Archive for September, 2002

September 30, 2002

SUMAN PALIT IS UP IN ARMS about Kofi Annan’s international gun-control agenda.

UPDATE: Rachel Lucas tells Kofi that he’ll get her gun when he pries it from her cold, dead fingers.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Clayton Cramer says this isn’t the first time this approach has been tried.

September 30, 2002

APPARENTLY, TED BARLOW IS TAKING the long way home. Come back, Ted — we miss you!

Maybe he’s just having a beer with Edward Boyd and Ginger Stampley.

September 30, 2002

TNR’S BLOG BIDS a not-so-fond adieu to Robert Torricelli: “Rarely is there ever more cause for public glee than when a scoundrel gets his due. In Trenton this afternoon, the Senate’s most loathsome character got his.”

UPDATE: Rich Galen won’t miss him either: “Bob Torricelli’s career is over. It came to an abrupt and undignified end, which is fitting. Bob Torricelli is an abrupt and undignified person.”

Excerpts from The Torch’s undignified, but sadly not abrupt, farewell speech are here.

September 30, 2002

A NON-WAR PLAN to bring down Saddam. Donald Sensing offers one, which is more than most war critics have done.

September 30, 2002

NICE ARTICLE ON ROBOTS and humanity, on Alternet. Personally, I say, “Do not rage against the machine — embrace the machine!” (Okay, actually it’s Ngozi Uti who says that.)

Or as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Robots says: “Robots are people too! Or at least they will be, someday.”

September 30, 2002

AN UNSYMPATHETIC ACCOUNT of this weekend’s protests in Washington, from a blog run by students at GWU and elsewhere.

September 30, 2002

COLLIN MAY, who works in Geneva for a big NGO, explains his view of the EU mindset.

September 30, 2002

“IF NEW JERSEY HAD BETTER BEACHES, it would almost be Florida.” Jeez. If the first time was farce, what will it be this time?

September 30, 2002

HASHEMITE UPDATE: Here’s more on a Hashemite role in Iraq. Sounds like the idea is being taken quite seriously in some circles.

I can imagine a role for a transitional monarchy (think Juan Carlos) in Iraq, though I don’t see a Hashemite Restoration as a long-term option there. Besides, the Hashemites will be busy enough in Saudi Arabia. Though the Saudis sure have gotten more cooperative lately. It’s almost as if they were worried about something along those lines . . . .

September 30, 2002

READER ABHIJIT JAIN SENDS this link to an “unbelievably xenophobic” article from the Arab News denouncing guest workers, who now have the temerity to actually bargain for wages:

As if it were not enough for them to drain the resources of this country by sending millions of riyals annually to their home countries while spending very little locally, foreign workers have now learned the technique of bargaining. They bargain in order to satisfy their strong desire for wealth. In doing so, they outsmart even the most talented and able managers.

This doesn’t say much for Saudi managers, that they can invariably be outsmarted. But those “greedy expatriates” are all looking for work, and they want to be paid. The horror. Yeah, it’s xenophobic, but it’s mostly just clueless.

September 30, 2002

MATTHEW YGLESIAS WAS INTERVIEWED FOR A SALON PIECE, but he’s not very happy about the way it turned out.

September 30, 2002

FISKING A WOULD-BE FISKER OF FISKING? Sometimes the Blogosphere really does get a bit self-referential.

September 30, 2002

RAZIB K SAYS WE’RE CONDUCTING A GIANT SOCIAL EXPERIMENT the likes of which have never been attempted before. So far, so good, as best I can tell.

September 30, 2002

ROSENBERG ON “that other Senator Schumer” and what he apparently believes.

Hey, maybe Schumer is another victim of a Tikkun-like campaign to discredit him!

September 30, 2002

TIKKUN IS REPORTING that someone is sending out emails in their name designed to make them look stupid. Rishawn Biddle has more, but without the snarky comments that this seems to call for.

September 30, 2002

THE REAL TORRICELLI SCANDAL, according to John Cole.

September 30, 2002

READER TUCKER GOODRICH WRITES:

Let’s review: The record companies complain to Congress that their revenues are down because people are stealing music from them. Meanwhile, they’re no longer allowed to fix prices.

Could it be that’s the reason revenues are down? No more price fixing allowed? The whole piracy thing is a just a lie to coverup a revenue decline? Nah, they’d never do that.

The amazing thing is that revenues weren’t down more…

Interesting observation.

September 30, 2002

JAMES LILEKS DISSES JESSE VENTURA AND CASTRO SUCKUPISM GENERALLY:

But the Castro-worship just fascinates me. Why? Some applaud the way he thumbs his nose at the US, which always strikes a certain crowd as the hallmark of integrity; if you wrap your derision in the big red flag you’ll always have a claque of bootlickers eager to excuse whatever you do. (The enemy of my enemy is my President for Life.) . . . .

My favorite defense, though, is “free health care” and “literacy.”

Take the second one first. There’s no excuse for not being literate in America. Oh, we could impose literacy on the illiterate here, but it wouldn’t be pretty. We could make English proficiency a requirement for jobs, institute nationwide standards for graduation that mandated a high degree of literacy – and made the students’ fulfillment of those standards a criterion for advancement in the educational establishment.

Let us pause to cogitate how well that would go over.

Health care: supposedly, it’s universal; supposedly, it’s high quality. Egalitarian. (muffled laugh.) Ask yourself this. You’re poor. You have a heart attack. Do you want to be in Havana or New York? Which phone system summons the EMTs faster? Which emergency response team is better equipped? Which hospital is better staffed with highly-paid doctors who have come from all over the world to work here?

