June 16, 2002
WILLIAM GALSTON wrote in the Post about downsides of going to war against Iraq. But Glen Johnstone responds that some of Galston’s “bugs” are really “features.”
WILLIAM GALSTON wrote in the Post about downsides of going to war against Iraq. But Glen Johnstone responds that some of Galston’s “bugs” are really “features.”
I MEANT TO LINK TO this collection of stuff on Hoover-era FBI abuses a while back, but I lost the link and didn’t get to it. I have some personal knowledge of this sort of thing: my father’s antiwar protest career involved some rather dirty governmental tricks, and when I was in law school I did a radio program (with NPR bigshots-to-be Andy Bowers and David Baron) on the New Haven May Day riots, the research for which made it seem pretty likely that FBI-sponsored provocateurs were behind a lot of what went on, including the hockey-rink bombing.
On the other hand, the real question is what lesson this past misconduct teaches us today. One is a theme upon which InstaPundit constantly harps: big, unscrutinized organizations inevitably become corrupt, dishonest, and often dangerous. The other is that much of what Hoover did was illegal then; this suggests that oversight is more important than the precise parameters of the applicable law.
But while I believe in prosecuting the current war against Islamist terrorists to the utmost, I feel absolutely sure that if the U.S. government is given power to act in ways for which it is unaccountable, it will act badly. Our entire Constitution is based on the notion that unaccountable power cannot be trusted. That’s more than a notion, really: it’s a certainty, on a par with the law of gravity.
I MEANT TO LINK TO THIS oped by Larry Tribe on terrorists, trials, and judicial review. It’s pretty good.
A TOUCHING FATHER’S DAY STORY, from Cold Fury.
I CAN’T REACH FOXNEWS AGAIN — it doesn’t respond to pings, and a traceroute shows it as unreachable after an awful lot of weird hops. I assume it’s under some sort of DNS attack again.
UPDATE: Now it’s working. And I notice this defense of George Stephanopoulos’ hosting “This Week.”
BILL QUICK REPORTS on a growing movement to protect “fathers” from paying child support for children who aren’t actually theirs. “But the children need somone to support them,” is the response, “and if these unlucky guys don’t do it, who will?”
This reminds me of Judith Jarvis Thomson’s unconscious-violinist example. And we all know where that leads. So why is it different when it’s men?
THE WAR BETWEEN CIVILIZATION AND BARBARISM: Some interesting thoughts on the nature of the enemy, or enemies.
PYRA IS A COOL COMPANY OF 2002 according to Fortune. It’s well-deserved. Blogger has its issues, but it almost singlehandedly created the contemporary Blogosphere. Not many companies can produce such a major social change with a single product, especially one that’s essentially in beta.
CIVIL RIGHTS LAWYER DON B. KATES has a good oped on the Second Amendment in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer today. Key quotes:
The Founding Fathers’ ideas would group them today with the National Rifle Association’s most militant members. “One loves to possess arms,” Thomas Jefferson wrote George Washington on June 19, 1796. James Madison assured his fellow countrymen they need not fear their government “because [you have] the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation.”
All other founders who discussed guns agreed. If any disagreed, writes professor William Van Alstyne, former member of the national board of the American Civil Liberties Union and one of the great figures in modern American constitutional law, “it remains one of the most closely guarded secrets of the eighteenth century, for no known writing from the period” says so.
Before the modern gun-control debate, no one denied that the amendment guarantees an individual right. In a 183-page review of all 19th-century references, criminologist David Kopel found not one denial. A typical explanation was that which a great Supreme Court justice offered in an 1834 book on the Constitution: “One of the ordinary modes by which tyrants accomplish their purpose without resistance is by disarming the people and making it an offense to keep arms.”
Our founders were steeped in the belief of classical political philosophy that only an armed people could maintain their liberty.
Indeed. And with the growth of the Homeland Security apparatus, this lesson becomes more important, both as a source of security against tyranny, and as a way for the federal government to reassure people that it has no intention of becoming tyrannical.
GEORGIE ANN GEYER WEASELS: Reader Bill Rudersdorf notes that Georgie Ann Geyer’s latest column has a disclaimer at the bottom:
EDITOR’S NOTE: In Georgie Anne Geyer’s column dated for release May 9, 2002, she included a quote from Ariel Sharon, “I control America.” This quote was widely reported in the Palestinian press but cannot be confirmed in independent sources. Miss Geyer and Universal Press Syndicate regret not having attributed the quote more specifically. — UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE
“I thought she was smarter than that,” writes Rudersdorf. Yes, relying on the famously unreliable Palestinian newspapers for a Sharon quote certainly counts as not-smart. In fact, didn’t Holger Jensen do something similar? And didn’t he make a far more handsome apology than this? And didn’t he lose his column anyway?
