January 12, 2003
I’M WITH GARY on this one, 100%.
But you probably figured that.
I’M WITH GARY on this one, 100%.
But you probably figured that.
MORE ON GRETTA DUISENBERG:
European Central Bank Chairman Wim Duisenberg should be fired because he supports his wife Gretta’s anti-Israel positions and embrace of Yasser Arafat, a leading Dutch parliamentarian visiting Jerusalem said Sunday.
Jim Jansen van Raaij, deputy chairman of the Dutch parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said he wrote the Dutch finance minister Sunday demanding Duisenberg be replaced.
Van Raaij’s call following Gretta Duisenberg’s comments during a visit to Ramallah that Israel’s occupation is “inhuman,” and that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon provokes violence and “then he blames the Palestinian people.”
On Friday, the Dutch paper Algemeen Dagblad quoted her as saying, “The Holocaust excepted, the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is worse than the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.”
“The Holocaust excepted.” But then, for these people, it always is.
SOME PEOPLE WON’T LIKE THIS:
When Israel’s first astronaut, Colonel Ilan Ramon, lifts off for space aboard the US space shuttle Columbia on Thursday, he will carry a pencil sketch of earth, as seen from the moon, drawn by a 14-year-old boy who died in the Holocaust.
UPDATE: Here’s a link to the picture, and a picture of the boy who drew it.
WELL, CRAP: Just checked and it looks like the PBS Media Matters weblog episode isn’t airing in Knoxville. Bummer.
UPDATE: Oliver Willis informs me that it’s on here on Sunday the 19th at 7pm. I only checked the program guide for the 16th and 17th because the PBS folks told me it was going to be on the 16th. Let this be a lesson for you: check those local listings!
MATT WELCH TO RICE, RUMSFELD, AND POWELL: It’s Fiskin’ Time! In the most literal sense.
TALKLEFT has more on MADD.
ROBIN ROBERTS is dissing Debka.
ANOTHER drug-related death.
UPDATE: Reader John Jenkins points out that the story above isn’t as recent as the blog posting I link to makes it sound. Here’s a link to a CNN story from October of 2000. That doesn’t make it any better, I guess, but it does make it old. I remembered that there had been a wrong-house shooting in Lebanon, Tennessee a while back, but I just figured that this was another one. Which, I’m sad to say, was a reasonable mistake. At least no dogs died.
RICHARD BENNETT says that I’m wrong about the latest D.C. government scandal.
THE ROT AT EUROPE’S CORE seems to be Germany:
ABROAD, HE’S ROBBED Germany of nearly all clout with his count-me-out stance on Iraq and his near-total absorption with domestic crises. No one even tries to understand his policies. One week he raises taxes by 23 billion, soon afterward his chancellery “leaks” a paper calling for the exact opposite. As if he had nothing more important to do, he’s suing two tiny regional newspapers for claiming his marriage is on the rocks. Woe betide them had they suggested he dyes his hair.
Few Germans can imagine this mess dragging on for the three and a half years left in his term. But it’s their neighbors who are really getting concerned. Germany’s troubles come at an inopportune moment for Europe. The global slowdown threatens its export-dependent economies. Its leaders are divided over everything from Iraq to the future shape of their newly enlarged Union. How to apportion power and decision making among so many members? Should there be a strong European president? Is inflation or deflation the greatest economic threat? With a stricken giant at its middle, Europe’s answers to these problems will be very different than just a few years ago. What’s more, its leaders now face another perplexing question—how will Europe manage a weak Germany and its aimless chancellor?
Fecklessness, it seems, has its price. Here’s the real irony:
Europe can certainly forget its ambitions of rivaling America, despite its hand-wringing over U.S. “unilateralism” and “hyperpower.” “Without a resurgent Germany,” says Britain’s MacShane, “Europe will never carry the same weight as the United States.” None more ardently pursued this vision than Germany. What a paradox that it should become the greatest obstacle to its realization.
The real paradox is in the notion that Europe could “rival” the United States while still being almost entirely dependent on the United States militarily. Such detachment from reality has its price. I saw someone on one of the talk shows saying that although the United States is the world’s only superpower, we should “act as if” other nations had similar clout. That’s the dreamworld that Europe has been living in. To which the proper response is, “As if!”
PUNDITWATCH is up. And Joe Klein wins the coveted “Pundit of the Week” award, while Tim Russert, well, you’ll just have to read it to find out.
It’s interesting how the American internment of Japanese for 4 years during WWII is constantly used as an example of America’s unique evil and racism. When revisiting the subject rarely, if ever, is the Canadian example brought up. At least in America the internee families were kept together, in Canada (which also rounded up Japanese Canadian citizens) the men and women were separated from each other and the men were sent into forced labor. And we all know, I hope, how Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Austria scored on the racial sensitivity scale during WWII. I find the ability of Europe especially to “misremember” facts so as to paint themselves as lilly-white angels and the US as brutish and uncivilized thugs to be quite remarkable.
Well, you know, if the Europeans faced the truth, the pain would be unbearable.
UPDATE: Reader Byron Matthews says it’s worse than that:
The Canadian record is much darker than Robin Goodfellow’s post indicates. Japanese-Canadians were not only moved inland from BC and interned, their property was seized and sold off, the proceeds used in part to pay for their own internment. Worse, thousands were stripped of Canadian citizenship and deported (“repatriated”) to Japan, even after the war had ended.
He also sends this link to a Canadian history site on the subject. I was vaguely aware that there were Canadian internments, but no more. Fascinating stuff.
Maybe it’s because Europe and Canada were so much worse than the United States in the past that they are so sanctimonious now.
PARIS BAGGAGE-HANDLER FRAMED: Hmm. Some things about this story still don’t quite add up. But then, as I noted earlier, neither did the original one.
So if the in-laws planted the guns and bombs, where did they get them? The planter/witness is a former Legionnaire and shouldn’t have access to that sort of thing. There’s still some unravelling to do here, but at least on first impression it no longer looks like there’s a terrorist connection.
UPDATE: James Rummel had emailed me Friday about his suspicions on this one; here’s a link to a post of his on the subject.
MICKEY KAUS has the full text of those psychological-warfare emails that the Pentagon is spamming Iraqis with.
STEVEN DEN BESTE on resisting criminals and why “don’t get involved” approaches are destructive:
I think that an activist citizenry, one which is engaged, one where individuals feel a bond to their fellow citizens and are willing to defend them and to make sacrifices for them, is greatly to be preferred to one which is passive and unmotivated and fearful.
That was what moved the passengers of Flight 93. They didn’t sit passively; they fought back. Because they did, their jet crashed into an open field instead of into something large and important on the ground full of people.
So what do you get when you punish people who are actually willing to do that for their citizens? A couple of things.
One thing you get is a lot more crime of that kind. Even criminals are making something like a cost-benefit analysis when they decide whether to commit crimes, and if you reduce the potential cost, then crime becomes more attractive.
But there’s something deeper, something more subtle and far more damaging: you begin to destroy the basic camaraderie and commitment among citizens which I feel is essential for a successful civil society. You erode the idea that we’re all in this together.
You teach people that it’s wrong to care. You tell them that the right course of action is to “not get involved”. When they see a crime being committed, then if they try to stop it they may end up in prison, but there’s no punishment for looking the other direction and not seeing. And thus fewer people will get involved.
I don’t want to live in a society like that. I don’t want to live in a society where the Kitty Genovese case is not only not considered newsworthy but is actually considered an example of civil virtue.
THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE: I’m cleaning out the walk-in closet, which we’re having redone. I found my tuxedo — which I wore a lot when I practiced law, but haven’t worn at all in over ten years. Still fits, though it’s a bit tight in the chest now, but I imagine it can be let out.
Of course, the downside is, now I have to decide whether to keep it or give it to the Goodwill folks.
MORE PROOF THAT WAR IS COMING, from Suman Palit.
PATRICK RUFFINI has read David Frum’s new book and wonders what all the fuss was about.
IF BLOGGERS WROTE THE LORD OF THE RINGS: Alan Henderson explores the implications. I especially like the Fisking of Boromir at the hands of Emperor Misha. (Hmm. “The Fisking of Boromir” even sounds like a LOTR chapter title. . . .)
It’s in response to this hilarious ongoing discussion at Cecil Adams’ message board.
JOHN LOTT is being accused, of well, something. The complaint doesn’t run to his published scholarly work, but to public statements he’s made about a survey whose results were never published. Some people are now saying that he never conducted the survey at all. Here’s an email from James Lindgren from a list that I also belong to, posted by vociferous Lott critic (and, if I recall correctly, erstwhile Bellesiles defender) Tim Lambert, that lays it out at some length.
I’ve been following this on that list for months (it goes back before that email) but haven’t posted on it because (1) I thought it would violate list etiquette; and (2) I expected a response from Lott that would lay it all to rest.
But now — as a recent email to the list from Eugene Volokh points out — the story has broken out into the Blogosphere. Here’s a post by Jim Henley, here’s one by Julian Sanchez, and here’s another by Marie Gryphon.
And no satisfactory response by Lott has been forthcoming. I don’t know what to say about that. Lott’s critics want, rather too obviously, for this to be another Bellesiles affair, though to my mind it is, even if the accusations pan out, something less than that, perhaps more akin to the Joseph Ellis scandal. And I can’t help but feel that there’s going to be a strained effort to turn every criticism of every bit of non-PC scholarship into a reverse-Bellesiles affair for a while, as the lame effort to draw a Lomborg-Bellesiles connection seems to demonstrate.
