InstaPundit.Com

2/16/2002

JIM BENNETT asks "what is it with the French?"

What's the matter with the government, academia and media of France? Since Sept. 11, despite the genuine sympathy of the ordinary French in the street for the victims, the response of the elite elements has too often been pessimism, obstructionism, unfounded criticism and in general the same old blame-America malaise that they share with the rest of the Continental elite classes. . . .
But Bennett says the whole "surrender monkey" thing is unfair:
To begin with, the stereotype of "surrender monkey" may seem justified by French actions in 1940 and certain more recent occasions. But to say that the French are somehow inherently cowardly is to ignore French steadfastness from 1914 to 1918 in horrifying circumstances. For that matter, the issue in 1940 was not the physical cowardice of French troops on the line, who in fact fought as well as they could under bad leadership and took great casualties, but the moral cowardice of the French Cabinet. . . .

Today, however, France stands at the crossroads between two courses of action, neither of them viable. . . .

The French are not a nation of cowards, as the "surrender-monkey" epithet implies. They are a nation of talented, creative, and brave individuals. Unfortunately, they seem to alternate being led by a crowd of moral dwarves, alleviated by the rule of the occasional flawed giant. It has been three decades since the last such grand, albeit irritating, giant disappeared. What gives France its current bad name has been the pack of moral munchkins in charge ever since.

Excellent analysis of French problems, and the reaction of the "anglosphere street" to the remarks of some French politicians.

PRECISION BOMBING: Most of the worries are that it won't work as advertised. Sgt. Stryker worries that it will.

KEN LAYNE has an amusing item on Noam Chomsky: "the guy who literally can't get arrested."

MUGABE UPDATE: People are starving, which is usually what happens when you take land from farmers and turn it over to political operations.

Perhaps an EU military force will intervene to prevent this humanitarian disaster.

THIS OPED IN THE FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG tells it like it is about European complaints about what is increasingly becoming America's war.

In other words, after being repeatedly reminded of their inability to play even second fiddle militarily, European politicians were lining up to kill Washington's inclination toward unilateralism, in their eyes a wrongheaded, even contemptible, approach.

It was not without a certain astonishment that officials in Washington watched the European underachievers getting so worked up. Then they reminded Europe of the long list of its military shortcomings, accused it of overlooking repression in the case of Iran and of a strategic naïveté that virtually unmasked Europe's pretensions as a global actor.

What enrages many Europeans, who are in fact not as united as they like to think, is perhaps not so much the U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or Iraq as the realization of their own powerlessness on the questions that really count. Their reflexive indignation is directed at an America that has already licked its wounds and gotten back to business, and is now refusing to let anyone constrain it, least of all those who are unwilling or unable to act on their own.

The oped also encourages America not to become arrogant, which is certainly good advice -- but it's hard to be humble when faced with what the article correctly calls "simplistic anti-Americanism" by "underachievers." Another important point is that the lack of "economic vitality" in Europe (brought on in large part, I think, by the welfare-statism that also breeds terrorism) has doomed European governments to carping underachievement.

Let's get at the root causes of terrorism: Welfare states and military impotence in Western Europe, along with the feckless and destructive politics they breed. (Via JoAnne Jacobs.)

FLIT DISSES SCOTT SHUGER on the whole civilian-casualties thing, with a rather devastating demonstration that Shuger doesn't know what he's talking about.

NATALIJA RADIC reports on her Valentine's party, complete with a fetching photo of her as a Goth. Though the non-goth music sounds more appealing to me.

PUNISHING CHEATERS IS A FORM OF ALTRUISM according to this article in Nature. I think there's something to this, though we all know people who take this sort of thing too far.

BLEARY BLOGGING: Went to see my youngest brother's band last night. They didn't even start until going on one AM. Posting will resume later.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the downloadable-tunes section of their webpage.

2/15/2002

TED BARLOW is skeptical of the Ken-Lay-sparing Watkins testimony.

It is awfully convenient. At the moment, of course, we really don't know much, which is why it was so inappropriate for members of Congress to go off half-cocked with long, derisive speeches.

DESPITE THE MANY CONFIRMATORY EMAILS, it appears that my initial skepticism about the Chapters/Indigo item was correct -- at least this report says it's a hoax. Or maybe it's the report that says it's a hoax. . . .

BELLESILES UPDATE: This piece by David Skinner examines the Bellesiles affair to date. Bellesiles doesn't come out of it very well.

PR FOLKS HAVE DISCOVERED BLOGS, according to this article. This is showing up in my email. No Krugmanesque money calls, though.

DOC SEARLS has some good thoughts on blogging and journalism.

BRUCE OF FLIT says that his stapler would do a better job at the Pentagon than John Poindexter.

NICK SCHULZ is savaging the Bush Administration's climate-change policy.

CIA WHITEWASH: Peter Beinart agrees with Frank Gaffney that the feeble "investigation" into pre-9/11 intelligence failures is not to be taken seriously. Why is Congress putting so much less effort into figuring out what went wrong there, than into what went wrong with Enron?

EVERYBODY KEEPS EMAILING ME this Jonathan Rauch column about Paul Krugman, the New York Times and campaign finance reform. I'd been trying to deKrugmanize InstaPundit, but I guess there's still interest in this stuff.

THIS POLL can't be giving Al Gore any comfort -- it shows Bush with very high approval even in states that were won by Gore. In fact, in some of these Gore states, Bush's approval is higher than his national number.

DAVID IGNATIUS has a pretty good column on U.S. / European hostility. But I'm not so sure about this passage:

Americans also fail to understand how vulnerable Europeans feel because of their own growing Muslim populations. It's easy for America, across the water, to talk about bombing Iraq and Iran. But Europeans worry they will be caught in the fallout. The biggest undiscussed issue in Europe is the millions of Muslims living in France, Britain, Germany and other countries. They are a brooding, menacing presence for many Europeans.
I don't think this is what Americans don't understand. What Americans don't understand is having a problem like this and not trying to deal with it. It's the instinct toward appeasement that causes Americans to look at Europeans with baffled disgust.

UPDATE: Reader Lauren Coats writes:

One of the most revealing aspects of the Europe/US divide is the fact that Europe has "adjusted" to terrorism. The concept of eliminating it, and terrorists, shocks Europeans out of their socks.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Another reader sends this annotated paragraph:
Americans also fail to understand how vulnerable Europeans feel because of their own growing Muslim populations [which they treat as second-class citizens, good for service sector jobs, immigrant bashing polemics and little else]. It's easy for America [with its integrationist culture - including a President who says Muslims are people too and a Lebanese-American Secretary of Energy], across the water, to talk about bombing Iraq and Iran [who we rely on for oil]. But Europeans worry they will be caught in the fallout [when masses of the marginalized side with their former cultures since they haven't been admitted to the new one]. The biggest undiscussed issue in Europe is the millions of Muslims living in France, Britain, Germany and other countries [in ghettos with substandard housing and where police don't venture because - in their view - the criminals are just animals and the victims are just Arabs]. They are a brooding, menacing presence for many Europeans [who wouldn't dream of being caught speaking to them - what would the neighbors think - though they feel free to lecture America about its class problems].

DARE TO BE STUPID: Read these letters from journalists praising Ted Turner for his "brave" comments and announcing that they'd be proud to work for him.

Sounds like sucking up to me. Turner's comments weren't brave -- he's filthy rich and currently more or less unemployed. They were stupid (Turner blamed abject poverty for 9/11, but Osama bin Laden's not exactly poor, except perhaps by comparison to Turner) -- but when you're filthy rich, there's always somebody to tell you you're brilliant.

SPEAKING AS A LAWYER with great respect for my profession, I nonetheless believe that it's idiotic to have lawyers in the loop when missiles are being fired (or, sadly, not fired). Formulating rules of engagement -- sure. But applying rules of engagement? Idiotic.

On the other hand, this may strike fear into our adversaries:

Lawyers parachuted in with special operations forces to Panama in 1989, flew with Army troops to Haiti in 1994 and were deployed by the hundreds in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, sleeping in the sand alongside troops in the field. The lawyers--judge advocate generals, or JAGs in military parlance--reviewed airstrikes over Kosovo from an operations center in Germany and the movements of special operations and Army soldiers in Somalia and Rwanda. They rode into Macedonia with Army brigades and flew in the airborne operations command post over Haiti. They are permanently stationed in the Sinai, South Korea and Kuwait.

"You might say that, for better or worse, we're unleashing an army of lawyers," said Alfred P. Rubin, a former Pentagon lawyer in the office of the secretary of Defense and now a professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Seriously, though, this is a really dumb idea. It's really ass-covering by the people in charge -- which is usually the case when you have lawyers heavily involved in making any kind of operational decisions.

"THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD:" This story on the Euro is just hilarious:

As 12 euro zone finance ministers were gathering in Brussels to try to heal the rift over a sharp warning to Germany that its budget deficit is getting out of control, strange things were happening to the money itself.

The middle started to drop out of euro coins -- literally -- much to the consternation of officials at mints which cast them.

"This is not supposed to happen," was all an official at the Belgian mint would say after being presented with one- and two-euro coins missing their nickel centers.

URL-O-RAMA: Not only have I updated the links at left to reflect Virginia Postrel's new (well, old but -- oh, never mind) URL, but I've done the same for Josh Marshall, whose Talking Points Memo is now at the easier to remember talkingpointsmemo.com.

"IS U.S. JINGOISM TARNISHING THE OLYMPIC IDEAL?" asks the Guardian in a tired story about IOC folks being upset, and saying that maybe they won't come back to America, because it's just so, well, American.

