Archive for 2002

December 31, 2002

EDWARD BOYD IS BACK! Maybe it will be a happy new year.

But will Scoble get his wish?

Either way, happy new year! I’ll see you tomorrow.

December 31, 2002

THESE PHOTOS of Iranian actress Hedieh Tehrani aren’t very exciting to Americans. But they’re creating a sensation in Iran:

This is because nobody in Iran has ever seen her body or her hair in a film or even in public, for Islamic laws prevent Iranian women to apear in public without covering their body and their hair (thanks God, not their faces though, like many Arab women). Aside from the fact that these photos might result in serious damages to her career as a successful and well-paid actress in the future, they can also reveal the huge gap between the private and public lives and values of Iranian people, which is absolutely an outcome of extreme Islamic rules and religon-derived traditional culture.

I find that gap hopeful. Visit WomeninIran.com, too, and hope that this time next year things there will be better. It certainly will if these women have anything to say about it.

December 31, 2002

ON NEW YEAR’S EVE, A LITTLE LIQUID COURAGE seems, well, appropriate, somehow.

Here at Stately InstaPundit Manor, it’s a quiet night. My mother’s recently-scoped knee is bothering her more today than yesterday (I think the drugs were still having some effect for the first 24 hours) so she’s staying here tonight; she’s reading my daughter a “Samantha” story at the moment. I have another half-dozen exams to grade, and I’ll probably celebrate the New Year, or at least the end of the old year, with a glass of Remy XO, followed by ZZZ.

I’ll likely post again before it’s all over.

December 31, 2002

AN OBSERVATION that sadly will be just as true next year, from Juan Gato:

You know, I’d feel a lot better about the world if I could find some “rebel” group out there actually fighting for liberty rather than for the privilege of stamping everyone under their particular boot.

Yep.

December 31, 2002

JAY MANIFOLD HAS PREDICTIONS for the coming year. Spoons reviews his track record for the past year. And Kevin McGeehee boldly predicts:

Michael Moore will say something that actually makes sense — and promptly retract it, claiming he’d been taken out of context.

And Virginia Postrel demonstrates that one of my predictions has already come true!

December 31, 2002

VLOGGING FOR THE NEW YEAR: Jeff Jarvis rounds up the reactions to his video-blogging (“vlogging”) experiment. Follow the link to his videohosting service, be a little patient with the multiple windows it spawns, and watch several new vlogs.

I’m not sure exactly how this relates to blogging, but it’s very, very cool stuff.

December 31, 2002

HAPPY NEW YEAR:

U.S. intelligence officials have identified approximately 15 cargo freighters around the world that they believe are controlled by al Qaeda or could be used by the terrorist network to ferry operatives, bombs, money or commodities over the high seas, government officials said.

American spy agencies track some of the suspicious ships by satellites or surveillance planes and with the help of allied navies or informants in overseas ports. But they have occasionally lost track of the vessels, which are continually given new fictitious names, repainted or re-registered using invented corporate owners, all while plying the oceans. . . .

“If the Coast Guard can’t stop 200 people on a freighter from coming into the port of Miami, how can they stop a terrorist with a dirty bomb?” asked Bruce Stubbs, a former Coast Guard captain and now a security consultant.

Long-term, this is likely to put an end to flags of convenience and to introduce the maritime industry to a degree of regulation it has escaped so far. My feelings on that: very mixed.

UPDATE: I wonder if there’s a North Korea connection?

December 31, 2002

BRYAN PRESTON is back and blogging up a storm.

December 31, 2002

ETHICS AND ETHICISTS, CLONING, IMMIGRATION, LOW-CARB DIETS, AND REFERRAL TRAFFIC: Virginia Postrel has posted a bunch of new stuff on her blog, and there’s something for everyone!

December 31, 2002

MORE GOOD NEWS ABOUT BOOZE: And at such an opportune moment! But this passage is troubling:

Thirty years ago, policy makers just preferred to keep the whole conundrum quiet. The Framingham study, which began to examine risks for heart disease in 1948, was one of the first big studies to find heart benefits from alcohol. One of its researchers, Dr. Carl Seltzer, wrote in a short 1996 memoir that when he and his colleagues informed their government sponsors at the National Heart and Lung Institute in 1972 of these findings, they were forbidden to publish them.

Isn’t this, sort of, like tobacco companies covering up bad news because it would hurt their agenda? It seems reasonable to believe that quite a few lives could have been saved had this research not been suppressed.