YOU MAY WANT TO VOTE in this poll on the official Taliban website, which is still in business.
UPDATE: Reader John Beckwith writes:
I followed your link and tried to vote in the Taliban poll. I submitted my vote, but the poll results page informed me that my vote would not be tallied because I had already voted.
I am not sure, but they may have set things up to allow only one person who linked in from Instapundit to vote. If so, the Taliban are smarter than CAIR.
I will be curious to know if other voters have a similar experience.
Hmm. Tricky. You can always type the address into your browser:
Of course, this is an admission of their cause’s unpopularity. They can’t even stuff their own internet poll
UPDATE: Several readers report that votes don’t seem to be changing the totals. It’s probably a fake poll.
IT’S BEEN A WHILE since the Blogosphere has had a really good Fisking. It’s just gotten too easy.
But this is a good one.
FATHER’S DAY CELEBRATIONS AND OBSERVANCES are ongoing today, so blogging will be rather light. Meanwhile, you may want to read this piece from the Los Angeles Times about “deadbeat dads,” (a term that I believe persists largely because of a combination of alliteration and general anti-male bias). Of the obligatory stories of its type running in most papers today, it seems to be the best.
RADIOFREETEXAS is a new blog by a frequent InstaPundit emailer. Check it out.
THE “SMALLPOX” OUTBREAK reported by Pakistan’s The Dawn turns out to be a chickenpox outbreak. Good.
HOMOPHOBIA isn’t actually a phobia. That seems about right to me.
JOSH MARSHALL has a post on the origins of the creepy term “homeland defense”.
I’m certainly among the large number who regard it as creepy. But perhaps it’s a good thing: given the ineffective-yet-intrusive nature of the domestic-security approach to date, why give it a popular name? One that sounds creepy and slightly unAmerican may, in fact, be perfectly appropriate.
ISTANBLOG is, well, what it sounds like: a blog from Turkey. (By an American living there). I don’t pay enough attention to Turkey because. . . well, because I’m a guy who does this as a hobby, and there are only so many hours available for blogging and reading. So I’m glad somebody else is.
JIM BENNETT EXPLAINS why he’s not an Anglophile.
MORE STRANGE GOINGS-ON on the Mexican border.
CHARLES JOHNSON identifies bribery as the reason that we’re going so easy on Saudi Arabia.
I think this is an issue for the Democrats, if they want one. But will they?
READ THIS POST from Dan Hanson on the Hollings bill. Then get mad.
SFSU UPDATE: Karen Alexander writes in The New Republic about the growth of antisemitism at SFSU and Berkeley. Excerpt:
ProPalestinian activism certainly isn’t confined to SFSU and UC Berkeley. But on most campuses the protesters–while often hyperbolic–have been careful to avoid explicit anti-Semitism and threats of violence. When students at Harvard and MIT circulated a petition calling on their universities to divest from companies doing business with Israel, for instance, they were careful to call “the recent attacks on Israeli citizens unacceptable and abhorrent.” But in the Bay Area anti-Israel activism has a far more militant and far less liberal flavor. That’s not because UC Berkeley and SFSU have unusually large or radical Arab populations; it’s because they are home to a deep wellspring of free-floating, hard-left authoritarianism. And unfortunately for Goldstein, today’s left-wing authoritarians have set their sights on Israel.
I have hopes that this will lead to closer scrutiny about what’s going on at SFSU and Berkeley. Despite the attention generated by the Blogosphere, there’s a real tendency among mainstream media to ignore this sort of thing. Compare the relative lack of attention to posters claiming that Jews eat gentile children (mentioned again in this article) to the New York Times reporting of anti-Muslim remarks by a Baptist preacher.
UPDATE: On the Baptist preacher angle, reader Bill Sommerfeld writes:
So one thing the NY Times article conveniently omitted is that Vines is making hay from a traditional (but apparently controversial) Muslim belief that Muhammed married his youngest wife when she was six and consummated the marriage when she was 9. (This was one of many aspects of Muhammed’s life which was parodied in “The Satanic Verses”).
A Google search for “muhammed aisha wife age” turns up a fair number of polemics on the subject, as well as other references where it’s mentioned in passing as context for other Muslim practices.
ANOTHER UPDATE: InstaPundit intern Kevin Deenihan, whose own blog has been covering these Bay Area shenanigans for some time, blogs some corrections to Alexander’s piece.
OKAY, I’M OFF TO THE POOL: But have no fear: Gary Farber is back after a hiatus, and posting up a storm.
PHONY VIRUS THREATS: From antivirus software companies! Who’d've thought it possible?