Somehow I suspect that a heart attack in Havana at 3 AM means bundling Uncle Raul into your block captain’s ‘57 Belair and hoping it doesn’t break down before you get to the hospital.

But let’s assume that health care in Cuba is the equal of health care in America. If this is the reason to admire Cuba, then this is what some American citizens believe is more important than anything else. Free health care. They will give up elections, the free press, the freedom to travel, the freedom to dissent, the freedom to own a personal computer, for heaven’s sake – they’ve been banned for personal use. But for some, all of those freedoms are negotiable. They’ll give it all up for free health care. That’s their price. . . .

The same people who lecture me about the dark reign of oppression Bush, Cheney and Ashcroft are wreaking on the land are often the same who’d love to meet Castro. They pride themselves on being the champions of freedom, but they celebrate a man whose hands hold the reins of power so tightly they’ll have to saw them off at the wrist when he dies.

Oh, hell, read it all before I wind up excerpting the whole thing. That’s what I hate about Lileks. You excerpt a sentence or two because they’re gems, then you notice that the next sentence or two are gems, too, and then, well, the game’s over, you might as well just give up.

September 30, 2002

ALTERMAN’S GONNA LOVE THIS: A potential replacement for The Torch.

September 30, 2002

I STILL CAN’T GET OVER having the Tennessee Attorney General’s office refer me to BlogCritics for more information.

September 30, 2002

THE EUROPEANS WOULD HAVE MORE CREDIBILITY ON SANCTIONS if it weren’t for things like this:

In response to the increasingly dictatorial nature of the Zimbabwe regime, the European Union early this year enacted a number of sanctions against Zimbabwe, including a ban on travel by members of Zimbabwe’s government.

But, of course, they didn’t mean it. This month Zimbabwe’s Trade Minister was allowed to travel to Brussels, Belgium — which houses the headquarters for the European Union — for a series of talks related to issues in developing nations (previously Zimbabwean officials made trips to France and Italy).

Striking the right pose is what matters. Results are for those crass Americans.

September 30, 2002

IOWA BLOGGER DAVID HOGBERG says that TAPPED has the Harkin scandal all wrong.

September 30, 2002

HOW TO CRITICIZE ISRAEL WITHOUT BEING ANTI-SEMITIC: Mike Silverman observes that a lot of people seem to need help in this department, and generously offers some advice.

September 30, 2002

WELL, I GUESS WE ALL SAW THIS COMING.

UPDATE: Heh. Pretty interesting in conjunction with this speculation. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oh noooo. . .

September 30, 2002

THE AMERICAN PROSPECT IS all over the antiglobalization protests, and they don’t like them much.

September 30, 2002

TORRICELLI MAY DROP OUT OF THE RACE, according to an AP report.

September 30, 2002

PORPHYROGENITUS is unfazed by the comments of Bonior and McDermott.

September 30, 2002

THE COMICS JOURNAL is critiquing Ted Rall and his “web of half-truths.” His cartoons suck, too.

There’s a discussion here. Rall’s already playing martyr.

September 30, 2002

DANIEL DREZNER has a long rant about U.S. foreign economic policy: “If our national security strategy is devoted to the building up of weak states into open economies with strong governments, our foreign economic policy seems designed to thwart that goal at every significant opportunity.”

September 30, 2002

NOTE: The University is having major Internet problems, and my access is intermittent. So response to emails, etc., may be delayed.

September 30, 2002

BIG NEWS ON THE RECORD-COMPANY PRICE-FIXING FRONT: Here’s a press release I just got by email from the Tennessee Attorney General. It’s not on their website yet, (UPDATE: Now it is) as far as I can tell:

TENNESSEE ATTORNEY GENERAL WINS ANTITRUST SETTLEMENT IN LAWSUIT ALLEGING PRICING CONSPIRACY ON MUSIC CDS

Tennessee Attorney General Paul G. Summers announced today that five of the largest U.S. distributors of pre-recorded music CDs and three large retailers agreed to pay millions of dollars in cash and free CDs as part of an agreement on price-fixing allegations.

The companies will pay $67,375,000 in cash, provide $75,500,000 worth of music CDs, and not engage in sales practices that allegedly led to artificially high retail prices for music CDs and reduced retail competition as part of the agreement. Tennessee’s share is an estimated $993,948 in cash and $1,507,852 in CDs.

“The lawsuit and settlement demonstrate our commitment to halting corporate misconduct,” Attorney General Summers said. “Such illegal activity causes our citizens to pay higher prices and distorts our free market economy.”

Tennessee, along with 41 other states and three territories filed an antitrust lawsuit in federal court in August, 2000. The lawsuit alleged the five music distributors (including their affiliated labels) and three large music retailers entered into illegal conspiracies to raise the price of pre-recorded music to consumers. The defendants in the lawsuit are music distributors Bertelsmann Music Group, Inc., EMI Music Distribution, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Corporation, Sony Music Entertainment, Inc., Universal Music Group and national retail chains Transworld Entertainment Corporation, Tower Records, and Musicland Stores Corporation. The defendants deny these allegations.

You bet they do. I suspect that this is just scratching the surface. Can you say RICO? And where’s the United States Department of Justice on this issue?

UPDATE: Well, this makes being wrong worth it: The Tennessee Attorney General’s office emails me to note that actually the feds were on the case first — and, get this, refers me to this post on Blogcritics for more information on the subject. Is that cool, or what?

September 30, 2002

HESIOD THEOGENY THINKS I’VE “finally figure[d] it out,” but actually he’s the one behind the curve, as this entry from last December illustrates (“Radiological scam artists — freedom’s first line of defense!”). Don’t teach your grandpa to suck eggs, Hesi.

