August 11, 2002
THE SHOOTING WAR MUST BE ABOUT TO START: Sergeant Stryker is back.
THE SHOOTING WAR MUST BE ABOUT TO START: Sergeant Stryker is back.
INTERESTING DISPUTE between Jordan and Qatar over Al Jazeera TV.
ARES AND ATHENA AND THE WAR: I’ve been blogging less lately, trying to rest the tortured ligaments and tendons that were already flirting with RSI nearly a year ago. But I’ve been watching the “warblogger” / “techblogger” debate on the war (well, some of them, anyway), and I think that Eric Olsen is onto something when he calls it a cultural divide.
But part of the reason for different views on the war may stem from different views of war in general. I thought of this in connection with a passage in Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, where the character Enoch Root is talking about two kinds of war as personified by the two very different Greek gods with jurisdiction over warfare, Ares and Athena (this starts at page 804 in my hardcover edition):
“She was the goddess of metis, which means cunning and craftiness. . . . The word that we use today to mean the same thing, is really technology. . . . Instead of calling Athena the goddess of war, wisdom and macrame, then, we should say war and technology. And here again we have the problem of an overlap with the jurisdiction of Ares, who’s supposed to be the god of war. And let’s just say that Ares is a complete asshole. His personal aides are Fear and Terror and sometimes Strife. He is constantly at odds with Athena even though — maybe because — they are nominally the god and goddess of the same thing — war. Heracles, who is one of Athena’s human proteges, physically wounds Ares on two occasions, and even strips him of his weapons at one point! You see, the fascinating thing about Ares is that he’s completely incompetent. . . .
“So insofar as Athena is a goddess of war, what really do we mean by that? Note that her most famous weapon is not her sword but her shield Aegis, and Aegis has a gorgon’s head on it, so that anyone who attacks her is in serious danger of being turned to stone. She’s always described as being calm and majestic, neither of which adjectives anyone ever applied to Ares. . . .”
“Let’s face it, Randy, we’ve all known guys like Ares. The pattern of human behavior that caused the internal mental representation of Ares to appear in the minds of the ancient Greeks is very much alive today, in the form of terrorists, serial killers, riots, pogroms, and aggressive tinhorn dictators who turn out to be military incompetents. And yet for all their stupidity and incompetence, people like that can conquer and control large chunks of the world if they are not resisted. . . . Who is going to fight them off, Randy?
“I’m afraid you’re going to say we are.”
“Sometimes it might be other Ares-worshippers, as when Iran and Iraq went to war and no one cared who won. But if Ares-worshippers aren’t going to end up running the whole world, somebody needs to do violence to them. This isn’t very nice, but it’s a fact: civilization requires an Aegis. And the only way to fight the bastards off in the end is through intelligence. Cunning. Metis. . . . Do you kow why we won the Second World War, Randy?”
“Because we built better stuff than the Germans?”
“But why did we build better stuff, Randy? . . . Well, the short answer is that we won because the Germans worshipped Ares and we worshipped Athena.”
In Stephenson’s characterization of Ares as representing war in terms of mindless destruction and the practice of glorying in that destruction (with additional measures of macho posturing and egotism blended with ineptitude thrown in) it’s easy to see why someone would be against it. And if you think that the Ares version is the sum total of what war’s all about, then it’s easy to reject any claim that war might be called for, and to brand people who think it’s time to resort to war as, well, Ares-like. Which seems to me to be the essence of the antiwar position among many of the techbloggers.
But, of course, there’s more to it than that. (And, if you look at the other side in this war, it’s pretty easy to see who’s glorying in mindless destruction and engaging in macho posturing.) As Stephenson points out, there’s another archetype of war — one that is defensive, and that is based on cunning and technology. (And it’s pretty easy to see which side fits the Athenean archetype, too).
And, finally, if you don’t like the Ares style of war, and don’t want Ares-worshippers to wind up running the world,then it’s not enough to reject your inner Ares and think peaceful thoughts. You’ve got to unsling Aegis, and do something about it.
Here’s the end of the dialogue, after Root argues that the Nazis failed because their ideology was all about proving things that they already believed true, not about finding truth:
“Ares always reemerges from the chaos. It will never go away. Athenian civilization defends itself from the forces of Ares with metis, or technology. . . .”
“Sounds teleological, Enoch. Free countries get better science, hence superior military power, hence get to defend their freedoms. You’re proclaiming a sort of Manifest Destiny here.”
“Well, someone’s got to do it.”
“Aren’t we beyond that sort of thing now?”
“I know you’re just saying that to infuriate me. Sometimes, Randy, Ares gets chained up in a barrel for a few years, but he never goes away. The next time he emerges, Randy, the conflict is going to revolve around bio-, micro-, and nanotechnology. Who’s going to win?”
It would be a bummer if crazed ideologues who want to bring back the 12th century wound up winning that war, just because those who should be forging the latest version of Athena’s shield think that any effort to defend oneself smacks of Ares.
UPDATE: Hmm. I wish I’d seen this line from an anti-war blog site when I wrote the post above:
I have found that sensuality and war don’t mix. Sensuality and politics don’t mix. Sensuality and warbloggers don’t mix.
Warbloggers are from Athena, anti-war bloggers are from Venus? Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t read that before, or I might have come up with a lame, John Gray-inspired title for this post. Anyhow, it seems unfair to me: Athena looks pretty hot in this picture.
But God forbid that the defense of civilization should be, you know, unsensual. I wonder what Bill Mauldin would have to say about that.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Now BurningBird is mad about the link above, saying that it’s out of context, and that I should have linked her other posts directly in an earlier post, rather than via Eric Olsen’s sum-up. (Though as I’ve noted elsewhere, people do that all the time.) I don’t think I took the earlier item out of context at all; I think it was consistent with what Brendan O’Neill (who not even BurningBird can call a right-winger) writes about the antiwar movement today:
‘Fuck democracy, fuck communism’, says one of the characters who is sick of the war. ‘I just want a life and a girl.’ This sentiment captures what is behind much of today’s anti-war mood – the notion that nothing is worth fighting, dying or killing for, and that it is better to live in peace and put up with your lot in life than to struggle. Really?
Today’s prevailing anti-war mood reflects a serious lack of stomach for fighting, rather than a positive assertion of the right of third world states to run their own affairs without Western interference. Indeed, almost everyone now accepts that the West has the right to invade/impose sanctions/nation-build (delete according to how ‘radical’ you are) wherever it pleases. Rather than indicating a real opposition to Western intervention, our dislike of war seems to capture our fear of doing anything too decisive or forceful. . . . Surely there’s more to being anti-war than just not liking bloodshed…?
