Archive for June, 2003

June 22, 2003

READER DAVID NISHIMURA EMAILS:

I am constantly astonished how “Old Europe” routinely comes up with
scandals of this sort, of a depth unthinkable to most Americans –
yet still see fit to lecture us on everything from individual rights
to modes of governance.

Indeed. Here’s what he’s talking about:

AN anti-pornography campaigner, who heads France’s broadcasting authority, has been accused of attending sadomasochistic orgies and conniving in the murder of a transvestite prostitute who threatened to expose him and other pillars of the establishment in the city of Toulouse.

So serious are the allegations against Dominique Baudis, 56, the former mayor of Toulouse, that President Jacques Chirac may be forced to sack him from his post as director of the watchdog Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovision.

You gotta watch those anti-pornography crusaders. And it does give a bit more credibility to Eva Joly’s remarks made in connection with a different scandal:

“Mme Joly, 57, said the French establishment was one of the most rotten in Europe. “It is a country of networks that don’t like to be challenged.”

In their defense, I believe that the French regard rampant and widely-acknowledged corruption as a powerful protection against totalitarianism. David Carr, who’s doing a better job defending France than Woody Allen, seems to think it works.

June 22, 2003

TWENTY QUESTIONS ON IRAQ, with answers, from the Globe and Mail.

June 22, 2003

CHANGING HIS NAME TO COLBY CASH? He’s got a PayPal button now. Go give it a breaking-in.

June 22, 2003

INTERESTING REPORT from a reader in Washington:

Around 2:00PM, we drove past the French Embassy, and traffic was stopped by the D.C. police on Reservoir Rd., in front of the gate. They were pulling guys waving a huge Iranian flag off of the gates, and there were about 50 people across the street with signs saying “No Oil for Blood.” They were still there on the way back, but the flag wavers were gone. Geepers, my first Iranian protest.

Quite possibly, not the last. There’s a bit more in this report from the Post.

June 22, 2003

THE INSTA-DAUGHTER AND I are only on page 60 of the new Harry Potter book, but here’s a blog review that says the book has libertarian themes. No spoilers, exactly, but some plot details are mentioned.

June 22, 2003

GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE: Megan McArdle:

Jane’s Law: The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.

David Brooks:

Something similar seems to be happening domestically between Republicans and Democrats. It’s not just that members of the two parties disagree. It’s that the disagreements have recently grown so deep that liberals and conservatives don’t seem to perceive the same reality. Whether it is across the ocean or across the aisle, powerlessness corrupts just as certainly as power does. Those on top become overly self-assured, emotionally calloused, dishonest with themselves, and complacent. Those on the bottom become vicious. Sensing that their dignity is perpetually insulted, they begin to see their plight in lurid terms. They exaggerate the power of their foes. They invent malevolent conspiracy theories to explain their unfortunate position. They develop a gloomy and panicked view of the world.

Powerlessness corrupts, indeed.

UPDATE: This post by Armed Liberal provides an interesting counterpoint.

June 22, 2003

INTERESTING REPORT FROM THE WINE SPECTATOR:

Are Americans still holding a grudge? For the third consecutive four-week period, sales of French table wines in the United States have declined substantially, following drops in March and April.

French wine sales dropped 26.2 percent in case volume and 27 percent in dollar value for the four weeks ending May 18, 2003, compared to the same period a year ago, according to retail data from Information Resources Inc. That’s the biggest decrease in French wines for any four-week period since the calls for a boycott heated up in response to France’s refusal to support war in Iraq; for the 12 weeks ending May 18, the decline averages out to 23.9 percent in volume and 24 percent in dollar value.

At the same time, sales of table wines from around the world have been on the rise compared to a year ago. According to IRI, overall wine sales increased 4.4 percent in volume and 1.5 percent in value for the four weeks ending May 18. Those numbers would have been even higher if it had not been for the drop in French wines. IRI’s InfoScan tracking service collects scanner data from multiple retail outlets in the United States.

I’ve become quite partial to Chilean, Argentinean, and Australian wines myself.

UPDATE: Reader Peter Ingemi suggests that a lot of people preferred other wines but bought French labels out of snobbery or insecurity, and are now feeling free to buy the many excellent cheaper wines out there. That’s very possible. The French are likely to face more of that, if stories like this one keep appearing:

LYON, France — For the second straight game, fans at the Confederations Cup booed when the “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played before the United States took the field.

Have I mentioned the many excellent wines from California?

June 22, 2003

MATT WELCH WRITES ON HOW HORIZONTAL KNOWLEDGE CAME TO BASEBALL:

James had one other quality that helped make him the cranky pied piper for the “sabermetric” revolution: He actively solicited help from readers and other amateurs, and encouraged them to form parallel structures of information far superior to what Major League Baseball had to offer. This collaborative, open-source movement was an early adopter to the Internet and World Wide Web, predating and predicting such things as the modern-day explosion in Weblogs.

By the late 1980s, members of the James-organized “Project Scoresheet” (now called Retrosheet) were attending nearly every professional game, writing down minute details of each play, and sharing it in a centralized database. People started proposing new theories and formulas, engaging in brutal but collegial peer review, and buying enough James books to make him a perennial best-seller.

“All these exquisitely trained, brilliantly successful scientists and mathematicians,” Lewis writes, “were working for love, not money.”

Read the whole thing.

June 21, 2003

THE MULLAHS ARE STILL TRYING TO CRACK DOWN. Will it work? I hope not.

June 21, 2003

IT’S TOO EARLY TO MAKE MUCH of this WMD story, but a British reader emails that the folks at the BBC “radio PM” are “utterly prostrate at this development.” So stay, er, tuned.

Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time the BBC has gone overboard with bogus early reports that didn’t pan out.

June 21, 2003

OPEN LETTERS TO KOFI ANNAN AND PRESIDENT BUSH ON IRAN: Well, don’t just sit there, go read ‘em. (I’m pretty sure which one of the Bush letters I’d pick. How about you?)

June 21, 2003

STILL MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT — and it’s dissent about the crushing of dissent!

A cold war has broken out at a librarians’ conference in downtown Toronto as accusations fly that pro-Castro elements within the American Library Association are trying to silence debate over Cuba’s crackdown on independent libraries.

The battle has laid the groundwork for the improbable scenario of a shouting match among librarians at a meeting tomorrow.

The ALA has “secretly manoeuvered to have only pro-Cuban voices” on a discussion panel, said Robert Kent, a co-founder of the Friends of Cuban Libraries and a librarian with the New York Public Library. “And the extremists within the ALA are going to try to pack the meeting to exclude people who might be critical of the Cuban government.”

I blame John Ashcroft.

UPDATE: Here’s more.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Librarian-blogger Alan Powell writes: “librarians who profess a foundational commitment to a non-negotiable “Freedom to Read” have no business ignoring the plight of Cubans taking a stand to do the same.”

June 21, 2003

INNOCENTS ABROAD points to an example of ethnic hate speech by Matthew Parris, in the London Times.

June 21, 2003

MCDONALD’S — a force for good, even in France:

In order to counter the strike by its school canteen staff, the management of the Robespierre middle school in Epinay-sur-Seine ordered 160 meals from McDonalds to feed its students taken hostage (nutritionally speaking) by the strikers. The manoeuvre stunned the strikers who were counting on hungry protestations of the students to amplify their demands. One student declared, ‘When can we do that again?’. The strike was called off this Friday.