But if the charges against Lott are true — and thus far, the evidence is suggestive, not anywhere near dispositive — it’s a serious matter indeed even if it’s not of Bellesiles caliber. The only one who can really clear this up is John Lott,. If he fails to do so, well, under the facts of the matter it will be difficult for anyone else to prove anything, but many will choose to draw unflattering conclusions.
As I proofed the above I checked, and Clayton Cramer has a post on this, too. He reports that Lott has repeated the 1997 study now, and posts a letter from, and a summary of a phone call from, John Lott.
UPDATE: Tim Lambert, who has been the main figure driving this matter, has a page rounding up weblog coverage and also offering this observation:
Finally, I should comment on the overall significance of this question. Lott’s 98% claim takes up just one sentence of his book. Whether or not it’s true, it doesn’t affect his main argument, which is about alleged benefits of concealed carry laws. I don’t think any fuss would have been made if Lott hadn’t repeated the claim numerous times on TV shows, on radio shows, and in opinion pieces.
Bearing in mind the source of this statement, to which I have added emphasis, I think that those who are too anxious to turn Lott into another Bellesiles should exercise caution.
ANOTHER UPDATE: As I plow through the built-up emails in my office account, it’s obvious that Jim Lindgren is investigating this matter rather thoroughly. Stay tuned.
SURELY THIS violates the Geneva Convention.
A BAD REVIEW FOR TOM PAULIN:
He comes across, in any event, as someone who needs to belabor the obvious in order to drown out his own conscience. He is not an anti-Semite, at least not in the chilly way Eliot was. Paulin is something slightly less dangerous, because easier to spot. He’s a thug.
Actually, it’s probably too kind.
STEVEN CHAPMAN has a nice sum-up post on Britain’s latest gun flap and the policy “summit” that it has inspired.
So far, Jim Henley’s sighting of reasonable antiwar activism seems an isolated incident.
UPDATE: Reader Bill McCabe emails:
As a further example of how stupid these guys are: Not only are they dumb
enough to associate the U.S. with the Nazis, they also manage to draw the
Well, since it’s a digital photo, this can’t come from a reversed negative!
ANOTHER UPDATE: Er, yes, I know that you can reverse a digital photo. But it takes a couple of mouse clicks — it won’t happen accidentally by dropping the negative.
There’s more discussion on this photo and the protests here.
IS THERE A “secret war on condoms?”
UPDATE: Medpundit Sydney Smith says that claims of an anti-condom war are wildly overblown.
On the other hand, SKBubba emails:
I was flipping through the cable news channels night before last (there was a choice of Connie Chung, Phil Donohue, and Bill O’Reilly — what a lineup, eh?).
For some morbid reason, I paused on Donohue for a second, and there was this shrill frizzy air head from some outfit called “Abstinence Until Marriage” or something who goes around to Houston (?) schools teaching abstinence and promoting virginity as the hip new thing.
She said they don’t teach sex education because sex education is “sex invitation” (she said that about fifty times).
When asked about contraceptives, she said they weren’t allowed to talk about that except to say that CONDOMS DON’T WORK. It says so right there on the package. “MAY PREVENT”, the key word being “MAY”. Condoms are dangerous, shouldn’t be given away to kids, yada, yada. Abstinence is the best policy.
When asked about the fact that probably 50% of teenagers are sexually active and wasn’t her message therefore a little late for them, she really didn’t have a good response except that virginity is fashionable.
Guess we’ll see a spike in teen pregnancy and HIV and other STDs in Houston pretty soon. Nice work.
Condoms don’t work all the time, but then neither do seatbelts. But some people just don’t belong behind the wheel, belted or not. . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Brian Ellenberger emails:
I just wanted to give my perspective as one of those evil “right-wing” evangelical Christians the NY Times hates so much.
A) Evangelical Christians have no fundamental problems with condoms, unlike Catholics. See Reformation–Catholics vs. Protestants. I recommend Mr. Kristof rent Monty Python’s Meaning of Life to get a basic understanding of the different views Catholics and Protestants have toward condoms.
B) Evangelical Christians DO have a problem with their kids getting liberal views forced down their throat. Liberals want to ban “Christmas Trees” because they are too Christian, but feel no qualms about forcing their beliefs on others. This battle isn’t about condoms. It is about the culture war.
C) Anyone who isn’t a virgin knows that completely avoiding any contact with bodily fluid during sex is pretty darn hard. Especially if you are going to half-way enjoy yourself. Think Naked-Gun full body condom for complete protection. Heck think foreplay. Sure the risk may be slight, but it still is a risk. And over time probability catches up with you. Not to mention simple human error. Maybe you get lazy after a while or you simply trust the person you are with too much. And your judgement isn’t exactly 100% during sex *cough* raging-hormones *cough*, especially if you have already had a drink or two.
Waiting till marriage sure has advantages. :)
Well, I’m certainly glad that I didn’t wait until marriage, especially as I didn’t get married until age 33. . . .
IS KARL ROVE “GASLIGHTING” PAUL KRUGMAN? If so, it seems to be working. . . .
D.C. GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION AND INEPTITUDE: Another episode.
UPDATE: Reader Doug Jordan emails:
Having recently written you with moderate support for the DC police department, I have no hesitation in blowing the whistle on the DC Department of Motor Vehicles.
My contest to a traffic ticket was just denied. My offense: driving with an expired registration. Reason: even though it is UNDISPUTED that I renewed on time, and paid the fee on time (I have receipts), and it is UNDISPUTED that the district did not register the renewal or issue the stickers (they did both after the ticket was issued, under pressure from my Councilwoman, based on the earlier registration and payment), the adjudicator rules that it was nevertheless MY responsibility to have gotten the sticker.
How? By forgery? Lessee here, three-part process: 1) I register and pay fee; 2) DMV issues sticker; 3) I affix sticker. I did 1), and was prepared to do 3), but was prevented from doing so by non-occurrence of 2), which was kinda outside my control.
Oh, should I have stopped driving when the registration expired without DMV action? Acquiesce in revocation of driving privileges without due process? I think not.
My councilwoman’s staff is frustrated and angry. But I have no recourse but to pay $100 ticket and appeal, which costs an extra $10, with little hope of seeing the money again. To add injury and insult to injury and insult, today’s mail brought news that my license had been suspended for non-response to the ticket — two days after receiving an adjudication predicated on my response!
Kafka on the Potomac. I called a Virginia real estate broker on Thursday. DC ineptitude, illustrated.
I once got a ticketed in D.C. for “driving through a flashing yellow light.” I beat it in court (my novel defense: it’s not against the law to drive through a flashing yellow light) but I shouldn’t have had to.
Don McArthur is also unimpressed with the District’s state of governance.
DOES THIS mean the war’s about to start?
TRENT TELENKO has some observations on what we can learn about North Korea strategy from North Korean defectors.
MY LAW-SCHOOL schoolmate Eric Muller, now a law professor at North Carolina, emails:
I’m surprised to see no blogging today on the guilty plea in the Lackawanna NY case. I think the signficance of this plea is huge, if only because it so starkly distinguishes our situation today from that faced in 1941 after Pearl Harbor. The law reviews are filling up with pieces comparing the Bush administration’s policies touching on race and ethnicity with the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. (David Cole’s, Kevin Johnson’s, and Frank Wu’s recent pieces come most quickly to mind, but I’ve seen others.) But the condemnation of the internment always focuses, at least in part, on the irrationality of attributing pro-Japanese sentiment (and subversive action) to American citizens of Japanese ancestry. And we often hear that there was not a single documented incident of pro-Axis subversive activity by an American citizen of Japanese ancestry during the war. (As it happens, this is not quite true, but it’s very close to true.)
With this guilty plea (and the alleged conduct of Hamdi and Padilla, I suppose), what was true in 1942 is now false: now we *do* have a documented instance of support for Osama bin Laden by *American citizens*, born in this country and of Arab ancestry. The citizen/alien line–so crucial to the wrongfulness of the Japanese American internment–has now been breached.
Naturally, this is not an argument for the internment of Arab Americans, or, for that matter, for *any* sort of programmatic action against anyone. But I think it ought to undermine the too-easy analogy to the internment that many scholars have been slinging at the administration for the last year or so.
(BTW, I’m spouting about this only because the internment is something I know a lot about. My book on the internment, Free to Die for their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II, came out from U of Chicago Press just after 9/11/01.)
I meant to post on that story yesterday, but the “plogging” video drove that thought (and most others) out of my head. . . . But this seems absolutely right to me. The wrongfulness in the World War Two internments, after all, wasn’t that they happened, but that they were unjustified. Had significant numbers of American citizens of Japanese descent actually been working for the enemy, the internments would have been a regrettable necessity rather than an outrageous injustice.
Here’s a link to the guilty-plea story.
UPDATE: Reader Douglas Landrum emails:
As a person who worked to support the redress legislation for the Japanese Internment, I think that Professor Muller is right on the mark.
