September 1, 2002
I’M HEADING OFF TO THE LAKE this afternoon. But don’t miss PunditWatch, which I expect will be up later.
I’M HEADING OFF TO THE LAKE this afternoon. But don’t miss PunditWatch, which I expect will be up later.
IN RESPONSE TO MY POST BELOW on Europe, Martin Pratt remarks that the United States is losing support because “Countries don’t have friends, they have allies, allies only remain so when there is something in it for them.”
Perhaps what many other countries perceive as “unilateralism” is just the result of the United States finally figuring out, and acting upon, what those other countries have always known and acted upon.
ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT, the Johannesburg summit is turning out to be much better than expected. Well, even a flatworm is smart enough to avoid pain, so maybe the UN is capable of learning, eventually.
TIMES VS. TIMES — it never stops at Kausfiles.
GEITNER SIMMONS writes about the NEA’s cries of racism over criticism of its 9/11 curriculum. Excerpt:
Remarkable. Teachers, she claims, can’t talk about the Islamic hatred and evil that fueled the 9/11 attacks because hatred and evil once manifested themselves, undeniably, in this country through the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow.
On the contrary, this situation presents teachers with an opportunity to make vital distinctions.
American society, students should be told, now openly acknowledges the injustices and horrors of slavery and Jim Crow. Indeed, powerful legal mechanisms, embedded in the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent, have been put in place to prevent their reappearance. America, in other words, have striven mightily, after a civil war in the 19th century and social tumult in the 20th, to move beyond the moral blindness of the past. . . .
These are the real nuances that teachers ought to sharing with their students. How revealing that the NEA and like-minded thinkers want to pre-empt such needed discussions in the nation’s classrooms.
Indeed. I suppose it’s also worth noting that the NEA’s response (which Simmons calls “demagogic”) to criticisms of the 9/11 curriculum gives the lie to claims that the curriculum did not really reflect the views of the NEA.
HERE’S ANOTHER ARTICLE ON WEBLOGS, this one by Gregory Boyd Bell in the Hamilton Spectator.
I know that what Dreher and Jeff are saying about the attitudes among the Hollywood elite and others toward Southern culture is indisputable. I know how parochial and embarrassingly narrow minded these people can be when discussing American subcultures outside of the bubbles they inhabit in LA or New York. I also know how many Americans use the caricature of the Southern yokel as the mental template for High Ignorance and Stupidity. But that does not overrule certain unavoidable facts about Southern rednecks, hicks, hillbillies, yokels, yahoos, hayseeds, rubes, or whatever you want to call them, that will never fail to make them fascinating, extremely compelling, hilarious and attractive objects for examination by those living in the South as well as on the outside.
You simply do not have, remaining in the land, a more real group of people who don’t really give a damn what others think. The true Southerner knows well how others view him, and yet he never sets about looking for “leaders” and apologists to run onto TV and shame everyone for their mean-spiritedness. It has always been a sign of confidence and pride, or so I’ve taken it, that the Southerner lets the Northerner, or other elite types, pummel him repeatedly without recourse to the tiresome props of the victim. And thank God for that.
Jed Clampett was the true hero of the original Beverly Hillbillies. Will CBS have the guts to follow his example?
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JOHN ASHCROFT ISN’T MAKING KIM DU TOIT HAPPY:
The more I read about the FBI’s behavior in this matter, the more I want to kick AG John Ashcroft in the balls. Their bullying, truculent behavior towards both Hatfill and his fiancée make me absolutely sick– why are the Janet Reno goons still there, after they had their pee-pees whacked over the mishanding of the Richard Jewell matter? (You remember Richard Jewell– he was the suspect/non-suspect/”person of interest” in the Atlanta Olympics bombing case– later found to be completely innocent despite the FBI’s intimidation and hectoring tactics towards him and his family.)
This crap has got to stop. Right now. If the FBI has enough evidence to go to the grand jury, then that’s what they should do. If they don’t then they’d better quit this bullshit about leaking to the Press the list of their suspects, and letting the suspects/non-suspects/”persons of interest” be tried by the Press and public opinion. And applying pressure through the person’s family is a foul thing to do– hey, why not just put a gun to his mother’s head and tell him to “confess, or she dies”? That’s what the KGB or Chinese would have done.
It remains to be established whether Hatfill is guilty, but it’s clear that the FBI has botched the investigation in ways that won’t be redeemed even if Hatfill turns out to be guilty as sin. The leaks, as I’ve mentioned before, are either a deliberate effort to put pressure on him (illegally), or just evidence that the FBI is so inept and unprofessional that its employees can’t keep their mouths shut even on an important investigation relating to national security. (Or worse yet, it’s just a cynical move to take the press heat off the anthrax investigation by making it look like it’s doing something. Regardless, it’s a botch, and I don’t see another explanation that makes them look any better.
NELSON ASCHER HAS SOME MORE THOUGHTS that are worth posting:
If we can call the Eurocratic order a kind of New Enlightened Despotism, the Church’s role would be fulfilled by the NGO. In a way they actually resemble the medieval militant monastic orders. They begin as reformers, then are slowly incorporated to the system as their propagandists and missionaries. Besides, they too are unelected bodies composed of “inspired” and dedicated militants (and good old Lev Davidovitch Bronstein once compared the Bolsheviks to the Jesuits).