NATIONAL MALAISE? Bush political operatives can’t like it that this Reuters piece uses that particular word. But the Carter-era version of “malaise” occurred in no small part because Americans knew that we should have been responding vigorously to the Iranian embassy attack and hostage-holding, but that the powers-that-be were too committed to a Colin-Powell-like strategy of talking rather than doing to mount such a response.
Hmm. Maybe there is a lesson here for Bush, after all.
UPDATE: A few people have written to say that Carter gave his “national malaise” speech some months before the hostage taking. Yeah, but he didn’t even use the words. I’m referring to the era, not the speech.
BACK FROM THE LAKE: We took the boat to Calhoun’s at the marina, where we took my dad out for an early Father’s Day dinner. We cruised around the lake for a while, played several games of “Sorry!” with my daughter, and generally had a lovely evening. We drove back a little while ago. This afternoon I’m taking her to a little-girls’ pool party while my wife goes downtown to do some editing on her documentary.
Much happened in my absence. Over 50 comments appeared — quite good ones for the most part — on the post regarding the Al-Muhajir confinement. And Eric Alterman ran a letter from one of my former students, Ken Berry (not the guy from “F Troop,” I note in response to a reader inquiry that strangely appeared to be entirely serious). Berry says he’s a big fan of Chomsky, which only proves (along, sadly, with the quality of grammar and punctuation in his email) that I didn’t teach him much. (Actually, I remember Berry as a pretty nice guy; an older student — though not as old as the actor Ken Berry — who was something of a lefty, though his enthusiasm for Chomsky was news to me).
Berry wonders if I’m neglecting my teaching and writing to do InstaPundit. Well, my scholarly output hasn’t fallen off yet (I have 2 pieces in the pipeline and another one in progress) and my student evaluations — for whatever that’s worth — were up by a statistically insignificant margin last year. It’s mostly a question of efficient use of time, especially small increments of available time (like this one) during the day. That’s something that I have to say my years in law practice, where I managed to squeeze in a book and a couple of law review articles on the side, taught me a lot about.
Also, Eugene Volokh has a very interesting post about an important but little-noticed Supreme Court case that’s soon to be argued, and Kathryn Lopez emailed to thank me for taking weekend time off, thus lowering pressure on The Corner to keep up. Puhleez.
Mac Frazier has some interesting observations on weblog traffic, and Bill Quick has inaugurated a new feature on “stupid security tricks.” Finally, reader Micael O’Ronain sent a review of the Postrel appearance on John Stossel’s program last night, which I missed and was too stupid to tape. Micael says Virginia did extremely well, and that the whole show was quite interesting and well done. Maybe this will get Virginia a slot on the revamped “This Week” program — which I expect would benefit greatly from her presence.
IT’S OFF TO THE LAKE FOR ME AND MINE. Blogging will be limited for the next 24 hours or so. Have a nice weekend!
EUGENE VOLOKH HAS A LENGTHY POST on military versus civilian interrogation and confinement of suspected terrorists.
MICKEY KAUS EXPLAINS why “Homeland Security” sounds creepy and notes that Peggy Noonan invites nominations for a better term. Excellent piece.
UPDATE: Also, it’s Kaus vs. Kuttner in this story on the American Prospect’s finances. I say: let the print magazine go if you must, but keep the online version! And if you can’t do that, at least keep the blog!
BRENDAN O’NEILL says (scroll down) that I’m not negative enough about hate-speech laws. Well, there’s a first.
SECRET SERVICE UPDATE: A reader writes:
Thanks for highlighting the cover story about the Secret Service. I’ve had a number of interactions with them, and although many of them are clearly very professional, there are a few bad apples who are compromising the security of the President.
A friend of mine has done some advance work when Bush travels to his state. He’s encountered similar serious lapses — classified itineraries just lying around detailing the President’s every move. At least once, he’s received an e-mail update from the website Democrats.com detailing the President’s minute-by-minute schedule days before any of the people who were supposed to be in the loop knew anything (and these schedules are NOT supposed to be released to the public). On one trip, he encountered a rather belligerent agent who repeatedly referred to the “fucking White House,” and had to be reprimanded by the higher-ups in D.C. for trying to screw with the order of the motorcade in such a way as to delay the whole trip.
Now, flash back to September 11, and the leak of the code name for Air Force 1. I don’t think this is an isolated problem.
Here’s the disturbing conclusion: “If you choose to highlight this, you can attribute it to an anonymous correspondent. I don’t think I need a knock on my door at 3 AM.” Hmmph. I’m tempted to invoke G. Gordon Liddy, but I won’t.
TAPPED says that Washington, DC should be able to field a team in the World Cup.
I agree. Of course, I also think that Tennessee should get a seat at the U.N.
