October 20, 2002
WELL, THAT’S NOT MUCH, but I’m blogging from an Internet cafe, and I’ve got to get back to the hotel so I can go to dinner. More later, maybe.
WELL, THAT’S NOT MUCH, but I’m blogging from an Internet cafe, and I’ve got to get back to the hotel so I can go to dinner. More later, maybe.
AL QAEDA’S FUNDING MAY BE more narrowly based than we realized:
WASHINGTON — The United States has identified the sources of Al Qaida funding and found they were fewer in number than earlier estimated.
Officials said U.S. intelligence has determined that Al Qaida is supported by 12 financiers, most of them Saudis. They said the Bush administration is sharing the findings with Washington’s allies in NATO and the European Union.
Hmm. Twelve tragic accidents? No, we don’t do that sort of thing anymore. Do we?
BRAD DELONG IS NO ED LAZARUS, according to Juan Non-Volokh.
DEBKA reports that Bin Laden is hiding out in Saudi Arabia. This isn’t a huge shock to me, if it turns out to be true, since we’ve recently learned that Saudi money is still flowing to Al Qaeda.
Of course, it may not be true at all. But it’s certainly the case that connections between Saudi Arabia and the Ladenites remain too close for a country that purports to be an ally. Can you say “Hashemite?”
I knew that you could.
BLOGGUS INTERRUPTUS: I’ll be on travel for most of today, so blogging will be limited. I’m taking the laptop, though, and will update as time and internet connections allow.
ANOTHER ARMED CITIZEN THWARTS CRIME — though I guess the NRA won’t be touting this case too strongly:
A would-be car thief died Friday after he was shot by the car’s owner, a camouflage-clad hunter toting a bow and arrow, police said.
The thief was moments from a clean getaway when the hunter happened upon his car, police said. The man told the hunter he had a gun and threatened to kill him, said Sgt. T.E. Kiser of the Harris County Sheriff’s Department homicide division.
The hunter drew his bow and shot at the man, hitting him in the hip and buttocks area.
Is there a National Bowmen’s Association? (Via Rachel Lucas).
UPDATE: In a different vein of nontraditional armed citizenry, here’s a BBC story on the Mount Holyoke Chapter of the Second Amendment Sisters.
WHY AM I NOT SURPRISED AT THIS:
OSAMA BIN LADEN has been linked to the Bali bombing by the testimony of one of his senior lieutenants.
The man has told CIA interrogators that thousands of dollars from an account controlled by Bin Laden was used to buy explosives by the Islamist group suspected of the attack.
A confidential American intelligence document, seen by The Sunday Times, reveals that $74,000 (nearly £48,000) was transferred from an account in the name of Sheikh Abu Abdullah Emirati, one of Bin Laden’s pseudonyms, to pay for three tons of explosives bought from the Indonesian military.
That it’s possible to buy three tons of explosives illegally from the Indonesian Army without anyone noticing isn’t exactly comforting.
ANOTHER HUMAN RIGHTS TRIUMPH for the Bush Administration: Saddam is apparently freeing all political prisoners in response to criticism of his regime as dictatorial:
The amnesty and the referendum come amid attempts by the Iraqi Government to rally domestic and international opposition to US demands for a change of regime in Baghdad.
In his UN speech on Iraq last month, US President George W Bush demanded that the leadership end internal oppression in Iraq, as well as stop its alleged programme to develop weapons of mass destruction.
You get more with a kind word and a gun, than with a kind word alone. Especially when dealing with crazed dictators.
A POSITIVE BLOG REVIEW of Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine. “Let me state for the record that I liked Bowling for Columbine a lot. It’s hilariously funny in a number of places, and highly entertaining.”
REID STOTT ON COPY PROTECTION: “It’s not really about copyright at all. It’s about total control over distribution, for up to a century. Copyright is just the bludgeon they use to try and get it. They don’t ‘create’ anything. They just control it.”
UH OH. This new legislation could be bad news for warbloggers. . . .
MAUREEN DOWD’S LATEST is up, in which she calls President Bush the “Boy Emperor,” suggests he’s stupid, and closes with a reference to a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. (A Juicy Juice box plays a role, too.) I leave it as an exercise for the reader to compare this effort with Josh Chafetz’s The Immutable Laws of Maureen Dowd.
UPDATE: For those readers inclined to cheat on this exercise, Josh Chafetz has his own post on the piece. Excerpt:
I just read Maureen Dowd’s column for Sunday, and I just don’t know what to say. She’s gone way beyond the Immutable Laws and made a precipitous plunge into utter incoherence. Can anyone, for instance, tell me what the hell is going on in this paragraph?
DID ABC NEWS GET AN IRAQI VOTER KILLED? A reader asks that very question, and sends this from an ABC story:
However, we did find one man who voted “no.” We followed him outside to ask why. “You are mistaken, I voted ‘yes’ for our great leader Saddam Hussein,” he told the government minder who is our translator.
Did he lie to use? Was he scared of the minder? Did he mistakenly vote “no?” We’ll never know. But he was the nearest thing to a dissenting voice that we found in Kerbala; a city that rebelled against Saddam in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War.
That rebellion was brutally crushed and, if appearances are to be believed, none of its spirit remains.
But why did our dissenting voter’s ballot not show up in the tally announced this morning? The 100 percent result was not 99.9 recurring that was rounded up for ease. Iraq claims that every single person eligible to vote voted for Saddam.
I’d be interested in a followup. . . .
I CAME TO IT A BIT LATE, but this Iraqi presidential ballot is pretty funny.
IT’S SKBUBBA’S 6-MONTH BLOGGIVERSARY! Drop in and wish him well.
BRIAN DOHERTY says that Michael Moore represents the impotence of the American Left:
The documentary is, on its surface, a meditation on American gun violence. But it functions in effect as a general summation of lefty complaints about America. In its feckless collection of sad plaints with only the barest glimmer of a hope of solution, it is also a good summation of the progressive left’s intellectual impotence. . . .
In the end, Moore, like the progressive left he stands for, has no valid solutions. Gun control laws won’t stop gun crimes; Canadians also have plenty of guns and not many gun deaths. No one thinks that a life on welfare is a better option in the long term than trying to work for a living. Grander socialist dreams died with the Soviet Union. All the progressive left has are laments, tears, and tragedies. That suffices to sell movie tickets—moviegoers have always loved tragedy. It isn’t enough for a lively and effective political movement.
No, but it’s enough to help Moore, and his fans, feel morally and intellectually superior to other Americans, at least until the credits roll. And that, it seems, is what it’s all about nowadays.
MADONNA BEATEN BY ANIMATED ASPARAGUS: And there’s a bit of un-Christian gloating about it.
