September 22, 2002
MARK HARDEN DISCOVERS another fiendish plan by the slippery Bush administration to thwart the anti-war movement: a short, successful war that leaves no time for protests to build momentum. They’ll stop at nothing, those guys.
MARK HARDEN DISCOVERS another fiendish plan by the slippery Bush administration to thwart the anti-war movement: a short, successful war that leaves no time for protests to build momentum. They’ll stop at nothing, those guys.
EUGENE VOLOKH TAKES ON an egregious example of post-9/11 discrimination against non-citizens:
“All persons,” the Nebraska Constitution says, “have certain inherent and inalienable rights,” including “the right to keep and bear arms for security or defense of self, family, home, and others, and for lawful common defense, hunting, recreational use, and all other lawful purposes.” Voters enacted this right to bear arms in 1988 and made clear that the right “shall not be denied or infringed by the state or any subdivision thereof.”
And yet the City Council is now considering re-enacting its law banning anyone who is “not a citizen of the United States” from owning a handgun. Law-abiding Omaha residents – adults who have shown no sign of posing a danger to others – would thus be denied their clearly established constitutional right.
What justification can there be for this? After all, non-citizens are surely included in “all persons.” And surely law-abiding non-citizens need to defend themselves, their families and their homes just as much as you and I do. Denying non-citizens this right because a few non-citizens may abuse it is wrong – just as wrong as denying citizens the right to bear arms because a few citizens abuse it. . . .
Since Sept. 11, we’ve heard many complaints about supposed oppression of immigrants; and many of these have proved unfounded. For instance, of course the government may lock up non-citizens who have overstayed their visas – that’s just enforcing the law.
But this city ordinance really is oppression: The government would deny to law-abiding non-citizens a clearly defined constitutional right.
Where’s the ACLU on this one?
MATT WELCH RESPONDS to claims that America is facing a tide of anti-intellectualism. Excerpt:
But I suspect that, to the contrary, Noam Chomsky’s never had a wider audience. It’s just that many of his new readers don’t agree with him, and aren’t shy about saying so, despite his “five decades” of comment compared to their five months. I would go as far as suggesting that what we are witnessing is a further democratization of political/intellectual debate, rather than some kind of grunting Cossack putsch.
Indeed. But I think that that may be what’s really bothering some people.
SAMIZDATA has a firsthand report from the “Countryside March” in London.
AMERICA’S “UNILATERAL ACTION” IN AFGHANISTAN, explained.
BILL HERBERT looks into plans for violence at next week’s protests in Washington. I don’t think these guys have figured out yet that their moment has passed.
JOSHUA TREVINO is reporting on his experience taking the Foreign Service Exam. He’s going to report on all stages of the process, which should provide some interesting insight.
ROBERT PRATHER doesn’t think much of Terry Jones.
ALEX BEAM NOTWITHSTANDING, rumor has it that the Boston Globe is interested in weblogs and is planning a weblog-related initiative for its Boston.com site. I hope it’s true.
UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis emails with this link, which leads to more info. Cool.
DALE AMON REPORTS that Bob Forward has died. I don’t have anything to say that Dale hasn’t already said better. Bummer.
RON WYDEN talks about his new nanotechnology-research bill.
THEY CHECK IN, BUT THEY DON’T CHECK OUT: Jim Bennett says the European Union is turning into a roach motel. I think that these new efforts to strengthen the EU are comparable to Cuba’s recent “communism forever” vote — evidence of fraying and insecurity, rather than of permanence.
DON’T MISS TODAY’S PUNDITWATCH. Mark Shields isn’t getting much respect.
MICKEY KAUS HAS MORE on the welfare / terrorism connection. I think he’s onto something here.
INTERESTING PIECE on South Dakota’s proposed jury nullification amendment in The New York Times.
HESIOD THEOGENY is admirably forthright about his views on the war — and I actually share his fears about the dangers of empire, as I’ve mentioned here from time to time. I wish that, say, Tom Daschle would be as straightforward as Hesiod.
Unless, of course, Hesiod really is Tom Daschle, blogging so as to get things off his chest that he doesn’t feel he can say in public. With these pseudonymous bloggers, you never know. . . .
Seriously, though, it’s a good post. And I think a lot of so-called warbloggers share his concerns. You don’t go to war because it’s inherently desirable. You go to war because you see no other reasonable alternatives. Reasonable people can agree on exactly when that becomes the case. I wish that it weren’t the case now, though I think it is. If something could magically sweep away our problems without a war, I’d be very happy. I don’t think it’s going to happen though.
UPDATE: Justin Katz thinks I’m being too generous to Hesiod. So do a lot of people who have emailed me.
Well, I think the Bush-bashing is pretty over-the-top (FDR was rather disingenuous about leading us into war, too, but that’s considered sign of his craftiness in looking after the national interest, not of moral turpitude). But Hesiod was, I think, honest about his motivations and clear about his positions, and made clear that his reluctance to invade Iraq was based on affection for America and American principles, not on hostility thereto. That puts him head and shoulders above most of the anti-war critics. And most of the anti-war Democrats in Congress.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Boy, they’re slamming me in the comments over at Bill Quick’s page. That’s okay, guys — I can take it!
BRITAIN’S PRO-FOX-HUNTING MARCH drew over 400,000 people according to this AP report:
LONDON (AP) – To the blare of hunting horns and the shriek of whistles, about 400,000 people marched through the streets of London on Sunday to support fox hunting and the rural way of life.
