InstaPundit.Com

12/22/2001

FREDRIK NORMAN'S SITE IS BACK UP. Uh, the picture doesn't look much like him now, though. Must be something from the server switchover. . . .

GOOD PIECE ON THE AMA'S ALCOHOL PROBLEM in OpinionJournal.

FURTHER PROOF THAT AIRPORT SECURITY IS WORTHLESS and the only real defense is passengers who are ready to act:

A passenger on a jetliner bound from Paris to Miami tried to ignite an "improvised explosive" in his shoe Saturday, but the crew and fellow passengers subdued him, authorities said. The plane, escorted by military jets, landed safely in Boston.

Okay, first, this hijacker appears to have been dumb as a rock. Nonetheless, he got on the plane with a "questionable" (but apparently unquestioned) passport, and wires protruding from his shoe.

Screw airport screeners. It's passengers who are the only source of security here. How about a little gratitude from the airlines, instead of treating us like cattle?

RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE UPDATE: The parking lot at my local mall is full to overflowing. Even the plausible illegal places are all taken. SUVs have hopped the curb and are parked on grass. The people walking around inside are carrying lots of packages, so presumably they've bought things. However, the store shelves are pretty empty in places, and the gift-certificate line is enormous, leading me to wonder if merchants didn't take too negative a position on their inventories. That will be interesting to hear about in a week or two.

On the other hand, there are still plenty of clothes for sale, despite huge discounts. That's because most of the clothes -- especially the men's clothes -- are BUTT-ASS UGLY!! J. Crew looks like it's full of rejects from Gabe Kaplan's Kotter wardrobe. They'll try to blame the weather, but, really, who wants a coarse-weave green-and-purple boatneck sweater no matter what the weather? Ugh.

On the other hand, the weather (it got close to 60 today) may explain why so many women are still showing so much skin. In particular I noticed a lot of post-40 bellybuttons. You might expect me to say something negative about this, but in truth they were a bunch of damn fine bellybuttons. (A 17-year-old may show her bellybutton just because other teenagers are, but a 47-year-old doesn't show her bellybutton unless she's pretty sure it's a damn fine one). America probably produces more good-looking older women than any other country on the planet. Yet another thing to be proud of.

And the Islamofascists hate it. Which is even better.

ANOTHER DELIGHTFUL TAKEDOWN OF TED RALL BY KEN LAYNE, which Layne accomplishes by simply reprinting things Rall has said. Why bother? Layne says:

I don't know Rall, don't cover the Comics industry, and didn't notice him until his nonsense started appearing under the guise of War Coverage. But I get e-mail from people, readers, saying things like, "Well, Ted Rall says blah blah blah." And I read Ted Rall, and steam shoots out of my ears. He can't write, he can't get anything right (not even geography and climate), and he seems to spend his spare time bitching about better cartoonists. He must be exposed and mocked, on a regular basis, along with anybody else (whether Marxist or Crazed Right Wing or Scientologist) who peddles bullshit and expects to be taken seriously.
And that -- in Ken Layne's own words -- is why I love Ken Layne.

MORE BAD NEWS FOR SAUDI ARABIA: Colbert King says it practices gender apartheid, and says that American corporations shouldn't go along. He notes that McDonald's, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, and pretty much every chain except Dunkin' Donuts maintain gender-segregated dining rooms.

Hmm. Maybe we need something like the Sullivan Principles? Or maybe we should just invade. It would be a good staging area for attacks on Iraq and Syria. . . .

ARGENTINE FASCISTS, otherwise known as Peronists, are taken to task by Perry de Havilland on Samizdata.

It's always amusing to encounter the world "fascists" used in a descriptive sense, rather than as a mere term of vituperation.

A READER WRITES, IN SHOCK, that Adam Clymer of the New York Times has produced a resonably fair and balanced report of the Bush Administration's first legislative year. It was a weird year, but a pretty good one, he says.

Me, I'd call it a triumph, for the country and maybe the Bush Administration -- not so much for what did get passed (though the tax-cut bill is a big structural influence on all future budget negotiations) as for all the crap that didn't. The stimulus bill was a real porkfest, and the country is clearly better off without it. The anti-cloning bill was a lousy idea -- and probably outside Congress's constitutional powers anyway -- as I've argued at length here.

In fact, the big legislative failures of 2001 are the bills that passed: the farm bill (pork), the airline subsidy bill (pork), and the antiterrorism bill (bureaucratic wishlists largely unrelated to actual antiterrorism). In the words of Bob Dole, "sometimes a little gridlock is a good thing." Here's to more in 2002.

AN INTERESTING TAKE ON what the war means for interservice politics in Slate. I do think, though, that the degree of coordination that has gone on between special forces and Air Force and Navy pilots has been superb. Despite our flaws, this is a traditional U.S. strong point going back to World War II, but from here it looks like tremendous progress has been made even since the Gulf War. That's because the Air Force's reputation now depends heavily on precision-guided munitions, which themselves depend heavily on input from special forces on the ground. Scott Shuger seems to think that the Special Ops guys will reap a huge budgetary harvest from this, which I see as probably a good thing. First, it seems likely that these capabilities (traditionally neglected by Pentagon brass because they don't come with fancy commands or big procurement deals) are going to be extremely important in coming years. Second, the on-the-ground nature of special-ops work, with its high potential for things to go wrong, and with the impact of deaths within that fairly small community being high, means that people tend to keep their eye on the ball and not get caught up in the kind of bureaucratic folderol that wastes money.

Of course, it too much money gets thrown at special forces, that could change. I hope that their friends within the Pentagon realize the difference.

A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT: If SUVs got 80 miles per gallon, but stayed as big, opulent, and expensive as they are now, would the SUV-haters still hate them?

I think the answer is yes. Am I wrong? And what does that say about SUV-hatred in general?

A TRIP TO THE PEDIATRICIAN (PINKEYE) AND ONE TO THE MALL (ASSORTED PRESENTS) have kept me offline for most of the morning. I'm back now, though InstaPundit will be on its special "Holiday Schedule" for the next few days. That means I may not be posting as much, unless family activities permit. We'll see.

IT'S A TOLKIEN-O-RAMA over at NRO Weekend, with my favorite feature being Peter Wood's meditation on Tolkien, Rowling, and our legacy of paganism. My only quibble is that he said that Tolkien built his edifice on the debris of Arthurian legend -- actually, Arthurian legend was built on the debris of the Gothic myths that Tolkien employed in constructing his world. But that is, as I said, a quibble.

WAR AROUND THE GLOBE: Reader Robert Spencer forwards this link to a listing of all the wars around the world. It's kind of depressing, but also informative.

For similar information, though not in tabular form, I also recommend Jim Dunnigan's StrategyPage.Com.

Oh, and the non-depressing part is that it looks like we're winning our war.

12/21/2001

I MEANT TO POST ON THIS EXCELLENT OP-ED BY ED CRANE earlier, but my computer crashed and when I rebooted I forgot. But it's an excellent antidote for several big-government opeds of last week. Here's an excerpt:

These are curious responses to what must be one of the biggest failures of big government in American history. Providing for the common defense is right up there in the preamble to the United States Constitution. The federal government, which has taken on many new tasks since that Constitution was written, failed miserably to do the task for which we count on it most. Intelligence agencies were, by most accounts, clueless about a plot carried out by dozens of foreign nationals within our borders. The Immigration and Naturalization Service, charged with keeping criminals, undesirables and -- not to put too fine a point on it -- terrorists from our shores, also failed to do its job. . . . Prudence is a virtue in civil society. Government, however, is hardly the appropriate institution to promote that virtue. The events of Sept. 11 dictate that we refocus government on its proper role of protecting our liberties. That means less government interference in society, not more.
Yeah. I'll go farther, and say that unless heads start rolling over these failures, some of which were serious indeed, the federal government will have shown that it is unserious about protecting us from terrorism in the future.

HERE'S A GOOD ARTICLE ON NANOTECHNOLOGY AND TERRORISM -- fortunately not an immediate threat, but worth thinking about now for that very reason.

FREDRIK NORMAN emails that he's had serious server problems. If you haven't been able to reach his site, that's why. He hopes to have it up in a couple of days; I'll try to post something when he does, if I remember amidst the holiday merriment.

MORE EVIDENCE OF WHAT AN IDIOT TED RALL IS. Like we needed any.

SENSIBLE WORDS FROM JAMES WOOLSEY on the anthrax terrorism (remember that?):

Woolsey also has little doubt Iraq was implicated in the wave of anthrax letters that hit the US after September 11. As he ironically told the audience at Herzliya: "It is possible that there is no tie between the anthrax mailed in the US and those who perpetrated September 11, that it is entirely the product of, let's say, a crazed, American Nazi Ph.D. microbiologist in a well-equipped laboratory in a cave somewhere under Trenton, N.J. That's possible.

But if this crazed microbiolo-gist had nothing to do with September 11, then it is a coincidence that he was ready to mail the anthrax one week later. Or, he was thinking about it and then after September 11 very quickly organized his laboratory and started mailing anthrax in one week.

Now if you think both of those scenarios are pretty unlikely, as I do, then the only other alternative is that
September 11 and the anthrax had something to do with one another. And if those who suggest that if there is an American or an independent terrorist group involved, that means that Iraq is not involved, that's nonsense. There is no sole source of contracting requirement for international terrorism. Joint ventures are entirely allowed.

I think this is absolutely right. Of course, it's not necessary that Iraq was the coordinator. Some other hostile Arab country could be involved -- or, conceivably, some hostile non-Arab country like China or North Korea. But Iraq is the obvious suspect.

ASHCROFT STRATEGY ENDORSED BY TNR: Well, kinda. This article by Jason Zengerle endorses the "disruption" approach taken by Ashcroft, but calls for more strategic thinking in the future.