September 30, 2002

VIRGINIA POSTREL ADVISES ME to “mention the tipjar more.” Okay. It’s over there on the left.

September 30, 2002

N.Z. BEAR thinks he’s figured out another instance of rope-a-dope on inspections. Interesting. Michiel Visser isn’t so sure.

September 30, 2002

CATHY YOUNG DEFENDS HARVARD PRESIDENT LARRY SUMMERS and notes the antisemitism that more and more marks the “peace” movement:

Anti-Israel commentary in Europe not only winks at this virulent anti-Semitism (and refuses to consider it as the context for Israel’s actions) but sometimes stoops to hateful language of its own. British poet and Oxford professor Tom Paulin has said that American-born Jewish settlers on the West Bank ”should be shot dead.” Sometimes, this rhetoric unabashedly substitutes the term ”Jews” for ”Israelis” or ”Zionists.”

Even on college campuses in the United States, the anti-Jewish ”blood libel” has resurfaced in posters of cans labeled ”Palestinian children meat, slaughtered according to Jewish rites under American license.” . . .

Whether anti-Semitism plays a central role in hostility toward Israel (especially in Europe) is a complicated question. Sympathy for the Palestinian struggle – even when it takes the form of violence targeting civilians – stems largely from the knee-jerk instinct to romanticize the ”wretched of the earth,” the ”oppressed” of the Third World. Perhaps, too, as Rosenbaum argues, demonizing Israel is partly a way to assuage Europe’s collective guilt over letting the Holocaust happen. And some may use Israel-bashing as a respectable smokescreen for socially unacceptable anti-Semitic bias.

But ultimately, motives matter less than consequences. ”Traditional” anti-Semitism, too, often involved motives other than simple hostility toward Jews as Jews – including anticapitalism, since the Jews were seen as the epitome of the money-grubbing bourgeoisie. For whatever reason, extremist anti-Israeli rhetoric today has become, all too often, a vehicle for the kind of Jew-bashing that one might have hoped was extinct in the civilized world. For drawing attention to this issue, Summers deserves praise.

Also writing in the Globe, Robert Leikind makes a similar point:

When the United Nations hosted the Third World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, last year, the world community had an opportunity to address the hatred that afflicts hundreds of millions of people. Instead, the conference focused almost exclusively on allegations of Israeli wrongdoing. When protesters compared Israelis to Nazis and called for the killing of Jews, the silence from all but a few delegates made it evident that anti-Semitism was losing its capacity to evoke outrage.

Since then, that dynamic has repeated itself many times. It has three elements. First, in the name of ”human rights” or ”justice,” advocates decry Israeli actions, while also depriving them of any context. In their view, Israelis are wanton occupiers, who violate Palestinians’ rights and impose cruel conditions on a subject population. The fact that the occupation is a product of a relentless, half-century campaign to destroy Israel, that Israelis have sustained thousands of casualties from terrorism and are involved in a desperate effort to save the lives of their citizens, or that the Palestinians and many of Israel’s other neighbors continue to foment a hatred of Israel and Jews that serves as a solid barrier against efforts to arrive at a just and lasting settlement, seldom enters into their narrative. It is this absence of balance, not the criticisms (which sometimes may be warranted), that has been so troubling. . . .

Evidence is mounting that demonization of Jews is gaining respectability and that the struggle in the Middle East is providing cover for the expression of such hatred. This does not justify reflexively labeling all criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. It does, however, compel us to ask why some critics seem interested in investing all their moral capital in attacking embattled, democratic Israel. Asking this question is not intended to chill honest debate. It is intended to create it.

(Via Jay Fitzgerald).

UPDATE: Here’s more from the Harvard Crimson.

September 30, 2002

HOWARD KURTZ REPORTS some complications in the Peretz / Gore relationship. Peretz apparently “advised” Gore on the speech, even though The New Republic editorialized quite harshly against it.

Hmm. Of course, maybe the Gore people didn’t take Peretz’s advice, which would explain why Peretz is so “uncharacteristically tight-lipped” on the subject.

James Robbins, meanwhile, writes in NRO that the speech was “superb.” No, really:

The most immediate intra-party effect of the speech is to make other Democratic leaders look weak, vacillating, and prone to compromise principles for political expediency. This is an important objective, because these are Gore’s likely opponents in the 2004 primary race. Gore has to separate himself from the pack, and make himself relevant despite the fact that he is a private citizen and has no direct input in the policy or legislative arenas. Opposing the president’s war agenda is the best tool available.

Call it reverse-triangulation. For Clinton, this would work. For Gore, I don’t think so. Mark Steyn, meanwhile, isn’t as impressed with the speech as Robbins.

September 30, 2002

I JUST HOPE THAT SOME AL QAEDA GUYS are starving to death in a shipping container because of this.

Bonus points for conspiracy theorists: Explain why this isn’t really about labor issues at all. That’s just a front, you see, for . . . .

The rest is left as an exercise for the reader.

September 30, 2002

MICKEY KAUS says the antiwar Democrats are snared in a contradiction:

No, unless Bush is planning to invade Korea and Iran after Iraq, the optimal cynical strategy for maintaining anti-terrorism as the “master narrative of American politics” would seem to require Bush, once the midterms were safely over, to keep delaying the Iraq invasion for a year or two, so that the real military crisis comes closer to the next presidential election….. In other words, to the extent that Bush is the purely cynical, self-interested dog-wagger that some Democrats (not me!) charge, he can’t also be the irresponsible cowboy who is going to rush into war in January. It’s not in his political interest.

