July 31, 2002
I’M 31.25% owned by my weblog, according to the latest quiz craze. That seems about right to me.
I’M 31.25% owned by my weblog, according to the latest quiz craze. That seems about right to me.
EVERYONE KILLED in the University bomb attack was a non-Israeli, but thousands of Palestinians still celebrated. This combination of bloodthirstiness and ineptitude is characteristic.
OVER A HALF MILLION UNIQUE VISITORS to the main page in July, according to Extreme Tracker. I’m glad everyone’s here. But where are you coming from?
BIG-MEDIA REPORTING ON THE ECONOMY: Christopher Pellerito analyzes recent coverage and says the low quality of economic and business reporting is partly to blame for the run-up (and run-down) in stock prices.
THIS SCOTTISH ALQAEDA SUPPORTER (who “describes himself as a ‘political green’ with Hindu religious beliefs”) says he expects “an aggressive response” when he hands out pro-bin-Laden leaflets to American tourists. Was it David Carr who wrote that all the idiocies of the world are converging into a single undifferentiated mass?
IT’S GOOD TO SEE AN AMERICAN ICON get the recognition he deserves.
READER CHUCK HERRICK accuses me of “conditional patriotism” in light of my various posts criticizing homeland security. He says if I were a real patriot, I’d be happy to surrender my civil liberties in the name of war, and that I shouldn’t set preconditions of governmental competence before I am willing to do so:
I was there during Vietnam. I watched when the war came to a close in the ’70′s and all the long-hairs promptly cut their hair, quit demonstrating, and went out and got corporate jobs and started collecting material possessions. When the draft ended, it was like a light switch was thrown. What I’m stating is that today’s version of that convenient lack of patriotism is alive and well in today’s Libertarianism. And, you’re not even being asked to carry a weapon and go into battle. All you’re being asked to do is to give up a few, “cherished” liberties in order to beat our enemies. Frankly, it’s rather pathetic.
You signed on for the former? No, you did not. I’ve made my case that in WWII, the ineptness in the government and in the military was just as egregious. You’ve a capacity for research. Use it to do some historical research on just how inept the government could be during WWII. My bet is that what you’ll find will stagger you.
I’m not that easily staggered. But Herrick misunderstands. I’m not talking about competence (everyone makes mistakes), but good faith. By refusing to deal seriously with the problems of homeland security, and by substituting bureaucratic wish lists and appearance-oriented political solutions for real action, the powers-that-be have made clear that they’re not serious about the war, at least on the home front. Ashcroft won’t fire the people who screwed up before 9/11 — when even FBI agents were speculating that Osama bin Laden had a mole in FBI headquarters because the incompetence seemed so spectacular — and yet I’m supposed to pretend that searching old ladies at airports and confiscating tweezers proves they’re serious? You want me to sacrifice civil liberties for a war, you’ve got to show me a war. Then we’ll talk.
The Vietnam analogy, it seems to me, cuts the other way. That was another war that was waged with more of an eye toward the wellbeing of the bureaucrats waging it than toward actually winning. (Herrick, whose email indicates that he works for the federal government, may take that the wrong way, but there you are). The Drug War is another example. Both of those failed, miserably. Homeland Security is looking more like those conflicts than like, say, World War Two. That’s my beef.
Herrick apparently confuses me with those protesters who felt that it was immoral to wage war in Vietnam. My own view is that it was immoral to wage war halfheartedly.
Reader Kenneth Summers says this:
What bothers me far more is restrictions on liberties in the absence of war, precisely because there is no distinct “end to hostilities”. This is why, in the “WOT”, I think we need to be extremely careful about what we allow. Ditto for the War on Crime. Big fat Double Ditto for the War on Drugs. Our liberties will be safer if we actively take out Iraq and Soddy Arabia [spelling intentional - more so after I looked up the derivation] in a hot war than if we pussyfoot around and keep accepting incremental restrictions.
An example is the FDR presidency – the programs, rights infringements, and restrictions which remained after his presidency (works programs, gun restrictions, ridiculous tax policies) were primarily those implemented for fighting the depression and Prohibition crime. Those that were lifted (censorship, military tribunals, travel restrictions, rationing – I even include the draft here because it would have ended, as it did after WWI, were it not for the cold war) were those for fighting the war. Unlike a war, there is no “return to normalcy” for crime and economic downturns.
I think that — as the post that somehow set off Mr. Herrick noted — restrictions on civil liberties so far haven’t been very onerous. But I also think that Homeland Security has been a joke, from the airline tweezer-ban right on down the line. I think that it’s allowed to be a joke because people in the government don’t think it’s very important. And if they don’t think it’s very important, why should I?
UPDATE: Reader Chris Mosely emails:
Unfortunately, it’s worse than you thought. The *very day* the feds announced the arrest of the skating kingpin, a man living in NJ, who was known to have sold fake ID to at least one Sept 11 hijacker, eluded police and FBI by fleeing to Egypt:
In other words, the long arm of the law can reach into Italy to find a guy who bribed skating judges, but can’t arrest someone in New Jersey who aided the Sept 11 attackers.
BTW, if you read the AP article it also says that this guy wired money to Saudi Arabia. Surprise!
I’ve been giving the feds the benefit of the doubt on “homeland security” but this tears it for me.
