June 23, 2002
THERE’S A NEW Smarter Harper’s Index up. It’s a good one.
THERE’S A NEW Smarter Harper’s Index up. It’s a good one.
HERE’S A NEW CRIME-RELATED BLOG from what its writer seems to think is a lefty point of view, though I don’t find a whole lot to disagree with there and a lot of folks seem to think I’m some sort of anti-lefty. Anyway, it’s worth a look, though it needs permalinks.
NZ BEAR reports on evidence of weird Al Qaeda support for Bush. Er, or perhaps bad writing coupled with bad translation.
RAND SIMBERG adds to the blogger pile-on of the L.A. Times’ Tim Rutten.
I’VE LONG SINCE quit wasting my time with warbloggerwatch, so I had to find out from Steven Chapman that they’re obsessed with the size of my penis.
Heh. They can’t handle the truth.
A RELIGION OF PEACE? Check out this photo, one of a seemingly-endless series. I said that Palestinian culture is turning into a psychotic death cult. A few people didn’t like that, but they can’t seem to explain this stuff away — they just try to change the subject.
THOMAS A. KELLEY, who’s in charge of the September 11 investigation, obstructed Justice in the Waco probe, the Washington Post reports.
You know, words fail me at just how pathetic this is. And it’s going to give more credence to theories that the FBI hasn’t been giving us the straight dope since Oklahoma City and before.
If we can’t trust these guys to be honest on this stuff, how can we trust them with the powers they want to fight Al Qaeda?
ESCAPED ROBOT: But there’s nothing to worry about.
JOHN ELLIS is really down on Yahoo. I think his column is dead-on.
SADDAM FAKES DEAD BABY FUNERALS, in order to blame sanctions, reports the BBC. (Via Matt Welch).
WELL,SOMEONE AT THE L.A. TIMES likes blogs, at least well enough to lift some phrases from InstaPundit reader Jorge Schmidt, reports Matt Welch. I’m pretty skeptical of these parallelisms, but this one certainly is striking.
UPDATE: The LAT’s writer says she didn’t get it there, and Matt’s taking her at her word.
HOW FARM SUBSIDIES ARE KILLING PEOPLE AND PROSPERITY in Africa:
Africans need the chance to compete with the few things they have: cheap sun and cheap labour. They need access to the world’s markets. And yet several of their richest potential markets are ring-fenced by tariffs and other protectionist measures designed to keep Western farmers in business. The EU and the US in particular are engaged in a protection racket designed to keep rural constituencies and their media fan clubs in some sort of acquiescence.
It is hard to assess the damage protectionism does to the farmers of the poor world, but bodies like the OECD routinely put it in the range of billions of dollars, and suggest it far outranks the aid we send.
Yes, the damage is huge.
SOMEONE IS FINALLY SPEAKING OUT against elvish imperialism.
E-BAY WILL BE OFFERING HEALTH INSURANCE to its high-volume sellers. This seems like an excellent move for e-Bay, and for the sellers.
IAIN MURRAY has some hopeful observations on the direction of European politics. I hope he’s right.
AN ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN READING FOR A WHILE KNOWS, I’ve been deeply skeptical of the whole “homeland security” thing for a while. This anti-whistleblowing provision only underscores my skepticism.
This isn’t about protecting America. It’s about protecting bureaucrats.
KAUS / RUTTEN SMACKDOWN: Mickey Kaus responds to Tim Rutten’s Los Angeles Times screed about weblogs. Excerpt:
In what seems to be an iron law applying to pieces by mainstream journalists huffing about blogger inaccuracy, Rutten’s piece itself contains a non-trivial inaccuracy, attributing to me words (describing how W & B sometimes revealed “unsubstantiated or simply wrong information”) that were actually written by historian Stanley Kutler and were clearly identified as such (see the item in the 6/19 entries below). The misreporting is non-trivial because it conveniently avoids the need for Rutten to mention that it was Kutler, who isn’t a narcissistic blogger, who initially made the point Rutten’s dismissing.. (It goes without saying that if Rutten were a blogger he’d have corrected his mistake by now, but since he works for a “serious newspaper” the falsehood will probably stand uncorrected forever.)
Advantage: Kaus! There’s a lot more in Kaus’s response, too. Follow his links to read extensive and unflattering responses to Rutten’s piece from Matt Welch and Ken Layne.
I’M DISAPPOINTED that this George Will column didn’t mention the problems at SFSU, UCSD, Orange Coast Community College, etc. But it does contain one quotable passage:
This year’s enactment of yet more campaign finance regulations that expand government restrictions on the quantity of political speech is just the latest confirmation of what professor Martin Shapiro of the University of California School of Law at Berkeley noted in 1996. He wrote that “almost the entire First Amendment literature produced by liberal academics in the past 20 years has been a literature of regulation, not freedom — a literature that balances away speech rights. . . . Its basic strategy is to treat freedom of speech not as an end in itself, but an instrumental value.”
Yeah, and not even much of an instrumental value. It would be overly harsh to say that much of the left’s enthusiasm for free speech vanished as soon as communists no longer needed it. But the thought has occurred to me, and it’s one reason why I stopped considering myself part of the left.
STANLEY HAUERWAS is a good friend of my father’s, and my father thinks he’s pretty smart. I’ve been “aware” of his work for a long time, but I’m not really that deeply familiar with it: I leave the theology to my pa. The statements made by Hauerwas in this article are so profoundly idiotic — and worse yet for a philospher, incoherent and contradictory — that I find it hard to believe that he said them as reported. On the other hand, I seem to recall my father saying that no one could be a good enough Christian to satisfy Stanley, and suggesting that such demandingness misconstrued the point of Christianity. That view certainly shines through in this article.