Most of the main European powers have some kind of official cultural agency (Alliance Française, British Council, Goethe Institut, Casa di Dante) the branches of which are scattered all over the world. They are not accused of being an arm of their own CIAs and, though their primary role is apparently some form of cultural/linguistic diffusion, their real function is ideological (defined in a generous way) propaganda. The Goethe Institutes, for instance, are responsible for the moderate success of German cinematography in the 70s and 80s. The Alliance Française fights for the “francophonie” and so on.
Have you ever considered that basically all the important international literary/cultural prizes, scholarships etc., from the Nobel prize down, are granted by Europe. Third world intellectuals simply love them, and why shouldn’t they? Latin Americans, Africans, Arabs, Asians etc. feel that Europe takes them seriously and respects them, while the US ignores and/or disdains them. Their books are regulary published in German, French, Italian, Swedish and so on, usually with the help of generous state subsidies. When it comes to any kind of conflict who do you think they are rooting for, America? And their written words, in ways most Americans cannot begin to imagine, carry a lot of weight in their poor semi-literate societies, mainly when they return to them as homegrown cultural heroes who managed to spread their country’s name and language in Europe and elsewhere.
But it is also true that the European elites take adequate care of keeping their own writers, intellectuals, academics and artists happy and on a short leash. Maybe this goes a long way explain why there are no French Noam Chomskys criticizing the Quai d’ Orsay’s politics. Talk about manufacturing consent.
Interesting. This makes sense to me, though I’m not an international artist like Nelson.
THE EUROPEAN UNION CORRUPTION SCANDAL CONTINUES with paybacks to a whistleblower.
THE PREMISE OF THIS ARTICLE BY GLENN KESSLER from tomorrow’s Washington Post just seems wrong to me. The article says that the U.S. has squandered the flood of support that it received from other countries after 9/11.
But let’s be honest here. What support?
We got a lot of sympathy, leavened with a certain amount of schadenfreude. And we got a couple of German AWACS. But when it came time to actually deliver support, as opposed to talk, what did we get? Not much. We got nontrivial numbers of British and Canadian (and Australian) troops for Afghanistan, and trivial numbers of troops from elsewhere. We got a lot of carping and warnings of quagmires. But not much where the rubber meets the road.
And that’s why Bush doesn’t “give a shit what the Europeans think.” Which makes stories like Kessler’s a bit, well, beside the point.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Correction — I’m informed that they were NATO AWACS, not German, which is correct, of course. Follow the link for a cool picture of one over Niagara falls.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Steven Chapman has this to say about Bush’s remark:
I don’t blame him. The day the sheepdog consults the sheep over ways to combat the wolf will be a sorry day indeed.
Chapman also thinks that the Britain/Europe distinction is important.
MAYBE COLIN POWELL IS EARNING HIS PAY: At least, somebody is doing a good job on the diplomatic front. First France gives up on criticizing U.S. moves against Iraq. Now this:
Britain and Italy have broken ranks with EU colleagues, saying they are willing to negotiate bilateral accords with the United States in a row over a new war crimes court, diplomats said.
“Some countries are ready to negotiate. Others are not. In public, the only two countries which have expressed a different position are Italy and the United Kingdom,” said one European diplomat.
“Berlusconi is trying to position himself as the best friend of the Americans, along with the British,” said a diplomat source in the sidelines of informal talks between EU foreign ministers in Elsinore, Denmark.
Note the catty tone. . . .
OKAY, THERE’S NO POINT MY EVER WRITING ANOTHER WORD. Not when I’ve written a law review article that has, apparently, induced fits of teen ecstasy. . . .
Well, with a little help.
MICHAEL BELLESILES IS WRITING on the proper use of history in constitutional analysis.
That’s like having Joe Biden lecturing people on the evil of copying. Oh, wait. . .
UPDATE: History News Network is observing that the James Lindgren article on Michael Bellesiles’ errors has gotten a lot of downloads from this site:
On Friday August 16 blogger Glenn Reynolds published an Acrobat copy of the article–”Fall From Grace: Arming America and the Bellesiles Scandal”–on his heavily-trafficked website, pjmedia.com/instapundit. By the following Wednesday the article, which features 237 footnotes, had been downloaded 55,853 times. As of August 26 the article had “racked up an impressive 82,843 downloads.” Notes Reynolds: “By way of comparison, the dead-tree circulation of the Yale Law Journal, where Lindgren’s piece appears, is just over 3,300.” Has there ever been a scholarly article that received a higher circulation? It may just be that Lindgren’s article is the world champ.
The figure as of yesterday afternoon was 87,482. Since Lindgren’s article is now also available for download on HNN, and on Lindgren’s own page, there’s a good chance that it’s broken the 100,000-download mark overall. I’d say Lindgren’s “world champ” status looks pretty good.
ANOTHER UPDATE: There’s more on Bellesiles here.