It's okay -- but the real weapon against terrorism is to take the offensive against its bases, and nations who support and shelter it (and there are almost always such nations). You know -- nations whose religious police support known terrorists, whose citizens are leaders in terrorist groups, nations that won't crack down on terrorist financial operations, nations that don't cooperate with U.S. law enforcement, nations that spread anti-American propaganda in their schools and export anti-Western radical Islam.

Nations like those.

ERIC PETERS WRITES ON THE UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF "SOBRIETY CHECKPOINTS:" And he's right. Tennessee courts are rather strict about these (one was just overturned yesterday) but courts in general have been far too generous to the authorities. My brother also notes that the only times he's ever been selected for testing were when he was with his Nigerian girlfriend.

THE SAUDIS ARE UNHAPPY WITH AMERICAN MEDIA: But it's going to get worse. I caught a bit of some FoxNews blabfest while I was cooking the pasta, and everyone was dumping on the Saudis for being in bed with bin Laden -- and on Bush for trying to cover for them.

Hmm. Once you've conquered Saudi Arabia, you have a secure base for an attack on Iraq. . . .

THE GOOD NEWS, says Victor Davis Hanson, is that we're not fighting us, since we are the most formidable nation on the planet. And that's because we're the most open, vibrant society on the planet.

Why are we so deadly? Like European armies, American weaponry and special forces reflect the fruits of secular research, the bounty of capitalism, the discipline of civic miilitarism, and the spirit of egalitarianism sanctified by America's real concern, both spiritual and legal, for its soldiers in the field. But there is also something rather new in our military that makes it even more lethal than the forces of our European cousins, and it is a dividend of America's much more radical efforts to destroy the barriers of class, race, pedigree, accent, and any other obstacle to the completely free interplay of economic, political, cultural, and military forces.

TIM BLAIR has this take on the blame-America-for-global-poverty-and-thus-9/11 angle:

Have the people who’ve worked this out examined the difference in wealth between Osama bin Laden and the people his drones murdered? It’s a simple equation, simple enough for even intellectuals to understand.

Osama is a multi-multi-millionaire. Nobody killed on September 11 was as rich as he. Most of them were common wage slaves like you or I, without access to anything close to Binny’s massive inherited riches. Word up, progressive journalists, lefty opinion leaders, and Indymedia anti-capitalists: bin Laden is your enemy, not your friend. He be the rich dude. He be killing working folk.

As I understand it, in your world that’s usually a bad thing.

Preach it, brother Tim! Preach it!

READER KELLY HULME WRITES:

Here's an observation that I don't know has been brought up yet - (I am writing this just after hearing CNN refer to Johnny Walker as "an American teenager" ). People obsessed with characterizing him as a "misguided youth" or a "teenager" or being much too young to take responsibility for his actions. However in 'the before time' (pre-9/11) people were obsessed with making sure that kids (Nathaniel Brazill, and various other school-shooters for example - I'm not sure if Michael Skakel counts!) are charged as adults for their crimes. Any thoughts?
Yes, there's a lot of hypocrisy on this. I'm pro-choice, but I can't help but noting that a 13-year-old is considered mature enough to have an abortion, but Johnny Walker (who at 20 isn't much of a "teenager") is considered too young to take responsibility for his actions. The drinking age has been increased to 21, but you can vote at 18, and even very young teens are tried as adults for serious crimes. Then there's the whole "zero tolerance" nonsense, which seems to demonstrate that many adults aren't mature enough to be considered adults either.

I think what all this proves is that a lot of people, of all ages, are idiots.

GERALDO RIVERA -- DOUBLE AGENT? Jonah Goldberg offers support for this intriguing theory.

AN INSIGHTFUL OBSERVATION FROM JAMES LILEKS:

As I mentioned many bleats ago, I had this odd epiphany while watching the Mary Tyler Moore show every morning for a few months: Ted Baxter is a good guy. He’s venal, preening, cheap, narcissistic in character, but he generally treats people better than anyone else. Murray was a nasty prick; my favorite, Lou Grant, was often an arse, and Mary herself by the last season was a pure ice bitch towards Ted. Everyone reacted to Ted with automatic nastiness, and behaved in a way Ted would never himself behave; we laughed at Ted, but after you’ve seen the shows a dozen times you start to feel sorry for him. He's just not bad enough to deserve what he gets.
Hmm. Put that together with this piece by Adair Lara about the joy of having someone to put down, and you'll find yourself understanding a lot of TV and news media folks in a different and less flattering way.

DEBUNKING BOGUS CIVILIAN CASUALTY REPORTS over at Flit.

TONY BLAIR: BLOG FAN? Reader Bill Rudersdorf points out that Tony Blair's office has issued its own version of the Dropped Ball Awards, listing (scroll down to p. 14) ten commentators who got it wrong. Familiar names, all, to those of us in the weblog community: Arundhati Roy, Susan Sontag, George Monbiot, Natasha Walters, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Strangely enough, most of them seem to be in The Guardian and The Independent. Robert Fisk makes the list twice! Way to go Bob!

Ken Layne's predictions about the effect of the Internet on bloviating commentators look to be coming true.

LEWIS LAPHAM UPDATE: A couple of weeks ago I remarked on how tired and dated Harper's seems. Now, according to David Skinner, writing in The Weekly Standard, we know the date: sometime during the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. Skinner reports on some rather dodgy editing of a quote that recasts it as an attack on George Bush, when the removed passage was all praise of George Bush.

I think it's okay to edit out distracting or confusing things from a quoted passage -- but not to turn its meaning around 180 degrees. Did Lapham do that? Read it for yourself and decide.

BELLICOSE WOMEN UPDATE: As readers may recall, Sweden has renounced neutrality for the war against terrorism. What I didn't realize is that they have sent the ultimate warriors in the battle against Islamic fundamentalism: a freshly-armed Swedish Bikini Team! (I've deleted the photo that was in this post earlier, to speed page loading time; to see it click here). One can only imagine the horror and fear that this is producing in mullahs everywhere.

As George Bush said, you have to choose sides. But -- as he didn't add, but should have -- ours is the one with the heavily armed babes in bikinis. Which means, of course, that only idiots will pick the other guys. Er, even more than before, I mean.

Western culture: worth fighting for!

A WAGER: Reader Dan Rector, who is from Michigan, has challenged me to a wager: if Tennessee wins, he'll buy off the ad at the blog of my choice. If Michigan wins, I'll buy off the ad at a blog of his choice. Stay tuned.

THOUGHT FREE POLITICS MADE EASY via an automatic letter-writing program plugged in The Nation. Kinda makes sense, doesn't it?

ANOTHER INSTAPUNDIT READER FOR RADIC: I've been flooded with email praising Natalija Radic's post on the EU in Samizdata that I reference below. I hope that these people are sending fan mail to her, too! Here's what Will Allen says:

Glenn, Radic's comments about Eastern Europeans' economic energy being squandered by the EU Borg are spot on. Again, the United States should encourage talented, energetic, Europeans who resist the Borg to bring their creativity to these shores. Of course, the Know-Nothings from the Right and Left in this country will howl, but it would be a battle worth fighting.
I think the best thing the U.S. could do is open up immigration to these folks. We need 'em, and the EU, apparently, doesn't appreciate 'em.

THE PATHETIC EFFORTS of the Brady Campaign and the Violence Policy Center to milk the 9/11 attacks for gun-control propaganda have been regularly chronicled in InstaPundit. And I'll be writing a recap next week, most likely. But just in case that's not enough for you, read this piece in NRO by Dave Kopel and Timothy Wheeler.

KATIE COURIC'S FINANCIAL POWER: Even greater than you thought.

I'M AN ASSASSIN, BUT I DON'T PLAY ONE IN THE MOVIES: One of the actors in the Iranian film Kandahar appears to be an expatriate American who assassinated people for the Khomeini regime and then escaped to Iran. In the film, he plays a compassionate African-American doctor, not a killer.

What does this mean? Beats me.

THIS ARTICLE IN THE WASHINGTON POST EXPOSES TALIBAN HYPOCRISY: Denouncing decadence while installing gold chandeliers. It is ever thus.

MULLAH OMAR PREDICTED A "STORM OF AIRPLANES:" Turns out that they're full of British tourists, who are descending on New York City in record numbers this Christmas. Thanks, Brits!

HAMBURGER UPDATE: A couple of readers say that In-N-Out Burger came before McDonald's, though that seems to depend on whether you start counting with Ray Kroc's creation of the chain or with the original restaurant.

MAIL: A reader writes: "Oh, could you fix the email 'link' on your site. It actually reads "pundit -at- instapundit.com". " That's to prevent spambots from harvesting the address and filling my inbox with even more offers for hot teen babes, refinanced mortgages, and penis enlargement devices. It's either that or use a Java-based form that foils spambots, but I like to keep my page as simple as possible and incorporating a little human intelligence into the loop seems to work fine -- at least to judge from the quantity of email that I get.

HEARLSON UPDATE: Professor Kenneth Hearlson is the professor at Orange Coast College in California who was falsely accused of making racist statements to muslim students. He was suspended, then eventually exonerated. The students have not been punished.

Now some faculty are complaining that Hearlson should have been punished anyway. Here's an Orwellian quote, from Asst. Prof. P. Kevin Parker:

"The four students who raised complaints were factually wrong in their accusations," he says. "However, they were inferentially correct."
By this he means that Hearlson supports Israel, and hence must have anti-Arab sentiments worthy of sanction. Jeez. As an academic, idiots like this just tear me up. Hey, Kevin: go get a job pumping gas. With that sort of logical facility and commitment to academic freedom, you don't belong in academia. (Note: the Jonathan Last article I link to above contains anti-Israel statements by Parker. I wonder if some Jewish students will now make a complaint against him and say he's obviously anti-Semitic?)

