Archive for February, 2003

February 28, 2003

I’M A “RIGHT-WING NUT” — and pro-sodomy! Now you know. But I’ve always been this way.

February 28, 2003

IF YOU CAN’T SAY SOMETHING NICE, DO SOMETHING SURREALISTIC:

More than 100 Nashvillians turned out this afternoon to hit a French car with a sledgehammer in support of America’s troops and to protest French anti-American sentiments.

The ”Bash A Peugeot For Peace” event at the Beaman Automotive Group on Broadway was sponsored by WWTN radio talk-show host Steve Gill. All proceeds are going to charities that send supplies to troops overseas and their families, who have remained at home.

Futile gesture? But of course! But that’s the point:

”What does bashing a Peugeot have to do with peace?” said Steve Gill, rhetorically. ”Nothing. But most of the peace rallies have nothing to do with peace either. They’re just attacking America. By calling our rally this, we just wanted to underline that point.”

Tremble, O postmodern Frenchman. Steve Gill has your number.

(Via Timatollah).

February 28, 2003

BLOGS WORTH LOOKING AT: PeakTalk, Binza Blog, Zogby, and Internet Ronin. Check ‘em out.

Also, the blog formerly known as AntiPundit has changed its name. Seems there was already an AntiPundit.

February 28, 2003

NAT HENTOFF UNPACKS PATRIOT II: And it looks pretty bad.

TalkLeft suggests that the plan is to wait until war is underway and then introduce it while everyone is distracted.

I’m going to let my Senators and Representative know that I’m against this now.

February 28, 2003



THERE WAS AN ANTIWAR PROTEST, OF SORTS, across the street from the law school as I left work this afternoon. As you can see, it wasn’t very big. You may not be able to tell from this photo, but if you look at this close-up or this full-size version you can see that these aren’t students. Many of them look to be Vietnam-era protest alumni. There were signs that said “honk if you want peace.” People were honking, but some of the honkers were yelling “war now!”

I don’t claim any special representative quality for this assemblage — though the absence of undergraduates was certainly noticeable — but I had the digital camera on me, so there you are.

UPDATE: Sharp-eyed reader Bart Hall emails:

I could not help but notice the *unused* placards on the ground at left in your photo of the A-Peace-ment demonstration there at UT. There seem to be at least half a dozen of them. My interpretation is that they didn’t get more than about half the people they expected. The demo at UT is barely bigger than the standard Sunday ‘Honk if you’re for Hemp’ demos in downtown Lawrence, Kansas.

Hmm. Good point (it’s clearer in the full-size picture). It wasn’t the weather — by recent standards, yesterday wasn’t bad.

February 28, 2003

OVER AT GLENNREYNOLDS.COM I’m announcing that I’m proudly pro-sodomy! As, apparently, are the readers of Redbook.

February 28, 2003

IS IT THE 1930s ALL OVER AGAIN?

Western Europe has almost gone the way of Weimar. Amoral, disarmed, and socialist, it seeks ephemeral peace at all costs, never long-term security, much less justice. Furious that history has not ended in perpetual peace and leisure, it has woken up angry that Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair disturbed its fanciful slumber with chatter about germs and genocide.

In recompense, cranky Western elites, terrified of trouble, indict on the cheap the democratically elected Mr. Sharon, while the masses in the millions go to the street to protest a war against a monster like Saddam Hussein and pay fealty to the terrorist Arafat. As in the past we see ideals in the militarily weak but spiritually strong leaders of Eastern Europe, as the Czechs and Poles once more reveal themselves to be far more moral men and women than any in Germany and France — the historic duet that so often either started or lost wars. . . .

The world, not America, has gone off the deep end — just as it did some 70 years ago when faced with similar choices between cheap rhetoric and real sacrifice. And so just as the tragedy of Pearl Harbor for Americans put an end to all the nonsense of the 1930s, let us hope that the memory of September 11 and the looming showdown with Iraq will do the same for the present farce as well.

As I mention below, for multilateralism to work, you need — well, you need nations more honest, more capable, and more responsible than France and Germany.

February 28, 2003

LEE HARRIS WRITES on the idea of evil — and those who are embarrassed by it.

February 28, 2003

HERE’S MORE FROM CHARLES MURTAUGH on biology and politics.

February 28, 2003

MICHAEL WALZER WRITES:

It would have been much better if the US threat had not been necessary —if the threat had come, say, from France and Russia, Iraq’s chief trading partners, whose unwillingness to confront Saddam and give some muscle to the UN project was an important cause of the collapse of inspections in the 1990s. This is what internationalism requires: that other states, besides the US, take responsibility for the global rule of law and that they be prepared to act, politically and militarily, with that end in view. American internationalists—there are a good number of us though not enough—need to criticize the Bush administration’s unilateralist impulses and its refusal to cooperate with other states on a whole range of issues from global warming to the International Criminal Court.

But multilateralism requires help from outside the US. It would be easier to make our case if it were clear that there were other agents in international society capable of acting independently and, if necessary, forcefully, and ready to answer for what they do, in places like Bosnia, or Rwanda, or Iraq. When we campaign against a second Gulf War, we should also be campaigning for that kind of multilateral responsibility. And this means that we have demands to make not only on Bush and Co. but also on the leaders of France and Germany, Russia and China, who, although they have recently been supporting continued and expanded inspections, have also been ready, at different times in the past, to appease Saddam. If this preventable war is fought, all of them will share responsibility with the US. When the war is over, they should all be held to account.

The trouble with multilateralism is that it requires other nations who are both morally responsible and militarily capable. There’s a shortage of both.