JOHANNESBURG UPDATE: Reader Kevin Connors has noticed something:
It seems the Johannesburg summit generated 400 tons of trash, used 5 million sheets of paper and dumped 30,000 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Yes, and each participant used 53 gallons of water a day, while lecturing us on American wastefulness. The global ruling class will always live at least as well as ordinary Americans do today, however many calls for sacrifice it issues. Count on it.
In a similar vein, reader Arthur Hellyer wasn’t impressed by the Bill Moyers commentary I referenced below:
He ends his commentary, after basically saying human kind isn’t fit for life on earth, by saying we “owe” his daughter a better world. You would think with such pessimism he wouldn’t burden the world with another child. That’s liberalism though. He really likes things as they are, he just doesn’t want the rest of us around.
Yep. That’s typical. That’s why I prefer my version of sustainability to the sacrifice-for-the-little-people version being peddled by the UN apparat.
DALE AMON writes that race doesn’t matter much anymore, except to people trying to make political hay out of it. I think that “miscenegating like rabbits” has something to do with this change.
WHY THEY HATE US: The answer may be found here:
Recently, one British visitor was chatting to CIA Director George Tenet about the Europeans’ role. ‘I’ll tell you exactly what the President said the other day on that very subject,’ said Mr Tenet. ‘He said, “I don’t give a shit what the Europeans think.”
Note that the British are not included as “Europeans” in the President’s mind.
DOES TOM FRIEDMAN THINK THAT The ACLU is like Al Qaeda?
MANY BLOG READERS have probably never heard of a “foot washing,” though most will presumably recognize the Biblical derivation.
PORPHYROGENITUS says that Big Media “anonymous sources” are much less trustworthy than pseudonymous bloggers. You know the track record of bloggers, even if you don’t know their True Names. But you don’t know if this week’s “senior official” is the same as the one who said something idiotic last week, or not.
AZIZ POONAWALLA has set up a blog devoted to Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. It features all the media coverage, good and bad, that Aziz can find. Call it a “resource blog.”
TOREN SMITH is addressing root causes of terrorism.
DOC SEARLS says that Bill Maher’s blog looks phony. “It’s a start, but it’s got that delegated, glands-off look. It’s… you know: a site. Hey Bill: Sites are for buildings. Blogs are for players.”
NICK MARSALA likes Denise Majette.
READER ROBERT MOUNCE SAYS THAT THIS BILL MOYERS COMMENTARY is proof of the Left’s decline:
I used to respect Bill Moyers. But now he thinks you can sum up human achievement in “the missing Armenians, Buchenwald and Auschwitz, the little girl aflame with made-in-America Napalm, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, Luanda and Srebrenica, the 11th of September.”
He fails to note the ease with which he traveled halfway around the world to comfortably sit under that 800-year old Banyan tree making a speech heard instantly by 10 million people all across the US in the comfort of their homes and air-conditioned cars. Puh-lease.
Yes, what’s wrong with the Left — at least the Establishment, academic-and-media Left — is that sitting around playing “ain’t it awful” is seen as moral seriousness. NPR needs to let Moyers join the fossils he talks about, and get somebody like Ken Layne, who has actual ideas, and a moral sense that goes beyond “isn’t it terrible that terrible things happen, and if some people do terrible things then people — and doing things — must be terrible, too. ”
MORE ON THE LEFT’S POST-SIXTIES PRIGGISHNESS: Nelson Ascher writes:
Sorry for disturbing you once more, but there is something I would like to add to the discussion about the left’s humorlessness. The first person whose brilliant comments I have read about this subject was none other than the recently deceased Pauline Kael. (By the way, the last article I wrote for my Brazilian newspaper before 911 was precisely her obituary). According to Kael, in her youth the left for instance used to be open and free about sexual matters. It was also highly critical of the bourgeoisie’s hypocrisy and puritanism. But, as soon as its attitudes won the day and were adopted wholesale by the middle classes (the so called sexual revolution of the 60′s), the left itself began to reject them, accusing the bourgeois, petit or not, of a lack of seriousness, promiscuity and of turning sex in one more object to be used and discarded by the consumer society.
What is more striking, however, is how much Kael’s best observations prefigured the best anti-idiotarian tone and views of the blogosphere. Even more to the point were her ironic commentaries on the patronising way European intellectuals criticized America from the standpoint of the pseudo Kultur Volk. For instance, she was devastating when writing about Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point, a film, according to her, through which someone who knew close to nothing about the USA tried arrogantly to show the Americans what their country is all about. She also identified the same kind of dismissive arrogance among the intellectuals who went from Europe to the USA as refugees before and during the war. These people also shared with the Old World’s intelligentsia a supreme disdain for American mass culture.
Maybe it is none of my business, being neither a blogger nor an American (well, not a North American anyway), but the blogosphere could well, one year after her death, honour and pay hommage to someone who spent her life exposing the European anti-Americanism for what it is and fighting for the best in the modern and democratic mass culture and society. I personally would very much have liked to know what would have been her thoughts about all that happened during this last year.