Follow the link above and read the whole post. BurningBird seems to have made a career out of complaining that my blog is “unfair” but her idea of “fairness” seems to involve me doing what she wants. Which is also sadly typical.
ANOTHER UPDATE: BurningBird has posted again, apologizing for seeming petty on the linking issue. As for the rest, well, as I’ve said repeatedly I think that there are reasonable arguments to be made against invading Iraq, though I don’t find them persuasive. (And they’ve been noted, and responded to, here and elsewhere over the past eleven months, which is what I meant when I said that Dave Winer came late to the debate. I should post a bunch of links, but I’m not doing it here. That’s the project that Combustible Boy is working on, more or less). As for Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia — if it were up to me, I’d invade Saudi Arabia first, then let the dominoes fall (and give them a healthy push if needed). It’s not up to me (which is probably just as well). But all of these countries are ruled by people fundamentally hostile to us, who will hurt us if they can, and who are happy to see those who want to kill Americans flourish.
I don’t pretend to offer guarantees that American intervention in the region will make life better for the people who live there. I think it will, I hope it will, and I think we should do our best to make that so. But those are secondary objectives. The primary objective is to make clear to leaders that if their country threatens America, they, the rulers, will be out of power at best, and dead along with all their family and friends at worst. Is that “nice?” No. I don’t care.
BRAD DE LONG points out some amazing news on economic productivity. At least it’s amazing to me.
RALPH PETERS SAYS DUBYA’S GROVELLING BEFORE THE SAUDIS:
THE spectacle of President Bush groveling to Saudi bigots is a disgrace. The Saudis sponsor terror, export hatred, undercut American interests and kill Americans. They are our enemies. Period. History will marvel at this administration’s insistence that they remain our friends. . . .
The trigger for the latest orgy of kissing Saudi feet was an article in The Washington Post by one of our nation’s finest reporters, Thomas E. Ricks, revealing that a Pentagon briefing to top insiders dared to question Saudi virtue and perfection.
President Bush & Co. immediately got on the phone to Prince Bunkum bin Bigot to insist we didn’t really mean it, like a spineless husband caught cheating on camera. In this grotesque case, our president clearly forgot who he works for. Bush family friends or not, the Saudis are murderers. And their preferred victims are Americans.
The royal family doesn’t do its own dirty work, of course – no more than they fight their own wars. Like mafia dons, they put out contracts. Some of those contracts are for oil deals or public-relations blitzes, or to buy influence-packing lobbyists inside the Beltway. Others involve money handed to terrorists to spread the cruelest imaginable perversion of a great world religion – in the end, the Saudis are even greater enemies to the future of the Islamic world than they are to the United States.
You know, if the Democrats start saying this kind of thing, Bush will be in big trouble.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh characterizes Peters as “overwrought.”
NORM MINETA IMPEACHMENT UPDATE: Gary Leff has made up bumperstickers calling for Mineta’s impeachment, with the slogan, “IMPEACH NORM MINETA: Liberty & Security . . . Not Bureaucracy!” You can see one, and buy one, via Leff’s popular air-travel blog.
UPDATE: History will record that, although Norm Mineta has been unpopular in the Blogosphere for a long time, it was the Laura Crane breast-touching incident that was the final straw leading to open calls for his impeachment. . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: U.S. Airways has filed for bankruptcy, and reader Adam Roberts blames Mineta for endorsing security policies that are chasing away passengers:
As you may know, the airline industry’s one that’s traditionally operated on very low profit margins. Generally just a few percent. Thus a 5% or 10% drop in air travel (and thus air travel revenues) can have a much larger effect on a company’s bottom line. And it’s no secret that the needless hassles instituted by the TSA have compelled many would-be fliers to look for alternate modes of transportation, especially those living within a day’s travel for their intended destination. Perhaps the investment losses of US Airways shareholders have at least some of their roots in the policies of Underperformin’ Norman.
Yep. And who wouldn’t cancel trips whenever possible, given the hassles involved with security? And given that those hassles don’t do any good anyway?
ICH BIN EIN SLACKER: Jeffrey Gedmin says the German work ethic is dead.
UPDATE: Wesley Dabney says that Gedmin is wrong. On the other hand, Germans show great dedication to the work of lecturing Americans, who apparently forced Germans to live on the “killing fields” of “our” Cold War. This guy also apparently thinks that the U.S. goal is to kill every single person in Iraq. Yeah, mass slaughter of the entire population of every nation we’ve fought has certainly been the United States’ method of warmaking — just look at the millions, er hundreds of thousands, er, tens of thousands, er, thousands, er hundreds killed in Afghanistan. What do you say to someone so out of touch with reality? Jeez.
And, no, I’m serious: What do you say to somebody like that? Here’s the best I can do: “You’re wrong. But if you make it too difficult to deal with genocidal religious nuts now, things may escalate to the point at which your current fears become reality. And you’ll be partly responsible for that, just as the people who temporized when Hitler invaded the Rhineland were partly responsible for the horrors of World War Two.”
DON’T MISS THIS PHOTO over at Susanna Cornett’s.
POT & KETTLE DEPARTMENT: Terry McAuliffe says Bush can’t condemn corporate misdeeds because he’s part of the problem. Matthew Hoy isn’t impressed. But I don’t think Hoy’s lengthy and impassioned response was necessary. All it takes are two words: “Global Crossing.” (Though Marc Racicot was defending McAuliffe not long ago, which must surely be bittersweet to the Dems.)
As I’ve said before the Democrats are in a poor position to cash in on the financial scandals, because they’re in just as deep as the Republicans. Terry McAuliffe is another example of that phenomenon.
UPDATE: Fritz Schranck sends this link to a post of his own on the subject. I love the notion of the “Claude rating.”
AUSTIN BAY finally has his own website — but it needs a blog!
WANT TO KNOW WHERE HOMELAND SECURITY IS HEADING? Sadly, this may provide a pointer.
BIG MEDIA SLEAZE ALERT! The Washington Post has stolen the name “Talking Points Memo,” well established by Josh Marshall, for a column by Terry Neal. Josh Marshall is not amused, and I don’t blame him. Any copyright/trademark lawyers want to help Josh out?
MURDER AMONG THE GERM-WARFARE RESEARCHERS: Sounds like the plot of a thriller novel, but it’s more than that.
TED BARLOW EXPLAINS why artists hate record labels, too.
EUGENE VOLOKH writes that a Slate Explainer piece entitled “Will Charlton Heston Have to Give Up His Guns?” appears to be wrong on the law. It’s also in rather poor taste.