February 28, 2003

THE NINTH CIRCUIT has denied a rehearing en banc in the Pledge of Allegiance case, clearing the way for it to go to the Supreme Court. Howard Bashman has the scoop, naturally.

February 28, 2003

CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER: TalkLeft is siding with Ashcroft — on a gun-privacy issue.

February 28, 2003

BLOOD-BLOGGING: Gabriel Mendel writes that donating blood is a good way to help the war effort.

Meanwhile Maj. John Heslin emails: “Blogging’s emergence as the Rugby of Opinion Peddling is crystallizing.”

February 28, 2003

IF UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEES make public statements about the inherent evil of male genitalia, and those statements accompany acts of anti-male vandalism, is that a “hostile environment” that would support a lawsuit for sex discrimination?

Just asking.

February 28, 2003

INTERESTING STORY ON SADDAM’S WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION: From Iran.

February 28, 2003

WELL, I GUESS I CALLED THIS ONE, DIDN’T I? Russia ready to veto U.S.-British resolution on Iraq to protect `international stability’ — or at least contracts. As I suspected below, French efforts at a rapprochement with the United States are premised on Russia doing the dirty work.

February 28, 2003

ERIC MULLER THINKS that human shields may be prosecuted for treason — and that they may deserve it.

February 28, 2003

JOHN COUMARIANOS has some thoughts on the Administration’s ongoing — and major — foreign policy realignment.

February 28, 2003

KRAUTHAMMER IS RIGHT:

France is not doing this to contain Iraq — France spent the entire 1990s weakening sanctions and eviscerating the inspections regime as a way to end the containment of Iraq. France is doing this to contain the United States. As I wrote last week, France sees the opportunity to position itself as the leader of a bloc of former great powers challenging American supremacy.

That is a serious challenge. It requires a serious response. We need to demonstrate that there is a price to be paid for undermining the United States on a matter of supreme national interest.

First, as soon as the dust settles in Iraq, we should push for an expansion of the Security Council — with India and Japan as new permanent members — to dilute France’s disproportionate and anachronistic influence.

Second, there should be no role for France in Iraq, either during the war, should France change its mind, or after it. No peacekeeping. No oil contracts. And France should be last in line for loan repayment, after Russia. Russia, after all, simply has opposed our policy. It did not try to mobilize the world against us.

It should be expensive to cross the United States on an important matter. And this is an important matter.

February 28, 2003

BIGWIG IS PROPOSING AN EXPERIMENT and reports that preliminary results look promising.

February 28, 2003

MATTHEW YGLESIAS has more on blood donation, and says that the ever-stiffening requirements for blood donation are largely unfounded. I’m not so sure, though, that the motivation is to drive up the price of blood. That’s a suggestion I was skeptical of when I posted on this last year, and I still regard it as unlikely, though not impossible. More likely, I think, they’re just overreacting to their ball-dropping over HIV.

February 28, 2003

DOES THE NEW WTC REPLACEMENT DESIGN look like the Fortress of Solitude? That seems a common reaction.

February 28, 2003

HEY, THERE’S AN ANTIPUNDIT: If the two of us ever met, would we cancel out? Or suffer mutual annihilation and explode?

I hope not. He seems like a pretty nice guy.

February 27, 2003

CHARLES MURTAUGH DELIVERS A RIGHTEOUS FISKING to anti-cloning legislation — and politicians.

UPDATE: Dipnut emails that Murtaugh’s treatment isn’t a Fisking. “That’s a calm, rational refutation of Sam Brownback.”

“This,” he writes, “is a righteous Fisking.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Katz has replied to Murtaugh.

February 27, 2003

BLOOD BLOGGING: Fritz Schranck responds to my blood-donation post and photo below by noting:

Some folks might have been surprised to see absolute proof that an attorney’s blood is in fact the same familiar red color found in humans and other mammals.

He also suggests that bloggers might want to get behind blood-donation efforts in general, and he’s created a nice little button, visible to the right.

February 27, 2003

REQUIRING WEBSITE REGISTRATION costs a newspaper dearly. As I wrote a while back, if you want impact and credit, you have to think about these things.

February 27, 2003

MORE REPORTAGE from antiwar protests.

February 27, 2003

SALAM PAX has a lot of nice photos from Baghdad on his site.

February 27, 2003

SHANTI MANGALA has moved. Adjust your bookmarks accordingly.

February 27, 2003

IT’S A BATTLE OF THE FICTIONAL POLS! Fred Thompson wants to run against Josiah Bartlett. Well, sort of.

February 27, 2003

THE RUSH TO WAR: Michael Ramirez nails it.


February 27, 2003

THE RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH has a very unfavorable editorial regarding John Lott.

UPDATE: Prof. Dan Polsby emails:

“Nevertheless, [wrote the Times-Dispatch] serious supporters of gun ownership would be wise not to cite Lott’s work in the future.”

Good luck! Numerous of Lott’s opponents (John Donohue, Ian Ayres, Phil Cook, Jens Ludwig, and many others) use the Lott-Mustard numbers, subsequently updated by Lott, in their work because they have to; there is nothing else out there.

Cast your mind back to what things were like pre-1997. Remember that (in retrospect hilarious) study by David McDowell and collaborators, that the New York Times made so much of, that looked at murder rates in five (!) counties for a few years? Stuff like that could be done (and touted in the newspapers as “science”) because nobody had the sitzfleisch to clean up the boxes and boxes of panel data, that were just sitting there waiting to be analyzed, until Lott and Mustard did it — and shared it, freely and immediately, with the whole world. Now there is a minor industry of free riders dining out on that work. There’s just plain no chance that it wouldn’t be cited in the future, no matter how how ludicrous Lott’s displays of personal vanity might be.

Good point.