And this underscores a point that I’ve made before: claims that the politicization of science is something that only the Bush Administration is engaged in are, well, lies. Public health has always been politicized, which is one reason why people are distrustful today.

December 31, 2002

BLOG COVERAGE OF THE BOALT SEX SCANDAL has broken out of the Internet and into California legal newspapers. Stefan Sharkansky has a post here, XLRQ comments here, but so far no word from Erin O’Connor, who has been on hiatus for the holidays.

I haven’t read the article in question, since it’s not on the web, though Sharkansky features lengthy excerpts. Big Media reporting, though, isn’t coming off very well in these first-person accounts of being interviewed on the question.

December 31, 2002

ALTERMAN CLAIMS that the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has taken over the New York Times.

I tried to reach Ann Coulter for comment, but all I got was a recording of what seemed to be her voice, saying “Buwhahaha!”

December 31, 2002

THIMEROSAL UPDATE: This post from The Bloviator spells out a lot of the legislative issues more clearly than the mainstream press coverage I’ve read. Advantage: Bloviator!

December 31, 2002

TONY WOODLIEF RESPONDS TO CRITICS, and very cogently, too:

Well, since you asked, we aren’t the world’s policeman, until the world goes and gets itself in another bind, usually involving the Germans directly or indirectly, and requiring some sort of rescue of the French, during which they will try to overcharge us for amenities. Come the wet-ass hour, to quote Al Pacino, we are everybody’s daddy. So no, the Europeans don’t want us involved, because they are too busy having fun pretending, now that we’ve defeated the U.S.S.R., that somehow they can manage their own safety without actually having armies, and while selling technology and weapons to terrorists and communist China. About the time they have their fat heads in a noose, made of rope they’ve sold at EU-subsidized prices to their executioners, then they’ll start carping about how isolationist and hard-hearted we are. So the Europeans can bite me. And another thing — it may be fashionable for liberals whose sole source of education is the E Channel to deride Ronald Reagan as an idiot, but he is a hero, that’s right, a hero to millions of East Europeans, because he had the moral courage to call the Soviet Union what it was — an Evil Empire — while the slack-shouldered agnostics ladling out second-rate education in our nation’s colleges were too busy sipping cappuccino and banging co-eds to recognize that communism is responsible for more state-sponsored murder than ten Nazi holocausts. So to answer your question, no, we aren’t the world’s policeman, but when there are people out there who want to kill me and my children, and they are actively seeking the means to do so, then my personal philosophy is that you kill them and everything within a ten-mile radius of them, post freaking haste. And if the U.N. doesn’t like it, they can pack their louse-filled bags and hold their busy little seminars on gender inequality and structural racism on somebody else’s dime. Since you asked, I mean.

Plus he has this stirring observation: “This website may not change the world, but by golly, it sure makes me feel better.” Us too, Tony.

December 31, 2002

IN A BIT OF DUBIOUS MORAL EQUIVALENCE, Josh Marshall is comparing the Administration’s treatment of North Korea with Ruby Ridge.

He’s quoting someone else here, but I think he’s agreeing.

UPDATE: David Adesnik at OxBlog responds to Marshall’s earlier post on anti-Americanism.

ANOTHER UPDATE: “Gene Lyons,” nee Atrios, thinks that this post was unfair to Josh Marshall. But Josh and I discussed this by email within minutes of its appearing, and I offered to change the post if he thought it characterized his views unfairly. He said no.

December 31, 2002

TIM BLAIR HAS PREDICTIONS FOR 2003: I hope that at least one of them doesn’t come true. . . .

December 31, 2002

NEW YEAR’S AT TIMES SQUARE — some thoughts from Michele:

I’ve lived in New York my entire life and never once have I gone into the city for the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. Why anyone would want to stand out in the freezing cold with half a million people, most of them trying to feel you up or steal your wallet as they brush up against you, is beyond me.

I can have just as much fun getting drunk at home and letting my husband feel me up. And he won’t try to steal my wallet.

Yeah, baby! Oh, and she’s got a poll on blogging up, too.

December 31, 2002

INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT IN PARIS:

A former soldier who alerted police to a bomb and weapons cache at Paris’ biggest international airport has himself been taken into custody.

The man raised the alarm when he said he saw a weapon in the car of an airport baggage handler at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport.

The original story — that a passerby saw weapons in the trunk — seemed a bit odd to me, but I thought it might just be a cover story to protect an informant or some such. But while the weapons found were real, the question of how they got there now appears, well, complex.

December 31, 2002

ROBERT MUSIL WONDERS when Paul Krugman will discover the power of Google.

