) be a fair reward to the Turks -- though would they want it? -- but it certainly should worry the Saudis and the other post-Colonial remnant governments in the middle east (say, that would be pretty much all of them, wouldn't it?).
Message to the Saudis: when the big debate about you is who to replace you with, you're in deep, deep trouble. And we're rapidly approaching that point.
I do predict, though, that the same bozos who are calling for the return of the Caliphate will be just as unhappy if it actually happens. Tee hee.
IMPATIENCE IS NOT A VIRTUE: On "This Week" there was a lot of talk about how the war is going badly because we've been bombing for three whole weeks and we still haven't won!
Actually, we have, just as we won World War II by the end of 1942 -- it wasn't over, but we we had it won so long as we stuck to our guns. The alleged flood of Pakistani sympathizers into Afghanistan to help the Taliban is probably mostly propaganda -- but we should hope that it's true. The more of them who leave Pakistan, the fewer there are to threaten Musharraf's government. And the ones who go to Afghanistan will wind up killed, crippled, or demoralized by the time this thing is all over, making them less of a threat in the future. We should be chartering buses to take every Pakistani who wants to support the Taliban deep into Afghanistan for free. The return ticket, however, is likely to prove expensive.
The chattering classes haven't covered themselves with glory (they seldom do), but this impatience with the war is just silly. It would have been nice if the Taliban had surrendered within a week (and I'll bet after-the-fact we'll find that they came close), but wars aren't won on what would be nice. We'll outlast 'em and outfight 'em. Remember, this war is the inverse of most Afghan conflicts: to win, they have to govern Afghanistan. We just have to stop them.
ACCORDING TO PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN in the New York Times, "Manly Men" are back. Manly men and bellicose women -- the Ladenites don't stand a chance.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE READERS WRITES:
Vaccination for smallpox should go first to the health workers who might have to deal with a local outbreak, and then to the public service workers who might also be exposed. Priority should then proceed outward through the ranks of those most essential, preferring people NEVER vaccinated first, and continuing on to those citizens least likely to be exposed early on until all are vaccinated.
We are lucky in a way that antrax is the first mode of attack. Like the canary in the coal mine, it's got us thinking of public health as we should--as the first line of defense of the nation. We probably should never have stopped smallpox vaccination,and certainly should never have let the available doses of vaccine stock drop so low.
Even so, our vulnerability is much lower than our enemies' level of danger. We have the framework and economic means to protect most of our citizens in case of attack. Still, the best way to ensure that we do not have such an attack is to be 100% immune to it.
BELLICOSE WOMEN UPDATE: I've found it increasingly difficult to read Maureen Dowd in recent years: she's just too precious, and not nearly as funny as she thinks. But I've been trying to do it anyway (see what sacrifices I make) since so many people talk about her columns. Today's almost slipped by me before I realized its point: she's worried that Bush won't be brutal enough in dealing with the Taliban. "Just as terrorists, American or foreign, cunningly used our own planes and mailboxes against us, so they used our own morality against us. We were stumbling over scruples against a foe with no scruples."
I don't think she has to worry. Behind-the-curve Washington media types, and clueless middle-easterners, think that the American public will cave when they see pictures of dead civilians. But a woman at my gym this morning was looking at Taliban-sponsored pictures of civilian casualties and saying, loudly, "kill all the fuckers."
Bush's problem won't be a kindhearted American public. Rather the contrary. I think that's why they're soft-pedaling Iraqi involvement in the the anthrax attacks, even though the "domestic terrorist" scenario makes no sense (unless they were hand-in-glove with the Iraqis and Al Qaeda, which means it's not really domestic). I think the whole "unabomber" scenario is being floated as a red herring.
We may need it, to keep those bloodthirsty women from getting out of hand.