The march, billed as Britain’s largest civil protest in 150 years, drew farmers, gamekeepers, and hunting enthusiasts with a clear message for Prime Minister Tony Blair.
“Blair, ban hunting and we will boot you out,” read placards held by tweed-clad demonstrators as they marched 20 abreast through the streets, bringing much of the city to a standstill.
“We are here to show Mr. Blair that we won’t go away, we won’t be quiet. He is talking about changing our way of life and that’s just not on,” said John Gammell, a gamekeeper from Yorkshire, northern England.
It must be highly embarrassing to the anti-war crowd that they can’t put any significant number in the streets to protest action against Iraq, while pro-fox-hunters can get nearly half a million. To be fair, I think this goes beyond just fox-hunting, and constitutes a response to a lot of so-called “Transnational Progressive” ideology, though I suppose the antiwar folks won’t take much comfort from that. Expect to hear more about this from the folks at Samizdata, though at the moment they appear to be marching, not blogging. Or more likely, knowing them, they’re recovering from their exertions at a pub.
UPDATE: Hmm. The lesson appears to be spreading:
Witnesses say a Jordanian woman ripped off her enveloping black cloak and veil — to reveal a traditional long dress that was nearly as enveloping — and punched and kicked into submission three young men who had been verbally harassing her.
The official Petra News Agency reported Sunday that shopkeepers and passers-by believe the unidentified woman must have had martial arts training. In Friday’s incident on the main street in Zarqa 13 miles north Amman, the three men were too shocked to react at first and ended up knocked to the ground, screaming in pain. They then scrambled up and fled.
The crowd cheered. What’s interesting is that this story was originally reported by the official news agency, suggesting that someone in Jordan wants word of it to get out. And why might that be? Hmm.
WELL, I’M BACK. I don’t know how much blogging will get done today, but I’ll try to post a few items anyway. I can report that Virginia Postrel is much better looking in person than she is in the picture on her website. And Richard Epstein is thick-skinned even for a law professor, as he sat for two days listening to people discuss his book, usually — these were academics, after all — critically, and he stayed calm and cheerful the whole time.
My flights were smooth and on-time, and airport security wasn’t noticeably stupid, though I did notice that the first guy in line for boarding always seems to get a “random” search, something that I’ve noticed on previous trips and gotten numerous emails about, so that it may actually be a valid generalization.
BRAD WARDELL ARGUES that as the stakes go up, media bias is getting stronger.
VEGARD VALBERG has some thoughts on how the war might go. He wonders if America has the proper attitude for empire.
MASSACHUSSETTS LIBERTARIAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR CARLA HOWELL was invited to participate in a debate with the Democratic and Republican candidates. Now, Samizdata reports, the “media consortium” sponsoring the debate is talking about withdrawing the invitation.
That doesn’t seem fair. Howell’s initiative to end the Massachussetts income tax, a reader emails, is now polling around 40%. (That seems plausible, as the last time I heard about it I think the figure was 37%). Think that could be making people nervous?
AND RIGHTLY SO: Ann Salisbury emails this story:
Three Bay Area universities are being monitored for anti-Israel sentiment by a group in Philadelphia that launched a Web site this week.
The site, Campus Watch, plans to keep tabs on campus reaction to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict throughout the United States but has singled out 14 universities for particular scrutiny — including UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University and Stanford University.
It is part of a backlash against perceived anti-Semitism on university campuses that gained strength this week when Harvard University President Lawrence Summers denounced as anti-Semitic a campaign that calls on schools to divest from Israel. The campaign started at UC Berkeley before taking root at campuses around the country.
“It’s important people know what’s going on in the Bay Area, especially at the University of California at Berkeley,” said Chris Silver, who co-chairs the student-sponsored Israel Action Committee at UC Berkeley. “There’s a lot of anti-Semitism that goes on here separate from the massive amount of anti-Israel sentiment that can be found in every department and in every classroom.”
Pro-Palestinian activists say that it’s unfair to call opposition to Israel anti-Semitic, but as Meryl Yourish noted, an awful lot of what’s going on can’t be called anything but anti-Jewish, entirely independent of the Israel issue.
UPDATE: Justin Katz has blogged some comments on Larry Summers’ speech. And here’s a link to the speech itself. Harvard is lucky to have Larry Summers as its President at this important moment in its history. He may yet save its soul from the corrosive forces of hatred and irrationalism, despite the best efforts of some of its students and faculty.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias thinks my praise of Larry Summers is unfair to Harvard, which just goes to show that you can’t even say nice things about people without provoking complaint. Meanwhile Boston blogger Jay Fitzgerald says Summers was right to criticize the divestment crowd, “Here’s hoping his courage proves inspiring to all the other academic wimps out there who aren’t standing up to the campus clowns. All the comparisons of Israel/Bush to the Nazis and Hitler are sickening. The divestment crowd is up to its neck in this type of talk.” Fitzgerald’s permalinks aren’t working (suprise; it’s a blogspot site) but he also has quite a few responses to Summers’ critics. Just scroll on. Meanwhile Jacob T. Levy offers some sensible caution regarding Campus Watch.
STEVEN CHAPMAN has some worthwhile historical observations on how Palestinians became “refugees.” I’ve seen this before, but it gets less attention than it ought to.
EUROPEANS BACK ATTACKS ON IRAQ: Porphyrogenitus has a full report. There is one hitch, though.
