Archive for September, 2002

September 27, 2002

ONE CLICK, YOU’RE GUILTY: Perry De Havilland reports on what the FBI is doing instead of protecting us from terrorists.

September 27, 2002

I’M GLAD TO SEE THE U.N. IS ON TOP OF IMPORTANT HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS:

GENEVA – A United Nations committee said Friday it had rejected an appeal by a Frenchman who claimed his country’s ban on dwarf tossing breached his human rights.

The 18-member U.N. Human Rights Committee, which oversees implementation of a 1976 treaty on civil and political rights, backed French authorities’ contention that the law against dwarf tossing was necessary to protect human dignity and public order.

Manuel Wackenheim — a 1.17-meter (3-ft 10-in) stuntman known as “Mr. Skyman” — said he was a victim of discrimination and that French authorities were violating his personal freedom, failing to respect his privacy and preventing him from exercising his profession. The real basis of human dignity was being able to work, he claimed, adding that jobs for dwarves were scarce in France.

“The ban applies only to dwarves,” the committee added in its ruling. “But the reason simply is that they are the only individuals likely to be tossed.

Glad to see the U.N. is on top of this pressing issue. Unsurprisingly, other peoples’ views about how things look are more important than the well-being of the folks they’re supposed to be protecting.

September 27, 2002

OLIVER WILLIS HAS THE DEFINITIVE PIECE on Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the movie “Barbershop” in The American Times. Excerpt:

Jackson and Sharpton don’t like this. They don’t like the sacred cows of black America exposed for the entire nation to see, and they’ve done what is now familiar to anyone who’s watched them over the years. They’ve run to the media and complained. Jackson said, “There are some heroes who are sacred to a people, and these comments poisoned an otherwise funny movie”. Sharpton joined him in asking for the film to be edited, removing the content he and Jackson object to.

It left many scratching their heads. Here was a film, created and directed by blacks, starring a mostly black cast, and it was appealing to all of America. Isn’t this the exact sort of success that “Jesse and Al” fought for?

The answer is: yes. But it also shows that Sharpton and Jackson are increasingly becoming irrelevant to the fight for racial equity.

That’s how it seems to me, too. I notice that their complaints don’t seem to be having much effect.

UPDATE: Ernest Miller writes:

Two things I note about the movie that many commentators have ignored when it comes to Jesse Jackson’s anger about the movie:

1) The same character whose comments about MLK Jr. and Rosa Parks have elicited so much controversy, speaks even more disparagingly about Jesse Jackson himself (I forget the specific vulgarity, but it was a single syllable): “Screw Jesse Jackson!”

The character then goes on to disparage a whole line of Jacksons: Michael, Tito, and Action Jackson.

2) A character who is a two-time felon (and soon to be facing arrest for a third felony he did not commit) gives a very articulate and compelling argument against reparations – a cause Jesse Jackson now champions.

Ouch.

September 27, 2002

CENTRAL PARK JOGGER UPDATE: Tom Maguire has a roundup, and even argues the other side for the sake of completeness.

September 27, 2002

MERYL YOURISH DOESN’T THINK MUCH of John Densmore’s remarks about selling out.

September 27, 2002

HASHEMITE UPDATE: Stratfor has some interesting information and background on the potential for a Hashemite transitional regime in Iraq. This sounds more like a trial balloon than a fully-formed plan at this point. Just remember where you heard it first!

September 27, 2002

THE UCLA ADMINISTRATION is charged with racism.

UPDATE: Well, to be fair, it’s really the student government — though the Administration seems to tolerate it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh says this is a “clear violation” of the law.

September 27, 2002

JOHN ROSENBERG FACT-CHECKS DICK GEPHARDT on questions of “playing politics.”

September 27, 2002

MICHAEL BARONE says that Gerhard Schroder is simplistic and power-hungry, and that his undiplomatic behavior is poisoning trans-Atlantic relations.

These Europeans: so crude in their approach to politics and diplomacy.

September 27, 2002

NO, OPPRESS ME! This article in the New York Times on CampusWatch seems to evidence an odd eagerness for McCarthyism on the part of a lot of left faculty. Uh, it’s just a website folks. No jackbooted thugs will appear at your door.

At any rate, I think it’s a bit much for many faculty to suddenly develop an interest in academic freedom after two decades of PC censorship. With the exception of outfits like FIRE and its supporters, who have been consistent backers of academic freedom, most of those criticizing post-9/11 complaints about academic speech are simply engaged in special pleading. The rule seems to be that denouncing America or Jews is fine, but denouncing people who denounce America or Jews is McCarthyism.

UPDATE: Meryl Yourish has issues with the Times’ coverage.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jacob Levy, dean of the Campus-Watch critics, comments here, — and scroll down for more.

September 27, 2002

AIRBRUSH AWARD: Snopes reports that the photo of President Bush holding an upside-down book, featured on many lefty blogs, is a fake. (Via Henry Hanks).

September 27, 2002

KEN LAYNE POINTS TO this letter from Tom Waits about corporate use of rock and roll. Waits’ letter is good, though I don’t really agree, but what struck me was another letter further down:

On NPR’s This American Life, a recruit aboard a naval aircraft carrier told Ira Glass she’d enlisted because of a Navy commercial, with a heavy-metal soundtrack by Godsmack, depicting Navy life at sea. Did Godsmack realize that because of their art young men and women signed up for the military? I’ll take the integrity of Densmore and Krieger any day.