WHY THIS "JIHAD" STUFF IS A CROCK: As Steven Den Beste points out, the Taliban, et al., keep saying that this is a fight to the finish between Islam and the West. That's bullshit, and even they must know it. But just in case they don't he has this observation:
If the US really had blood in its eye, and was really "fighting a war against Islam," Islam wouldn't last very long. One Trident is capable of killing the majority of people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. One would suffice to eliminate Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and all the other Muslim nations of SE Asia. One could take out Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Egypt. The fourth could take out Libya, Algeria and all the other Muslim nations of Africa. They might even have missiles left over, and that would leave 14 other Tridents for reserve and followup attacks -- not to mention all the other nuclear munitions we have, such as ones which can be carried by Tomahawk cruise missiles.
This won't happen, of course. There isn't any way that the US would do such a thing. Even if a US city were nuked, we would not go to such great lengths. But we could; and people who are accusing us of being mad dogs had better realize just how much restraint we've actually shown so far. Y'all wouldn't like it if we were really angry.
One doubts that there would be such restraint shown if, say, the Saudis, the Iranians, the Iraqis, the -- oh, hell, just about any of these countries -- had nuclear weapons and had been attacked by American citizens, and faced an American government that was dragging its feet and even aiding the foe. Think about that long and hard.
TONY ADRAGNA says that what's "sophisticated" about the bentonite in the Daschle anthrax isn't the bentonite but the process for putting it there. That's what I figured. Too bad that most of the press stories didn't make that point. Chalk another one up for non-professional journalism.
READER CHRIS BERTRAM says that I painted with too broad a brush -- most Bosnian Muslims are quite grateful to the United States. (He's right of course, though Al Qaeda has a lot more influence there than it by rights should). He also points out this story about Saudi construction crews demolishing mosques and Muslim cemeteries in Bosnia. (Headstones are idolatrous, according to the Wahabbis).
Riedlmayer says the Saudis are obsessed with having all ancient tombstones, mausoleums, and Sufi shrines located near mosques eliminated, since -- unlike most Muslims in the world today -- the Wahhabis believe these to be "un-Islamic" and idolatrous. He said "the Wahhabis, with their wealth and fanaticism, are a menace to heritage, in some ways more dangerous than the [Serb paramilitary] Chetniks, since about the latter, at least, no one harbors any illusions regarding their uncharitable intentions. . . .
At the Beg mosque, the Saudis ordered the Ottoman tilework and painted wall decorations stripped off and discarded and had the whole building redone, as Riedlmayer puts it "in gleaming hospital white, even the minaret slathered in white plaster." He says that in scores of villages, the Saudis had war-damaged but restorable historic Ottoman-style Bosnian mosques demolished and redone Saudi-style. All of the colorful Balkan-Muslim interior decor was eliminated, and separate entrances were added to segregate women.
To drive home the significance of the Saudi destruction in the Balkans, Riedlmayer says, "Imagine, if you will, some terrible catastrophe affecting the historic churches of Rome and Tuscany, and then having [U.S. evangelist] Oral Roberts or Mormon missionaries coming in, taking charge, and insisting that they be redone in 'proper Christian style.'"
You can count on the Saudis for stuff like this, can't you? Where are all the people who are usually bleating about "cultural imperialism" when you need them?
I'll bet the Hashemites wouldn't act this way.
JOEL KOTKIN is a very smart guy. His The Third Century debunked the Japan-as-superman image at its very height, and when I reread it this past summer it seemed amazingly prophetic.
Now he's predicting that the 9/11 attacks will teach us to love sprawl. I think he's right. As I wrote something over a month ago, I think that a major impetus toward suburbanization in the 1950s, '60s and '70s was the ubiquity of those maps showing urban areas destroyed by nuclear attacks. This is likely to do something along the same lines.
Of course, there are potent economic reasons for sprawl: urban real estate is just too damned expensive for most businesses, or for the artistic and creative types we normally associate with urbanity. (I'm a case in point: my Silicon Valley friends say, truthfully, that their startups have to go public with great success for them to own a house as nice as the one that I, a typical professor, own in Knoxville). But I think the psychological factor will give those economic reasons a boost.
ANDREW SULLIVAN points to this interview with V.S. Naipaul on moderate Islam. Naipaul isn't very enthusiastic about the prospects of genuine moderation in Islam; he says that fundamentalist Jihadism always reasserts itself in even the most moderate regimes. True? I hope not.
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