I attended several JACL (Japanese America Citizen’s League) meetings at the time of the redress legislation and observed a very different reaction by Japanese Americans from Muslims in the United States. Every JACL meeting commenced with the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge was not recited as an empty gesture either, the Japanese Americans made very clear their allegiance to the United States and their pride in fighting for the United States in every war from WWII on. I listened to Minoru Yasui tell his story about how hard he tried to join his reserve unit as a U.S. Army Reserve second lieutenant but was interned instead. See this link.
This is in stark contrast to many Muslims (not all) who howl about perceived civil rights violations and yet refuse to assimilate American values and culture, treat their wives and daughters as slaves and seek to supplant religious freedom with Islamic tyranny. Where are vocal Muslims denouncing Islamist terrorists and supporting America?
I would also observe that Norm Mineta’s random gate searches of airline passengers is based on an overreaction to the injustice of the internment. The circumstances of 9/11 fully justify profiling of males of Arab descent and limiting gate searches to those meeting the profile of people who have actually acted as suicide bombers or suicide hijackers. The guilty plea in Lackawanna further supports the notion that we have fellow travelers in country that meet a specific profile – although Padilla does not meet the profile. Gate searches should be more focused to apprehend or deter the likely perpetrators. Gate searches of Arab men are a far cry from internment camps regardless of the howls of CAIR and lunatic civil liberties groups.
If we have one more big terrorist attack on the United States, we will see public demand for a crack down on Arabic men in the United States. At that time, I will be a voice for a measured and reasonable response to those living here.
I think I should add two points. First, there are American Muslims who are quite loyal — the Lackawanna Six, after all, were turned in by members of the local Yemeni Muslim community. Other American Muslims have begun to question the role of Saudi money in Muslim institutions in the United States, and the drastic drop in giving to foreign charities by American Muslims who wonder where the money goes is also a good sign. Then there’s this guy:
Syed Ali, 35, was working at the Amoco station on Ocean Ave. in Sheepshead Bay at about 4 a.m. when he sold $2 worth of fuel to the alleged would-be arsonist.
The Pakistani immigrant said he watched in disbelief as Sead Jakup, 22, took the canister across the street and began dousing the Young Israel of Kings Bay synagogue.
Ali quickly called 911, and cops arrived before Jakup, a Bosnian Muslim, could set the temple ablaze.
“Mr. Ali saved the shul [synagogue],” said Allen Popper, president of the synagogue. “He’s a hero.”
But Landrum is certainly right to indicate that the conspicuous shows of patriotism by the Japanese American community in World War II have not been matched by the Arab Muslim community in America. (Though there have been a number of barely-covered pro-war demonstrations by Iraqi-Americans).
Sadly, various taboos mean that this issue isn’t getting the examination it deserves from journalists or political leaders. And those who favor extensive profiling should note the photos of Ali — the hero — and Jakup — the alleged terrorist — and think about which one of the two would be more likely to come in for close attention under most profiling proposals.
I HAVE A DREAM: I was dozing just now while my daughter was playing with her dolls. I dreamed I was in a Denny’s-like restaurant where the menu items had a blogger theme. The Egg McMuffin equivalent was something called “The English Idiotarian,” and featured a menu blurb stating that “Robert Fisk himself would be proud to order this hearty. . .” I wish I’d slept long enough to read the whole menu!
SEAN HACKBARTH tried an experiment, covering an accident on his blog and beating the AP by six hours. Scroll up for the results.
When we get widespread combined PDA/cellphone/digital cameras (already more-or-less available) this will really take off, I think. What I’d really like is an add-on to Movable Type that would allow you to email a post, with an attached photo, directly to your blog from one of those devices. I’ll bet we’ll see something like that within a year. With luck, even sooner.
RACINE RAVE UPDATE: Talkleft reports that a settlement may be in the works.
A PACK, not a herd.
JEFF JARVIS says that vlogging is the future. Victor Lams says that plogging is the future. I link — you decide.
Historians and sociologists of the Blogosphere, take note.
PIM FORTUYN’S SUCCESSOR is likely to complicate Dutch politics further. Which they richly deserve.
I THINK THAT MICKEY KAUS is right:
I think they are using Pickering to prick the Lott bubble, to disarm and defuse the old Democratic civil rights/racial politics machine currently clanking back into action. That is, the Bushies expect to win on Pickering, not lose. The case that Lott had expressed unacceptable segregationist longings was strong, after all. The case against Pickering is weak. What better place for the Republicans to make a stand?
Of course, the Bush Administration should really be confusing its opponents by nominating “wedge” candidates who’ll split the liberal coalition: pro-choice, pro-gun, tough-on-crime but strong-on-civil-liberties candidates like, say, Boston University law professor Randy Barnett.
And I have their ultimate Supreme Court pick — but I’ll save his name for later.
There’s one argument that US cheerleaders should employ, but don’t: it’s a miracle that the US can even match Europe in productivity. Over the last three centuries, the US has taken the world’s dropouts: losers in African tribal warfare, starving Chinese peasants, starving Irish peasants, and wastrel Brits. Sure, there were a few refugees and Nobel prizewinners in the mix, but the mass was overwhelmingly tired and huddled. With such dismal human capital, any kind of functioning economy is a miracle, and testament to the American way.
Well, we let you in, Nick. . . . Or, in Bill Murray’s immortal words from Stripes:
We’re all very different people. We’re not Watusi, we’re not Spartans, we’re Americans! With a capital “A,” huh? And you know what that means? Do you? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world!
It always comes back to Bill Murray, doesn’t it?
UPDATE: Reader Daniel Newhouse observes:
I do not have a complete view of America’s changing demographics, but in current times there is a phenomena that foreigners refer to as the “brain drain.” Because the economies of Europe (and India) are dysfunctional the best and brightest graduates from overseas attempt to come to the United States to go to graduate school or to get a job. Because our education system is dysfunctional we desperately need them. Thus is Western civilization kept going.
There’s a kind of fearful symmetry in that, isn’t there?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Nelson Ascher emails:
I strongly disagree with Denton. He’s not considering the following: to take a plane today and go elsewhere in the planet is just trivial. A century ago, however, most people spent their whole lives in or around the village they (and their ancestors) were born. To move from their hometown to a big city was already a scary adventure.
Imagine, then, crossing the ocean, going to a place reputedly full of man-eating savages, having to learn another language without even knowing how to write one’s own. Leaving Europe for America didn’t take any less “cojones” in the 19th century than in Hernan Cortez’s time, nor did it look less of a risky enterprise than exploring the “Dark Continent”.
Most of those who left said farewell to their parents, families, communities forever. And usually they had indeed a less scary choice: staying where they were, allowing themselves to be enslaved, massacred, starved to death as countless generations had done before. Only those who had courage, motivation and initiative dared to leave their Polish “shtetl”, Irish slum, Sicialian village for good. Even nowadays, ask anybody if he/she would easily abandon everything, every certitude and begin elsewhere, in some unimaginably strange place, from zero.
The migrants who went to the Americas, Australia, Israel were, in a Darwinian sense, those who didn’t want to give up without a fight: and they were the exception.
I’m inclined to agree. That’s one reason why I favor immigration even today. I think it should be just hard enough to produce the requisite sorting effect, and I think that immigrants must accept American values. But if they’re willing to do that, I’m willing to take them, wherever they’re from. In fact, I’m more than willing — I’m eager.
But is it just me, or is the “brain drain” already having an effect on the rest of the world?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Matt Bower notes:
I agree with you and with Nelson Ascher on this front and, like you, I generally support immigration for that reason. But I also suspect that the factors that have made America great–lots of hard-headed, independent, courageous, determined, borderline anti-social people from all over the world–may also be among the reasons that it’s a pretty violent place. I guess it’s true that you’ve got to take the bad with the good.
True enough — and well worth it. Though the currently skyrocketing crime rates in Britain suggest that there’s more to it than that.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Mark Sloboda emails:
As an aspiring immigrant, I’d say the brain drain has no effect on the rest of the world. One reason I’m here is because I know I’d make no difference to my home society if I stayed, whereas here I can make a difference. It’s a question of staying home and wasting your life or coming here and making something of oneself.
Meanwhile, Howard Owens observes:
Freedom, capitalism — pretty much no brainers to me. The human desire to control one’s own destiny is as natural as breathing. You take your huddled masses and let them roam a large, diverse continent and decide for themselves how to make the best of it, they’re going to figure it out, and they’re going to do a damn good job of it.
America did indeed take in the people Europe no longer wanted, largely because Europe didn’t know what to do with them. Often times Europe couldn’t feed them, couldn’t clothe them and couldn’t educate them. Europe put them in a position of having nothing to lose in taking on a dangerous, difficult journey. It may take some courage to leave your ancestral home for the land of milk and honey, but it doesn’t take a lot when all you have is stone soup.
America’s immigrants were not the greatest raw material Europe had to offer, but those who survived the journey were those who were best suited to making the best of what America had to offer.
Yep. The guy — obviously an immigrant, though I’m not sure from where — who served me at Subway the other day was a good example. He wasn’t doing the best job yet, but he was trying damned hard.
Meanwhile, on the subject of violence, another reader writes:
I want to take issue with Matt Bower’s characterization of America as a violent place. It may be that we have a slightly higher level of daily violence, but we never explode into orgies of death like the Old World does. Have we forgotten WWII and Stalin so quickly? Far, far many more people have been killed in Europe in the past century than in the US.