“ALL PREPAREDNESS IS LOCAL:” Nice post on bioterror defense from Ross at The Bloviator. And scroll down for more on this subject.
Sigh. Just another of the many first-rate blogs out there that I don’t visit often enough. I try, God knows, but there are so many. I encourage readers to do more than just follow my links. There are a lot over there on the left, but if you go to the pages I link to you’ll find that those folks link to a lot of blogs that I don’t, and a lot of them are great. I’m going to try to update my blogroll sometime soon, but no matter how big I make it it’s not going to list all the blogs worth reading. There are just too many. This is a good thing, you understand, but . . . well, it’s a true embarrassment of riches.
HOW CAN GRAY DAVIS WIN when even Skippy the Bush Kangaroo is putting him down bigtime? Er, by running against Bill Simon, I guess, though the latest report may help to overcome even that huge advantage: California is no longer the “fifth biggest economy in the world,” having been overtaken by the ever-popular nation of France. Skippy isn’t pleased. He got so upset, I thought he might actually use a capital letter or something.
HAS SAN FRANCISCO BECOME America’s shrewish ex-wife? Joanne Jacobs has found someone who thinks so.
MORE EVIDENCE OF DROPPED BALLS at the FBI:
Two weeks before the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks, a desperate FBI agent begged his superiors to launch an aggressive hunt for one of the men who would participate in the suicide hijackings, warning that “someday someone will die” because his request was denied, according to testimony before a congressional panel yesterday.
The New York special agent, testifying behind a screen to protect his identity, choked back tears as he described how he asked his Washington superiors on Aug. 29, 2001, to allow his office to join the search for Khalid Almihdhar, who would later help commandeer the aircraft that slammed into the Pentagon.
But lawyers in the FBI’s National Security Law Unit refused. They said information obtained through intelligence channels — that Almihdhar was an al Qaeda associate who had recently reentered the United States — could not legally be used to launch a criminal investigation.
“Someday someone will die — and [legal] wall or not — the public will not understand why we were not more effective and throwing every resource we had at certain ‘problems,’ ” the agent responded in a blistering e-mail to headquarters. “Let’s hope the National Security Law Unit will stand behind their decisions then, especially since the biggest threat to us now, UBL [Osama bin Laden], is getting the most ‘protection.’ “. . .
On Sept. 11, after the World Trade Center was struck, the FBI agent and his colleagues received the passenger manifests from the four fatal flights. Yesterday he told the panel that he yelled angrily: “This is the same Almihdhar we’ve been talking about for three months!”
His supervisor, trying to reassure him and the others, answered back: “We did everything by the book.”
It’s time to fix these problems.
UPDATE: PowerLine says I’m wrong about this, and that the real story was bad laws, not FBI screwups. That, however, seems to be the Bureau’s spin, not the truth. At least, this Senate report says that the FBI misunderstood the applicable law:
In the Moussaoui case, the report found, F.B.I. counterterrorism specialists and the bureau’s lawyers were so ignorant of federal surveillance laws that they did not understand that they had ample evidence to press for a warrant to search the belongings of Mr. Moussaoui, a French national who was arrested weeks before the attacks after arousing the suspicion of instructors at a Minnesota flight school.
Instead, the report found, the F.B.I. supervisors and lawyers aggressively blocked the search warrant sought by desperate field agents in Minnesota who believed last August that they might have a terrorist on their hands who might use a commercial airplane as a weapon.
Of course, this could just be Congressional spin, but I doubt it.
PEOPLE IN NEED OF A CLUE: This bus driver felt threatened and responded, well, inappropriately:
A Prince George’s County school bus driver who “felt threatened” by a disabled mother and her 8-pound puppy left a busload of special-needs children at a police station twice last week while he sought a restraining order against the woman.
Bus driver Lawrence Ware complained that Linda Stiggers Yancy of Riverdale Park stepped onto the special-needs bus to inquire about an incident in which her 14-year-old son, Gregory, had been bullied by another student on the bus.
Mrs. Yancy, who has spinal problems and walks with the assistance of a cane, was holding her papillon puppy, Joey, in her arms.
The bus driver’s explanation: “I felt threatened.”
That has the ring of one of those P.C. excuses: “I felt uncomfortable,” or “I felt diminished and unappreciated,” etc., etc. It’s enough to make me wish for a return to an era when people were a bit less concerned with how they “felt.”
Or at least to an era when a man would have been embarrassed to say he felt threatened by a disabled woman with an eight-pound dog.
RAIDS ON AL QAEDA in Yemen seem to be underway.
I DON’T KNOW HOW I MISSED THIS: Hundreds Show Up for Anti-Hussein Rally:
DETROIT– About 500 Arab men marched around the McNamara Federal Building Wednesday to voice their anger at Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and to show their support for the United States.
The demonstrators, most of whom were of Iraqi descent, carried signs and banners denouncing Hussein, Local 4 reported. The marchers shouted “down, down Saddam,” and “Saddam is a fascist,” and made other derogatory remarks against the Iraqi leader.
Many in the group have family in Iraq and are calling for Hussein’s ouster, Local 4 reported. The demonstrators favored U.S. military action against Iraq to put an end to the current regime, according to the station.
One of the participants told Local 4 that he and other demonstrators were worried about Hussein using chemical weapons against the Iraqi people.
