November 3, 2002
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY — HIGH: Trojan Horseshoes is Fisking a church bulletin, and doing a good job.
Somebody should send a copy to the IRS.
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY — HIGH: Trojan Horseshoes is Fisking a church bulletin, and doing a good job.
Somebody should send a copy to the IRS.
I COULD BE WRONG, but I wonder if Kuwait’s closing of its Al Jazeera office isn’t a sign of impending war.
AZIZ POONAWALLA RAINS on the wrap-them-in-pigskin parade:
The reason that these murderers are not going to heaven is because they killed innocent men, women and children. They were engaged in harabah, not jihad.
Wrapping them in pigskin to “prevent” them from entering Heaven implicitly gives credence to the idea that these murderers were engaging in jihad, and had performed an act worthy of admittance to Paradise.
This is probably right, though it assumes a degree of rationality not in evidence.
UPDATE: Vegard Valberg is cool to the idea, too.
THE IMMORALITY of the anti-war position, via Salman Rushdie.
INCRIMINATING PHOTOS from Global Conspiracy HQ. Er, well, one of them is pretty incriminating, anyway.
HMM. Here’s a study suggesting that the economic future for blogging might turn out to be quite bright. Of course, I don’t tend to believe this sort of forecast. . . .
Diplomacy has failed – meaning that only a revolutionary advanced technology will save the Earth from relentless global warming driven by greenhouse gas emissions, scientists warned yesterday.
Avoiding a catastrophic effect on climate from the burning of fossil fuels would require political will, international cooperation and huge resources, said the team from a group of American universities. But “no amount of regulation” could solve the problem, they said.
ANOTHER UPDATE: More nanotechnology links at FuturePundit.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: And here’s a linkfest from Robert Prather.
SAUD DELENDA EST!
ON BEING A PROFESSOR: I’m in the office, as usual on Sunday except when I take the laptop to my “other office” at Borders. I’ve finished my TCS column, replied to a couple of hundred emails on my office account that I can’t access from home for some reason, and gone through a stack of mail that includes a lot of junk, offers for textbooks in areas where I don’t teach, invitations to conferences that take place in three days (what’s the point of mailing those things?) and so on.
I got my annual review from the Dean (we get those even when we’re tenured full professors, like me) and discovered that I “exceed expectations” in all categories. InstaPundit even gets a favorable mention. I got a “conflict of interest” form that doesn’t seem to apply to me, but I emailed the Dean to make sure. (The joy of being a Dean is that you get lots of email like that. . . .) I accepted an invitation to speak at a panel on “Communitarian Approaches to Cyberspace.” I threw away a bunch of accumulated paper left over from doing tenure reviews — where other schools send you the scholarship of people up for tenure or promotion for comments, thus requiring you to read hundreds of pages and write a letter about them. Sometimes they pay you an honorarium of $100, which works out to burger-flipping wages or less. Other times they don’t even do that. The library wants back its copy of David Brin’s “The Transparent Society.” And the mailing list software for the list that I run for my National Security Law seminar keeps kicking one of the students out for some reason. I think that’s fixed now.
People sometimes write to wonder how I spend my time, so here you are! And, despite the way the above sounds, I love my job. It’s just amazing how much underbrush I have to clear just to get to the point where I can actually do the stuff that’s actually supposed to be my job. Next week I’ll get rough draft papers back from my seminar — I don’t grade those, but I do comment on them. And the students in my Administrative Law class will turn in their comments. I pick proposed regulations from the Federal Register each year and have them draft comments, which are actually filed with the agency and become part of its rulemaking docket. This is a great exercise, except, of course, that it means I have to read and grade them all. The class is reasonably sized this year, so it’ll only be about 300-400 pages, plus perhaps half again that many in seminar rough drafts, for me to read this week.
Will blogging be lighter as a result? Could be.
ANOTHER BUMMER. Charles Sheffield died yesterday.
BACKLASH? A poll conducted by Minnesota Public Radio and the St. Paul Pioneer Press says that Mondale is now trailing Norm Coleman by six percent. I don’t know how much stock to put in these last-minute polls, but given who’s conducting it, this can’t be written off as wishful thinking by Coleman partisans.
If Mondale loses, I think that the Wellstone rally will be the reason. And I imagine it will cost Terry McAuliffe his job.
UPDATE: Hmm. I guess Terry McAuliffe is worried about the same thing, which is why he’s blaming the Wellstone family.
That’s how you can be sure the whole thing was a bad idea — people are casting blame, not taking credit.
ORRIN JUDD HAS NOTICED an interesting confluence of bin Laden stories. He thinks the war on Al Qaeda is going better than we realize.
WHAT THE FBI IS DOING INSTEAD OF STOPPING TERRORISTS: Latest in an apparently endless series. Does this suggest that they’ve got their priorities right?
WELL, THIS SUCKS: I just got an email saying that Terry Hill died Friday night. Terry was one of the great unknown figures of underground punk and new wave in the late 70s and early 80s. He was very ill and awaiting a liver transplant; last year I remastered some of his stuff and put it up on the web for him. (You can hear it here.) I don’t know anything about funeral plans yet, but I’ll make the information available when I do.
UPDATE: There will be a small memorial service for friends, followed by what Hector Qirko describes as a “more musical and fitting memorial” at a later date.
WHERE HAVE THE YOUNG PACIFISTS GONE? Not to join antiwar protests, apparently:
Across the country, college professors spearhead anti-war protests as America prepares for a possible attack on Iraq.
They organize forums and lectures critical of war.
And they sign petitions calling an attack on Iraq morally unjustified.