PAUL MANN

Give ‘em a break, Paul. It’s not like they’ve lured anyone into a life of drugs and degradation or anything.

September 27, 2002

SCOTT OTT REPORTS that Dick Gephardt has found a way to talk about the war without politicizing things.

September 27, 2002

NORAH VINCENT weighs in on CampusWatch.

September 27, 2002

THE DEATH PENALTY APPARATUS IS BROKEN, says Judge Gilbert S. Merritt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. (Disclosure: He’s the judge I clerked for). In a speech to lawyers, he noted:

Of the 12 cases completely reviewed on habeas in the 6th Circuit in the last 15 years, the writ has issued in eight, reversing the death sentence. Of the five cases I have had occasion to review from Tennessee, there was just one where we upheld the sentence. I have serious doubts in two of them about whether the defendant even committed the underlying murder or was simply the victim of a mistake. In one of these cases subsequent DNA evidence showed that he did not commit the rape that was supposed to be the basis for his murder of the victim. In two of the remaining three cases there were other serious constitutional problems with the jury instructions.

This is quite a strong statement from a sitting federal judge. He’s also pretty hard on defense attorneys’ competence in these cases.

I think that the anti-death-penalty crowd (like the anti-war crowd) made a serious mistake by lapsing into moral posturing on this issue and thus destroying its credibility. The notion that it’s per se immoral for the state to kill peple is absurd — or at least, proves too much, as killing people is the core function of nation-states, and always has been. Government power is based ultimately on violence; all else is superstructure.

The problem with the death penalty is that it’s just another big government program that doesn’t work. If death penalty opponents had been clearer on that point all along, they would have done better. I think they’re finally catching on.

September 27, 2002

A NEW LETTER FROM SADDAM HUSSEIN on the value of deterrence.

September 27, 2002

JAY CARUSO has news on record companies’ efforts to hack your computer, which look to be succeeding. This isn’t getting much coverage in the general media. I wonder why?

September 27, 2002

WALTER SHAPIRO ANALYZES the Bush/Daschle dustup.

UPDATE: MICKEY KAUS has a roundup on this topic (he thinks Shapiro was a bit too gentle on Bush), fact-checks a Gore misstatement, and adds:

The major irresponsibility in Gore’s speech isn’t factual, though. It’s that he never really said what he’d do. If Gore had laid out an alternative course of action — inspections and containment, perhaps, backed by an implicit military threat — and explained why this course wouldn’t have a substantial chance of ending with a biological or nuclear attack on Americans, Gore would have performed a patriotic service even if he lost the debate. And he might have won the debate. (I, for one, am more than ready to be convinced.) Instead, he sniped at the President without presenting a plan of his own, a self-protective tactic that may be appropriate in a debate on, say, how to revive the economy, but that in the middle of a war verges on the unpatriotic.

Yes, it’s the failure to offer any proposals that might be shot at that makes the anti-war effort in general seem so disingenuous. (Oh, and TNR’s editorial, which says something similar, is now readily available on their site. Drudge must have taken down the link.)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg says “I told you so” to the editors of TNR. That’s gotta hurt.

September 27, 2002

ANDREW SULLIVAN WONDERS why some people find American power so upsetting. I’ve wondered this myself. Here’s my theory.

During the Cold War there was a sort of yin/yang dichotomy. You were afraid of the Soviets, and with good reason. But — with their absurd formulaic prattle about the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, their campy socialist-realism art, their love affair with tractors, etc., plus the fact, obvious to all but the most usefully idiotic, that they were dirt-poor outside the military sphere — you couldn’t really feel inferior to them.

The United States, on the other hand, was rich, culturally ascendant, and dynamic. But while you could feel inferior to the United States, you weren’t really afraid of it.

Now some people who aren’t that fond of American values confront a country that is both culturally ascendant and militarily unmatched — and mad. Naturally, that’s upsetting to them. But stating the problem this way would focus on their own inadequacies. Easier just to compare Bush to Hitler.

UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus thinks I’m wrong about this.

September 27, 2002

DAHLIA LITHWICK CALLS JOHN ASHCROFT A LIAR ABOUT THE SECOND AMENDMENT in Slate, but Eugene Volokh finds her analysis to be, ahem, inadequate.

Ashcroft’s position, the article suggests, is so groundless that it’s just patently outside his authority to take.

Well, any position can be made to seem groundless if one simply doesn’t cite some of the strongest arguments in its defense.

I found the piece rather weak myself. Lithwick is capable of great work, but here I think she simply found it impossible to believe that the view she’s critiquing could be true. That view, however, is not as ill-founded as Lithwick’s article makes it appear. Certainly a reading of this article might have cleared up her misconceptions regarding the Miller case. (This piece also points out that Ashcroft’s actions were not as unprecedented or bizarre as Lithwick makes them sound, and refutes the background-check canard while suggesting things that Ashcroft should be criticized for instead).

I hope that the next time Lithwick decides to write about the Second Amendment she’ll research things in a bit more depth.

UPDATE: On the Ashcroft front, Jay Zilber has this to say:

Look. I think John Ashcroft is a uptight prick who has some really mixed-up priorities. But for all the whining that goes on about John Ashcroft in lefty circles, not a single person among them has been arrested and detained for speaking out against the menace of John Ashcroft.

That’s how our democracy works. A small group of people hold office; We The People debate the issues, arrive at some abstract consensus, bend the office-holders to our collective will, and kick them out if they fail to perform to our satisfaction.