UPDATE: Reader Telford Work writes:
I agree that in that National Catholic Reporter article, Stanley Hauerwas sounds like an idiot.
But Hauerwas is not an idiot. I studied with him (though not as my dissertation advisor) at Duke. The coherence of his position follows from the ramifications (as he sees them, anyway) of taking the lordship of Jesus Christ more seriously than anything else. The NCR article bypassed this and neglected needed theological background, in favor of stringing together a list of quotations made all the more provocative for being, er, “lightly contextualized.”
I don’t agree with Hauerwas on everything, but I do agree that proper Christians will be faithful to the teaching and reign of Jesus above all else — even country, family, and cultural plausibility structures if necessary — and this will lead Christians to engage in practices that don’t make sense to people who put their ultimate priorities elsewhere, or who pay lip service to Christian faith but haven’t let the logic of the cross challenge their deepest beliefs.
The article mentions a Time article on Hauerwas by Jean Bethke Elshtain. This is a much better introduction.
Yeah, he’s not an idiot. Though I think he’s a bit too williing to play the provocateur in ways that tend to make him sound like an idiot, such that the distinction may become a rather fine one at times.
DOC SEARLS HAS A GREAT POST on the star-making machinery as the core of what the RIAA/MPAA/CARP fights are really all about. And scroll up and down for other excellent observations on related topics.
HERE’S A COOL APPLICATION OF NANOTUBES as filters for purifying drugs, hormones, etc.
HAVING FALLEN BEHIND ON MY BLOGGING, I just ran across this column by Jonah Goldberg. It’s excellent:
No, what makes you Nazi-like is the worship of power, particularly the power to murder, especially when you don’t have it. You don’t have to commit genocide to be a Nazi; you just have to want to commit genocide. Does anyone doubt that if given the chance, there would be countless Arab groups or governments who would leap at the opportunity to wipe out all of the Jews? One need only take their word for it.
Ultimately, though, by claiming that Israel is the villain in this passion play, it becomes possible to hide the truth in plain sight.
When I downplayed the threat of a possible Nazi regime in America, I heard countless people saying I was akin to the Germans who “closed their drapes” as the Jews were rounded up. Obviously, this is as stupid as it is offensive.
But there are people closing their drapes today. They’re the ones who see and hear about the things going on in the Middle East every day, but continue to hide behind silly libels against America and phrases like “Israeli oppression.”
EGYPT IS TRYING TO GET NUCLEAR WEAPONS, according to reports noted by Charles Johnson. And maybe Saudi Arabia, too.
You know, the arguments for a return to colonialism that I so snidely dismissed last fall are looking better all the time. I shudder to think that things may come to such a pass that Ann Coulter will be looked upon as prophetic, rather than deranged.
UPDATE: Charles Austin emails: “She might be both. Most prophets are.”
Meanwhile reader “Reinhard Heydrich, Jr.” writes:
The fact that israel has nuclear weapons doesn’t trouble you at all.
Why should Egypt or Saudi Arabia having the same weapons make you uneasy ?
Some questions answer themselves. As do some questioners. But to state the obvious, I guess it’s because I’m not worried that the Israelis will smuggle nukes into New York.
SAUDI WARNINGS ABOUT OKLAHOMA CITY? Padilla / Al Muhajir got himself arrested on purpose? Bryan Preston is following some interesting stuff. I don’t know how much credence to put in some of these stories, but he’s definitely found some troubling reports.
UPDATE: Rand Simberg has some things to say about why we should have kept Timothy McVeigh alive.
HERE’S ANOTHER INTERESTING ITEM on the Oklahoma City / Iraq connection.
The piece that he takes down is by William Greider in The Nation, and what Greider seems to hope to get out of 15% unemployment is an end to U.S. “boastfulness.” Is it just me, or is keeping the United States from feeling good about, well, anything, but especially itself the main consistent theme of the Nation crowd? And why is that, exactly?
SFSU UPDATE: Wow, there’s been a real development! Armed Liberal reports that the Palestinian group was defunded and suspended for a year because of its role in last month’s riot. The Jewish group whose protest was the target of the assault, however, was given a “warning,” which I think can be put down to an effort to seem evenhanded.
I’m delighted to see some action, that bogus touch aside. But I’d still like to see the videotapes made public.
SFSU UPDATE: Meryl Yourish, who’s SFSU central, reports that SFSU has taken down the Palestinian students’ University website, apparently because of racism and hate speech.
I’d rather have seen them focus on the violent conduct of those folks.
UCSD UPDATE: Craig Schamp has more background, and points out that the problems with California universities have been building for a while.
EUGENE VOLOKH notes yet another poll showing widespread (73%) support for the Justice Department’s pro-individual-right position on the Second Amendment. Volokh thought the question on an earlier Zogby poll that showed 75% approval was doubtfully phrased and might have inflated the total, but he has no such criticism of this ABC News poll, which produced essentially the same result.
I recall a summer, 1995 U.S. News poll (taken during the post-Oklahoma-City antigun hypewave) that said 75% of the American public thinks the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to own a gun, so I suspect that this is probably about right.
Funny how little attention these poll numbers have gotten. If 75% of Americans had thought Ashcroft was wrong on this, do you think it would have gotten more coverage?