Good point. We do retail; they do wholesale.
STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Another reader writes:
I agree that immigration acts a sorting mechanism, and that immigrants can bring new vigor to the country. But you make a critical distinction when you say that immigrants: “must accept American values”. This is key.
An immigrant that accepts American values is an asset; one that does not is a danger. And today we seem to be actively fostering the danger.
One hundred years ago, during the last big immigration wave, we had a strong self-confident (call it chauvanistic, if you like) culture, where “Americanizing” immigrants was accepted as a matter of course. Today the government, academia, and the “civil-rights” lobby all combine to promote ethnic separatism, “multiculturalism” and “diversity”.
I agree. I don’t care if people keep harmless aspects of their native culture, so long as they buy into American ideals of freedom, etc. But I think it’s entirely fair to insist on a degree of cultural assimilation where key American values are involved.
BRAD WARDELL weighs in on the let-South-Korea-hang side.
UPDATE: Tacitus has a lot of information and links on Korea, and on anti-Americanism in South Korea.
I predict that — just as East Bloc intelligence services were behind a lot of the anti-nuclear protests in Europe in the 1980s, and slipping money into some politicians’ pockets in the West as well — North Korea has a hand in some of this. I also predict that — again, as with Europe — most of it will be covered up even after North Korea falls.
ANOTHER DRUG-RELATED SHOOTING.
WINDS OF CHANGE is back up, and Joe Katzman has added some excellent co-bloggers.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DRIVE? Who cares! Damian Penny answers the far-more-important question of what do bloggers drive?
IT’S A POETRY-FEST over at Tim Blair’s.
CANADIAN IMMIGRATION PREFERS TERRORISTS? Well, yes, apparently.
WASHINGTON – Republicans said Friday they would reverse several favors to special interests in the Homeland Security law, including a much-criticized provision to limit lawsuits against vaccine makers.
House and Senate Republicans said they also would get rid of a loophole that would make it easier for companies that locate overseas to avoid paying taxes to compete for contracts in the new agency, and would revise language that gave one university, Texas A&M, special access to federal research money.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who supported the original vaccine provision and said he still hopes to take up the issue later this year in more comprehensive legislation, said he would include the special interest eliminations in a fiscal 2003 spending bill the Senate will take up this month.
Is this an example of the power of the (lefty part of the) blogosphere?
UPDATE: Reader Jeff Drummond thinks this will be good for the G.O.P.:
I think what is more amazing is that Frist will bring the issue forward for a vote despite the fact that it will likely result in the reversal of something he favors. Give me an example of a Democrat doing that. Here in Priscilla Owen’s home state, I can give you a ton of examples of the opposite.
WHY I LOVE KNOXVILLE, a continuing series: Got my hair cut. Shampoo, ten-minute scalp massage, haircut, rinse clean (more scalp massage), blow dry, complimentary glass of wine. $27. Take that, Christophe.
And it was not only good for my head, but for my heart.
LILEKS explains things for the benefit of Martin Scorsese. Somebody send Scorsese a copy. Best line: “Maybe directors like dictators because they understand the desire to have final cut.”
BEHIND THE CURVE AS USUAL: Hamas is giving Saddam Hussein military advice:
JABALYA REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip (Reuters) – A leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas urged Iraq on Friday to use suicide bombers to confront any U.S. military offensive.
“I call on Iraq to prepare an army of would-be martyrs and prepare tens of thousands of explosive belts,” Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi told 3,000 Hamas supporters at a pro-Iraq rally in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip
“Blow yourselves up against the American army. Bomb them in Baghdad,” said Rantissi, whose Islamic fundamentalist organization has carried out dozens of suicide attacks in Israel before and during a Palestinian uprising for statehood.
Of course, if this guy weren’t so clueless, he’d know that Saddam has already made preparations for this sort of thing, without striking much fear into Americans’ hearts.
IT’S NOT AN AERON: One more law school-related announcement: I found out yesterday that I’ve gotten a chair. I’m now the “Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law.”
I don’t think that InstaPundit was a factor.
A WHILE BACK, I posted on law schools that don’t advertise conferences soon enough. So, in the spirit of advance notice, here’s a link to the page announcing the University of Tennessee College of Law’s program on the 200th anniversary of Marbury v. Madison, which will feature such bigshots as Bill Van Alstyne, Mark Tushnet, and William Nelson.
Marbury, for the non-lawyers out there, is the Supreme Court case generally regarded as establishing the principle of judicial review.
“WANT TO GET LUNCH?”
“No thanks. I already had a patch.”
JUSTIN KATZ OFFERS A BASIC VLOGGING HOW-TO GUIDE. It’s even easier than that if you use the Serious Magic program that Jeff Jarvis has used to make these video-blog items. I installed the program Wednesday, hooked it up to my camera, and produced a vlog in no time. No, I’m not posting it: the real issue, I quickly realized, is having decent lighting and a properly-hung V-screen if you want to do fancy backgrounds and effects like Jeff. (Oh, and the right cables).
One other tip — an earphone. It’s not necessary to have one of those, but if you’ve got other stuff with audio it’s useful so you can hear what’s going on.
There’s no way this will replace blogging, because it’s more work. But it’s cool, and I think we’ll see a lot more of it. I demonstrated Jeff’s stuff to my Dean the other day and he was very excited about what we might be able to do with it at the law school. I think the applications are going to be very broad.
NOW HERE’S THE REAL NEWS OF THE DAY:
London, Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) — Bloomsbury Publishing Plc said it hopes to publish “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the fifth book of the series on the boy wizard, in July.
Mark your calendars.
JACK O’TOOLE raises interesting concerns regarding the Administration’s tax plan.
TONY ADRAGNA says that the “leave South Korea hanging” approach, while satisfying, is a bad idea.
PAUL KRUGMAN is a bit overwrought here. He seems a shade defensive about the response to his Spiegel interview. But he’s not comparing Bush to a dictator or anything — just calling him “Glorious Leader” and pointing out his resemblance to Ferdinand Marcos.
By the way, why doesn’t Krugman just get a blog, instead of posting these occasional items on his Princeton faculty website? Note to Paul: I’ll set one up for you on Blogger, no problem. Give me a call.
I MEANT TO LINK TO THIS MICHAEL GOVE COLUMN on anti-Americanism earlier, but forgot. If you somehow missed it, go read it. Excerpt:
Which takes us to the myth of America the locust state, the predator on the poorest nations of the Earth. The truth, as the US writer Charles Krauthammer has pointed out, is that America’s influence for good in suffering states is directly measurable in three very different examples. After the Second World War three devastated nations were divided. In each case one part of a culturally unified nation fell under America’s political influence. And in each case — South Korea versus North, West Germany as against East, Taiwan as opposed to Communist China — the territory which took the American path enjoyed greater freedom and prosperity.
Why then do the myths of America the Hateful take such powerful hold? Because anti-Americanism provides a useful emotional function which goes beyond logic and reaches deep into the darker recesses of the European soul. In centuries past those on the Left who wished to personalise their hatred of capitalism, who sought to make it emotionally resonant by fastening an envious political passion on to a blameless scapegoat people, embraced anti-Semitism. It was the socialism of fools. Which is what anti-Americanism is now.
Of course, the overlap between anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism remains substantial.
CHINA VS. THE BLOGOSPHERE: I’ve gotten several emails to the effect that China is blocking all blogspot sites. Here’s one post on the subject, and here’s another. Apparently, since blogspot access is blocked, people in China with blogspot blogs can still post via Blogger (which isn’t blocked) but can’t see their own sites.
This gives you some idea of either (1) the unimpressive degree of Chinese technical competence; or (2) what the Chinese are actually afraid of.
UPDATE: Mark Kleiman has some thoughts.
MATT WELCH IS posting from France, where he’s soaking up wine, cheese, and culture while soaking the French national health system.
JIM HENLEY spots a hopeful sign for a non-stupid antiwar movement. But it’s a small sign, at present.
CUSTOMER-OWNED NETWORKS AND ZAPMAIL: Clay Shirky has some interesting thoughts on the future of telephony.
I actually used ZapMail once. Yep. I was the one. . . .
I’M NOT A PROFESSIONAL JOURNALIST, OR EDITOR: But this, from the New York Times’ current front page, was written by one:
Iraq Gave No New Evidence in Arms Report, Inspector Says
By SERGE SCHMEMANN
Hans Blix said today that Iraq’s report was “devoid of any new evidence” that the country had no banned weapons.
No new evidence of no weapons. Got that?
WHEN CAT-BLOGGING TURNS UGLY. Jeez.
PROFESSOR PETER KIRSTEIN, who apparently found out about InstaPundit via the Chicago Tribune article earlier this week, sent me an email responding to a post I had on his situation when the story broke last fall. (Here is a later one; and here is another). We corresponded, and I offered to publish his email, which is set out below. He didn’t demand that I do so — I offered. I think it’s always good to bring out the other side of the story. So here it is below, followed by some comments:
In your November 6, 2002 posting, you carelessly quoted me incorrectly in my e-mail to Air Force Academy Cadet Robert Kurpiel that in part may have led to your characterization of it as “barely literate.” It certainly was hastily written and overly personal for which I apologized and was quickly accepted by the cadet himself, his parents (see Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 6, 2002) and the Air Force Academy Assembly.