Volokh also provides a superb definition of the popular Blogosphere term “Fisking:” “a thorough and forceful verbal beating of an anti-war, possibly anti-American, commentator who has richly earned this figurative beating through his words.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Volokh also neatly capsulizes the history of the term: “The term refers to Robert Fisk, a journalist who wrote some rather foolish anti-war stuff, and who in particular wrote a story in which he (1) recounted how he was beaten by some anti-American Afghan refugees, and (2) thought they were morally right for doing so.”
MY LUNCH WITH BERNARD LEWIS: Well, actually, it’s Michael Steinberger’s lunch, but it’s still worth reading. Excerpt:
But Lewis is just warming up. Talk next turns to the Saudis. “Imagine,” says Lewis, “if the Ku Klux Klan or Aryan Nation obtained total control of Texas and had at its disposal all the oil revenues, and used this money to establish a network of well-endowed schools and colleges all over Christendom peddling their particular brand of Christianity. This is what the Saudis have done with Wahhabism. The oil money has enabled them to spread this fanatical, destructive form of Islam all over the Muslim world and among Muslims in the west. Without oil and the creation of the Saudi kingdom, Wahhabism would have remained a lunatic fringe in a marginal country.”
Indeed. Except, of course, that if Texas were involved Europeans would be far more vocal in their condemnation, as would many American academics who seem unmoved by Wahabbism.
(Via Chris Bertram).
SIX MONTHS SUSPENSION WITHOUT PAY for leaving anti-Muslim graffiti in the house of a suspect. Is that enough punishment for this Secret Service agent? It’s nontrivial, but is it enough to get the message across?
UPDATE: In the comments, Brian Erst notes that the agent’s name is still being kept secret. But why? Initially, it might have been because of doubt about his guilt, but that’s over now.
If I were a criminal defense lawyer in a case involving the Secret Service, I’d ask if any of the agents involved in my case was the one who had done this. Every time. Because an agent who’d leave this sort of thing in a suspect’s home might plant evidence, too.
HOW STUPID ARE BUREAUCRATS AND LEGISLATORS? Even dumber than you could have imagined.
IN THE SERVICE OF GAIA: Suman Palit has another post on the neocolonialist aspects of the global environmental movement, and the “eco-mercenaries” at work in the Third World.
TOUCHING LAURA CRANE’S BREASTS in the name of homeland security. Sigh.
Anybody know where we can get some “Impeach Norm Mineta” bumperstickers?
CHEATING ON THE REDUCED-BLOGGING DIET: Okay, the last post was supposed to be the last. But then I ran across this Bugs Bunny-like prank at The Spoons Experience. Try it on an Islamist website today! And then I noticed that Junkyard Blog’s Bryan Preston will be on Baltimore’s WBAL radio tomorrow (Saturday) morning. There’s a link for a live stream on his blog. Good night.
BLOGAPALOOZA: Alex Beam probably figured that everyone had forgotten his April Fool’s boner by now. If so, he was wrong.
BLOG WARS: My reduced-blogging regime means that I missed out on a bunch of cross-blog debate regarding the war. You can go here to Tres Producers, then scroll down (and down, and down) and follow the links to get an idea of what’s going on. Also IsntaPundit has a long post responding to one from Hesiod Theogeny (follow the link, then continue ad infinitum). And Nick Denton has a cautionary observation.
Regarding the William Van Alstyne excerpt below on the constitutionality of the war: Several people have asked where you can get a copy of the whole letter. I don’t know — he emailed it to me. I’ve responded to ask if he minds me putting the whole thing on the site, but I haven’t heard back yet. There’s nothing secret or anything — it’s public — but I don’t like to post whole letters between other people on the site without asking unless there’s some very strong reason. It just seems a bit pushy.
QUESTION FOR SADDAM: Is this display supposed to: (1) Scare us; (2) Lull us into a false sense of security; or (3) Cause our troops to collapse into helpless laughter tinged with pity?
It’s gotta be either (2) or (3), right?
CAREY GAGE has posted a response to Brad De Long’s by-now-famous piece on lefties transitioning into righties.
UBERBLOGGER JOANNE JACOBS emails:
You guys will have to start praising NPR’s superb judgment in selecting open-minded, thoughtful, intelligent commentators: I’m making my debut on “All Things Considered” today (Friday) at 5:20, 7:20 and 9:20 pm Eastern time with a commentary on the move to require all students to take college-prep classes. It looks like this will be a semi-regular free-lance gig.
Well, it’s a good sign.
MARC HEROLD, author of famously bogus Afghan civilian casualty estimates, has resurfaced. But Bill Herbert is on the case.
UPDATE: Here’s another response to Herold.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Chris Bertram comments:
Who said that only the “bad guys” would get killed? Who believed them if they did? I can’t recall anyone who said or believed any such thing. Those of us who thought (and think) that the Afghan war was just did so in the full knowledge that in any war innocents get killed.
MICHAEL BARONE says the Saudis are our enemies, and the Administration knows it — regardless of public statements to the contrary.
IS INVADING IRAQ CONSTITUTIONAL? William Van Alstyne, a professor of constitutional law at Duke who I respect very much, has his doubts, as expressed in this letter responding to questions from the Senate Appropriations Committee, which he was kind enough to email me:
Third, and most recent among the resolutions you enclosed, is the express “Authorization for Use of United States Armed Forces” by Congress, adopted on September 18, 2001, following the cataclysmic events of September 11. The authorization is quite current And it calls expressly for the use of U.S. Armed Forces “against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.” It is also framed in the following quite inclusive terms, in § 2(a), that:
[T]he President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
I nonetheless think it doubtful that this will “stretch” to cover a proposal to use military force to overthrow the government of Iraq as is currently being considered, without authorization by Congress, absent quite responsible evidence that Iraq was involved in “the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept.
11, 2001″ –evidence that may exist but not that I have seen reported in the press or elsewhere. I note, respectfully, that the authorization is not an “open-ended” one to authorize the use of military power against any nations, organizations, or persons whom the President identifies as proper targets insofar as it would merely help in some general sense to “prevent” future terroristic attacks by such nations, organizations, or persons. Rather, it is to permit such uses of military power only with reference to those identified as having contributed in some substantial manner to the September 11th attacks, or known now to be harboring such persons.
Van Alstyne does allow that it’s arguable that the 1991 declaration against Iraq might allow for such an act — since, basically, that war never really ended — but doesn’t think that’s the case.
An interesting argument, and certainly an argument that the broad view of the Bush Doctrine (criticized here by Bruce Ralston of Flit) won’t pass constitutional muster. I generally agree with Van Alstyne on this, and on Executive use of force generally, though I note that our view of these issues has little in the way of judicial support, or Executive or Legislative support for that matter. Though I think the Framers intended otherwise, Presidents have generally enjoyed a lot of freedom where the employment of troops is concerned.