Some teachers tried to block delivery of the meals. That’ll win friends. The French strikes in general seem to be fizzling, which suggests that good sense may be breaking out.

June 21, 2003

POTTERBLOGGING: Fritz Schranck was on the scene at midnight and has recorded the results, with photos. The InstaDaughter and I went to the local bookstore at 10, but she pronounced the scene boring and we came home by 11. We’ll get the book this morning.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn wonders how much life the series has left in it.

June 21, 2003

PRIVATE LYNCH UPDATE: BBC Correspondent John Kampfner’s version continues to unravel: and what Kampfner reported as an attempt by Iraqi doctors to return Lynch to American custody in an ambulance turns out, according to Nicholas Kristof’s report, to actually have been something rather different indeed. Here’s the key bit:

The hospital staff also said that on the night of March 27, military officials prepared to kill Ms. Lynch by putting her in an ambulance and blowing it up with its occupants — blaming the atrocity on the Americans. The ambulance drivers balked at that idea. Eventually, the plan was changed so that a military officer would shoot Ms. Lynch and burn the ambulance. So Sabah Khazal, an ambulance driver, loaded her in the vehicle and drove off with a military officer assigned to execute her.

“I asked him not to shoot Jessica,” Mr. Khazal said, “and he was afraid of God and didn’t kill her.” Instead, the executioner ran away and deserted the army, and Mr. Khazal said that he then thought about delivering Ms. Lynch to an American checkpoint. But there were firefights on the streets, so he returned to the hospital. (Ms. Lynch apparently never knew how close she had come to execution.)

Kampfner has never fully explained the many problems with his report, and this only makes it worse.

UPDATE: Wilbur’s Blog notes that the usual conspiracists at Indymedia are still peddling the old BBC story.

June 21, 2003

ERIC OLSEN has a very nice piece about Warren Zevon up over at MSNBC. My favorite bit:

Last October, after the news of his cancer was out, Zevon appeared on television as the only guest of David Letterman (a huge fan) in a special episode of the show. Zevon was witty, charming, even profound. Besides his musical performances, the highlight of the show was this exchange:

Letterman: “Do you now know something I don’t know?”

Zevon: “I know how much you are supposed to enjoy every sandwich.”

Indeed. Read the whole thing.

June 20, 2003

RIGHT THOUGHTS (formerly “Right Thinking from the Left Coast”) has moved. Adjust your bookmarks accordingly.

UPDATE: Ooops. I was confused. Right Thinking from the Left Coast is a different blog, and it’s here now. There are too many blogs for me to keep straight nowadays. I’m blog-saturated!

June 20, 2003

HIGH SCHOOL BLOGGERS will be the bane of officious principals I suspect. Certainly this story, if accurate, reflects poorly on one high school’s administration.

June 20, 2003

ANOTHER LOOTING STORY LOOKS TO BE EXAGGERATED:

VIENNA, Austria – Experts from the U.N. atomic agency have accounted for tons of uranium feared looted from Iraq (news – web sites)’s largest nuclear research facility, diplomats said Friday. . . .

The diplomats did not detail how much uranium had been looted and where it was found, but it appeared much of it was on or near the site.

U.S. military officials who accompanied the IAEA team said last week that initial assessments indicated most of the uranium that had been stored at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center was accounted for.

Although at least 20 percent of the containers which stored the uranium were taken from the site, it appeared that looters had dumped the uranium before taking the barrels.

Well, that’s a relief. As the fog of war lifts, lots of stories will no doubt be revised.

June 20, 2003

PLAYING THE GAME — DISHONESTLY: Tapped makes a big deal of the Christian Science Monitor’s report (noted here last night) that documents found by the Monitor implicating British antiwar MP George Galloway as a collaborator with Iraq appear to be forged. Tapped thinks that Andrew Sullivan owes Galloway an apology, and adds rather snippily: “It’s Sullivan’s game. We’re just playing it.”

Playing it rather dishonestly, though. Because what the Tapped post doesn’t mention is that the same expert who found the Monitor’s documents probably fraudulent also said that the Telegraph documents were probably genuine:

After examining copies of two pages of the Daily Telegraph’s documents linking Galloway with the Hussein regime, Mneimneh pronounces them consistent, unlike their Monitor counterparts, with authentic Iraqi documents he has seen.

Moreover, a direct comparison of the language in the Monitor and Daily Telegraph document sets shows that they are somewhat contradictory.

The trouble is, you can’t read this directly from their post because Tapped doesn’t link to the Monitor’s story. Instead, it links to this AP story about the Monitor’s findings, which doesn’t include that discussion. That’s funny, since Tapped’s post is timestamped 12:40 p.m. today, and the Monitor story has been available since last night. So why link to the AP story?

Unless, of course, you’re playing games. I think that it’s Tapped who owes an apology here. To Sullivan, and to its readers.

UPDATE: Okay, on reading this again maybe I’m a bit too hard on Tapped. It’s certainly possible that this was an honest, if careless, mistake. But since I’m revisiting this, I should also point out Galloway admits he was in Iraq when the Telegraph documents say that he was.

Tapped should either have been more careful, or less snippy. And I suppose it might turn out, eventually, that Galloway is altogether innocent — and that he supported Saddam out of conviction, rather than desire for lucre, if that’s better. But Tapped certainly didn’t prove that, and didn’t present even the evidence in existence in a complete or forthright manner.

I wonder if anonymous blogging encourages that sort of thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader David Mosier emails “Anonymous blogging is like the KKK hiding behind sheets.” I don’t agree with this, and I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with anonymous blogging per se. But an anonyblogger like, say, Atrios is still taking personal — if pseudonymous — responsibility. The anonymity of house blogs like Tapped encourages a sort of diffusion of responsibility, I think. However, I suspect that the real motivation for anonymous house blogs is that the people who run these publications don’t want their staff making a name for themselves via blogging. They might *shudder* ask for more money, or something.

Meanwhile, Horologium sees this as evidence of Tapped’s decline. Well, it was better back when Chris Mooney was doing it. Now it’s been Kuttnerized! (Take it away, Mickey Kaus. . . )

June 20, 2003

BUT THERE’S PLENTY OF MONEY FOR AIRBUS-RELATED BRIBES:

Tony Blair conceded today that a European Union donation to help fight Aids, TB and malaria would fall short of the $1bn (£600m) pledged by the United States.

The prime minister had made a joint call with French president Jacques Chirac for the EU to match America’s commitment to the UN’s Global Health Fund, set up to fight the three killer diseases.

But speaking at the EU summit in Greece, he said the smaller of the 15 existing EU members and 10 countries joining next year were not prepared to commit the money for 2004 because of “budget problems”.

The reader sending the link notes:

Bush promised the money, and he’s put up the money. The E.U. promised to match Bush’s money, and they haven’t.

But Europeans still think the U.S. is a bigger threat to safety in the world than Al Qaeda.

The E.U. is much, much bigger on making promises than on fulfilling them.

June 20, 2003

DUE TO BLOGGER PROBLEMS, Daniel Drezner has moved his blog here.