RETHINKING BRITISH GUN CONTROL? Not yet, really, but here is a sign that questions are at least being raised:
Self-defence, William Blackstone, the 18th century English jurist, wrote, is a natural right that no government can deprive people of, since no government can protect the individual in his moment of need. The English Bill of Rights of 1689 affirmed the right of individuals “to have arms for their defence”. It is a dangerous right. But leaving personal protection to the police is also dangerous, and ineffective. Government is perilously close to denying people the ability to protect themselves at all, and the result is a more, not less, dangerous society.
“It is implicit in a genuine right,” said Judge Brown-Wilkinson (Wheeler v Leicester City Council 1985 ) “that its exercise may work against [some facet of] the public interest: a right to speak only where its exercise advanced the public welfare or public policy would be a hollow guarantee against repression.”
History shows that public safety is not enhanced by depriving individuals of their right to personal safety.
RON BAILEY lays out the arguments against a cloning ban. He’s right, of course.
H.D. MILLER fact-checks claims of American massacres in Afghanistan, noting that even the makers admit they don’t actually have any, you know, evidence. Er, except that IndyMedia ignores that, as usual. And ignores evidence of real massacres before American troops arrived, too, because they’re not by, you know, Americans and so don’t count.
THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION is finally starting to notice that Cynthia McKinney’s donor base seems to be largely Arab and Arab-American — including national groups with links to terrorism.
BELLICOSE WOMEN UPDATE: Mary Zeiss Stange, who wrote the excellent Gun Women, talks about the cultural intolerance of academic feminism, She has some suggestions.
MICKEY KAUS joins with Peggy Noonan to make it a powerful two-pronged offensive against the term “homeland,” which I agree sounds creepy and dumb.
He also disses women’s soccer, and calls Charles Peters the first blogger. Something for everyone!
Note to Mickey: By that definition, the first blogger was Malcolm S. Forbes, with his “Fact and Comment” column, which predates “Tilting at Windmills” by decades.
If you sent me an email that required a reply, and haven’t gotten one, well, I’ll try to get back to you this weekend. If you don’t hear from me by Monday, it means that I didn’t realize that your email required a reply, because my eyes were glazed from reading hundreds before yours.
When I go on vacation, I think I’m just going to block the account to new mail. I can’t imagine what a week’s worth would be like!
BOY, this Los Angeles Times writer, Tim Rutten, doesn’t like blogs very much. He thinks we should be reading “serious newspapers” instead. That wouldn’t include the Los Angeles Times, whose sloppy and biased Israel coverage has produced a boycott — and which, judging by its lame-ass registration requirement, doesn’t want anyone reading it (on the Web, at least) anyway.
THE SPOONS EXPERIENCE is sporting a new, Stacy Tabb design. Boy the Blogosphere is sure getting prettier thanks to Stacy.
More posting later — my daughter just got back in from the pool, and it’s Harry Potter time. In the meantime, keep yourselves informed with this story about 3000 Iranians in Denmark protesting the EU’s support for Iran’s terrorist regime: “‘By investing in religious fascism ruling Iran, EU is not just letting down its own moral and political values, but is putting its money on a losing horse,’ Mohadessin said.”
UCSD UPDATE: Looks like the whole UCSD action against the satire magazine was a setup by University officials who wanted to punish it, using the racist, antisemitic hate group Mecha as a tool. Unfortunately, one of the participants failed to grasp the significance of the “reply all” button, and the word got out.
When is somebody going to clean house in California’s higher education system? Looks like there’s a lot of housecleaning to do.
I’M BACK. Too much construction on the 400+ mile drive from Memphis to Knoxville. But the only thing worse than a state that’s always working on the roads is a state that’s NOT always working on the roads.
NOW THIS IS INTERESTING:
WASHINGTON –– Just weeks before Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement received several warnings that Islamic terrorists were seeking to strike on American soil and that a likely target was government buildings, documents show.
The information, though it was never linked to McVeigh, was stark enough that the Clinton administration urged stepped up security patrols and screening at federal buildings nationwide, including those in Oklahoma.
The government, however, didn’t fortify buildings with cement barriers like those hurriedly installed after McVeigh detonated his explosive-laden truck at the curb of the Murrah building on April 19, 1995, officials said.
Islamic extremists are determined to “strike inside the U.S. against objects symbolizing the American government in the near future,” said one warning obtained by The Associated Press.
I don’t think this is getting as much attention as it deserves. I hope that someone is looking into it.
PALESTINIAN CULTURE is becoming a psychotic death cult. This is beginning to worry even some Palestinians.
It should. Whole cultures do go crazy from time to time. The results are usually bad for their neighbors and worse for them.
PAUL TRUMMEL UPDATE: Bill Hobbs has the latest. Sadly, Trummel, an old man who has already spent several months in jail, has given in — though there’s a mirror site with all the information that Judge James Doerty ordered him to take down. (Doerty finally took down the “guestbook” feature of his reelection website, too.)
While the usual “see the violence inherent in the system” antiwar crowd has been screaming loudly about being repressed, just about everyone outside the warblogger crowd has been ignoring this genuine case of free speech being suppressed, in clear violation of the First Amendment.
Anybody know who’s running against Judge James Doerty and how I can send him/her some money?
SFSU UPDATE: Reader Patricia Jennings writes:
As you may recall, I am the mother of a SFSU student. I attended the rally on May 7 and was surrounded by the hate mob.
We are getting no where with the university. I am extremely frustrated. Ihave made every attempt possible to get the university to act to protect my son’s safety and the safety of the other Jewish students on campus but to no avail. President Corrigan insisted that the General Union of Palestinian Students participate in mediation sessions or they would lose their opportunity to operate on campus. He gave them until June 15 to comply. They have not done so.