Let's see -- what "Olympic ideal" is that? Unfettered bureaucratic corruption, dishonest judging, and professionalism masquerading as just-plain-folks amateurism?

Personally, I think the Olympics are a travesty, and I'd shut 'em down entirely if I could, so I'm as moved by these threats and complaints as I would be by a threat to remove Rollerball from theater screens. The Olympics have been hopelessly corrupt, and deadly dull, for my entire lifetime. They're a preserve for crooked bureaucrats from around the world. I think the Department of Justice should open a racketeering investigation of the whole enterprise. After all, here's the key paragraph:

A strong anti-American feeling has existed among many IOC members since 1998 when 10 of its members were forced to resign or were expelled after they were found to have accepted a total of $1m in cash, gifts, scholarships and other inducements to win votes for Salt Lake's Olympic candidacy.
Losers.

UPDATE: This may be the definitive take.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Luke Pingel says I have it all wrong -- and he makes a persuasive case:

If we did away with the Olympics, all these petty bureaucrats would be clamoring and clawing for power in some other arena. That might actually effect our everyday lives. The way it is now is infinitely more pleasant. They get to think they're important, while we get to sit back and watch them and laugh. Safe from any actual harm.
Hmm. This argument has great force, and I am not at all satisfied that it is not true. Perhaps we need our own Ministry of International Sport.

KEN LAYNE has the best take yet on the Moors who want an apology for being kicked out of Spain 500 years ago.

SCENES FROM A PARALLEL UNIVERSE: A must-read.

ENRON TURNAROUND: Reader Greg Decker reports a thought that I share:

Oh to have seen his face! I would have paid cash to see the look on Peter Fitzgerald's face when he heard what Sherron Watkins had to say.

As you know, Fitzgerald (who is a fellow Republican, but I shan't excuse him) called Ken Lay a carnival barker, and said he was the most notorious confidence man since Ponzi. Now, Sherron Watkins says that Lay was, in fact, duped by the other Enron execs.

If what Watkins says is true, then a few of those hypocritical charlatans in Congress are liable for libel. (And we even get a sentence that uses homonyms! This is a great Friday already!)

I have no love for Ken Lay, but neither did I derive joy out from watching congress savage him like wolves going after a wounded member of the pack. The cavalcade of derision would be cause for a mistrial in a court of law. I had hoped that Congress would be more dignified than that. (Hah! Yeah, right)
Yeah, Fitzgerald went off half-cocked with that outrageous statement. He isn't liable for libel, though, as members of Congress are immune from such things when they're acting officially.

Lay should have invited Fitzgerald to step outside and repeat the statement. . . .

VIRGINIA POSTREL IS HAVING some sort of problem with her redirect. If you want to reach her site, use http://www.dynamist.com/scene.html rather than the vpostrel.com address!

2/14/2002

ANTITERROR DROPPED BALLS: A troubling list of missed opportunities, from Frontline. Too bad the government investigation looks like a whitewash.

JEFF GREENFIELD JUST SLAMMED THE FRENCH on CNN, starting with the Olympic skating scandal, invoking the many high-level corruption cases, the sucking-up to dictators like Bokassa, the notorious corruption of the IOC, and concluding: "The French. What a freakin' surprise."

WELL, THEN I GUESS THEY WON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT "INNOCENT AFGHANS" BEING KILLED? A peace group at Columbia University offers this advice:

Outlining the People for Peace philosophy to me, one member gave the example of a missile heading toward a densely populated American city. According to him, "If they [the city's citizens] were a moral and enlightened people, they would wait patiently for death, encouraging a spirit of nonviolence." Curiously, People for Peace has yet to condemn Afghan civilians who have fled U.S. missiles.
Of course, as the story notes, there are Columbia professors who take a sturdily warlike stance -- on the other side, of course:
Prof. Edward Said, for one, has bragged about his connections to terrorist organizations. Not so long ago, for example, he described a meeting with Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, in the pages of the newspaper Haaretz. Hezbollah is suspected of transferring Al Qaeda operatives from Afghanistan to Lebanon and has been identified as the group that bombed a Marines barracks in 1983, killing 241 Americans.

Nevertheless, Said extolled Nasrallah for "mak[ing] them feel it in body bags."

For those who claim that the stupid antiwar left is a creation of right-wing propaganda, well, just read this article. It's alive and well at Columbia.

COMFY CHAIR UPDATE: My email indicates that the story about Indigo/Chapters taking the comfy chairs out of their bookstores is true. I got a lot of letters like this one, from Montrealer John Kahn:

Here in the western suburbs of Montreal the Chapter's store has had its comfy chairs, all but a couple, removed. There's nowhere to sit if you can't scoop the one love seat, the easy chair or one of the two chairs near the kids' books. Made me think, "cheap buggers"... although they haven't yet started to harass people for hanging around for hours reading the magazines.

One treat about visiting the US is the fabulous service you get in most retail operations.

Competition -- which I gather Chapters doesn't have much of -- is the answer, John. I know it's regarded as unCanadian, but it does get you better service.

A couple of readers wrote to say that Bernard Goldberg's #1 bestseller Bias is effectively unavailable in Chapters. This seems hard to believe, but is argument enough for busting them up under antitrust (er, if they did much of that in Canada, or for that matter here) since no non-monopolist would dare do such a thing.

THE LAST DOUBLE STANDARD UPDATE OF THE NIGHT: It's this item by Jennifer Harper:

The average American male will shell out $158 to appease the romantic needs of his sweetie today, buying favor with a big night out and perhaps a plush gorilla with a sincere expression and a sign that says, "I'm ape over you." The sweetie, in turn, will spend a reciprocal $36 today. Why is this?
I don't know, but you gotta love this self-serving sound bite:
"It's more than just buying. Men who give their sweetheart flowers and take them dinner are preserving a long-standing tradition," said Sarah Scheuer of the National Retail Federation.
Reminds me of that New Yorker cartoon about recipes from the National Cheese Institute, all of which start along the lines of "take five pounds of edam, and three pounds of cheddar. . . ."

YET ANOTHER DOUBLE STANDARD UPDATE: On the meaning of Valentine's Day. I like this woman. Read the comments with the post, too.

ADIL FAROOQ has a lengthy essay on Islamist rabble-rousing in Britain.

DOUBLE STANDARD UPDATE: Norah Vincent has another one.

REASON ENOUGH TO GIVE YASSIR ARAFAT THE BUM'S RUSH:

DESCENDANTS of Moors expelled from Spain centuries ago asked King Juan Carlos of Spain to apologise yesterday for the persecution of their ancestors.

The demand was made in the Moroccan city of Chaouen to mark the 500th anniversary of the royal order for every adult Muslim to leave Spain.

Mohamed Azzuz, a Moroccan historian, said: "We are like the Palestinians who keep the keys to their houses for their return. Our expulsion was a disaster, a form of ethnic cleansing." . . .

Mr Azzuz has sent a petition to the Spanish parliament demanding that its immigration law should recognise his people's "historic rights".

Bin Laden, readers may recall, was fuming about the need to take back Spain at one point. Islamist irredentism run amok. (By this logic, of course, the Crusades -- which sought a return of Jerusalem to Christian hands after merely a few centuries of occupation by Muslim conquerors -- were clearly justified).

Soon: "Animists and polytheists demand an apology from Muslims, seek return of Arabian peninsula."

SO, THE "AXIS OF EVIL" TALK was just going to get in the way of Iranian cooperation, eh? Looks to me like it's having the intended effect:

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Authorities arrested some 150 people, including European, Arab and African nationals, who entered Iran from Pakistan and are questioning them over any links to the Taliban or al-Qaeda, the state news agency said Thursday.

THIS ARIZONA POLITICS BLOG has more on the McCain / Indian giving issue.

BRIAN LINSE blames me:

Now look what you did... The UnaBlogger is actively campaigning for Kinsley's job at Slate! Personally, I'd vote for Kaus or Layne, but the UB would have certain advantages...
Well, Slate would certainly pull ahead of Salon in the sexuality department. But, sadly, I think it's already there.

DOUBLE STANDARD ALERT: Driving home just now I heard NPR describe Shays-Meehan as being opposed by the NRA, the National Right-to-Life Committee, and "other groups." From that you'd probably be surprised to hear that those "other groups" include the ACLU, now wouldn't you?

ETHAN WALLISON takes exception to my "double standard" remark, below:

Glenn- At risk of sounding defensive, I thought it might be a good idea to suggest where I think you veered off-course in your criticism of our article this morning. Generally speaking, my newspaper assumes that lawmakers vet their legislation with the various interests that might support or oppose it, mainly because those groups can be influential in building support/opposition among other lawmakers. Because our readership tends to be fairly sophisticated about the legislative process, we don't generally need to explain this dynamic; we take for granted that outside groups with a stake in the issues play a significant -- even central -- role in drafting bills. I can't vouch for the acumen of publications that either don't grasp this, or choose nonetheless to play on the irrational fears of readers who may not know any better. Basically I'm saying that we at Roll Call find it far more interesting that Common Cause screwed up Shays-Meehan than that they were involved in drafting it.
Well, okay. Such things are hardly news to me (I was a Washington lawyer, too) but this doesn't explain the loaded term "lobbying" used for the other side.

UPDATE: In a later email, Wallison adds: "Glenn- We also don't consider 'lobbying' to be a loaded term. We consider a 'lobbyist' to be an advertiser." That's quite funny. Okay, maybe I was too hard on Roll Call, which is a somewhat specialized publication, though I do feel that groups like Common Cause get rather a pass on this sort of thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. Maybe I wasn't too hard. I just opened another email from a Hill staffer saying that Wallison is full of it on this. Oh well: I report, you decide. Or something like that.