June 20, 2003

I’VE GOT MORE ON SENATOR HATCH’S UNFORTUNATE ENCOUNTER with the Internet over at GlennReynolds.com. Meanwhile Howard Kurtz has the last word on the O’Reilly / Internet war. (“O’Reilly loves to stir up trouble, of course, but many of his targets don’t have a megaphone to shout back. That’s hardly the case online, where almost anyone can crank up the volume.”)

Both Hatch and O’Reilly seem to have come off the worse for dissing the Internet. Is there a lesson in that?

UPDATE: More on Hatch here, where we also learn that the story has made the Salt Lake Tribune.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This whole affair is restoring one blogger’s faith in the blogosphere. Well, good!

June 20, 2003

THE SHRILL ANTI-BUSH TONE of this Salon piece by Eric Boehlert is unfortunate, because the issue it covers is too important to be buried in the “maybe this will be the silver bullet the Democrats have been waiting for” drooling.

Leaving all that aside, Boehlert has a point. The Bush Administration has been far too resistant to probes of what was done before the 9/11 attacks. I’ve repeatedly noted here that nobody lost their job over this, despite some pretty obvious dropped balls. We haven’t seen the kind of accountability that we should, and the Bush Administration does itself no credit by its near-stonewalling on this subject.

Karl Rove should be thankful, though, for the screechily partisan note of these calls for an investigation, which have so far made them easier to ignore. But my advice to Karl is not to depend too much on the shrillness of his enemies, and to remember that if you act like you’re hiding something, people will sooner or later conclude that you’ve got something to hide.

June 20, 2003

I SAID EARLIER that local blogs would have a lot of impact. Bill Hobbs points to one that’s fact-checking newspaper bias in South Dakota at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. Hobbs writes: “The reports, written by University of South Dakota law student Jason Van Beek, are blog-journalism at its finest.” Judging by the reaction from the journalists he’s covering, I think he’s having an impact already.

I think we’ll see a lot more local-blogging. In part that’s because local newspapers, almost always monopolists and often with too-comfortable relations with local politicos, are ripe targets.

June 20, 2003

SOME GOOD NEWS FROM IRAQ:

With no government to turn to, Ali and his neighbors decided to make their own, forming a neighborhood council and taking responsibility for getting power and water up and running, cleaning up the sewage, arranging delivery of cooking gas canisters, clearing the schoolyards and every other detail of municipal life.

And the headache of it all — the nitty-gritty, unsolvable, hair-tearing frustration of trying to run a city neighborhood with no money, office, phone or car — fills Ali with pure elation.

“We are appreciating this opportunity,” Ali, a slight, carefully dressed man with neat salt-and-pepper hair, said on a recent sweltering evening as the council gathered in the courtyard of the al-Ahud primary school. “We have suffered for a long period. This is the first time we are taking responsibility for ourselves.”

Today, representatives of neighborhood councils all over Baghdad will gather for the first time. The plan is to have them elect members to a district council, which in turn will choose representatives to serve on a Baghdad city council scheduled to be operational by the end of June.

But read the whole thing.

June 20, 2003

NOW THE WEASELS ARE EATING ONE ANOTHER:

BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 20 — Belgium’s government itself became the target Friday of a law that has damaged the country’s relations with the United States by allowing war crimes complaints against President Bush and other prominent Americans.

A small opposition party said it had filed a suit against Foreign Minister Louis Michel for authorizing a Belgian company to sell arms to Nepal. The New Flemish Alliance, a nationalist party from Belgium’s Dutch-speaking north, alleged the sale made Michel an accomplice in human rights abuses by the Nepalese armed forces.

”The law says every collaboration with these crimes is a crime itself and should be punished in the same way,” party spokesman Ben Weyts said. ”The sentence for this crime is life in prison.”

Or complete irrelevance, whichever comes first.

June 20, 2003

MERYL YOURISH REPORTS an astonishing lack of support for the Iranian freedom protests, over at IndyMedia.

IndyMedia was never about freedom.

June 20, 2003

TALKSHOW HOST AND BLOGGER Kevin McCullough writes that GoreTV will be outdone by the blogosphere.

I wish someone would give me ten million dollars.

June 20, 2003

THE GAY VICTORY: Jonah Goldberg writes:

The gays have won. The problem is no one will admit it.

The biggest and latest news is that Canada is poised to legalize same-sex marriage. But the signs of the gay victory have been all around for us for years.

He’s right, of course. Which is fine with me, even though it still irritates some people.

UPDATE: Stanley Kurtz writes that “Reynolds also acknowledges that there is at least a good argument to be made that gay marriage will end up undermining, rather than reinforcing, marriage.” Uh, no, I don’t. And I don’t see where he got that out of this post.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kurtz responds that he was referring to this phrase from my earlier post:

There are some conservatives who say that the advocacy of gay marriage is part of a campaign by some liberals to undermine marriage in general — and I think there probably are some people on the left (or in whatever la-la land the MacKinnon / Dworkin types and their near-kin inhabit) who think that it will do that. But I rather suspect it will have the opposite effect.

Well, I guess I can see reading that the way he does, though the mention of MacKinnon / Dworkin la-la land should suggest how unfounded I believe such thinking is.

Meanwhile I’ll let Kurtz, and anyone else who is interested, make whatever they can of this new study. I’m not going there.

June 20, 2003

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: “The bitter truth is that the Middle East wants the West far more than the West the Middle East.” He goes on to say:

For all the doom and gloom we are making amazing progress. If on the evening of September 11th, an outside observer had predicted that the following would transpire in two years, he would have been considered unhinged: Saddam Hussein gone with the wind; democratic birth pangs in Iraq; the Taliban finished and Mr. Karzai attempting to create constitutional government; Yasser Arafat ostracized by the American government and lord of a dilapidated compound; bin Laden either dead or leading a troglodyte existence; all troops slated to leave Saudi Arabia — and by our own volition, not theirs; Iran and Syria apprehensive rather than boastful about their own promotion of terror; and the Middle East worried that the United States is both unpredictable in its righteous anger and masterful in its use of arms, rather than customarily irresolute and reactive.

Finally, do not expect to read headlines like “85% of Baghdad’s Power Restored,” “Afghan Women Enroll in Schools by the Millions,” or “Americans Put an End to Secret Police and Arbitrary Executions in Iraq.” It is not the nature of the present generation of our elites — so unlike our own forefathers in postwar Japan or Germany — to express confidence in our culture, much less in the moral nature of our struggle to end the conditions that caused this war.

Yes, and if we lose this war, that will be why. Fortunately, however, what Andrew Sullivan correctly called a “fifth column” back in 2001 is limited in numbers and influence, despite its broad representation in media.

June 20, 2003

HOW RELIABLE IS THIS POLL? Beats me. But it’s interesting:

Iraq’s first opinion poll since the war, indeed in decades, showed that 73 per cent of Baghdad residents think the army has failed to enforce security in the city, which is still plagued by shootings, car-jackings and armed looters.

But in a candid acknowledgement that there is as yet no alternative, only 17 per cent of those polled by the independent Iraqi Institute of Strategic Studies said that the coalition should leave now. Half wanted the US forces to stay until a permanent government had been elected, a process that could take up to two years.