Well, nobody’s perfect, and I’m prepared to forgive (almost) any number of honest mistakes. I’m less forgiving when it appears that people aren’t taking the issue seriously.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader points out that it was the British, not any part of the Homeland Security apparatus, that found this al Qaeda training camp in Alabama. Another reader sends this quotation from Petronius Arbiter: “We tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing and a wonderful method it can be for creating an illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.” I’ve seen this quote before, and I don’t think it’s really Petronius. But it’s apt, nonetheless.
ERROR-CORRECTION UPDATE: Lynxx Pherrett says I’m wrong about the Alabama Al Qaeda training camp. Uh, okay. But I wasn’t “disingenuous” — I was writing what I thought to be true.
FROM THE FRONT LINES: Here’s an email I got from law-school classmate Yehudah Mirsky:
Please forgive these random thoughts. Today’s bombing at Hebrew U., just over an hour ago, really hits home. The building it happened in is named “Frank Sinatra” which just makes it more surreal. Hamas, doing it their way. When I heard yesterday’s bomb I was standing in a used bookstore about half a mile away.
That explosion was up the block from the Rav Kook archive where I have done a good bit of my work, but, hey, it seemed like not much of anything with only a few injured, and this morning’s papers called it a “miracle,” which of course is a pretty odd reading of divine providence, but there are no atheists in foxholes, and fewer postmodernists.
When I walk around Hebrew U I have always been glad to see Palestinian students there because deep down I do believe that a university is a different kind of place, or can be when it wants to. I’d assume Hamas doesn’t care that they think that any Palestinians they kill should be happy to be collateral martyrs. In a way, all the victims are collateral martyrs offered up on the altar of the mad cult of violence gripping the Muslim Arab world.
As it turns out I was reading Nietzsche today, and I wonder how much of this he is responsible for too, these crazy notions of self-actualization through violence that he spat into the culture and take on a life of their own, all over. I’m lucky, I have an American passport and in theory could head for the airport anytime I want. Where is everybody else supposed to go? And one more thing that makes me tired and angry, that like a nice Jewish boy I go on praying for peace not only for the Jews but for the Arabs too, while they keep praying to my God to kill me. Yours, without answers, but still praying for peace like a river Yehudah
UPDATE: Yes, that’s the Yehudah Mirsky who used to work for the State Department and who sometimes writes for The New Republic. Reader Yonaton Aronoff weighs in to defend Nietzsche:
Although I totally sympathize with Yehuda, as a fan of Nietzsche, I must interject. Nietzsche would be horrified at radical Islam’s construction of a cultural identity out of what is essentially a “sour grapes” reaction to the West: realizing itself incapable of attaining Western wealth and power (but wanting it fiercely), radical Islam professes hatred of everything that is Western – such as wealth and power – in order to avoid hating ITSELF for not having what it wants. At the same time, its secret desire to attain wealth and power is manifested as the vigor with which it seeks to destroy that which it cannot have. While Nietzsche DID at times profess “self-actualization through violence,” he was also a bitter opponent of the use of religious power as a repressive force. His assault on the internally-inconsistent “values” of bourgeois Christianity (“Geneology of
Morals,” “Beyond Good and Evil”) is actually quite applicable to the way in which radical Muslims have hijacked Muslim cultural identity.
Perhaps we need more Arabic translations of Nietzsche.
LAW ENFORCEMENT PRIORITIES: Let’s try to put a positive spin on this one: It shows that the War on Terrorism hasn’t prevented the feds from pursuing other malefactors.
N.Z. BEAR has some interesting information on Saudi web filtering. The Sauds, who currently control much of the Arabian peninsula, appear to be trying to keep the inhabitants from finding out uncongenial facts about the rest of the world, or the Saud family.
UPDATE: Link was to the wrong item before; it’s fixed now.
TERRY EASTLAND quotes an article by Cass Sunstein and Jack Goldsmith of the University of Chicago Law School in support of the argument that we’re worrying too much, not too little, about civil liberties in this war. Eastland give the URL, but not a link. Here is the link, if you want to go straight there.
It’s certainly true, as Eastland, Sunstein, and Goldsmith all argue, that the Bush Administration has been far more sensitive to civil liberties concerns than other wartime presidencies. It’s also true, though, that Americans have little confidence in Homeland Security. People might be willing to endure restrictions on liberty more if they weren’t faced, on a daily basis, with evidence that the Homeland Security team is playing, at best, double-A ball.
WOW. Between them, the two law review articles on originalism and conservatism that I put up on the server have been downloaded nearly 600 times. That’s not a lot for a weblog entry, but it’s an awful lot for decade-old articles on constitutional law. I’m moving to put a lot more stuff up — on a UT server, not mine, to save bandwidth — and I’ll provide links when it’s available.
SKBUBBA weighs in with another tale of Homeland Security ineptitude.
IT SEEMS AWFULLY HYPOCRITICAL for all those Senators to be talking about “getting tough” on corruption in the financial markets, when Sen. Robert Torricelli is getting off with an admonishment at their hands.
I think some mischievous soul should add a rider to financial reform legislation requiring candidates for office to sign a statement swearing that no illegal contributions were accepted, on pain of criminal sanction if that turns out to be wrong.
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: They may have missed terrorists, and their list of suspected terrorists may have leaked out and been posted on the Internet, but the FBI in my area is hell on asian-prostitution rings. Of course, everyone around here has known what these were all about for years, as they advertise quite blatantly on billboards, in newspapers, etc.; in fact, I know a lot of legitimate massage therapists who were happy that the “Asian Massage” fronts were so common and well-known, because it helped keep the distinction between that kind of stuff and what they do clear in everyone’s mind.