CHECK OUT THE COVER OF THE SPECTATOR. Apparently they're jealous of the abuse that the New Statesman received, and want some of their own.

BELGIUM'S -- DARE I SAY IT? -- "UNILATERALIST" APPROACH to war crimes and genocide has been smacked down by the International Court of Justice.

Perhaps they should look to their own prison "atrocities" first.

TRIPLE AXELS OF EVIL: Reader John Hare writes:

Is it only me that sees a parallel between European response to "Axis of Evil" and Olympic "Axels of Evil" in figure skating?

The same patronizing simplisme response to the Bush Doctrine and our colonial view of skating results.

Sorry. this is all too much.

Well, the Canadians are 100% behind us.

BLOGGER ROBERT MUSIL savages The New York Times' Enron coverage again. Excerpt:

Oliver Stone’s movie, JFK, competes with Plan Nine From Outer Space to be considered the most incoherent and witless creation ever committed to celluloid – but a movie based on the New York Times coverage of the Enron matter would surely threaten both of those trash classics.

As the Stone movie swells to maculate giraffe, a mysterious and wholly-invented “Mr. X” – played with appealing spooky goofiness by Donald Sutherland – “explains” the Kennedy assassination by rattling off a series of unconnected activities that eventually appear to implicate all the United States armed forces, its intelligence services, most foreign governments, the ever-complacent media, Congress, the Vice President, perhaps every male in the Dallas white pages, The Man Who Could, the Woman Who Wouldn’t, Moses, Christopher Columbus …! It is a conspiracy so vast that it keeps its secrets by the simple expedient of leaving virtually no one outside the conspiracy to whom the conspirators could spill the beans!

Not to be outdone, Patrick McGeehan of the New York Times has today discovered in his breathless excitement that Enron's Deals Were Marketed to Companies by Wall Street!

Imagine that. Investment banks sell complex “off-balance-sheet products” to companies to dress up their balance sheets. Perhaps the Times will tomorrow discover that when the businessman knows the publisher, that Newspapers Sometimes Run Puff Pieces About Businessmen In Trouble! It would be a very economical article to produce. Much of the data would be available from unimpeachable sources sitting right down the hall.

I don't know who Musil really is, but I'm enjoying his savage wit.

CIA WHITEWASH? Frank Gaffney says that the Agency's failures leading up to 9/11 are being swept under the rug.

READER GRIFF KINSINGER sends this link to a very cool NASA site showing hi-res satellite photos of the Olympic venues, in zoom-from-orbit format.

WELL, THEY HAVEN'T HIRED RACHAEL KLEIN, but in a sign that they recognize the need for new blood, Salon is bringing the folks from Spinsanity onboard. I think you'll see more of this kind of thing happening.

THE ADMINISTRATION'S DRUG WAR plans draw a cruel rejoinder on Electrolite.

SLATE EDITOR NOMINATIONS: Fray heavyweight Will Allen writes:

I can think of no one better suited for the job than Postrel. I have been reading her work , both as a writer and editor, for over a decade, and she is intelligent, witty, and very importantly for an editor, fair-minded. I like Sullivan too, but I think he is too much of a polemicist to be great editor, and has admitted that he was not terrific in that role. Whether Postrel would want the job is another story
Well, Bill Gates certainly has the resources to make the job attractive, if he wants to. Here's another suggestion, from the mysterious publisher of The Rallying Point:

Matt Welch was founding editor of the Prognosis, an english language weekly (or bi-monthy?) newspaper based in Prague for at least 4 years. Helping him in the endeavor were current blogger types Ken Layne, Ben Sullivan, Amy Langfield, and more.

I think a team of Matt's choosing would be great, and would really spice up the magazine and give it a bigger voice, a voice of reason.

Alternatively, Ken Layne and Charlie Hornberger founded and edited the infamous Tabloid.net, so they could definitely do it too.
The only thing is, I don't want any of them to leave Los Angeles. And I suppose I could do it, but I guess I'd have to tell people who I am.

Yes, that last could be a problem.

Hey, all of these people would do a much better job than Lewis Lapham is doing at Harper's. But heck, even the notorious UnaBlogger would do a better job than Lapham is doing.

ABC NEWS has a new Bloglike site called The Note. The trend continues. They link to a lot of interesting stuff, er, except they don't. Instead of having links, they just have the URLs in text that you have to paste into your browser window.

I don't understand why they'd do that. Does some clueless pointy-haired boss think that hotlinks will make people leave the site? If so, he or she is really missing the point of the Web. Sites with lots of links get more traffic, not less. Just ask Drudge.

RAND SIMBERG SAYS THAT CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM will lead to total blogger domination of politics. Well, kind of.

WHILE EVERYONE'S FOCUSING ON ENRON, this major accounting scandal has gotten little attention, even though it seems to involve the systematic fleecing of the less-fortunate. Wonder why?

THE COMFY-CHAIR COUNTERREVOLUTION? I've written a couple of pieces on bookstores and other businesses' efforts to have comfortable places for customers to hang out.

Now a reader sends this link to a website, complete with protest pictures, dedicated to a campaign against Canada's Indigo/Chapters bookstore chain, which apparently is removing the sofas and comfy chairs from its stores. This page looks like a parody to me, but the reader who sent it swears it's real. If anyone has more details, I'd be interested in hearing them.

Of course, while protests are cute, a promise to shop at Amazon (which doesn't have comfy chairs either, but does have better selection and good discounts) is probably more effective. Although some businesses (see, e.g., airlines) do seem to have a pathological desire to irritate their customers, most would rather keep them happy. And the airlines' financial position isn't exactly something to aspire to.

CHECK OUT THE UNNOTICED DOUBLE STANDARD in this story from Roll Call about Shays-Meehan:

Supporters of the bill on both sides of the aisle said the error was made by one or more lawyers from the reform group Common Cause, which had worked behind the scenes to draft the final language.
So if, say, lawyers for Enron -- or, hell, pick another nonprofit and say the NRA -- had drafted this, it would no doubt be denounced as legislation "drafted by the special interests." But when Common Cause does it, it's just reported as an unexceptional fact, except for a drafting error. (And, in fact, the response of critics is called a "lobbying effort" further down).

No bias here.

BELGIAN ATROCITIES: Does Amnesty International know about this? Imagine the uproar if the United States had done this with some Al Qaeda prisoner:

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A man was locked in a Belgian police cell without food or water for three days after a clerical error caused the arresting officers to forget about him, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

The man, a 30-year-old vagrant, was arrested two weeks ago and held in a police station in the Brussels district of Anderlecht.

But police forgot all about him due to an error in the arrest log, police commissioner Albert Roosens told Reuters.

LYNXGATE UPDATE: Readers were widely unconvinced by the Outside story that I link to below. I got lots of critical email, and not one item taking the biologists' side. Here's a typical example:

Let me see if I understand the defense's argument: Without notifying (or being asked by) their superiors, a handful of biologists submitted false samples to "test the lab's ability to spot false samples". Why, has there been a spate of false samples? (And, wouldn't one false sample, sent in by one biologist, have been sufficient to test the system? Sending in multiple false samples from different geographic locations seems to serve no purpose other than trying to expand the lynx's accepted territory.) If so, this would seem to be worth investigating. How many other species have been wrongly classified as endangered, by virtue of false samples?

More to the point, if I walk out of a store without paying for a CD, would anyone take seriously my unsubstantiated claim I was "testing" the store's security system? If not, why should we give any weight to these biologists' self-serving claims? Unless they can document that they were asked to submit false samples to test the integrity of the system, we should assume that they were trying to game the system.

Well, this will all get addressed in the hearings, I imagine. But the Outside piece did seem awfully charitable to me.

BRINK LINDSEY'S Against The Dead Hand gets a good review in the Financial Times.

COLIN POWELL gives European leaders a dressing down:

Mr Powell says European criticism of the US position on Iran is inconsistent. He suggests that European governments are keen to seek their own solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but appear reluctant to challenge Iran over the shipment of arms to the Palestinian Authority.

"How can we ignore the fact that they are complicit in shipping arms of a very escalatory nature to the Middle East? I thought everybody was worried about the Middle East. Everybody is constantly coming up with new ideas for the Middle East, and when you find Iran with this 50-ton shipment and we speak rather directly and clearly about the nature of this regime, it upsets everybody."

BELLESILES UPDATE: Emory University is launching a formal investigation of Michael Bellesiles, sparked especially by the latest disproved statement about his research, reports this story from the Chicago Tribune. Excerpt:

Ending months of uncertainty, Emory University has decided to launch an investigation of Michael Bellesiles, its award-winning historian accused of faking data to support his stunning claim that guns were not a part of early American culture.

In the end, he was backed into his current corner because he challenged the amateur custodians of a small-town archive on the West Coast.

Emory's investigation could cost Bellesiles his tenure, the academia's equivalent of a lifetime job guarantee. In announcing the probe, Emory Dean Robert A. Paul issued a written statement saying "questions remain concerning his research." . . .

"I was not hallucinating when I read the San Francisco probate files," Bellesiles wrote on an Emory Web site. He added a jab at the Contra Costa Historical Society, a low budget-operation of dedicated amateurs. "Additionally, the staff appeared unaware that they had any probate materials in their collection," wrote Bellesiles, "though they actually have a great deal."

Stung, the historical society fired back. It said that while it does have probate records, none of them is from San Francisco. The staff also disputed Bellesiles' claim to have researched his book there

No record of research

"Last, we cannot confirm that Professor Bellesiles did substantial research in our collection," it wrote on its Web site. "We do not remember him visiting our collection before his recent visit. We have searched our log books and invoices for the years 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996 and find no record for research fees or photocopies."