The rest of the article, however, is far more troubling, with emphasis on the persistence of disorder in and around Baghdad. It fits uncomfortably well with this report by Salam Pax.

Things seem to be considerably better elsewhere in Iraq, which is no surprise — the “Sunni belt” retains the most Ba’ath holdovers and is probably where Saudi Wahabbists are focusing their efforts to destabilize the country.

UPDATE: Reader Jody Leavell expresses irritation with Salam’s passivity and notes:

The American problem may be too few troops in place to adequately secure the city. The residents of Baghdad’s problem isn’t the Americans, nor the militants, it is their own apathy and failure to take responsibility for their plight and build a better future.

Yes. I spoke to a friend of mind in the defense establishment, who doesn’t have direct responsibility for Iraq but who is interested and perceptive. He remarked that the big intelligence failure was in underestimating just how badly Saddam had wrecked civil society in Iraq. But he also remarked that the Iraqis want to get back to civil society really badly, and he thinks they’re starting to overcome their shell-shock.

June 20, 2003

AN IRANIAN BLOGGER offers some cautionary advice about Iranian revolution. Read this.

June 20, 2003

ORRIN HATCH: Software Pirate and porno magnate?

June 20, 2003

HERE’S AN INTERESTING INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT KAPLAN on how America should operate around the world. Excerpt:

In fact, one of the stories that got some attention, but perhaps not as much as it should have, is the number of visits by high-level Pentagon officials to Dearborn, Michigan, which is kind of the center of the Iraqi-American community. People in the U.S. government have been increasingly reaching out to Iranian-Americans in Los Angeles, to Iraqi-Americans in Dearborn, hopefully to Palestinians in northern New Jersey. They recognize that we aren’t tapping the “hyphenated Americans,” and increasingly we’re making progress. But just think about it. We have the most international country in the world. Large communities of Armenians, of Iranians, of Laotians, of Vietnamese, and of Arabs. Given this population base, there is no excuse for us not having a diplomatic and military corps that is the most erudite and linguistically sophisticated in the world. And we do, to an extent. But we have to get a lot better at it.

Yes. In an interestingly related post, Trent Telenko says that Rumsfeld and Shinseki are both wrong about the number of troops needed to rebuild Iraq.

June 20, 2003

MILLIONS VS. BILLIONS AT THE NEW YORK TIMES: Apparently, the new, improved fact-checking system hasn’t been rolled out quite yet.

June 20, 2003

HERE’S A NICE PIECE BY ANGELINA SCIOLLA on the relationship between blogs and Big Media. (Via Virginia Postrel).

June 19, 2003

I MENTIONED THE INDIAN TRUST FUND DEBACLE below. Jacob T. Levy has more here, here. and here.

June 19, 2003

ANOTHER Greg Packer?

June 19, 2003

SOME REASONS WHY CONDI RICE SHOULD BE ON THE TICKET IN 2004.

Here’s another, better reason:

In a telling anecdote, it is said that Condoleezza Rice, the White House’s national security adviser, asked a Korean government official if he knew the names of the two middle school girls killed last year by a U.S. armored vehicle. He answered yes right away. Then she asked if he knew any of the names of the sailors killed [by North Koreans last year] in the West Sea battle. The official stuttered, unable to answer the question. This embarrassing incident shows us how ridiculous our country may seem to the world.

You go, girl! (Via The Marmot’s Hole).

June 19, 2003

WELL, THEY’RE BOTH DEEP THINKERS AND GREAT AMERICANS: David Frum on gay marriage:

Gay marriage opens the doors to a series of changes in the law of marriage. Not the law of marriage for gays – the law of marriage for everybody. The whole point to gay marriage is to make the rules for gays the same as the rules for straights. Logically, then, the rules for straights will have to be the same as the rules for gays.

It’s a good guess, for example, that we will see an end to the concepts of “motherhood” and “fatherhood” in our legal practice. The law will increasingly see couples as interchangeable “parents.” This reinterpretation of motherhood as parenthood will have large impacts on, for example, custody decisions during divorce. Right now, the courts still tend to award custody to mothers, even if they work, even if they work more hours than their husbands do. (Some years ago, a Florida court awarded custody to an at-home dad over his working wife, and feminists raised a huge fuss against the sexist court that extinguished maternal rights just because the mother worked 70 hours a week.) But as the courts have to make new law to cope with gay divorces, look for the old idea of maternal preference to disappear. You can’t have maternal preferences when both parents claim to be the mother.

Rob Smith on gay marriage:

Having been through two divorces and seen first-hand how a man fares against a woman (although I DID get custody of my daughter, but NO Child Support because I was profiled as a man)), I have a couple of questions. If gay parents adopt, how does the court award custody? How is Child Support figured? How is alimony decided?

The more I think about those questions, the more I favor gay marriage. Maybe the courts will stop “profiling” ex-husbands as the scum of the earth, guilty of whatever went wrong in the marriage and due a richly-deserved financial enema for that evil. Maybe the woman doesn’t have a stacked deck in her favor anymore.

That would be a damned good thing.

Personally, I’m in favor of legalizing gay marriage. I don’t see that gay marriage diminishes marriage, any more than the many Jerry-Springer types who are allowed to get married now diminish marriage. I have gay friends who are, for all practical purposes, married. I don’t see why barring them from going to the courthouse benefits anyone.

There are some conservatives who say that the advocacy of gay marriage is part of a campaign by some liberals to undermine marriage in general — and I think there probably are some people on the left (or in whatever la-la land the MacKinnon / Dworkin types and their near-kin inhabit) who think that it will do that. But I rather suspect it will have the opposite effect. Let gays get married and they’ll become a bulwark of the bourgeoisie. That’s my prediction, anyway.

I also recommend this column by Radley Balko, which advocates getting the state out of the marriage business entirely.

June 19, 2003

MARY ROBINSON IS immune to irony. But we knew that.

June 19, 2003

MEDIA BIAS? Transnational Progressives who hate Bush? That’s crazy-talk!

June 19, 2003

GALLOWAY DOCUMENTS ARE FORGERIES — at least some of them, anyway, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Note, however, that the Monitor’s expert seems to regard different Galloway documents, found by The Telegraph, as authentic.

June 19, 2003

BLOGGERS RATE THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BLOGS: Hmm. I’m not sure that this chart is an accurate reflection, but you can decide for yourself.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Jeff Jarvis reports that Andrew Sullivan and I both send far more referrals than The New York Times. Whatever that means. NYT readers don’t follow links, I guess.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile Bill Gates outlines the future of online newspapers, as he sees it.

June 19, 2003

SMART MOBS IN NEW YORK: This is interesting stuff.

June 19, 2003

MORE IRANIANS ARRESTED IN PARIS — though these, reportedly, were protesting peacefully.

June 19, 2003

JEFF JARVIS has more on Iran, and on the BBC’s anti-Americanism.

Meanwhile, here’s an Italian journalist who wants to hear from Iranians.

UPDATE: And here’s the war news roundup from Winds of Change — which also has an Iran news roundup because, well, they’re just all over this stuff.

June 19, 2003

STILL MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: This time in France, where a book on the ELF scandal is being suppressed.

Amnesty International? Reporters Without Borders? Go to it.