Meanwhile, their students seem to care less. Few organize marches or rallies. Even when asked, only a smattering write letters to their campus newspapers. Many worry more about tomorrow’s literature quiz than the burgeoning international crisis over Iraq’s potential to build weapons of mass destruction.
It’s the 1960s revisited, only this time the professors — not the students — wear their conscience on their sleeves.
Read the whole thing, which is fascinating. Perhaps it’s the intense advocacy by professors that explains why students aren’t so motivated: It’s not rebellion when the professors are leading the way.
UPDATE: Of course, the problem could be, as David Corn argues, with the antiwar movement itself.
SPEAKING OF EXPLODING ROUSSEAUVIAN MYTHS, Derek Lowe points out that life wasn’t so great in pre-Columbian America:
The study found a long-term decline in health as the populations grew in different areas, which is interesting. But any surprise people have at the general results surprises me. When my brother and I were small children, we accompanied our parents to achaeological digs back in Arkansas. My father was a dentist, and he was there for some forensic work on the teeth of the Indian remains. What he told me back then has stayed with me: these folks had lousy teeth. They had cavities, they had abcesses, impactions, the lot. (The weakened condition of their gums due to lack of Vitamin C probably had a lot to do with it.)
So, growing up, I knew that the Hollywood depiction of Indian life was rather idealized. For one thing, all the movie actors had great teeth. And the young braves weren’t like those 24-year-old actors – they were maybe 14. And the ancient medicine man, he wasn’t 80 years old at all. He was in his 40s; he just looked 80. You never saw extra tribesmen in the background, hobbling around because of poorly set broken bones or clutching their jaws in pain. No skin problems, no infections, not even so much as a bad allergy – no doubt about it, the tribe to belong to was MGM.
You can imagine how I feel about the rest of the cheap thinking that goes along these lines. Oh, the way preindustrial cultures loved the land, lived in harmony with it while everyone ate the wholesome diet of natural purity and stayed true to those simple values that we’ve lost touch with. . .spare me. I’m with Hobbes: the life of man in the natural state was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. And let’s not forget it.
Sadly, too many people have a vested interest in presenting bogus arcadian images to keep this clearly in mind.
CHARLES MURTAUGH says that Stephen Pinker is getting a bum rap from critics of his new book. I haven’t read the book, but I saw Pinker on CSPAN2 last night, lecturing at the National Academy of Science. It was an excellent presentation, and seemed quite well-received.
ANOTHER MICHAEL MOORE FISKING — soon we’ll have to call them “Mooreings.”
AL GORE WILL BE guest hosting Saturday Night Live in December. There’s no musical guest for that show yet. Any suggestions for who it ought to be?
UPDATE: Oh, silly me. It should have been obvious!
ANOTHER UPDATE: Brian Erst notes in the comments, below:
I know this one is probably TOO freakin’ obvious, but I’m sure they’ve already played SNL and would be welcomed back…
If you had Gore doing some sort of call-and-response with Gavin Rossdale, it could even be Bush v. Gore…
READER MICHAEL GERSH was appalled to discover that the “Jeff Cooper” link on my blogroll leads to the law professor Jeff Cooper, rather than this Jeff Cooper.
APPARENTLY, voting machine manufacturers are upset about this website claiming conflicts-of-interest and other problems in their business. I don’t know anything about this story beyond what’s on these pages, but I’m thinking of writing a piece on the inherent superiority of paper ballots, so this caught my eye. Make of it what you will.
UPDATE: Here’s another page devoted to election mistakes.
THE TIMES REPORTS that the FBI is investigating a John Muhammad / Richard Reid link:
Reid, 29, from south London, was arrested last December when he tried to ignite explosives in his shoe on a flight from Paris to Miami. He had an onward ticket to Antigua, where he claimed he was intending to visit relatives.
The suspected snipers, John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, were living on the island at the time. Later they returned to Washington, where they are alleged to have been responsible for a killing spree that left at least 10 people dead.
Both Reid, who is currently awaiting sentence in America after admitting the attempted bombing, and Muhammad had converted to Islam and were known to hold radical views.
Reid has been linked to Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network, while neighbours of Muhammad and Malvo have claimed the duo expressed support for the September 11 hijackers. . . .
It also emerged that when Muhammad first entered Antigua, he stayed with a woman called Jeanette Reed (or Reid).
Could just be a coincidence, of course.
ERIC S. RAYMOND writes about the “capsaicinization of American food.” He’s basically right, though southern food was never as bland and lame as the pre-1970s American diet he invokes. There was always barbecue, and tamales (a staple at Knoxville diners for a century, often dunked in chili to become a “full house”) and pepper sauces.
But it’s not just spiciness. It’s variety. There was a time when pizza and spaghetti were considered exotic. Now I live within a mile or two of more sushi places than I can count, and they’re good. Of course, I do live in the Greater East Tennessee Co-Prosperity Sphere.
UPDATE: Russell Leslie emails from Australia:
have spent maybe ten months in the US over the last ten years in two to four week slices. It took me a while to figure out why I always spent the entire trip
with heart-burn and stomache aches. On my last trip I discovered it was because I had developed an “intolerance” for chilis and peppers.
It doesn’t help that I have spent most of my time in New Mexico (Santa Fe, Alburquerque and Los Alamos) – where “red or green” is a question that accompanies all meals – even breakfast!!!
When I am in the States, I live on Tums and Pepto-Bismol. I have to bring some of my own emergency food for when I just can’t take the heartburn any more.
Have pity on us poor foreigners!!
A cheeseburger is usually safe, Russell. And you can get Tagamet over the counter here now.