UPDATE: Reader Scott Helgeson writes:
Not only is Madonna being beaten by asparagus, so is Michael Moore. Madonna’s movie made half a million in a week. Moore’s movie has grossed $200,000 in the 3 days its been out. If it continues at that rate, in 4 days Madonna and Moore will be neck and neck. (I apologize for the visual image that conjures up.) Now the box office over the weekend will probably be higher, but this seems like a story worth watching. Moore vs. Asparagus! Who will win?
If the asparagus has cheese sauce, I’m betting on Moore. More seriously, this is probably an unfair comparison to Moore — documentaries don’t usually do as well as feature films — but on the other hand he’s gotten an extraordinary amount of coverage.
NICE HITCHENS COLUMN in the Washington Post:
Some peaceniks clear their throats by saying that, of course, they oppose Saddam Hussein as much as anybody, though not enough to support doing anything about him.
But some don’t even bother to make this disavowal. In the United States, the main organizer of anti-war propaganda is Ramsey Clark, who perhaps understandably can’t forgive himself for having been Lyndon Johnson’s attorney general. However, he fails to live down this early disgrace by acting as a front man for a sinister sect — the International Action Center, cover name for the Workers World Party — which refuses to make any criticism of the Saddam regime. It is this quasi-Stalinist group, co-organized by a man with the wondrous name of Clark Kissinger, which has recruited such figures as Ed Asner and Marisa Tomei to sign the “Not In Our Name” petition. Funny as this may be in some ways (I don’t think the administration is going to war in the name of Ed Asner or Marisa Tomei, let alone Gore Vidal), it is based on a surreptitious political agenda. In Britain, the chief spokesman of the “anti-war” faction is a Labour MP named George Galloway, who is never happier than when writing moist profiles of Saddam and who says that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the worst moment of his life.
For the democratic and libertarian Left, that same moment was a high point and not a low one. But there were three ruling parties in the world that greeted the liberation of Eastern Europe with unreserved gloom. These were the Socialist Party of Serbia, the Ba’ath Party of Iraq and the Workers’ Party of North Korea, guided by their lugubrious yet megalomaniacal leaders.
Who, sadly, can still find useful idiots in the West. Read the whole thing.
CHARLES MURTAUGH takes on left-wing homophobia.
UPDATE: Tony Adragna responds, and draws a fine distinction: “But let’s not confuse this with homophobia born of an irrational intolerance of homosexuals. The attacks on Andrew Sullivan are something different — a calculated attempt by a cabal of ideologues who share an intense hatred of Andrew Sullivan.” Arthur Silber, meanwhile, is less charitable. Meanwhile, Atrios calls me a “noted queer theorist!” (thanks!) and says that they’re worse at Free Republic, which seems to me to be a pretty lame defense.
I have to say that I’ve visited a couple of lefty blogs that invited me to link to them, and seen posts calling Sullivan the “blog queen” or whatever, and thought better of it. I don’t generally link to blogs that call people niggers either. Well, that’s just me.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Arthur Silber has another post, and he says it is homophobia.
ONE MORE: A reader emails that I linked to “BitchPundit,” who uses the term “butt pirates” to refer to Islamic hackers. Uh, okay. I didn’t really read that as being of the same order (nothing with “pirate” in it seems that bad to me) but okay. It’s not really the same as wishing that someone with HIV would die soon, though, is it?
BLOGFORMS IN EVOLUTION: This is kind of like a “Misting” — except with Roman Emperors instead of robots — and it’s directed at another blog’s commentary section.
Blogosphere sociologists take note. The judges give this one an 8.7, adjusted up to 9.9 for originality and degree of difficulty.
MATT WELCH has an interesting column on the apparent necessity — and inevitable vices — of America providing “adult supervision” to the rest of the world. I recommend reading it together with this Jonah Goldberg column and this post by Stephen Green. (Welch has more on his weblog, too.)
To oversimplify, Welch’s worry — supported by the other items — is that by assuming so much global responsibility, the United States is keeping other countries in a state of arrested development. This is a very real issue. Unfortunately, the rise of weapons of mass destruction has made intermediate stages of responsibility dangerous. But U.S. planners, when they look past the next couple of years, need to think about Welch’s point. Long-term, we need to be encouraging responsibility, not dependence.
I hope Matt’s next column contains some suggestions on how to do that.
DOES AN N.R.A. STICKER provide “reasonable suspicion” to search a car for a gun? Eugene Volokh has the answer.
IS IT JUST ME? The New York Times Magazine contents page features an article by Paul Krugman that is described thusly:
How the permissive capitalism of the boom destroyed American equality.
• Forum: Is America becoming a society for the rich, by the rich?
But scroll down and you’ll see:
Clothes Made the Man
By PETER McQUAID
In his Hawaiian hideaway, Geoffrey Beene muses on his first love: fashion.
• Slide Show: Beene’s Hawaiian Hideaway
By JONATHAN REYNOLDS
The secret of one spa’s success is not its rules; it’s the owner.
The ads don’t exactly worship Wal-Mart, either. The Times evinces lots of support for the idea of a middle-class — just not its politics, values, or lifestyle.
UPDATE: Hey, I only just now noticed (via Atrios) that Krugman mentions me in the piece — to say I was right about the stats on Sweden, and then to say it doesn’t matter because the stats aren’t important. Only in Krugmanworld am I a “conservative,” though. (Happy now, Atrios?) Or maybe he’s just trying to pigeonhole me because we occupy the same ecological niche? Somehow I doubt it.
I will note that Krugman’s comments about Sweden remind me of the standard cry of economic fall-behinds: “we’re poor, but we’re rich in the things you can’t count.” Such statements may be true, of course, but they’re awfully convenient.
UPDATE: I should do a longer post on this, but I don’t have time right now. Let me just note that it’s okay to say that per-capita GDP has its flaws as a measure of societal wealth — but I seem only to hear this when the comparison is between the United States and Sweden.
BITCHPUNDIT has some advice for Islamic hackers:
One of my other sites is more serious than this one; it’s a science-education outreach portal, and about six months ago there were several hacking attempts that were traced back to middle-eastern countries. This hacking was carried on in sync with a bunch of viruses which were also emailed to me damn near constantly, and when I had them traced down, they were affiliated with a radical Islamic fundamentalist group. But, nothing as exciting as what Rex had, alas.
Buncha script kiddies, that’s all these butt pirates are. They can’t wage real war, so they are sending Hi-Tek Teenage Mutant Ninja Muslims from Bloggerstan, instead.
733t HaXX0r 4 A77AH! A77AH 0wZ J00!
Yeah. Whatever. I’ve got yer blog right here, Osama. I double-dog dare you.
And scroll down for a nice graphic dedicated to North Korea.
UPDATE: Hey, she’s done a graphic just for me, too. Cool!
MICKEY KAUS’S E-MAIL PLEA: “Note: I am also very interested in a pill or herb that will make my penis grow 3-4 inches. Please send information. …”
MARK STEYN has a piece on celebrities in politics that’s too good to excerpt. He doesn’t mention Woody Harrelson or Sean Penn (actually, nobody seems to mention Sean Penn — which seems extraordinarily charitable, but then he is still trying to live down the whole Madonna thing). Maybe they’ll be fodder for next week’s column.