But is this the best use of resources when we’re supposed to be at war?
UPDATE: Reader Robert Crawford writes:
Asian massage parlors are unlikely to harbor anthrax. You probably won’t find them trying to poison the water supply, or build dirty bombs, or fly airplanes into buildings.
And, since they advertise on billboards, they’re easy and quick (and safe!) sources of press releases.
I’ve just about given up. I can’t imagine what the government thinks it’s doing — it’s like we’re watching people from the Bizarro Universe. Everything they do seems to be the opposite of what’s needed, especially the focus on “Homeland Security” instead of taking on the terrorists and their supporters.
Yep. I think this sentiment is hitting critical mass, too.
UPDATE: A couple of readers have emailed to note that asian-prostitution setups are often little more than slavery, with illegally imported women being kept in isolation. That would certainly put a different complexion on it, but you’d think if that were the case here the press release would mention it.
WINDOW OF VULNERABILITY: My TechCentralStation column is up.
I FINISHED READING Joyce Malcolm’s book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience last night. (That’s the Amazon link; here is the Harvard University Press page, though it has less information). Very interesting book; I may make it the subject of next week’s Fox column. Very short summary:
Crime in England declined for 500 years, from the 15th century to the early 20th, even as gun ownership became more common. Beginning in the 20th Century, England began a program of strict gun controls (primarily intended to disarm labor activists and suspected bolsheviks). By mid-century, this was in place, and coupled with very strict rules limiting self-defense that, in practice and public perception, meant that criminals got an easier shake than honest people who defended themselves. Crime rates — including gun crime rates — then started to rise, and have been rising ever since despite ever-stricter gun controls.
No surprise there, to those familiar with the work of criminologists like John Lott and Gary Kleck. But it’s interesting to see that Britain is, ever so slowly, beginning to recognize the issue, and the English experience belies the standard low-crime/low gun availability stereotype. In fact, when crime in England was at its lowest, guns were as readily available as in the United States . And it’s certainly a blow to stereotypes of lefty bias that Harvard University Press has published this book, as well as its predecessor, To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right (1994). Or at least proof that such bias doesn’t always stand in the way of good work.
UPDATE: Here’s a link to a review of Malcolm’s book by Clayton Cramer that appeared in Books and Culture. The review is more critical than one might expect, given Cramer’s strong pro-gun-rights position, but serves as proof that Cramer doesn’t let politics drive his scholarly positions. (Cramer was the first, and for a long time the loudest, to point out Michael Bellesiles’ misconduct). While I agree with Cramer that this book isn’t the tour de force that Malcolm’s previous work was, I think that most of his criticisms (for example, that she relies on secondary sources rather than recently declassified documents that say the same thing) are of little interest to the general reader.
STILL MORE EVIDENCE that the bureaucracy isn’t up to its purported Homeland Security role. There’s not much to argue with here:
We talk about government “intelligence failure” as if it’s something to do with misreading satellite intercepts between Peshawar and Aden. But the “intelligence failure” of September 11th is more basic than that, a failure of intelligence in the moderately-competent grade-school sense. And nothing we’ve learned in the last 10 months — from Mohammed Atta’s posthumous flight-school visa to last week’s belated termination of the Saudi fast-track — suggests that Federal officialdom has changed or is even willing to change.
There is, sadly, no reason to think that the “Homeland Security” bill will do anything to make this better, and considerable reason to think it will make it worse.
UPDATE: Will Allen writes:
The fact that not a single bureaucrat has lost their job in the past 11 months is proof of the ineffectiveness of the govenment response, and the fact that the Democrats are having to be dragged kicking screaming to a bill that might result in a few people getting fired is yet more evidence that a large percentage of people just don’t get it. I guess the body count isn’t high enough yet. Compare the current actions by our political leadership to what George Marshall did in the early stages of WWII, in which he sacked scores of incompetents. This is another example of how Bush went wrong by not seeking a formal declaration of war. Such a declaration puts everyone on notice that business will not be done as usual, the normal rules of government employment are suspended, and that incompetence will no longer be tolerated. If this is a war, then the political leadership of the nation should damn well behave like it is one.
Yes, and as the interview with Jon David below demonstrates, the FBI still hasn’t gotten the point, either.
JOHN HAWKINS scored a coup, managing an interview with Al Qaeda-website hacker Jon David. Guess which country produced 90% of the traffic?
SUPERHERO SEX LIFE UPDATE: Jim Treacher informs me that the Elongated Man is happily married, suggesting that Meryl Yourish should keep her filthy thoughts to herself.
Meryl, meanwhile, apparently not having gotten the word, says she can’t believe I left Triplicate Girl out of my list of hot superheroines. She notes the possibilities, which. . . No, I’m stopping right there. This is a family blog.
HOWARD KURTZ’S COLUMN TODAY is about how bloggers are keeping Big Media honest. Excerpt:
Bloggers are busting chops, big time.
The latest evidence: Some big media organizations are now quoting their criticism of other big media organizations.
It’s called influencing the debate, in real time. . . .
Some media critics dismiss bloggers as self-indulgent cranks. That’s a mistake. They now provide a kind of instant feedback loop for media corporations that came of age in an era of one-way communications.
Yep. If I were, say, Howell Raines, I’d be reading blogs a lot to see how I was doing.