After all, if the E.U. is now a nation, it’s no sillier than letting, say, France have a seat. In fact. . . .
UPDATE: Interesting response here.
BRINK LINDSEY honors Flag Day by exhuming the British drinking song (“To Anacreon in Heaven”) that supplied the tune to “The Star Spangled Banner.” His conclusion:
Is this a great country or what? Our national anthem is a patriotic parody of a party song that’s all about entwining “the Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s Vine” — or, in other words, getting drunk and doing the nasty. Take that, Osama!
Hmm. Think I’ll make a special effort to, ahem, demonstrate my patriotism this weekend.
DAVE TROWBRIDGE EXPOSES another Fisk error, in answer to a question posed by Chris Bertram. I think, though, that Bertram’s right on the sentiments even if Trowbridge is right on the facts: I’d give every Saudi visitor an Al Gore-level going-over on general principles. After all, that’s where most of the terrorists come from — and it’s where all the terrorists get their ideology.
I JUST NOTICED this writeup of the coming National Press Club weblog panel, by Jennifer Harper. Cool.
THIS STORY FROM USA TODAY describes how Americans studied in madrassas schools that taught their students that Islam requires the destruction of America. They apparently went off to join Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
These guys should be locked up, if they’re still alive. I also wonder: Padilla/Al Muhajir picked up Islam in prison. This should make us reconsider who we lock up, and how much religious freedom prisoners are granted. The prison system has been a slow-motion disaster for two or three decades, and here’s yet another reason to address it.
HOW TO BE A CEO SUPERVILLAIN: Chris Suellentrop explains, in a piece that’s about the press more than it’s about the business world.
I HAVE MY DOUBTS about the genuineness of this purportedly autobiographical piece in Salon that Charles Murtaugh pointed out. But I liked it. Especially the ending.
JOHN STOSSEL will have uber-blogger Virginia Postrel on his ABC special tonight at 9 eastern. The topic is “tampering with Nature,” and I’ll bet that cloning will be discussed.
WOW. The “Al-Mujahir confinement” post below has garnered 65 comments, most of which are very thoughtful. Feel free to add your own.
Hmm. The Al-Mujahir Confinement. Sounds like a Ludlum title, doesn’t it?
TAPPED explains why posting has been so light. It’s not as good an excuse as Asparagirl’s, though.
OUCH! Check out this zinger on Romenesko’s letters page:
From GEORGE R. ZACHAR: Michael McFadden says: “… data would suggest that Jews are not at particularly high risk. Vandalism at synagogues in Europe — where hate crimes against Arabs — like crime generally are also rising — does not foretell a Holocaust. It is insultingly simplistic to suggest otherwise.” While it is true that crime against Jewish property in Europe has ramped up dramatically, Mr. McFadden is quite correct in saying such action “does not foretell a Holocaust”. And the reason is, indeed, “insultingly simplistic”. There aren’t enough Jews remaining in Europe for there to *be* a Holocaust.
Yeah, and what’s worse is that there are a lot of Europeans who are happy about that.
BRIAN LINSE emailed me looking for a response to his gun-show loophole post, but I was kind of busy with the wireless network (laptop now works fine; upstairs computer — which runs Win98v.1 — doesn’t and probably needs an operating system upgrade) and I’m kind of tired of the whole subject for the moment.
But Jeff Goldstein rose to the bait, and has a good post that I’ll incorporate by reference. That’s a legal term meaning “I’m too lazy to do it — read it over there and pretend I did it here.”
MORE ON MARS: Leonard David has a cool piece on an experimental Mars aircraft.
UPDATE: Reader John Allison sends this link with more information on similar work being done by hobbyists. Yep, hobbyists. And in a (sort of) related development, here’s a fairly cool Los Angeles Times article on Micro-Aircraft. But catch this rather dumb subhead: “The laws of aerodynamics are a big obstacle for designers.” Uh, yeah. Why, without having to worry about those pesky laws of aerodynamics, we could design flying bricks powered by thistledown. . . . Do these guys even read what they write?
THIS RICH GALEN item on small businesses sounds a bit hokey, but — like many things that sound hokey — is also very true.
MICKEY KAUS fact-checks Robert Reich, a Kaus specialty.
U.S. NEWS has a covers story on problems with the Secret Service. That’s a theme that InstaPundit has sounded with some reqularity (Here’s an example). The story seems pretty good, though it doesn’t really address the increasingly thuggish behavior of Secret Service agents on the protective detail.
Any organization that receives little public scrutiny will inevitably become corrupt and inefficient.
WARP DRIVE: Reader Ray Heasman emails that it’s well on the way. Er, okay.
I’m, ahem, skeptical. But I’d love to be wrong.