UPDATE: N.Z. Bear has taken up the Sean Penn challenge.
LOTS OF INTERESTING POLITICAL NEWS at Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire. My favorite quote: “When the voters of Hawaii awake the morning after the Nov. 5 election, they are likely to find they have done two extraordinary things: elect a live Republican to the governor’s office and a dead Democrat to Congress. Such is the state of politics in Hawaii this year.”
WISH ORCHID A happy blogday!
VEGARD VALBERG shows Woody Harrelson the error of his ways.
SLUGGER O’TOOLE has blogged Tony Blair’s speech on Northern Ireland, along with some other interesting developments. Just keep scrolling.
I DON’T LINK TO ANDREW SULLIVAN THAT MUCH, since I figure most people who read me probably read him anyway. But this post on North Korea — and on who got it right — is a must-read.
HERE’S THE FULL TEXT of a post of mine from yesterday:
ED LAZARUS IS DEEPLY CONFUSED according to this post at the Volokh Conspiracy. In fact, it is reported, he has the import of Nobel Economist Vernon Smith’s work exactly backwards.
Now here’s how Brad DeLong abbreviated it on his page:
According to Instapundit,
“ED LAZARUS IS DEEPLY CONFUSED… has the import of Nobel Economist Vernon Smith’s work exactly backwards.”
Now, to be fair, DeLong links to me, so that anyone who followed the link wouldn’t be confused. But anyone who didn’t would be inclined to think that Eugene Volokh’s ideas were mine. That probably works to my benefit, of course, since Eugene Volokh is sufficiently smart that any association with him is likely to add lustre to my reputation, but it’s still a bit odd, especially given how brief the original post was. (In fact, the ideas in question, which DeLong attributes to Eugene, are actually from another poster at The Volokh Conspiracy, but to figure that out you’d have to follow a second link. I presume that this is merely an oversight on DeLong’s part).
Or was DeLong just trying to troll me into linking his page? D’oh!
UPDATE: DeLong’s corrected the post. Thanks!
GOOD GRIEF. I’ve got a new Blogchild, but she’s a bit, er, naughty.
JONAH GOLDBERG on foreign policy and food stamps:
If you have a fairly limitless supply of food stamps but a very small amount of cash on hand, over time you will not only grow to believe, but will actually become quite self-righteous about, your conviction that food stamps should be as good as cash everywhere — including car dealerships, movie theaters, and casinos. In fact, it won’t be too long before you see food stamps as the only legitimate form of currency. . . .
The point here is that the Europeans, the Japanese, and — to a somewhat lesser extent — the South Koreans argue for talking through their problems because, like a thick wad of food stamps burning a hole in their pockets, talk is pretty much the only currency they have to spend. For nearly five decades, Europe and Japan have been, in effect, living off the military credit card we gave them. We subsidized their defense and, money being fungible, they took their savings and poured it into bloated welfare states. This policy was certainly in America’s interests during the Cold War, and I’m not suggesting our system of alliances is totally obsolete. But there are huge negative consequences to it.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: And read this by Stephen Green, too.
ANOTHER DENIED ENTRY: This time the maid who was beaten by a Saudi Princess. Result:
Suryono left the United States to attend her mother’s funeral in Indonesia. However, she was denied a visa to return to Florida because immigration authorities feared she might try to stay in the country illegally. The Violence Against Women Act, passed in 1994, allows non-citizens to be granted visas to attend criminal trials.
Without Suryono as a witness, Assistant State Attorney Mike Saunders went ahead with negotiating a no contest plea for misdemeanor battery charges. The Florida Circuit Court judge accepted the plea–which allows the defendant to accept punishment without admitting or denying guilt–and placed al-Saud, currently in Saudi Arabia, on unsupervised probation. The princess was also fined $1,000 and court fees. The probation will most likely not affect al-Saud’s ability to get a visa to re-enter the United States. . . .
Suryono’s attorney, Russell Troutman, expressed concern about the fairness of the immigration department’s action. “Why in the world wouldn’t they give her a visa?” Troutman asked. “I’m speculating that it was an attempt on the part of the administration to do a favor for the royal family.”
HOWARD JACOBSON renounces Western self-hatred — in the Independent!
If we are the responsibility of those who beget us, then they must be our responsibility in turn. The past flows through us as certainly as the future. A genetic no less than a theological truth. But that’s not the same as taking blame when there is no blame to be taken. An obscene act of arrogation, I now realise, making one’s culpability the heart of everything. Unjust to one’s immortal soul, which wants no part of it. And unjust even to the Nazis and their like, who must be allowed to sin egregiously on their own behalf and go to hell unmolested.
Ditto those who blew apart the however many hundreds of kids dancing the last of their lives away in Bali. It behoves us to stay out of their motives. Utterly obscene, the narrative of guilty causation which now waits on every fresh atrocity – “What else are the dissatisfied to do but kill?” etc – as though dissatisfaction were an automatic detonator, as though Cain were the creation of Abel’s will. Obscene in its haste. Obscene in its self-righteousness, mentally permitting others to pay the price of our self-loathing. Obscene in its ignorance – for we should know now how Selbsthass operates, encouraging those who hate us only to hate us more, since we concur in their conviction of our detestableness.
Here is our decadence: not the nightclubs, not the beaches and the sex and the drugs, but our incapacity to believe we have been wronged. Our lack of self-worth.
Why do they hate us? In part because so many Western intellectuals tell them they should.
UPDATE: Reid Reynolds (who’s no relation) emails:
“Western intellectuals tell them they should.” Truer words were ne’er spoken. Every time I check into these foreign websites it’s Noam Chomsky said this and Robert Fisk said that, and all these lesser demons like Mark Crispin Miller et al. are regularly cited, too.
These guys are literally killing us. I wish someone would publicize these guys and their evil scribblings. Most Americans, I think, don’t even know who they are.
Well, we of the Blogosphere are doing our best!
ADVANTAGE: INSTAPUNDIT! This Nick Kristof column is unexceptional, except for the following revelation near the end: “As Kuwait sees it, the possibilities range from a Tommy Franks viceroyalty to the installation of a Sunni Hashemite king, some relative of Jordan’s King Abdullah II. Jordan already seems to be quietly lobbying for this outcome.” Of course, when I raised the idea of a Hashemite Restoration a year ago, I was talking about a post-Saudi Arabia, not a post-Saddam Iraq. I imagine, though, that a Hashemite transitional regime, along the lines of Juan Carlos’ post-Franco role, could work out.
BELLESILES UPDATE UPDATE: If you haven’t checked, my original post about Jon Weiner’s attempted defense of Bellesiles in The Nation has been updated a lot and you should check the new material out.