Still, if Bush were tricky, he’d call for a vote in Congress in October, before the election (so as to avoid having a “lame duck” Congress vote on such a momentous issue). I think this would work to his political advantage, as well as being faithful to the Constitution. But it’s not the sort of thing that risk-averse White House political wonks want to do.
I think all the advice about long pants and DEET is probably silly, though. If it’s abroad in the mosquito population, sooner or later you’re going to get it. And when you do, it’ll probably have no effect after which you’ll be immune. So why fight it? Am I missing something here?
A prominent Iranian dissident living in Paris is charging that the Iranian government tried to kill him last month.
A man wearing a concealing hat and sunglasses entered the office of Arman Nouri, a Paris dental surgeon, on July 16, claiming to need emergency attention. Dr. Nouri says that the man lay down in the examination chair.
When the dentist turned around to wash his hands, the man stabbed him with a knife in the back, shoulder and stomach areas while shouting, “We warned you! We warned you!” . . .
The attempt on Dr. Nouri’s life is one of several incidents that indicate the Iranian government, in the face of widespread popular unrest, is increasingly cracking down against its political opponents.
This week, anti-government protests have been occurring in several major Iranian cities. While public attention worldwide has focused on the possibility that America will topple Iraq, one member of what President Bush has called the “Axis of Evil,” a little-noticed popular uprising against another Axis power, Iran, is building momentum.
The Iranian regime, which America considers the foremost state sponsor of terrorism, is apparently taking the challenge seriously enough to respond with violence. . . .
In February of this year, an attempt was made on the life of an Iranian dissident lawyer and Shiite Muslim cleric in Germany named Mehdi Haeri. A man visited Mr. Haeri with a briefcase containing brass knuckles, a knife and an electric shock device, claiming that a fatwah had been issued against him for his critical writings and his frequent assistance to Muslim clerics wanting to flee Iran as refugees to Germany. Luckily, Mr. Haeri had been alerted of the danger to his life before the assailer’s visit and police were on hand to arrest the man before he could attack. Mr. Haeri said German authorities have repeatedly warned him to keep quiet about what happened.
Yes, God forbid that word should get out. People might start expecting action.
MORE BELLICOSE WOMEN: John Lott writes about the growing trend toward armed women.
YOU AND WHAT ARMY? No, I really mean that! Adrian Hamilton is arguing for a European invasion of the United States, which he characterizes as a rogue nation.
Of course, while Euroweenies like Adrian want to invade America, American woman Sasha Castel is proving why they’re not man enough, administering a Fisking that will have Adrian walking funny for a week.
“WEATHER FOR THE WEALTHY,” observes Nick Schulz, “is never the same as weather for the poor.” Which is why he — like me — wants to see the whole world become rich.
BRETT GLASS REPORTS that Denver is using antiterrorist measures to collect on traffic tickets.
It’s a parody but probably won’t be for long. That’s usually how these things work.
Homeland security is a joke. And not a funny one, despite Glass’s best efforts.
ARNOLD KLING says that Janis Ian is wrong — not in her criticisms of the music industry, but in placing her faith in CDs as a means of distribution:
I think that her solutions will not work, because the problem with the music industry is much deeper. I think that the problem is that CD’s are obsolete, and the music industry is trying to use the legal system to crush more efficient means for storing and distributing music. I believe that you cannot use a web site as a loss-leader for CD’s, because CD’s are an expensive storage medium compared to hard disks. You cannot charge 25 cents per download, because that would add up to overly expensive charges to the people who download most frequently.
I think that the solution will involve distributing massive quantities of music on hard disks, and allowing unlimited downloads for annual subscription fees. But this would radically change the role of the music industry, which it is not willing to accept.
He thinks the music industry will be bypassed in 5-10 years. My own experience cuts both ways on that front. My own record label, Wonderdog Records, sells CDs, but there’s no question that more of our music was distributed by download than by CD. Our stuff (was) all over Napster, AudioGalaxy, etc. I’d be willing to bet that online distribution exceeded meatspace distribution by a factor of 100.
This didn’t make us any money, of course (oh, it probably sold a few extra CDs, but it didn’t make us any identifiable money) but since we’re effectively a nonprofit operation that didn’t matter. In fact, we actively encouraged people to make our tunes available on filesharing systems, since we and our artists understand that the point is to make the music available, not to make money for it. (Our artist contracts begin “It is understood that Wonderdog Records is not a normal record company.”)
At the same time, though I get a lot of my music online, from independent artists who make it available for free, I still buy a lot of CDs. And I’m not thrilled with the idea of hard drives as the main residence of music: that kind of storage is too impermanent. I have CDs from almost 20 years ago. My mom has Louis Armstrong records from the 1920s, long before she was born. Who’s going to have MP3s of the Tumblin’ Sneakers song The Secret World of Charles Kuralt in 50 years? (Media junkies — you must listen to this song, which is a hoot).
Maybe I’m wrong about that, but when I really like music, I want hardcopy, not just hard-drive copy. Perhaps there will be a technological fix. In the meantime, CDs have actually gotten pretty damned cheap — until you factor in the markup needed to pay for record execs’ cocaine and fancy cars.
And the DIY, more-or-less nonprofit approach to music may be what kills big labels, one tiny bite at a time. When you look at the people willing to operate rock clubs on an effectively nonprofit basis, you have to wonder: as the population becomes richer, and has more leisure time, perhaps all sorts of activities will move from the for-profit to the not-really-for-profit sector.
19 MILLION AFGHANS HAVE BEEN INNOCULATED AGAINST MEASLES since the Taliban were booted out, according to an article referenced in The Corner. This has saved 35,000 children from death.
I don’t know for a fact that this is wrong, and I’m sure that quite a lot more Afghans have been vaccinated for all sorts of things since the Taliban were routed. (And, of course, there are the 12,000 or so that the Taliban would have killed, had they continued killing Afghans at their pre-invasion rate). But 19 million out of a population of 26.8 million seems like an awful lot. The best I can find are some stories saying that the campaign’s goal was to vaccinate nine (not nineteen) million. Does anyone know if this figure is correct?
YOU CAN ONLY ADMIRE this kind of ingenuity — though I’d expect no less from a blogger.
WHY GORE’S POPULISM worked best with the upper middle class. I find this fairly persuasive:
Remember, the insults hurled against Bush (I was one of the hurlers) were that he led a charmed life and everything was handed to him. Now think for a second, who would be most upset by a spot taken away at Yale? Would it be A) a truck driver for whom there is little differentiation between institutions of higher learning or B) the guy who still pissed off that he had to go to Brown, because he had no connections with the Yale admissions committee? Without going into the value of such arguments, think about all the argument against him and consider whose ire they raise.