On the day this process fails and Ashcroft starts rounding up dissenters without charge or trial, I’ll join my comrades in solidarity, in protest, and — if it comes to it — in Gitmo. In the meantime, Hitch and I have much scarier boogiemen to worry about.

Indeed.

September 27, 2002

TENNESSEE BLOGGER BILL HOBBS SAYS HE’S SORRY that he voted for Gore. He didn’t like the speech.

UPDATE: Boy, Charles Krauthammer doesn’t like the Gore speech, either. I mean, he really doesn’t like it.

September 26, 2002

ALL RIGHT, I’M GOING TO BED, but I’ll leave you with this photo of Heather Havrilesky, from the L.A. Weekly.

September 26, 2002

EVEN MORE ON THE “HARKIN SCANDAL” — I still don’t see why Democrats thought this was going to be bad for Bush . . . .

September 26, 2002

DIPNUT has some observations on proportional response.

September 26, 2002

OKAY, I FEEL STUPID linking to Lileks this late at night. I mean, he’ll have another one in the morning, and it’ll be good, too. But I just got to this one, and it’s worth linking to.

September 26, 2002

NOW IF I discovered a government disinformation campaign that was vital to the war effort, I wouldn’t write about it on my blog. And since I’ve linked to this account, you can be assured there’s nothing to it. Nothing at all. It’s totally bogus. No factual basis whatsoever. Move along, now, nothing to see here.

September 26, 2002

MARTIN DEVON DEMONSTRATES that a proper Fisking doesn’t require name-calling.

September 26, 2002

“IF SADDAM SNEEZES, THE DEMOCRATS WILL GET PNEUMONIA:” Dick Morris says that Gore’s speech was a dreadful political mistake.

Only in the past week have Democratic Party leaders come to grasp the magnitude of their error in challenging Bush on Iraq so close to the fall midterm elections. As the tracking polls have come in during the past 10 days, party leaders have realized that they have allowed Bush to change the subject from the economy and corporate greed to Iraq, with potentially lethal consequences for them in the congressional elections. But Gore didn’t get the message.

So was Daschle’s tantrum a mistake, too — or part of a recovery effort? My guess is that it was meant to be the latter, but will turn out to be the former. (Via Joanne Jacobs).

UPDATE: Here’s something suggesting that Morris is righter than he knows. Er, if that’s possible with him.

September 26, 2002

LIFE ON MARS? Or life from Mars?

September 26, 2002

BEN FISCHER has been checking Ted Rall’s references and offers the first installment of a series with the results.

September 26, 2002

STUART BUCK HAS ADVICE for judicial nominees. I think they should follow it. The Bush Administration should nominate a couple of “kamikaze nominees” who would publicly savage the Judiciary Committee for not having hearings then, if asked nasty questions at the hearings, respond sarcastically and aggressively. Dollars to donuts, the Senators would fold. And if they didn’t, well, at least someone would have some fun.

Perhaps Stephen Green would make a good nominee.

September 26, 2002

THE NEW REPUBLIC ON GORE’S SPEECH: Thanks to the people who emailed me the text. I still can’t get through, so I’m posting a fairly long excerpt:

In the 1980s and 1990s, Al Gore consistently battled the irresponsibility and incoherence on foreign affairs that plagued the Democratic Party. And it was partly out of admiration for that difficult and principled work that this magazine twice endorsed him for president. Unfortunately, that Al Gore didn’t show up at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Monday. Instead, the former vice president’s speech almost perfectly encapsulated the evasions that have characterized the Democratic Party’s response to President Bush’s proposed war in Iraq. In typical Democratic style, Gore didn’t say he opposed the war. In fact, he endorsed the goal of regime change–before presenting a series of qualifications that would likely make that goal impossible.

First, Gore said that war with Iraq would undermine America’s primary mission: fighting terrorism. This mission, he explained, requires ongoing international cooperation. And he suggested that “our ability to secure this kind of cooperation can be severely damaged by unilateral action against Iraq. If the administration has reason to believe otherwise, it ought to share those reasons with the Congress.” But surely Gore also has an obligation to share his reasons for believing that war with Iraq will “severely damage” the war on terrorism. The argument, after all, is not self-evident: Germany, the U.S. ally most vocally opposed to attacking Iraq, has simultaneously intensified its assistance in the war on terrorism–signaling that it will take over the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. In fact, Gore provides no evidence to support his claim. And thus he fails the very evidentiary standard that he calls on Bush to meet.

Gore’s second complaint concerns the timing of the administration’s push on Iraq. “President George H.W. Bush,” Gore noted approvingly, “purposely waited until after the midterm elections of 1990 to push for a vote. … President George W. Bush, by contrast, is pushing for a vote in this Congress immediately before the election.” But as we argued two weeks ago, it is far better, in a democracy, for legislators to vote on critical issues before an election–so citizens know where they stand when they go to the polls–than to delay such votes until after an election and thus shield legislators from accountability for their views. Gore went on to pronounce “a burden on the shoulders of President Bush to dispel the doubts many have expressed about the role that politics might be playing in the calculations of some in the administration,” before adding, “I have not raised those doubts, but many have.” But, of course, that is exactly what Gore was doing. And he should have taken responsibility for raising those doubts himself.