Interesting points all. (And why aren’t you a blogger, Nelson? Brazil’s the second-bloggingest country in the world, after the United States, according to Pyra.) Yes, if there’s a single lodestar to the Left it’s that if most Americans favor something — even if it’s something the Left formerly favored — then it’s time to take a new position. This is, of course, the formula for a minority party that feels isolated within its own country, and that is incapable of enjoying even its victories. Which sounds about right.
UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh offers his diagnosis.
SINCE PEOPLE SEEM TO LIKE LAW REVIEW ARTICLES, and articles about guns, and especially law review articles about guns, here’s one by Dave Kopel on what state constitutions can teach us about the Second Amendment, and one by Eugene Volokh that also looks at state right-to-arms provisions (and other state constitutional provisions) as a means of understanding the Second Amendment. Finally, here’s one by me on the Tennessee Constitution’s right-to-arms provision, which turns out to be important because the Supreme Court in United States v. Miller (more about that case here) cited an important Tennessee case on the kinds of weapons protected by the right.
Maybe this post will even help answer Aimee’s question.
THE INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS, which claims over 156 million members, is protesting Sharia law in Nigeria. Excerpt:
In an address this week at the University of Bayero in Kano, Adams Oshiomhole, the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, firmly denounced the application of the Sharia (religious law) in certain northern states. He argued that its victims, who were almost always women and mostly poor, were increasingly being discriminated against. His statement specifically refers to the ruling of 8 August by the Islamic Court of Appeal at Funtua, in the State of Katsina, which sentenced Amina Lawal Kurami to death by stoning for bearing her third child after a divorce.
In a letter to the Nigerian ambassador in Brussels, the ICFTU also stressed its indignation and deep concern at the fate reserved for Amina Lawal Kurami by the Nigerian justice system. . . .
Moreover, the international trade union movement is deeply concerned at the growing number of countries introducing and applying the principles of the Sharia in not just civil, but also criminal proceedings.
This could lead to some interesting alliances.
JACK SHAFER WONDERS WHAT’S HAPPENED TO THE LEFT? I think he’s right about this, and he does a good job of capturing why I no longer consider myself a leftist, even though not many of my actual positions have changed:
While the right seeks converts, trying both to persuade and entertain, the left spends its journalistic energy policing the movement.
And here’s a quote from the John Powers article that Shafer’s writing about:
Back in the ’60s, the left was the home of humor, iconoclasm, pleasure. But over the last two decades, the joy has gone out of the left — it now feels hedged in by shibboleths and defeatism — while the right has been having a gas. . . .
And so, rather than rethink the possibilities of a “progressive left” (to use one of its prize terms), the editors [of The Nation] have remained content to belabor what its readers already know (e.g., Bush is a bum) while avoiding tough-minded journalistic coverage of the left. It settles for easy analysis, like suggesting that Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney lost her renomination bid simply because of the Jewish money sent to defeat her. Is this really true? The left would be better served if the magazine investigated such claims rather than merely assuming their truth, although this would involve actually going to Georgia.
Powers is ostensibly writing about the difference between the Weekly Standard and The Nation, but it’s really the whole Left that went wrong, shifting its focus from Abbie Hoffman’s pranks to Andrea Dworkin’s prudery over the course of a decade — a decade in which, surprise, the Left lost its popular support.
DON’T DIANA-FY 9/11, writes Mark Steyn. Boy, is he on-target with this one. I was watching Diana-schmaltz coverage on morning TV today, and, well, boy is he on-target with this one. I don’t want it to be an occasion for “healing,” or “coping” or getting in touch with feelings — I want it to be an occasion for sentiments not generally associated with Connie Chung and Barbara Walters.
HESIOD THEOGENY says the war in Iraq has already started. He’s right, of course.
IT’S 1990 ALL OVER AGAIN, writes James Robbins.
LESSONS FROM CYNTHIA MCKINNEY’S DEFEAT: Michael Barone is on target, as usual.
UPDATE: This piece by Earl Ofari Hutchinson in The Black World Today sounds a similar theme:
Majette did not beat McKinney by a razor thin margin. She trounced her. Blacks make up nearly half of the voters in her district. If McKinney had captured the solid black vote that her supporters claimed she would get, it would have pushed her over the top, or at the very least, made the election much closer than it was.
McKinney’s bombast on the Middle-East, her assault on Bush’s war on terrorism, and grandstand offer to take Saudi money was yet another troubling sign of the penchant of many black elected officials to grab at showy, chic issues to get attention rather than presenting, quiet, and thoughtful solutions to the problems of poverty, failing public schools, crime, gang and drug violence, and the near pandemic of HIV/AIDS that has taken a massive toll on middle-class and poor blacks. . . .
The political disconnect of black politicians such as McKinney from black voters has caused their free fall from important state and national offices. In the past two years they have lost mayoral races to whites in the majority or near majority black cities of Baltimore and Oakland. The number of black state legislators has plummeted in the California legislature in the past decade. They have lost dozens of local and municipal offices nationwide. But they haven’t learned very much from their slide.
Yes. Reading some of the coverage, you’d almost forget that Cynthia McKinney was beaten by another black woman.