February 27, 2003

STEVEN DEN BESTE on the reasons for war from an expert:

The second front was about the long-term eradication of the root causes of Al-Qaeda-type terrorism. All the terrorist-wallahs and Arabists the Bush administration tapped said the same thing: the reason educated Arabs sign up with bin Laden is a lack of democracy in their homelands. The antidote: open up the Arab world.

What’s funny is that the Bush Administration has endorsed “root causes” — but in a serious way. “Root causes” was supposed to be a slogan that would justify not acting, not a rationale for action. Dumb cowboys — don’t they understand anything?

February 27, 2003

MICHELE at A Small Victory is sending CDs to American soldiers and wouldn’t mind some help.

February 27, 2003

SO ARE THE FRENCH COMING TO THEIR SENSES?

The UMP’s president, Alain Juppe, the party’s parliamentary head, Jacques Barrot, and Edouard Balladur, the head of parliament’s foreign affairs commission, have also all warned that a veto risks a complete breakdown in relations with the United States and some European countries.

France has “avoided committing a mistake, which some are pushing for, that would have left it isolated: wrongly brandishing its right of veto,” Juppe told a debate on the Iraq crisis in parliament on Wednesday.

“A veto is unimaginable,” Claude Goasguen, another UMP lawmaker, told the daily Le Monde in its Thursday edition. “We are not going to break the United Nations and Europe just to save a tyrant,” he said, referring to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Or has France just cut a deal to get Russia or China to cast the veto and take the heat?

February 27, 2003

NOBEL LAUREATE URGES EUROPE TO CONFRONT SADDAM: It’s Elie Weisel.

“I believe it is the moral duty to intervene when evil has power and uses it,” Wiesel said.

“If Europe were to apply as much pressure on Saddam Hussein as (it) does on the United States and Britain, I think we could prevent war,” he said.

Yes, but Europe is more horrified by U.S. and British power than by Saddam’s.

February 27, 2003

ERIC ALTERMAN won’t miss Donahue, whose show he calls “crappy.”

February 27, 2003

THE DOG THAT DIDN’T BARK: Zach Barbera points to this Asia Times article entitled “Arabs Wash Their Hands of Saddam” and notes this passage:

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrullah openly regretted that in “the greatest Muslim demonstration, the reunion of 2 million Muslims in Mecca”, there were no calls against war.

Two million Muslims, the most religious of the bunch, get together in Mecca and there aren’t any “calls against war.”

Fascinating.

UPDATE: On the other hand, there’s this.

February 27, 2003

WHEN DIGICAMS ATTACK: Love the title.

February 27, 2003

WALTER OLSON is profiled in an interesting article. Via email, however, I learn that Olson has a minivan, not an SUV as the article states.

February 27, 2003

HUMAN SHIELDS, ICY ROADS, CLONING AND BUFFY: It’s another issue of Virginia Postrel Magazine.

Also, she has this fascinating article on “Neuroeconomics” in The New York Times. If it interests you, I recommend Robert Frank’s Passions Within Reason: The Strategic Role of the Emotions, which I think is far and away Frank’s best book, though hardly his most famous.

February 27, 2003

I GAVE BLOOD at the law school blood drive right before my Constitutional Law class. I’m not sure how good an idea that was. Giving blood never makes me dizzy or faint, but I was just a touch lightheaded — it was sort of like having downed a shot right before class. For all I know, it was an improvement. . . .

Aside from my secretary (who had donated just before me, and who kindly snapped this picture) and one male student, the crowd donating and waiting was entirely female. I don’t know if that’s representative or not, but it seems as if every time I donate on campus it’s that way.

Anyhow, there’s apparently a non-trivial blood shortage in most of the nation, and even those places with plenty on hand are having to send some of theirs elsewhere to make up the difference.

Part of the reason may be (as I blogged here and here back when InstaPundit was young) that they’re getting more and more picky about who they’ll take blood from. In particular, they seem extraordinarily worried about mad cow disease, with ever-more-stringent limits on blood donation by people who have spent time in the UK. Perhaps the reasons for that are better than I realize (which is a bit worrisome, if so), but I wonder how many lives it’s saving, versus lives potentially lost because of blood shortages. Has anyone looked into that lately?

In the meantime, I guess the rest of us in the ever-dwindling group of approved donors should roll up our sleeves. It’s virtually painless, and no big deal. Plus, I got a free cookie!

February 27, 2003

NATHAN NEWMAN has discovered something rather A.N.S.W.E.R.-like in the affirmative action protest organization. He has lots of links, too.

February 27, 2003

I SUSPECT THAT THIS JONAH GOLDBERG PIECE on McCarthyism will generate a lot of, er, discussion.

Kevin Drum has already responded.

UPDATE: Apparently, by linking this piece I’ve produced a flood of hatemail to Jonah Goldberg. I guess more of my readers are civil libertarian types.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Steve Verdon says that now Kevin Drum is subjecting me to neo-McCarthyism. Or something like that.

There are also replies up from Silent Running and Arthur Silber.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I read Kevin Drum’s post again and — though it really didn’t register with me the first time — I think it is kind of a cheap shot.

But I want to be clear where I stand here. I don’t hold any brief for McCarthy. He was a buffoon and a thug. But if McCarthyism was bad, it was because he accused innocent people, not because he pursued Communists. Communists were — and are — comparable to Nazis. Being one is as bad as being a Nazi. Supporting Communism is as bad as supporting Nazism. And calling Communists Communists isn’t McCarthyism — as Kevin Drum himself agrees.

And if you disagree, and think that Communists aren’t as bad as Nazis, well, that’s your opinion. But don’t expect me to be impressed, or to think that you hold any sort of moral high ground. So what part of my position is different from this passage in Kevin’s post?