UPDATE: Of course, there’s also this explanation. Jeez.
RESPONDING TO AN EARLIER DECLARATION AGAINST THE WAR by a group of German intellectuals, a group of American academics and intellectuals (including Mary Ann Glendon, Jean Bethke Elshtain, David Gutmann, Elizabeth Fox Genovese, Samuel Huntington, James Q. Wilson, and a host of others) has written a response. There are also links to the earlier correspondence. Excerpt:
You describe the rise of Islamicist violence in the world as “a consequence of the instability of the balance of power in the present unipolar world order.” If we understand this viewpoint correctly, you are suggesting, at least in part, that if the U.S. and its allies had less power and influence in the world, and if states such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and other states in the Middle East and in the Muslim world had more power and influence in the world, then the world would become a safer, less violent place. Recognizing that many (though not all) of these states whom you regard as insufficiently powerful and influential in the world are run by unelected authoritarians who oppress their own people and frequently nurture and export the terrorist violence that now threatens the world, including the Muslim world, we disagree with your prescription.
Your letter raises the subject of civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan. The subject is a serious one, which concerns us deeply, but your treatment of it is not serious.
It’s basically a heavyweight group-Fisking.
CORPORATE WELFARE FOR HOLLYWOOD: Matt Welch says there’s a lot of it.
EUGENE VOLOKH has an excellent post on why he’s an optimistic libertarian. Well worth reading if you — as I sometimes do — have gotten depressed about the future of liberty.
DAHLIA LITHWICK writes about a man’s right to choose in Slate. It’s not a bad piece. I’ve got a piece on the back burner (I have a lot of those — my scholarly rangetop goes into another timezone, but at least I’ll never run out of things to write about even if I never have a new idea) called Male Procreative Autonomy that addresses these issues in more depth. There’s rather a lot of hypocrisy, which Lithwick doesn’t really address, in the juncture between the way abortion is treated (“my body, my choice!”) and the way child-support is treated (“he got her pregnant, he should pay!”). Perhaps Richard Bennett will have something to say on this topic.
“WHO CARES ABOUT WEST NILE VIRUS?” Asks Rachel Lucas. Yeah, it’s not exactly the Black Death. Though I wonder if it’s not more widespread than people think. There’s a “bug” going around here that involves a week of headaches followed by a couple of weeks feeling generally worn out and crappy. (I’ve had it; I’m on week 3). If it were West Nile, would anyone know? (And I haven’t seen a crow in weeks. There were lots last year.) Probably nothing, but as I reach for the Tylenol, it’s crossed my mind.
SWING TO THE RIGHT: John Rosenberg has a post that tries to explain the phenomenon Brad De Long writes about. And Nick Confessore emailed to say that I don’t appreciate the tremendous, er, “discipline” of Republicans in DC and the groupthink that goes with it.
No, I don’t. That’s probably because (1) I’m not a Republican; and (2) I don’t live in DC. But even when I did live in DC in the 1980s, I found Republicans more anxious to win converts, and Democrats more anxious to condemn political incorrectness. Perhaps that was just the crowd I ran with — not everyone can be as openminded and welcoming as, say, Nick’s old boss Bob Kuttner — but perhaps not.
UPDATE: Reader Peter Weinstein says that it’s all explained by this Mark Steyn column.
When Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, warns the BBC that a US invasion of Iraq would ‘threaten the whole stability of the Middle East’, he’s missing the point: that’s the reason it’s such a great idea. Suppose we buy in to Moussa’s pitch and place stability above all other considerations. We get another 25 years of the Ayatollahs, another 35 years of the PLO and Hamas, another 40 years of the Baathists in Syria and Iraq, another 80 years of Saudi Wahabbism. What kind of Middle East are we likely to have at the end of all that? The region’s in the state it’s in because, uniquely in the non-democratic world, it’s too stable. It’s the stability of the cesspit.
IN RESPONSE TO MY FOXNEWS COLUMN TODAY on guns and violence in England, several people have emailed to ask what has happened to violent crime rates in Australia since it enacted its draconian gun ban a few years back. I haven’t studied that subject closely, but here is one story that suggests the Australian situation mirrors England’s.
A READER CALLED THIS ADAM CLYMER STORY about Bob Barr “juvenile” and biased. I disagree.
Barr was handling a firearm at a party. It went off, though it’s not entirely clear who accidentally hit the trigger — Barr, or the host who handed it to him.
Clymer notes that they followed the most important safety rule, which involves making sure your weapon isn’t pointed in a dangerous direction, but violated the others. I think he’s right.
Personally, I wouldn’t bring out firearms for handling at a party anyway. Too many people around, too high a likelihood that someone has been drinking. But jeez, if you’re going to, you need to be sure they’re unloaded and safe — and the person being handed the weapon has that responsibility every bit as much as the person handing it to him. I heard Neal Boortz making these points on the radio yesterday, and he was absolutely right.
I posted something along these lines in an Electrolite comment, but it’s worth expanding on a bit here. Patrick’s post calls this process “seduction,” but it’s seduction in the way that a man whose wife constantly checks his collar and screams at him is eventually “seduced” by another woman. It’s as much a push as a pull.
I see this all the time as someone whose views straddle the left-right divide. I disagree with the Christian bloggers on most of their core issues; probably the only thing we’re in full agreement on is that the Catholic Church’s behavior in covering up its sex scandal has been shameful. We’re at odds on cloning, on abortion, and often on birth control and evolution, though the Christian bloggers aren’t as unified on those last two issues. But they’re always polite.
On the Left, though, we find all these pseudonymous name-calling bloggers whose specialty seems to be abuse aimed at those deviating from the party line. De Long isn’t one of those, of course, but this line from his post bespeaks a certain tribalism: “There’s still time for Kaus to return to his neoliberal roots.”
As the old saying has it, the left looks for heretics and the right looks for converts, and both find what they’re looking for. The effect is no doubt subliminal, but people who treat you like crap are, over time, less persuasive than people who don’t. If people on the Left are so unhappy about how many former allies are changing their views, perhaps they should examine how those allies are treated.
SOME QUESTIONS ANSWER THEMSELVES — like these, asked by Howard Kurtz, regarding the child-snatching hype:
Are we all in the exploitation business?
Are journalists basically vultures who pick at the carcasses of tragedy victims?
And are politicians also getting into the act?
Three guesses — and the first two don’t count, as we say around these parts.
INSTAPUNDIT’S FIRST ANNIVERSARY: Click here and scroll up to see what was going on a year ago.