NICK SCHULZ REPORTS ON THE PRO-GLOBALIZATION MARCHES IN JOHANNESBURG. It sounds like this conference is disappointing its organizers. It might actually lead to something useful:
“We want the freedom to grow what we want, when we want, with what technology we want, and without trade-distorting subsidies or tariffs,” said Barun Mitra, a farm activist from New Delhi who brought two-dozen farmers from India.
The WSSD has for several days been abuzz with talk of possible trade agreements among participating nations. To that end, these farmers were hoping to let Europe and the rest of the developed world know that biotech crops are not to be feared, but instead will “help them do more with less,” said Mitra. The European Union currently props up its farmers with billions in agricultural subsidies and, more perniciously, keeps out foreign goods with restrictions on genetically modified foods — all to the detriment of Africans and others in developing countries.
But the United States is currently leading a charge here in Johannesburg to phase out all agricultural supports over five years. Meanwhile, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick is entering a complaint to the World Trade Organization against the European Union. Zoellick says the EU’s moratorium on genetically modified imports is a restraint to trade and a violation of WTO agreements, a position supported by the farmers who marched on Wednesday.
Personally, I credit James Lileks, though I suppose it’s barely possible that I’m overstating his role.
AIMEE DEEP is endorsing an electronic right to bear arms. In fact, she’s working to make it a reality.
GMA IS RUNNING A RETROSPECTIVE on the Munich Olympic massacre. It’s obvious now that in 1972 the Palestinian “liberation” movement was already all about murder rather than liberation. It was obvious then, too, to anyone who paid attention. And now Peter Jennings — who either hasn’t figured that out, or just doesn’t care — is on the screen talking how smart he was at the time about the ineptitude of the German police.
If Charlie Gibson had any balls, which he doesn’t, he’d ask Jennings how he can sympathize with terrorists, having seen their work up close.
EVERYBODY IS GLOATING about Donahue’s lousy ratings, though this story from the Washington Times suggests that he’s not doing quite as badly as people say.
I caught a few minutes of his show in rerun this morning (it’ll appear as a bump in his ratings) and it wasn’t so bad. He was interviewing an airline security specialist who was explaining that the inconvenience and stupidity of airline security were causing business travellers to stay home. No points for originality there, but you can’t argue with the choice of topic.
WEST NILE VIRUS is the Richard Reid of plagues, says Jim Henley.
LOOKS LIKE THE ADMINISTRATION’S DIPLOMATIC STRATEGY is bearing fruit.
The new center-right French government has decided to stop criticizing American war planning against Saddam Hussein and instead maximize its leverage with the United States by stressing areas of agreement, according to senior French officials.
Under the previous center-left government, French-American relations were often poisonous, characterized by repeated spats over issues ranging from perceived American unilateralism to policy in the Middle East. . . .
The move may also help protect France’s national interests in Iraq, including its oil trade, should the United States wage war and win, the officials said.
This sounds as if we’ve convinced them that we’re going to do it, and they’re convinced that we’ll win, and relatively quickly.
GEITNER SIMMONS replies to Akhil and Vik Amar.
UPDATE: Rand Simberg says the Brothers Amar are in serious error:
There are two constitutional fallacies here. The first is that a state is just a “mini-me” of the federal government. It is not.
It doesn’t strike coins. It doesn’t raise armies. It doesn’t declare and wage war. If it does any of these things, it is put down, brutally, as we saw a hundred forty years ago. To compare the election of a governor to that of a president is to betray a fundamental ignorance of the nature of the federal system.
Ouch. Simberg also proposes the following SAT-style analogy question: “The Federal government is to a state as a state is to a…?”
LATEST FROM NIELSEN: Donahue’s viewer loves the show.
THE HORSE’S MOUTH: Porphyrogenitus points out that the Guardian called the case for going after Saddam “unanswerable.” Back in November.
THE POWER OF THE BLOGOSPHERE: Some of Howard Berman’s (D-Disney) constituents discover just how much clout a blog confers.
NOT INSTAPUNDIT. IsraPundit. With advice for Palestinian journalists.
HENRY HANKS RESPONDS TO TAPPED’S RESPONSE to yours truly regarding Coulter and Bellesiles.
I’m just happy to see The American Prospect join the ranks of those who believe Bellesiles’ Arming America is fatally flawed.
JOHANNESBURG UPDATE: Greenpeace has won an award, but I don’t think they’ll be parading it back home:
Johannesburg – African and Asian farmers, and hawkers from across South Africa handed over a “Bullshit Trophy” (yes, that is the trophy’s real name) to Greenpeace, the Third World Network and BioWatch for their contribution to the “preservation of poverty” in developing countries.
The trophy comprises of a piece of wood on which two heaps of dried cow-dung – “unfortunately not elephant dung” – are mounted.
Barun Mitra of the Sustainable Development Network (SDN), a coalition of non-governmental organisations which believes, among other things, that sustainable development is attainable only through free trade, officiated at the symbolic handing-over in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
Mitra denounced the three NGOs as parasites which “prey on the blood of the poor” and did not help to improve agricultural productivity in the Third World.
“They are not interested in famine or poverty. This lot is concerned only about their own interests.
“They sit here at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in their rich man’s hotels and romanticise everything,” he said.
Bet this doesn’t get a lot of Big Media attention. But Kenya’s James Shikwati has noticed.