This week, not only did he NOT follow though with his ultimatum, but the GUPS website was discovered linked to a barrage of hate and terrorist sites including Hamas. GUPS still has not been sanctioned.
Professor Laurie Zoloth, director of Jewish studies and I are the only people willing to stick our necks out, support the students, and insist that the university take action. As a result, the administration is listening to neither of us. The president has blamed Laurie for ruining his reputation!
I truly believe that the Jewish students at SFSU may be in danger.
Yes, it’s like a University president to blame a faculty member for “ruining his reputation” by telling the truth about his bias and incompetence. But ruined it is.
If I were Bill Simon, I’d be making an issue of the way California’s state universities are — despite a lot of PC talk — actively supporting hate groups.
And it’s not just SFSU. SDSU has similar problems, and so does U.C. Berkeley. Joe Katzman has more on this problem.
UPDATE: Reader (and law professor) David Bernstein writes: “Someone should tell Ms. Jennings that she has a very credible Title II lawsuit.”
OKAY, THAT’S NOT A LOT OF POSTS, but I’m beat. And it’s more than Virginia Postrel has done in a couple of weeks even though she kinda promised to start up again by today. Hint, hint. We miss you, Virginia!
CHARLES JOHNSON has something you should see. Read the comments, too.
EUGENE VOLOKH has a good response to the “not in our name” petitioners, as well as a critique of some arguments used to support the Administration’s position on detention of Americans as enemy combatants. Here’s an excellent point about the Administration’s position as a sort of Executive judicial activism:
But let there be no mistake about this: Here it’s the government, not the criminal defendant, that is seeking a nontextual, and fairly nontraditional, reading of the Constitution. Maybe the government is right, but the arguments of its critics cannot be rebutted simply by denouncing some “Warren Court set of rights” — it’s the Framers’ set of rights that’s clearly at issue here.
Yes, the Administration is trying to make new — and in my opinion, very bad — constitutional law here.
SO I DROVE to Memphis, where I’m now ensconced in a luxury suite at the Peabody. I stopped for gas in Bucksnort, Tennessee (yes, that’s a real town, just west of Dickson and just east of Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch) where the gas station was advertising calling cards that offered 6.5 cent per minute calls to Mexico. Immigration: it’s everywhere, even in Bucksnort.
TRIFECTA UPDATE: While I’ve been busy, the Trifecta debate has continued. The latest, with links to everything, seems to be here on Bill Quick’s page.
SEPTEMBER 11 has pretty much ended the militia movement, according to this report from USA Today. Of course, the true militia-movement folks were always pretty harmless (McVeigh, you will remember, was kicked out of a militia group for being too radical and advocating violence). The real dangerous folks were farther out on the fringe: the Posse Commitatus, the Aryan Nations, the Phineas Priests, the Army of God, etc. And, worrisomely, a lot of them like Al Qaeda just fine.
Just a little over a week ago I noted that an unexpected asteroid strike might set off an accidental nuclear exchange. Little did I know that this thing was bearing down on us as I wrote. And it came close:
What is most shocking is just how close it came to Earth. This is only the sixth known asteroid to penetrate the Moon’s orbit, and by far the biggest. According to Brian G. Marsden (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), the object came within 120,000 kilometers (0.0008 astronomical unit) of impacting Earth.
Though the exact details of an impact scenario depend on the rock’s composition, had it hit Earth the event would have been been “Tunguska-like,” with a force rivaling the largest H-bombs.
Yeah, if it’s Tunguska-like it would be bigger than any H-bomb ever exploded. Not a civilization-ender, but bad, bad, bad. (And it was close — follow the first link on this post and look at the to-scale diagram of just how close.) Upshot:
A disturbing detail is that 2002 MN was discovered three days after its closest approach. Though we are almost certainly out of harm’s way from this near Earth object (no potential impacts are forecast until at least 2050), its late detection may be telling. Currently there is no dedicated Southern Hemisphere NEO search program, and NASA is currently focused on finding bodies greater than 1 kilometer across.
We need to extend our “preemption” strategy to these threats.
UPDATE: Just noticed this thread about the subject on Slashdot.
BTW, why can’t we have a nice fat comet hit Mars and leave behind a lot of convenient water and organics. I think a comet around 100km in diameter (okay, that’s a really, really big comet) would be enough to halfway terraform Mars all by itself.
HOW IS THE ANTI-WAR LEFT BEING SUPPRESSED? Debra Saunders interviews a “not in our name” signer and reports on talk of antiwar folks being “necklaced.” Well, it’s necklacing except for, you know, the part about being burned to death by flaming tires. Her conclusion:
The Not in Our Name Web site carries another statement that protests America’s “destruction of civil, legal and political rights, including the very right to dissent.”
Destruction of dissent? In Afghanistan, that meant the Taliban shot critics in the back of the head. In America, that means appearing on cable TV news in a panel stacked against you, 3 to 1. . . .
By the Not-names’ definition, it’s suppression if someone (a liberal) feels uncomfortable or fears criticism about expressing an opinion.
This seems on-target to me.
MORE BAD NEWS FROM ALGERIA: A bus attack by Islamoterrorists killed 11. It’s funny that this sort of thing gets so much less attention.
HAVE A NICE DAY. No new posts until tonight, probably.
ZACHARY BARBERA notes a surprisingly positive development on the suicide-bombing front.