THE SPOONS EXPERIENCE has some advice for spotting phony news reports. I hope it’s being read by Chinese newspaper editors everywhere. Er, well, everywhere in China, anyway.
THE LONG-LOST ASPARAGIRL has reappeared, with an x-rated explanation of what (or should I say who?) has been keeping her from from blogging these past weeks.
A CAR BOMBING AT THE U.S. CONSULATE IN KARACHI killed seven (not counting the bozo with the bomb) and injured 45. No Americans were killed, though. Al Qaeda is being blamed, as you might expect.
STILL MORE ON VENEZUELA from El Sur (and scroll from this post). The good news: the U.S. role is apparently being handled better. The bad news: a delegation from the Carter Center is on its way.
OOPS. My Sobran link below knocked the Midwest Conservative Journal offline for a while today due to bandwidth problems. He’s moving to a more reliable site: Blogspot! Well, compared to Tripod, it may be.
Christopher, call Stacy.
SUMAN PALIT has some thoughts on document management and nuclear war. A 12-year-old boy and NASA are involved, too.
BTW, I’m posting this via the home wireless network. A firmware upgrade in the wireless card fixed the laptop’s problem. The upstairs desktop still has issues, alas. But we’re working it, as Ken Layne would say.
THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT’S effort to seize control of the Internet in that country has been foiled. The goal was feared to be censorship, but the .za domain administrator has moved the primary zone file offshore. The folks on Slashdot seem (mostly) to think he’s a hero.
South Africa isn’t distinguishing itself in the cause of freedom lately — from its silence on Mugabe to Mbeki’s AIDS policy (or lack thereof) to Mandela’s suckup to Libya. And now this. Not very impressive.
UPDATE: Neither is this.
JOURNALISTS WRITING ABOUT WEBLOGS: read this.
ABDULLAH AL-MUHAJIR has had his habeas corpus petition denied — though pretty much the only quotes in this story come from his lawyer. It would be nice to know what the judge said.
Still, he’s had his day in court for the moment — more proceedings next week. So you can’t exactly say he’s being held incommunicado, or outside the law. Perhaps Volokh will have more observations later.
ALEX WHITLOCK admirably addresses a contradiction that I’ve often observed regarding teen mothers.
VENEZUELA UPDATE: Reader Jorge Schmidt forwards this Miami Herald article saying that Hugo Chavez is facing a “storm of coup threats” as “wary Venezuelans hoard food, guns.” He also sends this email report:
I just received an email from Venezuela that confirms today’s story in the Miami Herald. It also conveys the sense of unreality and imminent violence permeating the country. Here it is, translated and redacted to protect the identity of my correspondent:
“Dear [me], the stuffed animals arrived Tuesday. Yesterday I operated on the frog to make it look more like the old one, [baby] did not totally reject it, but also does not totally accept it. The elephant I will not operate because [baby] likes it like that, perhaps not to sleep with, but to relax with. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate you having sent them. Everything here is very tense, everything is expected, we live on the verge of a nervous breakdown, everyday we expect a military coup, it’s been discovered in the past weeks that the government has embezzeled around 11 billion bolivares . . . I don’t even know how many zeroes those are . . . so I have milk and diapers and [husband] and my dad are armed with various weapons and ammunition . . . the gun shops have run out of rifles . . . they seem like bakeries . . . well, I have to go, we’re closing for lunch.”
It seems more and more likely that there will be extreme violence down there soon. I should add that about a month ago, in the wake of the April 11 non-coup, government officials suggested that, in order to reduce tensions around the country, private ownership of firearms should be banned.
Sounds more like they should ban government ownership of firearms, especially after what happened during the last round of protests, but you tend to hear such noises out of a government that’s insecure, or that has tyrannical tendencies, or both. There’s more reportage over on El Sur.
TONY PIERCE OFFERS helpful math advice for flagburners.
MORE THOUGHTS on the McVeigh / Padilla connection.
FILE SHARING ISN’T HURTING THE MUSIC INDUSTRY — but this expert wonders why.
VERY COOL STORY BY NOAH SCHACHTMAN at Wired — it appears that we’ve discovered a planetary system like ours, a “mere” 41 light years away.
Well, it’s not clearly like ours, but it’s more like ours than others we’ve found. It does seem to be clear that planetary systems are common, which suggests that earthlike planets are likely to exist. Start working on that warp drive!
CYNTHIA MCKINNEY UPDATE: Bill Quick reports that Georgia Democrat Zell Miller is supporting Cynthia McKinney’s opponent.
THE VOLOKH CONSPIRACY is taking over, well, everything.
JOE SOBRAN GETS FACT-CHECKED to within an inch of his life.