December 31, 2002

ANDREW SULLIVAN is making his year-end awards. Read ‘em, then go to Kausfiles to find out what they really mean!

December 31, 2002

SGT. STRYKER SAYS THAT CHARLES RANGEL IS WRONG ABOUT THE DRAFT: Me, I just think it’s funny that it’s the Democrats calling for a draft now. I don’t see this as a winning political strategy, though.

UPDATE: A reader likes the Rangel approach and wants to extend it:

I say, excellent idea! Next, New York’s very own Sir Charles with the lifetime seat will put forward legislation requiring all Congressfolk to send their kids to public schools. Perhaps this will help re-focus the debate on education reform.

We’re more likely to see the draft back first, I think. And we’re not likely to see that at all.

UPDATE: Reader Arthur Fleischman notes that the essence of Rangel’s strategy is to have a draft so that people can oppose it, and asks:

Basically, isn’t Mr. Rangel’s proposal one which is designed to reduce the capability of the military while increasing opposition to our government’s policies?

That’s what Stryker thinks. And I think he’s right.

December 31, 2002

THANKS, JIM! My final TechCentralStation column of the year is up. It was inspired by Jim Henley.

December 30, 2002

DON’T BAN CLONING:

Not only is the U.S. position – complete prohibition – extreme, but even the more conservative, limited ban is insupportable. . . .

But legal prohibition – national or international – is a poor answer. Even if a new law or treaty were able to eliminate reproductive cloning from most of the world, practitioners would likely spring up in places with minimal regulation, next door to the quack cancer and fountain of youth clinics. The actions of rogue cloners in these wholly unregulated milieus could be disastrous.

The potential problems of cloning are, arguably, best left to the forces of the marketplace and the existing protections of national legal systems. If, as experts expect, reproductive cloning is largely unsuccessful, its practitioners will find themselves without clients. If they fail to deliver on their contractual obligations or cause death or injury to an infant, they may be subject to various civil and criminal legal strictures, including fraud, breach of contract, criminal negligence, and manslaughter. They might even be subject, ultimately, to “wrongful life” suits brought by the clone or its agents.

If bureaucrats pursue a legal prohibition , it is likely that they, the research community and society at large will be confounded by the law of unintended consequences.

Yes. I keep waiting for some clear explanation of why cloning is so awful that it must be banned, but nothing I’ve heard really gets much past the “it gives me the willies” argument. Which isn’t an argument at all.

UPDATE: Bigwig is all over the cloning issue. Start at this link and scroll up.

December 30, 2002

LARRY MILLER on Cardinal Law:

So. Here’s the thing. Law knew. He always knew. He denied it for years, and he covered it up his whole career; and you know he did. Worse, he knows he did, and, worst of all (for him), God knows he did. Time after time, as a matter of official policy, he hip-checked the victims and their families (and their nightmares), and, in return for their written promises not to say anything, he threw a few bucks onto their floors.

Why? He liked his job, and he didn’t want to leave. He was–what’s the word?–selfish, and he waited and weighed the world’s reactions with the calmness of a drunken billionaire watching the stock-ticker at his club (a guy I hope to be someday, by the way).

And finally, only when the awful calculus told him things were looking dim, he resigned. Not because he had seen the light and decided to do the honorable thing, but because he assessed his chances and did the only thing he could. Gee, thanks.

Here’s what Cardinal Law should have said a long time ago, here’s what he should say now, here’s what he will never say: “Every time a monster destroyed a boy’s life by following his sick urges, it was horrible beyond words. And it was all infinitely worse because the offenders acted in the employ of God. I knew these things happened, and I did nothing. In fact, often I saw to it that the malefactors could continue on professionally. If it happened even once, it was the worst thing in the world, but it happened far more than once. If I thought I was helping my church by my actions, I was wrong. By these actions I might as well have been saying, ‘Go ahead. I just won’t look.’ I cannot ask for the forgiveness of the victims, because too much time and horror has passed. Instead, I will spend the rest of my life fighting this evil as God’s representative in protecting the innocent. In other words, being a priest.”

He has some thoughts on Trent Lott, too.

December 30, 2002

MSNBC’S VIEWERSHIP MAY BE DISAPPOINTING, but its website is Number One in readers among news sites. That kind of surprised me, though I suppose it’s not really that big a shock when you allow for the big MSN audience.

December 30, 2002

NEW YEAR’S EVE PLANS: Gawker has a list of suggestions. Some make me wish I still lived in New York. Others make me glad I don’t.