I can’t pretend to speak for the entire liberal community, and certainly not for liberals of a generation before me, but I’m not sure anyone really denies that there were indeed communist spies in the United States back in the 50s. The problem with McCarthy — and McCarthyism — wasn’t that he uncovered lots of communist spies, but that he didn’t uncover many communist spies. While other, more careful investigators had some success, McCarthy himself was extraordinarily unproductive.

What McCarthy did do was accuse everyone under the sun of being a communist. If you had belonged to the communist party as a student in the 30s, you were a communist. If you belonged to the ACLU, you were a communist. If, like Fred Fischer, you belonged to the Lawyer’s Guild for a few months after you graduated from law school, you were tarred as a communist on national TV.

It’s not McCarthyism to accuse a communist of being a communist. It is McCarthyism to accuse someone of being a communist who has only a vague association with communist friends, groups, or ideas.

As I said in this post about A.N.S.W.E.R. that Kevin links disapprovingly:

It’s not McCarthyism to call people who are communists, communists. Communists, as devoted followers of murderous totalitarianism, deserve to be called to account every bit as much as their Nazi colleagues. And in the 21st century, they can hardly pretend to be ignorant of their ideology’s true nature.

Sounds to me like Kevin and I are on the same page — except that, somehow, he’s accusing me of McCarthyism. I guess it’s not McCarthyism to accurately charge 1950s Communists with Communism. It’s just McCarthyism to accurately charge 2003 Communists, like A.N.S.W.E.R., with Communism. That doesn’t make much sense to me.

February 27, 2003

SADDAM HUSSEIN: Media lord!

February 27, 2003

THERE’S MORE ON LOS ALAMOS SECURITY (OR THE LACK THEREOF) over at DefenseTech.

February 27, 2003

I SHOULD HAVE LINKED TO THE DIXIE FLATLINE BLOG before, but I kept forgetting to. But I think you’ll like it. Here’s an excerpt from his close reading of the G.I. Joe cartoon show:

This base, as befits America’s premier, top-secret military force, is amazing, and has a truly gigantic laser cannon mounted in the center of the main building. Extremely impressive, the cannon must be at least two hundred meters long, and can only move on a vertical axis. This illustrates one of the greatest problems with the Joe force. Formed and equipped under Reagan, it never wanted for funds, and accordingly it never had to be cost effective. Rather than use or modify existing weapons platforms and systems, the Joes were forever relying on custom designs, often introducing next-generation systems that, while quite novel and impressive, never quite justified the cost.

This Super Cannon is an excellent example of this problem. No other military organization in the world, then or now, has the ability to make a laser cannon that, to judge by its size, was capable of vaporizing entire city blocks. The Joes could, because money was truly no object, and the prestige of working in Joe R&D attracted the finest creative minds in the military world. But rather than place the weapon in a traversing mount, they chose a static position. All Cobra would need to do is move likely targets out of the Super-Cannon’s firing line. Perhaps there were technical limitations of which we are unaware that required the static position, but on the face of it, it seems a terrible design decision.

There’s more in a similar vein.

February 27, 2003

CONDI RICE AS A CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR in California? Interesting.

February 27, 2003

PROTESTERS WITH BLOODY HANDS:

The demonstrations are thereby making war more — not less — likely.

All this should be no great surprise, considering the ignominious history of peace protests over the last century. The record is fairly clear: When the demands of protesters have been met, more bloodshed has resulted; when strong leaders have resisted the lure of appeasement, peace has usually broken out.

If you want peace too much, or too visibly, prepare for war.

February 27, 2003

HERE’S AN ARTICLE ON LAW-BLOGGING from the ABA Journal. Howard Bashman is prominently featured, with a picture. Funny, he looks nothing like I’d imagined.

February 27, 2003

BLOGS AT HARVARD: Here’s an interview with Dave Winer about his new role as Blogger-in-Residence.

February 27, 2003

SCOTT GANZ has an idea for a “pledge drive across warbloggerdom.” Sounds good to me.

February 27, 2003

RUSSELL WORKING is reporting from Turkey via blog. Lots of interesting stuff, but this passage really grabbed my eye:

There is a reason for the intensity of reaction to an American in Europe. It can be summed up in a cartoon that ran in Greek paper To Ethnos. A befuddled chairman of the board—he is Greece’s prime minister and EU president Costas Simitis—sits before a company board reading from a report: “Dear Shareholders: It’s my impression you still have reservations about the prospects of the company.”

Meanwhile, his board members are scurrying about, finding ways to kill themselves: rigging up nooses, leaping out of windows, firing guns through their heads. On the wall is the name of the corporation, which Greece happens to head during this six-month period: The European Union.

My advice: sell.

February 26, 2003

DONALD SENSING WRITES THAT Afghanistan was a Southerners’ war. Iraq, on the other hand, will be a Northerners’ war.

He’s also got a transcript of Bush’s speech.

February 26, 2003

ROGER BOURNIVAL reports that bogus-casualty-figure purveyer Marc Herold has a book coming out — and promotional literature has inflated the death toll again!

February 26, 2003

AN INSIGHTFUL COMMENT on the demise of Salon and many other dot-coms:

The biggest thing that killed the dot-com boom was the exorbitant cost structure the companies put in place, especially in real estate.

Let’s look at the major epicenters of dot-com activity: Boston, Manhattan, San Francisco, and Seattle. What do those cities have in common? Some of the highest rents in the country (as well as inflated costs of living, which required higher salaries).