June 19, 2003

THE MANY FACES OF JAMES LILEKS: It’s Farkerrific!

June 19, 2003

I’VE BEEN PRETTY HARD ON HOMELAND SECURITY — and with good reason — but this suggests that we’re doing something right somewhere:

WASHINGTON, June 19 — A suspected al-Qaida operative has pleaded guilty to two terrorism-related charges after he was identified by a top leader of Osama bin Laden’s terror network, NBC News has learned.

THE MAN, Iyman Faris, a U.S. citizen from Columbus, Ohio, also known as Mohammed Rauf, was personally identified by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is believed to have been al-Qaida’s top terrorist planner, U.S. officials told NBC News’ Pete Williams.

The officials said Mohammed, who was captured March 1 in Pakistan, told U.S. authorities that Faris, 34, had been assigned to look into ways to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge and derail trains, among other potential attacks.

What’s upsetting — and should be even more upsetting for American Muslims — is that he was a naturalized citizen of long residence in America.

UPDATE: Here’s a link-filled report on Al Qaeda in the USA, from Winds of Change — which is really on a roll today.

June 19, 2003

THE TRUE FATHER of neoconservatism — Jimmy Carter?

June 19, 2003

BEST OF THE WEB has picked up on the Hatch copyright-infringement story, but the best bit is the email from a reader, doing Hatch one better by advocating mattresses that burst into flame if you remove the tag. (Meanwhile Laurence Simon emails to say that the offending code has mysteriously vanished from Hatch’s site. It’s a coverup! Call in the press!) Ernie the Attorney isn’t very happy with Hatch, and suspects a bogus national-security angle to anti-filesharing legislation.

Okay, enough on Hatch and O’Reilly for a while.

UPDATE: Well, almost enough. Wired News has the scoop on Hatch’s unlicensed software:

On Wednesday, Hatch clarified his comments, but stuck by the original idea. “I do not favor extreme remedies — unless no moderate remedies can be found,” he said in a statement. “I asked the interested industries to help us find those moderate remedies.”

Just as well. Because if Hatch’s terminator system embraced software as well as music, his servers would be targeted for destruction.

Milonic Solutions’ JavaScript code used on Hatch’s website costs $900 for a site-wide license. It is free for personal or nonprofit use, which the senator likely qualifies for.

However, the software’s license stipulates that the user must register the software to receive a licensing code, and provide a link in the source code to Milonic’s website.

The senator’s site meets neither of Milonic’s licensing terms. The site’s source code (which can be seen by selecting “Source” under the “View” menu in Internet Explorer) has neither a link to Milonic’s site nor a registration code.

“They’re using our code,” said Woolley. “We’ve had no contact with them. They are in breach of our licensing terms.”

The source code on Hatch’s site contains the line: “* i am the license for the menu (duh) *”

Woolley said he had no idea where the line came from — it has nothing to do with him, and he hadn’t seen it on other websites that use his menu system.

“It looks like it’s trying to cover something up, as though they got a license,” he said.

Best bit:

A spokesman in Hatch’s office responded, “That’s ironic” before declining to put Wired News in contact with the site’s webmaster.

Why yes. Yes, it is.

June 19, 2003

STILL MORE ON BILL O’REILLY AND THE INTERNET, over at GlennReynolds.com. On the way to the gym this morning, I heard Neal Boortz talking about what he called O’Reilly’s “hissy fit” about blogs. Boortz announced that his program notes page is a blog and offered these rules reproduced there:

Make sure you spell my name right. It’s Neal, not Neil, and the letter “o” appears twice in my last name. Oh .. and I would appreciate it if you would tell people where they can go and listen to me. That’s it. That’s all I ask. Now get out there and knock yourselves out. I’m fair game, and I can take it.

Me, too — and I’ll bet nobody has accused O’Reilly of putting puppies in blenders. But, as I suggest in my post, he seems to have learned from his encounter with the Internet, and that speaks well of him.

June 19, 2003

RAND SIMBERG HAS RESPONDED TO BILL O’REILLY — and the response is in a column on the FoxNews site! He also apologizes to John Pike. See, Bill — the Internet is full of corrections . . .

June 19, 2003

WHY DOES ORRIN HATCH WANT TO BLOW UP YOUR COMPUTER? Juan Paxety has looked at the campaign contribution listings and says it’s pretty obvious — he’s being paid to.

No word about the charges of Hatch’s own copyright violations.

June 19, 2003

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: Eugene Volokh reports on efforts to silence a professor because his research is deemed politically unacceptable and contrary to national policy. It’s shocking, and I hope that the academic community will weigh in with its support.

Meanwhile this guy isn’t having any problems.

June 19, 2003

HERE’S MORE ON THAT MISSING 727: Interestingly, the name of the guy who stole it is Benjamin Padilla, and he’s from Florida. No indication that he’s any relation to accused “dirtybomber” Jose Padilla, who also had a Florida connection, and Padilla isn’t exactly an uncommon name, but it’s still something to wonder about. I will say that the photo of Benjamin Padilla isn’t calculated to inspire confidence in his piloting abilities.

June 19, 2003

NICK SCHULZ writes in the Los Angeles Times that the Internet is behind Gray Davis’s troubles, by making it easy for people to organize and promote the recall campaign. I think that’s probably right. A lot of the informational/organizational advantages of Industrial Age entities like political parties are now available on an ad hoc basis via the Internet. That’s changing things to a degree that still isn’t fully appreciated.

June 19, 2003

I HAVEN’T PAID ENOUGH ATTENTION TO THE INDIAN TRUST FUND SCANDAL. But neither has anyone else, except for Indian Country Today.

June 19, 2003

GORE TV? Time is excited about this, but Sofia Sideshow had ‘em scooped with this story six months ago.

June 19, 2003

JEFF JARVIS has an Iran news roundup with lots of links to Iranian blog reports. And here’s a CBS story on Iranian National TV.

June 19, 2003

KERRY SAYS HE WAS BRAINWASHED ON THE WAR! Boy, Kaus knows how to slide in the knife. (For those of you who don’t get this reference, about a similar statement that ended the career of some guy named Romney, click here).

UPDATE: Hey, maybe Bush just believed the stuff Kerry wrote back when Clinton was President.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:

The Money quote about
Romney, of course, came from Gene McCarthy. Why Romney said that he “must have been brainwashed” about Vietnam, McCarthy was said to have replied that a light rinse probably would have been sufficient.

Gene knew how to slide the knife in as well. ;-)

Yes, he was the Howard Dean of the ’68 election.

June 19, 2003

JAMES LILEKS on Hatch and computers:

As for Orrin Hatch and his remarks about blowing up the computers of people who download pirated files: I’ll just say that I think he’s made mostly of molded plastic, there’s a pullstring in his back, and the RIAA fingerprints are all over the big white ring. I won’t listen to any of these guys blather about computers or the Internet until they have demonstrated on film that they can install some RAM, burn a CD (“shiny side down, you say?”), tell me what HTTP and URL stand for, prove they know how to get the source code for a webpage, and know better than to click “Yes” when asked if the computer should always trust data from Gator Corporation.