If I were Hearlson, I'd sue the four Muslim students, personally, for $10 Million each, as well as the college. And I'd make ruining Parker's career a hobby -- though Parker seems to have made that a fulltime job of his own.

UPDATE: Reader Glenn Mitzel responds:

Only those groups (Jews, Christians) are capable of 'anti-' or hate behaviors. Only they can give hate. They cannot receive hate as no one else is capable
of giving hate. I have been programmed and re-educated at an American college campus.
Sounds like Mitzel is a good candidate for President at Orange Coast College. Notify the search committee!

What, they're not searching for a new President? Oh, don't worry. They will be.

BUSH'S DEVIOUS PLAN: Thanks to the installation of Windows XP at the National Security Council, I was able to hack in and secure evidence of what's really going on with Osama. Here it is, in Connie Chung's words, just between you and me:

Osama been in American custody for over two weeks. But in the near future, the following script will be played out: (1) we will arrange for him to be captured by the French; (2) the French will refuse to extradite him to the United States because he might face the death penalty here; (3) the United States will use this as an opportunity to discredit death penalty opponents at home and abroad. It will also discredit the French, of course, to the extent that's possible.

The Osama will have an "accident" in prison. Several birds with one stone.

FROM PROSCIUTTO TO PEDOPHILES: Robert Kagan disses the EU in an amusing Washington Post column on the Laeken debacle.

12/20/2001

LOOK SOUTH: Things are bad and getting worse in Argentina. Venezuela is a disaster. Colombia is in terrible shape. All of these have the potential to spread.

This is important on its own. It's also relevant to antiterrorism, since screwed-up countries are favorable ground for terrorists. Say, who's in charge of these countries at the State Department? Oh, right, nobody's been confirmed yet.

OOPS! Maybe there is something to the claims that Islamic terrorists hacked and corrupted Windows XP.

KEN LAYNE notes that the White House is trying to protect Saudi Arabia in its choice of what parts of the video not to translate (hint: it's the parts that tie the Saudi secret police to bin Laden). Layne calls for war on Saudi Arabia: They harbor and export terrorism.

BAY AREA HATEWATCH UPDATE: Be whatever you want, except a Republican.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT BAY AREA SEX COLUMNISTS? Now Isadora Altman, the "Ask Isadora" columnist at the Bay Guardian has been axed because she's too expensive. This bothers me; Cary Tennis is still writing a sex column at Salon that has no sex!

Maybe they'll replace Altman with Rachael Klein.

TIM BLAIR AND WILL VEHRS are both featured in a new Slate feature "On Other Web Sites," a sort of companion to "In Other Magazines." Congrats to both!

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER writes on the theme that victory is the best propaganda -- and then calls for an aggressive "rollback" policy against radical Islam, which he likens to communism.

Tremble, House of Saud. Tremble.

TANK YOU! TANK YOU VERY MUCH! Responding to my earlier remarks about Jonah Goldberg whoring for pageviews, one reader suggested that I was doing the same by writing about guns. Clever point, except that (1) I don't get paid for pageviews; (2) I'm actually tired of writing about guns, but can't seem to stop because of the provocation of repeated gun-related idiocies; and, most importantly (3) If I were whoring for pageviews, it's obvious that writing about guns is a waste of time. The real action is in TANKS! I've gotten more email on that item than anything else I've posted!

One of the many emails included a link to this article on Jacques Littlefield, America's foremost tank collector, who has more tanks than many third world countries. "It's an eccentric hobby," says Littlefield. As far as I can tell, none of the tanks were purchased at gun shows.

"It's like In-N-Out Burger compared with McDonald's." That's Peet's coffeehouse singing its own praises, L.A.-style. Those who didn't get enough on coffeehouse culture from InstaPundit can read this item from the Los Angeles Times for a lot more. Note, however, that coffeehouse culture starts in L.A. when (drumroll please), a chain called Starbucks opened up stores there.

Now, I'm all for independent coffeehouses, too (my brother-in-law owns a couple), but he'd be the first to admit that the big places like Starbucks, et al. really created the demand.

What's the point of this? Oh, just that chains aren't necessarily bad. Often they bring people things they always wanted, but that no one had bothered to supply before. With McDonald's it was hot, tasty food delivered fast and uniformly (no small thing back in the days of mom & pop diners, some of which were great and many of which were horrid ptomaine traps, and which now survive mostly as unflattering nostalgia items in comic strips like Blondie and The Born Loser). With Starbucks, et al., it's a pleasant gathering place that doesn't involve -- or at least doesn't center around -- alcohol.

And there's diversity in the chain ecosystem, too. Would there be an In-N-Out Burger if there had never been a McDonalds?

HAS BRITNEY SPEARS HAD AN, UH, "UPGRADE?" The Hollywood Investigator has photographic evidence!

OSAMA BIN LADEN: Idiot, genius, or marginally competent? That's the question Rand Simberg asks. The evidence for "idiot" is fairly strong:

Evidence that Osama is an idiot:

  • He expected George Bush to behave like Bill Clinton
  • He expected the "arab street" to rise up in his support
  • He expected support from non-Arab Muslim nations
  • He expected us to send in ground troops and get sniped at like the Russians
  • He expected the Afghan people, who he has been either helping or actively encouraging the Taliban to oppress, to fight for him
  • He claims that Allah will strike down the Great Satan (us)
  • He hangs out with folks like Mullah ("Cyclops") Omar, who also appears to have a sub-room-temperature IQ (or at least, he used to until they had their little falling out)
  • etc., and the list goes on...

I'm going with "idiot," but with this caveat. Bin Laden joins a long line of human disaster-promoters who are competent at the tactical level but idiots at the strategic level (Hitler & Tojo would be others; Napoleon, too, once the megalomania set in). Unfortunately, tactical competence guarantees that your strategic blunders will do a lot of harm. That sounds about right for Osama, doesn't it?

NATALIJA RADIC ON THE EU: Natalija, one of those mitteleuropan bloggers I mentioned yesterday, is concerned with the EU's future, which she sees as promoting stagnation and limiting economic opportunity, especially for the have-nots:

But if a powerful and rich country like Britain, with long traditions of freedom, has found itself in a situation with enemies of liberty within and without, what chance does the Czech Republic have against Brussels? What chance Poland? What chance Hungary?

When these countries join the EU, they will find their advantages of low labour costs are quickly legislated away in the interests of French and German Trade Unions, and they will be left to compete with the Western Europeans but with antiquated infrastructures and underdeveloped services. Worst of all, they will have their developing culture of liberty that started growing post-Communism, smothered in socialist inspired EU 'directives'. . . .

The EU will seduce the political class with 'largess' and make them good little 'subsidy slaves'.

Something to worry about, especially as political classes, by their nature, are eminently seducible.

SPEAKING OF GUNSHOWS, here's account of a visit to one by a reporter who expected to find goosestepping neo-Nazis and instead found nice, normal folks. Imagine.

UPDATE: Oh, and a reader reports that he actually owns an M113 armored personnel carrier. But he didn't buy it at a gun show. He got it surplus from the U.S. government. This isn't as rare as it might sound -- one of my colleagues who is a pilot nearly bought a MiG a couple of years back.

A READER WRITES to note that SmarterTimes is especially good today, which it is. That also reminds me that I've been meaning to mention for days that SmarterTimes is running articles now -- not just critiques of the NYT but actual original reporting. (Natch, today isn't one of those days). They're good articles, too, and bode well for the new paper that SmarterTimes' Ira Stoll is trying to start.

BEST OF THE WEB has an amusing item on Saddam Hussein's new novel, The Fortified Castle. But what struck me is what an idiot Saddam is. Whoever heard of an unfortified castle?

Stick to dictating, Saddam, and leave the writing to us ink, er, electron-stained wretches.

ANN COULTER, in her usual moderate way, calls for the United States to attack France over its support for terrorism.

TANK-OWNERS UPDATE: A reader writes:

You can tell you readers that the M1series, carries 500 gal of diesel (JP-8) and this results in about a 300m road range. That works out to about 1.5 gal per mile. It will do 45 MPH though.... :) Your assessment of the T-62 is correct, but most of what you see on the news are T-55/54(or the Chineese copy The Type59), which are cruder still.
Gallons per mile, eh? I figured it was something like that.

NOTE to the credulous: I do not actually own a tank. Nor can you buy them at gun shows.

HMM, A GUN-SHOW THEORY THAT MAY BE ON TARGET: Reader James Ingram offers the following political theory:

Has it occurred to you that one of the reasons the Diane Feinstein-Hillary Clinton crowd want to shut down gun shows is that they are hotbeds of anti-Feinstein/Hillary activism and NRA recruitment? The show I frequent (Forks of the Delaware Historic Arms Society in Allentown, Pennsylvania) always has an NRA recruiting table (with reduced admission to new members), various petitions to the legislature on subjects like concealed carry laws, waiting periods etc and during the past eight years a huge collection of anti-Clinton posters, buttons and cartoons (some of them thoroughly tasteless, a few downright offensive). I would sooner be identified as a member of a cocaine cartel than admit to being a Phialdelphia lawyer, and a Democrat at that, in such company!

Imagine how Diane Feinstein feels. A gathering of upstate rednecks (remember, as Jim Carville said, everything between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh is just Alabama) sporting rude, sexist posters and signing up NRA members and no law to stop them.

Yes, the political role of gun shows is usually ignored in media treatments of this issue. But not, I imagine, by politicians.

FRENCH ANTISEMITISM: Just read this story.