December 30, 2002

WILL VEHRS REVIEWS THE YEAR IN PUNDITRY. Don’t miss it.

December 30, 2002

I THINK THAT GWEILO DIARIES HAS THIS RIGHT:

The Saudis provided — at a minimum — money to al Qaeda. I know it. Kleiman knows it. Graham knows it. You know it. The administration knows it. The Saudis damn sure know it. Al Qaeda knows it. The families of the victims know it. I’ll lay odds that my Chinese taxi-driver on the way home tonight knows it. Yet its classified?!?

What’s this, the betrayal that dare not speak its name?

If the Bush administration’s plan does not ultimately include regime change in Saudi Arabia, it is destined for failure and the President is going to lose a lot of supporters very quickly. This had all better be part of a brilliant Machiavellian strategy to oust the House of Saud, while Poppy Bush lulls them into a false sense of security by groveling before them for donations to that sanctuary for the needy and oppressed, Andover Academy.

I can understand not pressing the Saudi issue at the moment, but the above is absolutely right.

December 30, 2002

THE HISPANOSPHERE: Jim Bennett writes on some changes in Latin America.

December 30, 2002

MORE ON THIMEROSAL: Mark Kleiman is pointing out a problem that Dr. Manhattan has also noted: the controversial amendment to the Homeland Security bill may not have been anonymous, since Dick Armey has admitted being behind it, but it is, ahem, screwed up. Here’s Kleiman’s email description, which is particularly clear, and which I think is right (email me if I’m wrong):

1. Frist offered a bill to get Eli Lilly off the hook on thimerosal in the Senate. No hearings were held.

2. That provision appeared in neither the House nor the Senate version of the Homeland Security bill as passed before the election, since it has nothing to do with homeland security.

3. After the election, a version was reported out by the conference committee, with lots of stuff, including the thimerosal language, that hadn’t been in either bill.

4. There’s no mystery about who put it in: Armey did. But Armey had no particular interest in the thimerosal stuff. The “mystery” is who asked him to put it in. Frist, the author, specifically says he didn’t. But no one will say who did. The natural suspect is Mitch Daniels; the early reports were that the pressure came from “the White House,” and Daniels is an ex-officer of Lilly and planning to go back to Indiana, where Lilly is based, to run for governor.

5. The Frist version had a necessary conforming amendment to the Internal Revenue Code. The Armey version, the one that passed, didn’t. As a result, the bill as passed blocks all lawsuits and directs the claims to VICP, but the VICP trust fund is still barred by law from paying any such claim.

6. All the thimerosal claims are time-barred by the terms of VICP. Neither the Frist version nor the Armey version deals with that.

So unless the thing gets undone, the families are out of luck. Not being a lawyer, I’m not sure why denying someone the right to press a damages claim isn’t the sort of “taking” that requires compensation.

Well, as for the last, the answer is that lots of things that ought to be considered “takings” that require compensation aren’t treated as such. (And don’t even get me started on “qualified immunity”). But this — unlike the bogus “anonymity” claims that have been raised earlier — seems like an actual issue, and one that deserves to be addressed.

And why wasn’t Bill Keller’s column on this, or Eleanor Clift’s, this clear and to the point? Were they so anxious to try to pin something on Frist that they missed the real story here? Maybe someone should just give Kleiman a bigshot oped slot.

December 30, 2002

SORRY FOR THE LIGHT POSTING: My mother had knee surgery and I had to pick her up and bring her here, where she’s staying for the night. She’s doing fine now.

Er, and a bit of advice: yes, if you do aerobics and go running while wearing heavy ankle weights, it will tone you very impressively. But there is a price. . . .

December 30, 2002

I’ve posted on this before, but via Ann Salisbury I notice that Kos’s Political State Report is still looking for correspondents. Drop by and sign up if you’re interested.

I also agree with Ann that we really need a good, sharp increase in defense spending to meet America’s global responsibilities. . . .

December 30, 2002

NOW THE UNITED STATES IS BEING CRITICIZED FOR EXCESSIVE MULTILATERALISM!

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea (news – web sites) said Tuesday it is only the United States that can solve the dispute of its nuclear weapons, warning Washington that internationalizing the issue would bring “uncontrollable catastrophe.”

“There is no need for the third party to meddle in the nuclear issue on the peninsula. The issue should be settled between the DPRK (North Korea) and the U.S., the parties responsible for it,” said the North’s ruling-party newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun.

“If the U.S. persistently tries to internationalize the pending issue between the DPRK and the U.S. in a bid to flee from its responsibility, it will push the situation to an uncontrollable catastrophe,” it said.