MARC HEROLD, AUTHOR OF BOGUS CIVILIAN-CASUALTY STATISTICS, HAS FALLEN INTO THE TRAP. And Matt Welch has noticed. I’m unimpressed by Herold’s inability to spell Iain Murray’s name. Er, and by this phrase of Herold’s: “But since my way of being has been to be a ‘grand seigneur’ overlooking the little attempted stings, I will do just exactly what you requested.”
A “grand seigneur”? Get a grip, Herold: you’re a freakin’ professor. I wrote something a while back about the tendency of academics to take this sort of line:
Today’s academia is descended from the clerical scholars and courtier intellectuals of the middle ages. Those folks naturally identified with the princes and potentates who provided their funding. Today’s academics affect to identify with the working classes, but many of their attitudes — a contempt for popular culture, a low regard for business and commerce and a desire to set themselves apart from the common herd — are leftovers from a bygone era. There’s a reason why kings and princes are no longer found in our society; emulating them isn’t going to make you popular.
This is the kind of thing I was talking about. “Grand seigneur?” Sheesh.
THE ARMY IS FIRING ARAB LINGUISTS FOR BEING GAY? As Stefan Sharkansky puts it: “Hey guys! We’re in the middle of a war.”
ARTHUR SILBER HAS ISSUED A CHALLENGE to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. And scroll up for Maureen Dowd’s voting record.
WHIGGING OUT, back from a hiatus, has election predictions up. Culpepper Log has more election-related stuff, too — and scroll up and down for tributes to Larry Flynt, Michaelangelo, and Kinky Friedman. Now that’s an eclectic group. Meanwhile Martin Devon is ahead of the pack, already figuring out the post-election moves.
I’m not sure, though, that the world is ready for MoxiePundit.
HE’S BAAACK! After a long absence, the Unablogger has returned. Don’t follow this link unless you’re prepared.
MR. CRANKY HATES GUNS AND THE NRA: But he doesn’t like Michael Moore or Bowling for Columbine either:
So, given my modest leanings, you’d think I’d enjoy Michael Moore’s politically correct take on the issue. Alas, no. In fact, the issue is part of the problem, as Moore seems to delight in finding a moral point of view he can pound into his audience over and over again with an increasingly heavy hand. It’s all spelled out as he tells you what he’s going to tell you (guns are bad), tells it to you (guns are bad — watch these people get shot), then tells you what he just told you (guns are bad). Letting the audience draw its own conclusions is apparently far too dangerous.
Additionally, Moore seems to have caught some sort of left-wing attention deficit disorder as the topic runs from guns to racism to American foreign policy to media bias to class division to nationalized health care to killer bees. He also seems to be losing his timing for when to be funny and when to be sober.
Phil Donahue likes the movie, though.
UPDATE: A Canadian reader emails:
I just wanted to mention one of the reactions I’ve heard in Canada to “Bowling for Columbine.” A Montreal journalist friend of mine, who otherwise loves the film and generally agrees with Moore’s ideas on gun control, nonetheless found the Canadian segment of the film to be inexcusably dishonest. The reason: Moore fails to make any mention of our own homegrown Columbine, the Dec 6, 1989 massacre of 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique by a deranged gunman named Marc Lepine.
But that might have undermined his thesis about us peace-loving, gun-controlling Canadians.
Well, there’s no place for inconvenient facts in this film, that’s for sure.
JEEZ. I’m procrastinating when I should be working on my TCS column for next week, which is a followup on the one from last week. Now I notice that N.Z. Bear has already written a followup to my TCS column from last week.
Okay, it’s not quite what I’m writing, but it’s close. The speed of the blogosphere is frightening!
UPDATE: I should mention that his piece is part of the Weblog Action Center, a “massively collaborative weblog” aimed at, well, making society better.
THIS IS MEANER than anything Josh Chafetz has written:
If Annie Sprinkle provides one sort of counter-cultural entertainment, The New York Times’s op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd provides another, less sexual but not necessarily less obscene. Dispassionate readers, encountering Dowd’s hysterical outbursts, might be forgiven for wondering if she were quite sane. (They might also, we suppose, wonder about the sanity of her employers.) Dowd was already out of control in the Clinton years, when she first came to prominence. But since George W. Bush took office, she has left mere stridency for a form of editorial hectoring that is partly irresponsible, partly surreal.
Yes, and most damning of all, it just isn’t funny. You needn’t be both funny and profound, a combination reserved for such giants as Mark Twain, Dave Barry, and James Lileks. But if you’re a columnist for the New York Times you ought to be one or the other. At least some of the time.
UPDATE: Juan Gato, on the other hand, is funny.
ANOTHER NON-STORY REVEALED: Three Mile Island produced no increase in cancer deaths. That’s not really a surprise, or shouldn’t be. But given the way it was played at the time, I’m glad this study is getting attention.
I even heard it on NPR yesterday.
(Link via the increasingly commercial DailyPundit.Com).
PERRY DE HAVILLAND AND SAMIZDATA are featured in Wired News today. Happy Blogiversary!
RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE SITREP: (Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these). Judging by the crowd at Toys R Us today, and the mall parking lot, predictions of a disappointing Christmas season may turn out to be premature. There was a whole lot of shoppin’ going on. And Christmas is a long way off.
SOME SHIFTY “ALLIES” in Afghanistan. This guy needs to be made an example of.
INTERESTING ELECTION STUFF over at QuasiPundit.
ANTHRAX SCARE IN KNOXVILLE! Rich Hailey has the scoop.