I’M A KNIGHT OF THE LAW! Pardon me for a while — I’ll be out shopping for my golden spurs.
KRUGMAN WATCH: With Andrew Sullivan vacationing, others have stepped in, accusing Krugman of material nondisclosure.
U.S. Senate candidate Ron Kirk is employing an anti-Israel activist who has defended terrorist groups and is friends with American Taliban John Walker Lindh. The Review has also learned that Kirk has received numerous campaign donations from individuals linked with terrorism and anti-Semitism, one of whom also violated U.S. export laws by shipping sensitive technology to Libya and Syria.
I don’t know anything about The Austin Review and can’t vouch for it. Some of these charges sound unlikely, but then again, so did the notion of Caribou Coffee having links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
I know next to nothing about Kirk, other than that somebody doesn’t like him. His website shows that he has support from the Texas Democratic establishment, and his OpenSecrets record doesn’t show anything obviously odd (though individual donor names aren’t available).
It’s certainly possible to make too much of these things: in a six-degrees-of-separation world, nearly everyone can be found to have “links” of some sort, which is why I don’t like that word. If the Kirk allegations are true — or for that matter if they’re not — no doubt we’ll hear more on the subject soon.
DESERTPUNDIT informs me that the Arizona Bar is investigating Glendale lawyer Stan Massad, who wrote the threatening letter to the teacher who flunked a still-unnamed high school student.
Let this be a lesson to you, folks. I’m sure his insurance carrier already knows about this, and is reevaluating his premiums even as I write.
UPDATE: Edward Boyd has more on this, including the email address for the Arizona Bar’s disciplinary office.
DAN GILLMOR is very unhappy with the detention of Al Muhajir, since he’s a U.S. citizen. I agree that that’s an important distinction.
If the U.S. government locks up noncitizens, it may be a human-rights violation (or it may not) but it’s not politically corrupting. When the government locks up citizens without following Constitutional niceties, it may tempt it to abuse that power, and it may intimidate critics by the threats of such abuse, both concerns that don’t exist when noncitizens are involved.
I think that’s a good reason for maintaining a firewall between treatment of citizens and noncitizens. One offers a risk (so far, based on Guantanamo, not realized) of human rights violations. The other offers a risk of tyranny, in which the government, which should be the servant of the people, begins to act as master. We’re not close to that yet, but we’re closer than we were.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh identifies a World War Two case holding that citizens who join enemy belligerents can be imprisoned without trial for the duration of the war:
On the points made about the detention of the dirty bomber, I think this case is instructive: In re Territo, 156 F 2d 142 (9th Cir 1946), [which holds] that a citizen who is an enemy belligerent [there, a prisoner of war] can be held without trial for the duration of the war. The only question is whether the Executive’s determination of belligerent status is subject to habeas [corpus] review. I believe that it is, and should be, and I predict that the dirty bomber will seek habeas, and that the Executive will present its evidence, and that the federal courts will determine that he is in fact an enemy belligerent subject to detention without trial.
JUST ADDED A NEW COUNTER: The Extreme Tracker only counts visitors to this front page; it doesn’t see anyone who follows a link to an individual post. (It also apparently can’t see anyone who has Java disabled). It’s open, too. Since the Sitemeter just went up, it won’t be accurate for today’s totals, but it should make an interesting comparison starting tomorrow.
I don’t know if I’ll keep these up forever (a couple of people have complained that it’s an invasion of privacy since it shows some information on the last few visitors) but in the interest of transparency I’m doing it for a while at least.
JAMES LILEKS explores Caribou Coffee’s connections to terror, or at least to the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideas. He says their coffee’s bad, too.
LIVIN’ THE BLOGGING LIFE: John Hiler notices that he’s not just getting book and music recommendations from bloggers — now he’s reading unpublished books and listening to unsigned bands that he found out about through bloggers. And he likes it! Yeah, I think that’s a growing trend.
In fact, I think that the growth of these forms of micro-publishing is what really has the MPAA and RIAA scared. They’re not so much worried about piracy as competition. And they should be.
UDPATE: Dave Winer agrees.
BRUCE HILL SAYS THAT IN THIS WAR, we don’t need to hate the enemy. He’s onto something. When I see these guys’ faces I don’t feel hatred. Frankly, they tend to look like pathetic goofballs.
Yeah, they’re evil and bad, and they’re dangerous and have to be stopped. But I can’t really summon up a lot of hatred. And that probably would bother them even more.