THE PARANOID LIBERTARIAN’S TO-DO LIST: Some concrete recommendations for avoiding totalitarian dystopias.
If the Homeland Security stuff continues to get dumber and more intrusive, you’ll start hearing more stuff like this.
FOLLOWING THE LEAD OF HESIOD THEOGENY, Claudia Winkler of the Weekly Standard is coming down hard on Egypt’s conviction of dissident Saad Eddin Ibrahim and others on what she calls “trumped up charges.” Excerpt:
Egypt’s government, like all despotisms, was pleased to able to point to a respected liberal, and to his Ibn Khaldun Center for Development at the American University of Cairo, as proof of its tolerance. Ibrahim advised Mubarak’s top aides and hosted a weekly TV show on issues relating to development. It suited the regime to have him travel to international conferences on civil society to show how enlightened Egypt was.
Some observers say that what finally provoked the authorities–more than Ibrahim’s exposure of fraud in the 1995 legislative elections, or his monitoring of government treatment of the Coptic minority, or his denunciation of official corruption, or the short film he made encouraging Egypt’s young to seek freedom through elections–was his observation that Mubarak’s son Jamal was being groomed to succeed the president, just as if Egypt were some backward dictatorship like Libya or Syria or Iraq. This apparently was too close to the bone.
Now, Ibrahim, 63 and in poor health, faces the prospect of rapid decline in an Egyptian jail, unless one remaining appeal should succeed or President Mubarak exercise clemency. The United States should use its abundant leverage with Egypt to secure that end.
The only problem, says Winkler, is that “Apparently Mubarak and company don’t fear Washington.”
We need to change that.
BATTLE OF THE ALS: Mickey Kaus says Al Gore was intentionally slighting Al From by pleading a “scheduling conflict” that turned out to be, well, pretty obviously nonexistent.
TRAFFIC: Extreme Tracker is reporting 477,885 unique visitors to the main page for July. If tomorrow’s a good day, we might break a half million for the month. Not bad considering I was on vacation for two weeks. Maybe I should take more time off!
MY DREAM JOB, if only I could draw.
SORRY GOOGLERS: This isn’t me. I’ve had their Shiraz and Merlot, though, and both were excellent. You’d think I’d get a family discount, or something. . . .
Maybe I should rate the female superheroes (superheroines?), but, really, it’s such a short list, with only one answer: Supergirl, as played by Helen Slater. ‘Nuff said. (Though it may raise issues akin to these. Ouch.)
Wonder Woman? She doesn’t like men, does she? She might be a good pick for, say, Norah Vincent, (though somehow I don’t see them as a couple), but I figure anyone who yells “Sufferin’ Sappho” doesn’t belong on my list. Besides, I used to see Lynda Carter all the time at the late, lamented “21 Federal” in Washington, back when I was a rich lawyer who went to places like that. She was more of a babe without the costume, which surely cuts against it.
Now Saturn Girl was kinda hot. Hot enough that I don’t really remember her super power. Telepathy? Precognition? Something like that. (UPDATE: It’s telepathy and mind control. I love Google! Oh, and Umbra, who I don’t remember at all even under the old name of “Shadow Lass,” isn’t bad, either).
SO I WANTED TO WATCH STOSSEL, but the local ABC affiliate is off the air because of tonight’s thunderstorm. Damned lightning.
CHARLES DODGSON agrees that the War On Drugs raises serious doubts about homeland security.
IF I HADN’T ALREADY DECIDED to post more law review articles on the Web, this would have convinced me: How often do law professors get to see people debating their 10-year-old writings? (Much less people with names like “Oberon Lord of Avalon”).
The thread’s too long for me to respond to in any detail at the moment, but it was quite interesting to read.
ERIC OLSEN has a whole lot on the Fort Bragg spouse-killing incidents. Apparently a big story will break shortly.
I’m guessing we’ll find overlapping instances of infidelity here, but that’s just that: a guess. I haven’t followed this very closely.
UPDATE: Reader Anne Salisbury seems to think that the above pot implies that I think infidelity is a justification for murder. Nope — just a motive, and one of the oldest. But I guess we’ll know soon.
I WASN’T GOING TO WRITE ABOUT this New Yorker piece by Rik Hertzberg on Robert Dahl’s new book. That’s because I don’t think the Hertzberg piece is that good, and I rather doubt that the Dahl book is, either. (I haven’t read it, but it doesn’t sound as if he’s changed his views from previous works.)
But then I noticed that Patrick Nielsen Hayden was citing it approvingly, so I thought I’d add this word of warning: What Dahl is talking about turns out in practice to be what Robert Bork wants. Bork’s idea of the Framers’ intent, and the problems with judicial review, comes from confusing the thinking of the Framers with the political science that Bork studied in college, which was very Dahlian. (William Jennings Bryan had similar thoughts, too.)
It’s tempting for liberals to look at the Rehnquist Court and find that sort of thing attractive, just as it was tempting for conservatives of Bork’s generation to look at the Warren Court (and even the Burger Court) and find that sort of thing attractive. But the Framers weren’t about democracy; they were interested in a democratic republic. And subsequent history, pace Dahl, suggests that they were pretty damned smart to think that way.