My only question: January is “rushing?”

September 30, 2002

TALKLEFT HAS A ROUNDUP on studies concerning the dangers and benefits of Ecstasy.

September 30, 2002

JIM HENLEY ASKS what the heck the Turkish-uranium incident was really all about, and comes up with some alternatives of varying degrees of plausibility.

Regardless, I think it’s becoming clear (remember how Osama was duped?) that nuclear scam artists may be doing more good than many government programs against nuclear proliferation.

September 30, 2002

WILLIAM SAFIRE WRITES that the Administration is selling out the war on terror for a mess of corporate pottage:

Bush can say that in his 2000 campaign he promised business leaders to lift export controls. But that was before Sept. 11. Now those controls — which worked well for decades against the Soviets — need strengthening, not weakening. Perhaps our National Security Council has been getting pressure from India and Pakistan, each of which wants our missile technology. By accommodating these nuclear powers, we might gain two allies but would make the world more dangerous.

America does not need this dirty business. It amounts to only a few billion dollars in sales, and its military misuse — through copycat “reverse engineering,” a Chinese specialty — costs American taxpayers far more than that to defend against.

There’s something to this — but I should point out that export controls aren’t as simple as this makes it sound. At best, they’re porous, and there’s not much point trying to control technologies that are in widespread civilian use. In a few very advanced areas the United States has a monopoly. In the others, it doesn’t, and there’s much, much less we can do there — especially when other sources of the technology, like France, Germany, and Russia, take an, ahem, more relaxed view toward such matters.

The only really successful non-proliferation effort was the Israeli raid on the Osirak reactor.

September 30, 2002

THE ANTISEMITISM OF “PEACE ACTIVISTS” — Jonathan Alter points out the obvious:

Some argue that the blindness to Palestinian blame is merely misplaced romanticism, not anti-Semitism. The students and professors on campus with a weakness for this kind of politics also champion other oppressed peoples fighting entrenched power, and overlook their abuses. But at a certain point, persistent double standards start to smell of something more malignant. Funny how campus activists never seem to mention, say, Syrian occupation of Lebanon. They bemoan capital punishment in the United States but say nothing when the Palestinians routinely execute suspected collaborators, including the mothers of young children. They single out Israeli human-rights abuses that pale next to those of their Arab neighbors, which we know less about because of press restrictions. Anti-Zionism isn’t anti-Semitism—until it reaches a certain pitch.

Yes, and it’s reached that pitch in quite a few places.

September 30, 2002

DOUBLE STAR: Bigwig has a theory about Saddam.

September 30, 2002

KEN LAYNE uncovers a conspiracy. What’s frightening is that this makes perfect sense.

September 30, 2002

ANDREW SULLIVAN joins the list of those who regard Bonior and McDermott’s statements as near-treason:

At a time when the U.S. government is attempting some high-level diplomatic maneuvers in the U.N., when Saddam is desperate for any propaganda ploy he can muster, these useful idiots play his game. I think what we’re seeing now is the hard-core base of the Democratic Party showing its true colors, and those colors, having flirted with irrelevance and then insouciance are now perilously close to treason.

I wonder about this whole thing. We saw Gore’s speech last week, which was roundly denounced, followed by Daschle’s overheated speech, followed by this. A bunch of my readers think this is a cleverly orchestrated plan. I’m not sure about the “cleverly” part, but what could the plan be? Are the Democrats’ tracking polls so bad that they think they’re going to lose everyone but the Nation/NPR hard core among their base, so they’re just trying to energize that regardless of the cost among swing voters? This seems hard for me to believe.

The other possibility is that these guys are just idiots, and there’s no organizing principle beyond generalized hostility toward America.

This is a risky game. It’s likely to do a lot of damage in the coming elections. And if there’s another big terror attack, it’s going to kill the Democrats for years. What are they thinking? Are they thinking?

UPDATE: Reader Brian Jones emails: “‘We’ve lost on the war, so we’d better pray the war goes badly so we can look all prescient and stuff.’ That’s what they’re thinking.” How very patriotic.

Bob Bartley’s take is a bit different:

A good many Democratic Party cadres cut their teeth as anti-war protestors marching against Vietnam. Passion still runs too hot among many liberals, Democrats and intellectuals to allow mere political calculation to stand in the way.

I’m inclined to agree that it’s knee-jerkiness rather than calculation. Whether knee-jerk behavior that undermines American diplomacy at a crucial moment (and hence makes war more, not less, likely) is better or worse than calculated behavior that undermines American diplomacy at a crucial moment (and hence makes war more, not less, likely) is a matter of opinion. My opinion, to paraphrase a line from The Beverly Hillbillies, is that to me, they’ll always be jerky.

September 30, 2002

MORE ON THE WELFARE-TERRORISM CONNECTION, from The Corner.

September 29, 2002

VIDEO KILLED THE POLITICAL STARS: Martin Devon has some TV commercials planned. And it turns out that David Bonior is getting his own prime-time special.

September 29, 2002

THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY, but it’s just realistic.

September 29, 2002

WOW, just checked downloads for Jim Lindgren’s piece on errors and misrepresentations in Michael Bellesiles’ Arming America, and it’s up to 96, 823. I guess the additional downloads are the result of new developments in the Bellesiles matter. Given that the piece is also available elsewhere, it seems sure to have passed the 100,000 downloads mark overall. It’ll pass it on this site alone before everything’s done, I’d guess.

September 29, 2002

FOUR PROTESTERS ARRESTED IN WASHINGTON were carrying explosive devices. Draft these guys — they seem to like violence an awful lot for antiwar types.