MUSICIANS AGAINST RECORD COMPANIES: Elton John, the Eagles, No Doubt, Weezer (one of whom is my sometime neighbor), Offspring and other bands are having a concert to raise money for lobbying against the record companies. Courtney Love and the Dixie Chicks are also in high-profile legal wrangles.

NOTE to the Bush Administration and the DoJ: these guys are right. They're being ripped off. We had an entertainment law program at the law school earlier this year. I was the moderator of a panel made up of bigshot entertainment lawyers and a grammy-winning songwriter. To try to stir up controversy, I suggested that the labels were vulnerable to RICO (racketeering) suits for patterns of fraud, extortion, bribery, and other illegal conduct. Instead, everyone agreed that this was so. It was astonishing

CRUDE POLITICAL ADDENDUM: The entertainment sector is tremendously pro-Democrat. Why wouldn't the Administration want to encourage a split between the artists and the labels?

BOY. . . Just found this email from Chris Fountain: "So it's 10:24 and still no word on how you liked (or didn't like) LTR. Get with it guy - Inquiring minds want to know." Sorry, teacher. I'll get a note next time.

LOTR COLUMNIST CHEESE-OUT ALERT: Yesterday I posted a cheesy column intro based on The Lord of the Rings. Today, a reader sends this example from FrontPage Magazine:

A SHADOWY, evil overlord hides himself amid an unmapped mountain range. There he wields absolute power over fanatics and slaves, scheming for domination over the free peoples of the world. He sends forth assassins into peaceful lands and cities, spreading terror among civilians.

A capsule history of the past six months? No, that’s the plot of the movie I’m going to see tonight—The Lord of the Rings.

Can I call this stuff or what? Brace yourself for a lot more of it!

INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES: A reader who used to live in Knoxville writes:

I noted your comment about chain and independent bookstores: "If there were a conveniently located independent store that offered all of these features, I'd patronize it, maybe even in preference to a chain just out of community loyalty. But there's not, and never has been."

Actually, the old Davis-Kidd on Cumberland Avenue was much like that, with the big selection and cosy atmosphere. The locations in Nashville and Memphis are still chugging along, last time I was around. I don't know why Davis-Kidd moved out to the Cedar Bluff area from the UTK campus, but I used to see big crowds in there when I was in high school in the late 80's (I am from Morristown). Davis-Kidd had big tables and chairs designed for browsy comfort. When they moved out to the smaller Cedar Bluff store they lost the tables and eventually closed down, presumably, due to the pair of superior stores you visit near West Town Mall. In the late 80's and early 90's, though, Davis-Kidd was mecca for anybody who didn't travel.

Yeah, I've never understood what Davis-Kidd was thinking when they did that. The Cumberland Avenue store was great. The Cedar Bluff store was like a chain store, only without the good part. The Davis-Kidd stores in Nashville have all the amenities of a Borders or Barnes & Noble.

The Davis-Kidd move to West Knoxville predated the arrival of Borders, etc. If Davis-Kidd had offered the same amenities they could have competed. I think, though, that the Davis-Kidd folks saw themselves as "book people," and didn't like the idea of running a coffeehouse, too. Too bad that was what customers wanted.

RECYCLING ALERT: Now it's Dianne Feinstein, Henry Waxman, et al., jumping on the terrorists-get-their-guns-from-American-gunshows bandwagon.

It's amazing. I saw CNN footage of howitzers, machine guns, and even tanks at captured Al Qaeda arsenals. I didn't know they sold stuff like that at gunshows. Me, I'm dropping by "Mike Holloway's Gun Show in the Smokies" next weekend and picking up a couple of T-62s: one for me, one for my wife.

UPDATE: Reader Carey Gage writes:

I'd be interested in your experience with gas mileage on the T-62. My personal favorite, the M1A1, doesn't do well in that regard, so I've had to keep it in the garage until the recent gas price reductions. I'm looking forward to the EPA gas mileage estimates for both, to see if I have to tune the engines.
Well, the M1A1's gas-turbine burns cleaner, and the composite armor is much better than the T-62. But the T-62 was designed to be maintained by illiterate Russian and third-world mechanics, which is important when you're out of warranty and thousands of miles from an approved maintenance depot. On the other hand, there's more headroom in the M1A1. The wife doesn't mind so much, but I do find the T-62 a bit cramped.

UPDATE: Many readers argue with my characterization of Russian mechanics as illiterate, noting Soviet Russia's high literacy rate. They're right. That should have read, "unskilled Russian and illiterate Third World mechanics."

ORIANA FALLACI'S rousing pro-American piece on 9/11 was in Italian. Readers Chris and Paola Newman say that the English translations that appeared in the American press were very poor, and didn't convey the strength of Fallaci's feelings, or writing. They've posted a translation here. Check it out -- and if your Italian is better than mine (which extends to news headlines and streetsigns, and then only by virtue of a sort-of-interpolation from Latin and Spanish, which I theoretically do know) they're soliciting comments.

BRIEF LORD OF THE RINGS REPORT: Basically, it's as good as they say. I could quibble, but I could always quibble. It's been a long time since I've seen a movie that brought tears to my eyes, and a long time since I saw a movie get an ovation from the audience at the end. (I think Apollo 13 was the last time).

Hell, it's been a long time since I saw a movie that was good. But this one was great.

Sorry for the delay. Paint fumes forced the evacuation of Stately Reynolds Manor last night; we spent the evening at a nearby hotel while the place aired out. Hotels are okay, but it's better to be home.

12/19/2001

I'M GOING TO SEE THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING TONIGHT: I'll post something on it, but probably not until tomorrow.

THE FRENCH: A reader writes:

I've finally managed to figure out what it is the token French contribution to the war effort reminds me of: one of those pain-in-the-neck activists who buys one share of stock in a company just so he can deliver a harangue at the annual meeting.
Hmm. Maybe we should adopt the approach of the Japanese toward such folk. . . . Just kidding.

RECYCLING ALERT: NPR just ran the Brady Campaign's "terrorists get their guns at U.S. gun shows" story. NPR did at least admit that the Brady Campaign was the source. And, hey, they gave the NRA one whole sentence (paraphrased by the NPR reporter) in response.

Fair and Balanced!

CHEESY LORD OF THE RINGS COLUMN INTRO: Sauron, the Dark Lord of Tolkien's trilogy, could not be killed so long as the ring remained. He could be defeated for a time, his troops scattered, his fortresses destroyed. But he would inevitably return, raise new armies, build new fortresses, and plague the world with his evil again so long as the ring was not destroyed.

So it is with the likes of Osama bin Laden, and the ring is Islamic Fundamentalism. . . .

Take it away -- well, probably a whole lot of people writing in Sunday oped sections this weekend.

A READER FORWARDS THIS LINK to a Mike Godwin essay on Cryptome about the coming Internet/Entertainment Gotterdammerung. Worth reading, if such things interest you.

JONAH GOLDBERG IS CLEARLY -- and I mean this in the nicest possible way -- whoring for pageviews this week. First he bashes libertarians, then cat lovers, then libertarian bloggers (!), and now he's got an early review of The Fellowship of the Ring posted. Short answer -- he likes it: "If you have ever said, 'If I had enough money, I'd make a Lord of the Rings movie,' this is your movie."

ARAFAT IS BEING HIS USUAL constructive self.

IF IT'S WEDNESDAY, it's time for Will Vehrs' excellent PunditWatch -- now ad-free! As, I notice, are a lot of pages today. Cool.

USA TODAY has a great editorial on music-industry greed and stupidity.

THIRD PLACES. My house is being painted, and to avoid 24-hour fumes I'm spending a lot of time at my "hideaway office," the Borders bookstore near my house. It always strikes me what a community center it has become. Right now, some sort of salesman group is discussing marketing plans around a table in the corner. Next to me a father is drilling his son in Babylonian history – by the intensity of the effort and the number of books, it looks like they're preparing for a contest, but I suppose it could just be an especially involved example of home-schooling. The University is closed now, and the high schools are about to be, but ordinarily there are groups of students studying in groups and scoping each other out. Quite a few others with laptops are writing, well, something: who knows? To one side, a stylish mother and her black-leather cyberpunkish son (he looks about 14, but he's carrying it off with panache) are having coffee and discussing holiday plans.

People put down chain bookstores, but there was nothing like this here before Borders, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million plunked down three superstores within a mile of each other. All of them seem to be flourishing, which suggests to me that they're meeting a need. I don't think it's a need that was met many other places, either.

Yeah, there are some great independent bookstores. But let's be honest: not many. Atticus books in New Haven was just a poor man's Borders – and with no public restrooms. Most of the bookstores in New York and Washington that I visited featured pasty-faced and unhelpful staff; the book equivalents of the music geeks in High Fidelity. And no coffee or overstuffed comfy chairs with conveniently located power outlets for laptops. (Okay, maybe that's not fair. I had a laptop back then, but not many people did). Quirky, yes. A pleasant place to pass an afternoon, no. If there were a conveniently located independent store that offered all of these features, I'd patronize it, maybe even in preference to a chain just out of community loyalty. But there's not, and never has been.

EUROBASHING: Reader Martin Pratt is offended by what he sees as my "hatred" of Europeans. This is bemusing to me, as I thought I was bashing Eurocrats and European political leaders, not Europeans in general. Martin says that my references to family, clients, etc., in Europe are merely a version of "some of my best friends are black."

Actually, though, the "some of my best friends" line was originally thought uncool because of what usually followed: "my shoeshine guy, the janitor, the bartender at the country club, the yard man," etc. The "best friends" line was thus rather hypocritical: these were people who were actually servants, and only promoted to "best friend" status in the service of rebutting charges of racism. I hardly think that the same reasoning applies here, as I have no Europeans trimming my hedges or shining my shoes. (Though Pascal Smets is welcome to the job, and would do less harm there, if he could avoid peering through the blinds while working).