THE NEW REPUBLIC SAYS that it’s time to boot France from the Security Council:
In truth, France’s fantasies of grandeur–fantasies that are decades, if not centuries, out of date–would be laughable, except that they are taken seriously in Turtle Bay. And so the Bush administration must endlessly negotiate with a country whose Iraq policy is motivated by petro-dollars and anti-American resentment, particularly the anti-American (and anti-Western) resentment of its Muslim immigrant masses. Why not stop the charade and let France veto the Iraq resolution? The United States and its allies could, on their own, eliminate the unconventional weapons of that most unconventional tyrant, Saddam Hussein. And, as a side benefit, the United Nations would suffer a humiliation so profound that it might force some long-overdue reconsideration of the Security Council’s anachronistic composition. For international organizations to be relevant, privilege must follow power, and for them to be admirable, privilege must follow decency. Nothing would more dramatically further both goals than dethroning France.
Yep. As I said before, crossing the United States in matters like this should be expensive. Sadly, there’s every reason to think that Foggy Bottom is as behind the times in this matter as Turtle Bay.
I MEANT TO LINK TO THIS YESTERDAY, but as some of you have noticed it was a reduced-blogging day (I spent some quality time with my wife, took a nap, stuff like that) so I didn’t. But this piece says it better than I did when I tried earlier:
Politics is the biggest, easiest way in all of America to avoid looking at yourself, and who you are, and what fence needs fixing on your own homestead.
A lot of you are in politics not because you want to lead, but because you want to run. From yourselves.
When you’re in politics not to live life but avoid it, you become especially susceptible to a kind of polar thinking. You become convinced you’re with the good team and the good people over here. You become convinced anyone who doesn’t want the same policies you want must be bad. After all, you’re good, so if they disagree they must be bad. When you’re polar like that you dehumanize the people on the other side. And when you dehumanize them–well, then you wind up booing them at a funeral. And worse.
I don’t mean you can’t be tough and honest in your judgments. There are some bad folks on the other side, it’s fair to say it. But most of them? All of them? They’re all the enemy? How could that be? . . .
This embittered sense of constant war with a wicked foe, and anything you can do to defeat the wicked is justified, and a corpse will do as a podium. And we have to stop it, both because we’re better than that and because it isn’t good for democracy. And democracy is still what Churchill said: the worst form of government except for all the others.
So please ponder what I say. And if it applies to you, or you think it might, stop, sit down and figure out a plan to do something about it.
Read the whole thing.
WILL WARREN, the Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, has a new one.
DAVID BROOKS WRITES about Baathism, a rather repellent ideology that has gotten less attention than it deserves. (Funny that the left is so uninterested in this variant of fascism.) Excerpt:
Aflaq’s writings were vague and pathetic whenever he tried to address concrete situations, but he did apparently have a gift for painting glorious pictures of future triumph, which appealed to those with a nagging sense of national humiliation. Like a lot of intellectuals of the middle of the twentieth century, Aflaq also spent time theorizing about the revolutionary process. The Baath saw themselves as strugglers, as people engaged in a permanent revolution aimed at uniting them with the inner perfection that is Arabism. The Baath party, Aflaq felt, embodying the transcendent Arab spirit, needed to be ruthless against those who did not share its beliefs. Moreover, it was through this combat, or struggle, that the Baath could achieve Arab perfection. As Aflaq wrote:
“In this struggle we retain our love for all. When we are cruel to others, we know that our cruelty is in order to bring them back to their true selves, of which they are ignorant. Their potential will, which has not been clarified yet, is with us, even when their swords are drawn against us.”
Struggle necessarily involves sacrifice, he emphasized, but amidst fiery conflict and bloodshed, each person “is forced to return to himself, to sink into his depths, to discover himself anew after experience and pain. At that point the true unity will be realized, and this is a new kind of unity different from political unity; it creates the unity of spirit among the individuals of the nation.”
Ah, yes, we’ve heard this sort of thing before. Interestingly, any warblogger who suggested that the current struggle, and the behavior of Iraq and its allies therein, represents the “perfection” of the Arab character would be denounced as a racist. Or, worse, an “Orientalist.”
UPDATE: Innocents Abroad has some comments.
NOW RICHARD SHELBY IS ALL OVER HARVEY PITT. I’m not a businessblogger, or an econoblogger, so I haven’t followed this very closely. But the SEC is supposed to be all about disclosure. And he seems to have failed to disclose some pretty material facts. That’s reason enough for him to go, isn’t it?
I’M NO EXPERT on Minnesota politics, or even on political campaigns. But it seems to me that when you’re named as a candidate a week before the election, and then you don’t show up for the debate, well, that’s bad.
On a related note, I’ve been deluged with emails reporting that Lileks’ piece on Mondale was quoted on various political TV shows yesterday. Lileks rules!
UPDATE: Oh, now the reasons are clear. . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Dodd Harris emails:
When Ventura said he was looking for a “regular citizen” to appoint to Wellstone’s seat, it occurred to me that we all know of one who’d make an excellent choice: If enough peopled called Ventura’s office to suggest it, it might just be possible to persuade him to appoint Lileks. Lileks probably wouldn’t want the job, of course, but that just proves he’s perfect for it.
I think this is a great idea. Senator Lileks!
TOTAL BANDWIDTH FOR OCTOBER: 261.45 gigs. The server, however, is handling it just fine. I’ve been very happy with HostingMatters. They also have a stripped-down, but still very generous and reasonably priced, service aimed specifically at blog-hosting. Visit Bloggerzone if that interests you.
DANIEL TAYLOR on the “sniper subculture:”
Reminds me of my days working retail bookselling. We carried a handful of those stupid “how to be a ninja” books, but to my knowledge we never actually sold one. They kept getting shoplifted. I now recognize I should have been blaming the “ninja subculture” instead of the pimply-faced adolescent guys that appeared to be responsible.
This has numerous applications, now that I think about it. Now, instead of blaming the Violence Policy Center for rampant dishonesty, I’ll blame the “opportunistic nonprofit-fundraising subculture.”