September 29, 2002

DAVID GELERNTER WRITES THAT IN EUROPE IT’S 1928 ALL OVER AGAIN:

As the Second World War and its aftermath fade, they reveal a “new world order” that is strangely familiar–amazingly like the Western world of the 1920s, with its love of self-determination and loathing of imperialism and war, its liberal Germany, shrunken Russia, and map of Europe crammed with small states, with America’s indifference to Europe and Europe’s disdain for America, with Europe’s casual, endemic anti-Semitism, her politically, financially, and masochistically rewarding fascination with Muslim states who despise her, and her undertone of self-hatred and guilt.

The self-hatred part, at least, seems more understandable all the time.

September 29, 2002

HEY, I JUST NOTICED that Thomas Nephew is back. Another prodigal returns!

September 29, 2002

EUROPEAN ANTISEMITISM ALERT: What else explains “peace” protestors in Spain dressed in suicide-bomber bikinis? It’s not pacifism — it’s just siding with the enemy.

And they wonder why Bush “doesn’t give a shit” what they say?

I wish Iberian bloggers John and Antonio would offer some comments.

September 29, 2002

BILL HERBERT HAS SOME PHOTOS from various peace marches. My favorite one is of a sign that must have been smuggled in: “Save the Iraqi People: Kill Saddam.”

UPDATE: Here’s a contrast between now and then in DC:

My point? We will forever remember the 1963 March on Washington because in holding and maintaining the moral high ground, they won their argument. Of course, this implies having the moral high ground in the first place. A lesson seemingly lost on this current generation of spoiled brats who’s only legacy will be sophomoric boast of “dude, remember when we shut down D.C.?” … Big deal, so do ice storms and budget battles.

The Left has lived off the moral capital of the civil rights era for decades, but that’s pretty much over now, except in their own minds.

September 29, 2002

HMM. Either of these stories could just be an oddity, but happening closer together, I wonder. . . . Here’s a man with concealed knives and boxcutters in his luggage, and here are two guys who when caught said they were “just testing.”

September 29, 2002

PUNDITWATCH IS UP, and has this to say about Bonior and McDermott:

ABC’s This Week had the most controversial coverage. Host George Stephanopolous interviewed Congressmen Jim McDermott, D-Wash, and David Bonior, D-Mich, live from Baghdad. A seemingly incredulous Stephanopolous heard McDermott claim that the President was misleading the world and that he should take the Iraqis’ word at face value.

Bonior brushed aside questions about Saddam Hussein’s past behavior. “We could go back and play the blame game. I wish you would focus on what’s happened to the people of Iraq—the children.”

During This Week’s roundtable, George Will called the McDermott-Bonior comments, “The most disgraceful appearance in my lifetime.” ABC’s Michele Martin just shook her head, noting, “This is why the Democrats are having such a hard time.”

Not as hard as it’s about to be. What’s wrong with these guys?

September 29, 2002

I DIDN’T WATCH THIS WEEK TODAY (why bother when there’s PunditWatch to give me the scoop within an hour or two anyway?) but Michigander Joe User doesn’t think David Bonior acquitted himself very well. I’ll be interested in the PunditWatch take on the same appearance.

I did see Mark Shields describe the United States as a Christian nation on CNN’s Novak, Hunt & Shields (which I was watching from the treadmill at the gym). I don’t agree with Shields that the United States is a Christian nation, and I’ll thank him and Pat Robertson to keep those opinions to themselves. . . . .

UPDATE: A.C. Douglas is unhappy as hell with Bonior & McDermott too. Excerpt:

In what they had to say, they couldn’t have been more damaging to the United States, or acted more like Iraqi sycophants, had they been paid agents of Saddam Hussein himself. I mean, surely they can’t seriously believe all they said concerning taking Iraq at its word in its promise to give free access to weapons inspectors under old UN rules, and that the U.S. ought not to even consider going to war against Iraq until it’s proven Iraq’s not to be trusted, and in such a case then the United States should still not go to war against Iraq, but talk more about what should be done.

If these congressmen really do believe all they said, then they ought both to be tried on charges of manifest imbecility (if not outright treason), and relieved of their House seats posthaste.

A reader emails along the same lines:

Not sure if you saw This Week w/Stephanopoulos but if you didn’t you MUST get a transcript. Jim McDermott and David Bonior are in Baghdad and made the most outrageous and appalling comments about Bush I’ve ever heard any member of Congress make. As George Will commented, not since Jane Fonda has anyone done more to undermine this country or to challenge the veracity of a president.

In effect, McDermott and Bonior are more trusting of the honesty of Saddam than they are of Bush.

Astonishing performance that’s going to be the buzz of the country for the next week.

And scrolling down my email, here’s another reader:

I’m still recovering from the literal shock of seeing, on This Week, David Bonior and Jim McDermott get to the left of China with regard to Iraq and announce that Saddam Hussein is more trustworthy than George Bush. Glenn, this is jaw-dropping. Shameful. Despicable. Almost treasonous. I really have never in my life seen a display like the one that took place this morning on ABC. Get thee a tape if you haven’t seen this yet.

Just looked for a transcript, but there’s not one online for either show yet, but these accounts suggest that the Democrats’ hopes for the midterm elections just took a fatal blow — from Democrats.

September 29, 2002

URANIUM UPDATE: Looks like there’s less of it than originally reported. I suspected as much.