Since World War II the United States has made a big deal about democracy, as opposed to democratic republicanism, because it was simpler to explain, and hence an easier idea to sell than separation of powers, checks and balances, etc., etc. Interestingly, Americans have been more swayed by that propaganda than anyone else, and the importance of the Constitution’s built-in countermajoritarianism has been largely ignored — except where issues like school prayer or flag-burning come up.
But there’s a lot more to the Constitution’s countermajoritarianism than the Bill of Rights, and there’s good reason to believe that the structural protections against tyranny have done more to protect freedom than the Bill of Rights — which the Supreme Court didn’t really do much with until the mid-20th Century anyway.
IT DIDN’T HAPPEN THIS WAY.
But there are people who wish it had.
DELLWATCH UPDATE: Well, hotdamn, it works. The Dell tech showed up on time and quickly got the desktop up and running again. Despite the yeoman service my laptop provided, I’m happy to have it back. Now I just have to get the wireless network going again. Ugh.
I SURE HOPE THAT this turns out to be true. If I’m ever going to get the aircar I expected when I was 8, something like this has to work out.
I LIKE P.J. O’ROURKE, but Spoons has him dead to rights here. Bill Lockyer would probably disagree.
DON’T FORGET TO WATCH John Stossel’s program tonight on why the Drug War is a miserable failure that threatens us all.
WELL, WHY THE HELL NOT? It’s a Dan Savage / National Review Online lovefest!
HOMELAND SECURITY UPDATE: Juan Gato suggests Bud Selig as Secretary for Homeland Defense.
Why not? It’s the only thing they could do that would make me even less confident in the whole program. So it just makes sense!
IS THERE AN AQUAMAN COMEBACK IN THE WORKS? Here’s a report that he’s getting his own series. Of course, there’s the inevitable line about “bringing new depth to the character.”
Me, I say that the days of disrespect for Aquaman are over. Yep. . . . The tide is turning!
THE TED WILLIAMS STORY has died down for the moment, but Rand Simberg has a long and thoughtful defense of cryonics at TechCentralStation.
ARTIFICIAL ANTIBODIES? CELL-PENETRATING NANOMATERIALS? All this and more news about nanotechnology can be found on NanoDot, a Slashdot-style collaborative website.
SCOTT ROSENBERG has posted a Salon Blogs progress report — on his blog, naturally.
LYNNE KIESLING SAYS THE MARKET WORKS — and right now it’s working on Perot.
MORE ON MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL’S ATTACK ON A FAN WEBSITE can be found here. Here’s some good practical advice from trademark lawyer Martin Schwimmer:
Finally, as a practice pointer for folk with clients in the sports and entertainment field, you have to be really careful how you deal with fans, because you never want to see your demand letters posted on a website.
AQUAMAN UPDATE: Ted Barlow has more evidence that Aquaman don’t get no respect. “Aquaman sucks” t-shirts?
HESIOD THEOGENY is upset that Egypt is basically a dictatorship, and rightly so.
Me, I’d like to see democratic capitalism and a secular consumer society spread across the entire Middle East, rather than barbarously thuggish governnments who “cooperate” with Washington while looking for ways to undermine it, and who kowtow to fundamentalist religious wackos who want to turn the clock back to the 12th century.
I think that makes me an Evil Imperialist. So be it.
YET ANOTHER REASON TO THINK THE FBI ISN’T UP TO THE JOB OF CATCHING TERRORISTS:
When Web operator Jon Messner gained control of one of al-Qaida’s prime Internet communication sites, he offered it to the FBI ( news – web sites) to use it for disinformation and collecting data about sympathizers.
What followed, he says, was a week of frustration.
FBI agents struggled to find someone with enough technical know-how to set up the sting. By the time they did, the opportunity was lost as militant Islamic Web users figured out the site was a decoy, said Messner of Ocean City, Md.
“It was like dealing with the motor vehicle administration,” said Messner, who runs Web sites, many of which sell pornographic materials. “We could have done something that could have seriously impacted things. It took me so many days just to get somebody who understood the Internet.”
That’s just plain pathetic. There’s no point talking about massive bureaucratic reorganizations, or sweeping new law enforcement powers, so long as this kind of screwup is a regular occurrence.
UPDATE: Here’s more bad news. Louis Freeh — who as many have mentioned has gotten pretty much a free pass — looks quite bad here.
CATHY YOUNG is savaging Bill O’Reilly over his attacks on attorney John Pozza.
I haven’t seen O’Relly in quite a while (I don’t watch much TV, especially at that time of night — well, I do, but it’s usually PowerPuff Girls or SpongeBob) but I also heard Neal Boortz saying that O’Reilly was over the line here.
STATELY INSTAPUNDIT MANOR has been taken over by a film crew, which is shooting some sort of safety video for the state. (The guys making the film overlap with the guys who are shooting my wife’s documentary, so somehow we’re now a film location).
I escaped the noise and confusion by going to Border’s for a while, where I ran across the July/August issue of The Atlantic, which you should immediately go buy. Here’s one reason.
STUART TAYLOR says you do not have the right to remain silent.
AQUAMAN says he’s a superhero who gets no respect.
Me, I think that post is probably taken by The Elongated Man — though at least he gets plenty of dates.
NO, NO, WE’RE YOUR REAL ENEMY, DON’T FORGET US! Some weirdness from the Chinese:
I left China impressed that China’s defense establishment would sooner instigate a cross-strait dust-up than seriously help the United States in the war against international terrorism. Indeed, the terrorist threat is but an annoying distraction from the game of balance-of-power politics. They urgently want to resume full military-to-military contacts and resent any hint that China is no longer central to American foreign policy. For reasons that may relate to defense spending, they would rather be perceived as a growing threat than be ignored. In short, the PLA is concerned about the relative de-emphasis on the China relationship in the United States and is apparently eager not to be deprived of an enemy.