But they’ve still got the item citing Bellesiles on their website:
Early America was vastly different from the handgun-happy images one sees on television, in movies, and in the pages of gun magazines. Serious historians have documented that early Americans had little interest in guns. Until the mid-1800s, owning a gun was surprisingly uncommon. Those who owned firearms almost always owned long guns.
Historian Michael Bellesiles, for example, examined more than a thousand probate records from northern New England and Pennsylvania filed from 1765 to 1790. He found that only 14 percent of household inventories included firearms–and more than half of these were inoperable.22 Colonial settlers got meat mostly from domesticated animals like cows and pigs. When they wanted wild game, they bought it from native Americans or professional hunters, most of whom trapped their prey.23 Prior to 1850, at most only a tenth of the nation’s population individually owned guns of any kind.24
Sure, it’s only been a week since he resigned in disgrace. I blame the subculture of — oh, hell, never mind.
MISHA performs another Imperial Misting, directed at the Not In Our Name crowd.
Gore Vidal, of course, will hate the constant Caligula appearances.
MICROSOFT CONSENT DECREE APPROVED with only minor changes. The opinion is here.
A ROMAN-THEMED MAUREEN DOWD PARODY, from (who else?) BitchPundit.
CHRIS MOONEY, formerly the main voice at TAPPED, now has his own weblog, offering Harry Potter-themed observations on spycraft (er, well, sort of), among other things.
UPDATE: Chris Mooney corrects me on the “main voice” line: “Nick Confessore was (and in his case still is) just as instrumental as myself.”
ANDREW BREITBART WRITES on the Winona Ryder trial. He’s not impressed.
“EUROPE ON THE BRINK OF COLLAPSE:” That’s the headline of this article, which observes:
While this battle rages, the Euro-zone economy is going from bad to worse. It was hardly surprising that many missed the devastating one-word summary of the German economy by the country’s equivalent of the CBI last week: “catastrophic”.
From the bottom to the top, but especially at the top, Europe is in a deepening mess. The international economic downturn has contributed to continental woes. But that downturn is not the cause, or the proximate cause, of Europe’s stunning reversal of fortune.
The cause is a self-destruction wrought by a political elite that has wrapped itself in fantastical self-delusion about the superiority of its economic system, the coming ascendancy of the single currency over the dollar, and the tide of wealth and prosperity that would inevitably flow from the relentless pursuit of “ever closer union”. Here, on an epic scale, has been a procession of naked emperors who cannot begin to grasp why the world has stopped applauding.
For the Euro-zone, the applause stopped long ago. In the cacophony that passes for policy coherence there has come an absurd but utterly predictable result: far from the euro providing greater stability and a platform for better performance as its apologists claimed, the economies inside the Euro-zone are now faring worse than those outside.
It sounds like Enron, only with tax money. And, naturally, with less moral outrage.
UPDATE: Chris Bertram emails that he thinks the piece quoted above overstates the problems of Europe in general, but not those of France.
FELLOW TENNESSEE BLOGGER DONALD SENSING has a post on an election issue that I didn’t mention in my post below: the lottery battle. I’m not very interested in that, really. I don’t think that gambling is immoral, though I’m not especially thrilled with the idea of the government being in the gambling business especially on a more-or-less monopolistic basis. And the way the lottery is set up, it won’t actually solve any of the problems that we keep hearing about in terms of state revenue.
LILEKS IS DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED WITH FRITZ MONDALE’S CAMPAIGN. And he’s got reasons. Lots of ‘em. And tough questions for Mondale. Lots of ‘em.
I wonder if the press will ask Mondale any of those questions in the next few days?
TACITUS HAS A FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT OF AN ANTI-SAUDI RALLY ON CAPITOL HILL, by the families of 9/11 victims. Interesting; I wonder if it’ll get much press.
MORE ON JOHN MUHAMMAD from Jim Henley, including the question of why Muhammad, with his rather, ahem, checkered military record, received an honorable discharge.
HERE’S THE PROGRAM FOR THE YALE LAW SCHOOL CONFERENCE ON WEBLOGS that’s three weeks from today. I’ll be the “keynote” speaker and Mickey Kaus will be the “featured” speaker. Your guess is as good as mine as to what the difference is. Josh Marshall, Jeff Jarvis, John Hiler, and a host of other interesting people will be there, too.
TENNESSEE ELECTIONS: People are asking me what I think. The reason I haven’t posted is that I don’t have really strong opinions or predictions.
The governor’s race, between Phil Bredesen and Van Hilleary, could still go either way. I’ve had dinner with both of them recently, and my impression is that they’re both decent guys. (Interestingly, both stressed their strong Second Amendment positions — there’s just no real support for anti-gun positions in Tennessee nowadays). Bredesen’s ahead in the polls, but not by a lot. The most interesting thing is that the Republican, Van Hilleary, is running commercials calling Bredesen “BredeSundquist” — invoking the name of the state’s wildly unpopular Republican governor, who somehow managed to offend almost everyone with his various stances on the state income tax.
In the Senate race, Alexander is ahead, though the gap is closing. I have some students working for Clement who seem depressed about the race — if there’s secret good news in the polling (which some suggest there may be because Alexander has gone very negative in his ads, which is unusual for someone ahead at this stage of a campaign) they don’t know about it. I haven’t seen people this depressed since the final stages of the 1988 Dukakis campaign.
My local congressman, who voted against the Iraq war resolution, is running more commercials than usual. The Libertarian challenger is on the radio a lot too. Interestingly, their commercials are very similar.
People are predicting a low turnout, but the turnout at the early-voting sites is huge. I don’t know what that means.