In general, since I often update posts, it’s a good idea to scroll back down the page from time to time, and not assume that the only new stuff is at the top. But you probably knew that.
Given that Emory is surely going to have to come out with a decision in the Bellesiles case soon, several readers have wondered if the Wiener piece represents a last-ditch effort to generate some favorable publicity so as to justify a slap-on-the-wrist penalty like demotion or suspension. I don’t know. I’m inclined to think it’s probably a waste of time if so, given that (since we know Bellesiles is appealing an adverse decision) there seems to be pretty solid evidence against him. I certainly agree with Jerome Sternstein that a whitewash would be a major mistake for Emory:
So far, the investigation into allegations of research misconduct by Bellesiles appears to cover only the evidentiary problems publicly revealed before last February. But researchers are continuing to unearth errors which are just as serious and resonant of academic fraud as those that have already been brought to light, including new evidence tending to show that Bellesiles never, ever used some of the records he claimed to have employed; never, ever spent a moment in some of the archives holding records that he claimed to have read; and never, ever read hundreds of records that existed only in his own imagination (far more non-existent records than have been revealed publicly so far). When this new scholarship is published, which it most surely will be, Emory would again find itself entwined in a scandal, this time of its own making and with a “smell” emanating from the inner sanctum of the administration. If Bellesiles continues to teach at Emory, it is almost certain that Emory will again be consumed by another investigation of Bellesiles — an investigation demanded simply by its own guidelines and the pervasiveness of the alleged fabrications in Arming America.
Given that University administrators dislike scandal, and given that Bellesiles has been a one-man bad-publicity squad for Emory for over a year, it’s hard for me to believe that they’d want to keep this alive, especially when the evidence seems so strong. But I could be wrong.
ANOTHER UPDATE TO THE UPDATE UPDATE: Or something like that. Here’s another post by Don Williams with some interesting links and commentary relating to the Nation piece.
FLOYD MCWILLIAMS is unimpressed with the UNCLE oSAMa cartoon from TomPaine.Com.
STEVEN MILLOY OF JUNKSCIENCE.COM WRITES THAT Ballistic Fingerprinting is junk science. Excerpt:
Maryland and New York already require ballistic fingerprinting. So far it hasn’t helped convict a single criminal in Maryland despite “fingerprinting” 17,000 guns sold since January 2000. New York hasn’t had success either.
And there isn’t likely to be success any time soon, according to the study.
The report included the test firing of more than 2,000 rounds from 790 pistols.
When cartridges from the same manufacturer were test-fired and compared, computer matching failed 38 percent of the time. With cartridges from different manufacturers, computer matching failed 62 percent of the time.
“Automated computer matching systems do not provide conclusive results” requiring that “potential candidates be manually reviewed,” said the experts.
There’s more. Read it all.
UPDATE: Similar considerations have led Doug Turnbull, who I mentioned below, to change his mind on this subject.
HOW LONG UNTIL THIS is blamed on America?
UPDATE: Not long, as several readers emailed to note that the story was updated with an entirely un-germane reference to the D.C. sniper. I don’t know if that’s exactly what I meant, but. . . .
JOE KATZMAN HAS SOME THOUGHTS ON NORTH KOREA, and why the Administration isn’t seeming too worried. And scroll up for his “moral obligation to blog” post.
UPDATE: Stephen Gordon has managed to bring Jack Nicholson in.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Daniel Drezner responds to people who say the Bush Administration is being hypocritical by treating North Korea differently by saying, basically, “so what?” And there’s a similar observation over at Sgt. Stryker’s.
AN INTELLIGENT PIECE IN THE ARAB NEWS:
We moan the passing of what we look fondly back on as an “Islamic Golden Age” and indeed we should regret its end and study the reasons for its decline. Though we may not be able to recreate it, we could certainly emulate it in various ways. An important one would be to strive for that age’s tolerance, intellectual curiosity and open-mindedness when it comes to education and learning. Those early Muslims were quick to absorb what other cultures and civilizations had to offer and at the same time, neither their language nor their culture suffered. Are we so very different? Knowledge, after all, is power and it is only the intolerant and bigoted who refuse to understand this.
If there were more Saudi Arabs who felt this way, maybe they would actually be our allies.
KILLER APPS: Reader Erik D’Amato has these observations based on my TechCentralStation column on weblogs and Big Media:
But re Big Media’s big chance to again be dominant in reporting and spot news, there are three other words that need to be remembered: cheap streaming video. Being fans of the written word, bloggers and blogger-types always make the mistake of equating news with words. But we are not the majority… to say the least. For most people, news is primarily about sights and sounds: 9/11, men walking on the moon, the white Bronco inching down the freeway, the white van circling DC. And in the background, a bit of yakking, a lot of it unscripted.
Why should we think Big Video Media will be able to compete with cheap video over the wire any better than Big Print Media have have been able to keep up with cheap written oped over the wire? Put it this way: If they actually find the White Van and properly Dillinger the sniper, what are the odds it will be caught on tape by CNN or Action News 5, as opposed to some guy with a Canon SUX-6000 (or whatever)? At this point, I’d give Mr. Canon the odds. Meanwhile, BVM, unlike the videoblogland of the future, will be expected to pay for the Van video or not show it without getting the rights first, and then might not be able to show it at all, because of griping from the standards or legal depts. Add in the liklihood that the resulting news conference (supplying all the necessary quotes and details) will be open to all comers, and its hard to see what BVM adds, besides sports and the weather. Oh, but they lost that, too.
BELLESILES UPDATE: An article by Jon Weiner in The Nation portrays Michael Bellesiles as the victim of a gun-lobby witch hunt, concluding:
But the campaign against Bellesiles has demonstrated one indisputable fact: Historians whose work challenges powerful political interests like the NRA better make sure all their footnotes are correct before they go to press.
Unfortunately, the article also serves to illustrate that those who challenge politically powerful anti-gun interests will get slimed even if their footnotes are correct. The article is quite nasty to NWU legal historian James Lindgren, though it doesn’t seem to identify a single inaccuracy in his Yale Law Journal article on the problems with Bellesiles’ Arming America.
This is itself a problem, as I’ve written elsewhere:
When fraud is discovered, it is usually by another researcher whose skepticism is aroused. Yet uncovering fraud usually isn’t considered as valuable to an academic career as original research is; worse yet, some scholars who expose their colleagues as frauds face resentment from those who dislike seeing their field’s dirty laundry aired. But the absence of consequences for fraud can only make the problem worse. If we want to discourage fraud, we need to ensure that the people who discover it are recognized for their contributions – which, after all, spare other members of the field years or even decades of wasted effort based on fraudulent work – and properly rewarded. And, of course, we need to ensure that those who commit fraud are properly punished.
Those who complain that academics don’t do enough about fraud in their midst need to recognize that attack pieces like this one are one reason why that is so.