Upon reading that posting, the chairman of Bellesiles' department, James Melton, sent the archive an e-mail apologizing for Bellesiles. Another faculty member sent a letter to Emory's administration saying the university could wait no longer. The announcement of an investigation shortly followed.

The Contra Costa Historical Society's staff is bemused by its unsolicited role in the Bellesiles affair, notes Kathleen Mero, a long-time volunteer there:

"Who'd have thought that the straw that broke the camel's back would be an obscure small-town archive in California."

UPDATE: Reader Daniel Safford is unsurprised that it was amateurs who tripped up Bellesiles:
After reading the post about Emory investigating Bellesiles, I was unsurprised that a small, amateur operation proved to be the flash point. . . .

Of course, now that we have the Internet, we can fact check everything. There are no more obscure places - and as a professional (engineer), I will say that there are a lot more amateurs who are good at what they do for fun, than professionals who do it for a buck. After all, the amateurs are doing it for love and recreation, so they will take care with what they do. Somehow, this gets lost on a lot of experts and professionals, especially ones in academic fields.

Yes. It was amateurs like Clayton Cramer (himself an engineer, though one with a master's in history and several published books to his credit) who first spotted the problems with Bellesiles' work. Similarly, as I mentioned earlier, it was amateur railroad enthusiasts who spotted problems with Stephen Ambrose before anyone else. The term "amateur" was originally one of praise, since it signified love for the subject. I think it will become such again.

2/13/2002

SGT. STRYKER says that Ken Adelman is way too casual about what's involved in invading Iraq.

MICHAEL LYNCH explains the special interests behind campaign finance "reform":

This raises an obvious question: If the reform accomplishes so little, why are so many working so hard to push it through? For the same reason anything gets done in politics: It serves the narrow interests of those doing the pushing. Incumbent politicians will use the bill to limit competition, while good government ("goo-goo") activist groups rely on such efforts for fundraising.

Let’s crack open the bill and examine it. The first thing to note is that its main ambition is not to prohibit all soft money, but only that which can be used against incumbent politicians. Soft money to political parties, which disproportionately benefits challengers, is outlawed, as is anonymous soft money that funds advertisements within 60 days of elections, the period during which ads pose the largest threat to incumbents. But there are no restrictions on raising money for incumbents to use lobbying state legislators on redistricting issues. The principle is clear: Soft money that hurts incumbents is corrupting, but that which helps them is ennobling.

Once the effort is properly conceived as The Incumbent Protection and Full Funding for Goo-Goo Groups Act, other provisions make sense as well.

Read the whole thing.

NEW SLATE EDITOR NOMINEE: Oliver Willis writes:

If Ken Layne became the editor of Slate, the web would cease any pretense of being boring, sex columns would have sex, and much smack would be spoken.
Nothing to argue with in that statement.

ROBERT MUSIL has some questions that he says New York Times reporters Joseph Kahn and Alessandra Stanley should have asked Robert Rubin. Mark Lewis at Forbes.Com is also unimpressed with the Times duo's efforts.

READER DAN KENNEY has been bombarding me with emails saying that the "Lynxgate" affair -- in which biologists put lynx hair on traps used to look for lynxes in a remote area -- is bogus and that the biologists did nothing wrong. He now sends this link to an article in Outside that says that, yes, the biologists did that, but that they were just testing the lab that evaluated the samples. Well, okay -- that's not what the earlier press reports said, but I certainly haven't been bird-dogging (so to speak) this issue.

I do find a quote in the article that's worth noting, though:

"Anything endangered-species related is now being called into question," says Eric Wingerter, national field director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a green-tilted group that includes federal land managers.
That's true, and a large part of the blame goes to environmentalists -- one of them a former colleague of mine who pioneered the tactic with the Snail Darter litigation against the Tennessee Valley Authority -- for shamelessly using the Endangered Species Act for years as an anti-development tool more than a species-protection tool. That has eroded their credibility, and made scenarios like "Lynxgate" credible to large numbers of people.

What's the truth on all this? I don't know, but there will be hearings in the House Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee, so maybe we'll find out.

ORRIN JUDD writes that there was a good commentary on weblogs on NPR today. I can't get the link to play (but this machine has so much audio software on it that RealPlayer often doesn't work for some reason) so I can't say from firsthand experience. I'll try to listen to it at the office tomorrow.

JONAH GOLDBERG writes on the moral repugnance of dog shows. Does Leon Kass know about this?

GERHARD SCHRODER IS KILLING THE EURO, according to David Carr over at Samizdata.

KINSLEY SUCCESSORS: Okay, what bloggers besides Kaus would be good candidates to edit Slate? Two obvious ones come to mind -- Andrew Sullivan and Virginia Postrel. Both actually have experience successfully editing magazines. Both are widely known and respected. Neither, probably, would want to move to Redmond, though -- but perhaps Bill Gates will be reasonable about that.

What do you think?

MCCAIN INDIAN GIVING UPDATE: Reader Michelle Malkin writes to note that she has a column on the subject, but she says that the original treatment was by "unsung Internet political finance guru Ed Zuckerman" here. Funny it's gotten so little attention in the general press.

TIM BLAIR'S extended evaluation of Margo Kingston's writing is the blog equivalent of Mark Twain's analysis of James Fenimore Cooper. It's long (for a blog post) but it's quite a piece of work.

THE NORMAN MAILER / DR. EVIL connection is explained by Sgt. Stryker. Very amusing.

NO DOUBT MANY BLOGGERS WILL BE TAKING CREDIT for Reuters' current misfortunes. Just remember: one man's operating loss is another man's gain.

A SUSPECTED AL QAEDA MEMBER accidentally blew himself up when he threw a hand grenade at soldiers chasing him. Apparently, like King Arthur, he has trouble counting past three, as it went off beside him.

GAVE BLOOD THIS AFTERNOON: The turnout seemed quite good, but of course it was on campus and the University of Tennessee has a history of successful blood drives.

IF IT'S WEDNESDAY, IT MUST BE TIME FOR Print Punditwatch!

MICKEY KAUS has spotted a yawning loophole in the proposed campaign-finance reform law's "millionaire opponent" exception. I love Kausfiles. I hope it continues when Kaus is off editing Slate.

UPDATE: And here's another loophole, involving Indian gambling interests. Oh, yeah, this is going to clean up politics.

ANOTHER UPDATE: There's no link with this reader email, but it's interesting:

Guess who was one of the biggest recipients of Indian dollars?

John McCain, that's who.

If true, this is pretty bad. I found a $38,850 contribution from Pequot Indians, and a bunch of resort- and law-firm-related contributions that might be Indian-related, but I wasn't able to confirm this on the web.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader T.J. Lynn sends this link to a source.

McCain, the principal backer of campaign-finance reform, is also a loyal backer of Indian political causes. As a result, McCain is the number-one recipient of the political donations provided to candidates by the nation's 550 Indian tribes. In fact, McCain receives twice the amount given to the second-highest recipient.

THE RELIGIOUS LEFT'S ANTIWAR EFFORTS come in for assault here, with an interesting Harry Truman anecdote.

SOMETHING involving gunfire and explosions is going on at the U.S. base in Kandahar. Stay tuned.

THIS DEFENSE OF MILOSEVIC (whose "worst crime was to carry on being socialist") reads as if it were a parody. But, sadly, I don't think it is -- though with The New Statesman it's getting hard to tell.

The author is correct, however, when he says that Milosevic's trial is more dubious under established international law than the detention of Al Qaeda prisoners. But he declines to draw the obvious conclusion.

WILL MICKEY REPLACE MIKEY? Kausfiles was down all day yesterday, leading a reader to ask me if Mickey Kaus might be dropping it as part of a move to replace Mike Kinsley as editor of Slate. I think that Kaus would be an excellent choice for that job -- if he could stand sunlight-deprivation that would attend a move from L.A. to Redmond -- but I think it's just server problems. The site was up earlier today, with one new posting, but it seems to be back down at the moment.

But perhaps bloggers should descend en masse on Slate and demand that one of our own be put in charge. And who better than Kaus?

THE NEW YORK TIMES DONATES TO HILLARY CLINTON, AL SHARPTON CRONY! Read the shocking story in SmarterTimes. Puts the NYT's Enron hysteria into perspective, doesn't it?

CAMPAIGN FINANCE "REFORM" IS MAKE-BELIEVE, Robert Samuelson writes. Excerpt:

Only by the lax standards of "Washington think" would anyone treat it seriously. It's all innuendo: Enron collapsed because some executives behaved unethically; Enron executives also made political contributions; therefore, the contributions are tainted and the system is rotten. In reality, Enron would have collapsed even if its executives hadn't contributed a penny. The connection between the bankruptcy and political giving is fictitious. Perhaps contributions bought Enron some influence in shaping the White House's energy plan. But given the Bush administration's pro-market views, does anyone truly believe the energy plan would have been much different without Enron?

The real lesson is that when Enron desperately needed help, its contributions bought no influence at all. In the 1999-2000 election cycle, Enron, its executives and employees made about $2.4 million in contributions, says the Center for Responsive Politics. Republicans got 72 percent, Democrats 28 percent. That's a lot of money -- but not compared with total contributions. In the 2000 election, all House and Senate candidates raised more than $1 billion. Bush and Gore raised $193.1 million and $132.8 million. Political parties and committees raised hundreds of millions more.

Even if Enron deserved help (it didn't), few politicians would have risked public wrath by rushing to its aid. What this episode actually shows is that the breadth of contributions insulates politicians against "undue" influence by large donors.

Somebody send Bill O'Reilly a copy of this piece.