Gore’s final critique of the administration’s preparations for war is that they are proceeding without sufficient regard to international opinion. “[I]n the immediate aftermath of September Eleventh,” Gore said, “we had an enormous reservoir of goodwill and sympathy and shared resolve all over the world. That has been squandered in a year’s time and replaced with great anxiety all around the world, not primarily about what the terrorist networks are going to do but about what we’re going to do.” But this ignores the fact that there is not now, nor will there likely be in the foreseeable future, broad international support for regime change in Baghdad. The two honest ways to resolve this problem are to privilege regime change above international consensus–while trying, as the Bush administration has, to pressure and cajole as many allies as possible to go along–or to forego regime change in the name of solidarity without our allies. Instead, Gore swore fealty to both regime change and international consensus, while refusing to acknowledge the conflict between the two. The closest he came was a suggestion that “if the [Security] Council will not provide such language [authorizing force], then other choices remain open.” But would Gore support those “other choices,” i.e., war? From his San Francisco

speech, you wouldn’t know.

Yes, it’s this unwillingness to take a position — and too-obvious positioning to blame Bush if things go wrong — that renders Gore, and many other Democrats (with the exception of some, like Zell Miller, John Edwards, and Joe Lieberman) so embarrassingly inadequate to the debate. It’s opportunism, pure and simple. And it’s the transparent and self-defeating opportunism of someone who has memorized the rulebook, but who doesn’t understand the game.

September 26, 2002

GPS JAMMING: Sgt. Stryker’s addresses the issue. Here’s the first post on the subject, and here’s the followup. Short answer: not as big a worry as it initially appears.

September 26, 2002

“WEAK AND VAGUE” — Virginia Postrel parses Al Gore’s speech.

September 26, 2002

PORPHYROGENITUS thinks that military action is coming sooner, rather than later.

September 26, 2002

I’VE BEEN TRYING TO READ the editorial in The New Republic on Gore’s speech, which I gather isn’t very flattering. But their servers appear unequal to handling a link from Drudge, because I can’t get through. You might try ‘em later; I will.

September 26, 2002

BELLESILES UPDATE: Here’s an article from History News Network analyzing the likely outcome of the Bellesiles investigation in light of Emory’s internal rules for discipline. The short version: (quoting an anonymous Emory professor) “Bellesiles is toast.” A whitewash is seen as unlikely:

If the Investigative Committee or Emory should bring forth a slap-on-the-wrist decision which many perceive to be a whitewash, Emory will reap a whirlwind. If it thinks it will rid itself of the Bellesiles controversy by so doing, the probable response by the press, Emory alumni, Emory students, as well as members of Emory’s own History faculty would doubtless show that such an approach was sadly misguided.

I agree. There was a point at which a whitewash might have saved Emory bad publicity (though in light of the formidable evidence against Bellesiles, that’s debatable) but regardless, we’re well past that point now.

September 26, 2002

WHY BRITAIN NEEDS MORE LIBERAL FIREARMS LAWS:

They began to push me and shout obscenities. ‘Come with us,’ they kept saying, menacingly.

I stood my ground and kept begging them to go away. I wished I had a man with me or that someone might stop, but no one did. Enraged by my reaction, they began to pull at my clothes. ‘What have you got there?’ I kept a firm grip on my handbag. ‘Only money for a taxi,’ I said, barely able to speak in my mounting state of panic. Then they noticed a pair of silver and diamanté earrings which I had forgotten to remove. ‘We’ll take those, then,’ they said and yanked them off my ears. Luckily they were clip-ons, so my lobes suffered no real damage. But at this point I began to run. . . .

Meanwhile I am still nervous and emotional. I was lucky, though. It could have been a lot worse. But I fear for those young girls who go out wearing revealing dresses because they are told it’s the fashion. It isn’t worth it. Had my shirt showed my bosom, I might have been raped. So I say to mothers, London is dangerous, everywhere. Don’t let your daughters go out at night in mini-skirts or tops slashed to the stomach. Don’t let them come home alone. Or they might not come home at all.

It’s not the girls who shouldn’t be coming home from an encounter like this.

September 26, 2002

SALON HAS A LENGTHY TREATMENT of the Bell Labs scandal that’s well worth reading.

I think that it’s important to get to the bottom of this, and for people in the field to realize that peer review isn’t a panacea, and certainly isn’t a reason to suspend their own skepticism. On the other hand, I think that the history of responses to science fraud suggests that efforts to create a “cure” may be worse than the disease. Here’s a law review article (based on a chapter in the ethics book I coauthored with Peter W. Morgan, The Appearance of Impropriety) that illustrates that problem. It’s reasonably short, by law review standards.

September 26, 2002

HERE’S A CHATBOARD on which Ted Rall is defending his Afghanistan positions against a variety of critics — and defending Rush Limbaugh along the way! Well, sort of.

September 26, 2002

HESIOD THEOGENY seems to be catching on to the possibility that there’s a deeper game in progress.

September 26, 2002

LAW PROFESSOR PETER TILLERS is unimpressed by Jack Balkin’s oped calling George W. Bush the most dangerous man in the world:

I recognize that the thin air at Yale may prevent people there from giving a plausible answer to this last question. Yale Law professors are not expected to have a great deal of common sense. They are meant to think. Indeed, we expect Yale Law professors to think and utter provocative thoughts. Professor Balkin, I readily admit, has performed the last-mentioned service.

Yes. As I wrote a while back, academics tend to set too much store in being clever and provocative. This tends to produce foolish statements when they address non-academic subjects.

September 26, 2002

CAN SADDAM JAM J-DAMS? Joe Katzman is onto a disturbing possibility. Can GPS encryption solve this problem?