Some of the statements about Lindgren in this piece ring false to me. I’m going to see if I can get an email from him. If so, I’ll post what he sends. In the meantime, I invite readers to follow the link to the Yale Law Journal piece and to compare it with The Nation’s article and decide for themselves.
Meanwhile, there’s no word yet on what Emory plans to do about Bellesiles.
UPDATE: Lindgren sends the following via email:
As anyone familiar with the Bellesiles matter can plainly see, the Nation article has a large number of errors. Since the Nation was unable to find any factual errors in my scholarship, it instead attempted some rather crude ad hominems. Among them, it says that I urged people to retract their reviews of Arming America. If I had done so, that would indeed have been unusual, though not improper. But what I did was urge two authors to correct or retract one statement in their reviews merely by an online post to H-Net lists, which eventually they both did, because the particular statements were indeed factually wrong. I never said the words that one of those authors, Matthew Warshauer, attributes to me in the Nation article.
Referring to me, the Nation also says, “He accuses Bellesiles of bias . . . .” I have never accused Professor Bellesiles of bias (nor of prejudice). To the contrary, I have repeatedly argued that such claims of bias are incoherent in this matter.
In addition, Clayton Cramer has blogged some comments. (Eugene Volokh calls it “a very good response to The Nation’s rather weak defense of Bellesiles.”) I should note, too, that the Nation piece fails to mention that the big explosion in publicity over Bellesiles’ work came after the Boston Globe — hardly an NRA mouthpiece — published an investigative piece on Bellesiles’ work. And how come it links to Bellesiles’ website, but not to the Lindgren article — freely available on the Web in several places — or to any of the other criticisms on Bellesiles?
As Volokh says, rather weak. Even for The Nation. As that other NRA mouthpiece, The New York Times noted:
Without doubt, Mr. Bellesiles’s research would not have received such careful scrutiny if he had not stepped into the politically and ideologically charged struggle over guns. Yet the scholars who have documented serious errors in Mr. Bellesiles’s book — many of them gun-control advocates — do not appear to have any sort of political agenda.
They were struck by his claim to have studied more than 11,000 probate records in 40 counties around the country. He found that between 1765 and 1790, only 14 percent of estate inventories listed guns, and “over half (53 percent) of these guns were listed as broken or otherwise defective.” Those claims are featured prominently in the book and were cited in many positive reviews as the core of its argument.
But those who tried to examine the research soon found that they could not, because most of Mr. Bellesiles’s records, he said, had been destroyed in a flood. The records they could check showed an astonishing number of serious errors, almost all of them seemingly intended to support his thesis. In some cases his numbers were off by a factor of two, three or more, said Randolph Roth, a history professor at Ohio State University.
To use one example: in his book, Mr. Bellesiles writes that of 186 probate inventories from Providence, R.I., recorded between 1680 and 1730, “all for property-owning adult males,” only 90 mention some form of gun, and more than half the guns were “evaluated as old and of poor quality.”
At least three scholars have independently examined the same archive and found that 17 of the estates in question were owned by women; that some estates lacked inventories, and that of those that had them, a much higher percentage than Mr. Bellesiles reported contained guns; and that only 9 percent of the guns were evaluated as old and of poor quality.
“The number and scope of the errors in Bellesiles’s work are extraordinary,” Mr. Roth said. They go well beyond the probate record data, he added, affecting Mr. Bellesiles’s interpretation of militia returns, literary documents and many other sources. . . .
Those who have pressed him hardest for details say they have been led on a bizarre scholarly car chase, with Mr. Bellesiles offering new memories about where he got his records as soon as the old ones were discredited. (Emphasis added).
What, the folks at The Nation don’t read The New York Times?
UPDATE: Arthur Silber has a long post on Jon Wiener’s article, which segues into a lengthy discussion of bias on both left and right. But here’s an on-topic excerpt:
I hope you will read both Wiener’s Nation article and the Lindgren Yale Law Journal piece — and I think the difference in tone and approach will strike you as forcefully as it did me. (I also point out that the Lindgren piece contains an Appendix which discusses over 200 documents which Bellesiles misread or misinterpreted in basic ways in the first edition of his book.) But with regard to the Nation article, I will note two aspects of it: first, approximately the first third of the article is devoted to a personal reminiscence concerning a lecture by Bellesiles that Wiener attended — and he takes every opportunity to describe the pro-gun individuals who also attended (and who challenged Bellesiles’ findings) as “unusually large men” — in other words, and in Wiener’s view, pro-gun, NRA-type thugs. And this is apparently seriously offered as some sort of legitimate argument which, by implication and for “right-thinking” kinds of people, ought to make us question the legitimacy of a scholar such as Lindgren. Second, the entire article is remarkably, and inappropriately, “personal” in tone. It is, as Reynolds also notes, quite nasty to Lindgren — although, very significantly, Wiener does not offer even one substantive argument challenging even one of Lindgren’s conclusions.
Indeed. And he’s right that you should read the two pieces and compare their tone.
ARABS ARE PROTESTING THE OCCUPATION FORCES that have stood astride their quasi-nation for too long.
DAVID GELERNTER WRITES:
After September 11, many American liberals pointed out that, no matter how enraged you felt, it was an especially good time for Americans to underline their unshakable belief in religious toleration and their acceptance of Muslim Americans. The liberals were right; many Americans duly sounded off. The unsolved D.C.-area murder spree is another fine opportunity for principled people to put themselves on record.
Anyone who has read John Lott’s “More Guns, Less Crime”–a cool, calm, collected, unanswerable proof that widespread gun ownership leads to lower crime rates–please stand up. Owning a gun is no help whatsoever in fending off a hidden sniper. It is plenty of help if a criminal breaks into your bedroom, and in certain other unpleasant situations.
Last January, a lone gunman on a killing spree at a Virginia law school was stopped by three brave students–two of whom had run for their cars, grabbed their guns and rushed back to point their weapons at the killer. (Mr. Lott himself points out that of the 280 news stories he had turned up on this law school shootings, all but four had somehow forgot to mention that the heroic students had been armed with guns.)
All you rational, honorable, facts-not-emotions Americans who spoke up for Islam last September–and more power to you!–how about a big rousing cheer for gun ownership right now?
Well, I was one of those Americans. (Here’s an example). But I note the hypocrisy that Gelernter points out, and I doubt that many of the people he refers to will answer this particular call. As Peter McWilliams said in his fine book Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do, it seems that after a shooting spree they want to pass laws punishing everyone but the actual shooter. If liberals would begin displaying some of that vaunted “tolerance” toward gun owners, perhaps gun owners would quit being so “paranoid.” After all, it’s not paranoia when people really do want to get rid of guns through means fair or foul.
WHY HAVE COFFEE PRICES FALLEN to the point that coffee growers are suffering, while the latte you buy remains hideously overpriced? This piece explains it. I found it via William Sjostrom who tartly observes: “This is the sort of writing Paul Krugman used to be able to do well, before he started to do non-stop ‘I hate Bush’ tantrums.”