Wouldn’t you hate to be the last suicide bomber before it went out of style? Kind of like being the last guy to wear a John-Travolta white suit, only permanent.
SLASHDOT HAS DISCOVERED NPR’s anti-deep-linking position. But Rebecca Blood emailed me earlier today to say that this has actually been NPR’s position since 1999, and that she doubts they even remember it. It is, as she observes, very 1999. Message to NPR: get over this stuff and enter the 21st century. Links are good. Anybody who doesn’t understand that should be sent off to audition for the role of the pointy-haired boss in Drew Carey’s forthcoming Dilbert movie.
A READER WHO PREFERS TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS forwards this chunk from a memo to the FBI regarding last fall’s anthrax mailings:
Analysis of Anthrax Letters and Envelopes
The letters were written and sealed prior to September 11 by Mohammed Atta. The letters to the Post and Brokaw were given to one individual or organization to mail. The letters to Senators Leahy and Daschle were given to another individual or organization to mail. These individuals did not know the contents of the letters nor whom the letters originally came from. The anthrax was smuggled into the U.S. by one of the September 11th hijackers and represents all the anthrax smuggled in at that time.
Support for Analysis
Sometimes things are just what they seem to be. The letters are all dated 09-11-01. It is not unlikely that they could have been written on September 10th by someone who knew the plans for September 11th and dated the letters accordingly. It is likely that the letter on display on the FBI website that begins “You can not stop us.” was the first one to be written. The size of the printing is smaller and thus indicates a more tentative approach to the message writing and the message.
What is particularly noticeable by its absence is any significant celebratory nature in these letters. Had they been written after the events of September 11, it seems highly likely that they would have made much more of the outcome of the events. “Allah is great” is just a standard expression to close with. “You die now” can be read several ways, but it is hardly the equivalent of, e.g., “Now thousands more die.” “This is next” is really a very weak threat when juxtaposed to the events of September 11, especially considering the quantity of anthrax sent out.
If there had been more anthrax available, its most effective use would have been a massive simultaneous mailing. A staggered mailing puts people on alert and diminishes the effect of the effort. If they had more, it should have been sent out all at once. If they had surviving operatives that they could trust, all four letters would have been sent out together. A check of the weather in the Trenton/Philadelphia area on September 10 shows a trace of rain, just the amount reflected by the running of the ink on the Daschle envelope and the likely clumping of the powder inside. The letters, sealed in their envelopes, were likely transported that day as part of a bundle of other mail to be sent out and given to someone or some company to mail, with the bottom of the Daschle envelope sticking out slightly. Since no one has come forward about this, it is likely that they were delivered to this person or place in a manner that would not have caused anyone to remember the source of these bundles. It is likely that the letters were divided between two bundles that were sent to two different places just to help guarantee that a least one set was sent out. It is also probable that someone at a distance (overseas) knew of these mailings and two kinds of anthrax were being evaluated for effectiveness. The reason more anthrax was not available was that this attack was secondary to the airplane hijackings, that their most trusted people were involved in this primary effort, and that they felt secure in bringing in such a small amount of anthrax without risking these operatives, but more might have jeopardized the primary operation. It thus follows that the likely smuggler of the anthrax was on one of the planes on September 11.
Why was Atta the likely writer?
Obviously, from the media reports he was the leader of the 19 hijackers and thus in the best position to know what was going on and the one most likely to be entrusted with the anthrax. But further, especially if one gives merit to the suggested sequence of the writing of the letters, the Brokaw and Post letter singular because they are the same letter) were written last. The writer at that point would be more certain of his message and what he was doing. The writing is more open and widely spaced, indicating that he is more at ease with what he is doing.
At that point it is not unlikely that knowing the next day was his last and that this was his last “public” statement that he might contemplate his place in history and have a desire to claim credit for his role. Thus a search of this letter for signs of that are not as much of a stretch as one might think. So what do we see in it? The initial block letter in the message is a “T” that has extra strokes in it. The same with the start of the second line. The same with the start of the last line. In fact, based on the limited quality of the copy available on the FBI website, there are several other letters that have extra strokes (an extra boldness). All of them appear to be A’s and T’s. They of course are all the letters needed to spell ATTA. It could have been subconscious. The capital D’s that start the other lines of the letter show no extra strokes. Also this letter seems not to be written with a felt-tip pen, and thus might yield more information based on the pressure of the various strokes of the pen — but this cannot be determined from the website example. . . .
It would be hard at this point, but if people in the greater New York/Philadelphia area are asked to remember any bundles of mail to be mailed that they received by an out-of-the-ordinary source on or around September 10, it might be useful. . . .
There are other areas of interest in these letters that might give up a clue or two — such as the downhill slant of the writing, how the “1″ was made, how the “4″ was made, the spelling of “penacilin” and the warning including it, the absence of periods on one of the letters, the presence or absence of fingerprints on the letters and particularly on the envelopes, how the letters were folded, etc., etc., etc. — but most of these would be aided by a direct conversation and better copies of the letters and envelopes than are available on the website. Also, there is the matter of the letter not posted on the website. Perhaps it is simply a photocopy of the other letter, but if it is different, there could be something to be learned by it.
I’m not sure about this — but I remember a flurry of information about the likelihood that Atta and some of the other 9/11 hijackers actually had anthrax symptoms at the time of the hijacking. We certainly haven’t heard much on this subject lately.
MORE EVIDENCE of an India / Israel rapport.
OKAY, THAT’S IT FOR ME for the time being. But go visit The Volokh Conspiracy for a lot of cool stuff in my absence. And check out this post by Ben Domenech, who says he’s found the smoking “trifecta” gun that SpinSanity missed — well, the “war” part, at least, and maybe the “national emergency” part too.