MATT WELCH says that Vaclav Havel is Tony Blair east:
with a sharper moral authority and a stronger taste for drink. Quietly, he has had more influence on American foreign policy this last decade than any politician between Bonn and Moscow.
Plus he’s just a cool guy. Heck, he knows Matt Welch (er, sorta-kinda, secondhand), and that’s enough to make you pretty damned cool. Oh, and scroll up on Welch’s page for some information about our rather heavy-handed role (along with the EU) in the Slovakian elections next door.
A KIND WORD FOR AIR SECURITY: The Knoxville security was polite, efficient, and reasonably quick — well, not really quick, but they’ve just switched over to being a TSA operation and they used me for training, which was fine as I got there early. (But Knoxville was always polite (it’s the South), efficient (they were retired cops), and quick.) My flights were on time, not too crowded, and smooth. So no complaints.
Since I do complain about air security from time to time, I thought it only fair to mention that experience. We’ll see how I do on the trip back.
HOW AL QAEDA IS LIKE THE KLAN: Interesting observation by James Durbin:
The Klan, primarily made up of poor whites, did not have the military power to do what it wanted, so it attempted through intimidation and terror to drive out what is saw as contaminants to their culture.
Can you think of another group of people that attempts to use terrorism to intimidate and drive out what they see as cultural contaminants?
They talk about the sexual depravity of their enemies. They point to God and claim this is their religious duty to destroy the enemy. They liken the enemy to monkeys and pigs. They claim to be protecting their women. They whip mobs into a frenzy with their rhetoric. They have wealthy leaders who recruit members from the poorest parts of society. They claim their enemies are subhuman, and have no compuction about killing them.
Can you think of a better comparison in history for Al Qaeda than the Ku Klux Klan?
UPDATE: This post by Damian Penny calls some of the parallel into question (the rich leaders / poor followers part). And it’s true that Al Qaeda seems to have recruited from the middle and upper classes.
Damian is also continuing his one-man war on Salon with this “fact-checking” of Joe Conason.
“YOU KNOW,” emails a reader, “when I get arrested and charged with joining an international terrorist conspiracy, that’s what I’m going to tell the judge:“
BUFFALO, Sept.19 — A lawyer for a Lackawanna man described his client today as a loyal American who went to Pakistan seeking religious training and through his own naiveté wound up spending a few weeks in an al Qaeda terror camp in Afghanistan.
I caught a couple of these lawyers on CNN in the airport earlier today, and I have to say they were mightily unconvincing. It sounded like a Saturday Night Live parody almost.
Could these guys be as innocent as they say? Sure. My reactions may be as much a reaction to their lawyers’ performance as to the evidence. But the story’s pretty implausible and, really, just how naive did you have to be, even before 9/11, to think that this was going to be just religious training? Implausibly naive, I think. And the rest of the story isn’t a lot better:
For instance, prosecutors noted that Mosed, who is nearly indigent, spent $89,000 at a Canadian casino. But Abdel Shafal, a cousin, said that a wide circle of family and friends in Lackawanna use the same cards so they can earn free meals and points at the casino.
Sorry — I’m just not buying this.
UPDATE: A couple of readers say the casino theory isn’t as dumb as I suggest. Here’s what one sent:
My only comment is that it is remotely possible that Mosed and his extended family did spend that much money in casinos if they were sharing the cards. I’m assuming that the cards in reference are the frequent user cards given out by various casinos. They work by issuing free meals or rooms for every x number of dollars spent at the casino. I have been on gambling trips with my friends where we used other peoples cards and the casino was not too picky about whose card was being used. After all the money is still being spent in that one casino. Also it is not clear to me how you launder money by spending it in a casino. Were they going to say that whatever money they had left over was winnings? Any large amounts won in a casino are usually recorded by the casino for tax puposes when playing the slots. Explaining that your money was won playing cards or Roulette doesn’t seem like a great way of laundering money since there is no false paper trail.
Neither casinos nor money-laundering are areas of special expertise (I don’t gamble; it’ just doesn’t seem like fun to me). But okay, if you say so. Another reader explains that immigrant communities often have a variety of non-standard financial transactions going on without any evildoing being involved. That I believe — and I wouldn’t think much of arresting someone just because of the casino thing. But when it’s the casino thing in combination with all these other things, well, at some point it just gets hard to believe.
But, as I say, they could be innocent. If they are, though (or from their perspective, even if they’re not), they need more convincing lawyers.
UPDATE: Stephen Green sets it to music.
THE “REPUBLICAN GUARD” may not be loyal, says this report. Interesting. Well, I wouldn’t be. . . .
THE YALE LAW JOURNAL (well, actually its Managing Editor) emailed to say that they’re going to start putting articles on the web because of the tremendous response to James Lindgren’s article on Michael Bellesiles’ Arming America. I think that’s great.
I’m sure that most law review articles won’t get nearly so much attention — Lindgren’s piece has been downloaded almost 91,000 times off this server, and I’m sure it’s gotten a lot of downloads elsewhere now that it’s up on several other sites. Lindgren had a timely and thorough analysis on a very controversial subject. But I do think that there’s a lot more interest by laypeople in legal scholarship generally than most of us in the academy realize. My review of Clay Conrad’s book on jury nullification, for example, has only been downloaded 3211 times. But that’s still about the same as the Yale Law Journal’s dead-tree circulation.
I hope that other schools and journals will follow Yale’s lead. Law Reviews are supposed to be, in part, a public service and the Web allows them to reach far more people than previously, and at very little cost.