His remarks about remotely destroying computers that download copyrighted material is just grampa blather. The computers are stealing music! The cars are frightening the horses! The Kaiser took my dog! It would be amusing if these people didn’t have the power to pass thick stupid laws crafted by aides, lobbyists and other gnomes hauling up heavy buckets from the deep sooty mines of legalese. Of course the people who vote them up or down don’t actually read them; they get the gist from the title.

“What’s this Copyright Enhancement Act of 2003 all about, young underpaid aide?”

“It’s about enhancing copyright, sir.”

“Very good then. . . .

I know, I know – he was just talking off the top of his head. But if someone is talking about, oh, women’s pay relative to men, and they say off the top of their head “can’t the girls just stay home and put up preserves?” – well, it shows what they really think. Off the top of one’s head means when I reach for an idea, this one is the closest. For a reason.

At least he’ll have Mary Bono pulling his string soon, instead of Hillary Rosen. That’s got to be more pleasant.

June 18, 2003

MORE SPACE TOURISM: Via Soyuz.

June 18, 2003

WOMEN FOR A FREE IRAN will be demonstrating in Washington Friday morning:

Friday June 20th
9:00 AM
In front of the State Department
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

(Via Pejman Yousefzadeh, who’s all over this issue.)

June 18, 2003

PHIL CARTER REPORTS on some good things that France and Germany are doing.

June 18, 2003

A BIG DEVELOPMENT at The New York Times?

June 18, 2003

CHEAP HOSTING FOR BLOGSPOT REFUGEES — at Kathy Kinsley’s Home For Wayward Blogs.

June 18, 2003

JUST SAW ORIN KERR ON O’REILLY talking about Internet issues and the Hatch “destroy your computer” proposal. Kerr was good, but that’s no surprise. O’Reilly was unusually humble, admitting that he’s “an idiot where computers are concerned” and asking a lot of questions that he actually let the guests answer. It was a rather good segment.

June 18, 2003

RACHEL BELTON ON THE NEXT PHASE of the war on terror:

What we must do is help enable the war of ideas. Our strategy should not be for the West to win hearts and minds–but for an Arab alternative to pan-Arabism and Islamism to arise and win the hearts of their own people.

After World War II, the U.S. engaged in such a strategy quite effectively. We provided assistance in the hot wars Greece and Turkey fought against Communism, while donating funds for local governments to develop. But we also provided a viable alternative, through the covert funding of pro-Europe parties who eventually brought about the Treaty of Rome and the growth of the EU. Such an intelligent strategy for winning hearts and minds has not yet begun. Until it does, we have not yet begun to fight.

Interesting. Of course, the EU thing is producing a little blowback. . . .

June 18, 2003

THE LOVELY AND TALENTED SHANTI MANGALA is hosting this week’s Carnival of the Vanities. Check it out, and follow the links for some bloggers you might not have read before, but might want to read again.

June 18, 2003

SLATE has a roundup of news about Iran. Here’s an interesting bit about the raids on Iranian opposition forces:

French daily Aujord’hui en France offered two conflicting explanations: It quoted the former head of France’s national anti-terrorist division as saying the raid was a move to please Iranian authorities so as to maintain French influence in the Middle East. On the same page, another expert said the crackdown is a sign that France is realigning its Middle East policy to be more in line with Washington’s.

Take your pick! One reader suggests that (1) Washington expects the mullahs’ government to fall; and (2) this roundup is designed to keep thousands of Islamist opposition figures from converging in Tehran in the aftermath. I hope that’s right, but it seems a bit too pat for me. And given French behavior in the past, “maintaining French influence in the Middle East” seems the safer bet.

This article from Le Monde is also a bit coy about what’s going on, saying that both Washington and Tehran are pleased.

UPDATE: Reader Thomas Briggs emails:

Today’s evening news on French TV station TF1 explained that France indeed does hope to have it both ways, as you say. www.tf1.fr (streaming video at “News” page, and there’s a text article there, too). France has shown the US that it is its most reliable anti-terrorism ally; France has shown Iran that it is willing to crack down on those troublesome exiled dissidents; and now France has positioned itself to play a “mediator” role. The piece also emphasized that the operation, ostensibly a security operation conducted by the French equivalent of the FBI, had actually been cleared at the highest levels of French diplomacy. France can’t lose. But all this was ruined by the story’s lead-in: live, close-up footage of three separate human self-immolations, and one of the women concerned may die. I’m horrified, truly.

I don’t like to watch people burn to death.

June 18, 2003

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH WONDERS why Western media are paying so little attention to the demonstrations in Iran, when those demonstrations might topple the mullahs and demonstrate the effectiveness of the Bush Administration’s strategy in . . . Oh, hell, never mind. Some questions answer themselves.

UPDATE: From the comments to Pejman’s article:

The reason for the lack of press coverage is simple, if you remember back to CNN and Iraq: covering these protests would mean making the mullahs mad, and the press would then lose their access to Iran. It’s more important to have access than to have the story.

It’s the Eason Jordan effect!

June 18, 2003

AUSTIN BAY offers this interesting observation:

There’s a case to be made — by no means totally facile — that the War on Terror is a Saudi civil war diverted to the rest of the globe. The Saud regime’s petro-princes were always an Al Qaeda target, but as long as Al Qaeda was off in Afghanistan with the Taliban or in East Africa blowing up American embassies, the princes could pretend the Islamists were no threat to them.

He also thinks that the mullahs in Iran are in trouble:

Don’t underestimate the strategic effects on Iran of Saddam’s demise. Saddam presented Iran with a long-term threat, one the ayatollahs could use to legitimate a degree of internal militarization. Now, the Butcher of Baghdad’s gone. Iranians have seen Iraqis dancing in the streets. Is it time for the Theocrats of Tehran to take a hike? In the past two weeks, street demonstrations have spread to every major city. Demonstrators no longer call for the political reform of the mullah’s regime, they demand replacement.

Will Iran slide into all-out civil war or follow the 1989 path of Eastern Europe’s decayed communist dictatorships? We may know that answer by July.

He suggests, in fact, that much of the middle east is really engaged in civil war.

June 18, 2003

MORE ON IRAN: David Warren says the mullahs’ days are numbered.

June 18, 2003

IT LOOKS AS IF Ohio is going to get a liberalized concealed-carry law:

The bill would allow Ohioans who are at least 21 years old, complete 12 hours of firearm training, and pass criminal and mental-health background checks to receive four-year permits to carry handguns on themselves or in their cars.

The issue has crossed party lines and has instead divided lawmakers along urban and suburban-rural lines.

The measure is supported by the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association, whose members would process permit applications. The highway patrol and Fraternal Order of Police have adopted positions of neutrality. The Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police remains opposed.

The bill seems to retain some dumb minor restrictions, but I expect those will be removed in future years, when the (inevitable, and inevitably wrong) predictions of a bloodbath made by anti-rights forces don’t play out.

June 18, 2003

LAURENCE SIMON HAS LOOKED AT ORRIN HATCH’S WEBSITE and says that the Senator appears to be violating copyright law regarding some unlicensed code thereon. Laurence has notified both the software author, and Senator Hatch, of the violation. Somebody pull the plug!

June 18, 2003

ANOTHER BOGUS GUN STUDY fools The New York Times. Not that the Times puts up much resistance where bogus gun studies are concerned, so long as they reach the desired result.