And thanks to everyone who didn’t email me!
THE FINANCIAL TIMES ARTICLE ON WEBLOGS is now up on their website. Thanks to reader Michael Cook for pointing it out.
WEBGODDESS STACY TABB has finally moved her blog to its own domain: www.blogatelle.com. Adjust your bookmarks accordingly.
WELL, I MADE IT IN ONE PIECE and I’m waiting for the law school friend I’m meeting for dinner to finish a conference call. So here’s a completely true statement by Edward Said, which I found via Eric Alterman (no, really):
Arafat is simply interested in saving himself. He has had almost ten years of freedom to run a petty kingdom and has succeeded essentially in bringing opprobrium and scorn on himself and most of his team; the Authority became a byword for brutality, autocracy and unimaginable corruption. Why anyone for a moment believes that at this stage he is capable of anything different, or that his new streamlined cabinet (dominated by the same old faces of defeat and incompetence) is going to produce actual reform, defies reason.
Said has always been more anti-Israel (and anti-West) than he has been pro-Palestinian or pro-Arafat, but the idiocy of Arafat’s strategy since Oslo has led things to such a pass that even Said is pointing out the problems. He’s also quite hard on suicide-bombing as a strategy, though an uncharitable reader might conclude that’s mostly because he sees that it’s failing miserably.
The other interesting thing about this passage is that it’s in Al Ahram, which means that the Egyptian government can’t hate it too much. And when you strip away the still-present obligatory Israel and America-bashing, it looks to me like another sign that everyone thinks Arafat now represents a problem, not an asset.
UPDATE: A troubling thought. We’re getting a lot of cooperation all of a sudden from Arab countries, including places like Syria that haven’t been all that cooperative before. It’s likely that this is the result of increasing pressure. But given the cooperation between Syria and Iraq on nuclear matters, is it possible they’re just trying to keep us out of the picture until the Islamic Bomb is ready in sufficient quantities? I don’t think that’s what’s going on, but such behavior would be very much in character.
AFTER AN INTERESTING FACULTY PRESENTATION on how Article III case-or-controversy doctrines limit the role of the federal judiciary in foreign affairs, complete with illustrations from the Neutrality Crisis of 1793, I’m now getting ready to head out. Before I go, a few items. First, there’s a good story on weblogs in the Financial Times today, but it’s not on their website that I could find.
Second, the print Wall Street Journal picked up InstaPundit reader Jorge Schmidt’s emailed comments on Latin reaction to the U.S. soccer team — it’s on their editorial page under “notable and quotable.” Way to go, Jorge!
Third, unless it’s urgent, it’s probably best not to email me. I’ll be trying to get online some, but it’ll be a dialup connection and a webmail interface, meaning it’ll be slow, slow, slow. So save it if you can.
Last, in my absence check out Best of the Web, which is up early today: especially the disgraceful story about the University of California San Diego’s siding with an antisemitic hate group and against free speech. I hope that Bill Simon makes this stuff a campaign issue. Take it away, Meryl Yourish and Joe Katzman!
INFORMATION WARFARE: This isn’t exactly a new idea, but the site is kind of interesting.
SEX AND VIOLENCE: Okay, here’s a bottom-line reason why you may soon see less of both on TV. (Thanks to reader Gary Pulsinelli for noticing this).
OKAY ONE MORE: SPINSANITY has another debunking piece on the Bush “trifecta” claim: the claim that during the campaign he cited war, recession, or national emergency as grounds for departing from a balanced budget. Spinsanity says it’s false, and they’ve got persuasive evidence. But — as I emailed them — I sure seem to remember Bush saying that, and they admit that lots of other people think they remember it, too: there’s just no evidence that it actually happened. Presumably this is a case in which memories of more recent statements are attributed back to the campaign? Beats me. I wonder, though, if the same phenomenon isn’t working with Bush himself.
SCHEDULING ALERT: I’m heading to the law school for a faculty meeting. Then I’m leaving town for a couple of days as I travel to Memphis and Nashville to talk about the Tennessee Constitution, a document that I find fascinating. (Try following the link and reading Article I secs 1&2 and see if you don’t agree. The Tennessee Supreme Court has repeatedly, and recently, interpreted them as supporting a right of revolution against a tyrannical government, and also held that they support a narrow reading of governmental power — if the Constitution gives you a right to revolt against arbitrary, excessive government power, after all, it can hardly be read as granting the government the legitimate power to act in arbitrary and excessive ways. But I digress). I’m taking the laptop with me, so there will probably, God and MSN willing, be some intermittent blogging. But it won’t be at the usual rate. I’ll try to check in again before I hit the road, but here’s a heads-up. Follow the many excellent links to your left.
Oh, and you can always read my new TechCentralStation column, which in a shattering new development is not about Mars.
It coins a new term (at least, Google says it’s new): “Version fatigue,” to describe how tired I am of learning how to do the same damn thing in a different way after a software upgrade, new VCR purchase, etc.
UPDATE: Eric S. Raymond has a response to my column — and I’ll bet that those of you who know him can guess what it is.
SOME QUESTIONS ANSWER THEMSELVES. Martin Devon just asked one of those. And how.
WELL, I was feeling pretty good about my traffic levels. And I still do. But this shows who’s still number one.
THIS ARTICLE ON ELECTRONIC MUSIC is pretty good, though I don’t buy the analogy with soccer.