But I am serious when I say, as I did yesterday, that I am worried about where Europe is heading. I'm not – as Martin also suggests – against European economic integration. Being a good globalist, I'm all for that. What concerns me is that the EU seems to have a strong bias in favor of authority, and against individual rights, as witnessed by recent efforts to call criticism of the EU "hate speech," which are echoed by Martin himself, and by the tendency to resolve conflicts between high- and low-regulation national regimes in favor of more regulation, and conflicts between high- and low-taxation regimes in favor of more taxation.

I also fear that the United States may be partly to blame. I believe that we supported European integration in the 1950s and 1960s for fear that the Soviets might otherwise be able to pursue a divide-and-conquer strategy. I suspect that we also encouraged the already-extant strains of dirigiste elitism in European bureaucracies on the theory that such tendencies would offset communist-inspired popular pressures. If so, the problems with Europe may be another form of "blowback," though not one that European leaders are likely to condemn. (A truly devious and power-hungry America, of course, would continue to encourage such tendencies, as they make Europe far less competitive economically and militarily -- though as Mickey Kaus points out, welfare-statism does tend to foment terrorism.)

I also confess to blatant self-interest in raising these points. It's simply a fact that Europe has been the most violent place on earth over the past 100 years, as a result of statism and dysfunctional politics, and that dealing with the consequences of Europe's problems has been a major burden on the United States, one that has strained our own governmental structure and damaged our own liberties in some ways. Perhaps this won't happen again: Europe at the moment appears to be headed toward becoming a sort of gigantic Singapore, and Singapore isn't a threat to its neighbors. But it's also not very stable, and I doubt that a Singapore-Europe would be, either. Major European conflict was bad enough with World War Two technology.

I should also note that although Martin, whose opinions I always listen to, has bristled at my comments, quite a few other European readers seem to agree with me. It's particularly interesting to see the comments of free-market enthusiasts from Central Europe (others of that ilk can be read on Samizdata), who fear precisely the Singapore outcome. (In fact, it was one of them who suggested that analogy to me).

I want to write a piece on Euro/American misunderstandings, but this post is already long enough, so that will have to wait until another time. But it occurs to me that when Europeans bash America they're usually bashing the American masses, with their complaints against McDonald's, the "gun culture," support for the death penalty, etc. American bashing of Europe, on the other hand, is usually aimed at European political and cultural leaders. It thus seems odd to me to see Europeans become angry when I pick on, say, Pascal Smets. Perhaps this is a sign of my unredeemable Americanism, but it's just hard to imagine people taking criticism of that guy, and his dumb plan to register every human being on earth, personally.

ISLAMIC DISSENT -- and even Atheist Muslims (well, er, you know what I mean) -- get an interesting treatment in this piece by Chris Mooney in The American Prospect. Amusing tidbit:

So why has Warraq been embraced by the political right in this country rather than the civil-rights-conscious left?

Warraq contends that because of the work of Edward Said and other theorists, the American left has "been scared of being called colonialists and imperialists" and so has adopted a guilt-ridden shyness about Islam. Yet liberals in other Western countries have been more open to his views: Warraq has recently contributed a commentary to the left-leaning British newspaper The Guardian; in October, Australia's Radio National devoted an entire Religion Report program to interviewing him. As one Islamic historian put it, "At least until September 11, the place where it was the most difficult to criticize Islam was in America."

Worth reading.

LOADS OF GOOD STUFF ON ANDREW SULLIVAN'S PAGE today, including a link to this brutally detailed and factual dissection of Noam Chomsky's lies (which the article compares, correctly, to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other blood libels) and the reflection that Bernard Goldberg's book -- and its place on the bestseller lists -- is further evidence of the Internet's inroads on establishment media. He's right on this count, too. Is it even imaginable that a book like this would have even been heard of by most Americans in 1980, before Drudge and Amazon?

MICHAEL KELLY writes on why there may be hope for Yale yet. Harvard, on the other hand, may be beyond redemption. . . .

AMERICAN PROSPECT MELTDOWN: Check out this letter from Chris Lehmann. I haven't followed the goings-on at that troubled publication, except for the references in Kausfiles and Talking Points, but it sure sounds grim. I've known Chris Lehmann for years and I'm inclined to believe his version, which isn't very flattering at all to AP editor Bob Kuttner.

WHERE'S GERALDO? Look in the mid-upper left of this photo. You know, you never see him and Osama photographed together. . . .

12/18/2001

A READER SENDS this InstaPundit sighting from the Kansas City Star.

DECLARATIONS OF WAR: Constitutional deepthink from Joe-Bob Briggs:

What is so SCARY about declaring war? We declare war on drugs. We declare war on disease. If you run an Internet search on the words "declare war," you get declarations of war on junk e-mail, diabetes, copyright law, pessimism, telemarketers, climate change, cellular phones, net music, satellite dishes, and that menace to all mankind, teenage tanning. So people obviously know what it means to declare war. They just don't want to declare it on actual PEOPLE.
Well, unless they're selling sunscreen to teenagers. Now that's serious.

COPY-PROTECTED CDs not only won't play in computers -- they won't play in some regular CD players, either. There's a similar problem with copy-protected DVDs, too. Oh, this is really smart.

Hmm. I wonder if this will make some lawyers rich? There's a bright side to everything, after all. . . .

THE MIDDAY KNOCK AT THE DOOR: Emil Guillermo reports on what he calls "the new police state." Here's his tale of fascist brutality and horror: a man talked loudly and rudely against the war and George Bush, and seemed supportive of terrorists. Some FBI agents knocked on his door. They told him he had the right to free speech. He told them to go away. They did.

Chilling. Who said it couldn't happen here?

A MARSHALL PLAN FOR THE ARAB WORLD? I keep hearing people suggest that. My position: it's okay, so long as they realize what they're proposing. The prerequisite for the Marshall Plan was the replacement of the previous dictatorial regimes by a U.S. occupation force, the execution or imprisonment of many (though not enough) of those dictatorial regimes' leaders, and the presence of substantial American forces on their soil for decades afterward.

Is the Arab world ready for that? Are we?

AS USUAL, STEVEN DEN BESTE ASKS THE RIGHT QUESTIONS:

What are the purported goals of multiculturalism? To understand other people and how they live, to accept them for what they are. What would be the best test of that? To actually live among them and to blend in, wouldn't it be? So what group of Americans are the foremost multiculturalists of our time?

The Green Berets, of course. Could anyone from Marin County uproot and move to Afghanistan at a moment's notice and blend in the way they have? They've been wearing native clothes, they've often eaten the local food, and they even participate in local sports. Can you imagine anyone from Marin County participating in a game of buzkashi?

Here's the story he's referring to.

Hey, our guys are beating up on evildoers, riding horses, and gleefully taking the natives on at their own game. This is the way Americans used to act. It's nice to see it again.

PAYING TWICE FOR THE SAME MUSIC: The music industry says it's worried about piracy, but what it really wants is to make you pay multiple times to listen to the same piece of music, according to this story from Wired. They're selling copy-protected CDs that won't play on computers. Then they want you to pay again to download the same music as a digital file to listen to there. Then, perhaps, a third time to listen on a portable device. And they'd like it to expire after time passes or you listen a certain number of times unless you pay again.

Two thoughts: First, why isn't the Justice Department investigating these guys? It's absurd to think that you can foist off worse products on consumers absent collusion. This is price-fixing in the form of an agreement to give consumers less for their money, just as if sugar producers agreed to switch from 5-pound to 3-pound bags while keeping the price the same. Second, the music industry is committing suicide. Their product is already crap, for the most part. Meanwhile there are lots of great bands out there who will happily fill the gap.

The big record companies don't bring much to the table nowadays, and they're busy trying to alienate their customers just as technology is freeing up a lot of competition. If the Justice Department doesn't shut them down -- and it should -- the market probably will. And it should, too.

IN HIS LATEST INSTALLMENT, JONAH GOLDBERG is exercised about libertarian bloggers and spends so much time saying they don't matter that it kind of undercuts the point. He mentions Samizdata and Will Wilkinson by name, which probably pleases them.

I like Goldberg, and I'm sort of bemused by his adopted role as Scourge Of The Libertarians; it doesn't really seem to fit. It's kind of like making Hunter Thompson the Drug Czar. Despite his protestations, I think he's doing it for the links. My proof? He's also recently attacked cat lovers.

You don't disrespect libertarians, bloggers, and cat lovers in the space of a single week unless you're trying to stir things up. Er, and unless you're pretty damned brave.

BRIAN LINSE HAS this wonderful take on the Jonah Goldberg/Andrew Sullivan debate.

INSTABILITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST: A GOOD THING? That's the conclusion you might draw from reading this article in Parameters (the Journal of the Army War College) by Ralph Peters. He argues that international instability has generally benefited the United States, but that we've often failed to recognize that. Very interesting piece. I wonder if Nicholas von Hoffman, who was putting down the Army War College as stodgy last month (on November 14, to be precise) has ever read Parameters. (Peters' article went to press on September 13, and is far more prophetic than Hoffman's screed). I read it semi-regularly, and I find it, frankly, a lot more thoughtful and thought-provoking than most of what I read in, say, Harper's.

Instead of trying to stop the game, which was our approach across the past decade, we should try to facilitate it when it is played by legitimate players for legitimate stakes. In the case of terrorists, of course, we need to throw them out of the game permanently.