Hmm. Sounds almost like an episode of rope-a-dope.
JAMES LILEKS reflects on Stalinism and vomit.
ANTITERRORISM STRATEGY: I don’t think he meant it this way, but Jeff Cooper has a post that offers some possibilities. It’s sort of “what would Bugs Bunny do?”
I think our antiterrorism strategies could use a dose of that kind of thinking. Such approaches work best on people who take themselves too seriously, which is certainly the case with angry Islamofascists.
ANOTHER SUSPICIOUS DEATH in the Saudi royal family.
BASEBALL TO FANS: UP YOURS! As reader Bill McCabe puts it: “On the eve of a strike, Major League Baseball shows its love for the fans by sending a Cease & Desist Order to a fan site dedicated to the New York Mets.”
They don’t think of ‘em as fans, Bill. They think of ‘em as sheep to be fleeced, just the way the folks at the RIAA and MPAA think of music and movie overs.
UPDATE: Slate has picked up on the story.
EMORY / BELLESILES UPDATE: Well, this isn’t really an “update,” which would involve actual new facts. This is just a followup to my mention below that rumors are swirling about what Emory will do in the Bellesiles affair.
Unfortunately, the rumors are plentiful, mutually contradictory, and allegedly well-sourced (though always at third or fourth hand). One set has it that Emory is planning to hang Bellesiles high, and that the delay has been to get its ducks in a row to withstand a threatened lawsuit.
Another is that Emory will do nothing official but will quietly buy out Bellesiles’ contract, putting him on perpetual (paid) leave while he goes to teach at another institution, perhaps abroad. (I find this one hard to believe, as it would create a gigantic scandal since it would, basically, be a coverup).
I don’t know what to make of these. It seems pretty safe to say that the investigation isn’t going to produce an exoneration of Bellesiles — first, given the evidence already out, that seems very unlikely, and second, one expects that an exoneration would be trumpeted by Bellesiles’ supporters and by Emory, which can’t be enjoying all the negative attention.
The big tipoff will be whether there’s a public announcement and release of the investigation’s report (which Emory has promised) in late August. If so, look for Bellesiles to be fired as the most likely outcome. On the other hand, if nothing is said, and Bellesiles is “on leave” again next year, then the coverup theory will be looking stronger.
“PORNO PATRIOTS:” Bringing Islamic Terrorists to their knees.
NICK DENTON’S Declaration of European Independence isn’t getting the response he expected. Reid Stott captures the mood well: It’s about time you guys moved out of the house, got your own place, and started taking responsibility for yourselves.
But talk’s cheap. Europe may declare independence, but it won’t take up the responsiblities that implies because it can’t afford to without dismantling large parts of its social welfare apparatus, and bureaucracy in general. Really, the whole “Europe” edifice that has been created over the past several decades is grounded on the assumption that the United States will guarantee stability in the region, while Eurocrats get on with the important work of kvetching and pointing fingers.
I’m not an “American supremacist,” except maybe culturally. I certainly see little appeal in notions of imperialism. My ideal would be something like what the United States enjoyed when the British Empire was at its height: a more-or-less isolationist foreign policy while somebody else who posed no threat did the dirty work of keeping the sea lanes open and the lid on international crises. Kind of like what Europe has now.
AN AMERICAN TERRORIST IN IRAN: Ira Silverman has an interview in The New Yorker that’s worth reading. It’s a bit odd, as in places it seems to imply that Salahuddin is, well, a mole who is most useful to American intelligence where he is.
MICKEY KAUS EXPLORES the Bill Clinton / Elizabeth Hurley / John Edwards connection. Steve Bing’s sperm is involved.
SOUTH OF THE BORDER: Michael Barone writes that Mexico is doing better than most people realize, and predicts a dwindling of immigration over the next ten years as Mexican birthrates shrink while the Mexican economy grows.
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN writes that U.N. claims about human rights violations in the Afghanistan airwar are dubious:
A few observations: First, since when has a bombing mistake during a hot war been considered a “human rights violation?” When one refers civilian casualty claims to the “human rights” brigade at the UN, it typically infers intent. There isn’t anyone–save the Z Magazine crowd–that believes the USAF deliberately attacked a civilian target. By this logic, the whole notion of human rights becomes essentially worthless, creating no moral distinction between an errant bomb and an execution pit at Babi Yar.
But, you see, most of those U.N. types aren’t that upset by Babi Yar.
TIM NOAH is hot on the trail of my old law professor Stephen Carter, regarding his abstention from the Kass Council report.
Carter’s not talking, and Noah — rather unfairly in my opinion — suggests that Carter dropped out to promote his novel. I suspect this is an effort to provoke Carter into returning Noah’s calls, rather than a serious accusation. My guess is that Carter agreed to serve on the panel, then gave up when it was obvious that the Bush Administration had already made up its mind anyway, without waiting to hear what the Council had to say. But that’s just a guess, as I haven’t spoken to Carter about it.
WHAT A BASEBALL STRIKE MIGHT MEAN for the midterm election. This isn’t something I’ve thought about. But Todd Wiener has been pondering.