The great benefit the Internet was supposed to bring was the complete de-emphasis of physical location. Salon could have found a home in, say, Springfield, Mass., where rents are cheap, there’s a strong supply of intellectuals (the Five Colleges in Hampshire County), New York and Boston are close at hand, and the cost-of-living is lower.

The fact that sites which avoided getting the priciest digs (I’m looking at you, Kuro5hin) have survived and maybe even thrived is a testament to the folly of Salon, Inside, Slate, and all the other online media startups.

InstaPundit, of course, survives largely via low overhead.

February 26, 2003

AGAINST THE AXIS OF EVIL, AND THE AXIS OF WEASELS: The Axis of Hygiene.

February 26, 2003

I’M INTERVIEWED (right next to William Gibson!) over on the SuicideGirls site.

February 26, 2003

PRESIDENT BUSH IS PUSHING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ:

Bringing stability and unity to a free Iraq will not be easy. Yet that is no excuse to leave the Iraqi regime’s torture chambers and poison labs in operation. Any future the Iraqi people choose for themselves will be better than the nightmare world that Saddam Hussein has chosen for them. . . .

Rebuilding Iraq will require a sustained commitment from many nations, including our own: We will remain in Iraq as long as necessary, and not a day more. America has made and kept this kind of commitment before — in the peace that followed a world war. After defeating enemies, we did not leave behind occupying armies, we left constitutions and parliaments. We established an atmosphere of safety, in which responsible, reform-minded local leaders could build lasting institutions of freedom. In societies that once bred fascism and militarism, liberty found a permanent home.

Of course, as this article notes,

The U.S. president’s words also could send a chill down the spines of some of the nondemocratic leaders in the region.

Some?

February 26, 2003

MARK KLEIMAN WANTS TO KNOW if I condemn this prosecution and conviction of British Muslim cleric Abdullah el-Faisal, for “soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred.”

The answer is, I don’t know, because I’m not sure what he was convicted of. Solicitation of murder usually means (in the United States, anyway) trying to have a specific person killed — that’s how I read the story when I commented, earlier, on the striking fact that the judge decided to exclude Hindus and Jews from the jury. (I thought it was something like this solicitation of murder prosecution).

Kleiman seems to think that this is purely a “hate speech” prosecution. I’m against those. Is that what this case is about? I don’t know; the story’s certainly consistent with Kleiman’s reading, but it’s not clear.

This story from the Times, however, says:

In his lectures, which included titles such as No Peace with the Jews and Them versus Us, the cleric exhorted audiences to take up acts of terrorism, including the use of chemical and nuclear weapons. He also tried to recruit British schoolboys to terrorist training camps.

In the United States, under the First Amendment, you could only convict if you could convince a court that these statements were intended to produce, and were likely to produce, imminent unlawful activity. From these facts, it’s entirely possible that these statements would meet the test. Indeed, recruiting schoolboys to terrorist training camps would seem to fall outside any reasonable zone of free speech, wouldn’t it? That’s not just speech, it’s illegal activity in itself. After all, “your money or your life” is speech, but it’s not protected by the First Amendment. Neither is recruiting terrorists. (As distinct from abstract advocacy of terrorism.)

And, as Kleiman surely knows, the First Amendment doesn’t apply in Britain. But, leaving the Constitution aside, do I think that it’s wrong, morally or (in a more general, common-law-ish sense) legally, to punish someone for that kind of conduct? Uh, no. Recruiting schoolboys as terrorists seems to me to be classic criminal conspiracy.

It’s possible, of course, that these stories give the wrong idea of the facts, but Kleiman didn’t state what facts he thought made this case particularly troubling, so I can’t say more than I have.

UPDATE: British solicitor Martin Pratt emails:

El-Faisal was convicted of three counts of Soliciting to Commit Murder under The Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and three counts of Incitement to Racial Hatred under The Public Order Act 1986.

From your explanation, it seems that in order to obtain a conviction for solicitation to commit murder the requisite elements are pretty similar to those in the United States.

Incitement to Racial hatred on the other hand, as you say, is a hate speech crime and I am pretty sure would not be compatible with the First Amendment. Under the 1986 Act if a person -

* Uses words or behaviour /displays written material, which are

* threatening/abusive/insulting, with

* intent/likely to stir up racial hatred

Then upon indictment he may receive a prison sentence not exceeding 2 years.

For the purposes of the Act, racial hatred is defined as -

“Racial hatred means that hatred against a group of persons in Great Britain defined by reference to colour, race, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins”.

The Tory legacy to the criminal justice system is not glorious, and this is one example of their over attention to headline pleasing sentencing guidelines and under attention to properly defining what exactly an offence consists of. Prosecutions under this offence are rare as no-one (so far as I am aware, I have not practiced criminal law since my articles, this all comes from half remembered law school lectures) has yet managed to define “hatred” which is pretty fundamental to the offence.

However, offences under the 1861 Act are far more serious and Solicitation to Commit Murder can carry a life sentence which I would imagine the judge will be considering. Of course in England and Wales, once the jury has convicted, it is for the judge to determine sentence.

So there you are.

February 26, 2003

YES, I KNOW: Another day of limited posting. I’ve had seemingly endless faculty meetings, committee meetings, etc. — as well as my regular classes. More later, but this whole week may be on the light side. That’s frustrating, because I’ve got a big back burner of posts I’d like to get to, but that I don’t have time to write. But hey — this is a blog. It’s not like it’s my actual job.

February 26, 2003

HERE’S A BLOG that you really ought to be reading.

February 26, 2003

REPORT FROM AFGHANISTAN: Things aren’t so bad:

Many of those perceived troubles are real and worrisome, and nobody would mistake Kabul for a prosperous and peaceful city. Sections are still in ruins, and many of the 600,000 returning refugees who have flooded the city live precariously on the margins. Islamic militants remain determined to destabilize and oust the Karzai government through violence, and periodic attacks continue. There is also concern that the flashier developments could offend conservative Afghan attitudes and create a dangerously wide divide between the relatively rich and the very poor.