BILL QUICK HAS SOME PUNGENT ADVICE for AIDS activists. Well, some of them, anyway.
I’M ENSCONCED IN A HOTEL ROOM which happily has highspeed internet access. (Of course, I’m thinking: “No wireless?”). Except I’m not actually “ensconced,” since I won’t be here all that much. Posting will be light for the next couple of days, but I won’t be entirely absent.
OKAY, I’M GOING TO BED. POSTING WILL RESUME WHENEVER I get the chance. In the meantime, read this suggestion for a statue commemorating the United Nations.
THIS PROBABLY ISN’T MY LAST POST, BUT IT MIGHT BE, depending on how much other work I get done tonight. I’m off to a conference tomorrow. I plan to log in remotely, but that’ll depend on, well, being able to.
“TUMBLING WOMAN,” SAYS C.D. HARRIS, is “pretty damned good art.”
SASHA CASTEL has a new URL and a new blog design. Drop by with a casserole or a pie to help her get settled in.
CHARLES MURTAUGH has some observations on contemporary philosophy.
I’VE USED ABOUT 60GB of bandwidth so far this month. That’s especially high since Stacy Tabb designed this page to be extra-lean that way. Good thing I’ve got an unlimited-bandwidth setup.
DAHLIA LITHWICK says that there has been free speech everywhere since 9/11 — except on campuses. This conclusion is great:
Free speech does not encompass the right to fire, suspend, or riot your way into a universe in which everyone agrees with your views, even if you have legitimate grievances. The courts are well aware of this, but it seems that universities, both here and in Canada, are not. On campus, you may “speak” freely—with fists, chairs, and broken glass—so long as you are a member of an aggrieved minority with delicate sensibilities and a narrative of oppression.
This leaves the state to take on a new role in protecting free speech. The state must be responsible for busting up the monopoly that has taken over the marketplace of ideas: a monopoly of suffering, political correctness, and sympathy without limits. In the firing cases, the state will be represented by the courts, which will reinstate faculty fired for no reason other than unpopular views. And in the campus protest cases, the state must acknowledge that people who use force to suppress the opinions of others are not performing some sacred protected speech act. They are committing assault, not merely on other humans and on the basic promise of free speech, but on democracy itself.
JEFF COOPER has a good post on judicial appointments, arguing that character and intellect are more important than ideology. I think he’s right.
I haven’t posted much on the confirmation battles because, well, I guess I’ve just given up on the process. About ten years ago I had a piece in the Southern California Law Review suggesting that the Senate put together a list of presumed-acceptable candidates from whom the President could select a nominee who would then go straight to the floor for a fast-track style up/down vote. I thought that this would give the “advice” part of “advice and consent” some content, and it would be self-policing, since if the Senate picked lousy nominees the President could still proceed in the traditional way, but with the credentials of the Senate’s list providing a standard for comparison. Meanwhile, if the President ignored the list for partisan purposes, the Senate would have a basis for calling his nominees bad.
I thought it was clever, and workable. And maybe it was, then. But now I think the process has become so political that no “structural reform” is likely to work. Even an approach like the one sketched above needs some goodwill to function, and I don’t think there’s any to be had. Yeah, that’s depressing, but that’s how I see it right now.
FRED PRUITT’S RANTBURG continues to serve up all sorts of news about the war that’s hard to find anywhere else. It should be a daily stop.
ALTERNATE HISTORY: The IndePundit looks at a past that might have been.
BRUCE HILL’S “WARNOW” is gone, but Silent Running has taken its place.
KATE MALCOLM AT KITCHEN CABINET has me confused. Perhaps that’s not too difficult, but her post starts out by saying that the treatment of Muslims after 9/11 reminds her of the Korematsu case, only to list examples of racist propaganda about Japanese-Americans (from such places as Time and Life) that have no parallel today. Reading her post should, in fact, serve as a valuable corrective to hysteria on the subject.
SHELF LIFE: I just went to the Yahoo! account that gets the reader-response mail from my FoxNews columns, and to my surprise there was a bunch of mail responding to this column on the dumb Biden/Hatch “RAVE Act” from back in July. In fact there was more mail on that one than on the column for today. It seems to be circulating on the dance/rave/techno mailing lists.
I hope people are writing their Senators, and not just me.
UPDATE: Reader Evan Benoit writes:
Saw your post about your column on the RAVE act getting a lot of mail. It’s probably because Buzz, Washington DC’s best rave night, was forced to close today. It was one of the best nights on the east coast, had been going on for years. Closed after a police/military investigation, etc.
Here’s the link to the press release, which he was kind enough to send.
LYNNE KIESLING has a long post on the just-released California blackout study. She’s rather critical.
STEPHEN GORDON writes that it’s time to start thinking about a successor organization to the UN, as he thinks the UN is going the way of the League of Nations.
PAUL WRIGHT ASKS what happens if the weapons inspectors, by some miracle, actually find something?
His rather chilling answer suggests that either (1) the powers-that-be have no real expectation that this will come to pass; or (2) they haven’t thought about this hard enough. I’m guessing it’s (1).
JOANNE JACOBS looks at what some people in the military think of the war.