A NEW CURE FOR DEPRESSION: Well, duh.
YALE LAW PROFESSOR AKHIL AMAR has an interesting Q&A piece in The New Republic concerning the detention of “dirtybomber” Padilla / Al Muhajir. I’m not sure that I buy Akhil’s analogy between the draft and jury service as forms of “detention without trial” and the kind of detention that Al Muhajir faces. Both the draft and jury service have built-in safeguards against the government singling out people it dislikes in a way that the Al Muhajir confinement doesn’t.
And that’s the big risk. Fairness to individuals is important — but it’s no more important here than it is elsewhere in the criminal justice system. On the other hand, the danger that special government powers will be abused is far greater here, and thus we need some additional reassurances in this context. I’m not concerned with Al Muhajir, but I worry that such powers tend to expand over time, and I don’t like where I see things heading if that happens.
A PRETTY GOOD OP-ED on human exploration of Mars in the Los Angeles Times. It’s interesting to me to see that mainstream media — who were looking down their noses at space exploration a few years ago — seem to be coming back around to viewing it in a positive light. That’s not only a good thing in itself; it’s also, I think, a healthy sign for the culture.
DEN BESTE has a thoughtful analysis of Israel’s likely strategy in response to Palestinian terror-bombers. I think that the strategy he outlines will work, if the Israelis are willing to stick it out in the face of international criticism. And why shouldn’t they be? They get criticized no matter what they do anyway.
STEPHEN GREEN is following the trend toward transparency with an open third-party counter on his site. Now if some of the Big Media folks would just do the same, we’d have a triumph of openness, and the flamewars about traffic could come to an end.
MICKEY KAUS says that Woodward and Bernstein were proto-bloggers when they were covering Watergate.
THE WASHINGTON POST is happily editorializing on free speech in the wake of the Supreme Court’s new Jehovah’s Witnesses decision. And it’s a good decision.
But while it’s nice that Jehovah’s Witnesses can knock on doors and peddle The Watchtower, free speech isn’t doing as well elsewhere. Paul Trummel spent several months in jail, after all, because Washington State judge James Doerty thinks the First Amendment only applies to “paid journalists.” And the sleazy Big Entertainment forces are doing their best to shut down free speech on the Internet in the name of protecting intellectual property. So let’s not get too excited about a decision that protects free speech in a context that, frankly, doesn’t really matter (except to Jehovah’s Witnesses); instead, let’s keep the pressure on regarding free speech that does matter.
HERE’S A FIRSTHAND REPORT from the Colorado fire scene, by reader Pete Farrell, forwarded via the Blackberry of reader Carl Frank:
Hello to all our friends and family on this mail-out,
The largest wildfire in Colorado history (possibly in US history as well) is approaching the western edge of our community. 2 miles to the west, the town of Monument is on voluntary evacuation status and the middle school at the bottom of our road is now a designated evacuation shelter. People in the town proper (particularly those with children or physical limitations) are being “encouraged” on local TV stations to voluntarily evacuate the area.
We are outside the stand-by evac box by about a mile and three quarters but have our cars packed to leave if sirens sound.
Outside our window, the plume dominates the sky. Local authorities say the fire “died down” since this afternoon and they “don’t expect” to have to put us on mandatory evac. Expectations, however, can change.
The “tri-lakes” area west of here is all under the “red flag” (meaning get out now if you prefer). The red flag zone runs from the county line three quarters of a mile from our house down to the fringe of the US Air Force Academy about ten miles from here. Yes, the mighty USAFA could conceivably get scorched.
The smoke layer engulfing Denver this morning was one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen. The smell permeated the entire metro area and the mountains were completely invisible — on a sunny morning. The layer settled in below 6,000 feet where it reduced visibility to about a half mile. For almost two weeks now we have witnessed gargantuan smoke plumes like something out of Independence Day.
Last week, it looked like the worst was over. Then it broke a fire line west of Colorado Springs Monday. Today, the fire added another 10,000 acres to its running total, which now stands at 113,000 acres. Not everyone around here believes it can jump the interstate. I think it can. Speculation varies as to what it might do in open country; some think it will lose intensity for lack of timber, but it will be countered by increased speed as it consumes wild grass and pasturelands.
The woman who started the fire has confessed after first lying about it. In something worthy of an Italian opera, it turns out she was enraged by a letter from her estranged husband and torched it in her back yard. To add sheer black humor to injury, it turns out she’s a Forest Service employee. Her job that day was enforcing fire restrictions. She was in federal court today facing charges. She probably won’t be released from jail for her own safety and for being a flight risk. (She’d probably be gunned down in the streets before she could get very far.)
Appeals on local radio are going out for all kinds of material assistance — ziplock bags, ladders, gloves, soda pop, food, clothing, cash and even washers and dryers. This comes from AM 740, a Pueblo radio station, yesterday afternoon. The assistance is not only for families, it is also for fire fighters, some 1500 of whom are on duty around the clock.
While reactions in our neighborhood vary, not everyone is just sitting around waiting. Many are getting ready, though it’s not like Independence Day yet. If the worst happens, this may be the last email from us for a while. But so far, we’re hopeful.
We’ll keep you apprised as events warrant. Oh, and your prayers would be appreciated, too.
Pete & family (upstairs packing)
Good luck, folks. Hope you get some rain. Diana Hsieh is providing steady updates on this, too.