“No war, no air force cowards who bomb countries with AAA, without possibility of retaliation.” Actually I used the word “without” prior to AAA that was an effort to indicate the indiscriminate nature of high-altitude bombing and the lack of significant military assets on the part of those whom we engage in combat. We wage war on the weak and the helpless in large measure due to cultural and ideological bias that is not conducive to diplomatic means in resolving international disputes. This is my opinion and I have the right to express it.
You make another error in your careless and unsubstantiated fulminations against me. You state “that the identification of people like Kirstein with the Democratic Party…” I would be curious if you could produce one document of my many writings and public utterances where I make such a partisan claim. I believe the major political parties are indistinguishable from each other in most areas of public policy that is why I voted for Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate in the last so-called presidential election in the United States.
With regard to another person’s critique of my antiwar activism when I was a graduate student, I would only say this. Buffoonery comes in many forms. I don’t believe the Vietnam antiwar movement, which may have shortened the war and saved the deaths of many precious Americans, who were not able to escape the draft, was particularly humorous or symptomatic of a lack of determination and seriousness. It was an epochal event that was a defining moment in American history that represented a high tide of student idealism and commitment to peace and conflict resolution. I stand by my role as a university-student leader in that era.
My posting was cut-and-pasted from Neal Boortz’s page, to which it was linked — given the extent to which that email circulated the Internet, I suppose a typo from somewhere would be no surprise. As for the identification of Democrats with Mr. Kirstein, I was referring to the Democratic Party’s general identification with anti-war protesters by others — especially in the wake of things like the Bonior/McDermott trip to Baghdad — not Mr. Kirstein’s self-identification with the Democratic Party. The Democrats will, however, no doubt appreciate this clarification. Kirstein promises to speak out against the war in a number of fora, and I’ll do my best to keep you updated on his activities.
I dispute the characterization of Saddam Hussein as “weak and helpless,”and I think that “indiscriminate high-altitude bombing” is a shibboleth left over from, well, the days when we actually engaged in indiscriminate high-altitude bombing. But I certainly don’t want to engage in excessive filtering-out of antiwar opinions, and I thought readers would find this item instructive.
HOLLYWOOD AND MASS MURDER: Ed Driscoll suggests a connection.
IS THE UNITED STATES THE GREATEST THREAT TO WORLD PEACE? That’s what this poll from Time Europe asks. It’s being stuffed by folks from Muslim websites. You might want to go vote yourself.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
They are obviously screwing around with the numbers. I’ve watched them climb, and fall, for the last 30 minutes.
I thought I’d screw with them, so I wrote a java program that flooded the site with votes. (For Iraq, of course! Anything to piss off the Islamakazis!) It looked like it was working, and then the Iraq numbers started dropping again.
But the votes for the U.S. just keep rolling in….
Nah. Nothing to see here. Keep moving along….
Heh. I wonder if CAIR is involved somehow.
OKAY, it’s not Nick-blogging. It’s Disney-blogging. Or Milne-blogging. Steven Den Beste compares Europe to Rabbit, and America to Tigger. Debouncing efforts have been spectacularly unsuccessful.
KARL ROVE PLAYS ‘EM LIKE A VIOLIN, AGAIN: Remember all the hoopla about how hard David Frum’s new book was on the Administration? How the White House was issuing dark warnings about Frum’s public statements deviating from the Administration line? How the press ate that up? Cracks in the formerly solid facade. . . dissonance in the well-tuned orchestra . . . at last, leaks!
Er, only now the book’s out, and according to Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times, “Mr. Frum sides in this book with the hawks in the administration, repeatedly dissing Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, while pressing for a strong-armed reorientation of American foreign policy.”
Then we find out that:
Mr. Frum holds up a sunny vision of a post-Saddam Hussein future in which Iraq becomes “a reliable American ally,” Iranians are “emboldened to rise against the mullahs,” the Saudis and other Arab states modernize, and “new prosperity” is brought “to us all, by securing the world’s largest pool of oil.”
The horror! The White House must be shaking in its boots over that one. And there’s this bit of political dynamite:
Mr. Frum claims that President Bush and John F. Kennedy “owed their connections with the public above all to the power of their words.”
Can you say “setup?” I knew that you could.
I’M MOSTLY AGAINST PRE-EMPTIVE LAW ENFORCEMENT, but I might make an exception where these ought-to-be-illegal puns are concerned.
KRISPY KREME AND SOUTHERN NOSTALGIA: Some interesting reflections from an expatriate Southerner.
“EVERY CITY IS POMPEII” — Lileks on urban nostalgia.
SPEAKING OF THE POST BELOW, ABOUT ATTENTION, I keep meaning to post something on the latest Lomborg flap, but people keep emailing me information. It’s all great information, but most of it needs me to read, follow links, and digest it — and with classes starting today I just don’t have the time, or more accurately the mental energy needed to focus my attention on it right now. I’ll try to get something together later. In the meantime, Nick Schulz has a piece saying it’s bogus.
One key problem with the Bellesiles parallels that some people are trying to draw: Bellesiles’ critics made very clear statements charging Bellesiles with making up data and presented very clear evidence of what he had done wrong. Lomborg, on the other hand, has as far as I know been charged with nothing of the sort — no surprise, as he drew on data already published by the UN, etc. Instead, as I understand it, he’s charged with being “one-sided” in his analysis. Hardly the same thing. Indeed, comparing the Danish panel report on Lomborg with either of the two items linked above illustrates just how far apart the two cases are.
UPDATE: A reader suggests that I should add a link to Lomborg’s rebuttal of the critical article in Scientific American that seems to be the source of many of the panel’s complaints.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s The Economist’s take on it:
Why, in the first place, is a panel with a name such as this investigating complaints against a book which makes no claim to be a scientific treatise? “The Skeptical Environmentalist” is explicitly not concerned with conducting scientific research. Rather, it measures the “litany” of environmental alarm that is constantly fed to the public against a range of largely uncontested data about the state of the planet. The litany comes off very badly from the comparison. The environmental movement was right to find the book a severe embarrassment. But since the book was not conducting scientific research, what business is it of a panel concerned with scientific dishonesty?
One might expect to find the answer to this question in the arguments and data supporting the ruling—but there aren’t any. The material assembled by the panel consists almost entirely of a synopsis of four articles published by Scientific American last year. (We criticised those articles and the editorial that ran with them in our issue of February 2nd 2002.) The panel seems to regard these pieces as disinterested science, rather than counter-advocacy from committed environmentalists. Incredibly, the complaints of these self-interested parties are blandly accepted at face value. Mr Lomborg’s line-by-line replies to the criticisms (see www.lomborg.com) are not reported. On its own behalf, the panel offers not one instance of inaccuracy or distortion in Mr Lomborg’s book: not its job, it says. On this basis it finds Mr Lomborg guilty of dishonesty.
The Economist calls the panel’s report “incompetent and shameful.” Meanwhile Brian Erst notes this story and calls attention to the concluding paragraphs:
Most of the book’s contentions contradict the conclusions of a host of prominent scientists, who were astonished the book had even been published.
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the daily Politiken he was considering an investigation of Lomborg’s institute, the Copenhagen-based European Environmental Agency.
Apparently, anything that questions the beliefs of “prominent scientists” is now not just wrong-headed or misguided, but so beyond the pale that all mention of such dissenting viewpoints must be silenced. Write a book indicating that the September 11th attacks were an American/Israeli conspiracy and you’re at the top of the French bestsellers list and invited to speak all over the world. Write a book questioning the scope but not the fact of environmental degradation and you better go hide in a cave. I’m surprised the aggrieved scientists haven’t issued a fatwa…
Oh wait – who needs the fatwa? Rasmussen is already on the case.
There’s modern Europe for you. Write anti-American slander? Rake in the millions. Run a terrorist breeding ground like the Finsbury Park mosque? Walk free on the streets of London while planning the wholesale slaughter of thousands of Algerians. Hurt the feelings of some climatologists? Go to jail.
I rather doubt that Lomborg faces jail, but the point holds. As the Bellesiles case surely demonstrates, those who charge fraud should be expected to produce evidence, and lots of it. If the two cases taken together prove anything, it seems, it’s that the standards of proof are much higher when the target supports bien-pensant opinion than when otherwise.
READER YUVAL LEVIN emails about my TechCentralStation column from yesterday:
The concept of the scarcity of time is a very helpful way to explain some of the dynamics of the web. I write to suggest a very similar but possibly more precise way to put the matter.
Could it be that the way to frame the problem is not so much around the scarcity of time, but the scarcity of attention? We have always been short on time: the day is too short, the semester is too short, our lives are too short. But in a certain sense what is different about the web, as a medium of communication, is that it offers an enormous array of new voices clamoring for our attention. The trouble with these voices is that so many of them are so damned interesting and have such useful things to say that we feel compelled to listen, and so we must divide our (finite) attention among an ever-growing number of sources of ideas, which makes our attention very scarce (and, incidentally, therefore very valuable.)