THE PROGRESSIVE has laid out its case against war in Iraq.
I’m not very persuaded by the invocation of Christian “just war” doctrine. That’s because (1) I don’t agree that an invasion would violate it; and (2) I don’t believe foreign (or domestic) policy should be driven by religious dogma. And I don’t really think The Progressive does either, most of the time.
UPDATE: Zach Barbera responds at length.
THE U.S. DELEGATION IS TAKING THE OFFENSIVE in Johannesburg:
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) – The United States launched a diplomatic counterattack at the world summit Thursday, declaring itself to be the world’s leader in sustainable development and challenging the need for timetables to tackle poverty and environmental damage.
In a forceful – nearly angry – presentation, a dozen Bush administration officials laid out a series of partnerships with industry and foundations in what they described as a “new approach” to address some of the world’s most pressing problems: energy, clean water, sanitation, hunger, among others.
Prediction: no approach that doesn’t produce a lot of jobs for internationalista bureaucrats and NGO-crats will get good reviews.
WINDS OF CHANGE IS FINISHING UP ITS WEEKLONG SERIES of firsthand reports on the Sudan. Follow the links and read the whole thing; it’s very interesting.
MICHAEL RUBIN SAYS PUNDITS ARE overestimating Iraqi military power, just as they did in Gulf War I. Reader Tim Callahan adds:
I predict a ground war of less than 72 hours, with massive desertions, less than 1,000 Iraqi civilian casualties and less than 100 American military ones. This will have to be preceded by an air campaign of 15-30 days. The number of civilian deaths caused in that is the wild card — expect howls of outrage from the usual suspects quoting “official” Iraqi gov’t figures multiplied by a factor of 5. On the other hand, an effective air campaign might cause such massive desertions or even a coup that would obviate the need for any ground action.
Of course, I’m nobody, but if you look at Gulf War I and compare both militaries then and now, it’s hard to argue otherwise. My only worry is that the US won’t have the will to implement a Marshall Plan-like restructuring of the country. As far as I see it, *that’s* where the debate should be right now.
Yes, and that last item is what the Saudis, and the other Arab despots, fear most.
UPDATE: Here’s an interesting piece from the Asia Times on U.S. military operations in and around Iraq.
THE INDEPUNDIT ISN’T IMPRESSED with reports of Saudi plans for a PR offensive. He has some constructive suggestions for the Saudis as to how they might make a better impression. Excerpt:
8. Allow American citizens being held against their will by their Saudi relatives to return to the United States.
9. Stop oppressing your people. Beating women in public for allowing a lock of hair to slip from their veils does nothing for your image in the international community. Neither does forcing little girls to die in a burning school because they aren’t properly dressed to venture onto a public street.
Good advice, but unlikely to be heeded.
PATRICK RUFFINI IS SURVEYING THE BLOGOSPHERE on attitudes about war with Iraq.
WHAT’S SCARIER? That Marc Weisblott has a new blog? Or his email that it was “inspired by Jim Treacher?” Brrrr.
MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE LOS ANGELES SCHOOLS SODA-BAN GETS A SPANKING:
I can’t believe that the local media thinks this is big news, but they don’t think incompetent teachers, grossly low reading scores, a state crackdown on home-schooling parents, political indoctrination in public schools, and teachers unions illegally using union dues for political purposes are not news stories. No, wait a minute. I do believe it.
So do I.
CORPORATE GREED VERSUS PRIVACY: Here’s more on Democratic Rep. Howard Berman’s ($191,891 from Big Entertainment) plan to open your home to Hollywood Hackers. And read this piece by Katherine Mangu-Ward on the subject, too.
Where are famous protectors of the little guy on this issue? You know, like Hillary Clinton ($603,845 from Big Entertainment), or Ted Kennedy ($239,000 from Big Entertainment), or Chuck Schumer ($450,185 from Big Entertainment).
If the Democrats keep this up, you know, people will start thinking they’re just tools of Big Business or something. . . .
AUSTIN BAY WRITES that Iraq is no Vietnam, and that fears of an urban-warfare quagmire are overstated:
The Iraqi Army of 2002, including the Republican Guard and special units, is deployed not to defend Iraq but to oppress it. Yes, that means it is deployed to defend Saddam’s ruling cohort. Still, loyalty from even elite units is bought with better bread and Mercedes-Benzes. When someone else — like Washington — offers steaks and Porsches, as well as a chance to remain alive, who’s true to the Butcher of Baghdad? Recall Iraqi troops’ surrender to French photographers in Desert Storm.
Saddam’s regime is brittle. The apt analogy is Nicolae Ceausescu’s vile Romanian dictatorship, a multitiered police state akin to Saddam’s. In late 1989, with the political context of the Cold War suddenly shifting, Ceausescu’s own secret police quickly put him in a grave. U.S. strategy remains directed at provoking a Baghdad coup. Aggressive “war talk” and troop movements promote that optimal result.
A friend who is a bigshot at the Department of Transportation tells me that he thinks Norm Mineta is the fallguy in a conspiracy by the Bush Administration to make big government look bad — that the Administration’s agreement to federalize air security last fall was basically a rope-a-dope strategy. That’s a theory that I’ve propounded here before, mostly in jest, but he seemed to be serious. Go figure.