ANDREW SULLIVAN has a long list of people who should be eating crow over North Korea’s admission that it has a nuclear weapons program. “Should be” being the operative phrase, apparently.
JIM HENLEY reflects on the old it’s-a-bug/it’s-a-feature conundrum in the context of, well, a lot of stuff that involves Iraq.
SO THE “NOT IN OUR NAME PROTEST” WAS LED BY THE REVOLUTIONARY COMMUNIST PARTY, according to this on Max Sawicky’s weblog. Hmm. If there were pro-war rallies led by the Nazis, that would get more attention, I think. Er, except that the Nazis are anti-war, too. Seems like the antiwar movement has a way to go if it’s going to be taken seriously. No wonder Todd Gitlin is unhappy.
I DISAGREE with the assumption behind the campaign to restore felons’ right to vote. I think the real problem is that there are too many felonies. Felonies used to be serious crimes, involving a likelihood of capital punishment. Now pretty much any crime is likely to be a felony. I’m inclined to think that there ought to be sharp limits on making victimless crimes like simple drug possession felonies. We’ve experienced inflation in the criminal-law area, and the currency — including the moral currency — of the criminal law has been debased thereby.
SEVERAL PEOPLE EMAILED to ask why my FoxNews.com column today didn’t mention the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt. The answer is that it was going to, but it was already too long (it came in at well over 1200 words as is). But here’s a link to a piece that Dave Kopel and I wrote on that subject last year. Consider it incorporated by reference.
UPDATE: Nick Denton calls the piece “superficially shocking but ultimately compelling.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader writes:
I am writing in response to your article on Foxnews.com. I couldn’t agree with you more. As a former Special Forces officer, I have traveled to a few troubled parts of the world where various thugs, hoodlums and other paramilitary pseudo-governmental “bad guys” were generally shaking down an unarmed, defenseless civilian population. In every case I couldn’t help thinking “What if all of these people had guns?” Many of my colleagues who saw a lot more action than I did made similar observations.
Invariably, there are never enough police, peacekeepers, or soldiers to protect everyone. When you deny criminals a pool of victims, you deny them their ability to commit crime. I believe this is true of robbery, murder, terrorism and especially genocide. I do feel professionally obligated to point out that when arming civilians you must ensure that the people who get the guns are also trained to properly use them. This includes not just basic marksmanship but discipline and civic responsibility. Recently armed, untrained people can be a great danger to themselves and others. However, with the proper training and support, democracy can often flourish among a population that is trained and equipped to defend itself.
I’m sure you will get a lot of very negative responses to your position. I’m also sure that very few of those who attack you will have ever been in a country virtually consuming itself under the boots of tyrants. Thank you for having the courage to propose a practical idea that is not politically correct.
Actually, I’ve gotten less abuse so far than I expected, even though predictably enough this piece has generated a lot of email. Maybe this is an idea whose time has come. And no one has tried to argue that the current approach works.
Heck, Neal Stephenson had something along these lines as a plot device in Cryptonomicon.
NORTH KOREA: One of the interesting questions is why North Korea chose to come clean. Here’s a thought: North Korea, whatever its other faults, has both an excellent intelligence service and close ties to Iraq. Maybe they have some idea what’s going to happen, and don’t want to be associated with Iraq when it does.
UPDATE: Tacitus has a response.
MAJOR BOMBING IN THE PHILLIPINES, which looks to be more of the same terrorist stuff.
It seems to me that the fact that this stuff is accelerating as we get closer to an attack on Saddam suggests that there’s a connection between him and Al Qaeda nowadays.
WHO’S TO BLAME for the Bali bombing? James Lileks rounds up the usual suspects in his Newhouse column — which is nice since he’s been Bleating so little this week.
IT’S GOOD TO BE THE KING. But Emily Bazelon writes that it’s nearly as good to be Sandra Day O’Connor. I think that Bazelon’s take on federalism is rather superficial, though: “If we care about fighting the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which men and women are treated differently in the workplace, it seems more important to set a uniform standard than to worry about insulting the states.”
“Insulting the states?” Federalism isn’t a dignitary right of the states. It’s a structural feature of the Constitution that’s supposed to protect individual freedom — and that the Framers thought was more significant in that role than the Bill of Rights.
ED LAZARUS IS DEEPLY CONFUSED according to this post at the Volokh Conspiracy. In fact, it is reported, he has the import of Nobel Economist Vernon Smith’s work exactly backwards.
DON’T MISS THIS PIECE BY FRANKLIN FOER IN THE NEW REPUBLIC ON how Iraq manipulates the Western media.
When journalists are accused of being unpatriotic for reporting from enemy countries, their excuse is that they’re delivering the truth. But they’re not, as Foer makes clear. So what’s the excuse for delivering untruths from an enemy country in wartime?
The same media-ethics types who get their panties in a wad over journalists accepting free t-shirts from corporations seem much less exercised over this far more serious question. Excerpt:
It’s not because American reporters have an ideological sympathy for Saddam Hussein; broadcasting his propaganda is simply the only way they can continue to work in Iraq. “There’s a quid pro quo for being there,” says Peter Arnett, who worked the Iraq beat for CNN for a decade. “You go in and they control what you do. … So you have no option other than to report the opinion of the government of Iraq.” In other words, the Western media’s presence in the Ministry of Information describes more than just a physical reality.
If you’d rather report propaganda than not report at all, is what you’re doing journalism? And people say weblogs aren’t objective?
UPDATE: This piece says that American journalists are just as bad where Iran is concerned: “So often, we hear self-described Iran experts on CNN and reporters in America’s leading newspapers explain away the dictatorship under which we suffer. We hear them talk about how young people and women still support President Khatami! No. We do not!”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader David Gillies writes from Costa Rica:
Franklin Foer’s piece in TNR was an eye-opener. It of course raises the possibility that the surreal coverage of the recent Iraqi ‘referendum’ in the
mainstream press is simply a reaction to the whip hand Saddam’s regime has over the foreign news corps. It might explain the tenor of the coverage; it certainly does not justify it.
No, it doesn’t.
MORE THOUGHTS ON “BALLISTIC FINGERPRINTING,” from Tabula Rasa. Doug Turnbull, meanwhile, starts out more positive, but then sees some issues, while openly admitting that maybe it’ll lead to gun registration, but he’s all in favor of gun registration anyway. This is more honest than the Mercury News, — which, as Tabula Rasa points out, claims that ballistic fingerprinting won’t lead to gun registration but notes that gun registration is a fine thing and “long overdue.”
However, Turnbull’s reference to “paranoid fantasies of imminent tyranny starting with national gun seizures,” and his claim that “a national gun registry will be no more of an invasion of privacy than registering your car, which is already required,” are out of place. In fact, gun registration has consistently led to confiscation; car registration has not. It’s not “paranoid” to fear real dangers.