But whatever the risks, the Kabul of today is almost unrecognizable as the austere city ruled not long ago by the Taliban — or as the place where warring Islamic militias demolished neighborhood after neighborhood, or where Soviets presided over a rebellious socialist state. . . .

In a city that had a handful of shopworn eating places two years ago, a new Chinese or Italian or American hamburger restaurant opens almost weekly, as well as kebab shops by the score. Small hotels have sprung up, and a $40 million Hyatt is on the way. The food bazaars are bustling and there are downtown blocks filled almost entirely with bridal shops. Rebuilt homes are rising from the ruins, and every little storefront seems to be stuffed with bathtubs or fans or with men building and carving things to be sold.

There’s a lot that should still be done — but remember, we didn’t start the Marshall Plan until after World War II was thoroughly over. This war is still underway.

February 26, 2003

MICROSOFT WINDOWS UPDATE is spying on you. So is Windows Media Player.

Hmm. How much of that information can the government get, as part of the antitrust settlement?

February 26, 2003

TODAY is the tenth anniversary of the first WTC attack — the Technoptimist has some thoughts.

February 26, 2003

HERE’S MORE EVIDENCE (er, well, actually it’s just some evidence, since my snarky comments below don’t count) that antiwar protests actually increase support for war:

“Some people have their minds made up, but many people are still uninformed,” said Veronica Marks, a fourth-year sociology student and anti-war activist who attended the last two San Francisco demonstrations.

Marks protests to combat what she sees as a biased media and to let people know Bush is a “tyrant.”

But according to a study by political science graduate student Phil Gussin, the opinions of people who conditionally supported war changed toward favoring war when shown photographs of Bush and then of anti-war demonstrators.

“If anti-war demonstrators are trying to gather support by having their pictures shown, they are having the opposite effect,” Gussin said.

Subjects who were shown pictures of the president had a seven percent higher approval rating for Bush compared to those who were shown other, non-political pictures, Gussin said. Subjects shown pictures of Bush and anti-war photographs had a 15 percent higher approval rating than the control group, Gussin said.

I seem to recall Eric Alterman alluding to similar research from the Vietnam era, but I can’t find the link.

(Via Russell Wardlow).

UPDATE: I like this one though.

February 26, 2003

NPR IS GETTING A LOT OF FLAK from American Jews over its Middle East coverage.

(Via Romenesko).

February 26, 2003

IT’S PEOPLE LIKE THE ONES DESCRIBED IN THIS POST who give professors a bad name. Of course, I wasn’t there, but the story seems all too credible.

February 26, 2003

IRAQIS TO AMERICA: PLEASE DON’T BACK DOWN AGAIN!

“We want the Americans to come, and if they come tomorrow it will not be too soon,” said an unemployed 23-year old visiting from the southern Iraqi city of Basra. “People are nervous, people are afraid, we don’t want war. But do we want to change the government and we will welcome anyone who comes to get rid of Saddam.”

Well, that’s pretty much how I feel. And other Americans agree — here’s a Minnesota group that has given away over 5,000 “Liberate Iraq” signs in the past two weeks. They’ve got a cool informational video on the web, too. Just more of that grassroots pro-liberation activism that I’ve been writing about!

UPDATE: This article by Amir Taheri, on the anti-war movement’s unwillingness to listen to actual Iraqis, is worth reading, too. Excerpt:

“Are these people ignorant, or are they blinded by hatred of the United States?” Nasser the poet demanded.

The Iraqis would have had much to tell the “antiwar” marchers, had they had a chance to speak. Fadel Sultani, president of the National Association of Iraqi authors, would have told the marchers that their action would encourage Saddam to intensify his repression.

“I had a few questions for the marchers,” Sultani said. “Did they not realize that oppression, torture and massacre of innocent civilians are also forms of war? Are the antiwar marchers only against a war that would liberate Iraq, or do they also oppose the war Saddam has been waging against our people for a generation?”

Hey, those are the same questions that I’ve been asking!

UPDATE: Here’s more on the subject, from an Iraqi exile in the Christian Science Monitor.

February 26, 2003

BOTTOM-UP MEDIA: My TechCentralStation column for today is up.

February 26, 2003

BIG PROTESTS LAST WEEK. Growing support for war this week. Coincidence?

February 26, 2003

JOHN HOWARD EXPLAINS WHY we can’t contain Saddam.

Along the same lines, Stephen Green offers Nick Kristof a history lesson.

February 26, 2003

HUGO CHAVEZ UPDATE:

We know how Hugo Chavez treats Venezuelans who criticize him: He shoots them.

How does Chavez respond to criticism from abroad? Well, it looks as if we found out the other day.

On Monday, Colombia and Spain both issued strong statements critical of Chavez.

Early on Tuesday, large explosions occurred at both the Columbian and Spanish embassies in Venezuela.

Pure coincidence, no doubt. Go here and here for more. Meanwhile Chavez is blaming the opposition, of course.

February 25, 2003

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT. Where’s Molly Ivins? Where’s “Reporters Without Borders?” Where’s Phil Donahue? Oh, right. . .

February 25, 2003

RAISE RUSH LIMBAUGH’S BLOOD PRESSURE — KEEP SALON ALIVE! So writes David Talbot, who I suspect is more of a threat to his creditors’ stress levels than to Limbaugh’s. Actually, of course, I’d like to see Salon survive, but I don’t really see how it can.