REMIND ME AGAIN why the United Nations is regarded as having any moral authority:
Patients at United Nations mental institutions in Kosovo have been raped and physically attacked under the eyes of UN staff, held in “filthy and degrading” conditions, and threatened with punishment if they report the abuses, according to a damning investigation published in New York yesterday.
In one case, a woman patient was raped after UN employees locked her in a room with a male patient because they wanted to “calm her down”, while employees who observed another rape in a hallway said they did not intervene because the victim “must have asked for it”, according to the independent campaigning group Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI), which produced the report.
“This is a pervasive pattern of serious abuses. The rule of law simply does not apply within these psychiatric facilities,” Dr Eric Rosenthal, MDRI’s founder, said yesterday. “We found extreme, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary detention and the physical and sexual assault of women, and we received a blanket denial from the authorities.” . . .
Two former patients there, along with a physician working for another organisation, were also threatened by a staff member to prevent them revealing that the staff member had had sexual relationships with the two patients, the report said.
Where are the people whose cries of outrage we heard over Guantanamo?
UPDATE: Reader Insta Punditwatch emails that this story comes from George Soros’s Open Society Institute and that it complained about Guantanamo. I don’t remember that, but OK. With bated breath, I await similar complaints from Amnesty, Chris Patten, and almost the entire Euro press.
GEITNER SIMMONS has some observations regarding the Saudis and nuclear weapons.
They’re not our friends. And they’re trying to get nuclear weapons. What does the Bush Doctrine say about that?
PATRICK RUFFINI is riffing on the theme of populism — in politics, in real estate, and in the blogosphere. Nice job.
PEOPLE IN NEED OF A CLUE: An apparently endlessly continuing series.
MY FOXNEWS COLUMN IS UP: It’s a review of Joyce Malcolm’s book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience.
NEWS from Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. Fred Pruitt is on a roll.
RYAN OLSON SAYS the future is now. And he appears to be coping with Future Shock very sensibly.
JAMES MORROW has found another thread on the ClearGuidance.Com website, this one threatening President Bush. The poster, Abu Dujanah, appears to have uploaded a photo of himself with the post, which should make life easier for the Secret Service.
Of course, ClearGuidance is probably another sting operation designed to lure gullible Islamists with terrorist aspirations into giving up their identities, after which it will turn into something entirely different.
UPDATE: ClearGuidance appears to be taking this stuff down, or at least requiring a member login to view it. I’ve saved a copy of the page in question, though, in case any authorities are interested.
WOULD INVADING IRAQ DESTABILIZE THE MIDDLE EAST? Maybe, says Steven Den Beste, but “that’s not a bug, that’s a feature.”
Hmm. Well, things are dreadful there now. Stability is the absence of change, meaning that so long as the situation is stable, things will stay dreadful. And we don’t want things to stay dreadful, do we?
Actually, some people do. But that’s because they’re comfortable with the current dreadfulness, since it either doesn’t affect them, or redounds to their benefit. How, exactly, does this justify a pose of moral superiority?
What would Bugs Bunny do? Something like this, doc.
UPDATE: Here, courtesy of a reader, is the Google cache of what used to be there. Double chortle. Or as Bugs would say, “What a buncha maroons!”
THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW went pretty well. I love radio, not least because you can do it from home with your shoes off. He’s looking for lefty bloggers to add to his stable of guests. I recommended Ted Barlow and Josh Marshall. If you’ve got suggestions, you might want to contact him through his site. Of course, it’s a bit hard to recommend people for the radio when you’ve never heard them speak. . . .
I’M GOING TO BE ON HUGH HEWITT’S RADIO SHOW in a few minutes. Here’s the link for live streaming.
ERIC OLSEN weighs in again on the Searls/Winer/Denton/Reynolds/Devon war debate. And scroll down for an earlier installment I somehow left out.
NOT INDIVISIBLE: Brad Knickerbocker reports on prospects for splitting the Ninth Circuit in two. Personally, I think it’s past time — it’s a huge and unwieldy court. The old Fifth Circuit was bigger in terms of square miles before it was split, but I doubt it had as many people, and I’m sure it didn’t have as many cases.
THE INDEPUNDIT reports that Iran’s mullahs are using “Arab” muscle to put down riots, and suspects that they are fugitive Ladenites now doing mercenary duty.
Sounds like desperation to me.
BIG BOOBS: Homeland Security remains a joke.
INSTAPUNDIT SPY SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOWS U.S. war preparations underway in Qatar.
Well, okay, it’s not exactly an InstaPundit spy satellite, but that just sounded too cool to pass up.
NEW ADVENTURES IN HOMELAND SECURITY: Fishermen are blaming terrorists and aliens for a shortage of smallmouth bass. Hey, whatever excuse works:
Homeland Security Department To Oversee Protection of Fisheries
Washington DC, August 7 2002. Following reports of a recent panic by Midwestern anglers regarding the possiblity that Iraqi agents were responsible for a sudden disappearance of Smallmouth Bass from rivers in the region, Tom Ridge, the Head of the new Department of Homeland Defence, called a press conference.
“I am here to announce that the Department of Homeland Defence is making the protection of our nation’s waterways a top priority” said Ridge. “No longer will our fisheries be held hostage by the forces of evil. Effective immediately, metal detectors will be placed at points of access to all waterways. All sportsmen will be searched before being allowed to proceed to the water. Absolutely no weapons, including firearms, knives, scissors, nail clippers, d-barb tools or hooks will be allowed near the water. The Department of Homeland Security has annexed the Fish and Wildlife Division in order to facilitate this process.”
Reporters questioned Ridge as to whether such steps might be an inconvenience to sportsmen.
“This is no time for half measures.” replied Ridge. “These actions are for the safety of all, and we have no doubt that sportsmen will support such steps as part of the War on Terrorism. Further, we don’t believe these procedures will be a problem. With careful planning we hope to insure that fishing is as safe and hassle-free as air travel.
The Secretary closed by advising that “sportsmen show up at the water two to three hours before the planned time of fishing, so as to allow for screening.”
Lawyers for suspected terrorists, meanwhile, will no doubt accuse the government of going on a . . . . fishing expedition! All groan together, please.
Note to the reader who sent this: Yes, I took the bait.
“WHEN WE ARAB-MUSLIM STUDENTS CAME TO AMERICA FOR STUDY, WE HAD NO IDEA THAT WE WOULD BE FORCED TO MINGLE WITH JEW STUDENTS AND TAKE INSTRUCTION FROM JEW TEACHERS. THIS IS OFFENSIVE TO US since it is well known that the Jews are the most corrupt and violent people on Earth.” From a poster put up by Arab students at Florida Atlantic University, via Justin Weitz.