THE EU WANTS TO silence orchestras. Well, it wants to cut the volume to a maximum of 83 db on stage. Or, I suppose, the musicians could wear earplugs.

These guys persist in being caricatures of themselves, don't they?

WELL, IT IS AN AXIS OF EVIL: Austrian leader Joerg Haider visits Baghdad and gets embarrassingly chummy with Saddam Hussein. But what's really disturbing is this line from Saddam, which sounds a lot like Chris Patten and any number of French politicians: "Europe has a double responsibility: to teach America wisdom and to keep away from the damaging consequences resulting from US policies."

MY LATEST TECHCENTRAL STATION COLUMN is up. It's on my love affair with Polish software engineers.

Rest assured, it is entirely platonic.

BRITISH READER BRIAN KEARSLAKE SENDS THE FOLLOWING:

The USA is doing a masterful job in its anti-terror efforts and Europe has no business to seek to deny the States its right to take care of itself. You should see some of the news media crap we get here. The message at the outset was "If you're not with us, you're against us". Brilliant. Jack Straw, Patten and their kind are not people to inspire confidence. In fact, of course, it's the reverse: they indirectly assist the growth of mushrooms with their every pronouncement. I'll put my trust in Rumsfeld and Bush all the way. Go for it, Yanks. My own continent is full of ungrateful, superior-minded bastards with no deep understanding of the debt it owes you.

Brian Kearslake
English
age 55

Actually, I think they do understand. That's what leads to the adolescent-like urge to talk nasty and demonstrate "independence." But, like teenagers, the talk is belied by their still relying on someone else to foot the bills.

AL QAEDA HIDING OUT IN LEBANON? That's the gist of this report:

Israel has thrown a nasty spanner into the works of the European-Islamic Forum, opening in Istanbul on Tuesday, by leaking an intelligence report that top al Qaida operative Abu Zubeidah has found refuge near Baalbek in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. The terrorist group's chief for logistics, Abu Zubeidah is said to be holed up with 40 fellow al Qaida refugees from Afghanistan, having escaped through Iran, and now guarded by teams of Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards. If the Americans confirm this, airstrikes could follow. True or not, it complicates life for Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud who was hoping to use the Istanbul meeting as a platform for his denials of earlier reports of al Qaida sanctuaries in Lebanon. Hammoud repeated his denials in meetings Monday with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem -- but kept silent about his later talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi.
BTW, follow the link and note the anti-American commentary in the rest of this piece. I thought I was reading Reuters there for a moment.

CANADA PRODUCES A SHOCKING DISCOVERY FOR THE ARABS -- But maybe the French will be next?

KEN ADELMAN SAYS Iraq isn't so tough.

CHRIS PATTEN, ET AL., COME IN FOR A brutal Fisking from Michael Gove -- in The Times! Perhaps the warblog attitude is spreading.

When will Mr Patten and his colleagues realise that poverty doesn’t cause extremism — there are no al-Qaeda terrorists in Kinshasa — but that extremism causes poverty, as the vast division in wealth between communist North Korea and democratic South Korea demonstrates. And every pound the EU showers on the likes of Arafat is another credit in extremism’s exchequer.

Finally, even if the EU is not willing to deal robustly with the threat to democracy posed by rogue states and the terrorists they sponsor, what gives it the right to stop America “unilaterally” defending itself? The idea that the US should drop its guard now, and forgo its duty to protect citizens who have already suffered grievously from democracy’s enemies, is offensive nonsense. Especially when those steps will bring the EU citizens for whom Mr Patten presumes to speak a security he can never provide.

Mr Patten may protest that America as “Gulliver” can’t “go it alone” and the EU should not regard itself as “so Lilliputian that we can’t speak up and say it”. But I would rather Gulliver unbound, standing taller and seeing further, than Gulliver tethered by pygmies. Mr Patten may not recall, but it was Swift’s hero who, after they had freed him, saved the Lilliputians. Sometimes we need a giant’s “simplistic” strength. Now is such a time.

Tell 'em.

2/12/2002

BILL O'REILLY IS DEEPLY CONFUSED: I just caught his lead-in monologue on campaign finance reform. He says that Enron proves the influence of money in politics. Another example he gave was the support of Sens. Leahy and Jeffords (both of Vermont) for dairy price supports.

But Enron didn't get anything for its money, as best anyone can tell. And the support for dairy price supports isn't based on campaign contributions but on narrow constituent interest: campaign finance "reform" won't fix that.

MARK STEYN'S piece on Princess Margaret courteously credits Tim Blair for a sharp observation:

The great Australian wag Tim Blair contrasts this with the obituaries for Linda McCartney, who was respectfully styled as a "committed vegetarian": when a committed vegetarian dies of cancer at 56, it's just one of those things, could've happened to anyone; when a heavy smoker/drinker lives out her three score and ten, she's a victim of her addictions.
The column's nice, but it's the courtesy that convinces me that Steyn is a class act.

WOW. Look at how many signatures this WTC petition has gotten.

JAPAN: A SLOW-MOTION ARGENTINA? That's what Derek Lowe says. He highlights something that worried me earlier this week: Japanese are buying gold bullion in large numbers. I thought that was odd, and worrisome. So does he. Beware the ides of March.

TIM BLAIR PUTS DOWN Philip Weiss of the New York Observer for saying that Australia is overpoweringly white. And, based on my limited impressions, he's right to do so.

I've only been to Sydney and its environs, which are probably the least-white part of Australia, but I certainly wasn't overpowered by the whiteness of the crowds there.

But I sympathize with Blair on this. It's an article of faith with New Yorkers that they live in a place that's unusually diverse, and no one else does. But, really, everywhere is pretty diverse now. Knoxville, which most New Yorkers no doubt would consider lily-white, has sizable Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese and Arab populations -- and a whopping huge crowd of recently arrived Mexicans -- and a trip to the supermarket or mall here produces scenes of multiethnicity that would have been available only in New York, Los Angeles or Miami a couple of decades ago. And writers for the Observer are usually the last to catch on to new developments that challenge their preconceptions: remember, it was in the Observer that Nicholas von Hoffman wrote on November 14 (after the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif) that we were clueless and quagmired in Afghanistan.

WHY MICHAEL BELLESILES' STATISTICAL FLUMMERY FOOLED HISTORIANS: Just look at how clueless Princeton historian Sean Wilentz is about statistics -- and about his own cluelessness.

SLATE MAY BE LOSING MICHAEL KINSLEY, but there are two good items today: This piece casting severe doubt on the New York Times' claim that "millions" of Iranians marched against America, and this piece by Anne Applebaum on why North Korea does, indeed, count as evil.

And very, very, sick and sad. I believe that when the dreadful and increasingly-crazy Kim Jong Il regime collapses, which will probably be sooner rather than later, we will discover that North Korea is as bad as Pol Pot's Cambodia. It's Mordor without the magic.

Applebaum mentions President Kim Dae Jung of South Korea, who favors "constructive engagement" with North Korea. I met Jung back in 1983 or 84 when he was at Yale -- I interviewed him for a radio show that I produced there with two other guys who (unlike me) have gone on to become bigshots at NPR, David Baron and Andy Bowers.

Kim Dae Jung was a very likeable guy, and a real hero. But by American standards, at least, he was a bit batty. He explained to me how he was saved from being drowned (at the hands of KCIA goons working for the South Korean military government) by the direct -- and highly visible -- intervention of Jesus Christ. Which is to say, that I believe that Jung may have a greater faith in redemption than I, lacking firsthand encounters with the Redeemer, possess myself.

MICHAELANGELO SIGNORILE is thoroughly Fisked over at Media Minded. Trouble is, I think he secretly enjoys it.

OLYMPIC SKATE COMPETITION JUDGING explained here.

WILL VEHRS opines on Michael Kinsley's departure from Slate, and manages to plug "News Quiz" one last time.

SENIOR TALIBAN OFFICIALS are negotiating a sellout of Al Qaeda, which suits me fine.

ECOTERRORIST SENTENCED to 18 years imprisonment and $2.8 million restitution. His justification is pretty lame: he thought that the land in question, which he didn't own, somehow "belonged" to him, not to the people building houses on it:

He set that first fire on April 9, 2000, at a large home under construction near the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, because, he said, the house was spoiling his favorite jogging trail. As he saw it, "that was my land — that was my entrance to the preserve."
Many muggers and car thieves have the same confusion about property rights, believing that things that they want must, somehow, belong to them. They aren't heroes. Neither is this guy.

UPDATE: Here's another story about an eco-terrorist -- this time, testifying in front of Congress.

ENRON HEARINGS: This story in the Washington Post gives highlights of Ken Lay's ritual abuse at the hands of the Senate Commerce Committee:

"You are perhaps the most accomplished con man since Charles Ponzi," said Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) "I'd say you're like a carnival barker except that might not be fair to carnival barkers. A carnie will at least tell you up front that he's running a shell game."

Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) said he wanted to know "how is it that 29 Enron executives at the top were able to earn $1 billion in stock sales in 2001 while people at the bottom lost everything."

Does Fitzgerald think this makes him look better? Or Congress?

It's my uninformed opinion that Lay may well turn out to be a criminal. But the evidence of that is still being developed, and these hearings weren't about investigation, but about, as the Post said, getting on TV. They make the Congress look small(er) and (more) petty.

AUSTRALIA: Government spying for political gain? This doesn't sound all that horrible to me, but I'm not sure I'm up on the political background. But that sort of thing is inevitable, if you give people the power to do it.

BEING THERE: Jonah Goldberg has a good column about knowledge versus experience.

RAND SIMBERG administers a vigorous Fisking to an anti-American writer in Canada. Yeah, I know -- it's like shooting fish in a barrel. But these fish need it. And besides, it's fun.