September 29, 2002

BLOGGING FROM MUNICH, Eamonn Fitzgerald reports that some Germans are catching on at last:

Finally, an editorial in the Süddeutsche Zeitung in which realism trumps idealism. Wolfgang Koydl’s “Ein Moralist im Weißen Haus” makes clear that Europeans who call President Bush a “cowboy”, a “Rambo” or plain “berserk” are missing the point of what’s happening in Washington today. Koydl says they should accept instead that Bush is a “revolutionary, a visionary and a moralist.” Naturally, many of the paper’s anti-American readers will have spilt their morning coffee in outrage upon reading this, but Koydl sets out convincing reasons for his interpretation of the situation. . . .

The Bush doctrine of preemption is a concept that’s going to make the world more dangerous before it is more secure, argues Koydl, but at least it is a concept and Europe will have to live with until it can provide an alternative.

Koydl concludes by saying that if Europe wishes to prevent another American Century it must do something other that whining about the “sheriff in the White House.”

Interesting.

September 29, 2002

EVE TUSHNET has an article on Islamic women bloggers in the Weekly Standard. She also has an interesting post on “rock and roll conservatism.”

September 29, 2002

“RELENTLESS PERSECUTION:” Eric Burns says the media feeding-frenzy over Madelyne Toogood has gone too far.

Yeah, you’d hardly know that her kid was unhurt from all the coverage and finger-pointing, would you? It’s all about a picture that looks bad. Meanwhile if you try — as I can attest — to get protective services to do something about a kid who’s actually suffering serious physical harm, but with no TV, it’s a whole different story.

September 29, 2002

MOSQUITOES INFECTED WITH MALARIA have been found in Virginia. And there have been two human cases nearby.

Bioterrorism? Doubtful, Pat Leahy’s comments on West Nile notwithstanding. Though my brother once mailed me a mosquito from Nigeria that survived the trip. He had smacked it hard enough (he thought) to kill it, but leave it intact, and dropped it in the envelope with his letter to illustrate just how big they were. When I opened the letter it came fluttering drunkenly out. I smacked it, and it left a smear of blood on my hand. Chance that it was carrying malaria, given its source: high. Interestingly, another guy he mailed one to the same day had the same experience.

September 29, 2002

BILL QUICK SAYS IT’S NOT THE ECONOMY, STUPID!

Anybody who thinks a 5.7 percent unemployment rate (a number considered very close to full employment not so many years ago) is more important than the fact that Saddam Hussein may either already have nuclear weapons, or be on the [verge] of obtaining them, is just plain nuts.

There’s more.

September 29, 2002

GERMAN EXPORTS TO THE UNITED STATES ARE SUFFERING as a spontaneous informal boycott seems to be underway.

September 28, 2002

JIM BENNETT wants to declare war.

September 28, 2002

ANOTHER FINE REYNOLDS PRODUCT: Well, in a way it’s sort of like what I do here.

September 28, 2002

JONJAYRAY has more thoughts on Sweden. Frankly, ever since I got the depressing news about Sweden’s sex shortage, I can’t seem to care. Give me Merry Old England any day.

September 28, 2002

COMPARE LAST WEEK’S FOXHUNT PROTEST with today’s antiwar protest and I think it’s easy to see who’s in a position to win over the public.

September 28, 2002

SOMEHOW I MISSED THIS: A devastating pictorial Fisking. Must be seen to be believed.

September 28, 2002

MORE BLOGGER JOURNALISM: Stefan Sharkansky interviewed Amiri Baraka, the New Jersey Poet Laureate who wrote a dumb and offensive poem about the World Trade Center attacks (and the mythical 4,000 jews who didn’t show up for work that day). The results are on his blog.

UPDATE: Josh Chafetz emails this link to a piece from last year’s New Republic on Baraka. Lesson for New Jersey: Appoint a guy like this to a public position, and you’re sure to be embarrassed. It should have been obvious from the beginning. What were they thinking?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Maybe they figured they could always count on Matthew Purdy to give Baraka a free pass on his racism in the New York Times.

ONE MORE: Geitner Simmons has some interesting observations.

September 28, 2002

TALKLEFT, fresh from pointing out the phony Ashcroft memo, now points out a phony antiwar quote from Julius Caesar.

This is a good service, though my first thought was “antiwar quote from Julius Caesar?” I mean, who would fall for that? Oh, right.

September 28, 2002

NOW HERE’S A PEACE PROTESTOR I can live with:

One of the marchers was 14-year-old Hussein Mohammed who was born in Iraq but came to London with his family seven years ago.

Hussein said that he was not actually opposed to an attack on Iraq as long as not too many civilians were killed. The teenager said that even American rule would be preferable to that imposed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

He said: “I’m against Saddam because he doesn’t have a heart for any people. I think he should be attacked. I’d rather have America than Saddam.”

But the boy said that any war should be directly against Saddam’s regime and not civilians.

Sounds like he and Rumsfeld are on the same page.

September 28, 2002

PEACEFUL BUT CLUELESS: Another firsthand report from the Washington, DC protests.

Here’s another report, from i330, and scroll down for more.

UPDATE: Emily Jones weighs in.

September 28, 2002

I CAN ONLY IMAGINE what people would say if this were an American embassy.

September 28, 2002

MARK STEYN responds to those who call him a hatemonger by pointing out that he isn’t the one acting as an apologist for hate-motivated rapists.

UPDATE: Meryl Yourish responds to Steyn in a fairly unique way.

September 28, 2002

MULLAH OMAR’S WORST NIGHTMARE: Joan Jett performed in Afghanistan. She could kick his flabby Taliban ass, too, I’ll bet. And Osama’s — but what’s the point of kicking a dead guy’s ass?