So there you are.
BELLESILES UPDATE: Kimberly Strassel has a piece in the Wall Street Journal, calling it a conditional victory for scholarly integrity. That seems about right.
UPDATE: And here is a comment on History News Network debunking Jon Wiener’s Nation account of “unusually large men” shadowing Bellesiles.
For what it’s worth, when I spoke at the Stanford program on the Second Amendment where Bellesiles was the keynoter, there were people passing out leaflets, too. They were, as I recall, distinctly non-threatening.
From the start, Bellesiles’ assertions were highly implausible. No guns in 18th-century America? Nobody who has looked at an 18th-century painting or read an 18th-century book could believe it. How could such an assertion get past a publisher or the Bancroft prize-givers? We know the answer. They believed it because they wanted to believe. The ideological bias of the modern university can blind academics to the truth as utterly as ever did the theological biases of the past. They could not have been so easily lead astray had they not first shut their eyes.
The University of Tennessee’s Administration should be ashamed of itself. Not that the fraternity in question has a lot to be proud of. But free speech isn’t only for things that you should be proud of, something that universities certainly seem able to appreciate in many other contexts. As Eugene Volokh writes:
Uh, administrators, sorry to distress you even further, but the First Amendment gives people the right to be uncivil, unharmonious, and not terribly respectful of racial harmony. What’s more, it means that when you sanction people, you are violating the Constitution, and can be and should be sued and held financially liable.
The funny thing is that this very issue — people’s right to wear blackface — has come up before, and has actually led to a U.S. Court of Appeals decision, Iota Xi v. George Mason University (4th Cir., some time in the early 1990s) that made perfectly clear that public universities may not punish students for wearing blackface. But even without the Iota Xi decision, the right First Amendment result would be obvious.
You needn’t be the author of a First Amendment text, like Volokh, to see the principle here. One might almost say you need to be a university administrator to miss it. As I said, the University — and specifically Provost Loren Crabtree and whoever advised him on this — should be ashamed. And such tactics in the name of political correctness make a mockery of claims regarding academic freedom at universities, which, as I’ve said before, are in fact some of the most hostile environments in America where free speech is concerned. I’m embarrassed to see my own institution fall prey to such thinking.
UPDATE: On looking at the story again, this passage leaps out at me:
“We will require the leaders and members of Kappa Sigma to demonstrate a commitment to uphold our expectations for civility, ethnic diversity and racial harmony,” Crabtree said.
This sounds suspiciously like a demand for a loyalty oath, pledging fealty to the University’s positions on “ethnic diversity” and “racial harmony.” That, too, is a violation of the First Amendment.
ANOTHER UPDATE: And people are already making fun of UT for this. Sigh.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has another post on the “blackface” issue.
ONE MORE UPDATE: Great. The story’s on Drudge, and Neal Boortz has a link on his program notes page, which means it was on his show today. Presumably, the reason for the University’s response was fear of bad publicity, but the response has so far produced nothing but bad publicity. I wonder if they’ll take the appropriate lesson from that.
A SUICIDE BOMBER’S FATHER has figured something out:
“The Israelis are armed with democracy, knowledge and order,” he said. “We need these weapons. Blowing up 100 buses and restaurants will neither destroy Israel nor bring us victory.”
BARNEY FRANK WEIGHS IN on the South Carolina gay-bashing campaign incident:
The comment came during a discussion of which South Carolina candidate — Republican U.S. Rep. Lindsey Graham or Democrat Alex Sanders — had more liberal friends and associates. Sanders noted that one of Graham’s endorsements came from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is “ultra-liberal.”
“His wife kicked him out and he moved in with two gay men and a Shih Tzu,” Sanders continued. “Is that South Carolina values? I don’t think so.” . . .
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay Democrat from Massachusetts, criticized Sanders in a statement on Thursday.
“Mr. Sanders’ pronouncement that it violates South Carolina values to accept an offer of hospitality from a gay couple is a bigoted comment that reflects poorly on Mr. Sanders, not Rudy Giuliani,” Frank said.
I agree. Unless, of course, Sanders was talking about the Shih Tzu, in which case his comments are entirely understandable.
UPDATE: And here’s something I didn’t know about Paul Wellstone on this subject. It’s of only academic interest now, of course — but the fact that nobody was reporting it tells us something that may be more generally relevant.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Tony Adragna was on this story first. Advantage: Quasipundit!
BELLESILES UPDATE: Here’s a story on the Bellesiles affair from my local paper. There’s a quote from me that’s not very exciting, but the one from Boston University law professor Randy Barnett is pretty good:
“To me, the real story is that in the beginning the professional historians closed ranks behind Bellesiles and savaged the professional and amateur researchers who questioned him, and unless those historians are now willing to step forward and admit they were wrong and the critics were right, they run the risk of turning Bellesiles into the Alger Hiss of the history profession.”
The Alger Hiss of the history profession. Or the Lillian Hellman?
PRESIDENT’S CASE FOR LINKAGE FAILS TO CONVINCE; This isn’t the way I’ve heard it, but. . . .
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
One of the requirements of a healthy party is that it renews itself. You can’t keep running Walter Mondale for everything.
–Walter Mondale, declining to run for the United States Senate seat from Minnesota (1989)
Heh. And check out this new Mondale radio ad.
UPDATE: Bob Kuttner agrees! “The Democrats will soon run out of 70-year-old issues and 70-year-old ex-senators. They had better start generating more Wellstones.”
MUHAMMAD AND MALVO have been linked to another shooting, this one in Louisiana:
Washington, Attorney General John Ashcroft said the investigation was continuing into the possibility that other people may be involved or that the two suspects in custody in Maryland have committed more crimes.