BTW, Eric Margolis, the Fiskee here, has been spamming me with plugs for his website for months. It's here. It's about what you'd expect.

SLATE / DRUDGE PAGEVIEW SMACKDOWN: Drudge wins handily. But, as SmarterTimes wonders, when will the New York Times admit it? True, the two are very different. But still. . .

THAT'S CANADIAN FOR "EVIL," MATE: Actually, I don't see them making any commercials with this point, but that's probably because I am, fundamentally, an optimist about the human condition.

SUMAN PALIT has some harsh words for plans to unleash bounty hunters on foreign students who miss check-ins.

DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY: This Washington Post story on planned hearings to investigate pre-9/11 intelligence failures shows that not everyone in Congress is missing the lesson of the Enron hearings:

The joint committee will concentrate the investigation in a single forum whose members are accustomed to keeping quiet about classified matters. The arrangement avoids -- for now, at least -- the spectacle of competing and often sharply partisan congressional inquiries, such as those underway concerning Enron Corp.
If they're smart, they won't televise the hearings, either.

MORE ABOUT TELEVISED CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS: A reader writes:

Do the congressmen realize that they are coming across as total buffoons? I work on a trading desk, and we have MSNBC on all day. Whenever any Senator or Congressman starts on an Enron witness, we all have the same reaction. Something along the lines of "What a hypocritical a*****e that guy is!" And we're not talking about the witnesses. Do you think the rest of the country sees them that way? Do you have to be totally clueless to be an elected official?
No, but it helps. Seriously, I think that Congress, eager to look "relevant" when the Executive branch is getting all the attention because of the war, has jumped on this way too fast and with way too many committees. Everybody who knows anything can see this -- and the ones who don't know anything probably aren't paying attention anyway.

UPDATE: Reader Kevin Maguire writes:

On the way into work today, NPR told me that the senators' opening statements took over an hour. That's an hour of blathering, at God know what cost to the taxpayer, before a single question was asked of a witness.
I think it makes clear what the priorities are here.

SALON SEXWATCH UPDATE: No sex today -- not even a column. It "will return next week." However, the lead story, "BattleBots in the Bedroom" (which runs, weirdly, as a "technology and business" story, not a sex item -- who decides that stuff?), is all about industrial-strength sex toys like the "Drilldo." (Will BattleBots sue Salon for trademark infringement? I hear they have good lawyers.)

In a weird coincidence, Rachael Klein is writing about sex toys too, today. Her column is more erotic than the Salon treatment, of course.

Hmm. Maybe robosexuals are coming out of the closet -- er, machine shop. Not that there's anything wrong with that. . . .

ACADEMICS SUPPORT WAR ON TERRORISM: No, really:

Sixty leading intellectuals, mostly high-powered academics who study ethics, religion and public policy at American universities and think tanks, will issue an open letter today explaining why they believe the war on terrorism is necessary and just.

"There are times when waging war is not only morally permitted, but morally necessary, as a response to calamitous acts of violence, hatred and injustice. This is one of those times," the letter says.

Among the signers of "What We're Fighting For: A Letter From America" are former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), now a professor at Syracuse University; Francis Fukuyama of Johns Hopkins; James Q. Wilson of the University of California at Los Angeles; Samuel Huntington and Theda Skocpol of Harvard; and Amitai Etzioni of George Washington University. Though weighted toward the moderate right, the signers run the gamut politically from Michael Walzer, a democratic socialist at Princeton, to Michael Novak, a conservative at the American Enterprise Institute. . . .

Jean Bethke Elshtain, professor of social and political ethics at the University of Chicago, said in an interview that they went back and forth over whether the title should say "A Letter From America" or "A Letter to America."

Ultimately, she said, they chose "from" because "we thought it was necessary to address our Muslim brethren" around the world.

But, Elshtain added, she and several other signers wanted to stir a debate among fellow academics, because "inside the academy . . . there's this view that the American use of force always represents an imperial or nefarious purpose."

Good for them.

UPDATE: Here is the actual statement.

AN INTERESTING STORY on the anti-Taliban resistance.

AXIS OF EVIL: A reader writes:

I have been interested in reactions to Bush's "axis of evil" speech. The NYT today calls the demonstrations in Iran an unfortunate byproduct of his impliedly irresponsible rhetoric, saying that it has alienated the "moderates" inside Iran.

What I haven't seen is any comment on what happened the last time a Republican administration tried a rapproachment with "moderate elements" inside Iran. I don't remember Democrats being quite so approving of Robert McFarlane's secret trip (complete with cake and Bible) when it came to light as part of the Iran-Contra deal.

Perhaps the Administration knows something the NYT editorial staff doesn't: i.e., that the only people with real power in Iran (elections notwithstanding) are the mullahs.

I believe it was Henry Kissinger who said that a "moderate" Iranian is one who has run out of ammunition.

I don't actually think this is true of Iran as a whole. But I think that the "moderates" in the Iranian government can't deliver the goods, because they don't have the power. We should be fomenting revolution -- and you don't do that by sucking up to the mullahs.

UPDATE: Michael Ledeen says the Times has it all wrong, and that in fact the rally the Times takes as evidence that Bush has inspired hostility was in fact poorly attended for such things, and is an indication that the regime is losing its grip. I can't say, but Ledeen's track record on Iran over the past several months has been a lot better than that of the Times.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Eric Kolchinsky writes:

Are today's reporters just stupid or don't they study
any history? I was born in the Soviet Union and we had major anti-American/pro-Communist rallies there. Of course, everyone attended because they had to, either their jobs or lives were at stake. Everyone carried the signs, but only a very few believed any of it. That's just the reality of life in a closed society. Now only a few years after the fall of the Soviet Union our intrepid reporters tell us this rally is genuine reflection of the will of the Iranian people. Have they forgotten how real life works?

I suspect that they have not. In reality, today's journalists have a double standard. An expression of the American government is to analyzed cynically, but a piece of news critical of the US is taken a genuine and delivered without any ill motive. No wonder "Bias" is number one bestseller!

Yes, the combination of cynicism and gullibility displayed by the press -- and particularly the Times lately -- is breathtaking.

WOMEN FOR PORN! Go here and scroll down for some interesting commentary on the Inter-Blog Porn Wars, with the amusing observation that it's the women who are pro-porn and the men who are anti.

HMM. Members of Congress may all want to be on TV -- but is that such a good idea?

EXPLAIN TO ME AGAIN: Why does anyone listen to Norman Mailer? Here he is going on about Jack Henry Abbot's suicide:

I never knew a man who had a worse life. What made it doubly awful is that he brought a deadly tragedy down on one young man full of promise and left a bomb crater of lost possibilities for many, including most especially himself.
Oh, I don't know. I think the lost possibilities of, say, Richard Adan, the waiter he killed matter more.

Which is why I'll never be Norman Mailer. Can you say "moral bankruptcy?" Hell, bankruptcy is too small a word. : we're talking moral Enron here. Where are the Congressional hearings?

UPDATE: Several readers pointed out this delightfully non-bankrupt passage in the story:

In the civil trial, Mr. Abbott represented himself and at one point told Mrs. Adan that her husband's life was "not worth a dime."

Hearing of Mr. Abbott's death yesterday, Mrs. Adan said, "I am happy he will not kill again."

RICH HAILEY says that Al Gore is toast. Hey, but they said that about Nixon in 1961, too.

THE WASHINGTON POST HAS IT ALL FIGURED OUT:

Kenneth Lay is due to testify today before a Senate panel. He has already announced that he will assert his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, so you might wonder what the point of going through the entire exercise will be. How naive. It will serve three very critical purposes: Getting senators on TV, getting senators on TV and getting senators on TV. Oh, yes. It will also humiliate a witness who remains, lest senators forget, innocent until proven guilty.
Yes. Congress hopes to score a PR coup with these hearings, but instead it is showcasing the inability of its members to forego personal gain for the public interest, even in wartime. The rush to hold televised hearings, and the inability of members of Congress to avoid making prejudicial public statements, will impede actually finding out what happened, and the prosecution of any crimes. But who cares -- the point is to get on TV! Though I wonder who will watch. Even the curling finals are more exciting.

2/11/2002

TODAY IT'S BEEN FIVE MONTHS SINCE THE 9/11 ATTACK. I think that it's probably a good thing that people aren't paying much attention to that. We shouldn't forget. But we should be acting, not remembering. And we are.

U.N. AMBASSADOR JOHN NEGROPONTE seems to be administering tough love to the United Nations. I'm for some Vernon Walters-style truth-telling in that forum.

"People do not suddenly loose their moral compass because they are poor, and terrorism does not represent or benefit the poor," he said. "One look at what terrorism did to Afghanistan's people and economy demonstrates exactly what might be called the terrorist's ethic of social and economic justice."

For example, he cited that fact that al Qaida did not assist the Afghan people by building schools and hospitals, but helped itself by building training bases and safe houses while "economic and social opportunity vanished" in Afghanistan.

Hint to the intelligence agencies: start gathering data (if you haven't already) on U.N. officials' corruption and abuses. It'll come in handy for the PR campaign that will be needed to purge that organization of its idiots, crooks, and cronies.

PERRY DEHAVILLAND AND STEVEN DEN BESTE say that the music industry is committing suicide by treating its customers as the enemy. Kind of like the airlines.

Not much of a business model if you ask me.

SORRY GUYS. EnterStageRight has made InstaPundit its conservative site of the day. But I'm not a conservative. I'm a Whig.

SOME SPECULATION ON A POST-SADDAM IRAQ, with perhaps a Jordanian angle. Hey, Iraq was once ruled by the Hashemites, too!