September 28, 2002

50,000 PEOPLE ARE DEMONSTRATING IN LONDON AGAINST WAR: Though the press accounts probably won’t make a lot of this point, that’s less than 1/8 as many as demonstrated against a ban on fox-hunting last weekend. (And the foxhunting crowd was, um, more striking in ways other than mere numbers). I think that means the antiwar protests deserve less than 1/8 the attention.

UPDATE: London reader James Killmond sends this firsthand report:

I had planned to meet some friends at a pub on Whitehall today at 2 pm. When I heard about the march I checked the route, and, of course, I was going to be right in the thick of it. In an exercise of wishful thinking I told myself that since the march started near Whitehall at 12:30 and speeches would be given in Hyde Park starting at 3, the crowd would have cleared out by the time I showed up.

Silly me, as if anybody would in a big hurry to see Red Ken Livingston speak. Many folks were still hanging out near Whitehall when I arrived (luckily the pub wasn’t closed). It was a fair sized march, and I would not dispute a 50,000 estimate. I would dispute AP’s characterization of the crowd as “Britons of all regions, ages and social backgrounds”. There were a startling number of self-identified Arabs. I also note that the AP report soft pedals the pro-Palestine bent of the marchers. Pro-Palestine signs dominated anti-war signs by a large margin.

Hmm. Let’s see if that gets pointed out in the other press coverage.

UPDATE: Not here, though this article does note that similar protests in Rome were organized by the Communist Party. Go figure. More interestingly, opposition to war is reported to be trending downward in Euro polls.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The article linked at the top has been updated as of 4:18pm ET to show an official crowd size of 150,000. So I guess the protests should get one-third as much attention. . . .

ONE MORE UPDATE: Magnus Berhnardsen emails: “Uh… the date was chosen because of the two year anniversary of the Al-Aqsa intifada.” I guess that this isn’t really a peace march, then — it’s an anti-Israel march with a few useful idiots following along with peace signs. But that’s usually what these things turn out to be, isn’t it?

If you want to save some time, you can just read this for a survey of the arguments.

THE LAST UPDATE, I SWEAR: James Killmond emails: “So I guess Magnus has explained the profusion of giveaway Al-Aqsa tshirts that I saw everywhere. Nice.”

September 28, 2002

OH NO, SADDAM’S NOT TRYING TO GET NUCLEAR WEAPONS — THAT’S JUST BUSH ELECTIONEERING SO HE CAN BLOCK PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFITS: All I can say is thank God for the Turks:

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish paramilitary police have seized more than 33 pounds of weapons-grade uranium and detained two men accused of smuggling the material, the state-run Anatolian news agency said on Saturday.

Officers in the southern province of Sanliurfa, which borders Syria and is about 155 miles from the Iraqi border, were acting on a tip-off when they stopped a taxi cab and discovered the uranium in a lead container hidden beneath the vehicle’s seat, the agency said.

That’s critical mass folks — enough for a bomb all by itself. If this report holds up, it’s a smoking gun. Not that we needed one, really, at this point, but. . . .

UPDATE: A reader sends this enlarged photo which seems to indicate that the uranium came from West Germany, though I don’t know how much credence I’d put in that (could just be the shipping container). It also can’t be critical mass if it’s all in one place. My figure for critical mass of weapons-grade high-enriched U-235 is 15kg, which I got from memory but which this source and several others on Google say is right. That means that either (1) this isn’t really weapons-grade; (2) there’s not really 33 pounds (15kg) there; or (3) it was divided into more than one package despite the report’s seeming to indicate that it was all in one. A long cylinder containing 15kg of weapons-grade U-235 wouldn’t explode, and it might not even melt, but it would be highly radioactive and thermally hot — not suitable for smuggling. Hard to say, but my prediction is that this will turn out to be something less than initially advertised.

The New York Times has the same wire story but it’s not on the front page. Oh, and a reader emails to point out that “West Germany” no longer exists. Well, duh, but that only means the container is over 12 years old. As I suggest above, we can’t judge the origin of the material by the origin of the container.

ANOTHER UPDATE: N.Z. Bear has a lot more information.

Lastly, Whigging Out urges calm.

Or not lastly — one more. Jim Henley suggests, as do some emailers, that the stuff may have been on the way to Syria. That’s certainly not out of the question.

September 28, 2002

GARY FARBER HAS A LONG POST on bioweapons and chemical weapons as weapons of mass destruction. He disagrees with Easterbrook and with a lot of bloggers to whom he links, so I won’t bother recapping the whole discussion.

I do think that Easterbrook’s piece is in good faith, and I do think that, on the whole, chem/bio weapons are overrated in the popular mind. That’s not the same as saying that they’re not dangerous, or shouldn’t be taken seriously.

September 28, 2002

SURPRISE, SURPRISE! McCain-Feingold turns out to be a crock.

September 28, 2002

JASON KENNEY has firsthand reporting and pictures from the IMF protests in Washington. Meanwhile, here’s another take. And Nick Denton has these observations:

They complain about the promotion of flower growing over sustainable farming, for which read subsistence farming, the Siamese twin of miserable poverty.

The very existence of protestors in Washington DC is testament to the division of labor, by which factory workers build combine harvesters for farmer to produce grain, which Mexican immigrants turn into wraps for burritos to fuel the college kids in their struggle against global capitalism on the streets of DC, and, if the fascists send in the army, the kids will stake the rifles with flowers, fresh, and flown in that very day from Africa. Isn’t global capitalism wonderful?

Yes, it is.

UPDATE: Hmm. These folks sound like the spiritual antecedents of the DC protesters, don’t they?