“We will proceed deliberatively, cautiously and not jump to any conclusions,” Ashcroft said. “The facts that the evidence will determine the final outcome and we intend to follow the facts wherever they may lead.”
The rifle has now been tied to shootings in four states and the District of Columbia. Earlier Thursday, Alabama authorities said the weapon was linked to the September killing; police are also looking into cases in Washington state, Oregon, California, Arizona, Michigan, Tennessee and Connecticut.
In the Baton Rouge slaying, the victim was shot once in the head by a gunman witnesses described as a young black man who fled into a park.
Muhammad, formerly known as John Allen Williams, grew up in Baton Rouge and still has relatives and friends there, including one of his ex-wives. He visited the area this summer, friends said.
This case just gets more curious.
UPDATE: Here’s more on Muhammad, the grenade attack in the Gulf, and a hidden weapon. I think he’s more than a mere “screwball.”
THE NEW REPUBLIC is not very impressed with Fritz Mondale’s speech.
HERE’S A NEW ANTI-WAR GROUP WEBLOG that looks to be an improvement over some earlier efforts — though they’re surprisingly bellicose about North Korea. I hope they’ll feel the same way in, oh, about 18 months. . . .
TERROR RAIDS IN NASHVILLE:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Agents with a terrorism task force raided an Iraqi immigrant’s home Thursday, and authorities said other searches were being conducted in the city.
No immediate arrests were made, but FBI, Customs and IRS agents spent about three hours at the home of Fadhil Abbas Al-Sahaf, 34. They were seen leaving with boxes, plastic bags, papers, envelopes, FedEx packages and videotapes. A travel trailer in the back yard also was searched.
Douglas Riggin, an FBI agent in charge of the task force, said the moves were not connected to “any terrorist act which might pose a threat to the city.” As for whether the raid was related to terrorist threats elsewhere, he said: “The task force investigated it. Draw your own conclusions.”
You’ll pretty much have to, because this story doesn’t provide much information.
I’VE MENTIONED SOUTH DAKOTA’S PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON JURY NULLIFICATION BEFORE, but here’s an article by Stephanie Simon in the Los Angeles Times on the subject. I think that this is the most telling passage:
Opponents, meanwhile, have been afraid to do much public campaigning. Lawyers have debated the amendment at forums across the state—including one here last week at the University of South Dakota law school. They worry that advertising might backfire. Voters tend to be suspicious of attorneys—so they might reason that if the state bar opposes Amendment A, it must be good.
With all due respect to my own profession, this states a serious problem. The article is pretty balanced overall, but omits the single biggest issue in my opinion: people get exercised at the idea of giving a jury unreviewable discretion to let someone go when they’ve violated the law, but police and prosecutors do that all the time. The question is, is there any reason to trust juries less? I haven’t seen anyone address that, much less answer it satisfactorily. And given that the criminal law has become so complex and unpredictable that prosecutors can almost always find something to charge someone with, there’s a lot of unsupervised discretion on that end, too. It only seems fair to give juries authority to police this exercise of prosecutorial discretion, especially as courts are basically unwilling to do so.
The answer the legal establishment gives to charges that prosecutors might misbehave is basically: “trust us.” But they don’t trust juries, and they haven’t given any very persuasive reasons why they’re more trustworthy than juries are. And there are some good institutional reasons to suggest that they’re less so. For more on this, you can read my review of Clay Conrad’s book, here.
HMM. SPEAKING OF CBS, this AP story says that three people protested outside an NRA rally in Tucson featuring Charlton Heston. But the version on the CBS website, which is otherwise the same, raises that number to “a few dozen.”
Wonder what accounts for the difference?
And why are three, or even a few dozen, anti-gun demonstrators more news than hundreds of pro-war Iraqis?
UPDATE: A reader writes to remind me that CBS has trouble with numbers, since a while back it seemed to think that Bush was President back in 1998. Heh. I had forgotten that one.
READER JOAQUIM MACHADO sends this unfortunate headline from CBS Marketwatch: “Pitt Seeks Probe of Himself.”
JACKASS: THE DOCUMENTARY — Matt Labash gives Michael Moore’s latest effort an unequivocal thumbs-down:
It’s a harrowing tale, one which Moore first takes to Dick Clark in an ambush interview (Clark quickly peels away in a minivan, unfortunately missing Moore), and later to NRA president Charlton Heston. Heston, of course, has announced he has symptoms consistent with Alzheimer’s, which is apparent, because when Moore buys a star map and shows up at Heston’s gate unannounced, he lets Moore in for an interview. Starting off slowly, peppering him with chatter about the second amendment, Moore ends up closing in for the kill, asking Heston if he’d apologize for bringing NRA conventions to both Flint and Littleton after their respective shootings. Heston wisely calls it quits, but as he flees his own living room, Moore follows him, hectoring him with a picture of the girl Tamarla Owens’s son shot. “This is her. Please take a look at her, please, this is the girl,” Moore says, before propping the photo against Heston’s house.
It is perhaps the single-most shameful moment ever in a Moore project, which is saying something, since Moore authored an entire chapter on how O.J. Simpson couldn’t have killed his wife (because rich people usually hire lowerlings to do their dirty work). Not only did he ambush a doddering old man who had nothing to do with the shooting, but he related the Owens story in a fashion that was dishonest in nearly every way.
For what Moore didn’t tell us about Tamarla Owens and her family could fill several newspaper and magazine articles, and did. The uncle’s house where Owens left her children was, additionally, a crack house, where guns were often traded for drugs. The gun that the boy stole from a shoebox on a mattress in his uncle’s bedroom had been reported stolen once before. And Owens was hardly a model parent, merely getting squeezed by unfortunate circumstances. According to Time magazine, Owens herself was a drug addict (she denied it). Additionally, reported Newhouse News Service, according to a state Family Independence Agency petition, she admitted holding down her oldest boy so he could be beaten with a belt by two male friends, and she also admitted beating the boy with a belt while sitting on him, after first duct-taping his hands, feet and mouth.