It would certainly explain a lot.
UPDATE: Reader John Tuttle has some other candidates for “conspiracy programs” to make big government look bad:
The Farm Bill
Campaign Finance Reform
The Steel Tariffs
FBI Dir Mueller
Hey, come to think of it. . . .
UNIVERSAL RECORDS LIABLE FOR SEX ATTACKS? Well. . . . Read the item and make up your own mind concerning what’s just.
JOHN HAWKINS HAS AN INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL PIPES ON HIS SITE. Who says bloggers can’t do “real” journalism? Excerpt:
The key thing to understand about US/Saudi relations at this point is that it’s a very private affair. The American electorate, think tanks, Congress, lobbyists, and others have had no say over it. It’s been a very cliquish affair for decades now. The change in the last year has been the opening of the relationship. The President has invited the Saudi ambassador to visit him at his Crawford Ranch as a way of saying, “we’re sticking with you.” It’s a clear response to the vehement anti-Saudi feeling. . . . Saudi Arabia is our rival, not an enemy, not a friend, a rival.
There’s much more, including a statement that the Oslo Accords set back prospects for peace by decades, and a discussion of the likely fallout from deposing Saddam Hussein.
JAMES LILEKS HAS UNEARTHED A HUGE SCANDAL at NPR’s Car Talk. Did I say huge? I meant HUUUGE! It’s like finding out that Martha Stewart serves her guests Hot Pockets.
“GAY MEDIA DOMINANCE” CLAIMS BILL O’REILLY! Well, that’s what some people are saying, anyway. That this is what they are saying proves that gays are doing pretty well in the PR battles.
HOMELAND SECURITY: Van Harp, who’s in charge of the FBI’s anthrax investigation, was recommended for discipline for misconduct relating to the Ruby Ridge incident:
The department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, in a confidential report, concluded in 1999 that Harp “committed misconduct” by helping make an incomplete report that protected “some subjects of the investigation,” according to Saturday’s Washington Post.
In January 2001, an assistant attorney general overruled an Office of Professional Responsibility recommendation that Harp – by then the agent in charge of the Cleveland office – be censured or suspended. His clean record intact, Harp in July 2001 was transferred to Washington, where as the agent in charge of the Washington field office he is overseeing the FBI’s anthrax investigation.
Yeah, this boosts my confidence. Kinda the way this does.
UPDATE: This looks pretty lame, too.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Hesiod Theogeny emails:
Given all the revelations about how the FBI royally screwed up prior to 9/11, including its ignoring of Congressional and Justice Department mandates to
upgrade its computer systems, I think it’s time to create an “indict Louis Freeh” bumper sticker campaign.
Or, at the very least, it’s time to drag his pathetic carcass in front of a Congressional investigating committee for a high-profile barbecue.
How this guy gets away with so little criticism is beyond me.
Well, he may not have been good at his job, but he was very good at the politics of his job.
THIS 9/11 DOCUMENTARY ON DVD won’t be released for two more weeks, but it’s already number 22 on Amazon. And read the reviews.
People want the unvarnished truth, not a soft-focus version. I wonder if the networks’ anniversary coverage will reflect this.
MATT WELCH ASKS YOU TO HELP victims of the Czech floods. He has a link.
THE SEGWAY MUST BE HORRIBLY DANGEROUS! How do we know? Because there are no data on accidents!
Horace Hinshaw, spokesman for the Postal Service in San Francisco, said there have been no problems with the Segways being tested in the city. The only reported accident nationally appears to have been in Atlanta — where an employee of one of the several agencies there that use the scooters fell off.
That didn’t stop the San Francisco protesters from carrying signs saying: “Stop the Segway slaughter,” and “Segway: Zero Emissions, Senior Killer.” . . .
The group’s executive director, Bob Livingston, tried to get on the machine and ended up plowing into furniture. Price said the board voted unanimously to oppose any and all use of the scooter where the elderly might encounter one.
“It really did scare a lot of our people,” Price said. “If that machine comes down the sidewalk behind you, you never know what it’s going to do. It could be disastrous.”
This just defies parody.
BLOGGING CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE TARA SUE GRUBB is now collecting donations via PayPal. Give early and often.
WHO IS TAPPED KIDDING? It thinks that Ann Coulter’s publisher should make major changes because of errors that bloggers have found in her book.
But last I heard, Knopf was still defending Michael Bellesiles’ utterly discredited book Arming America. The errors people are pointing out in Coulter’s book are chickenfeed compared to the pattern of ineptitude and/or fraud identified in Bellesiles’ book. Yet neither Knopf nor major book review publications like the New York Times Book Review and the New York Review of Books have acknowledged that their reviews of Bellesiles’ book giving the erroneous impression that it is a useful scholarly work that can be trusted are — to put it mildly — wrong, wrong, wrong.
Am I suggesting there’s a double standard, when a “pop” book comes in for more general criticism than an allegedly scholarly book — and that it’s no coincidence that the criticized book is right-wing while the allegedly scholarly book is PC? Yes, I am. Thanks for asking.