It’s Mickey Kaus who does (well, did) the “assignment desk” feature, but I’d like to see someone who really understands the economics of web publishing, and who can get insiders to dish, write a postmortem piece that clearly — and, probably, juicily — explains just how it’s possible to go through that much money publishing a web magazine.

February 25, 2003

FEBRUARY’S TRAFFIC has already passed the figure for all of January. Go figure.

February 25, 2003

ONE OF MY LEFTY READERS EMAILS:

You seem a talented fellow with a generous nature

too bad you use your skills for evil.

Me? Evil?

UPDATE: Just got myself tested:


How evil are you?

So there you have it.

February 25, 2003

AS A SLUG MIGHT CALL A BUTTERFLY “UGLY” — so Noam Chomsky calls Vaclav Havel “morally repugnant.”

February 25, 2003

THE VIEW FROM EAST TIMOR:

I still acutely remember the suffering and misery brought about by war. It would certainly be a better world if war were not necessary. Yet I also remember the desperation and anger I felt when the rest of the world chose to ignore the tragedy that was drowning my people. We begged a foreign power to free us from oppression, by force if necessary.

So I follow with some consternation the debate on Iraq in the United Nations Security Council and in NATO. I am unimpressed by the grandstanding of certain European leaders. Their actions undermine the only truly effective means of pressure on the Iraqi dictator: the threat of the use of force. . . .

Abandoning such a threat would be perilous. Yes, the antiwar movement would be able to claim its own victory in preventing a war. But it would have to accept that it also helped keep a ruthless dictator in power and explain itself to the tens of thousands of his victims.

History has shown that the use of force is often the necessary price of liberation. A respected Kosovar intellectual once told me how he felt when the world finally interceded in his country: “I am a pacifist. But I was happy, I felt liberated, when I saw NATO bombs falling.”

Me, I’m pro-liberation.

February 25, 2003

HERE’S A REPORT on the spread of radical Islam in prisons. Something to worry about, especially as the government seems to be more or less encouraging it.

February 25, 2003

MICHAEL TOTTEN WRITES:

The oil companies want stability. It makes no difference to them who owns the oil wells. It could be Satan or Uncle Sam; their profits will not change. The one thing they don’t want is upheaval and war.

For these reasons, the oil companies have been lobbying for peace with Saddam. Everyone who was paying attention to Iraq before September 11 knows this is true.

The radical left is right about one thing. The oil companies have a nefarious agenda in the Middle East. They want to keep all the nasty dictators in place. It is good for business. That, folks, is blood for oil.

The radical left used to be against this sort of thing. I liked the radical left then. I do not like them anymore.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Will Allen emails:

Glenn, an ever-growing group of people have come to realize that the forces of reaction are just as strong, if not stronger, on the left as on the right. As a radical advocate of human freedom (wanna overthrow a dictator? fine by me!) , this is encouraging, in that many people will be more hesitant to automatically assign concern for the well being of the masses (a term of condecension if there ever was one) to those who label themselves as being of the left.

I think that realization is spreading.

February 25, 2003

RICHARD BUTLER says that “Iraq is toast.”

February 25, 2003

DONAHUE’S TV SHOW IS HISTORY: His last show featured Rosie O’Donnell speaking against war.

February 25, 2003

TEACHERS PICKING ON SOLDIERS’ KIDS: I was skeptical of these reports at first, but Joe Katzman offers evidence that it’s real. And Trent Telenko has more on the subject.

It’s a disgrace, of course.

UPDATE: Naval reader Mike Martin emails:

Our son’s high school (Catholic) recently sent home a flyer with the monthly notices about homework help, teen mood swings and current fund raisers titled “War Causes Hunger”. It had a generic blurb, if not targeting the current administration then quite coincidentally timed, declaring that war causes hunger and hunger is bad. I had an urge to write to the principal to ask when they would send the notices home about dictators causing hunger and dictators are bad. I didn’t, but I still might.

Let me know what response you get. . . .

February 25, 2003

YEAH, NOT MUCH POSTING TODAY: I’ve been busy with meetings and classes. But go read more about the burgeoning pro-war — or, I guess I should say, “pro-liberation” — movement, over at GlennReynolds.com where there’s a brand-new post up.

UPDATE: Dick Aubrey emails:

If the pro-war folks are going to be called “pro-liberation”, then I guess the anti-war folks should be called, “anti-liberation.”

Well, if the shoe fits. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Randy Paul emails that the above is unfair to antiwar people. But as Jose Ramos-Horta writes in the New York Times op-ed I quote here, “History has shown that the use of force is often the necessary price of liberation.” And as he notes, the anti-war movement (which he characterizes as noble) needs to accept that keeping Saddam in power means preventing the liberation of Iraqis.

One of my problems with the “peace” movement as it’s currently constructed is that it’s not willing to admit that its positions can have dreadful consequences, and that being for “peace” is potentially as risky, and as deadly, as being for “war.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Randy responds.

February 25, 2003

HOMELAND SECURITY IS STILL A JOKE:

LOS ALAMOS, New Mexico — There are no armed guards to knock out. No sensors to deactivate. No surveillance cameras to cripple. To sneak into Los Alamos National Laboratory, the world’s most important nuclear research facility, all you do is step over a few strands of rusted, calf-high barbed wire.

I should know. On Saturday morning, I slipped into and out of a top-secret area of the lab while guards sat, unaware, less than a hundred yards away.

Not quite as James Bondian as it might sound, but bad enough. Noah Shachtman, who wrote the story, has more on his blog, DefenseTech.

February 25, 2003

BROOKLYN COLLEGE TENURE BATTLE UPDATE:

February 25, 2003 — The CUNY trustees yesterday granted tenure to a Brooklyn College history professor who ripped the school’s post-9/11 forum for promoting hatred against America – overruling the college’s appointments panel, which sparked outrage by passing him over.