I don’t think that the Second Amendment bars registration. But only an idiot would fail to notice this pattern, and I think that “ballistic fingerprinting” is, in fact, being pushed as a backdoor way of getting gun registration, by people who would favor confiscation if they thought they had the votes. I recommend this article for some concrete examples.
UPDATE: Suman Palit is already worried by what the FBI is doing in Maryland.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s more, from Juan Gato.
ONE MORE: Tabula Rasa responds to my Second Amendment comments above.
LOTS OF UPDATES ON VENEZUELA, which is getting less attention than it should, over at El Sur.
DANIEL POLSBY (a law professor at George Mason University, in the Virginia suburbs) writes in response to my “panic in DC” post:
I haven’t seen anybody walking zigzag patterns, for what that’s worth.
I’m right in the middle of these incidents and have actually patronized both the Manassas Sunoco station where one murder and the Falls Church Home Depot where the latest murder occurred. What is the level of fear around here? People talk a lot about the sniper, but I haven’t seen much of anything beyond that. There has been a jump, apparently, in carry concealed applications, or so the Fairfax County court clerk told my wife. The cops are working longer shifts, more surveillance and less traffic enforcement (a lot of which has nothing to do with public safety). On net, though the world may feel less safe, it is probably
I believe the “market research” hypothesis, not the “lone nut” hypothesis. I suspect a crew, not a soloist.
What to do? There is no defense from a long gun fired from ambush; you have to get on offense and stay there. There is a spider web, that is mostly just “out there,” but that plainly couldn’t exist without anchor points in a number of conventional nation-states. If you want to get rid of the spiders you need to tear the anchor points up. This, and not that Saddam is a mean guy, is the real argument for the war against Iraq. The reason it is difficult for the government to lean too heavily on this justification is that other nation-states are anchor points also, and well known to be. Nurturing international acceptance for the use of arms, we don’t necessarily want to make a public commitment to dealing
with Syria — a member of the Security Council for God’s sake! — after dealing with Iraq.
If we do the Iraq thing right, though, a lot of those other anchor points will just sort themselves out.
A CONSPIRACY SO VAST: Lots of good stuff over at The Volokh Conspiracy. Erik Jaffe writes:
First, why do we fetishize life and death to the point of virtually excluding — or grossly minimizing — all other values? Given that everybody dies eventually, what is really at stake is longevity, and we routinely sacrifice potential longevity for other interests. (Easy examples include driving small cars or motorcycles, drinking, smoking, skydiving, mountain climbing, and volunteering for the armed services.) But in many public policy debates I am noticing a tendency to treat the loss or shortening of life as an overarching value that trumps virtually all others, especially liberty. Once upon a time “Live Free or Die” might have seemed a perfectly natural motto for a state. Today it is hard to imagine any government seriously espousing that view. Rather, any slight threat to health or safety is routinely touted as a reason for government compel, command, restrict, or tax in order to combat the threat.
Scroll down, and see an interesting post by Eugene on yet another campus free speech issue, this time at UNLV.
Liberals Against Liberation
“No to War! No to Oppression!”
The above anti-war message was delivered to me via a sad-looking pink poster. I pulled the poster off a light pole and hung it in my office over my desk. I look at the poster every day when I sit down to work, and every day I wonder how and when the American left lost its moral compass.
You see, lefties, there are times when saying “no” to war means saying “yes” to oppression. Don’t believe me? Go ask a Czech or a European Jew about the British and French saying “no” to war with Germany in 1938. War may be bad for children and other living things, but there are times when peace is worse for children and other living things, and this is one of those times. . . .
After 9/11, the left argued that our support for brutal dictatorships in the Middle East helped create anti-American hatred. Apparently the Bush administration now agrees–so why isn’t the American left claiming this victory?
Because claiming this victory means backing this war, and the American left refuses to back this or any war–which makes the left completely irrelevant in any conversation about the advisability or necessity of a particular war. (Pacifism is faith, not politics.) What’s worse, the left argues that our past support for regimes like Saddam’s prevents us from doing anything about Saddam now. We supported (and in some cases installed) tyrants, who in turn created despair, which in turn created terrorists, who came over here and blew shit up… so now what do we do? According to the left, we do nothing. It’s all our fault, so we’re just going to have to sit back and wait for New York City or D.C. or a big port city (like, say, Seattle or Portland) to disappear.
Read the whole thing. He’s right about the Saudis, too.
MUSLIM CONDEMNATION OF TERROR: Samizdata has links and excerpts.
PLEASE: Send all your D.C. Sniper conspiracy theories to Jim Henley. He’s handling that portfolio, and doing it very well.
AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY UPDATE: A reader writes:
I’ve just returned from signing the book of condolences at the Australian Embassy at 1601 Massachusetts Avenue here in Washington, D.C. and it was good to see multiple floral sympathy displays in the lobby. Good work. Unfortunately there was not a line of people waiting to sign the book.
UPDATE: Tim Dunlop notes:
The Australian Ambassador to the US has invited Australians living in the Washington DC area to join him and Mrs Thawley at the Residence (3120 Cleveland Ave NW Washington DC) for a cup of tea or coffee at 11.30 am this Sunday 20th October. A minute’s silence will be observed at 12 noon.
So if you’re an Australian in DC, take note. I used to live quite close to the Australian Embassy, which makes me feel closer to this than I otherwise might.
MORE TROUBLE IN KUWAIT:
A Kuwaiti man with petrol bombs in his car was arrested Thursday near a housing complex in Kuwait where scores of U.S. military officers live, a senior security source said.
Fortunately, he appears to be another not-ready-for-primetime terrorist.
A RELIABLE READER emails that an Indonesian court has ordered the arrest of Abu Bakr Bashir. Via the BBC — no link yet. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Here’s the story, which says he’s been called in for questioning — perhaps not quite the same as arrested.
PAUL JOHNSON WRITES ON what’s wrong with Europe. Worth reading.
STRATFOR HAS THIS OBSERVATION ABOUT THE D.C. ATTACKS:
The idea that the shooter has some relationship to al Qaeda is not proven by any means, but it is not preposterous either, at least at this point.
The intelligence is that the lives of many people around Washington have been deeply effected by these shootings, and that a subterranean fear now is surfacing, and not entirely irrationally. This points to an interesting phenomenon: So long as it is not demonstrated that al Qaeda is disabled — a difficult thing to demonstrate even if it were true — the American public will, given time and some speculative evidence, construe potentially unrelated criminal actions as being planned attacks by al Qaeda. This gives al Qaeda an interesting and powerful edge in the psychological war it is waging with the United States. Al Qaeda does not have to act to create a sense of terror that transcends the mere lunacy of a serial killer. Over time, this could be a significant tool in its arsenal. . . .