UPDATE: In Context says the University denies that it’s from an official group, but hasn’t denounced it yet.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The Anti-Defamation League says the flier is a hoax — though such fliers were actually posted on campus. That doesn’t make much sense, but I guess they mean they don’t think it was actually posted by “Arab-Muslim students.” Well, good. Though they should throw the book at whoever did post it, if they find them. We don’t need that kind of stirring-up of trouble. Though sadly, after the SFSU flyers, which weren’t a hoax, this was pretty believable.
DON’T LIKE THE IDEA OF THUGS FROM BIG ENTERTAINMENT HACKING YOUR PC? Then go here.
WELL, THIS IS ENCOURAGING: Missing laptops at the U.S. Central Command, which is coordinating the Afghan war.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE: HappyFunPundit is proving that warbloggers are better than anti-warbloggers even when it comes to thinking up arguments against the war. Read this post:
Saddam isn’t planning on fighting a conventional war against the United States. He tried that the last time, and the “Mother of all Battles” turned out to be the mother of all embarassing routs. Saddam is nuts, but he’s not stupid. He won’t make that mistake again.
So what’s he going to do? The above quote is telling. My personal belief is that he is going to fight a war of world opinion. He’s learned lessons watching Arafat fight a much larger opponent. He’ll sacrifice his cannon-fodder troops who are not loyal enough to be allowed to crowd into the cities with him anyway, and when they are gone (surrendering quickly, my guess), he’ll pull his remaining army of maybe 100,000 loyalists into his heavily fortified and stockpiled cities, and force the U.S. to dig them out one building at a time. In the meantime, he’ll pull an Arafat, appearing on TV regularly surveying destroyed buildings, with plenty of bodies of children scattered around for effect. He’ll play the martyr card, big time.
Think about the difficulty Israel is having with world opinion just trying to remove a few terrorists from the West Bank and Gaza. Now imagine if the Palestinians had 100,000 soldiers, the resources to reinforce buildings, set up machine gun nests and tank traps, and build warrens of interlocking tunnels under the city. That’s what the U.S. will face in Baghdad, assuming it doesn’t collapse from within. Throw biological and chemical weapons into the mix, and you have a potential disaster.
The danger for Saddam (and the Iraqis) is that the likes of Chris Patten have caused the United States not to care nearly as much about world opinion as it used to. It’s also doubtful that Saddam can actually find 50,000 people who will stay loyal to him once the war is actually under way.
But this is a lot better than playground references.
UPDATE: Jim Henley has more.
CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF (which, inconveniently, was inspired by Kevin McGehee’s statement that he would be on hiatus until September) Kevin McGehee reports that Flyover Country is not on hiatus until September, it’s just in “Flyover Lightly” mode. Don’t miss the story about the FBI informant wearing a wire who wound up recording the WTC attack.
THE CONDI RICE JUGGERNAUT is in motion.
KEVIN HOLTSBERRY has a survey of arguments for and against war in Iraq.
OVER A YEAR AGO, before InstaPundit was even a blog, I advised the White House to pursue a stream of Clintonesque mini-initiatives. Now TAPPED is complaining that he’s doing just that. Advantage: InstaPundit!
UPDATE — PEOPLE IN NEED OF A CLUE: I got this email from “Insta Pundit Watcher,” with the subject line “‘advicing’ the White House:”
OVER A YEAR AGO, before InstaPundit was even a blog, I advised the White House to pursue a stream of Clintonesque mini-initiatives. Now TAPPED is complaining that he’s doing just that. Advantage: InstaPundit!
No you didn’t. You didn’t meet with Bush or any of his advisors, you didn’t have contact with an administration official, you just posted a small article on a web discussion board.
Uh, yeah. And the whole post was, you know, tongue-in-cheek. Not to be taken seriously. Kinda like — oh, hell, never mind. What’s the point?
CHARLES JOHNSON has found something really disturbing. It’s a website featuring a chatboard for Islamic youth where they talk about murdering and decapitating jews, complete with supporting Koranic authority. Some are in America, and Canada. Excerpt:
hmmmmm has anyone here seen rushthroat?? where the mujahideen get a knife stab it into a jews throat and rips da head off and the jewz making all these sick
i’m gonna try this on some jew right now LOL
UPDATE: Just saw that James Lileks has written about this too. His piece is long, sensitive, and moving, everything that my post isn’t. Go read it.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader writes:
The comparison for me to the Clearguidance.com chat room would be the various white supremacist web pages and chats (who are often equally convinced that God is on their side). The comparison between White Supremacists and Islamic Fanatics is perfectly apropos…
Yes, and they get along pretty well, actually. Except that White Supremacists can’t play the multiculti card.
DEBUNKING THE J-BOMB: Angie Schultz, a physicist with an interest in the history of the atomic bomb, is even more skeptical than me about The Independent’s report that the Japanese were “days away” from an atomic bomb at the end of the war.
They would have liked to have been, and there’s some evidence that the Germans were trying to help them (the U-234 was carrying uranium, and some technicians, to Japan when it was intercepted at the end of the war; the uranium was reportedly added to the U.S. effort and wound up in the Hiroshima bomb). But “days away?” She’s doubtful. Their biological warfare program, which was far more advanced, was a bigger threat and in fact killed a nontrivial number of people in China.
READER SEAN DOUGHERTY WRITES:
Maria Cantwell cashed in her RealNetworks stock just before the market crashed to finance her successful senate run in Washington. Now, the company is making layoffs. So having harvested the value from the company and turned it into a six-year guaranteed contract, is Cantwell being called to account like Bush and Cheney for what happened to the employees she left behind?
Where’s the outrage? Why isn’t she “Senator Lay?”
Maybe she can testify along with Martha Stewart.
UPDATE: Reader Travis Matthews says that Dougherty’s wrong, and sends links to prove it. Cantwell borrowed against her shares, which then plummeted in value. She probably wishes now that she’d sold them, but that’s not the same thing.
MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN IS UP! You’ll have to go there to find out the answer to the Blazing Saddles – quote question I posed earlier. But here’s the gist:
For years now, I’ve been saying that the record industry’s long-term legislative strategy had less to do with preventing copying than with sewing up the market to ensure that Big Entertainment companies won’t have to worry about competition from independent artists. It looks like I’ve just been proven right. . . .
What they’re trying to do is to create a system that’s not so much proof against copying – a mostly impossible task anyway – as a system that’s very unfriendly to content that comes from anyone other than Big Media suppliers. It’s not about copying. It’s about competition.