In a rare reversal on a personnel matter, City University Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and the policy board concluded that Assistant Professor Robert “KC” Johnson is a nationally renowned scholar who should not have been denied promotion and tenure.

Interesting. Erin O’Connor has more, naturally.

February 25, 2003

RESPONDING TO AN EMAILED CHALLENGE FROM A CNN PRODUCER (c’mon, Juan, tell us his name) Juan Paxety points out that we’re not talking about a second UN resolution, but a nineteenth resolution — and he lists them all.

“Rush to war,” my ass.

February 25, 2003

TIM BLAIR’S WEEKLY COLUMN IN THE BULLETIN opens with this wonderful pair of quotations:

“No one can doubt its cruelty and atrocities, but comparisons with the Third Reich are ridiculous.” – John Pilger on the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, November 15, 1999.

“The current American elite is the Third Reich of our times.” – John Pilger on the government of George W. Bush, January 29, 2003.

See, these international antiwar journalists have so much more perspective than we simplistic Americans. . . .

February 25, 2003

DEREK LOWE has a couple of posts on the VaxGen AIDS vaccine story, which seems a bit disappointing to me. He’s not quite as disappointed, though, and he knows a lot more about this stuff than I do.

February 25, 2003

CHARLES MURTAUGH WONDERS if the Klan is going Green. Or vice versa.

February 25, 2003

JOHN COUMARIANOS criticizes Paul Berman.

February 25, 2003

ANDREW SULLIVAN WRITES:

It is therefore a gamble Bush cannot completely lose (whatever diplomatic and popular damage it does would be more than undone by a successful war). But it’s a resolution the Security Council (and France and Germany) can easily lose. If the resolution is defeated, but war ensues, Bush will take a small hit at home, a huge hit abroad (still, how much worse could it get?) – but, precisely because of these things, an even bigger domestic gain if the war is successful. Bush will be seen as someone who did all he could to win over the U.N., but in the end, did what he believed was right. He will emerge principled and triumphant. Ditto Blair, especially if a liberated Iraq reveals untold horrors, human rights abuses and French arms contracts. Machiavelli’s dictum applies powerfully now: all that matters is that Bush win the war. If he does, this conflict will be deemed to have been just and justified. That’s why calling the French bluff is especially important – particularly if it isn’t a bluff.

This seems right to me. What’s interesting is that though Bush’s critics accuse the United States of “imperial overstretch,” it’s really the post-1945 international system that has obviously bitten off more than it can chew. It purports to be in the business of policing international relations according to some standard of civility, and of reining in rogue states before they become a threat to their neighbors, but in fact the current international system lacks the will and the wherewithal to do either.

As Jim Bennett noted last week, Bush and Blair are, in fact, engaged in a neck-or-nothing effort to save the international system. And those — like the feckless French and Germans — who oppose them are in fact the would-be midwives of something far less civilized:

In reality, a failure of the Bush-Blair coalition would sooner or later (probably sooner) give rise to a world in which a number of regional tyrannies who gradually, under the cover of their weapons of mass destruction, would annex first the states that are sovereign by convention, such as Kuwait, and eventually many that have been sovereign by circumstance.

The existence of such states would force other nations in the region to calculate that their own sovereignty depended on their acquisition of nuclear weapons. Given that most nuclear tyrannies would be happy to sell weapons to out-of-area states with ready cash, such proliferation could proceed more rapidly than many imagine. Alliances would be discounted; if America were to shy away from attacking a nation for fear of non-nuclear terrorism, it could hardly be expected to stand up to nuclear blackmail. This logic ends up favoring the nuclear over the non-nuclear, the ruthless over the constrained, and the closed over the open societies.

Some of them realize this, and think such a world would be fine. Others are just foolish and irresponsible.

February 24, 2003

JAY MANIFOLD reports from a real peace rally.

February 24, 2003

TED BARLOW’S GRAMMY ROUNDUP is a lot better than the real thing.

February 24, 2003

“HIGH STAKES FRAUD:” Joyce Malcolm has a Bellesiles postmortem.

UPDATE: Chris Mooney has a Bellesiles confession on his blog.

February 24, 2003

TALKLEFT says it best:

We are on the precipice of war. The American public is constantly reminded we are under high to very high terror alerts, and Ashcroft and Bush want to go after bong sellers?

Jeez. Oliver Willis has a photo of the particular menace to National Security in question.

February 24, 2003

TWO NEW PRO-WAR STUDENT GROUPS: Students Protecting America (organized by Harvard Law students) and Students For War. Check them out.

And here’s a page with links to other organizations at Brandeis, Columbia, Oxford and Princeton.

UPDATE: More links here.

February 24, 2003

HERE’S AN INTERESTING STORY:

A Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal, was today convicted of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred, in the first prosecution of its kind in Britain.

The Old Bailey jury found El-Faisal guilty of three charges relating to inciting racial hatred as well as three charges of soliciting murder. He was remanded in custody for sentencing on March 7.

El-Faisal had denied five charges of soliciting the murder of non-believers, Jews, Americans and Hindus, and four charges relating to inciting racial hatred.

The ground-breaking trial was the first prosecution of a Muslim cleric in Britain. It was also the first time potential jurors were banned from sitting on the jury because of their religion. The judge agreed to a defence plea not to allow Jewish and Hindu jurors – but in the end none came forward.

This last seems a bit much — it’s like the state engaging in the kind of discrimination the defendant is accused of. Isn’t it?

February 24, 2003

MORE ON OLD VERSUS NEW EUROPE.