This may be more helpful than speaking in terms of time, because individual units of time do not become less useful to us the more they are divided–a minute is still a minute, it’s just a question of whether we spend it doing something valuable or not, and that’s largely up to us. But attention can be “measured” not only in terms of quantity (like time) but also in terms of
intensity, and in both cases it begins to lose its value the more it is divided. If, in order to keep informed, even just on matters relating to my work, I have to check 15 web sites every morning, the amount and (importantly) the level of attention I can pay to each declines, and this makes my ability to benefit from each decline as well. In turn, this also affects our attention span, since we become accustomed to giving only small amounts of attention to each source, if only because there are so many. This is of course very closely related to the scarcity of time, but it might illuminate more of the character of the problem.
In cyberspace, almost everything is fantastically abundant, but human attention is terribly scarce. And in the age of the Internet and constant omnipresent communication in general, human attention is terribly scarce. One very significant result of this is that the value, and therefore the price, of attention goes up dramatically. This has serious consequences–consider for instance the fact that political campaign funds are spent almost entirely on purchasing human attention, through ads and the like. This seems to suggest that rather than bringing down the price of politics, and alleviating the “money problem” (a name I detest, since it isn’t really a problem) in politics, as some people have suggested, the information age is actually likely to make more expensive the commodity which all that money goes to buy, and therefore to make more money necessary.
I think this is right. One of the reasons people used to pay so much attention to politics was that it offered cheap entertainment at a time when entertainment was scarce. Now entertainment is plentiful, and much of it is more entertaining than politics.
TIM BLAIR: Poet Laureate.
THE NAME OF THIS GROUP SAYS IT ALL:
Fifteen people have been killed by suspected Islamic militants in various parts of Algeria.
One of the attacks took place in a mountainous area where the radical Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) is active.
The Algerian Government says the group has links with the Al-Qaeda network.
What’s really pathetic is, they’re not even especially good at preaching, or combat.
LAST NIGHT there was a Cosby show rerun on Nickelodeon. Theo defies his parents, and they leave him with nowhere to live in order to teach him that actions have consequences, and forgiveness isn’t to be taken for granted.
This morning Howard Kurtz is writing about the surprising degree of support, even among conservatives, for the idea of hanging South Korea out to dry. I wonder if there’s a parallel to be drawn here? [You just drew it! -- Ed. Go away! That's Kaus's schtick. And Drezner's!]
I haven’t written much on Korea, because I don’t know enough about what’s going on to have a very strong opinion about what ought to be done. On the one hand, North Korea is probably the worst place on the planet now. I suspect that the reason why some South Korean politicians want to prop it up is that when it comes out just how bad things have been there, which looks to be Pol-Pot-bad — and that they’ve known a lot more than they’ve let on while cozying up to and propping up the North — they’ll be seen as collaborators in horror. (And some, quite possibly, may turn out to be real collaborators, on the take from the North, and might be worried that that will come out).
On the other hand, North Korea is mostly inward-looking, and I don’t think it’s a big, direct threat. And, long-term, there’s a lot to be gained by reminding our triangulating allies that American love, and American forgiveness, are not to be taken for granted either. That’s a lesson we keep ramming home to the Germans. And the Koreans need to learn it too.
We live in a world where most of our allies are Theo Huxtables: self-centered, unrealistic, and overconfident in their assorted schemes because they know Heathcliff will always bail them out in the end. But this isn’t a situation comedy.
[You're not going to start doing a lot of these Nickelodeon-themed posts, are you? -- Ed. Coming next: why France is like Angelica, and the United States is like Tommy Pickles! (sigh) "Write what you know!" --Ed.]
INTERACTIVE VLOGGING: Justin Katz is raising the bar!
MICKEY KAUS is calling Weekly Standard editor Chris Caldwell a filthy communist. Well, kind of. Sort of. In a way.
OCCAM’S TOOTHBRUSH has moved off of blogspot. Reset your bookmarks!
I HAVEN’T WRITTEN ABOUT THIS WHOLE STORY because, well, it’s just too pathetic for words, and about all I have to say is “this is just too pathetic for words.” The Cookeville / Putnam County law enforcement apparatus has not enjoyed a good reputation, though they are largely notorious for speed traps.
For a biased and not guaranteed-to-be-accurate (but sure to be interesting) view from a website dedicated to that area’s politics and law enforcement, go to the Putnam Pit, a website so famous that I think Matt Welch nearly wrote a story about it for some big national publication.
A READER SUGGESTS THAT THIS BEARS WATCHING, and he’s right:
Soldiers from the Golani Brigade’s elite Egoz unit shot dead one armed infiltrator and captured another along the Syrian border in the southern Golan Heights Wednesday afternoon.
During the fight, Syrian troops shot at the soldiers the first such incident of its kind in nearly 20 years. There were no casualties and the soldiers did not return fire.
According to security sources, the gunman and his accomplice apparently came from Syrian territory, ruling out the possibility they had infiltrated from Jordan.
Following interrogation of the captured infiltrator, it transpired that they were Syrian soldiers dressed in civilian clothes. It is still not clear what they were doing, although it is thought they might have been on a reconnaissance mission and were surprised by the IDF presence. Syria charged that Israel had violated cease-fire terms.
“Hey, no fair! You shot our armed infiltrators!” How sadly typical. But you have to wonder why Syria might try something like this just now. And you also have to wonder if part of the reason for the delay in invading Iraq is that the operation may wind up as a twofer.
HERE’S A BLOG THAT’S BEING USED TO PROMOTE AN INDEPENDENT FILM that’s shooting here in Tennessee. There’s even a copy of the script in PDF.
BERKELEY SPEECH-SUPPRESSION UPDATE: The Mayor has entered a guilty plea to charges of stealing massive quantities of the Daily Californian:
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates pleaded guilty today to a petty theft infraction and was fined $100 for trashing 1,000 copies of the University of California, Berkeley campus newspaper that endorsed his opponent. . . .
Wednesday’s plea ends an embarrassing episode for the newly elected mayor. Bates, a former Alameda County supervisor who served 20 years in the state Assembly, became enraged when the Daily Californian endorsed former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean. So he threw away copies of the free newspapers in the trash.
It’s ended. But not forgotten.
CLAIRE BERLINSKI HAS A QUESTION:
I’m just writing an article about this boycott issue and a question occurred to me; maybe you’d know the answer or you’d know someone who does: The scientific cooperation accords in question were established by treaties between the EU and Israel shortly after the signing of the Oslo Accords. Would unilaterally abrogating these treaties not constitute some kind of breach of international law? How big a deal is it, legally speaking, to tear up an international scientific cooperation agreement? I mean, a treaty is a treaty, right?
I don’t know the legal status of those agreements — though I feel sure that the United States would be criticized for “unilateralism” and “contempt for international law” if we broke them somehow. I do know, though, that UNESCO is criticizing this effort, which surely puts it beyond the pale.
YESTERDAY, I POSTED ABOUT THE TITLE of a Washington Monthly article: “License to Kill: How the GOP helped John Allen Muhammad Get a Sniper Rifle.” I pointed out that the Bushmaster in question is what is more commonly called an assault weapon and appears to have morphed into a “sniper rifle” in response to the political needs of gun-control groups, and noted that blaming the GOP seemed rather over the top.
In response (at least, their email implied it was in response) the Washington Monthly has now made the entire text available online, so you can read it and make up your own mind. There’s nothing in there addressing the “sniper rifle” question, and the article certainly seems to blame the gun — and the Republicans — more than it blames, say, the actual shooter. This overwrought paragraph should illustrate what I mean:
One such gun was a .223-caliber semiautomatic Bushmaster XM15 rifle, which Bull’s Eye received from the manufacturer on July 2 of last year. On Sept. 21, a bullet from that gun blew through the back of a liquor store manager in Montgomery, Ala. (she died in the emergency room soon after). Two days later, another bullet burrowed through the head of a beauty store manager in Baton Rouge, La., who died instantly. Between Oct. 2-3, bullets from the gun ripped through the bodies of six people in Montgomery County, Md., killing all of them. Over the next three weeks, the gun claimed seven more victims–including a bus driver, a female FBI analyst, and a 13-year-old schoolboy–killing four of them. Finally, on Oct. 24, law enforcement authorities found the Bushmaster in the back seat of a blue Chevy Caprice occupied by John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo.
Note that the gun and bullets are apparently responsible for the deaths, not Muhammad and Malvo, who in this report merely occupied a Chevrolet Caprice — an offense against automotive taste, perhaps, but no more.
The gist of the complaint is that, because of politics, the ATF lacks enforcement power. I don’t know if this is true — that’s more Dave Kopel’s department, and I’m no Dave Kopel. (Nor, as we’ve established, am I Michael Barone). I only know a couple of gun dealers, but my impression is that they take the ATF and its regulations seriously. That’s hardly a statistically valid sample, though.
Read it and make up your own mind.
UPDATE: I’m not Dave Kopel — but Dave Kopel is, and he emails as follows:
The important thing that the Wash. Monthly leaves out from its description of why Congress limited BATF’s enforcement powers was BATF’s egregious abuse of civil liberties under FOPA. Some of the details are in “No More Wacos,” and also in my Oklahoma City Law Review article, which is available at www.davekopel.org
The short version is that a Congressional investigation officially concluded that seventy-five percent(!!) of BATF prosecutions were constitutionally improper. Agencies like IRS have had their powers curtailed for an abuse rate far below that. It’s true that DEA has a lot of powers that BATF doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean that the DEA model is right. There’s been plenty of abuse by DEA, too, but DEA doesn’t have a powerful watchdog.