BELLESILES UPDATE: One of Michael Bellesiles’ contentions was that guns at the time of the American Revolution were too expensive for individuals to own, and hence rare. But here’s what Joyce Malcolm says, in her book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience, about the situation in England, a hundred years earlier (p. 49):
Coule Englishmen afford firearms?. . . By 1658, during the Commonwealth, the price had decreased to 11 shillings a musket, and in 1664 the government considered offering 10 shillings per musket to citizens who turned in serviceable weapons. . . . Used guns were, of course, less expensive. In 1628, when a new pair of pistols cost two pounds, a stolen handgun was valued at only 3 shillings. But the clearest evidence of the widespread ownership of weapons comes from court records. Indictments for misuse of firearms reveal an amazing array of persons of humble occupation — labourers, wheelwrights, bricklayers, carpenters, weavers, blacksmiths, farmers, and servants of both sexes — who appeared before the courts charged with misusing firearms.
Just a reminder to those who continue to claim that Bellesiles just got a few numbers wrong in a handful of paragraphs. Actually, his book is shot through with errors.
Emory, meanwhile, still isn’t talking about what its investigation of Bellesiles has revealed. I imagine that if it had produced an exoneration, we probably would have heard about it by now. But rumors are swirling. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: A reader asks why figures for firearms availability in 17th century Britain mean anything regarding 18th century America. Well, firearms prices tended to decline over time, but more importantly 18th century Americans were considerably richer than 17th century Brits, and had more reason to own firearms. So an argument that firearms were rare and expensive in 18th century America seems even less plausible in the face of evidence that they were cheap and plentiful in 17th century Britain.
ISNTAPUNDIT is writing about the romance of stripmining. No, really.
HERE’S MORE ON THE FBI’S ATROCIOUS CONDUCT IN BOSTON, where an innocent man spent nearly 30 years in prison (actually 3 others were wrongly convicted, but one of them died in prison, so he spent less time there. . . .) after being fingered by an FBI informant — who the FBI knew was lying.
These guys aren’t up to Homeland Security. We’d better win this war abroad.
(Link via Bill Quick).
UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias agrees, more or less, and recommends this article by Josh Marshall on the not-ready-for-primetime character of the FBI and Homeland Security in general. (And I don’t find his new blog design as hard to read as some, but then I’m looking at it on a super-crisp flatscreen display.)
ARAB-AMERICANS ARE writing off the West Bank, according to this report in the New York Times. My brother, who sent this link to me, asks, “When was the last time you saw an image of the West Bank that looked like the one in this story?”
That would be never.
SUSANNA CORNETT points out this piece by Don Kates over at History News Network concerning guns and violence. It’s worth a read. I’m currently reading Joyce Malcolm’s new book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience, (prior link is to the Harvard University Press description; Amazon page with reviews is here), which I’m finding quite interesting, though I’ve only made it to the fifteenth century so far.
An interesting gun-related observation: The special Bill-of-Rights symposium issue of Duke’s Law and Contemporary Problems journal is out. The issue was solicited and edited by the American Bar Association’s Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities. The ABA is pretty darn anti-gun, but the two pieces on the Second Amendment (one by Yale’s Akhil Amar, one by yours truly and Brannon Denning) support an individual-right approach. That’s where the scholarship has gone, despite continuing massive denial by groups like the Violence Policy Center and the Brady Campaign.
The articles will be up on the web sometime next week, I’m promised. I’ll provide links then.
GAY POLITICAL RASHOMON: An interesting difference in perspectives regarding the same event, pointed out by Steve Miller.
SUMAN PALIT has identified a dangerous new religion whose fanatical devotees target the impoverished third world.
GEORGE W. BUSH is 5.41 percent smarter than he was this morning.
Isn’t he? Because when the market went down, he suddenly became dumber. Or so I recall.
ART LEFF LIVES, in the quotation at the top of Robert Prather’s weblog.
MATT WELCH SAYS: “Glenn’s ideological promiscuity is actually a key to his popularity.” Promiscuity and popularity do go together, don’t they?
BIDEN ALERT: I’m really starting to dislike Joe Biden, even if I did defend him in the whole plagiarism thing. First it was the stupid RAVE Act. Now he’s sponsoring yet another corporate-whoring entertainment industry bill that would make legal conduct illegal for the better enrichment of Big Media:
Biden’s new bill would make it a federal felony to try and trick certain types of devices into playing your music or running your computer program. Breaking this law–even if it’s to share music by your own garage band–could land you in prison for up to five years. And that’s not counting the civil penalties of up to $25,000 per offense.
“Say I’ve got an MP3 collection and I buy a new nifty player from Microsoft that only plays watermarked content, and I forge the watermark to allow my legal MP3 collection to play,” says Jessica Litman, who teaches intellectual property law at Wayne State University. “It is certainly the case that if I pass that around, I could be trafficking (in violation of the law).”
This proves something I’ve been saying for a long time. These legislative initiatives aren’t just about copyright. They’re about building a regime that’s hostile to content that comes from anyone other than Big Media suppliers. That’s because their real fear isn’t copied Britney Spears CDs — it’s that people will abandon the crap they’re selling for works by independent artists, and cut out the middlemen. And the Democrats are carrying the industry’s water on this.
How can they even pretend to be protecting people from Evil Big Corporations when they’re actually serving as those corporations’ paid lackeys?
Hypocritically, that’s how.