In short, Owens and her clan were to responsible gun ownership what Moore is to responsible journalism. To beat Heston up for her problems is itself an act of violence. It is perhaps understandable why Moore attempted to drop himself from the narrative, and put a less-fortunate type like Owens front-and-center. As he recently told one reporter, he has a sign on his editing-room door that says “when in doubt, cut me out.” The reason he says, is “First of all, I can’t stand the look of myself. Secondly, a little bit of me goes a long way. . . . because it’s just a bit much. That’s how it feels when I watch it.” After watching “Bowling For Columbine,” it’s easy to see how he feels.
Phil Donahue likes it, though.
JOHN HAWKINS has an interview with Michelle Malkin focusing chiefly on immigration issues.
“WE REALLY STRIVE TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY.” This is what I call a full-service campus health facility, and I’m sure Rachael Klein would approve. But where’s the concern for male students here?
UPDATE: A reader emails:
Speaking of which, what is she [Rachael Klein] doing now? I thought for sure she’d be writing for somebody. She must have graduated from college with more dedicated readers than most journalists ever hope to have.
I had an email from her over the summer — she was working somewhere financially related. I hope she doesn’t let her writing career slide, because I think that’s right about her readership.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: Go read this Lileks piece on music. Go ahead — me and Christina Aguilera will still be doing our respective things when you’re done.
HOWARD KURTZ CALLS THE WELLSTONE RALLY A “DEBACLE” and has a roundup of the reactions. Excerpt:
How badly can a political party screw up a memorial service?
Just ask Minnesota’s Democrats.
They staged a public farewell for Paul Wellstone that was so over the top, so blatantly partisan, that Jesse Ventura walked out. . . .
In effect, the service was hijacked in a small-minded way that detracted from the memory of Wellstone.
Yep. It was. And it did.
UPDATE: Capitol Hill Blue says it was all part of a big media plan for this week. Hey, I didn’t say it was a good plan. But since it was reportedly approved by Terry McAuliffe personally, it means that his prospects are even more closely tied to how Democrats do next week.
THIS COLUMN IN THE STRAITS TIMES is pessimistic about whether Indonesia will actually start taking Islamic terrorism seriously. Consider the source, but it’s still a bummer.
BLOG ROUNDUP: Visit Carnival of the Vanities and follow the links.
MY FOXNEWS COLUMN is about nanotechnology. It probably won’t be news to a lot of InstaPundit readers, though it is rather link-rich.
BELLESILES UPDATE: The History News Network has an article arguing that although the Bellesiles affair is, mostly, over, the underlying problem remains:
Unfortunately, it seems that many senior academics still don’t understand that what has happened has happened in some measure to them. They are tainted by this failure to use their antique guild procedures strictly, fairly, and above all, promptly; in this they failed all of us. They don’t seem to grasp how easily it could happen again.
The main obstacle to dealing forthrightly with gross academic misconduct is the reflexive reaction that any disciplinary measure at all will forever destroy academic freedom, which is fully enjoyed only by tenured faculty, by the way. But this defense of academic freedom may simply mask the worship of academic privilege, that is, a remarkably complete freedom from accountability. The exercise of this privilege to commit scholarly fraud — rewarded by prizes, royalties, fellowships — is hard to distinguish from theft by deception. Most fraud, after all, is committed for gain. The long line of Bellesiles’s enablers will not be made to pay. . . .
The editor at Knopf is still in place, doubtless hoping to publish another bombshell soon. There is little cause for rejoicing in this outcome until the system is forced to change. Until then, the moral of this story will remain ‘tell them what they want to hear; lie as much as you dare; cash the checks.’ Doesn’t it sound like the nightly news?
Peer review is supposed to be an adequate protection against fraud, inaccuracy, and other scholarly shortcomings, that being its main reason for existing. There have been studies of how it really works. They do not make encouraging reading. Even if the built-in temptations for reviewers could be taken out of it, the official peer review system can’t possibly work as it needs to within the microscopically subdivided academic research system of today: often there are no true peers to be found. In practice, peer review is a compost that nourishes cronyism, conformism, and other abuses. Bellesiles was reviewed at least twice by Emory: once at hiring, and once for promotion, that time after his 1996 article, a preview of the book to follow, had appeared in a peer-reviewed journal. He passed all of those reviews. By now, the selection and performance of the referees for Bellesiles’ 1996 paper and for Arming America by Knopf, and of the panelists for the Bancroft Prize award, can also be seen to have worked out rather poorly, after all, just like the personnel actions at Emory. These are all examples of normal peer review, which is in effect a system of social promotion. Of course there are no official admissions of fault, few individual retractions, not even many excuses. And above all, there are no consequences for the many panelists. . . . Recent scandals among American historians, including revelations of habitual plagiarism and general sloppiness, underscore an urgent need for a better process than peer review in its current form.
The entire assessment is rather damning.
UPDATE: Some interesting stuff in the comments at the bottom, too.
AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Excerpt:
“The term ‘the American left’ is as near to being meaningless or nonsensical as any term could really be in politics,” he says. “It isn’t really a force in politics anymore. And it would do well to ask itself why that is.”
Instead, its chief purpose seems to be avoiding such questions at all costs.
GARY HART FLYING TO MINNESOTA? And what do the cops do when they find Mickey sleeping in his car? Kausfiles has the scoop. . . .