TUNEAGE: I’ve been meaning to pick up Apollo 440′s Electro Glide in Blue for quite a while, and I finally did today. So far, it rocks.
ENVIRONMENTALISTS AGAINST CLEAN POWER: Here’s a story to add to the Johannesburg coverage. There’s just no satisfying some people.
UPDATE: Of course, maybe there’s a reason for the strangely amnesiac quality of a lot of reporting on these issues. . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Wow, here’s more Green kvetching:
The newest manifestation of Nimby, or not in my backyard, requires a different acronym: not in my viewshed. Wind-farm opponents contend that, like a watershed, a viewshed, or public view, is the common property of those who share it, and must not be degraded unilaterally by any one property owner.
So when wind power is held out as an environmentally friendly alternative to, say, nuclear power, just remember that people will bitch about it, too, if it should ever happen to actually materialize.
And all those solar collectors? Ugly. Must be banned.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Tony Hooker says that he’s got the explanation.
SKIRMISHES AND BORDER INCURSIONS between Chad and the Central African Republic. Two places that have enough problems already.
UPDATE: A reader asks:
So where’s the outrage over the unilateralist action and failure to build a
coalition and make the case to the international community, eh?
THE NEW CALIFORNIA STATE QUARTER is out. The L.A. Examiner has the scoop.
Given the availability of cheap digital cameras and the nature of the airport screening system, we’ll probably be seeing a lot of pictures like this. Watch for the TSA to forbid such picture-taking on “security” grounds. That would be job security grounds, I believe.
LINDA SEEBACH WRITES that a lot of people are suddenly embracing academic freedom who never bothered to do so when it was conservative views under attack. I agree with her position: “Well, the more recruits for liberty the better, no matter how late they decide to join the party.” But read the whole column to see just how late.
JEFF COOPER discusses what happens when you mention your weblog in a wired classroom. Pretty amusing.
At UT we have what is allegedly the world’s largest wireless network, covering the whole campus and some nearby non-campus areas. (It’s probably going to be extended to the Convention Center area, too.) The bandwidth consumption is huge and getting steadily huger. I’m sure it’s all course-related, though.
AIMEE DEEP IS CONTEMPLATING LAW SCHOOL, because of the stellar example of Sarah Deutsch of Verizon, who spoke out against the DMCA, Rep. Berman’s Hollywood Home Hacking Bill, and other Big Media legal initiatives.
PERSONALLY, I THINK THIS GUY has a good chance of being elected.
RICHARD POSNER REVIEWS Alan Dershowitz’s new book on terrorism in The New Republic. Although Posner is appropriately critical of Dershowitz’s general tendency toward showboating (the opening paragraph is delightful on this subject), he’s surprisingly positive of the book, concluding:
Dershowitz’s book will anger unreconstructed civil libertarians, the government-phobes on the extreme right, and Arafat’s European apologists. That is a considerable merit; but more important is that he has shown that international terrorism does not present an insoluble contradiction between the Constitution and American security.
I agree that there’s no “insoluble contradiction” there and I think it’s unfortunate that both advocates of law enforcement power and civil libertarians often act as if there is an inevitable tradeoff between freedom and security. But many things that enhance security (like killing Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, or in any other country where they may be found) pose no risk to freedom. And many things that intrude on freedom (like airport tweezer-confiscation policies) do nothing to enhance security. We forget this at our peril.
STILL MORE ON SUSTAINABILITY: My TechCentralStation column for this week says that Johannesburg is a test for the environmental movement: will it surrender to Luddism and redistributionist blather, or actually propose things that will make things better?
UPDATE: Oops. Looks like they’re failing already.
SUSTAINABILITY UPDATE: James Lileks has a Screed responding to the latest wealth-is-bad blather from George Monbiot. It’s too good to excerpt, but here’s Lileks’ response to Monbiot’s claim that the world’s poor are happier than rich Westerners:
Is it just me, or does this smack of the old Happy-Darky myth they used to peddle in the South? Look at them down there stampin’ their feet in the mud as they dance – why, they’re happier than most of the belles you see at a cotillion.
Read the whole thing. Some enterprising free-marketeer in Johannesburg ought to print it out, copy it, and leave copies on the room-service trays of the press.
Personally, I don’t know anyone — and I mean anyone — as fiercely determined to become rich as the Nigerians in my extended family. That’s because they understand what it means not to be rich in a way that overpaid Western hand-wringers never will.
Oh, okay, one more excerpt — but you still have to read the whole thing, or you’ll hate yourself later:
The percentage of Mr. Monbiot’s salary that he spends on Thai restaurants, and the percentage that he sends to Thailand, is not disclosed.
There’s a lot of that going around this week.
MICKEY KAUS FACT-CHECKS PAUL KRUGMAN, and picks up the ball on the RNC-fraud story initially reported by N.Z. Bear.
ARE HUMANS A PLAGUE ON THE EARTH? John Gray says yes. (Not the Mars and Venus John Gray, but the increasingly-oxymoronic Professor of European Thought John Gray). Helene Guldberg says that John Gray is an idiot.