But what on earth is wrong with people wanting their freedom? Why shouldn't populations want the armed forces of a central government that is essentially an occupying power to leave their territory? Why are yesterday's borders more important than today's lives? Why should we support religiously-intolerant regimes that virtually enslave women and persecute nonbelievers to death? How much mass suffering is it worth to keep things geostrategically tidy? How dare we send our soldiers to support bigoted monarchies that forbid our troops to worship as they choose? How stable can any government be that fears a Christmas tree? Why should we pretend that every war criminal is really a democrat waiting for his opportunity to vote? Why should we reflexively support the rich and powerful against the poor they abuse and exploit? Why must we insist that history can be made to run backward?

A new century demands new ideas. The notion that stability is the fundamental strategic virtue is not going to be one of them.

I doubt this is playing well in Riyadh.

OKAY, you can stop emailing me with invitations to buy the ad away from your blog. I've done "PunditWatch" and Andrea Harris. Unless those bounce back too. It seems that this idea is catching on.

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL has just had his death sentence vacated. The story says that if Pennsyvlania doesn't have a new sentencing hearing, it will automatically become life imprisonment.

RAMPAGING SAUDI PRINCESSES, THE RETURN OF VINYL, AND TOLKIEN GUTS A NAZI: It's all in Andrea Harris's blog. Check it out.

SCHWAG! Or swag, if you prefer. Last week a lot of people wanted bumper stickers reading: "It will be a great day when our public schools educate our children as well as the Pentagon trains our soldiers." No bumper stickers, but I've set up a CafePress store selling t-shirts, mousepads, and mugs with that slogan, for anyone who's interested. I don't make anything out of it, since they're at "base price" already. But knock yourself out.

I was fooling around with CafePress because I was also setting up this store so as to micro-manufacture some holiday gifts for people who have been especially nice to InstaPundit. But if you have a burning desire for an InstaPundit mug or shirt, you can get one there, too. Both of you.

CafePress, by the way, rocks. I use them for all sorts of little humorous or promotional items because it's so easy: you just upload the images, make a few menu choices, and voila! The unit cost isn't great, but you can get high quality in small quantities with tremendous ease. It's a New Economy thing, and I love it.

It also let Eliza Gouge set up her "Mommy Liberty" store a couple of months ago. As I mentioned, I ordered a t-short of her gun-toting statue of liberty and had it the next day (less than 48 hours after she set up the store!). Is that cool, or what? I love the Internet!

LAST EURO-BASHING ITEM OF THE DAY: (Well, probably). Reader Rick Jahnke writes:

It's become a commonplace that undemocratic, repressive middle eastern governments encourage extremist attacks on the U.S. and Israel to deflect their own people's anger outward, away from themselves. Not so widely noted is that, increasingly, the European governments and elites are doing the same thing.

Case in point, the Belgian child rape-murder cases. The Time article to which you linked (12/18) indicates that the Belgian police were at best inept in their original investigation of a series of child kidnappings and that the government's investigation of this amounts to a coverup. Meanwhile, this same Belgian government puffs with pride about hosting the international war crimes tribunal and has conferred upon itself jurisdiction over any "crime against humanity" committed anywhere in the world.

But, this isn't the only example of external agression masing internal abdication:

Kyoto: Unable to reform their own economies--because they are unwilling to confront their own special interests--European governments and elites demand that the US accept what are for us economically crippling environmental regulations.

Durban: Unable to deal with their own unassimilable Muslim minorities (Algerians in France, especially), the Europeans joined the Third World in piling on Israel ("Zionism is Racism") and the US (the racist US should pay reparations for slavery).

These folks need to worry less about what we do, and more about what they do. I say: Physician, heal thyself.
Bear in mind: I like Europe. I have family there (France). I've lived there (Germany). I used to represent some big European companies when I practiced law (Ericsson, Nokia, Siemens, etc.). That's why I'm so pained at seeing the place ruined by feckless, unelected bureaucrats. And, honestly, I think they stand a good chance of ruining it. I don't see this whole Eurocracy thing as merely an annoying cultural fetish. I think that Europe -- the most dangerous continent on Earth for 500 years -- is heading into another disastrous cycle. I hope I'm wrong.

UPDATE: Uh oh. Maybe I'm not wrong. Reader Robert Spencer writes:

As a person who has conducted a good deal of business in Europe (especially France, the UK and Ireland) over the years) I share the concern expressed in the remarks you quoted from Rick Jahnke in your subject post today. I was there when the early meetings of the European Parliament were taking place back in the late 70's... The passage of time has slowly anesthetized the sensibilities of mamy Europeans.
Yes, that's how bureaucrats gain power.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Paul Zomer writes from the Netherlands to point out that the International Criminal Court is based there, not in Belgium, which I knew and should have caught, but didn't. Sorry.

THE BEAST OF BELGIUM: Reader Kathy Shaidle says that the story of registering everyone on earth is suspiciously like this Christian urban legend, a variant on the "Number of the Beast" idea. Well, maybe so, but the Sydney Morning Herald is running it as news, and quoting one Pascal Smet, head of Belgium's asylum review board, as having called for it at a meeting of immigration ministers in Geneva on 12/13. (Cue -- spooky music).

ZOMBIES SHOULD RULE BELGIUM, CONT'D: According to the EU Observer, a Swedish citizen has been expelled from the EU and forbidden to travel to 14 countries for the horrendous crime of . . . . posting an anti-EU poster in, where else, Belgium:

Mr Johansson was not only expelled from Belgium, but will also not be able to travel in Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Island, Norway, Finland and Denmark – all members of the Schengen agreement. His order has no date of expiration.

While pasting up posters in unauthorised places is considered to be a minor crime in Scandinavia, it is regarded as a quite serious offence disturbing public order in Belgium.

The leading member of the Danish June Movement, Ms Drude Dahlerup described the incident as “horrible” and said there was a complete lack of proportion between the offence and the punishment. “I would like to invite Mr Johansson to visit me in Denmark and test if this is something the Danish responsible authorities intend to obey,” she said.

Ms Drude Dahlerup saw the case as a clear example of the loss of civil liberties, that the current EU legislation is leading towards.

Apparently, they're moving to a dynamic in which a crime in one EU nation becomes a crime in all. If that's not a step toward a police state, I miss my guess.

Forget those "FREE TIBET!" stickers. Will we soon see bumper stickers that say "FREE EUROPE!"?

IN PRAISE OF ANGER: Richard Cohen demonstrates that the de-wimpification of America continues.

JOURNALIST VANESSA LEGGETT has now been in jail for over 150 days for refusing to divulge information on sources. As I posted way back when, I think she's probably in the wrong legally -- though the Justice Department continues to insist that "she's not a journalist," which legally and constitutionally shouldn't matter. Regardless, however, it is unusual, in fact unprecedented, for someone to be held this long on contempt charges under these circumstances.

It's especially bad given that the whole thing appears to be driven by political concerns in Houston.

LONGTIME INSTAPUNDIT READERS (that is, since October) may remember my item on the sudden militarization of Kaybee Toys. Now Virginia Postrel notes this item by John Tierney in the New York Times on how toy guns are suddenly politically correct. Tierney quotes Christina Hoff Sommers in this excerpt:

Since Sept. 11, the "culture of the warrior" doesn't seem quite so bad to Americans worried about the culture of terrorism. The "male paradigm of confrontation" didn't prove so worthless to the men who defeated the Taliban — or the women benefiting from the defeat. American males' fascination with guns doesn't seem so misplaced now that they're attacking Al Qaeda's fortress. No one is suggesting a Million Mom March on Tora Bora.

"Recent events suggest we need to honor stoical, competitive, risk-taking males if we intend to survive," Dr. Sommers said. "The good news is that boys, even in Cambridge, Mass., are not cooperating with the well-meaning politically correct efforts to liberate them from their masculinity."

It's the de-wimping of America.

A READER FORWARDS THIS STORY, with the suggestion that if zombies actually ruled Belgium, they'd do a better job.

ROBERT HARRIS WRITES to compare the Left's blindness on bin Laden with its blindness about Stalin, and concludes:

Substitute Islamic fundamentalism for Soviet Communism and you will hear exactly the same argument being made today - with this one difference. At least Shaw and the Western sympathisers for Stalin believed in something: for all their folly, they had a kind of intellectual grandeur about them, a coherent philosophy to defend.

Today, the Left doesn't even offer an alternative - just endless nit-picking raised to the level of an ideology.

Maybe the truth is sinking in.

MICKEY KAUS calls me a "prolific new Web titan"! Web titan. I rather like the sound of that. . . . (it's in the links section at the bottom of the page).

YEMEN IS GOING AFTER AL QAEDA, according to this story forwarded to me by a reader who headed it: "POUR ENCOURAGER LES AUTRES."

This is an important point. Osama schmosama -- I hope we get him, and maybe we already have (see below) -- but the real benefit of the Afghan War is to encourage other countries to crack down on terrorist operations within their borders for fear they'll be next. This is a start. Much will depend on how hard we follow through, of course.

"ZOMBIES RULE BELGIUM:" That was the punchline of a Zippy the Pinhead cartoon, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's not true. At least, something must be going on there to lower people's IQs. First there was the ridiculous claim by Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel that the peacekeeping force in Afghanistan will be a "European Army." Now there's a proposal by Belgian asylum minister Pascal Smet to register everyone on the planet. (And, of course, the current President of the EU, and hence the presider over last week's disastrous EU summit, which led to British officials calling the EU ministers "buffoons," is from ... Belgium!) Hmm. Maybe Zippy was onto something.

SALON SEXWATCH UPDATE: Still no sex. Unless it's in the "audio feature" on what to do when your ex won't return the cat, which I didn't listen to. How lame can you get?

12/17/2001

THE BLOGGER CAMPAIGN: Reader Ken Booth writes:

A worthy cause if I've ever seen one.