UPDATE: According to this probably-reliable account, if GPS is jammed it just reduces the accuracy somewhat. (Thanks to Jay Manifold for emailing the link.)

September 26, 2002

BELLESILES UPDATE: The Chronicle of Higher Education has more on the doings at Emory. The story requires a subscription, but here’s an excerpt:

“Obviously the report is highly negative,” said Jerome Sternstein, a professor emeritus of history at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. Mr. Bellesiles “is anxious to keep [the report] under wraps,” he said. “If the report said that the charges of fraud were unfounded, they would have released it immediately, and he would have insisted that they do so.”

Emory announced in April that it would release the report when the investigation, by an independent committee of distinguished scholars, was completed. But the report remains confidential, even though the investigation was finished in July. The university now says it will release the results at the end of the appeals process, which Provost Hunter told the student newspaper would be “soon.”

Along with other members of the university’s faculty, David J. Garrow, a law professor, reiterated the assumption that the report finds fault with Mr. Bellesiles’s research. He also said that many university faculty members are disappointed by Mr. Bellesiles and how he handled the accusations.

“If there is faculty support for him on campus, I am unaware of it,” said Mr. Garrow. “My personal impression is that whatever the scale or scope of the documentary problems in the book, his ever-changing and seemingly inconsistent responses magnified the scope of the problem several-fold.”

Another faculty member, who declined to be identified, said that “it’s a mystery as to why he handled this controversy in such an abysmal way.”

It’s been interesting to see the initial circle-the-wagons support for Bellesiles melt away. The initial impulse was understandable (if, on the part of historians, marked by a certain unjustified snobbishness toward legal academics). Everybody makes mistakes, any work of scholarship — especially one at book-length — contains errors, and anyone can imagine someone picking over his/her record to find those errors and combining them into an unfair assault.

But while that could happen to anyone, it isn’t what happened to Bellesiles. And now that people have recognized that fact, his support has vanished. I think the likelihood that Emory will paper this over is now virtually nil.

Some people have been comparing the Bellesiles case to this Bell Labs fraud case (which incidentally was first reported by a blogger — not me, as I got email on it but didn’t know if I could trust the source). But the Bell Labs investigation actually did go on for a while, and Bell Labs researchers don’t have tenure.

UPDATE: Here’a a story from the Daily Princetonian about an assistant professor of physics at Princeton who was instrumental in uncovering the Bell Labs fraud.

That’s an impressive thing to do, and especially gutsy in someone so junior. The conventional wisdom is that fraud sometimes goes unnoticed because it’s not career-enhancing for academics to debunk other academics’ work. That’s true, I think — you only have to look at NWU Law Professor James Lindgren, who has taken a fair amount of abuse for his work in uncovering Bellesiles’ fabrications, to see that in action. (And who has invested time and energy in that work instead of in the scholarship he otherwise would have been working on).

I hope that the same thing won’t happen here. While people tut-tut about the problem in general, they’re still quick to look askance at those who actually uncover fraud. Yet when fraud is left unaddressed, the reputation of academia suffers.

September 26, 2002

O’REILLY VS. LUDACRIS: Greg Beato is on the story.

September 26, 2002

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS lays out the case for war.

September 26, 2002

TERRORIST PLOT FOILED IN CALIFORNIA: No, not those terrorists. Some other terrorists. Equally dumb though.

September 26, 2002

EVERYBODY IS HAPPY WITH THE NEW REPUBLIC’S NEW BLOG: But that hasn’t saved them from the exacting scrutiny of The Scrutineer.

September 26, 2002

THE ARAB NEWS seeems to have changed its tune recently:

In the case of Iraq, though, any new government would be an improvement over the repressive and thuggish regime of Saddam Hussein.

As some Muslim commentators have been eager to point out, most notably the Iranian-born Amir Taheri writing this past week in both the Jerusalem Post and National Review, Saddam does not have widespread support either with Arab regimes or the Arab street. Having killed many Islamists and Nasserites, Saddam is not liked by Al-Qaeda supporters or the Arab left. Taheri predicts that the Arab street will not erupt into fury if Saddam is overthrown, which is probably true. The irony is that although most of the Muslim world will probably welcome regime change in Iraq, it will also probably resent the fact that it was the Americans who did it.

Yeah, kind of like, well, everybody else.

UPDATE: Gary Farber says he has comments on this, but at the moment Blogspot isn’t working, so I don’t know what they say. I’m about ready to join with Rachel Lucas in the “Blogspot is the devil” camp. I’m constantly getting email complaining that my links to blogspot blogs don’t work. They work when I put ‘em up, but God knows whether blogspot will be up later, or whether it’ll send you somewhere besides the item the link was originally pointing at, or whatever.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Tuttle writes that Dianne Feinstein apparently isn’t reading the Arab News:

I just watched Sen Dianne Feinstein live on Fox News try to scare Americans that liberating Iraq (my term) unilaterally, pre-emptively attacking Iraq (her view) will unite the Arab world against us. Sen DiFi is also putting the interests of the UN ahead of the interests of the US and the American People. The UN somehow has the moral authority to attack Iraq, but the government that she is part of, doesn’t have that moral authority. Go figure.

I actually thought that Feinstein got a bit of a bum rap for her remark about being “embarrassed” to wear an American flag pin, since the remark was less offensive in context than some people made it sound. But one reason why most people didn’t give her the benefit of the doubt on that remark was the broader context provided by other things she says.