A quiet day, except that if the police do capture or kill the Washington sniper, and he does turn out to be of Middle Eastern origin, the likelihood of an orgy of panic in Washington and the United States is extremely high — and U.S. behavior will become quickly unpredictable at that point.
Hmm. An “orgy of panic?” I’ve been talking to my friends in DC. Some are more scared than others (most typical: it’s ten people out of 2-3 million, so what are the odds?) but it’s hard to see “panic” as the main reaction, except among the excitable media crowd, which has a demonstrated tendency to panic at relatively minor threats to its own safety. And by doing so, the media is doing as much — especially in Stratfor’s analysis — to promote terror as Al Qaeda is.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Several readers have sent me emails along these lines, but this one is the most concise:
Looked at schematically, tactically, the sniper attacks in the areas surrounding Washington, D.C., seem to be intended to draw the attention of law-enforcement away from D.C. itself.
Five will get you ten these guys are Iraqis.
I hope he’s wrong. I fear he may be right. Another reader suggests, for reasons too involved to go into here, that it’s an effort specifically to draw attention away from non-white trucks that might be travelling on I-70. The only encouraging note is that so far the terrorists haven’t shown themselves to be that smart.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Beckwith writes:
As a DC resident I disagree completely that there will be an orgy of panic.
The DC sniper will either stop or be caught. If caught, he will either be a lone nut or an islamofascist. Either way people will be relieved not panicked.
If the shooter is an islamofascist, anger and determination will be the most predictable reaction. I suspect that there will be pressure on the police to infiltrate and monitor the radical mosques and emigre communities that harbor such terrorists. Maybe Robert Meuller (and the rest of the top FBI people who just dont get it) will be a bit panicked but the rest of us will be glad that the killer has been caught and profiled so that we can root out any others.
BTW, my guess is that the perp is an islamist duo, though I’ll bet they are freelancing rather than acting on orders from above.
We’ll see, won’t we?
ACCORDING TO THE FBI, being shot by a .223 rifle is no big deal. Yeah, I followed the link and it’s really as bad as it sounds. Worse, even.
READER CHRIS FOUNTAIN WRITES: “Five bucks says we won’t see any full page ads or campus demonstrations demanding that the UN send inspectors into North Korea. ‘Duck and Cover.’”
Sure we will — but only if the United States threatens to do something.
N.Z. BEAR has posted a response to Eric S. Raymond’s manifesto.
TALKLEFT is taking a surprisingly favorable line on my FoxNews column about genocide and the right to arms. But there is this quibble: “Our conception of a ‘right’ is an entitlement we choose to exercise, rather than a duty we feel obligated to perform.”
Actually, of course, in the Anglo-American tradition the right to arms has traditionally been conceived as both. It’s a right, in the sense that the state can’t take it away. But it’s also a duty, because the social benefits of an armed citizenry (the “positive externalities” in econospeak) in terms of both crime- and tyranny-prevention are sufficient to justify requiring people to be armed.
UPDATE: Here’s a related post from the Lefty Libertarian.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s a list of quotes from Gandhi, et al., on arms bearing, from Robin Goodfellow. As far as I know they’re genuine, but there aren’t any links.
AND ANOTHER ONE FROM THE I-TOLD-YOU-SO DEPARTMENT: Brock Yates has a great column on how luxury bus service is killing the airlines on short hauls. The reason? Delays, security hassles, and bad service. No surprise there.
The bus is nice because it lets you relax or work, unlike driving yourself. I can see the appeal, though I tend to find driving myself relaxing, too.
THE BATF HAS MADE LOTS OF ARRESTS for illegal rifles, but none of them is the sniper. Well, that’s encouraging.
VIRGINIA POSTREL has a lot of new stuff up. Go read it. You won’t be sorry.
STEVE DUNLEAVY WRITES that the D.C. shooter is no native. More troublingly, this article argues that what’s going on is terrorist “market research,” with the tactic likely to spread given its success in tying up hundreds of law-enforcement types to no use and engendering widespread panic.
Nobody really knows, of course. But I get the strong impression that the authorities are trying to avoid thinking about terrorism. Or at least talking about terrorism. And it’s troubling to me that you have to read news reports on these incidents (and you do) the way you’d read old Soviet newspapers, focusing on what’s not mentioned.
UPDATE: Caleb Carr writes:
Should the killings be the work of international terrorists, on the other hand, they will fit a textbook pattern that has been on ample display during recent years in every part of the world.
Yep. Which is why it’s so frustrating to see so little attention paid to this possibility.
UPDATE: Here’s another article from the New York Post suggesting that someone, at least, is taking the terrorist angle seriously.
GEITNER SIMMONS WRITES ABOUT EVIL — and concludes that Ellen Goodman is a better writer than Michael Kinsley. No, really.
JAMES MORROW responds to the Iraqi Ambassador’s New York Times op-ed, which he calls a “self-Fisking.”
THE OTHER BELTWAY SHOOTER: The M.O. is somewhat different, but it’s worth remembering.
HENRY COPELAND THINKS I’M WRONG about the advantages of Big Media where actual hard-news reporting is concerned, and he’s got a plan that involves the Blogosphere.
POLITICAL INSIDERS, note Patrick Ruffini’s take on John Zogby. I don’t know enough to have an opinion, but it’s kind of interesting.
JIHAD CAMPS in Indonesia.
IT’S AN NYC/BAGHDAD BLOGBURST. Well, sort of.
IT MAY TAKE ME A WHILE TO WIN MARY ROBINSON OVER: It’s not official until tomorrow, but my FoxNews column is up. It’s on why the right to bear arms should be recognized as an international human right.
FROM THE DEPT. OF ONGOING CULTURAL CHANGE:
Nicole Shounder of Lynnwood is an out and proud, post-operative transsexual lesbian who voted for George W. Bush. The former Air Force sergeant, now a nurse, heads a regional group called Cease Fear. It promotes firearms education and training for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered (GLBT). Her story is part of the upcoming documentary, “Guns and Roses,” by Seattle filmmakers Soyon Im and Jhett Bond.
Shounder says, “I’m in sync with Democratic Party values, but their gun-control stance doesn’t work. We stand out as possible targets, and we are not going to let harm come to ourselves or our loved ones.”
Shounder owns a Smith and Wesson .45, a discreet Kel-Tec .32 for formal dress, and a non-lethal Taser. Unlike the heinous sniper terrorizing suburban Washington, D.C., Shounder vows never to use her weapons on another person unless for defense.
Cease Fear is part of a nationwide network of GLBT firearms education and training groups usually called Pink Pistols. Ex-Microsoftie and Puget Sound refugee Joe Huffman assisted in the formation this summer of a Pink Pistols group in the Palouse, straddling the Washington-Idaho border.
Call me crazy, but this documentary sounds a lot more interesting than Michael Moore’s.
SAUDI FUNDING OF AL QAEDA CONTINUES UNABATED.
The Saudi regime is digging its own grave.