It might be worth mentioning to your readers that it's not necessary to be a Blogger user to help. Simply clicking on "get rid of this ad" on a Blog*spot site will bring anyone to the payment form. And to prove I'm not all mouth, I've done my part by paying $12 to remove the ad on http://englandssword.blogspot.com/.

Now why didn't I think of that?

UPDATE: Tried to buy the ad off of Adragna & Vehrs -- but this morning got a "payment denied" notice telling me that someone else got there first. I'll hunt for another!

FAA ADMINISTRATOR JANE GARVEY is blaming all her underlings for the 9/11 attacks. Er, Jane, if it's their fault, then it's your fault. If you think they're responsible, then you should resign.

UPDATE: I guess you have to read between the lines on this one, as one reader (rather snidely) suggests that I've "mischaracterized" the story above. On the other hand, the FAA insiders seem to feel I got it right. Here's an excerpt from one email: "As one of the 180 people singled out (the remainder of the FAA is still getting raises for performance) I am seriously wounded by the accusation of Jane Garvey that all executives in the FAA are somehow responsible for the 9/11 tragedies. The cash is not as important as the accusation that I could have done something to stop it..."

Yes. As should have been obvious (but apparently wasn't to at least one reader), my point was that Garvey is trying to shift the blame to her subordinates, while escaping responsibility herself. Judging by my emails, the subordinates aren't having any trouble figuring this out. But as I said, if the FAA has such a serious management problem, then Garvey should resign. She's the one at the top. She's the one who's ultimately to blame when things go wrong.

"SGT. STRYKER" has the theory that Osama is alive and in our custody but that we'll keep that quiet and conveniently "chase" him through Somalia, Yemen, and wherever else we want until everyone who doesn't like us is dealt with. He also asks why we haven't heard Amnesty International complaining about Taliban -- and Saudi -- amputations, beheadings, canings, etc.? I think, actually, that Amnesty has complained about those things, but not loudly -- at least, not as loudly as they've complained about notional American "war crimes" like speaking harshly to John Walker.

CAN JOHNNY WALKER BE STRIPPED OF HIS CITIZENSHIP? Eugene Volokh explains the legal issues.

THIS ARTICLE SAYS A NATIONAL ID CARD is gaining support. But pretty much the only support it cites comes from bureaucrats and contractors (duh) on the one hand, and Alan Dershowitz on the other. Hey, Dershowitz supports torture and O.J. Simpson's innocence, too. Oh, and other countries use them, as we learn with this confidence-building sentence: "Belgium first used ID cards during the German occupation in World War I."

CONGRESS IS GETTING INTO THE ACT ON CLONING. It's a dumb idea. Perhaps they should ask what makes cloning a federal affair? But I doubt that they will. Even among the Republicans, there are too many fair-weather federalists.

JONAH GOLDBERG TAKES ON Jewish terrorists and asks the immortal question: "why the hell wouldn't I take the Nestea plunge into a pool full of buff dudes at a Fire Island beach house?"

MELISSA SCHWARTZ reports on Mulholland Drive, and on her tendency to drink too much at holiday parties. Guaranteed Osama-free!

BLOGGERS SUPPORTING BLOGGER: In response to my suggestion this morning, Samizdata is now ad-free -- meaning that they've paid the $12 to Blogger/Blog*spot to get rid of it. I hope that others will follow my lead. Blogger has 337,000 users, and I'd guess that most host at Blog*spot. Yet it's pretty much a one-man operation. (!) If only a few percent of bloggers cough up the twelve bucks, I imagine it will go a long way toward solving their bandwidth problems.

I'm happy to do it. Blogger has its glitches -- but so does everything else. Those aside, it rocks.

EVERYTHING FROM THE LEGALITY OF MILITARY TRIBUNALS TO OSAMA BIN LADEN'S SATELLITE PHONE NUMBER can be found at JustVictory.Com. An interesting legal site (that's "just" as in "justice," not as in "only") with some other cool stuff thrown in.

ZERO PLUS ZERO PLUS ZERO EQUALS ZERO: That's the take on "Muslim unity" from this columnist at Pakistan's The Dawn:

Charismatic leaders like Nasser and Qadhafi have attempted to forge mergers with neighbouring countries time and again, only to have their dreams of Muslim unity dashed on the reefs of reality. I may be mistaken, but I think it was Suharwardy who famously dismissed one of these attempts at the time of the Suez crisis in the mid-fifties by proclaiming: "Zero plus zero plus zero is equal to zero". This blunt formulation may not have won him many friends in the Middle East, but it did reflect the stark truth.

There is a feeble-minded, romantic notion that if the Muslim world was to pool its resources and its talents, it would become a significant power. Let us look at the facts: we are net importers of technology, and we will continue to buy the products of western minds for the foreseeable future. There is no research worth the name going on in any of the forty plus countries with Muslim majorities. So even if we could miraculously form an economic union, our economies would not benefit much from a union as they are not complementary. Basically, we only export primary products and low-tech goods. In brief, there has been very little value-addition in the realm of ideas.

Then there is the notion that closer ties among Muslim countries would result in greater political strength. Closer scrutiny does nothing to support this thesis. . . . We have the examples of Bosnia and Chechnya before us: these were nations that suffered terribly without Muslim leaders lifting a finger. It was the United States that finally ended the genocide in Bosnia while the killings in Chechnya continue.

The crushing of the Taliban is a serious blow to Islamist fanatics and gives more moderate Muslims some leverage. We should encourage this as much as we can.

PAKISTAN AND INDIA: News treatments of Indo-Pakistani hostilities make them sound like they're a bad thing for the United States. But really, they're a bad thing for Pervez Musharraf. A month ago he was indispensable. Today he's merely valuable. Now that Afghanistan has been largely cleaned out, India could move in and do the same to Pakistan. Would the United States stop them?

It would be a bad thing for our diplomacy; we have too much of a record of abandoning our allies, especially in that part of the world. (This is mitigated, but only somewhat, by who our allies in that part of the world usually are.) On the other hand, if Musharraf has been playing us false, the India-cleanout scenario would be good for our diplomacy. It would underscore the don't-cross-us point nicely.

Alternatively, if Musharraf is in fact being screwed by his own secret police, he may welcome outside help (though probably not from India) to clean his own house. We sure have a lot of unemployed Marines out there in the Indian Ocean right now. . . . And the threat of the Indian Army would make them much more effective, even if the Indians just sat at home.

ALTERNATE WHERE'S OSAMA? THEORIES: We killed him. We know he's dead. But there are lots of reasons for not telling the world. (1) we don't want to trigger any "sleepers" who might be waiting for just that news to act; (2) we don't want to anger the Saudis; (3) we want to maximize confusion among al Qaeda survivors -- perhaps we were the ones broadcasting phony orders in Osama's voice to increase this -- while we continue to round 'em up; (4) Osama's head, in brine, has been delivered to King Fahd with a message -- if this happens again, it'll be yours; naturally, that's best not spread around.

Alternate alternate theories: he's alive and being interrogated on a U.S. warship; he's alive and being interrogated in Pakistan; he's alive and being interrogated in India.

Evidence for the above scenarios: none. But hey, they're all plausible and fun.

YOU MAY HAVE SEEN retired SFC Red Thomas's "don't worry" email about nuclear, chemical and biological warfare. Here's a Washington Post article on him. Turns out he's mostly right.

MICKEY KAUS ASKS: Does welfare cause terrorism? And he makes a pretty good case that it does. Hey: France & Germany & Britain: stop supporting terror. Enact welfare reform!

LAWRENCE HAWS demolishes claims of an American massacre of Al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan by The Independent. Best line:

Two Arab prisoners captured in the fighting – who should be protected under the Geneva conventions – also seem to have disappeared. Mr Gul said, "We took them to the Americans. they interrogated them in Arabic, then they took them away. I have not seen them since."

Mr. Gul, a low ranking Afghan soldier assigned to grave digging duty at the time of the events in question, has not seen these two Arabs since? Then they must be dead -- obviously murdered at the hands of the U.S. no less.

Chortle. Someone should travel around the various warblogs, collect copies of all the critiques of the idiotic stuff from The Guardian and The Independent and mail them to the 100 leading British journalists, with Ken Layne's slogan: "This is the Internet: we can fact-check your ass!"

FROM MORTGAGE REFINANCING TO RACHAEL KLEIN: It's all in the brand-spanking-new InstaPundit FAQs presented for your amusement and edification.

NUKE ISRAEL? That's what Iran's former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is calling for, according to the World Tribune. Well, now Israel has an excuse to nuke anyone it thinks it needs to.

But this is really evidence of the ongoing Iranian disintegration, I think. (As well, no doubt, as evidence of Rafsanjani's disintegration). It certainly will help the United States look moderate by comparison. And note the only-barely-coded messages that United States officials are sending in response.

A NICE PIECE BY JAMES MORROW on the media's predictable reaction to 9/11: Safety uber alles, and lots more government! Meanwhile the most effective antiterrorism weapon has turned out to be a daisy-cutter.

ANDREW SULLIVAN has a very good piece on the Spann/Walker contrast and what it means, in The Times. His treatment is both sensitive and properly indignant.

MORE ON THE ASHCROFT GUN-CHECK ISSUE: Dave Kopel and I have a lengthy and erudite -- well, lengthy, anyway -- discussion of the applicable law in The National Review Online and Ashcroft's position just looks stronger.

You know, Fox Butterfield, Chuck Schumer, or Pat Leahy could easily have found this stuff out -- especially because Schumer and Leahy actually voted for the very legal restrictions that Ashcroft is enforcing. This says some sad things about either their honesty, or their understanding of what they vote for, or their willingness to ignore the law when it gets in their way.