Those damned cowboy Americans, always trying to round up a posse and bring the whole community into dealing with wrongdoers, instead of doing things one-to-one like civilized people. . . .

I guess we just can’t win. Which, I suppose, is the whole idea.

December 30, 2002

FINANCIAL ISSUES at TomPaine.Com:

But liberals smelled a rat. Drug company Eli Lilly had long sought the clarification, and TomPaine.com, a left-wing Internet publication, promised $10,000 to whomever could conclusively document how the provision found its way into the bill. On December 12, TomPaine.com got its answer. “I did it,” House Majority Leader Dick Armey said on a CBS newscast. “I’m proud of it.”

Now Mr. Armey has asked TomPaine.com to send the reward to the Cornerstone Community School, a nonprofit private school in Washington for disadvantaged children. But the Web site is balking and has now issued a clarification. “What TomPaine.com is looking for is THE PERSON WHO *ASKED* ARMEY to ALLOW it to happen,” it says in characteristic feverishness, braying that “Public officials who work secret deals like this are cowards,” and that “democracy requires accountability.”

Since TomPaine.com brings up the subject of accountability, it’s worth noting that the organization has its own issues regarding ownership. According to its Web site and filings with the Internal Revenue Service, the publication is wholly bankrolled to the tune of $2 million by the Florence Fund, a tax-exempt organization whose purpose is “to invigorate public debate by helping public interest groups put their messages and work products before larger audiences or target audiences more deeply.” Of particular interest to the Florence Fund is “the role of money in politics.” But what’s the role of money in the organization itself?

In its initial tax filings with the IRS in 1999, the Florence Fund claimed over $6.25 million in pledged money.

Jeez, if I’d known they were that rich, I’d have claimed the ten grand for real! Though I guess Armey has a prior claim.

December 30, 2002

BROCK YATES reports that Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle may turn out to be right.

December 30, 2002

PATTY MURRAY said that if we did more humanitarian work, like Osama bin Laden did, we’d see less terrorism. That was profoundly dumb on many levels, but here’s another example of why:

Three American humanitarian workers were shot and killed at a hospital in southern Yemen, by a man the authorities described as a fundamentalist extremist. They said that he went into the room where the workers were gathered at about 8:30 a.m. local time.

A fourth was wounded in another room in the attack, which took place at a missionary-run hospital in the town of Jibla, the officials said. This individual was later reported to be undergoing surgery.

The man, whom they said was a suspected Islamist militant, was subsequently arrested. He was believed to be a student at Yemen’s al-Iman university. . . .

The dead staff were identified as the hospital’s administrator, Bill Cane, 60; an obstetrician, Dr. Mersa Miers, and the storage department manager, whose full name was not immediately known.

According to the Yemen Times newspaper, the doctor had spent several years doing humanitarian work in the country.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a humanitarian: you’re still just a target to these people.

Meanwhile, the UPI story contains a bit of editorializing that proves that Patty Murray isn’t the only one who’s profoundly dumb:

Yemen has seen the widespread possession and use of weapons throughout the country, especially in rural areas.

Yeah. As the reader who sent this link notes, “If we could only take away their guns, then they’d have nothing but airliners with which to attack.”

December 30, 2002

JACKSON DIEHL WRITES that the conventional wisdom on American unilateralism is wrong. It ties in well with this post, below, and especially with this essay by John Hawkins.

December 30, 2002

STEPHANIE SIMON AT THE LOS ANGELES TIMES reports on the most segregated city in America — Milwaukee:

The furor over GOP Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott’s praise for a former segregationist candidate for president has focused attention on the long history of racial division in the South. These days, however, the gulf between white and black is widest in the North.

Interesting story.

December 30, 2002

KATE MALCOLM, at Kitchen Cabinet reports that U.N. inspectors seem to be bungling their interviews of Iraqi scientists. I’m shocked.

December 30, 2002

THIS KEEPS HAPPENING:

Police have arrested a baggage handler at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, after two automatic weapons, plastic explosives and a detonator were found in his car.

The man, who is reportedly of Algerian origin, was arrested late on Saturday after a tip-off from a member of the public who saw a weapon in a car boot at the airport. . . .

In total, nine arrests have been made since 16 December, when four people were arrested in the Paris suburb of La Courneuve.

All those arrested are said to be of Algerian or Moroccan origin.

The arrests stem from an investigation into possible connections between Islamic militants in Europe and Chechnya.

Keep your eye on this.