MARTIN DEVON is echoing a question of my own: why are the arguments offered by those opposing the war of such generally poor quality? I can make up better, more coherent arguments against the war than those who seem to have made it their mission to oppose it. (Fortunately, thanks to Jim Henley, I don’t have to). In Martin’s words:
Part of the reason that the New York Times’ approach to the coming Middle East war annoys me is because there are plenty of real questions to be asked without manufacturing fake dissent. From what I can tell, the real issue that troubles liberals about starting a war with Iraq (or Iran, ‘Saudi’ Arabia and Syria) is that it does not fit into their rule-based worldview. . . .
Yes, let’s have a debate. Do the bigwigs at the New York Times think that we should sit idly by while Saddam acquires weapons of mass destruction? If they don’t trust law-abiding citizens with handguns, why do they trust unbalanced dictators with nuclear weapons? How do they propose to keep America safe from attack?
Unfortunately, I think too much opposition to the war (like much support for gun control, as well) is cultural, not intellectual. The New York Times editorial board takes these positions because they feel they’re the positions people like them are supposed to take. Thus, no actual argument is really necessary. I think this explains why people will call warbloggers blustery warmongers, even when they ultimately turn out not to disagree all that much on the issues. It’s just so, well, not done, to actually say things like that, whether or not they’re right.
I love Martin’s opening quote, too.
GORE’S A LOSER, BUT . . . HILLARY’S LOOKING BETTER! That’s what Mickey Kaus is saying, anyway.
ANOTHER POST (ACTUALLY TWO) I DON’T HAVE TO MAKE: DOC SEARLS chronicles a drawn out debate (so I don’t have to) over the war that started with Nick Denton’s post on the need to shock Islamists with utter defeat, continued with Dave Winer making some comments about warmongering and playground bullies, and descended from there.
The problem, essentially, is that Dave came into this debate late, and he’s not up to speed. He’s a smart guy, God knows, and as entitled to an opinion as anyone, but a lot of people have been wrestling with these things in somewhat more depth. Vague, general statements about playgrounds and bullies are merely inapt analogies, not arguments. You can make an intelligent argument against invading Iraq. And — here’s the other post I don’t have to make — Jim Henley has done so. I think he’s wrong, but it’s a question of the weight you assign to various factors, which is something about which reasonable people can differ.
I don’t really like the term “warblogger” and my use of it in reference to Nick Denton’s original post was somewhat ironic, since Nick himself was rather skeptical of the war for a long time. But Nick’s been thinking about the war, and blogging about the war, in a way that Dave hasn’t been, so it’s not really enough just to dismiss him with an inapt analogy.
Doc’s take on the subject, once we get away from accusations of blowhardism aimed at warbloggers, is actually pretty much in line with what I think most warbloggers believe:
At its best, war is a lesser evil. That’s it. If you have to crush a regime and its armies to end the far worse things they’ve been doing — as we did to Japan and Germany in World War II, and to the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan — your actions are entirely justifiable in the death-for-death and misery-for-misery moral economics of war. Inflict a lesser misery to end a greater one. End of story.
And that, exactly, is the story George W. Bush is trying to tell, apparently with insufficient success. But bless him for trying to do the right thing for the all the people involved, including the citizens of Iraq. . . .
What groups is it most okay to kill? And how does that okayness vary with our distance and difference from them?
The “warblog” crowd is hardly a testosterone-drenched bunch of Rambos. Personally, I’d love to live in the pre-September 11th world, when seemingly all we had to worry about was who had the best abs at the Video Music Awards. But that world, as it turned out, was a fool’s paradise, as people were in fact plotting to kill as many of us as possible just two days later.
In answer to the last questions: What groups is it most okay to kill? The ones who want to kill us. And how does that okayness vary with our distance and difference from them? Not a hell of a lot. But there are a lot of people who currently believe that it’s their divine mission on Earth to kill as many Americans as they can. And they think that’s okay because of the “difference” they see in America.
Odd, then, that it’s people who point this out who are accused of intolerance and warmongering.
THE INDEPENDENT SAYS that Japan was days away from testing its own atomic bomb when the war ended.
This comes as, to put it mildly, news to me. But it’s certainly from a source that doesn’t usually exert itself to come up with pro-American story lines.
WELL THESE GUYS are against invading Iraq. And they’re in my referrer IDs. Yuk. Go away.
I’D BEEN MEANING TO POST ON THIS. But (as you may have been able to tell) I’ve been trying to do a bit less blogging during this lull in news. I’m trying to let my tortured back and joints recover from a year of too much computer time. Anyway, now I don’t have to. Via Jim Henley I found this post by Charles Dodgson regarding the New York Times Magazine’s piece on star-creation and the music industry. The conclusion is priceless.
ANN SALISBURY emails that Blue Streak has identified some examples of media bias in the Newdow case. Which, for those of you who have (perhaps understandably) already forgotten, is the case involving the Pledge of Allegiance that generated such a flap a while back.
STEVEN CHAPMAN TAKES ON U.N. HYPOCRISY:
And to think that a whole swathe of wet leftie know-nothings (including Assad’s man in the UNGA) called Jenin an instance of Israeli ‘brutality.’ Do any of them really know what brutality looks like? Were Israel to act like just another Middle Eastern shitpile, there wouldn’t be a terrorism problem in Israel because there wouldn’t be any terrorists because they, and their families, and their neighbours, and their neighbours’ neighbours would all be dead or deported to Jordan. Why send in the IDF on foot into Jenin going from house to house when they could simply have used the Assad method: encircle the town with tanks and artillery pieces and simply reduce it to rubble? Why bother with the specific targetting of militants when it would be far more thorough to simply do what the Kuwaitis did after the Gulf War, and expel a few hundred thousand Palestinians? When Israel occupied Lebanon there was outraged condemnation. Now that Syria occupies Lebanon no one is interested. While Hafez al-Assad was flattening Hama, the UN were too busy fulminating about the IAF’s attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactors to notice.
And in spite of this, Boy Assad’s lackey is able to pontificate in the UNGA meetings as though he were Gandhi’s fucking star pupil. That’s what I hate about the UN.
Yes, and I notice a certain selective indignation among the U.S. “peace” crowd, too. And if you point out that Arab nations, almost without exception, act horribly, you get the usual bogus accusations of racism in response.
One thing I admire about Chapman is that, though he’s opposed to most of the U.S. war effort, he’s not an apologist (or blind-eye turner) for dictators who happen to be anti-Western, the way that so many self-styled “peace” activists seem to be.
THE NATIONAL POST EDITORIALIZES that Amnesty International is becoming irrelevant because of its knee-jerk anti-Western stance and focus on relatively trivial issues. I think that’s about right, and I think it’s too bad.
WHEN I GET EMAIL that copies other people, I usually don’t respond. But Steven Den Beste got this letter, too, and he did respond, at length.