ENERGY-POLICY GODDESS LYNNE KIESLING has a long and informative post on the GAO report on FERC oversight. Yeah, I know, that sentence reads like a policy-wonk parody (well, except perhaps for the “goddess” part), but this stuff is pretty important (it’s gotten a lot of coverage, which she links to), and she’s smart. Excerpt:
This report is not an argument against competition and market processes in electricity, as many market foes and some of the commentaries I have read today would have you believe. Instead it is an argument for FERC to do the strategic planning and implement performance measures to create a set of regulatory institutions that rely on rules that encourage transparency, and focus on deterring the great majority of bad behavior.
The GAO report lacks something that I think is extremely important. It fails to point out that FERC was not to blame for the over-engineered, overtly politicized, dysfunctional rules that the state of California forced into laws governing its “market.” FERC has admitted that in hindsight it would have changed some decisions, but California’s politicians have not been so introspective in public.
Lately, many of California’s politicians have been busy trying to avoid being sent to jail — a particularly pressing concern since California Attorney General Bill Lockyer regards prison rape as a useful punitive measure — but perhaps they, or their unindicted successors, will find time for such introspection in the future.
THIS PIECE ON BLOGS has (appropriately enough) lots of links to other articles on blogs.
NPR HAS JOINED THE anti-deep-linking Mafia. Jeez, how pathetic. Follow the link for Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s comments, and an email address where you can express your concerns.
MORE ON THE CARIBOU COFFEE STORY, which James Lileks wrote about last week.
I DON’T USUALLY RELY ON DEBKA, but an item today is kind of interesting, and has some plausibility. It says that U.S. security forces are playing cat-and-mouse with Al Qaeda around shipping containers and facilities in many ports within and without the United States — and suggests that chemical or biological weapons smuggling may be involved.
Container, oil and bulk ports are especially vulnerable. Some of the stowaways arrive complete with arms or explosives, the nature of which – conventional, radioactive, chemical or biological – the US authorities are at great pains to keep dark. However, shipping sources told us witnesses had seen suspect containers appearing to be quarantined after their al Qaeda infiltrators were killed, suggesting the suspected presence of toxic substances.
The threat applies equally to the international container traffic that carries much of the world’s lifeblood. Experts have opined that a “dirty bomb” exploding in a container at sea would stop the world’s container traffic cold until a credible security system for sea-going containers was in place.
How much of this story is true I can’t say, and some parts of it seem questionable — Debka is an anonymous news source, and I don’t like those, and they specialize in reporting on things that they say are being kept quiet, making them difficult to check. But it’s certainly true that the current flag-of-convenience system is likely to collapse under the threat of terrorism.
CHARLES JOHNSON is creeped out by Yasser Arafat’s apparent need to have baby wipes nearby at all times. Yeah, I’ve noticed that in other photos — there were even some on the nightstand in the bombed-bedroom photo a few weeks back.
My guess: He’s afraid somebody’s going to contaminate him with something.
Or maybe he’s got a bad case of piles, though that (hopefully) wouldn’t explain their presence at the conference table.
WHODUNIT? Blogger Michael Kielsky has a long and technical post on ballistics, relating to a story by a Palestinian teenager who says he was shot by an Israeli woman sniper. Problem is, the bullet (of which he has a photo) is a .22 Long Rifle, a puny round that is not generally used by military snipers. He says this casts doubt on the story.
And it does. However, I recall reading somewhere — and I’ve looked, but can’t find it now — that Israel has actually used snipers with .22 rifles in riot situations. The round is incapacitating but, properly placed, almost never deadly, and it’s not very noticeable (especially if the gun it’s shot from is noise-suppressed). I recall reading that they’ve used them to incapacitate leaders in riots, etc., when they don’t want to kill people but when rubber bullets aren’t suitable — since they’re much less accurate.
Anybody know if I’m remembering this correctly?
UPDATE: Boy, that didn’t take long. Somebody emailed me this link to a post by Armed Liberal, who remembers hearing the same thing.
I HAVEN’T WRITTEN ANYTHING ABOUT THE LATEST ATROCITY FROM HAMAS, OR HEZBOLLAH, OR WHOEVER IS BEHIND IT THIS TIME. But someone else has.
TEL AVIV — The United States blocked a major military offensive by Israel against Syria last month, but shares Israeli concerns that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad is openly arming Hizbullah and Palestinian militants.
Israeli officials said the attack was to have taken place last month in response to a spate of Hizbullah strikes along the Lebanese border with the Jewish state. The officials said Israel’s military had mobilized its reserves for what they termed was to have been a heavy blow on Syrian military positions in Lebanon and Syria, Middle East Newsline reported. . . .
Officials said the turning point for Syria came during a weekend visit by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to Damascus in April. They said Powell warned Assad that Israel was preparing a massive attack on Syria and that Washington would not restrain the Jewish state.
Good cop / bad cop, apparently.
GARY REBACK (another Knoxvillian with an interest in IP — I actually knew him very slightly when I was a kid) has a good article in Forbes on why too many patents are as bad as too few.
SOMEBODY EMAILED ME TO NOTE THAT JUDGE JIM DOERTY — the Washington State judge who locked up Paul Trummel for posting names and addresses of public officials on his website (and who ruled that the First Amendment didn’t apply because Trummel isn’t a “paid journalist”), now has the same information on his own (Judge Doerty’s) website. Just go quietly, Judge, and don’t make a fuss.
ANOTHER DEVASTATING PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSAULT on Islamist terror is being prepared. Tremble, followers of bin Laden. Tremble.
GRAY DAVIS UPDATE: “We got taken to the cleaners.” That’s the conclusion of a legislative investigation into the Oracle contracts, which found a “culture of corruption” in California state government.