The figure about a high percentage of crime guns traced to about 1% of FFLs is less impressive than it sounds. There are a lot of FFLs which are very low volume dealers, selling a few dozen guns a year, as an adjunct to a small business, or as a weekend activity. In major metro areas, the small number of major gun stores will account for a very large percentage of guns sold. Those large stores which sell to customers who live in poor neighborhoods are going to show up in traces quite frequently, no matter how scrupulously the dealers obey the law; some of the customers of that dealer are going to have their guns stolen, and those guns will turn into crime guns. That happens a lot more to a dealer in central Detroit than to a dealer on the Upper Peninsula, but it doesn’t prove that BATF needs new powers to use against the Detroit store.
The claim that dishonest gun dealers are immune from inspections 364 days a year is nonsense. The one-per-year limit applies only to random investigations involving no probable cause or suspicion. There is no limit on the number of audits which may be conducted pursuant to a genuine criminal investigation.
The fundamental thing wrong with the article is that he complains that the sniper shootings were caused by the Republicans/NRA because BATF didn’t shut down Bulls Eye. (Of course there’s the absurd presumption that the killers would not have been able to obtain a gun from another store, or from somewhere else.) But if Bulls Eye is in fact guilty of everything that the author charges, then BATF had full power to have Bulls Eye’s FFL revoked. Once again, we have a case where the existing law wasn’t enforced, and the gun prohibition groups then turn around and claim that more laws are needed.
Hypothesizing that BATF failed in this case, perhaps the solution isn’t to demand more powers for a failed (supposedly) agency which egregiously abused greater powers when it had them. Instead, we need to begin thinking about whether a federal agency should be the main licensing agency for retail businesses. States are competent to license doctors and liquor stores — why can’t they be the ones to license firearms dealers? Federal licensing is a relic of a 1938 federal law, and like a lot of economic regulation from that era, is obsolete, and never worked very well to begin with. How about retaining existing restrictions on interstate gun sales, turning the licensing of firearms dealers over to the states (some states license dealers already, which is duplicative), and sending the BATF out to conduct criminal investigations of terrorists attempting to obtain guns. Of course these criminal investigations could legimately include investigations of stores suspected of selling to criminals.
So there you are. I like this business where I mention people and a few hours later have email from them answering my questions. I wonder if Britney Spears is really — no, never mind. Let’s not go there.
UPDATE: Reader David Lonborg (not Britney Spears) writes:
OK, I read the WM piece. And you’re right, it’s pretty horrendous. Maybe Mr. Kendall ought to consider the possibility that an awful lot of us find the idea of more “felony record-keeping charges” a lot scarier than the occasional armed nut.
ONE MORE UPDATE: Kendall replies:
I appreciate the interest you and Mr. Kopel have taken in the story I wrote in The Washington Monthly. Let me address your main criticisms.
First, while aficionados may object to using the term “sniper rifle,” the Bushmaster was mounted with a scope and a bipod, and was capable (as we’ve seen) of murdering people from several hundred yards away. It has been referred to as a sniper rifle by the nation’s leading newspapers, wire services, and television stations.
Second, the article clearly does not argue that Republicans and the NRA “caused” the killings, as Mr. Kopel says; I argue that restrictions on ATF’s ability to crack down on wayward gun dealers made it far easier for the snipers to get their weapon. Mr. Kopel states that ATF had full power to revoke the license of the store in question, Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply. While that’s technically true, and I say in the piece that ATF should have done more, Kopel is dodging the central point: that the best way to enforce better compliance from stores like Bull’s Eye is with penalties short of shutting them down–fines, temporary suspensions, etc. These more modest penalties are precisely the ones that the NRA and GOP made sure that ATF didn’t have. This paralyzes ATF by putting them in the position of either putting a store owner out of business
completely, a rather draconian move, or doing nothing at all.
Kopel argues that there were ATF abuses before the 1986 restrictions were added, but the way to solve abuses is by disciplining the abusers, not robbing an agency of the tools it needs to do its job. If some police officers misuse their firearms, we don’t respond by stripping the police force of its weapons.
Kopel says our statement that ATF can only audit a dealer once a year is nonsense, arguing that there is no limit on the number of audits than can be conducted in a criminal investigation. But we’re talking about civil audits, not criminal ones. And ATF can only conduct a civil audit on a dealer once a year. If ATF had more flexibility in its ability to audit stores, the bureau could do more to prevent guns from hitting the streets, instead of having to wait until they’ve been used in crimes.
Kopel also takes issue with the data that show a high percentage of crime guns are traced to about 1 percent of FFLs, arguing that many FFLs in the remaining 99 percent are low volume dealers and located in more rural areas. So what? The point of the article is that ATF is restricted in its ability to discipline stores within that 1 percent, regardless of their volume or where they’re located. Of course stores near high crime areas will have more crime guns traced back to them.
Some of those stores are doing nothing wrong. Others, through sloppy procedures, or out-and-out law breaking, are creating a menace to their communities. The gun store where the sniper suspects got their gun may be one of them. Our argument is that ATF is hamstrung in its ability to pursue precisely these bad actors.
This is more in answer to Kopel’s point than to mine — and in particular doesn’t really answer my point about the blame-the-gun character of the language that I excerpted, which pervades the article. Nor — given the generally ignorant and biased treatment of firearms in the mass media — does the fact that newspapers called it a “sniper rifle” make it correct. Monthly magazines of ideas, like the Washington Monthly, are supposed to take the time to get things like that right in a way that daily papers can’t.
What’s disturbing about the efforts to call the Bushmaster a “sniper rifle” is that they dovetail so neatly with the latest campaign by advocacy groups. When journalists use the latest buzzphrase from anti-gun groups under circumstances where it really doesn’t fit, it suggests that they’re in the tank with those groups, or that they are sufficiently ignorant about the subject matter that they swallow the groups’ points whole. And here, as near as I can tell, is their strategy:
“Saturday Night Specials” (cheap handguns) = Bad, must be banned
“Military Style Handguns” (expensive handguns) = Bad, must be banned
“Assault Weapons” (inaccurate, short-range rifles) = Bad, must be banned
“Sniper Rifles” (accurate, long-range rifles) = Bad, must be banned
As I said in my original post pointing this out, I think I’m starting to see a pattern here. And when an article seems to fit too neatly with that pattern, then I do tend to find it less credible.
FINAL UPDATE: Kopel replies to Kendall:
1. Mark Twain is reported to have said, “If a hundred people call a cow a dog, it’s still a cow.” The Bushmaster isn’t a “sniper rifle,” and no-one who knows anything about firearms would say that it is. There are thousands of guns which use scopes and bipods and which can kill from hundreds of yards. Only a small fraction of these guns are “sniper rifles.” A cow has four legs and two eyes, and lives in multi-animal social groups, but the fact that a cow and a dog share some attributes which are also shared by many other animals doesn’t mean that you can call a cow a dog. Even if the Associated Press calls a cow a dog, the fact that daily news outlets make a mistake doesn’t justify the mistake being copied by a monthly magazine article that is supposed to be based on in-depth research.
2. BATF’s abuse rate of 75% — according to the findings of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution — wasn’t the result of a few bad agents. Such an abuse rate can only be the result of a pervasively flawed institutional culture. I don’t think it’s plausible to claim that an extraordinarily high abuse rate doesn’t justify restricting an agency’s powers. You can go back all the way to the Statute of Westminister promulgated by King Edward I (restricting sheriffs’ powers which had been misused) up to the recent Congressional reforms of the Internal Revenue Service (which never had an abuse rate of 75% in its criminal prosecutions) to see lawmakers restricting powers which have been abused.
3. “the article clearly does not argue that Republicans and the NRA “caused” the killings, as Mr. Kopel says”. That’s parsing words awfully closely for a story with the headline “License to Kill: How the GOP helped John Allen Muhammed get a sniper rifle.”
4. “Kopel is dodging the central point: that the best way to enforce better compliance from stores like Bull’s Eye is with penalties short of shutting them down–fines, temporary suspensions, etc. These more modest penalties are precisely the ones that the NRA and GOP made sure that ATF didn’t have. This paralyzes ATF by putting them in the position of either putting a store owner out of business completely, a rather draconian move, or doing nothing at all.”
Absolutely wrong. 18 U.S.C. section 924 provides the penalties for violating the Gun Control Act, and it repeatedly says that violators “shall be fined.” The author’s error on this point suggests an inference that the author did not do his own research on some of the fundamental facts of the story — such as checking firearms dictionaries for the definition of “sniper rifle,” or checking the U.S. Code to read the law regarding penalties for firearms dealers who violate the GCA; rather, it seems possible that the author may have relied on a gun prohibition group for his facts in the story, and not gone far enough to verify those facts independently.
The article states that “ATF needed powers to encourage compliance: the ability to levy fines.” It’s misleading to the readers not to inform them that BATF already has the ability to seek fines — after proving a violation in a court of law. An argument could be made that BATF needs the power to impose fines unilaterally, without having to prove a case in court. The article is loaded with nasty aspersions on Republicans, Ronald Reagan, and the NRA for successfully restricting BATF’s powers in 1986, and for opposing new powers since then. It is misleading to offer this harsh attack without at least explaining that the restrictions were a reaction to what many people (including the UNANIMOUS Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution) found to be outrageous and pervasive abuse of power by BATF.