CIVILIAN DEATHS IN AFGHANISTAN MAY NUMBER IN THE HUNDREDS according to this report, as inflated Taliban figures are deflated:

One factor contributing to inflated estimates was the distortion of casualty reports by the Taliban regime. Afghan journalists have told AP that Taliban officials systematically doctored reports of civilian deaths to push their estimate to 1,500 in the first three weeks of the war in an attempt to galvanize opposition to the bombing.

"Our chief was from the Taliban. His deputy from the Taliban. The information minister was from the Taliban," said one journalist, Mohammed Ismail. "We could not do our jobs. We could not tell the truth." . . .

During the U.S. bombardment, the Taliban waged an energetic public relations war, in which accounts of civilian suffering were their principal weapon. In that campaign, they achieved far greater success than they ever did on the battlefield.

The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef — who is now in U.S. custody — repeatedly accused the United States of genocide. It was Zaeef who, three weeks into the war, claimed civilians deaths had already topped 1,500.

Afghan journalists for the official Bakhtar news agency, whose reports were used as a basis for Taliban claims, now say their dispatches were freely doctored.

Mohammed Ismail — then a Bakhtar reporter, promoted to acting director after the Taliban fled — told AP that in one typical instance, he went to the scene of an airstrike in Kabul's Khair Khana neighborhood on Oct. 20 and saw eight bodies.

"But it was changed in our dispatch to 20," he said. When he heard the report later on Taliban-run radio, the figure had gone up to 30, he said.

Bakhtar journalists also said they were ordered to report military deaths as civilian ones. Reporter Younis Mihireen recalled a direct hit on a Taliban and al-Qaida housing complex in the west of the city in late October, in which about 60 fighters were killed.

"I saw it with my own eyes — there were no civilians anywhere nearby, and I reported this," he said. "But the dispatch said all the dead people were civilians, not fighters."

I wonder if Marc Herold will revise his figures.

JIM BENNETT SENDS THIS THOUGHT on corporate funding of antiglobalization protesters like the Ruckus Society, mentioned below:

So, Unilever and other big corporations donated money to fund the Ruckus Society and other jerks to tear up downtown Seattle and other places.

Gee, couldn't the residents and merchants and city governments of places like Seattle do a class action suit against the corporations for their part in causing all those substantial economic losses? Joint and several liability means that even if they're only a little bit responsible, they can be hit for all of the damages, after all.

Just a thought.

Well, it's no dumber than those municipal gun law suits.

MEGAN MCARDLE makes this important point:

The more we expect the government to do, the less likely the government is to do any of it well, because our representatives become jacks of all trade but masters of none.

Just opining in this space has opened my eyes to how much stuff there is out there that I don't understand anything about. I try not to publish on areas where I don't have a damn clue, but every so often, it turns out that although I thought I had a clue, I really don't. Which, I surmise, is the position most of our legislators find themselves in most of the time, as they are expected to have opinions on everything from tree mold to foreign policy. So the more regulation we have, the less likely it is that any of it will be any good.

Yes. It has always amazed my that the people who want the government to do a few important things, and to do them well, are called "anti-government," while those who want the government to do many things, all of them badly, are not.

JIM PINKERTON SAYS the Bush Administration is dropping the ball on global warming.

YALE LAW PROF. RUTH WEDGWOOD on Prisoners of War and outlaws. (Link via The Corner).

VENEZUELA IS DUE FOR A COUP IN "HOURS" according to this report.

MORE ON ANTI-SEMITIC VIOLENCE IN FRANCE, in this story in the Dallas Morning News. Where's Human Rights Watch? Amnesty International? Doctors Without Borders?

In 1998, one serious anti-Semitic attack was reported in France; in 1999, there were nine such attacks. But in 2000, the commission reported, there were 116 serious acts of violence against Jewish institutions, almost all of them taking place after the Palestinian uprising began in October of that year. This ripple effect can be felt in dozens of towns and cities where Jewish facilities have been hit by Molotov cocktails in the middle of the night. . . .

Some Jewish leaders said the atmosphere is reminiscent of the period before the outbreak of World War II, when many Frenchmen started to discriminate against Jews because of social pressures to do so.

Emmanuel Weintraub, a member of the executive board of the Representative Council of French Jewry, said the government wants the Jewish community "to be quiet" about the worsening problem. He said the judicial system is failing to take racist crimes seriously, encouraging young people to feel they can attack Jewish sites in France with impunity.

He said, for example, that the three young men convicted of attacking the synagogue in Créteil, and thought to be responsible for the arson at the school, were not required to serve time in prison because the crime was not classified as anti-Semitic. It was treated as a common street crime, and the men received suspended sentences.

"That means they got off completely," he said.

The violence has had a chilling effect on French Jews who are now reluctant to walk to their synagogues because they are often jostled or insulted, Mr. Weintraub said.

"So far, thank God, there have been no fatalities, but if there is one, all hell will break loose," he said. "We have angry young men as well, and they will want revenge, and it will be an explosive situation."

The Jewish community is also upset by what is perceived as the French government's tolerance of anti-Semitism, as reflected by comments made in late December by France's ambassador to Britain, Daniel Bernard. He used a vulgar term to describe Israel and blamed Israelis for bringing the world close to a third world war.

The senior diplomat was not reprimanded or removed by the French government after the comments were published.

The Weekly Standard's story on this from 2000 is looking prophetic. I think that President Bush and Colin Powell should go on the offensive about this, taking France to task for these human rights violations.

Say, think this could be a partial explanation for why American tourists are avoiding Europe? If it isn't now, it soon will be.

UPDATE: Reader Will Allen has this observation:

It is notable that that the oh-so-sophisticated French are not saddled with such barbarisms as the right to bear arms, as the cowboy/rube Americans are, therefore guaranteeing that those nasty Jews will have to think twice before attending synagogue. Gosh, we simple Americans have so much to learn from our
European betters.
Yes, as Dan Polsby, Don Kates, Dave Kopel, et al. have observed, a disarmed minority is a necessary precondition to genocide. Another observation is that when a minority defends itself, the authorities are far more likely to step in, as then there is a threat to public order, not merely to the minority.

COMPARE INSTAPUNDIT ON DECEMBER 15:

So why keep them fighting, but just until Sunday? The most logical explanation is that it's to buy time for Osama and some other bigshots to escape. Isn't it? If I were Osama, I'd have bugged out a week or two ago, leaving behind the bulk of the Al Qaeda fighters as a distraction, and perhaps a few tape recordings of my voice for strategic deceptions via radio and satellite phone. Of course, I don't think like Osama.
WITH THIS STORY from yesterday's Washington Post:
Retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark said in a recent interview that bin Laden's presence in the mountain caves may have been faked by his followers. "I think Tora Bora will prove to have been a strategic deception by al Qaeda," he said.
Hmm. Maybe I do think like Osama. Now there's an unpleasant thought, in a lot of ways.

NORMAN MINETA -- SUPERGENIUS? Reader Joseph Britt has a theory on airline security:

Of course passengers are the last line of defense. Now, are they more likely to perform this function happy and contented, munching away on in-flight meals or working on their laptops? Or are the skies safer if they are irritable to the point of wanting to strangle someone?

I know that before my last flight, on a turboprop flying from Minneapolis to Eau Claire, WI, as I waited while security personnel
performed a random search on a woman about 5 feet tall with a Wisconsin accent you could have spread on toast, I would almost have welcomed an opportunity to rip some terrorist's head off.

I know the conventional wisdom is that Transportation Secretary Mineta is out of his depth, but perhaps he has really devised a
diabolical plan to keep would-be terrorists at bay until someone can come up with something better.

I love this theory, and I wish I thought that the folks in charge were this smart. But it's yet another reason to admire the heroic sacrifice of air travelers across America, who voluntarily endure conditions of confinement, food deprivation, and abusive language that Amnesty International would call "torture" if they were applied to terrorists.

WHY IS IT THAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING that the lesson of Enron is that we need more regulation?

Seems to me, the lesson is that regulators are corrupt or incompetent. Or both. And by "regulators," I include the press.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL says that Bush is doing human-rights groups' job for them, while they drop the ball. That's absolutely right.

TIM BLAIR tries to quiet the hornets' nest he stirred up with his "left-wing bloggers" comment. What he means by left-wing is different from what, say, Brian Linse means. I wasn't confused by that, but a lot of people are. Spend some time reading the Aussie press (er, except for Blair and a tiny, brave minority of his fellows) and you'll understand.

THE UNITED NATIONS' ONGOING SUICIDE: Apparently, they're planning to snub the United States again.

Fine. I think we should kill off the U.N. now, before it causes any more trouble. It's been a complete bust on the human rights front, as this latest development demonstrates:

THE United Nations has abandoned plans for a proposed war crimes tribunal in Cambodia, paving the way for the release from jail of two senior Khmer Rouge leaders and leaving the country with little hope that the Pol Pot genocide will ever be punished.

The decision, made by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and announced in New York on Saturday, shocked diplomats and human rights activists, who described it as the end of the "last hope for justice".

Those who were calling for a "competent international tribunal" to deal with Al Qaeda terrorists need to realize that the term is self-contradictory.

And Kofi Annan seems to be a reliable friend to dicatators everywhere, at least so long as they don't side with the United States.