September 25, 2002

SAY WHAT YOU WANT, I think that it’s caused by SUVs.

September 25, 2002

TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY: Send this to someone in Nigeria.

September 25, 2002

SULTRY BLOG SIREN Heather Havrilesky is interviewed in L.A. Weekly, and she lets it all hang out. Er, figuratively. The most interesting factual angle is the comparatively small readership figure cited for Suck.

September 25, 2002

A COMING CRACKDOWN IN HONG KONG? Gweilo Diaries says it’s here now. Weirdly, there are some signs of a letup in Tibet.

September 25, 2002

TODD ZYWICKI SAYS that if you want to riot for anarchy, at least get the anarchy part right.

September 25, 2002

JUAN GATO invokes the Port Huron statement in support of making November’s elections a referendum on the war.

September 25, 2002

MASS POST DAY on BlogCritics has netted over 100 posts so far. Wow.

September 25, 2002

WANT A BLOG THAT’S NOT ABOUT POLITICS AND WAR? This should fill the bill. I still hear from quite a few of my ex-girlfriends from time to time. I’m happy to say that none of them are anything like this one. In fact, they’re all still very nice people.

September 25, 2002

THIS AFRICA NEWS PAGE looks pretty interesting, though it’s obviously got its own slant.

September 25, 2002

CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES, a best-of-weblog postings compilation, is up.

September 25, 2002

PATRIOT ACT UPDATE: A couple of weeks ago I linked to this article in the New York Times on a paper by George Washington University professor Orin Kerr who argues that the Patriot Act does much less to diminish privacy than is generally believed.

Now here’s a link to the piece. The link takes you to an abstract page, from which you can download the whole article. If you’re interested in the Patriot Act, it’s a must-read.

UPDATE: Okay, it’s 11:20pm and the server’s now really slow. Try, like, staggering your downloads — it’ll still be there tomorrow. Though it could just be a problem at their end.

September 25, 2002

“WE DIDN’T START THIS, BUT YOU CAN BET WE’LL FINISH IT!” That’s the tagline on a G.I. Joe commercial that just aired on the Cartoon Network. He’s gotten more bellicose since the summer of 2001. Of course, I noted that trend a while back.

September 25, 2002

THIS LENGTHY POINT-BY-POINT REBUTTAL TO AL GORE’S SPEECH was on my list to link earlier, but I forgot which blog I’d seen it on. (Yeah, I know, embarrassing.) Then I saw the link on Bill Quick’s blog and remembered. It’s Sensing’s lengthy response, with links and names, to Gore’s statement that “The vast majority of those who sponsored, planned and implemented the cold blooded murder of more than 3,000 Americans are still at large,” that I find particularly interesting. An awful lot of these folks are dead or behind bars.

I wonder why the Bush Administration hasn’t made this point so clearly. Maybe they’re afraid to make the war look too successful?

September 25, 2002

SLAVES TO THE RIGHT? Kaimipono Wenger is unpersuaded by claims from The Alliance for Justice that 7 of the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal are controlled by the “extreme right.”

September 25, 2002

GREGG EASTERBROOK has the Florida recount business about right in my opinion. (Scroll past football-related stuff). The U.S. Supreme Court should have stayed out. But The Florida court’s dreadful behavior, and the red flag it constituted, don’t get enough attention.

September 25, 2002

GOOD GRIEF! Now I discover that she can cook, too! The recipe sounds good; I may try it myself.

September 25, 2002

FRENCH TROOPS RESCUE AMERICANS! (No, really!) It’s a bit of much-needed good publicity for the French, and well-deserved.

September 25, 2002

RADLEY BALKO WRITES ON FOXNEWS that the DEA’s new campaign to link terrorism and drug use is lame and dishonest.

Yes, it is. It also undermines respect for Homeland Security and the war on terrorism in general. If Daschle wanted to blast someone for making political use of the war, he should have targeted this. But that would mean attacking a bureaucracy full of civil servants who vote Democratic. . . .

September 25, 2002

THE WIT AND WISDOM OF HOMER SIMPSON. (Via Samizdata).

September 25, 2002

THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR‘S WARBLOG looks at Islam’s bloody borders. An interesting global perspective.

September 25, 2002

CENTRAL PARK JOGGER UPDATE: Talkleft is reporting that ABC is going to do a story on false confessions relating to the case.

Well, to paraphrase Mark Knopfler: “Two men say they’re Jesus. One of them must be wrong.” The problem with the jogger case is that we have lots of confessions. They can’t all be true. But which to believe?

September 25, 2002

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS is leaving The Nation. Josh Marshall has the scoop.

September 25, 2002

CLAYTON CRAMER is setting up a Mohammed Atta memorial site and wants your help.

September 25, 2002

“THIS SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF THE TERMINATOR,” writes the reader who sent this link to a story about two unconnected women with the same name being murdered within three days of one another.

September 25, 2002

DAN DREZNER WRITES that Daschle’s speech is compounding the trouble that Gore’s speech created for the Democrats. The whole thing is worth reading (lots of links, too) but here’s the money graf:

Let me be clear — there are substantive reasons to challenge the Bush administration’s position on Iraq. I’d like to see a fuller debate. But Daschle’s comments are the political equivalent of a hanging curveball for Republican operators to smack. And none of this happens without Gore’s Tuesday speech. Disadvantage: Daschle!

Oops.

UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus has another view with a Zell Miller angle. And Orin Judd responds to Dana Milbank’s reportage, which he says “completely butchered this story.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen Green isn’t happy with Daschle, but he’s not happy with Bush’s Department of Homeland Security either.

September 25, 2002

ANOTHER DROPPED BALL: The INS apparently failed to act on information that Los Angeles International Airport shooter Mohammed Hadayet was connected to terrorists.

No surprise, really: it took them forever to admit he was a terrorist even after the shootings.

September 25, 2002

A MALAYSIAN COUPLE IS SUING THE RELIGIOUS POLICE for bursting into their bedroom and separating them when they couldn’t produce a marriage license.

The mere existence of “religious police” is an abomination. I think there should be a bounty on them — or, at the very least, the “Buzz Aldrin remedy” should be applied forcefully. Staking out on anthills should be reserved for only the most dedicated members of the profession.

September 25, 2002

JOHN ROSENBERG REPORTS that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has forgotten to update its website, which still shows support for the confirmation of Miguel Estrada.

September 25, 2002

TED BARLOW OFFERS A SADLY AMUSING DIALOGUE on the botched Russian privatization efforts. The Harvard economists involved come off poorly. To be fair, they faced a very difficult problem. But, also to be fair, they didn’t let that slow them down.

September 25, 2002

ANOTHER PROBLEM FOR THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: LEGAL AFFAIRS IS REPORTING that the Rwandan court, sometimes cited as a prototype, is working out badly:

The discovery of genocide suspects on the ICTR’s payroll has threatened the integrity of the experiment in international law taking place in Arusha. Along with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, the tribunal for Rwanda is the first international court to try war criminals since the famous ones in Nuremberg and Tokyo following World War II. The U.N. Security Council set up the courts in 1993 and 1994 respectively to prosecute leaders suspected of committing genocide and crimes against humanity, and to alleviate Western guilt about having let them rage unchecked. The tribunals are the forerunners of the newly established and permanent International Criminal Court, which will be based in The Hague.

The Bush Administration strongly opposes the ICC—which was formally created in July—citing the potential threat to the authority of the U.S. courts and to Americans whom, theoretically, the court could prosecute. (See “Go Dutch.”) But the revelations about Nshamihigo and Nzabirinda expose a more practical and perhaps more debilitating problem for international tribunals—porous security and inept bureaucracy. The arrests have undermined the ICTR’s relationship with the current Tutsi-led government of Rwanda, which was already fragile, and have shaken the faith of some in the international diplomatic community, which was already weak. As a European diplomat based in Rwanda put it recently, “Imagine Klaus Barbie working for the defense at Nuremberg.”

You only get an excerpt (though it’s much longer than this passage) on their website, but I was just reading the actual magazine and this story is worth your attention if you’re interested in this subject.

The article by my law school classmate Nicki Kuckes on law firms and billable hours is good too, but unfortunately not on the web.

September 25, 2002

IT’S A RECESSION, BUT BLACK CHILD POVERTY IS DOWN: Mickey Kaus credits welfare reform!

September 25, 2002

THE CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY MANUAL “UPRISING” has mysteriously vanished from the Web — in fact, it vanished very shortly after I linked it last night. But Combustible Boy has a copy in HTML up over at The Sound and the Fury.

September 25, 2002

FUNNY, not long ago it was the anti-Bush folks who kept talking about the “Harkin scandal.” But it’s hard for me to see how this is bad for Bush. . . .

September 25, 2002

GROUP CAPTAIN LIONEL MANDRAKE IS CONDEMNING French unilateralism and military adventuring. He’s also got a letter from a German reader criticizing American criticism of German politicians.

September 25, 2002

IS THE TOOGOOD CASE RACIST PERSECUTION? Here’s a blog that seems to say so.

September 25, 2002

THE BURKA/BIKINI DEBATE is getting hotter. I don’t usually link back to a downstream post when there’s not a major error to correct, but this one has so many updates it’s practically new.

September 25, 2002

GEORGETOWN PROFESSOR PETER RUBIN says that strict constructionism doesn’t constrain judges. This is, largely, true. In fact, I’ve written a couple of law review articles to that effect. (Links here and here).

That’s not really an argument against fidelity to text and intent, though. It just means it’s been oversold. Parchment barriers are of limited use in constraining federal judges. Character, as Jeff Cooper pointed out the other day, is more important. At any rate, where the federal Courts of Appeals are concerned, the real problem — to paraphrase Michael Dukakis — is not ideology, but competence, and a bureaucratic mindset that does more harm than ideology.

September 25, 2002

MICHAEL KELLY SAYS THAT AL GORE IS UNFIT FOR PUBLIC OFFICE:

This speech, an attack on the Bush policy on Iraq, was Gore’s big effort to distinguish himself from the Democratic pack in advance of another possible presidential run. It served: It distinguished Gore, now and forever, as someone who cannot be considered a responsible aspirant to power. Politics are allowed in politics, but there are limits, and there is a pale, and Gore has now shown himself to be ignorant of those limits, and he has now placed himself beyond that pale.

Gore’s speech was one no decent politician could have delivered. It was dishonest, cheap, low. It was hollow. It was bereft of policy, of solutions, of constructive ideas, very nearly of facts — bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies. It was breathtakingly hypocritical, a naked political assault delivered in tones of moral condescension from a man pretending to be superior to mere politics. It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible. But I understate.