5. “Some of those stores are doing nothing wrong. Others, through sloppy procedures, or out-and-out law breaking, are creating a menace to their communities. The gun store where the sniper suspects got their gun may be one of them. Our argument is that ATF is hamstrung in its ability to pursue precisely these bad actors.”
“Sloppy procedures” regarding the federally-required gun sales forms are a federal crime, and accordingly, the one-audit-per-year limit on BATF’s random, suspicionless audits is irrelevant. BATF can conduct as many criminal audits as it wants for stores which violate record-keeping laws. BATF can seek fines against these stores (rather than revoking their FFL), if BATF can prove a violation in a court of law. As to whether BATF should have sought a fine against Bulls Eye for losing some its inventory, it might be fair to note that the FBI and BATF themselves have, in recent years, lost vast quantities of guns.
6. The article provides a one-sided recitation of the gun prohibition lobby’s theory of why BATF isn’t more effective: it’s all the fault of the wicked NRA, and BATF just needs more power. An article more in keeping with the Washington Monthly’s historic skepticism of bureaucracy might have included the perspective of some critics within BATF, such as National Association of Treasury Agents, who could have explained that enforcement problems are often the result of BATF’s very serious management problems rather than always being the NRA’s fault.
So there you have it. A dialogue that many people will no doubt find interesting.
OKAY, ONE MORE BUT THIS IS REALLY THE LAST UPDATE: Many, many readers sent emails along the lines of this one by Eric Bainter:
Mr. Kendall’s reply to you on the “Sniper Rifle” article contains the following statements:
“Kopel argues that there were ATF abuses before the 1986 restrictions were added, but the way to solve abuses is by disciplining the abusers, not robbing an agency of the tools it needs to do its job. If some police officers misuse their firearms, we don’t respond by stripping the police force of its weapons.”
S’pose this logic applies to citizens as well? If a pair of wackos abuses a ‘regular” rifle/”sniper rifle”/gun to kill people, the answer is to discipline the abusers, not to take away the hundreds/thousands of guns that the rest of the citizenry owns…
Yep. But this undercuts the entire philosophy of the gun-control movement.
I LIED ABOUT THAT BEING THE LAST UPDATE: Brent Kendall has emailed and asks me to post this reply to Kopel. As I am nothing if not generous about such things, here it is:
Kopel repeatedly insists on talking about what a court of law can do as a way of avoiding a discussion about what ATF can and can’t do — which is the clear
subject of our piece.
Regardless of Kopel’s word twisting, it remains a fact: ATF cannot levy fines. The bureau’s agents and inspectors cannot walk into a store and write a gun
dealer a ticket for record-keeping problems. When Kopel says that ATF “has the power to seek fines — after proving a violation in a court of law,” he is
attempting to sidetrack readers by entering into a discussion about the judicial process. This is a completely separate track from the subject in question:
ATF’s civil, regulatory authority. This is the same exact tactic he uses in his misleading comments about ATF’s audit authority — he talks about “genuine
criminal investigations” when we’re talking about routine regulatory powers. And reiterating from my previous post: in its regulatory duties, ATF is limited
to one audit per year.
Kopel’s insistence in talking about the courts drips with irony, because there’s one thing he isn’t telling you. The 1986 law that watered down ATF’s powers
reduced all record-keeping violations to misdemeanor offenses, making it extremely difficult for ATF to take dealers to court. As I say in the piece, federal
prosecutors, already burdened with more felony cases than they can litigate, usually don’t accept misdemeanor referrals. This is one more example of the
chutzpah of the gun lobby — demanding ATF prove its case in court after crippling its ability to go to court.
Well, it’s “crippled” only because prosecutors don’t think it’s worth the time. As somebody who had to make political threats to get someone prosecuted for attempted vehicular homicide, I find that easy to believe, but it seems a bit beside the point. If Kopel responds, I’ll post it here, too. After that, I’m telling them to set up a chatboard. . . .
1. I did state that Mr. Kendall’s article (and some parts of his follow-up replies) were quite wrong factually. That doesn’t mean that Mr. Kendall had a conscious intent to deceive. Like many journalists for very high-quality publications, Mr. Kendall may have made the mistake of relying too heavily on anti-gun lobbies for his facts and story frame, with insufficient independent verification.
2. In this final reply, Mr. Kendall at last raises an issue which is, at best, implied in his original article. While BATF can seek fines in a court of law, BATF can’t impose them unilaterally. As I said in my second reply, “An argument could be made that BATF needs the power to impose fines unilaterally, without having to prove a case in court.” The original Kendall article never tells readers that FFLs can be fined under existing law. There’s a good article to be written about what BATF, at least arguably, needs the power to impose fines by its own fiat, rather than having to prove a case in court — but that wasn’t the article that the Washington Monthly published.
3. Mr. Kendall refers to Kopel’s “misleading comments about ATF’s audit authority — he talks about ‘genuine criminal investigations’ when we’re talking about routine regulatory powers. And reiterating from my previous post: in its regulatory duties, ATF is limited to one audit per year.” Kendall had originally written that rogue dealers are immune from audits 364 days a year. BATF don’t need a regulatory audit to investigate such dealers; criminals audits provide more than sufficient power. Mr. Kendall didn’t tell the readers that BATF can perform an unlimited number of audits when there is genuine criminal suspicion. There might be a good article to be written about why unlimited criminal audit powers don’t suffice for audits of criminally-suspect FFLs, but that article wasn’t the article that was published.
4. “Kopel’s insistence in talking about the courts drips with irony, because there’s one thing he isn’t telling you. The 1986 law that watered down ATF’s powers reduced all record-keeping violations to misdemeanor offenses, making it extremely difficult for ATF to take dealers to court. As I say in the piece, federal prosecutors, already burdened with more felony cases than they can litigate, usually don’t accept misdemeanor referrals. This is one more example of the chutzpah of the gun lobby — demanding ATF prove its case in court after crippling its ability to go to court.” Intentionally supplying guns to criminals is still a major federal felony. Paperwork violations that aren’t based on an intent to harm are not, in my view at least, appropriately classified as federal felonies. I realize that federal laws in other fields make minor paperwork errors into felonies, but I’d suggest that those laws ought to be changed too. If overburdened U.S. Attorneys won’t take legitimate misdemeanor referrals from BATF, perhaps the solution isn’t to change paperwork errors into felonies. Instead, how about relieving the federal prosecutors of the vast amount of other federal cases that have little to do with genuine federal interests, but which instead are based, as Glenn and I have argued elsewhere, on misuse of the interstate commerce power to create laws having no real connection to interstate commerce. (See http://www.davekopel.com/CJ/LawRev/Taking_Federalism_Seriously.htm ) And as I suggested in my first reply, how about getting BATF out of the licensing business, and letting states take care of the issue — as they do with liquor stores, doctors, and most other forms of business licensing? State prosecutors tend to be quite willing to accept misdemeanor referrals. Readers who would like the details of the 1986 reforms of BATF powers may enjoy reading David Hardy’s enormous law review article on the subject: http://www.hardylaw.net/FOPA.html
The Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 would serve as a useful template for the reform of many other federal criminal law enforcement agencies, including the DEA.
Mr. Kendall and I are doomed to disagree on the issue of whether (as he suggests)the BATF should have powers like the DEA, or whether (as I believe) DEA and other federal agencies ought to have to abide by the same due process protections that apply to the BATF. As a magazine journalist, he’s entitled to his opinion; where I think his article fell short, journalistically, was in not informing readers about some of the important factual issues (which we’ve discussed in these exchanges) which a well-informed reader ought to know in order to make up her own mind. A writer has only so much space to tell a story, so it’s always a judgment call about what facts to include. I’d suggest that if readers re-examine Mr. Kendall’s article, many readers will conclude that the article would have been much more solid if it had included some of the facts which we’ve discussed in these Instapundit exchanges.
One more thing:
The Washington Monthly stated “ATF has no power to temporarily suspend a dealer’s license, or impose a fine.”
In fact, 18 U.S. Code section 922(t) states that if a firearms dealer transfers a firearm without complying with the National Instant Check System, then BATF may, through administrative action, “after notice and opportunity for a hearing, suspend for not more than 6 months or revoke any license issued to the licensee under section 923, and may impose on the licensee a civil fine of not more than $5,000.” See: link.
And now this really is over. If there’s more guys, you’ll have to, er, take it outside.
OKAY, this letter from Ed Koch rings slightly false to me. But then, it’s a letter from a politician, so it might do that even if it’s genuine. . . . Does anybody know the score?
I should say that I don’t disagree with the sentiments, I just wonder about its authenticity. And I’d hate to pull a Streisand here. . . .
UPDATE: Hey, maybe it’s real!
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Boris Schlossberg emails that he heard Koch say this on Bloomberg radio.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, if it’s fake, it’s in a lot of places.
And Michael Barone, who points out that he is not Britney Spears, emails to say that the piece sounds just like many Koch pieces that he’s read. So I guess I was wrong to be suspicious — it was the praise for Falwell and Robertson that made me wonder.
CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES is up at Eleven Day Empire this week. Don’t miss it!
MY DAUGHTER, whose computer is in my study, is playing “Arthur’s Second Grade.” It’s fun to watch how thoroughly she’s into it.