June 18, 2003

ALPHECCA’S WEEKLY MEDIA GUN-BIAS CHART IS UP — now with improved graphics!

In an utterly unrelated post — er, except that it has fancy graphics, too — Jason Kottke offers a rumination on leadership, love and war.

June 18, 2003

SOUNDS LIKE THE DUMB DICTATORS CLUB had another initiation ceremony:

Two US radio DJs who fooled the president of Venezuela into speaking to them by pretending to be Fidel Castro have reversed the prank.

This time, Miami radio hosts Enrique Santos and Joe Ferrero got Castro on the line by pretending to be Hugo Chavez.

Heh. I hope it really was Castro.

June 18, 2003

TRENT TELENKO WONDERS if France is setting itself up as the ally of tyranny everywhere. Well, he doesn’t exactly wonder.

UPDATE: Yes, I’ve been picking on the French a bit today. But it is the anniversary of Waterloo.

June 18, 2003

JOHN PILGER said that we were killing the children of Iraq via sanctions. Now that the war is over, the evidence suggests that he was a liar or a fool. And so were a lot of others:

And intellectuals here — too eager as always to believe the worst of us — believed this, too.

The sanctions caused “the deaths of children on a scale far exceeding that caused by any military weapon in history,” wrote Malcolm Fraser in a letter co-signed by Chris Sidoti and Peter Garrett — people happy to think we’re so evil that we also stole Aboriginal children, keep refugees in “concentration camps” and rape Mother Earth.

And the prominent Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, a regular ABC guest, not only claimed perhaps “a million” Iraqi children were dying from our “madness”, but said “mass funerals for babies — 70 in one cortege on the last count — made their way through Baghdad”.

B UT now for the truth — because the peddlers of such corrosive hate-speech must be exposed and shamed, if not into silence then into moderation.

Iraqi doctors now say what our intellectuals and our reporters should have felt in their bones. Iraq’s children were dying not because of us, but because of Saddam. And even the parades of dead children were part of a monstrous hoax.

Dr Amer Abdul a-Jalil, the deputy resident at Baghdad’s Ibn al-Baladi Hospital, has told the London Telegraph that “sanctions did not kill these children — Saddam killed them”.

Why does anyone listen to these people? Well, increasingly, we don’t.

UPDATE: Reader Dick Aubrey raises some interesting moral issues:

I am not surprised, although the idea of keeping some babies on ice for use as exhibits for the peace-freak trade did not occur to me.

I once observed, while in Central America with such a bunch, that if dead civilians were necessary to discredit US policy, dead civilians would be provided. Part–I speak as one with some formal training in hearts-and-minds–of the lefty war manuals deal with how to deke the government into killing their own people. The lefties always knew that if they killed civilians, all would be forgiven, if it were even noticed.

I have made a similar observation to my own church (PCUSA), modifying it to, “If dead babies are useful to Saddaam, dead babies will be provided.” The point is that the folks who made such a big deal about the sanctions are directly responsible for making dead babies so valuable to Saddaam. Blood is on their hands. The blood of innocents.

Yes, if you’re a useful idiot, people will find way to take advantage of that, even if it requires innocents to die.

June 18, 2003

MICHAEL COSTELLO SUGGESTS that since nobody can find the missing 727, it obviously never existed in the first place. But of course!

June 18, 2003

THIS LOOKS LIKE A PHONY EFFORT BY ORRIN HATCH to back away from his inflammatory remarks about destroying people’s computers — only without actually doing so. I’m unimpressed. Meanwhile Arthur Silber is reading the tea leaves in various statements and wonders if we’ll see attempts at Internet censorship in the name of homeland security.

Probably. And Hatch’s comments make clear that even if that’s the justification that’s offered, it will really be Big Media companies calling the shots.

UPDATE: Ed Cone has some reporting on Congressional responses to Hatch’s statement.

June 18, 2003

SHAMEFUL DEALS:

Protesters chanted slogans against the detentions, accusing the French authorities of a “shameful deal with the mullahs”.

Tehran has been pressing the French authorities to take action against the group.

Demonstrators believe those being held include Maryam Rajavi, wife of the People’s Mujahideen leader, Massoud Rajavi.

Well over $3m in cash as well as computers and communications equipment were also seized in the raids.

I don’t think this group is one that we should shed tears for, necessarily, but it seems pretty likely that the French are doing this largely to suck up to the mullahs.

June 18, 2003

JAMES LILEKS ON FRANCE — in his syndicated column:

To woo Americans back, the French government decided to hire a celeb to speak on France’s behalf. Did they get Arnold Schwarzenegger? (“Ahl be bach — for de crepes!”) Did they get Paula Abdul? (“I don’t care what Simon says, France is incredibly talented.”)

No, they got Woody Allen. Most Americans regard Woody as a wrinkly creep who makes movies you no longer regret missing. Even on video. “I don’t want to have to freedom-kiss my wife,” Allen says in the ads, “when what I really want to do is French-kiss her.”

Eewww. You might recall that Allen is 391 years older than his wife, and that his wife was his previous girlfriend’s adopted daughter. Why him? Roman Polanski wasn’t available?

They also got George Plimpton to appear in an ad, making it official: French understanding of American culture is taken entirely from a 1968 issue of Playboy.

Hmm. I wonder if it was August, 1968. My 7th-grade biology teacher was in that one. Lileks continues:

If France pulls through, it’ll be important again. And if it doesn’t, which seems increasingly likely, it will tear itself apart with strikes. Its economy will be consumed by the rapacious demands of its welfare state. Its restive, unassimilated Muslim population might demand a parallel legal system based on Sharia law. These possibilities should please no one.

We wish the French the best. But their days as the moral avatar, the champion of humanity, are long gone. That reputation — unearned for decades — will die in the Congo, where French troops are behaving as effectively as, well, French troops. The painful fact is that no one expects much of them anymore beyond good food, bribery and honeyed hypocrisy.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Speaking of teachers posing nude, there’s a nude calendar featuring British high school teachers. It’s selling well.

June 18, 2003

HERE’S MORE ON SABINE HEROLD, who’s leading popular resistance to French strikers:

Shouting into a microphone to loud applause, Ms Herold delivered a stirring message to the tens of thousands of followers who gathered in the Place du Chatelet in the centre of Paris at the weekend, to hear her speak on behalf of her association, Liberté, j’écris ton nom.

“How numerous we are today. More than I would ever have dared hope for just a month ago, when the strike was all around us,” she said.

“We have put a full stop to decades of silent submission. This time, for the first time, we have told them no,” she added, referring to the strikers she calls “reactionary egotists”.

France, she said lacks dynamism – and needs a good dose of Margaret Thatcher.

“France needs someone capable who would mobilise people and smash the unions. Well, I don’t know if we can put it like that, but someone who could give a reforming spirit. I think the French at the moment are lacking in desire, they don’t have a ‘French dream’ like the American dream,” she said.

She is unimpressed with the president, Jacques Chirac, part of what she calls the “spineless centre” of French politics.

Spineless, but, ahem, well-compensated.

June 18, 2003

STEPHEN GREEN ON WHY HE ISN’T A REPUBLICAN: Orrin Hatch.