I’M GLAD TO SEE THAT ARI FLEISCHER is standing up to German bullying and racism. If I were a European, I’d worry about a German government that is so hostile to Jews, and seems so anxious to make Hitler look better.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus points out an editorial in the Telegraph that accuses Schroder, et al. of giving in to isolationism and unilateralism while displaying “open contempt” for the UN.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: German reader Torsten Sewing writes that Safire’s report of anti-semitic comments is wrong:
The meeting in Hamburg, 27 August, was the 24. Young Leaders Conference, organised by Atlantic Bridge. There is *no* record of this anti-semitic remark by former defence secretary Scharping.
Additionally, you might want to consider that Germany is in the height of an election campaign, and with press being present at the mentioned meeting, this would have been reported in detail.
He doesn’t send any links, and I haven’t independently verified this. Does anyone have more information?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Another reader, who doesn’t want his name used, says he was one of the Americans at the meeting and that Safire’s report is accurate. I can’t confirm that, either. Presumably if it’s false we’ll hear a denial from Scharping. I looked for one earlier today and couldn’t find anything.
SUSANNA CORNETT has the solution to Florida’s election problems. Sadly, I think this might actually be the way to go. . . .
THE HUMAN FLAG: Here are some cool pictures from Australia.
CONCORDIA UPDATE: Canadian reader Nathan McLeod sends this:
The Concordia University embarrassment continues.
The Board of Governors today announced a cooling off period until December. Until then they are banning any kind of information being displayed in the main hall of the university. I assume this might be the student union building. They are also putting off making a decision on their policy regarding free speech.
Does the BOG’s not understand what happened on September 9th? Thugs upset about the idea of Netanyahu speaking threatened and intimidated those seeking to hear him speak. They broke windows and damaged property to disrupt free speech.
People supporting the Palestinians do not believe in a free exchange of ideas. They believe in intimidation and violence.
What grade school children inherently understand, the concept of free speech, will supposedly take the Board of Governors a few months to think about. Their abdication of responsibility is an embarrassment.
Although if Canadian society is willing to tolerate thugs intimidating free speech it is understandable how they tolerate being ruled by Prime Minister Chretien with his blame the victim philosophy when referring to the murder of 3,000 innocent men, woman and children.
George Bush said it is up to all nations to decide if they are with or against terrorism. In small and large ways my country is failing the test.
HERE’S THE LATEST NEWS from the Security Council:
(2002-09-19) — The United Nations Security Council today approved a resolution calling for Iraq to play ‘hide and seek’ with U.N. weapons inspectors.
“First, our weapons inspectors will cover their eyes,” said Secretary General Koffi Anan. “Then they will begin counting…one Mississippi, two Mississippi, and so on. When they get to six billion Mississippi, they will formally declare ‘Ready or not, here we come!’…and in they go to see how many weapons of mass destruction they can find.”
A motion to make the inspectors “count to infinity plus infinity” was narrowly defeated by the council.
Well, thank goodness for that.
A READER SENDS THIS STORY about another artist who thinks the 9/11 attacks were “wonderful.” Ugh.
I’m saying, step away from blame. How are we to act if we act only according to blame? So many of us just think and squeal, think and squeal. This act is done and you can’t fault the execution of the act. It was perfect, extraordinarily clever.
There’s “think and squeal.” And then there’s just “squeal.”
UPDATE: Ed Driscoll has some thoughts.
THE AMOUNT OF PR SPAM I’M GETTING continues to climb. I just got an item touting Tom Friedman’s website. But there’s no blog!
THE CASE FOR SPACE COWBOYS: My FoxNews column suggests that fears of a “Wild West” approach to developing outer space are misconceived.
SPINSANITY is still on the NEA story. (This update was a “Salon Premium” item, but is now free at SpinSanity).
STEVEN DEN BESTE has an essay on what to do about fanatical Islam. Hesiod Theogeny emails that he thinks Den Beste has “lost it,” sending me to this thread at Eschaton, and the accompanying comments. I’m not sure that the comments (which contain quite a few saying that Hesiod is misunderstanding Den Beste, or the underlying problem) make Hesiod’s case as plainly as he believes, but you can decide for yourself. And Eric S. Raymond weighs in with his own thoughts.
GEITNER SIMMONS SUGGESTS that rap stars are the modern embodiment of the old Southern aristocracy.
DAVID JANES HAS A GREAT IDEA FOR CANADIANS. It involves James Lileks.
MIKE SILVERMAN HAS A CATALOG of all the dumb Saddam-portraiture that Iraqis are forced to endure. I like the last one best.
LET THE FISKING BEGIN: John Scalzi has posted a 14,000 word article by Ted Rall arguing that the war in Afghanistan is really about oil. (You might want to start with this debunking from those arch-warmongers at The American Prospect.)
Meanwhile, speaking of Afghanistan, Bill Quick delivers an auto-Fisking of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. by simply repeating what Schlesinger said a year ago.
UPDATE: On the “War for Oil” front, reader Merv Benson writes:
If the US was really going to war for oil why would we waste our time and money on Afghanistan and Iraq. Mexico and Venezuela are much closer and do
not have any of those nasty WMD. The petro-war theory is paranoia for the petrophobes. The same can be said for the War against Islam crowd. If it were really a war against Islam (as opposed to a war against militant Islamist and secular WMD builders) there are much better targets that would be much easier to hit.
Yes, but this requires thinking.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Brian Carnell “fact-checks” Rall.
HERE’S AN INTERESTING ARTICLE on GlobalSecurity.Org, which is functioning almost as a public intelligence agency:
“We’re doing a better job explaining the (American) government’s case (for military action) than the government is,” added John Pike, Globalsecurity.org’s director.