UPDATE: Will Allen writes:
If this war is prosecuted with efficient ruthlessness now, hating the enemy will not be required. If this is not done, however, and the enemy has success in pursuing his logic, then this society may well decide to pursue a logic that WILL require hating the enemy, which will have terrible effects for this society. Much as slavery is toxic to the enslaver, massive slaughter is toxic to the slaughterer. All the more reason to prosecute this war with tremendous urgency now, so as to avoid what may be required later. There are times in which this conflict seems to have entered a “phony war” stage, in which goals seem to be muddled or put off. Hopefully, this is not the case; that our war leaders are quietly taking care of business while setting the stage for what must happen, which is a wholesale change in much of the Islamic world. One of “Rumsfeld’s rules” is that when one is faced with an intractable problem, the most effective response is to enlarge it. This problem needs to be enlarged beyond Al Queda and Iraq to include Iran (where a substantial population wishes to rid themselves of the mullahs), Syria, and most of all, our “friends” on the Arabian peninsula, who use their oil money to fund entities from Nigeria, to Pakistan, to the Phillippines, and beyond, which kill Americans with great glee. Put bluntly, the House of Saud is an enemy of the United States. It is time that we approach them as one, lest far more horrible methods become necessary later.
Indeed. I agree that not taking the situation seriously now is likely to lead to a situation where far more will be required, to everyone’s detriment.
BY NOW a lot of people have heard the story of the high school senior whose parents threatened to sue the teacher who — apparently quite properly — flunked her. Now this editorial raises the question that has occurred to me: Why don’t we know the names of those parents?
The girl’s parents, who have done nothing to deserve the anonymity this and other reports afford them, have performed perhaps even a worse service than the district. Perhaps even worse than the lawyer.
They’ve made clear to their daughter that failure is never her responsibility. And that is a terrible message for any parent to send.
Yeah, they don’t deserve anonymity. Maybe the girl’s a minor — but is there a general rule of never reporting a minor’s name? I don’t think so. And why not report the parents’ names? They’re not minors. Yeah, sure, that would get the daughter’s name in public. But given that they threatened a lawsuit, well, that goes with the territory. I don’t see why they should be cut a break here. In fact, the letter sent by lawyer Stan Massad seems to border on extortion, something that the Arizona Bar should perhaps look into (and if I received such a letter I would lodge a disciplinary complaint): “Of course, all information regarding your background, your employment records, all of your class records, past and present, dealings with this and other students become relevant, should litigation be necessary.” Whether or not this constitutes a crime or a violation of legal ethics isn’t for me to say — but anyone willing to threaten to make private facts public in order to get an action they desire from a public employee surely has no standing in demanding that his/her own privacy be respected.
The press’s bizarre incidents of over- and under-sensitivity baffle me.
UPDATE: Reader David Bernstein writes:
Often, the difference between illegal extortion and legal “encouraging settlement” is whether the deman has an attorney’s signature. Remember the case of the women who claimed that Bill Cosby had fathered her daughter? If she had cut an attorney in for 1/3 of her claim, she would have been immune from extortion charges, so long as the attorney had a good faith belief that she *might* be telling the truth. Or am I wrong?
Well, it depends. Yes, it’s true that filing a lawsuit inevitably means that otherwise private information will become public, and that threatening to file a lawsuit isn’t, itself, extortion. The question is, if a lawsuit is sufficiently frivolous (as this appears to be based on the press accounts I’ve seen and heard), should that rule hold? This ties in with a bigger problem: that of attorneys using threats of frivolous litigation to extort (in the generic, not the specific legal sense) things from people to which they’re not entitled. (Look at some of the threatening letters sent by technology companies in IP cases, for example, some of which are worse than Massad’s letter).
I’ve talked with a colleague who specializes in this area, and he believes that a lot of lawyers are doing things that should — and ultimately will — subject them to discipline, civil litigation, and perhaps even criminal charges, based on an unjustified belief that anything you do relating to litigation is, somehow, not subject to such sanctions. I believe that this is a subject that deserves far more attention.
Actions like Mr. Massad’s certainly serve to bring the profession into disrepute, and to undermine people’s faith in the legal system. Unfortunately, people often cave in to them.
UPDATE: Max Power has more on this. But I wasn’t talking so much about filing frivolous lawsuits, as threatening to file a frivolous lawsuit. The former may be constitutionally protected (though in some cases I think bad faith should trump that) but it’s also subject to sanction via Rule 11, etc., at least in theory. The threats — which sometimes include objectively false statements of the law addressed to nonlawyers; there was a doozy linked via Slashdot a few months ago that I can’t seem to find now — seem to me to fall outside the First Amendment, and well within the bounds of attorney discipline. The teacher’s letter in response, by the way, makes the point that discovery cuts both ways. It also says that the student (whose name the paper removed) is an adult — so I’ll repeat:
Why are the papers keeping the studen’ts name secret?
SURE TO UPSET SOME, this high-school yearbook has a special section on its students who are mothers or pregnant.