Orrin Hatch isn’t a stupid politician, in the sense that he rarely (never, to my recollection) speaks extemporaneously. He’s no Clinton, thinking aloud in front of the nation then relying on his spinmeisters to clean up the mess. Hatch is as carefully measured as a soufflé.

And now he wants to explore giving the government — or is it the record companies? — the power to destroy or damage your computer.

Be wary of any politician who would give to the government (or favored businesses) powers he would deny to you and me. . . .

Indeed, Hatch has given this issue quite some thought. So here we have the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee eager to have (or give away) the power to destroy personal property without due process. Unless, that is, you consider a couple of emails or IM popups to be due process. . . .

I’m a copyright owner — look down there on my blogroll somewhere and you’ll see the All-Powerful ©. Does this mean I should have the legal power to send someone a couple IMs, then destroy their computer because they lifted some of my prose?

No. Just Big Media — -you know, the Bill O’Reilly-approved kind. Here’s a roundup of the extremely negative Blogosphere reaction.

Have the Republicans sold out to Big Media? Rumor has it that Mary Bono is the candidate to take over the RIAA’s lobbying operation.

June 18, 2003

FRENCH TOURISM IS SUFFERING, and the French are worried that Americans are staying away because we’re mad at them. Yeah, who could have seen that coming?

June 18, 2003

PEOPLE ARE STILL UNHAPPY WITH BILL O’REILLY: Is it free speech for Big Media only? Sounds like it to me. And Jeremy Lott is pretty hard on O’Reilly in The American Prowler:

It had been some time since I last checked in on O’Reilly, so this was a bit of a letdown. He at least used to be an interesting crank. For people who actually take the time to gain a working knowledge of the Internet, these charges are so easily rebutted that I fear bloggers and other tech savvy types won’t realize how many people who listened to this screed were nodding their heads in agreement.

This is especially dangerous because some of these people write laws. The Council of Europe is putting the final screws on a proposal recommending that countries pass legislation to mandate a “right of reply,” which would force all “online media” (including bloggers) to give equal time to those people whom they criticize. In the U.S. broadcast media, this was known by the Orwellian moniker the Fairness Doctrine. If employed today, it would put half of the cable news channels out of business, but, hey, as long as it’s not O’Reilly’s ox being gored …

It’s too bad non-sentient networks can’t sue for defamation, because the Internet would have a pretty strong case.

I love that last line.

June 18, 2003

THE MISSING-727 STORY, covered here and on StrategyPage for the last couple of weeks, has now made the Washington Post:

But losing a 153-foot, 200,000-pound aircraft is no common occurrence.

“I haven’t come across this before in 22 years in this business,” said Chris Yates, a civil aviation security analyst for the private Jane’s Aviation service. “It is not a stretch to think this plane could end up in the hands of terrorists. A number of companies involved in gun running [and other crimes] in Africa have indirect ties to various terrorist groups.”

On the bright side, the plane’s history is checkered enough that there are plenty of plausible non-terror scenarios, too.

June 18, 2003

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE BLOGLY: The editors at TechCentralStation asked me to write a bit about what makes a good blog. This column is the result.

June 18, 2003

ANOTHER LOOTING SCANDAL:

Euro MPs accused the European Commission yesterday of trying to cover up a “vast enterprise of looting” by top officials in Luxembourg.

Three European commissioners, including the vice-president, Neil Kinnock, were hauled up by the European Parliament’s budget control committee, accused of ignoring warnings dating back to the 1990s of widespread corruption in Eurostat, the European Union’s data office.

Chris Heaton-Harris, a Tory MEP, said millions of pounds of public money had vanished into the hands of a clique of officals serving as directors of related companies.

“I’m convinced this has been a huge cover-up and the commission never had any intention of solving any of these problems until forced to by allegations in the press,” he said.

Obviously, there aren’t enough American troops to keep order over there.

June 18, 2003

THE GALLOWAY SCANDAL CONTINUES TO UNFOLD:

George Galloway confirmed for the first time yesterday that he was in Iraq on the day that documents found by The Telegraph allege he met an Iraqi intelligence officer there to discuss “continuous financial support”.

The suspended Labour MP also admitted that he was “not yet” in a position to disprove the documents, which he claimed were forgeries and which were discovered in the looted foreign ministry in Baghdad.

The papers purport to show that Mr Galloway received money from Saddam Hussein’s regime – a slice of oil earnings worth at least £375,000 a year.

It’s always the money with these people.

June 18, 2003

SILFLAY HRAKA HAS MOVED to a spiffy Movable Type setup.

June 17, 2003

DONALD SENSING has a bunch of good stuff. Just keep scrolling.

June 17, 2003

ORRIN HATCH must be smoking some of whatever Bill O’Reilly had, because now he’s making an idiot of himself:

“I’m interested,” Hatch interrupted. He said damaging someone’s computer “may be the only way you can teach somebody about copyrights.”

The senator acknowledged Congress would have to enact an exemption for copyright owners from liability for damaging computers. He endorsed technology that would twice warn a computer user about illegal online behavior, “then destroy their computer.”

In the spirit of the Framers, I’m tempted to endorse a more traditional remedy: twice warning a politician about threatening people’s rights and property, and then running him out of town on a rail.

That’s one, Orrin.

And if I were the DNC, I’d already have started shooting the attack ad: Orrin Hatch and the Republicans want to wreck your computer so that Big Business can get rich!

UPDATE: Ryan Macri emails: “…what’s next? Can copyright holders legally break into your home and destroy your music collection and stereo system if you shoplift CDs?”

Don’t give ‘em ideas.

June 17, 2003

ANN CLWYD WRITES IN THE TIMES:

The UN could have gone on passing resolutions and sending in inspectors and rapporteurs for the next 50 years, but in the end there was no realistic alternative to war. Those who bleat about weapons of mass destruction or question the legality of war should talk to the Iraqi people. They are irritated. They ask, “Don’t they care about us? About mass graves? About torture?” Stand at the mass grave at al-Hillah where up to 15,000 people are buried, hands tied behind their backs, bullets through their brains. Examine the pitiful possessions found so far: a watch, a faded ID card, a comb, a ring, a clump of black hair. Watch the old woman in her black chador, tattoos on her gnarled hands, looking through the plastic bags on top of unidentified, reburied bodies, for something that will help her to find her son, who disappeared in 1991.

Stand at the mass grave near Kirkuk, where huge mechanised trucks churn the earth in clouds of dust. Look at the skeletons now tenderly reburied in simple wooden coffins. Talk to Nasir al-Hussein, who was only 12 at the time of the 1991 mass arrests. He, his mother, uncle and cousins were piled on buses. They turned off on to a farm road and the executions started. People were thrown into a pit, machinegunned and then buried with a bulldozer. Nasir crawled out of the mass grave, leaving his dead relatives behind.

The director of this self-help centre, Ibrahim al-Idrissi, was in prison eight times. Once they took off all his toenails. He shows me photographs of executions and the bloodied, battered body of a university lecturer from Basra, still alive, his sawn-off arm lying by his side.

On the streets of Baghdad, WMD is not an issue. “Thanks to Bush and Blair,” they cry. I ask what would have happened if they had spoken to me like this in the past on the streets of Baghdad. One man slowly drew his hand, palm down, across his throat.

I wonder if they mentioned that on the BBC’s program about America tonight?