His five-person group, founded in December 2000 and operating out of a basement in the Washington suburbs, has a “pathetic” budget of only a few hundred thousand dollars. The money comes mostly from charitable groups with an interest in preventing nuclear proliferation, like the Scherman and Colombe foundations.
With such meager resources, Pike noted, his group wouldn’t be able to produce a “smoking gun image” definitively showing the state of Saddam’s nuclear program.
But, he said, GlobalSecurity can show that “facilities known to be previously associated with weapons of mass destruction have been rebuilt and are currently active.”
Shouldn’t somebody be troubled that John Pike is doing a better job of making the government’s case than the government is?
THIS REPORT SAYS THAT WATER HAS BEEN FOUND in the atmospheres of planets orbiting distant stars. There’s a big universe out there. Let’s go.
HEATHER HAVRILESKY has sound advice for the world’s freakazoids. In other words, still the same at the domain that dare not speak its name.
LUNAR UPDATE: This Boston Globe story by Larry Hanlon gets it right:
Of more concern than China to many space enthusiasts, however, are some questions raised by TransOrbital’s license itself: How is it that the United States has the power to license lunar exploration? Has the country claimed ownership of the moon?
Neither is the case, says Laurie, who reports that TransOrbital’s application took two years to clear hurdles lined up by the US Department of State, Department of Defense, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ”Whenever you’re sending anything up into space it gets strict reviews,” he says. The scrutiny that led to TransOrbital’s nine-year license was more a matter of proving that Trailblazer posed no military, security, or other threats – the same as for any Earth-orbiting communications satellite, says Laurie.
As for getting permission specifically to photograph the Earth sailing over the moonscape, that came from NOAA, the agency that oversees the National Weather Service. The NOAA review was a lot like that undergone by any weather satellite, although Trans-
Orbital’s ”was a novel application,” says Tim Stryker of NOAA’s Satellite & Data Services Division. ”[But] that’s our regulatory responsibility – looking at imaging of the Earth.”
The matter of the moon’s ownership is not new. Two years before Apollo 11 set down Neil Armstrong on the Sea of Tranquility, the United Nations had adopted the Outer Space Treaty to address the matter. The treaty states that ”… outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation. …” The United States signed the treaty, and NASA worried a bit over the placing of a US flag on the moon, but in the end, no one took the flag hoisting as a ”claim” on lunar resources.
As for how all this will affect lunar science, most researchers are just glad to see more interest in the moon. ”I wish them a lot of luck,” says Spudis, the planetary scientist. The more data from the moon the better, he says, even if it is proprietary in nature. ”If these guys [TransOrbital] want to send a spacecraft to the moon – they own [the data]. That’s the whole point of making a private venture.” All he and other scientists want is more data on long-neglected Luna.
That’s a lot better reporting than Democrats.Com — which is no suprise. Advantage: Globe!
DEMOCRATS.COM appears to be low-hanging fruit for the snarky blogger. Which would describe Floyd McWilliams pretty well, judging by his dissection of an article on telephone polls.
RACHEL LUCAS posts a ferocious fundraiser-Fisking in response to a letter from the Brady Campaign that says gun control is the answer to terrorism. Boy did they write the wrong woman.
LYNN SISLO OBSERVES:
One of the favorite tactics of peace activists is to accuse so-called “hawks” of being bloodthirsty and lusting for revenge. I think they know better. If it were true there would be no point in saying it because the obvious response would be something like “so what?” But they know that almost no one actually wants war so they use this accusation in an attempt to make their opponents feel guilty.
BLOGJOURNALISM: More actual reporting from In Arguendo.
SHH! DON’T TELL ANYONE, but tomorrow’s FoxNews column is up tonight. It’s about space and euro-critics.
MATT LABASH explores health and lifestyle tips for porn stars. Sounds like a feature fit for the Oxygen Network. . . . Well, maybe not.
CATHY SEIPP says that the Oxygen Network is getting better. It would pretty much have to be, wouldn’t it?
IT’S NICE TO BE QUOTED, but I still don’t get the all-little-letters thing.
DICK GEPHARDT HAS EMAILED ME (er, well, Dick Gephardt’s office has emailed me, er well, okay, actually it’s someone in Dick Gephardt’s office) a link to this Flash commercial on prescription drugs.
No offense — and entirely aside from content — I just think it’s kind of, well, lame. Compare it to this one from FlashBunny, for example. To be fair, it’s longer. But it’s longer because it’s full of facts and arguments. It also has graphics, not just words on a page. And it uses sound better (though only at the end). Maybe the Dems need a new contractor for this stuff.
UPDATE: A reader asks: “The URL is .gov. Are we paying for this? Isn’t that illegal, and ironic considering the ruckus the dems raised over that minor state dept. link.” Beats me. I’ll email ‘em.
ANOTHER UPDATE: And here’s the reply:
Thanks for posting the link. We truly appreciate it. I produced the spot which is intended to inform visitors to the site. As a government employee working on government time, the answer to the question is yes it was paid for with taxpayer money. While the Flash format is something new, the function of it is really no different from a number of other efforts by both Democrats and Republicans to inform the public about our efforts on Capitol Hill. From press releases to PowerPoint presentations to websites, House members use a number of different tools to inform the public and their constituents. That is the purpose of this Flash movie.
So there you have it.