The first troops to reach Oxford found over 100 wounded federal marshals at the center of campus, 27 of them hit by civilian gunfire. Packs of hundreds of rioters swarmed the city, some holding war dances around burning vehicles.

And they were defending local traditions against global corporate culture, too. They even said so.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The IndePundit profiles a serial protestor.

September 27, 2002

TOM HARKIN’S CAMPAIGN MANAGER HAS QUIT. And here’s the official line on the taping incident:

“It appears these shenanigans were the work of one young staffer who didn’t have enough supervision,” the Democrat said.

Will this stick? Stay tuned.

September 27, 2002

WARGAMES, WAR TOYS, AND “ANTIWAR ACTIVISTS:” Great post from Robert Crawford.

September 27, 2002

MARK KLEIMAN SUGGESTS holding corrections officials accountable for recidivism among their charges. Sounds good to me.

UPDATE: Sasha Volokh likes Kleiman’s idea, too. On the other hand a reader suggests that getting prisoners not to repeat crimes is hard. Teaching them not to get caught is probably a lot easier, and just as good from the prison operator’s perspective. . . .

September 27, 2002

TRAFFIC CAMERAS — Generator of revenue, or tool for public safety? Well, see what seems most important in this account:

But on yesterday’s “Ask the Mayor” program on WTOP Radio, Mr. Williams said looming fiscal problems forced the city to get creative in closing a potential $323 million budget deficit.

“The only reason we’re looking at the enforcement with revenue figures is because we’re in such a bind now,” Mr. Williams said.

D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, who has been skeptical of the city’s electronic law-enforcement programs, said the latest expansion is a clear indication that the city is starting to see the cameras as revenue sources.

Yeah, sure, he talks about safety, too, but. . . . Traffic and parking laws in just about every city are about money, not safety. Why should DC be any different?

September 27, 2002

THE MOST SAVAGE COMMENTARY YET on Al Gore’s speech: H.D. Miller compares Gore to Principal Seymour Skinner. I think that’s even meaner than Kelly and Krauthammer. I suspect that Alex Frantz would object.

UPDATE: Jay Caruso says Alex Frantz’s defense of Gore is all wet.

September 27, 2002

IS STEVEN DEN BESTE BREAKING UP THE E.U.? Joe Katzman has the story.

September 27, 2002

DAVID HOGBERG HAS more on the Harkin scandal.

September 27, 2002

SCIENCE FRAUD, STEM CELLS, MICHAEL FUMENTO AND MARTIAN BACTERIA: Charles Murtaugh has a lot of new and interesting stuff up.

UPDATE: Jay Manifold has more on the Martian bugs.

September 27, 2002

TAPPED says the anti-globalization protests have fizzled, and pretty much agrees with my take, below.

September 27, 2002

PRESS WATCHDOG GROUPS ACCUSE HUGO CHAVEZ of targeting journalists for political violence.

September 27, 2002

MOROCCO WILL ELECT A RECORD NUMBER OF WOMEN: And it’s sure to, as 30 seats out of 325 are reserved for women. Hmm. I wonder if that’s designed to help offset Islamic fundamentalists?

September 27, 2002

JOHN DVORAK has advice for the record industry — and the Justice Department.

September 27, 2002

HMM. CLEVER, but I don’t think this approach worked in Lebanon.

September 27, 2002

DAVE TROWBRIDGE JOINS ANTIWAR.COM in denouncing a wartoy.

September 27, 2002

NICK SCHULZ says that Pat Buchanan’s new magazine is already tired.

September 27, 2002

LOTS OF IRAN NEWS at Glenn Frazier’s Iranian Liberty Index.

I imagine that the United States — perhaps through non-governmental or quasi-governmental intermediaries — is reaching out to various elements in Iran now. I’m all for engagement with the forces of democracy and freedom there, but I hope that it won’t be handled by a bunch of inexpert ex-military types of the Iran/Contra variety.

September 27, 2002

TALKLEFT POINTS OUT A PHONY ASHCROFT MEMO that’s making the rounds. Apparently it’s fooled some people.

September 27, 2002

INTERESTING QUESTION on Saddam, from Jim Henley.

September 27, 2002

&C SAYS THE ANTI-GLOBALIZATION MOVEMENT IS TOAST. The New Republic predicted this last year. Advantage: TNR!

Here’s what I said last fall:

Thousands of people who were scheduled to protest the World Bank and IMF this weekend are showing up anyway, only now they want to protest a U.S. military response to the 911 assault instead. “Violence breeds violence” says one of the protesters. Think about this. If it’s true, then doesn’t it mean that any U.S. retaliation was just “bred” by the 911 attacks, and is thus the terrorists’ fault? And why is it that this maxim is only directed at violence by, well, people the protesters already dislike?

Some readers think I paint with too broad a brush when talking about the antiglobalization people. Well, maybe. I think that there’s a legitimate concern about the growth of corporate power, and especially about the increasing mobilization of government power in direct support of corporate economic interest (see, e.g., the DMCA). But that’s really an argument for more and freer capitalism not an argument against it. Powerful oligopolies tied to governments aren’t really free capitalism at all. I would like to see more and freer capitalism, around the globe, to help poor people become rich (as it does wherever it’s tried). The antiglobalization people (except for a tiny fringe of anarcho-capitalists who don’t really fit in) want to see more government power, and less free markets — they just want that power used in directions they prefer. That’s very different.

There’s also a puerile and narcissistic element to both the antiglobalization and the “peace” movement (no surprise: as the quick shift in protest emphasis shows, they have an awful lot of overlap) that offends me — and that would offend me even more if I hoped to see them accomplish their goals.

Still seems to fit.