Joe Lieberman is more polite, but he’s down on Gore, too, as is Ed Rendell, who’s running in the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania. Gore may remember another Tennessean, Frank Clement, who gave a speech that didn’t help his national prospects. How long, oh Lord, how long, has Gore been hitting the wrong note by trying too hard to hit the right one? As someone who was once a big Gore fan (I worked quite hard in his 1988 campaign), I’m just disappointed.

UPDATE: Henry Hanks has done some research.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen Rittenbeg says Gore is just a post-modernist. But Max Sawicky liked the speech! Well, mostly. This, on the other hand, is just plain mean.

September 25, 2002

READER DONALD BURTON WRITES:

Now that we’re sending troops into the Ivory Coast on a rescue mission, is Molly Ivins going to write a column claiming it’s really about the cocoa?

September 25, 2002

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN IS UP!

September 25, 2002

LILEKS HAS A BEE IN HIS BONNET. Several, actually. It’s a good one, today. Well, they’re all good ones — it’s an especially good one.

UPDATE: Max Sawicky responds to some comments by Lileks. What’s interesting is that I hadn’t recognized how much Sawicky agrees with Steven Den Beste on the nature of the problem, as opposed to the appropriate remedy. I’d be interested in hearing more on the latter.

September 25, 2002

GARY FARBER REPORTS that “the wave” is Mexican. Who knew?

Well, a lot of people, probably. But not me.

UPDATE: A bunch of people have emailed to say that the Wave isn’t Mexican. Here, courtesy of Jeff Cooper, is a link to a story that says it first appeared in Washington state in 1981.

September 25, 2002

PETER BEINART wonders why Bush is being, ahem, diplomatic regarding war aims and motivations. John Hawkins thinks he has the answer.

September 25, 2002

MICKEY KAUS HAS A SOLUTION TO THE IMPASSE over civil-service protection and the Department of Homeland Security. No, really — an actual proposed solution, not just a snarky comment.

September 25, 2002

WELL THIS EXPLAINS A LOT:

Who is Saddam Hussein’s biggest business partner?

The United Nations. The same U.N. whose secretary-general, Kofi Annan, stands as one of the chief ditherers over removing Saddam. Here are the ingredients of a conflict of interest.

Under the U.N.’s Office of the Iraq Program, which supervises the six-year-old Oil-for-Food Program, the U.N. has had a hand in the sale of more than $55 billion worth of Iraqi oil. Iraq ships oil out to U.N.-approved buyers under the terms of the sanctions agreement. The U.N. vets the inflow of “humanitarian” imports into Iraq.

The process is simple. Iraq contracts to import goods, and the U.N. gives the outside vendors cash collected from the oil sales. The U.N. has approved about $34 billion in such deals so far. The money it hasn’t yet doled out–at least $21 billion–sits in U.N.-administered bank accounts. U.N. officials refuse to divulge much information about these accounts–not even the countries in which they’re held.

Measured in dollars, this is by far the U.N.’s largest program. The sums involved are large enough–and their handling has been perverse enough–for this program to deserve more attention than it has so far received.

What, corruption at the UN? Next people will be accusing them of running sex slave networks in Bosnia, or something.

September 25, 2002

MORE ON THE FBI:

The intransigence of counterterrorism officials in Washington regarding a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant in the Moussaoui case was described to the committee in June, when Minneapolis FBI agent Coleen Rowley aired the complaint. Yesterday’s testimony focused anew on the role of lawyers in the FBI’s National Security Law Center.

The lawyers advised FBI counterterrorism officials that agents did not have enough evidence to seek an FISA warrant. One of the lawyers said that Moussaoui would have to be linked to a “recognized” foreign power, which the committee staff’s report called “a misunderstanding of FISA.”

The FBI had no immediate comment on the report, but acknowledged the misinterpretation of the law in discussions with the committee staff. “The FBI’s deputy general counsel told the Joint Inquiry Staff that the term ‘recognized foreign power’ has no meaning under FISA and that the FBI can obtain a search warrant under FISA for an agent of any international terrorist group, including the Chechen rebels. But because of the misunderstanding, Minneapolis spent the better part of three weeks trying to connect the Chechen group to al Qaeda.”

A supervisory agent who testified yesterday said that the FISA court’s past criticism of some FBI warrant applications as inaccurate has had a “chilling effect,” discouraging others from seeking warrants.

Last week, committee members learned that a National Security Law Center lawyer turned down a separate plea in August 2001 from a New York FBI agent who warned that “someday someone will die” if FBI agents were not allowed to launch a criminal investigation and an aggressive manhunt for one of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

The FBI’s Radical Fundamentalist Unit also failed to take any action on the Phoenix memo, which described the activities of 10 suspected Islamic militants involved in aviation.

It’s more important that the problems be fixed than that heads roll. But I’m not convinced that the problems will be fixed unless some heads do roll.

And Louis Freeh ought to be subpoenaed.

September 25, 2002

PHIL BOWERMASTER has a proposal for the Blogosphere. If they’re going to make a mockery of things, it might as well be our mockery!

September 24, 2002

FRED PRUITT has found some interesting Iraq news. And scroll down for some interesting, but unsurprising, Qatar news.

September 24, 2002

WAR AIMS

September 24, 2002

DANIEL PIPES says he prefers the term “bureaucratic leftism” to “transnational progressivism.” But his analysis works either way.

September 24, 2002

JOHN HAWKINS reports that Osama was allowed to slip away, and he’s got tape. Er, well, streaming audio.