UPDATE: Reader Michelle Yang sends this observation -- and a plea for help:

Forget the U.N.'s snubbing of the U.S.A. What about Taiwan? As a citizen of Taiwan, I'm apparently a non-entity for the United Nations. The U.S. is in a nasty position: its [money] pays human rights champions like Sudan to lord over America. Taiwan's in a pathetic position: she's willing to pay the entry fee, but a club with members like Cuba and Iraq is apparently too exclusive.
Sincerely,
Michelle Yang

p.s. I'm one of your readers who obsessively refresh the page at least three times a day. It's becoming a compulsive habit. I used to read books, expose myself to sunlight, and talk to my parents. Now I just go from instapundit.com to NRO's The Corner to U.S.S. Clueless. Can you link me to a site for warblog addicts?
I thought this was a site for warblog addicts! Oh, you mean. . . .

MORE ON CORPORATE FUNDING FOR ANTI-GLOBOS: Virginia Postrel has a lot of good stuff today, including a link to this Financial Times article on corporate funding for groups like the Ruckus Society. Note to investigative journalists: there's more here if you dig, I'll bet.

Hmm. The "antiglobos as paid provocateurs" theory is looking better.

UPDATE: Also check out this item, which I found via Andrew Sullivan on Enron's bankrolling of enviro-group Resources for the Future.

2/10/2002

PILING ON: Jack Germond is the latest to dis Al Gore and pronounce his political career dead.

A few more columns like this, and I'll start thinking Gore has a shot. Nobody's career in politics is that thoroughly over. Except maybe Gary Condit's.

I NOTICE THAT A BUNCH OF PEOPLE have linked to the Weekly Standard Blog Parody. Say, do you think that's what they had in mind? It's pretty funny.

Is it true, as Arkham claims, that you can get more traffic by mentioning Britney Spears?

CHRIS PATTEN VS. GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON: Tim Blair has a hilarious point-counterpoint. I'm siding with Georgie.

ZERO-TOLERANCE NIGHTMARES: Here's a page with stories from the bizarro-world of zero tolerance, where educational "leaders" prove on a near-daily basis that they are too dumb to be trusted to flip burgers. (Via Joanne Jacobs).

JIM BENNETT'S COLUMN this week is about globalization's good and not-so-good sides. It's interesting to see a diehard freetrader like Bennett adopting a less-than-Pollyannaish view. See Matt Welch's observations on the real rich-poor issues, too.

A GREAT COLUMN on airport security by Joe Soucheray:

The passengers who helped beat up that bozo on a United Airlines flight from Miami to Buenos Aires the other day, and the co-pilot who clubbed him over the head with a fire ax, probably were told to get to the airport in Miami about three hours early for security checks.

And those passengers who beat up on Richard Reid, the goggle-eyed shoe-bomber freak, probably had to arrive at the airport in Paris earlier than usual so they could pass through what the French thought constituted a security check.

It isn't working. George W. and John Ashcroft and the rest of them can talk all they want about the need for homeland security, but so far the only homeland security that has actually worked is us. Normal citizens, obviously alerted to the worst since Sept. 11, have done exactly what might be expected of them. The days of the hijackers are over. They can try, but they aren't going to get very far, because we have awakened from a long and apathetic slumber that we were encouraged to take by an industry and a federal regulatory agency that instructed us to sit in our seats, follow orders and possess no weapons.

Boy, were we ripe for an attack.

But no more. So can we end the dog-and-pony show? And give me back my damn nail clipper. . . .

It's a choking feeling, the way the government is just as slowly but surely manipulating us into a new kind of troubling dependency. I've flown six times since Sept. 11 and it has gotten worse each time, the wait, the admonishments, the long lines. The delays. And all for what? If something happened on any of those flights, the passengers were still the last line of defense anyway.

I'm perfectly willing to accept the idea that we are engaged in a new kind of war. That's what we've been told. OK, then the government needs to back off and trust us more, not less. We're not the ones who are supposed to be on the run.

Read the whole thing. Then print it out, and mail it to your elected representatives.

MUSIC-WORK: Spent the afternoon at the studio (the real one, not my little computerized operation at home) mixing down some songs by Michelle Newton, a terrific singer/songwriter who's somewhere between Sarah McLachlan and Kirsty Hawkshaw. I've found it hard to work on music-related stuff since 9/11, but my mojo seems to be working again. That's good, as I've developed quite a backlog.

HIT-REFERRER SMACKDOWN: Andrew Hofer has the final score:

5328 from InstaPundit
11 from Justin Raimondo
'Nuff said.

PUNDITWATCH is up for today! Enjoy it. I'm off to the studio, where I'm actually going to get some music-work done, something that hasn't happened much since 9/11.

HEFFER-O-RAMA: Here's another letter, this one from Ireland:

Like "Ross the Anointed", I think you are overreacting to Simon Heffer's column. First, he has earned the right to be wrong about America. Second, he has a point.

I am an American who has spent the last ten years teaching at an Irish university. It has been said before, but it needs to be repeated. Even more than in America, Europe's elites are different from ordinary Europeans. In the days following September 11th, my phone was nearly ringing off the hook with calls from people I know here, offering condolences and asking whether I lost any relatives or friends (I hadn't). At coffee after mass the following Sunday, one cranky fellow started in on me over the threat George Bush was posing to world peace. I didn't have a chance to respond; the Irish people there nearly ate him alive.

Yet not one of those calls came from my academic colleagues (I use that term loosely), from whom I have mostly heard the usual rants about American imperialism and the insidious Jew. When Ireland's prime minister granted landing rights for refueling to US military aircraft, he got over 75% backing in opinion polls (this in a country nearly fanatical about its neutrality), but the press and the intellectuals went bonkers. In a business where anti-Americanism is nearly a requirement for getting invited to the right parties, or to nearly any parties at all, Mr. Heffer has been a staunch supporter of America. He has even shown remarkable restraint in criticizing America for all its citizens who help fund IRA bombs. His columns in the Daily Mirror help make life over here more bearable.

Cretins like Susan Sontag and Noam Chomsky have lost their right to a fair hearing of their views, their American passports and American birth notwithstanding. Their courage, integrity, and honesty have earned foreigners like Margaret Thatcher, Vaclev Havel, and Solzhenitsyn the right to a full and fair hearing when they criticize America, even when they are wrong. Heffer is not in that league (how many are?), but he has defended America long and well enough, against the anti-Americanism of his fellow press hacks and EC bureaucrats, and put up with a lot of abuse for doing so, that he is entitled to a full and fair hearing as well.

Mr. Heffer has a fair point as well, too. You might note that much of his criticism against Hollywood, and the Hollywood action stars who chicken out on traveling to Europe when the risks are very tiny. It is still a lot safer to fly to and around Europe than drive on the LA freeways. Europeans tend to be very parochial, but that does not change the fact that Americans are too parochial as well, and pay far too little attention to the world around them. Bill Clinton may have ignored threats to America, but he didn't take power with a coup. He was careless and slighted or ignored vital American interests overseas because American voters let him be that way, and they nearly elected an even worse clone of him.

It is fair to ask how many of the Americans who changed their minds about traveling to Europe also voted for Gore, busily denounced Bush for not understanding the complexities of the moral dimensions of the Middle East, and regularly denounced the Israelis for not being nice to terrorists.
Yes, Martin Pratt wrote me a couple of days ago to point out that the Daily Mail's pro-American writing doesn't get enough attention among bloggers because it's not on the web, thus giving the Blogosphere a skewed idea of what's going on.

A GOOD POINT on European anti-Americanism is made in this letter in response to Salman Rushdie in The New York Times:

Salman Rushdie ("America and Anti-Americans," Op-Ed, Feb. 4) says Londoners' diatribes against America are "against the sheer weirdness of the American citizenry," against our "patriotism, obesity, emotionality." He also says we should not "ignore the rest of the world and decide to go it alone."

But building a consensus among people so foolishly critical of us is an exercise in futility. We should respond to serious criticism, but not to petulant barbs from envious Europeans.

Well said.

THIS EDITORIAL in the Washington Post says that the Administration's stance on the Al Qaeda prisoners will endanger American troops in future wars because it may encourage other nations to ignore the Geneva Convention.

But I'll ask again: what country in the past fifty years has treated American prisoners according to the Geneva Convention anyway?

BELLESILES UPDATE: I mention the William & Mary Quarterly issue on Bellesiles below, but I should have mentioned that the ever-efficient folks at Shouting 'Cross the Potomac have information on how to get a copy.

ANGIE SCHULTZ writes from Australia with this perspective on the Olympic opener:

I watched the ceremonies (tape delayed) on Australian TV. I agree with Alison Alvarez in Japan---the French weren't very enthusiastic about waving their US flags, and only some of them did it.

But take heart! The Andorrans, the Irish, and the Czechs made up for it by waving theirs. The Czechs seemed particularly enthusiastic.

I laughed like a hyena (or kookaburra) when Steven Spielberg carried the Olympic flag, representing "culture". Imagine what the French thought of that!

Chortle. And you gotta love the Czechs, who -- like the rest of Central Europe -- seem to appreciate freedom and capitalism more than, say, the French.

DON'T GET CARRIED AWAY YET, but if the research described in this story in Nanotechnology Magazine pans out, it will be the big medical story of the 21st century. I confess to a certain degree of skepticism, but hey, I'm a law professor -- neither my enthusiasm, nor my skepticism, on items like this should carry a whole lot of weight. We're promised peer-reviewed articles shortly, which should be informative.

UPDATE: Reader Paul Orwin shares my skepticism. While nanobacteria do exist, and while many aspects of aging, heart disease, etc., may result from so-far-unidentified infectious agents, he doubts that the two necessarily go together.

BELLESILES UPDATE: There's an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the forthcoming William & Mary Quarterly review of Bellesiles' work in Arming America. Based on this report, the best case for Bellesiles is that people will conclude that he's merely "an extremely careless, sloppy and biased historian," rather than an outright fraud. But I think he's got an uphill battle even there.




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