DELLWATCH: Dell seems to be on the ball with my problem now (we’ll see what happens tomorrow) but I kind of suspect that it’s because I’ve been hammering them here, and that your results may differ.
The Greenehouse reports that Clark Howard was hammering them on his show Friday, saying that their consumer service has gone through the floor.
MAJOR BONER AT WESTWORD: And I’m not talking about Dan Savage’s plug for the “tighty-whities” contest. Westword has a lengthy article on Neo-Nazis and a group (“Anti-Racist Action,” or ARA) that tries to disrupt them. While (as regular readers of InstaPundit know) I have an Indiana Jones attitude toward Nazis (“Nazis; I hate those guys”) the ARA isn’t as admirable as the article makes it sound. It’s an anarchist group that until recently sold bumperstickers reading “I [image of gun] COPS.”
Furthermore, the article says:
Whenever Nazi skinheads try to gather in this country, Anti-Racist Action protesters try to stop them, often with the assistance of national hate-group monitoring organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, which share intelligence with local ARA chapters in cities where white-power events are scheduled.
I know someone at the ADL who says this is false, and that ADL does not cooperate with the ARA. In fact he expresses considerable distaste for the group.
SONY HAS LOST a copyright action in Australia in which it tried to bar users from modifying Playstations to let them play imported or modified games.
It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it, that these “copyright” suits aren’t about, you know, protecting original content. They’re just about forcing users to act the way companies like Sony want.
Here’s an interesting treatment of what’s going on.
And second of all, Europeans get no sympathy from me because I have never, ever seen an American, upon finding out that someone to whom they were speaking hailed from another country, say, “Oh, I hate your country!” and regale the guest to our shores with a half-hour litany of why the foreigner’s country, culture, and customs are utterly repulsive. Yet I have not only repeatedly met with this treatment on each of my trips to Europe, but also found, when I repeated them to a native of whatever country I was in, that my putative host defended this behavior with some variation on “Well, you have to admit they’re right.”
POLITICAL AUDITS: Robert Novak says there’s a smoking gun regarding political audits in the Clinton Administration. He also suggests that the Bush Administration won’t do anything about it because the target, Judicial Watch, is unpopular with the Bushies, too.
Gee, that builds confidence in this whole Department of Homeland Security enterprise, doesn’t it?
WIMPS! Meryl Yourish reports that the Israeli Philharmonic’s U.S. tour is being cancelled because U.S. security firms are afraid to provide protection. So all these tough-acting guys who brag about their military and law-enforcement backgrounds lack the guts of an Israeli oboe player. I’ll keep that in mind.
TED TURNER LAND GRAB UPDATE: The Black News has picked up the story of Ted Turner’s attempt to wrest a parcel of land on South Carolina’s St. Helena Island from a group of slave descendants who want to keep it from being developed. (Link via WyethWire).
Call me crazy, but I think that if some right-winger with a decaying business empire (Ken Lay, maybe?) were doing this, it would be getting lots of press. Rich white guy, trying to take land from the descenedants of slaves? Michael Moore, Doonesbury, and Al Sharpton would be all over this story.
But it’s getting virtually no attention outside the local papers, unless you count InstaPundits’s coverage. Is this professional courtesy among media barons?
UDPATE: Reader George Moore says this is the explanation. Well, that may be part of it.
ANOTHER UPDATE: This piece by Jonathan Rauch is great, though it doesn’t address Turner. Nor should it, really, except as an example of the entitlement mentality that the kinds of things Rauch does talk about tend to breed in bigwigs.
INSTAPUNDIT GETS RESULTS! Got a call from Dell, and an email from the New York Sun, both promising speedy resolutions to my problems. Let’s hope.
COINCIDENCE? Slate reports that Qwest will restate its earnings, and the story is free of the annoying Qwest slide-over ad that has defaced so many Slate offerings of late. Hmm. Maybe they’re worried Qwest won’t be able to cover its bills?
WHO’S KILLING NONCOMBATANTS? Howard Fienberg looks at the numbers.
JOHN R. BRADLEY UPDATE: Bradley is the guy who wrote the Arab News piece that Salon’s Eric Boehlert touted as “nailing” James Taranto and Best of the Web. Joshua Trevino has been checking up on Bradley’s bona fides with the Lonely Planet people, for whom Bradley claimed to have written the Lonely Planet Guide to Saudi Arabia. Not exactly.
UPDATE: Don’t miss this lengthy discussion in which Bradley is participating over at the LGF website.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Oops. Bradley has cut and run, leaving behind a racial epithet for us to remember him by.
And we will. I wonder: can this be for real? Or is Bradley really a mole (CIA? Mossad?) tasked with discrediting the Arab News? If so: Great work, dude! You rock. I wonder if Boehlert’s in on the act? It sure went off smoothly. . . .
A GUIDE TO WRITING U.N. REPORTS, shocking zoning standards in the “international community,” and a firsthand account of the “Arab Street” — in Geneva. All on Innocents Abroad.
PIRATES OF THE 21ST CENTURY! James Rummel has some interesting information and links.
Er, and I should clarify that these are, you know, real pirates who kill people, rape people, steal ships, and so on — not just people who copy CDs onto their computers.
TONY ADRAGNA SAYS IT’S ROPE-A-DOPE on the Homeland Security bill, and Bush wins either way.
I hope the bill craters. It won’t do anything to stop terrorist attacks, just create another layer of congealing bureaucracy.