FROM THE "IF THE GOVERNMENT DOES IT, IT'S NOT A CRIME," DEPARTMENT: When Richard Nixon took that position, people were outraged -- and, hey, he at least limited it to the President. But when government employees planted Canadian Lynx hairs in a forest to make it look as if an endangered species lived there -- thus closing it to most commercial and recreational uses -- all we got was a minor administrative punishment and a weasel-worded statement calling their actions "inappropriate."

These people should be fired. Businesses and tourists who suffered economic losses should sue them, personally. And their bosses should be sacked for not taking sufficient action. But federal officials won't even name the offenders, citing "privacy concerns." Privacy concerns? What privacy concerns?

Well, I suppose this at least makes Ashcroft's concern for the privacy of detained potential terrorists more credible. Though I note that they're in jail, which is where these folks belong.

A SUGGESTION FOR MY FELLOW BLOGGERS: If you host on the Blogger.Com affiliate Blog*Spot -- as most of you do -- it's free so long as you have the ad at the top. You can get rid of the ad for a measly twelve bucks. That's twelve bucks a year for hosting, which is a hell of a deal. I know next to nothing about Blogger's situation, except that apparently George Soros isn't actually giving them any money, rumors to the contrary notwithstanding. I think it's pretty much a one-man operation, and I know they're having a bandwidth shortage.

So consider coughing up that twelve bucks. If as many people as Matt Welch says I've inspired actually do that, Blogger should have plenty of cash for a while. . . .

WHERE'S OSAMA, CONT'D: My prediction of Saturday that he had bugged out, leaving behind tape recordings to be broadcast over the radio for purposes of deception, is looking more plausible. I don't know that this matters, except psychologically. Osama bin Laden by himself is a tall, skinny geek with medical problems. It's his organization that's dangerous, and it's in the process of being destroyed.

Not that we shouldn't continue to go after him. But if we got him, and left much of his organization intact, that would be a defeat. If his organization is collapsed, and he's still alive hiding out on some remote Phillipine island, that's a victory.

We should, by the way, be spreading rumors that the United States has unleashed several phony bin Ladens to smoke out any allies and organizational remnants he may have. This will be especially credible to those -- disproportionately among bin Laden's supporters, I would think -- who believe that the United States faked the bin Laden video, and should create some difficulties for him should he try to contact those folks.

CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER! Reader John Chang forwards this astonishing story about America's new prestige in Europe. Even the French like us now! Here are a couple of representative quotes, but read the whole thing:

Recalling President Bush's Sept. 12 promise that the U.S. military would "smoke the terrorists out of their holes" -- a statement that many Europeans ridiculed at the time -- the French daily Le Figaro noted Wednesday that "the actual outcome in Afghanistan was not very different from that.". . .

In a poll published Thursday by the newsweekly Le Nouvel Observateur, 65 percent of the French public described themselves as pro-American, almost twice the figure registered in a 1996 survey. . . .

By the time Kandahar fell on Dec. 7, the main thrust of European opinion had shifted to undisguised admiration for American military efficiency -- and soul-searching over Europe's own paralysis in the face of earlier challenges in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

"As a mirror of the American capacity for reaction to unforeseen crisis, the events of Sept. 11 have provided grounds for astonishment," the prestigious Paris daily Le Monde commented on the day Kandahar fell.

"By comparison, Europe appears to be a giant ensnared in its own rules and procedures."

Oh, the carping will start again. But this proves the truth: victory is the best propaganda. Had we consulted endlessly with the Europeans and then lost, they'd blame us anyway. Having won, on the other hand, the lack of consultation doesn't matter. I hope the Bush Administration is taking the proper lesson from this.

LINKS TO OTHER STUFF: People have been asking for links to my various opeds. You can find a partial list here. If you notice anything I missed, shoot me an email -- it's surprisingly hard to remember all this stuff and put it together, and google is less help than I would have expected.

READER HARRY WINNING WRITES: "All this barking about the Ashcroft Justice Department and civil liberties! Where was the indignation and inspection the Reno/Clinton Justice Department earned? - Waco, Ruby Ridge, Whitewater, ad nauseam?"

Well, Harry, I'm an equal-opportunity basher, as I would have expected anyone who reads InstaPundit to have figured out. But here's a piece I wrote with Dave Kopel on Ruby Ridge and the FBI, for your edification.

JAMES LILEKS MAKES FUN OF TED RALL in this hilarious column. Excerpt:

And this is a bad thing, remember. It’s very bad. Chain grocery stores symbolize everything about Western cultural imperialism that requires the dutiful loathing of the Thinking Man. Miles of fresh produce, meat you can eat without spending a day barking into a Turkish toilet, bread as soft as a Sultan’s pillow or hard as a rhino’s horn, three different sizes of Lucky Charms, the prefab pastry tubes plastered with the hideous figure of that GMO succubus the Pillsbury Doughboy - a pox on this soulless warehouse! A pox! After all, someone might make money running a modern supermarket in Kabul, and that would taint the entire enterprise; better for someone to sell groceries from a converted goat barn, shaving the flies off a slowly rotating hunk of meat, making only enough money to buy some crumbled
water-purifying tablets on the black market. Chain grocery stores? What’s next, a Barnes and Noble superstore? Haven’t the Afghan people suffered enough?
And it just gets better from there.

New theory: Rall is a CIA mole designed to bring out the best in the anti-anti-war movement and produce a new renaissance of American letters that will crush our enemies in a blinding wave of cultural imperialism. Thank you, Ted Rall! Thank you for sacrificing your reputation in the cause of American liberty.

12/16/2001

A SHOCKING ACCOUNT OF BRITISH ANTISEMITISM in this oped from The Telegraph.

SORRY FOR MY ABSENCE: I've tried to post a couple of times, but Blogger has been down. It seems to be working now. If it should ever truly die, or go down for a long time, I'll change the InstaPundit.Com address to point to the backup location.

SOMEBODY JUST SENT ME this column by Chris Matthews in which Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge (remember him?) says that "We're all air marshals now." Ridge also says that ""I think every single able- bodied man or woman, from this point forward, looks at themselves as a potential air marshal. . . . You need the courage of individuals to stand up for something bigger than themselves." This is all very nice and 100% true, and I'm happy to hear Ridge say it -- but it leads to the obvious question:

Why are they still confiscating nail clippers?

A MODERATE MUSLIM SAYS, "It's Time to Save our Islamic Faith." She's right. Extremist Islam is a problem for the West, but it's a bigger problem for Islam. Nice excerpt:

Few people know that, in Pakistan in the past six years, 2,000 Shia Muslims have been murdered by hardline Sunnis. Ninety of these were doctors killed for treating patients from both groups. Sufis were imprisoned and tortured by the Taliban and this persecution is getting worse around the world.

The extremist religious ideology has been exported by, among others, the clerics of Saudi Arabia, who have the means to buy influence. This ruthless, expansionist Islam is killing all joy and tolerance, which must be why more Muslim children run away from home in this country than those of any other Asian group. Worse, it is destroying a central tenet of our faith: that each individual has a direct relationship with Allah, unmediated by any other human being - not even the self-employed mullahs who have proliferated all over the place.

The author, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, is right to blame the Saudis, who in particular have been waging an increasingly ruthless war on Sufism for decades. Perhaps the West should begin quietly backing Sufism. And undermining the Saudis.

FAREED ZAKARIA has some interesting thoughts on what our longer-term approach should be. Since he's the one who coined the "victory is the best propaganda" phrase that I've been flogging ever since, his track record is pretty good.

RECYCLING AWARD: THE WASHINGTON POST runs an editorial shamelessly recycled from this press release by the antigun Brady Campaign. What's more, it's the second time the Post has done it if you count running this planted oped by former Clinton Justice Department official Eric Holder.

LAW PROFESSOR CASS SUNSTEIN HATES WEBLOGS: Well, not precisely. But he does argue that the Internet will cause people to tailor their news sources so as to reinforce what they already think.

There's something to this. But Sunstein omits an important angle. Right now, people who think as Sunstein does (he's basically an Al Gore liberal) already get news sources that reinforce what they think -- for example, The New York Times. And it's the tendency of the mainstream media to show, and to self-reinforce, that kind of bias that has driven so many people to the Internet in search of other sources of information.

If Sunstein wants people to come together in communities of divergent views, his first target should be the mainstream media, not the Internet.

"NOBODY LOVES THE EUROCRATS, AND THE EUROCRATS KNOW IT," says this post on Samizdata regarding the disaster at Laeken.

BLOGGER IS STILL ACTING UP. Only about one in three attempts to post is working. I'll try more later.

TED RALL SAYS only an idiot would try to "fix" Afghanistan. Then he says the United States should be fixing Afghanistan. Normally I would attack this as an inconsistency, but there's nothing inconsistent about Rall holding views that only an idiot would hold. I'm glad that even he can see that.

Oh, and what's this sudden enthusiasm for Kipling? I happen to like Kipling, and there's a lot that can be learned from his writing -- most of which is highly uncongenial to Rall's worldview, or Maureen Dowd's. But apparently the only Kipling they've ever read is Kim, and they haven't taken the right lesson from that. Bah.

MARINE HELICOPTER PILOTS are pleased with the friendly reception they're getting in Afghanistan, so different from the hostile natives they encounter in . . . California!

One reason why this war has gone so well, and with so few casualties among Americans and civilians, is the superior training of the American military. People bitching about noise (which was usually going on long before they moved to the area anyway) should shut up. Me, I have Kc-135s practicing aerial refueling directly above my house on a seemingly nonstop basis. I haven't complained, or shouted "Not in My Back Yard."

HMM. REPORTS OF BIN LADEN ON THE RADIO, but no bin Laden to be found. I hope this doesn't mean that my worries of yesterday are well-founded.




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