UPDATE: Ross over at The Bloviator emails to say that he had this link up on Monday. Er, okay. I’m amused by his Chess Club analogy. If teenage pregnancy becomes as popular with highschoolers as the chess club, well, that’ll be the end of it.
NO TANK YOU: Howard Bashman has an amusing report of a tank-repossession case. Bashman’s summary might leave the impression that it is illegal for individuals to own tanks, though. Actually (as numerous emailers informed me last fall when I posted something tank-related) there are quite a few people who collect tanks, and a couple of wealthy individuals who have more working tanks than some third-world nations.
Is this a great country, or what?
ACCORDING TO THIS ARTICLE IN THE AMERICAN PROSPECT, America needs more rich unwed mothers!
UPDATE: Okay, that was a bit of a tease. But then again, read this:
High-achieving women are far less likely than women in the general population to have children out of wedlock. Only 7 percent of never-married high-achieving women between 28 and 35 had had children, according to the CPS. In contrast, fully 32 percent of other never-married working women had done so. One hardly need look farther afield to explain why only 60 percent of high-achieving women had children at ages 36 to 40, whereas among working women generally the figure is 66 percent. High-achieving women are simply much more reluctant to take on single motherhood.
The so-called baby bust thus has far less to do with female accomplishment or age-related infertility than it does with the persistence of traditional values among economic elites. For high-achieving women, it might as well still be the Eisenhower era, which was the last time the nation as a whole had such a low rate of unmarried births. Because of high-achieving women’s greater behavioral conservatism, it is marriage — not degree of professional success — that is the single largest determinant of whether they will have children.
See where the high-income baby-bust comes from? Sure, TAPPED coyly suggests later on that rich women should just consider marrying younger men — but the data speak for themselves, and they’re up front. And that would get us out of that dreadful Eisenhower era!
Er, or you could conclude that the avoidance of unwed motherhood has a causal relationship to “elite” economic status, I suppose.
MICKEY KAUS has picked up on my reference to Dave Winer’s post on what newspapers should do about weblogs, and is giving it the Mickey Seal of Approval.
That’s very generous of him considering our newfound rivalry: Moira Redmond of Slate emailed today that she wore an InstaPundit t-shirt to a Slate editorial meeting, and that Mickey immediately tried to outbid me for her affections with the offer of a “Kausfiles” coffee mug.
Of course, my initial reaction was: “Kaus goes to editorial meetings?”
SLASHDOT has an interesting thread on the latest music-download happenings. Record companies are reportedly going to allow singles to be downloaded for $0.99 and full CDs for $9.99, without annoying “crippleware,” etc.
Well, they should: a CD at that price probably costs them about $0.01 to “manufacture.” There’s also some interesting debunking of their “global piracy” claims, and some technical observations (natch).
I GOT A LOT OF EMAILS ON DDT. So did the mysterious “Juan non-Volokh” at The Volokh Conspiracy, so I’m incorporating his posts by reference. Start at this one and scroll up.
READER JOHN KLUGE WRITES in response to this post:
Its very funny that your liberal colleagues are scratching their heads over the Supreme Court’s evisceration of the 6th Amendment right to confront witnesses. Strict constructionists have argued for years that broad readings of the Constitution create a slippery slope for civil liberties. No one has listened. Instead, liberals have created this straw man that anyone on the Right who disagrees with them is automatically against civil liberties.
Yes, unrestrained governmental bodies are fine as long as they’re doing what you like. But, really, how long are they likely to keep that up?
BRIAN FINCH SAYS OUR ANTI-TERRORIST PLANS are looking in the wrong direction.
NOW WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS?
35 TRILLION CHILDREN GUNNED DOWN! Er, either that, or someone who’s a mathematical illiterate, reports Minute Particulars. I think I’ve seen this story before, but it bears repeating.
MUSIC INDUSTRY SALES ARE DOWN? People must be stealing the product.
I mean, it couldn’t be because it sucks.
“HE’S STILL IN FEDERAL CUSTODY” — Reader Natalie Cohen sends this slightly surreal story on John Gotti’s post-demise activities.
CHARLES OLIVER OBSERVES:
I also find it interesting that the articles refer to al Muhajir as Jose Padilla. Most of the press seems to prefer to call him by his birth name, rather than the name he has chosen just as they refuse to call John Lindh by the Muslim name he has adopted. Funny, no one calls Muhammad Ali Cassius Clay or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Lew Alcindor. Are we supposed to believe that only good guys truly convert to Islam?
UPDATE: One Hand Clapping wonders the same thing.
JOHN CARTER, ROLE MODEL: Orrin Judd emails with this interesting essay on the political and moral dimensions of Edgar Rice Burroughs.