A LOW BLOW: I was just talking with the lovely international-law specialist whose office is next to mine. She was talking about the U.N. and seemed surprised that I wasn’t very concerned with its doings. “The U.N. is just the world’s biggest faculty meeting,” I explained.
“Oh, that’s awfully harsh,” she replied. “The U.N. has been called a lot of things, but that –”
MY EARLIER POST ON FLIGHT 93 CONSPIRACY THEORIES generated a lot of mail. There were several points made:
1. The seismic evidence I referred to only demonstrates that the aircraft hit the ground more or less in one piece, not that it wasn’t shot down.
This is true. And the Korean Air Lines 747 that was shot down by the Soviets did stay in one piece. BUT — it was a 747, a much bigger plane with four engines.
2. The government acts like it’s hiding something.
There’s some truth to this. However, the government often acts that way when it has nothing to hide. It’s been refusing to release the final minutes of the voice recordings from the Challenger and I know what’s in them. Nothing especially incriminating.
3. People saw a military plane.
I’ve seen reports of that, but most accounts suggest it was a business plane in the neighborhood that air controllers asked to take a look.
4. There was a story about a passenger who reported an explosion and white smoke via his cellphone just before the crash.
Never cleared that one up, except that he heard some kind of noise and saw a puff of smoke, but the phone went dead just then and by that point the plane was upsidedown, which could have meant any number of things, including smoke, and noise.
Interestingly, depending on the nature of the roll, you can actually turn a plane upside down and not lose gravity. We dug and dug all we could and the best we could verify was:
1. There was an order to shoot the plane down.
2. Pilots got within 14 minutes of the point at which they were ready to take them down.
3. The government adamantly denies any shootdown and nobody has come forth with any eyewitnesses who saw it being shot or burning, and this includes many witnesses who watched it roar up Route 30 before veering off, tipping and disappearing behind the treeline before it hit the ground.
This seems to me to put the shootdown/coverup conspiracy theory as thoroughly to bed as such things can be put to bed.
What’s missing from the analysis is, in my mind, any motivation. Assume the worst: that the passengers had gotten control of the plane, but that it had been shot down anyway because the fighter pilot(s) didn’t get the word in time. Is that really something to cover up?
Now I can spin a better conspiracy theory than that, because I’m an imaginative guy: it was shot down by an experimental military plane that happened to be in the area and that looked like a business jet, and that used some sort of laser or EMF weapon that left the plane intact but out of commission and crashing. And the government’s covering it up because they don’t want to reveal the existence of the weapon.
Great conspiracy theory, except for the total lack of evidence supporting it. (Hey, maybe they used one of Dennis Kucinich’s space-based mind control beams!). Occam’s razor suggests that we might as well stick with the simpler, and far more likely to be true, likelihood that the plane crashed as a result of the struggle.
A couple of readers said they were surprised to see me abandon my usual skepticism. I haven’t. It’s just that I’m skeptical of conspiracy theories, too. You want to convince me? Show me some evidence.
UPDATE: John Hawkins posts a photo I hadn’t seen before.
NON-BLOGGERS probably won’t care about this inside-the-blogosphere stuff, but Dawn Olsen has posted a very handsome apology on her page.
REAL LIFE IMITATES THE ONION.
THE ENRON SCANDAL seems to have reached its final phase.
ARI KNOWS ROPE-A-DOPE: Alert reader Chadwick Brown sends this link.
CLAYTON CRAMER has an interesting bit of history that he thinks will annoy Jesse Jackson.
AS A BIG FAN of Keith Laumer’s “Bolo” stories, I find this report interesting. We’ve still got a long way to go, though, and I’m not sure that even a Bolo Mark XXXIV would be much use in the current conflict.
UPDATE: An email from a reader reminds me that I should probably add a link to this post, which points out that NAS gun study panel member Steven Levitt denies that he’s anti-gun. You might also want to read this post, this post, and this post for more background. As I suggest in the last post, the NAS panel might turn out to do a fair job, but the inclusion of people like Ben Civiletti — whose only real credential is as an antigun politician — makes its posture of scientific detachment dubious.
ANOTHER UPDATE: DeLong’s giving me hell for the NRO piece, but rather rudely doesn’t link back to this post, which is almost surely where he found it since it’s over a year old. That also means that his readers won’t know about the updates, above.
Oh, and Mark Kleiman also doesn’t link to the post, but does link to the NRO article. Also, he has a rather mean crack about a broken link which suggests to me that he hasn’t noticed that the article is over a year old.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Kleiman did think that the article was new; he’s corrected this and some other errors. Meanwhile Dave Kopel emails that he met the head of the NAS study at an Institute of Medicine conference, and that he (the study head) promised the study would be fair, but said he could understand how the membership and funding source could have caused us to think otherwise. Dave notes that there’s a Heisenberg issue here — was it always going to be fair, or did the criticism it got from us, and from others, encourage them to look more seriously at their approach? I guess we’ll never know for sure.
Kleiman and DeLong seem to think that we shouldn’t have criticized Levitt, since he’s really smart and they think he’s fair-minded. Levitt, however, wasn’t the point of the piece, and at any rate charges of bias in someone making up a federal study committee that’s likely to influence national policy are certainly of public interest. As a former official in the Clinton Administration, surely DeLong isn’t arguing that only people’s buddies are entitled to discuss questions of whether they might be biased or not. He should know better than that.
I should also note that my various writings about the Kass Council indicate that I’m an equal-opportunity critic where federal study committees are involved.